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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ (passing traffic whooshes) (distant, muffled chanting in Farsi) BARRY ROSEN: The morning of November 4, I'm in my office.
(crowd chanting) It started to rain a little bit.
(chanting continues) We heard the crowds in front of the embassy.
I looked up and saw someone climbing over the gate.
Some young woman cut the chain and several hundred protesters, some with weapons, started moving all over the embassy.
Before I knew it, 15 to 20 people are pounding on my door.
Just barged through.
And there I am facing these people.
And I said, "Who are you?"
He says, "I'm a part of "the Students Following the Line of the Imam.
"You're in the nest of spies.
"You are part of U.S. imperialism, "and you're the corruptors of the Earth.
You are our prisoner."
REPORTER: The hostages are apparently in the main building.
The embassy is occupied by about 400 students and Islamic Revolutionary Guards.
ED BRADLEY: Good evening-- in Tehran tonight, the American embassy is in the hands of several hundred Iranian students who took control after a three-hour skirmish with U.S. Marines.
They are holding hostages and are demanding that the exiled shah of Iran, now undergoing cancer treatment at a New York hospital, be returned to stand trial.
CROWD (chanting in Farsi): (crowd shouting) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ GARY SICK: On November 4, when the hostages were taken, I was at home in bed, and I got a call from Brzezinski.
He said they took our people at the embassy.
I got in my VW and drove over to the State Department MAN (over phone): The American Embassy... SICK: We were getting reports directly from inside the embassy.
MAN (over phone): Please open the door...
They didn't accept.
SICK: So here we were with all of these open phones.
MAN (over phone): They get angry and shout to them, "If you don't open the door, we will open it ourselves."
After that, a student has gone up, and arrest all of them, okay?
And tied their hands.
SICK: And then one by one, as the day went on, the phones were shut down.
So we lost contact.
SAM DONALDSON: The action against the embassy may or may not have been ordered by Iran's religious leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini, which adds to Washington's difficulty in trying to resolve this dangerous situation.
The State Department is doing what it can.
But for the moment, at least, that doesn't appear to be much.
SICK: From my position in the White House, I'm not a decision maker.
But I'm watching everything and I'm relaying what I learn to the president.
So I have a straight line to him.
One of the things that was discussed was possibly imposing a blockade against Iranian ports or cutting off their oil exports.
But it was very likely that it would bring the Soviets in.
And it could, in fact, lead to World War III.
TED KOPPEL: Washington is tremendously concerned about Iran's oil supplies and our need for them and, of course, concerned about the safety of those Americans still at the embassy.
REPORTER: The demonstrators burned the American flag, blindfolded and handcuffed at least some of their American hostages, and paraded them in front of the embassy building.
(people chanting) BARRY ROSEN: Here I had in my mind, "Okay, it's over, we're out of here."
They'll just put us on a plane, and take us out of here by tomorrow.
Well, I was tied up and they start beating me up.
(distant chanting) There I started to really think about, what the hell is going on now?
(phone ringing) BARBARA ROSEN: It was an early Sunday morning and the phone rang downstairs, it was my mother-in-law and she was very, very upset.
"Something's happened at the embassy."
She had heard it on the news.
REPORTER (archival): ... U.S. embassy say his name is Barry Rosen.
He is the embassy's press attaché.
Because of the blindfold, Rosen could not see... BARBARA ROSEN: The Iranians were saying they had a certain number of people being held, and the Carter administration would neither confirm or deny.
And I got on the phone to Washington and started making phone calls trying to find out what was going on.
FRANK REYNOLDS: The Iran Crisis: America Held Hostage, tonight at 11:30, 10:30 Central time.
SICK: This was the first American foreign policy crisis that had been televised live from start to stop.
PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: We will not rest or deviate from our efforts until all have been freed from... SICK: The reality is that every American was sitting in their homes talking to other Americans about this situation.
REYNOLDS: Radio broadcasts by Khomeini and his supporters have now become ugly and violently anti-American.
PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: I've just gotten a report that there are maybe 80,000 Iranians demonstrating outside our embassy in a highly emotional state and we are trying as best we can to protect the honor of our country and to protect the lives of the hostages who deserve every protection that we can give them.
"MARY" EBTEKAR: The hostages are in our hands, and we are ready so that in the case of any military intervention, we will destroy them.
♪ ♪ (crowd chanting) ♪ ♪ BARRY ROSEN: I first came to Iran in August of 1967 as a Peace Corps volunteer.
I knew nothing about Iran.
I had to run over to the map and find it.
NEWSREEL NARRATOR: This is the Middle East, where three continents join.
At the hub of this junction is Iran, formerly known as Persia.
Iran is a country of contrasts.
It is actually a land of great wealth and of great interest.
In biblical times, a great civilization thrived here and left the marks of its splendor.
BARRY ROSEN: I looked forward to going to the Peace Corps.
It was something about actually finding yourself more than knowing the culture you were going into.
I was religious as a, as a young child.
I went to a Hebrew day school, yeshiva.
Ah, kind of traditional.
Maybe two years of excitement out there somewhere doing something might make some difference in people's lives, but maybe, most of all, my own.
I think I was seeking that more than anything else.
♪ ♪ After our three months of studying Farsi and customs of Iran and reading about Iran, I was then sent to Tehran.
We flew directly to Tehran from New York.
♪ ♪ My job was to teach English at the police academy in Iran.
(whistle blowing) I was told by members of the Peace Corps that Jewish kids did very well in Iran, and I felt to a certain degree there was a certain warmth there that I could see in my own family.
And there was a certain sense of kinship that I, I felt for Iranians.
I was trying to learn as much Farsi as possible.
NEWSREEL NARRATOR: You listen, then you repeat.
You listen, then you repeat.
(man repeating phrase in non-English language) BARRY ROSEN: I loved walking into the bazaar.
Miles and miles and miles of different stands, all of the same products piled together.
♪ ♪ There I used to experiment with what they call bargaining, (speaking Farsi), the hitting of chins, that's what it means.
All this was part and parcel of the life force of Iran.
♪ ♪ As a Peace Corps volunteer, I felt, you know, I was accepted.
I was really accepted.
(newsreel music playing) NEWSREEL NARRATOR: Tehran, the glittering capital of Iran, prepared itself for a coronation day, such as it had never before witnessed.
Even the magnificence of its mosques was overshadowed by the spectacular preparations that transformed the city into a wonderland of color befitting the greatest day in the life of the Persian monarch.
♪ ♪ BARRY ROSEN: During the time I was in Iran, that was the Shah's coronation as a Shahanshah.
He was the king of kings.
NEWSREEL NARRATOR: After 26 years of steering his country from what he described as a nation of beggars into a thriving and prosperous realm, the Shah was ascending the fabled Peacock Throne to crown himself king of kings.
♪ ♪ BARRY ROSEN: When he became king in 1941, he said, "I don't want any coronation," his father abdicated, "until and when I think I am ready, and when the country is ready for it."
By '67, he said, "I am ready."
He was consolidating his power.
But he was, in fact, a dictator, there's no doubt about it.
I don't think that there was anti-Americanism at that time that was palpable.
But I have to tell you that throughout my Peace Corps years, I was able to get enough of a background even then to know what was irking Iranians about the United States.
The '53 coup was talked about in Peace Corps training.
The issue of Mosaddegh came up, and the idea of knowing more about Mosaddegh was something that always seemed to stir my curiosity about what was going on in Iran.
ERIC SEVERIDE: One of the new books about the CIA, Mr. Dulles, makes the claim that in Iran a few years ago, at the time of Mosaddegh, the C.I.A.
people spent literally millions of dollars hiring people to riot in the streets and do other things to get rid of Mosaddegh.
Is there anything you can say about that?
Well, I can say that the statement that we spent many dollars doing that is utterly false.
SICK: I knew about '53 and the coup that overthrew Mosaddegh with the help of the British MI6 and the American C.I.A.
I knew a lot of people who were in the C.I.A, or I met people who were involved in organizing it, and some of them became friends of mine at the time of the revolution.
GARRICK UTLEY: It's almost 30 years ago.
How do you feel about it when you look back?
Well, I feel terribly sorry about what has happened in Iran recently, but I don't think it was predictable then.
And if I had to do it all over again, I would still do it without, without regret.
SICK: I didn't understand the degree to which Iranians felt that this was really a fundamental turning point.
And I think everybody in the White House at the time of the hostage crisis was equally ignorant.
BARRY ROSEN: The most democratic period in post-war Iran was between 1941 and 1953.
Iran was a budding democracy.
STEPHEN KINZER: Mosaddegh came to power as the embodiment of a popular movement based on two principals: democracy and nationalism.
Democracy meant we should be ruled by elected leaders, and the Shah should just be a symbol of the nation, like queen of England, and not make political decisions.
Nationalism meant we have to take back control of our oil.
NEWSREEL NARRATOR: The world's largest oil refinery at Abadan, Iran, becomes the center of a major international crisis as Iran's parliament votes unanimously to nationalize her vast oil fields, fields which, by lease, are owned by the British government.
(ship horn blares) KINZER: The British built the biggest oil refinery in the world at Abadan on the Persian Gulf.
It was an immense facility.
It was a classic colonial enclave.
All the British administrators lived in nice houses with trimmed lawns.
There were swimming pools.
There were restaurants, tennis clubs, all the amenities of home.
Meanwhile, Iranians were living in some of the most miserable conditions of any people on Earth.
BARRY ROSEN: Iranian workers were living in hovels.
The Brits controlled the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company since 1906, and the Iranian governments were getting mere pittance of profit.
Mosaddegh wanted Iran to be independent.
KINZER: Mosaddegh, with the overwhelming support of the Iranian people, the Iranian political class, and both houses of the Iranian parliament, signed a bill nationalizing Iranian oil.
In other words, he seized control of an asset that the British considered theirs.
BARRY ROSEN: This was the first time that anyone in the Middle East had ever done anything against imperial powers, colonial powers.
NASROLLAH ENTEZAM: For 50 years, the oil resources of my country have been exploited by a foreign company whose profits have gone overseas.
The time has now come to put an end to these painful practices, and to put Iran natural resources to use of the well-being and benefit of her own people.
LORD JOHN WILMOT: This agreement with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company has meant immense benefits for the people of Iran.
And it's a tragedy, really, that this thing should have been torn up in the way that it has.
KINZER: The British froze Iranian assets that were being held in British banks.
They imposed what we would today call economic sanctions on Iran.
At one point, they considered an actual invasion.
REPORTER: I'd like to introduce Mr. and Mrs. Sutcliffe who've just flown into London Airport here on the airlift from Abadan.
And how were things there when you left, Mr. Sutcliffe?
Well, they're not too good.
People are all packing up, packing all their belongings.
KINZER: The British had instructed all their employees at Abadan to leave.
The British then took Iran to the world court in The Hague.
BARRISTER: The present actions and threats of the Iranian government may render it impossible to execute a judgment in favor of the United Kingdom.
KINZER: The British, then, with all of these measures failing, brought Iran to the U.N. Security Council.
Britain was in a rising panic.
MOHAMMAD MOSADDEGH (in French): KINZER: When Mosaddegh came to the United Nations in 1951, it was the first time the leader of a country that was poor, developing, and possessed resources that the West was exploiting, ever got to speak to the world on such a stage.
(indistinct, muffled speech) KINZER: Mosaddegh spoke about the injustice that poor countries feel at having their resources exploited for the benefit of imperial powers, and tied his struggle to that of other nations in the world.
(bell tolls) He went to Philadelphia and he posed alongside the Liberty Bell.
He asked to visit Mount Vernon, George Washington's home.
He was trying to make a point to Americans that they should be on his side because he was only doing what Americans had themselves done several generations earlier.
Why are we losing ground in the Middle East?
Because the people of the Middle East feel that we are not sympathetic to their problems.
That we are supporting a colonial policy on the part of the British.
WILLIAM BRADFORD HUEY: And when you say "we" there, you mean the United States?
HUEY: Our own government.
HARLEY BURT: What's the greatest trouble spot in the Middle East?
GRADY: Iran, at the moment.
And I think there are tensions all through the Middle East because of a coming up of nationalism, which I think can be quite legitimate.
BARRY ROSEN: He was, in fact, made Man of the Year by "Time" magazine.
♪ ♪ The Truman administration backed him solidly.
Because in Truman's mind, the United States was anti-colonial.
KINZER: Truman was sympathetic to the anti-colonial idea.
But in the end, people like Mosaddegh, who first of all refused to fully embrace the American cause in the Cold War, and secondly, were involved in movements aimed at weakening the power of giant multinational corporations, became enemies of the United States.
HARLEY BURT: Uh, do you see the trend toward nationalization, this thing that's occurred in Iran, spreading through the Middle East?
GRADY: I see no indication of this yet.
But nationalization is like any other movement, it could spread.
♪ ♪ KINZER: It was a period of considerable disillusionment when many of these countries came to realize that the United States was not going to come to their aid, and in fact was seeing them as dangerous threats.
The C.I.A., initially at the time of the coup, had basically come to the conclusion that we could change governments in different countries, throwing out one government and putting in another.
♪ ♪ That any government in the world was potentially susceptible.
And they were quite confident of that.
UTLEY: The planning for your mission occurred as the Truman administration was ending and the new Eisenhower administration was coming into office.
What did John Foster Dulles and the others tell Truman?
They didn't tell him anything.
The planning didn't actually take place until after the election.
(helicopter whirring) KINZER: John Foster Dulles, who became the secretary of state, and his brother, Allen Dulles, head of the C.I.A., were pushing Eisenhower from the very beginning to realize Mosaddegh as a threat.
At a National Security Council meeting, Eisenhower asks Dulles to explain why we should be overthrowing this guy who's not a communist.
He wonders why we can't do things that make people in poor countries like us instead of hate us.
But in the end, Eisenhower was persuaded to go along.
Eisenhower assigned the CIA to overthrow Mosaddegh, and the person it chose was the Middle East chief of CIA operations, Kermit Roosevelt.
KERMIT ROOSEVELT: I had convinced myself that all you needed to do was to make it clear to the Army and to the people that there was a conflict between Mosaddegh and the Shah.
And that was what I set myself to do, to dramatize the conflict.
KINZER: As long as Mosaddegh was in power, the Shah was going to be more of a symbolic figure than someone who exercised real authority.
So the C.I.A.
had decided that the outcome of the coup should be, let's give the Shah complete power.
He'll be so grateful to us, he'll do everything we want.
Which all turned out to be true.
The problem was that the Shah was so afraid to get involved that he wouldn't agree to participate in the coup.
He was afraid it would fail, and then he would have to leave the country.
♪ ♪ By that time, British and American agents had devised a plan.
But the coup was orchestrated from inside the American embassy in Tehran.
(typewriter keys clacking) ♪ ♪ Kermit Roosevelt and his C.I.A.
crew began bribing Iranian newspaper editors, columnists, and publishers.
They were printing all sorts of scurrilous denunciations of Mosaddegh, all of a sudden.
Mosaddegh was a Jew, a communist, a homosexual, a British agent-- anything you could imagine that would blacken his reputation.
♪ ♪ The C.I.A.
bribed mullahs to give sermons denouncing Mosaddegh.
♪ ♪ One way he could destabilize the government was to show people in Iran that Mosaddegh had lost control of public safety.
The capital city was exploding in terror and chaos.
Mosadegh didn't want to send police out to crush protests, because he believed that protest was everybody's right.
He didn't understand that these protests were all being fomented by somebody in the basement of the American embassy.
People began to think Mosaddegh couldn't control the streets.
♪ ♪ SICK: I remembered quite vividly that the Shah had fled to Italy.
He got cold feet and ran.
It looked like the whole coup was falling apart and was not going to work.
Then within 24 hours, it got turned around and Mosaddegh was overthrown.
(newsreel music playing) NEWSREEL NARRATOR: The stay of the Shah of Persia and Queen Soraya in Rome was of short duration.
For first reports of Dr. Mosaddegh having won a victory were quickly reversed, and from the turmoil of Tehran, news came that the royalist coup had been successful after all.
♪ ♪ (distant gun fire growing louder) KINZER: Mosaddegh gave himself up soon after the coup.
He was placed on trial.
At the Shah's order, he was sentenced to home imprisonment from essentially the time of his release from prison in the mid 1950s until his death in 1967.
♪ ♪ (car horns honking) BARRY ROSEN: After '53 and the coup, yes, the Shah had political parties and all that, but they really had no power.
The real power was always in the Shah's hands.
SICK: From that point on, the Iranian people felt that the Shah was clearly beholden to the United States, and pretty much assumed that anything that the Shah did, he was getting orders from Washington.
♪ ♪ UTLEY: The Shah once told you, I owe my throne to God, my people, the army, and to you, Kermit Roosevelt.
Well, he didn't say "Kermit Roosevelt."
I chose to interpret it as including the British, the United States and me to some extent.
But he said it to you.
He said it to me, yes.
SICK: My first visit to Iran had to be about 1959.
I was a very junior naval officer accompanying a delegation of senior military advisors.
The Shah was, in fact, carrying out reforms which on the surface of them, at least, looked very attractive.
This was a period in the '50s and '60s when this whole idea of take off, of countries putting lots of money into development, building institutions, building infrastructure, and then a country got to a certain point and suddenly, magically, it would lift off.
I mean, this was very popular stuff in those days.
The Shah was doing the kinds of things that Western academics and Western politicians saw as useful, and so Iran was getting ready for takeoff.
(speaking Farsi) BARRY ROSEN: The Shah was introducing what he called the White Revolution, as opposed to the red revolution, a communist revolution.
The White Revolution, it was a revolution from the top.
BERNARD KALB: Your Majesty, what are the basic points of your revolution?
MOHAMMAD REZA PAHLAVI: Land reform.
To fight and combat illiteracy in the country.
And, uh, electoral reform.
The drive and the move is so tremendous that everybody in this country will have to confine itself to this new society that we are trying to build.
♪ ♪ BARRY ROSEN: All these things were very revolutionary in Iran, going against Islamic law, going against the clerical class.
It was an attempt to remake Iran.
This meant land reform, parceling out pieces of land.
But what happened is that dirt poor peasants could not really survive with those pieces of land, and they were bought up by the wealthier people or Iranian oligarchs.
And people were moving to the cities.
Because of that, what you had was the growth on the periphery of Tehran of tin towns, and the saying in Persian, "paper cities of the poor."
And so you had lots of dislocation of people.
(distant praying) KINZER: It was at this moment that Khomeini emerged in the early 1960s as a protester against the White Revolution.
One of the main reasons was resentment at the Shah's servility to the United States.
He was seen as a pillar of Western power who had sold out the interests of Iran in ways that Mosaddegh had refused to do.
♪ ♪ BARRY ROSEN: Khomeini made himself out as this Gandhi-like figure.
And he started this in 1963 against the United States military.
United States military had immunity.
That is, if any American soldier would hurt an Iranian, he would be judged by an American court, not by an Iranian court.
Khomeini made hay out of that one, and accused the Americans of controlling the Shah.
All of a sudden, there was this movement afoot, and demonstrations against the Shah were all over Iran.
♪ ♪ SICK: We started the process after 1953 of building up a security service, the Iranian SAVAK.
taught the SAVAK how to function.
And, of course, the Shah had the military.
So in the uprising in '63, the Shah cracked down, he killed a number of people.
And from Washington's perspective, this was confirmation, if you like, that a strong man in place in Iran would take care of the problem.
(gunshots) BARRY ROSEN: After his criticism against the Shah, for being so corrupt, the Shah said that he had to leave.
And Ayatollah Khomeini was sent to Iraq.
So the idea is we're going to get rid of him forever.
PAHLAVI: There are some isolated priests with whom I had to take some strong measures.
BARRY ROSEN: It was a very tumultuous time in Iran in the 1960s, but there was also this feeling that Iran was moving out of poverty, too.
There was a sense of movement up, and the Shah felt very secure at that time.
♪ ♪ REPORTER: This is celebration time, and here at Persepolis in the middle of the Iranian desert, it's been decreed that the 25th centenary of the founding of Persia has to be a suitably memorable occasion.
For three days, his Imperial Majesty, the Shahenshah Iliama of Iran, will be setting himself back some lavish 15 million pounds or so for what's obviously going to be one of the most fantastic parties that the world's ever seen.
And all of it against this Hollywood-type background of 2,500 years of Persian military history.
(traditional music playing) Ooh, and the dancing.
(laughter) (indistinct chatter) HILARY BROWN: I was invited to accompany the Canadian Governor General on his plane to Persepolis.
This was this extraordinary 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire.
It was unprecedented.
It got into the Guinness Book of Records, you know, for the amount of money spent, for the, the guest list, which was, you know, heads of state from around the world.
It was billed as the biggest party in history.
♪ ♪ We had absolutely no idea that so many people, you know, thought this was wrong.
And, of course, as we realized later, it probably sowed the seeds of the Shah's downfall.
(indistinct chatter) (birds chirping) ARCHITECT: So here we are in the club.
Put the bar here with easy chairs.
You are going to have a piano here to have some smooth music.
What about down here?
Down here, it's a salon... BROWN: They imported French architects and decorators and couturiers to design and build and furnish these tent-like suites.
(birds chirping) They flew in 50,000 songbirds from Europe to provide a morning chorus for the illustrious visitors.
And all these birds later died.
They couldn't take the blistering heat.
And the guests were all heads of state or royalty.
There were no ordinary Iranians there at all.
It was just the invited guests, the Shah, and the Shahbanu and the press.
FRANK MCGEE: We may be sitting in on a television first this morning.
Barbara Walters is in Iran, she's been there all week, as a matter of fact.
And this morning she will bring this all to us via satellite.
It's a blazing hot afternoon, late afternoon, here in Iran.
And the most exciting part of a celebration that was planned 13 years ago is about to begin.
The 5,000 soldiers are going to be marching in their ancient costumes behind us, with their shields and their spears, for what is an event unequaled in world history.
(parade music playing) BROWN: The event itself, the purpose was really to glorify the Shah.
Shahanshah, King of Kings, Light of the Aryans, Shadow of the Almighty, and to celebrate 2,500 years of unbroken rule, which of course was not the case, but that was the illusion.
(parade music continues) (fountains gently splashing) The banquet had something like seven courses, including crayfish mousse, and peacock's tongue stuffed with foie gras.
2,500 bottles of fine wine.
The banquet took five-and-a-half hours to consume.
♪ ♪ The Ayatollah Khomeini described it as the "Devil's festival."
You know, there were people in the country who weren't getting enough food to eat.
(music playing from film) SICK: I remember as a young naval officer in the Pentagon, a whole group of us were brought into a room and were shown this movie that was... that had been prepared as a result of the Shah's huge Persepolis blowout.
(music continues) ROBERT STONE: Why was this being shown at the Pentagon?
I have no idea.
(cannon firing, bell ringing) ORSON WELLES: In celebration of 2,500 years of nationhood, the Persian people, led by their Shah, his Imperial Majesty Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Ayamir, Shahenshah, make homage at the tomb of Cyrus the Great, the first shah of all.
(music resumes) (speaking Farsi) (fanfare) Your Imperial Majesty, as you leave this capital after your visit here, I believe that the relations between Iran and the United States have never been better.
That is due to your leadership.
It's due also to the fact that we feel a special relationship not only to your country, but to you.
A relationship which, in my case, goes back many years.
SICK: Nixon came into office at a time when the British had just decided to withdraw from the Persian Gulf.
And this was a big deal, because the British actually were responsible for maintaining stability in the Gulf, and so everybody assumed, okay, the British go, the Americans will step in and take over responsibility.
As you very well mentioned, our relations have never been as good as they are now, because they are based on an absolute trust and mutual interests.
SICK: The idea of the Americans stepping in and assuming responsibility for the stability of a whole area that was clearly not an easy one to deal with, at a time when we were fighting a war in Southeast Asia, was sort of unthinkable.
And Nixon really understood that.
He knew that the American people were just not going to buy it.
So he and Henry Kissinger came up with the idea of the Twin Pillar Policy, which was that the United States would, in effect, arrange with Iran to protect our interests in the region and take on that responsibility, based on deterring a Soviet move to the Persian Gulf.
So we would cooperate with the Shah to protect American security interests.
And the second pillar was Saudi Arabia.
We would cooperate with the Saudis to make sure that oil policy stayed reasonably stable.
NIXON: I would say that today American ties with Saudi Arabia have never been stronger and have never more solidly been based than they are now.
So those were our twin pillars in the region.
And that was agreed to by Nixon and Kissinger meeting with the Shah in 1972.
(engines puttering, people cheering) NIXON: And we know, Your Majesty, that the talks that I should be privileged to have with you will provide counsel and wisdom also for the cause of peace and progress for all people to which you have dedicated your life, and a cause with which we, all the people of the United States, are honored to cooperate with you.
(flags rustling) ♪ ♪ SICK: When Nixon was sitting across the table from the Shah in this meeting, asking the Shah to take on responsibility for American interests in the region, Nixon looked across the table at the Shah and said to him, "Protect me."
This is the President of the United States talking to the Shah of Iran.
He was protecting us.
It was a blank check for military equipment, with the exception of anything to do with nuclear weapons or delivery systems.
Anything else below that, including the highest technology fighters and everything else we produced, our answer would be yes.
(siren blaring) REPORTER: At every airbase in Iran, fully armed jet fighters wait outside their blast-proof hangars.
These drills go on every day.
Iran sees herself as surrounded by unstable and not-so-friendly neighbors.
And the Shah of Iran sees his massive investment in modern weapons as an absolute necessity.
I think that the reasons are there, loud and clear.
I'm not taking any chances.
(soldiers shouting) BROWN: He was the biggest single buyer of American weapons in the world.
(jet engines idling) REPORTER: Each of these planes costs around $5 million dollars.
While the West seems only too delighted to fuel the Shah's military ambitions, his growing war machine looks absurdly disproportionate to his defense needs, a positive danger to stability in the Gulf.
SICK: He was obsessed with military hardware.
And he was very smart, he was very knowledgeable.
And the White House would back up the Shah and give him whatever he wanted, because that was what we had promised him.
REPORTER: As commander-in-chief, why is it that you need a fighter-bomber force of 300 planes?
Why do you need 700 helicopters, 1,700 tanks?
Where exactly is the threat the demands of a war machine of this size?
SICK: I basically was hired at the National Security Council because the Shah was spending so much of his wealth on military equipment, that everybody was worried all the way up and down the line, and this was up to the level of the White House by this time, that he was creating trouble for himself by not paying enough attention to his domestic constituents.
The United States had been worried about this from day one.
(explosion) PAHLAVI: I think that we can... say very firmly and with absolute certainty that Iran will not only become an industrial nation, but, in my assessment, in 12 years time, enter what we say "the era of the Great Civilization."
SICK: The Shah desperately wanted the price of oil to go up.
He needed the money to carry out his very ambitious development plans.
When the massive breakthrough in terms of oil prices took place in the '70s, he quit taking orders from us entirely.
Suddenly, the Shah was one of the richest people in the world.
He had tremendous resources to work with, and the price went sky high.
BARRY ROSEN: He was supposedly our friend, our ally.
But at the same time, the Shah had his own sense of independence.
"I am the Light of the Aryans, and so why can't I start squeezing the American economy?"
And the huge sums of money piling up with the oil producers?
Well, it's new to you.
It's maybe a little shock at the beginning, but you are going to get used to it.
BARRY ROSEN: In the early 1970s, I remember people were lining up all the time to get gasoline and the prices were going higher and higher and the Shah was part of that process, leading OPEC in raising the prices of oil.
REPORTER: As the fuel shortage continues to grow, the strongest suggestion to come from Capitol Hill is for an all-out crash program, like the one to put a man on the moon, as a way to solve the energy crisis.
SICK: It was a huge shock all at once, and completely upset the finances of most countries in the world who had to import their oil.
BROWN (archival): OPEC members will continue to meet and set oil prices as they see fit.
This will almost certainly mean more expensive gasoline in the United States.
(interview): My husband was a BBC correspondent, and he was, in 1972, he was asked to open the first BBC bureau in Tehran.
It was a very interesting period for us.
We lived there in what we now call the bad old days of the Shah, but in many ways, it was a fantastic time.
Hilary Brown, ABC News, Tehran.
(interview): On the surface, the country seemed very, very westernized.
Oil revenues went up enormously under the Shah.
(tires screeching) Western businessmen were doing business in Iran, and it was said that the Pahlavis took a 15 percent cut of any contract that was signed in Iran.
BARRY ROSEN: A good deal of corruption started.
And the Pahlavis themselves, that Mohammad Reza Shah was the head of, owned a great deal of real estate.
A lot of the oil money started to move in that direction.
There was no accountability at all.
BROWN: He was certainly a celebrity, and his wife was extremely beautiful.
They sparkled, they were very glamorous and that added to their allure.
(people cheering) You know, the extravagance of the Pahlavis and their court were well-known.
But the middle class, the Iranian middle class did like him.
♪ ♪ NEWSREEL NARRATOR: Tehran, a waterhole when Persia was mighty, and now the capital of the new Iran.
♪ ♪ The tempo here is much the same as in any other city.
The traffic just as thick.
The working population equally burdened by office hours and the clock.
The miniskirt is here, with all its consequences.
(tires screech) ♪ ♪ BROWN: The role of women in Iran in the Shah's Iran was pretty unique.
And the Shah's father, Reza Shah, actually began the sort of emancipation of women when he abolished the veil.
CAROLE JEROME: The Shah's efforts to emancipate women had actually started with his father, who did it by force.
He tried to liberate women by having his soldiers ride along on their horses and rip their chadors from them.
And the women were terrified.
That really wasn't the way to bring Iranian women into a new century.
The Shah did it a different way; what he chose to do was to educate women.
♪ ♪ And give them a possibility to take part in society as educated citizens, as professionals, as lawyers, as doctors.
(speaking Farsi) BROWN: Under the Shah, they introduced equal rights in marriage and divorce, pretty much abolished polygamy, because Iranian men could have four wives if they wished, raised the, you know, legal marriage age to, I think, 16 from 13.
They could drive, and they did.
Hold public office, go to university, and wear Western dress, which they did with great flair, wear makeup.
And they had the right to vote, and they also had rights to abortion-- so, yes, they were relatively free under the Shah.
(car horns honking) What was different and strange in the Shah's Iran was the security police, and the degree to which people were watched.
(engine buzzing) REPORTER: Your Majesty, there's been considerable criticism in certain segments of the foreign press about political repression, censorship, the role of the security police in controlling potential opposition in Iran.
PAHLAVI: My only answer is that, who cares?
They can say whatever they want.
BROWN: Iran under the Shah was a police state.
I mean, a very nasty police state, and with a secret service known as the SAVAK, which was everywhere, which was all-pervasive.
There were SAVAK informers absolutely everywhere.
Why do you need a SAVAK at all?
Why do you need this secret police?
Who has... who hasn't got a secret police?
♪ ♪ REPORTER: Filmed secretly, the political prison of Evin, its cells and torture chambers buried underground.
One girl was sent there for owning a copy of "The Thoughts of Mao Zedong."
For months, they asked her a single question: "Who gave you the book?"
They started to torture me.
They flog, and they hang me from a ceiling.
They shocked with elec... electric shock.
REPORTER: They hung you from the ceiling?
Yes, here by the hand, by the wrists.
For three months, they tortured me, about 38 or 40 times, every morning and every afternoon.
BROWN: I don't think we really ever understood just how all-pervasive and terrifying SAVAK was for ordinary Iranians.
They lived in a perpetual state of fear and paranoia because there were so many informers.
They knew that they could be arrested at any moment just for a single slip of the tongue or a misplaced word.
And part of SAVAK's role was to elicit criticism, to provoke someone into saying something that could be vaguely critical of the monarchy, for example.
Then they would be arrested or disappeared or tortured or even executed.
♪ ♪ In 1975, when the Shah was at the peak of his powers, ABC thought that, you know, we should go in and do a series of stories on Iran, on pro-Western, pro-American Iran, and they thought that I'd be the person to do it because, you know, I had lived there.
I was then ABC's first female foreign correspondent.
So we started off with an interview with the Shah.
(birds chirping) You know, the Shah had to know about these abuses, since nothing was done without his orders.
Your Majesty, you were speaking of activities in the Gulf, subversion... (voiceover): And I began by asking the sort of softball questions about the economy, his ambitions to turn Iran into a great nation.
And then I sort of switched to the less convenient questions about the arrest of dissidents who have criticized you for your policies.
But there is no opposition to the regime, except those who are the terrorists.
Yes, we have.
We have them.
BROWN: You're saying that there's no opposition?
And then I moved into the question of human rights.
I know you've been frequently questioned about allegations of torture practiced by your secret police, and I must ask you this, because it does concern Americans.
Could I refer to an article in "The Sunday Times" which describes an instrument of torture called "the hot table," which is said to be used by SAVAK.
And they say that it's an iron frame covered with wire mesh that's electrically heated like a toaster.
And prisoners would be strapped to the table while it was heated until it became red hot.
Do you have any comment to make on that?
I mean, it's a terrifying allegation... Is it really something that you will ask in a television interview from a responsible man like me?
Yes, I think you're precisely the person I should ask about it.
It's so rubbish that I'm not even going to bother to answer to you.
It's rubbish, uh-huh.
The article also referred to the trial of an engineer who was tried, and the trial was attended by a couple of French lawyers, and they say that this man showed them the scars from such a table.
Here in Tehran.
Where were-- the scars, where?
In... on his back and on his chest.
You can scratch yourself very easily.
No, the lawyers said...
Which kind of lawyers?
That was considered to be... Really, honestly, never heard anything like this.
But you are really exaggerating.
This is not serious, this kind of interview.
I'm not going to answer to you any more.
Well, perhaps we could go on to something else... No, I'm finished.
Oh, please, Your Majesty.
I'm finished with you.
Don't you think we must ask you this sort of thing?
Well, can I ask you about your personal sense of mission, which you obviously have.
I'm not going to answer to you anymore.
You are so used to these questions.
Not from... Don't you think that... (rustling, static) The Shah then got up, shook my hand, and walked out.
♪ ♪ BARRY ROSEN: For the first time in Iranian history, a shah of Iran tried to control everything.
Shahs before him didn't control everything.
They controlled parts of society, but not everything.
♪ ♪ The United States made a deal with Iran, with the Shah explicitly, that we would not interfere in internal politics in Iran.
And this was an active ingredient in U.S.-Iran relations, up and until and including Jimmy Carter.
♪ ♪ Our destiny was set.
We were with the Shah and there was no other way out.
♪ ♪ After I came back from the Peace Corps, I was invited through a friend to go to Kennedy Airport to be part of the inaugural ceremony of the new 747 jumbo jet.
BARBARA ROSEN: There was a singles gathering on the 747s when they first came out, and it was at Kennedy Airport.
And as I walked through the plane, Barry, he approached me and said, "Is that an Iranian blouse you're wearing?"
It sort of set the stage for what our whole life was going to revolve around.
He was a graduate student at Columbia going for his doctorate in Iranian studies, and I was just a person from Brooklyn.
You know, I'd never met anyone like that, and it was very... intriguing.
When we started dating, he spoke a lot about the Peace Corps and how much he loved Iran and what a beautiful country it was.
And it was just so amazing, all of the things that he had done.
Eventually, Barry and I, we got married.
I was always interested in that part of the world, but always specifically wanted to get back to Iran.
And I wanted Barbara and the kids to feel what I felt about the place.
The opportunity arose to serve as the press attaché at the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
And that meant a whole bunch of problems in terms of Barbara's and my life, because I had to train in Washington and she had to move to Brooklyn.
But I was committed to go back to Iran.
(ambient traffic, distant fanfare) DAVID BRINKLEY: The Shah of Iran arrived in the U.S. today, coming to Washington tomorrow.
He says if the United States wants a strong ally on the Persian Gulf, it ought to be glad he is building a huge, formidable military machine.
BARRY ROSEN: During this time, I said, "Well, you know, the Shah's coming, I'd like to see what's going on."
WALTER CRONKITE (archive): Mr. Carter won't be the only one greeting the Shah in Washington.
(Iranian students protesting) STUDENT LEADER: Shah is a U.S. puppet!
Down with the Shah!
STUDENTS: Shah is a U.S. puppet!
Down with the Shah!
STUDENT LEADER: Shah is a fascist butcher!
Down with the Shah!
STUDENTS: Shah is a fascist butcher!
Down with the Shah!
STUDENT LEADER: U.S., get out of Iran!
STUDENTS: U.S., get out of Iran!
STUDENT LEADER: U.S., get out of Iran!
STUDENTS: U.S., get out of Iran!
(crowd clamoring) SICK: When the Shah arrived in Washington, his visit was preceded by days and days of groups of Iranian students across the street from the White House just bombarding us with noise.
(indistinct clamoring) COUNTER-PROTESTER: Iran is a leader in the fight against communist aggression around the world.
REPORTER: At least five planeloads of pro-Shah demonstrators are arriving in Washington, along with over 400 Iranian military men who are in training here in the United States.
COUNTER-PROTESTERS: We love the Shah!
WOMAN: Long live Shah!
COUNTER-PROTESTERS: Long live Shah!
REPORTER: And there have been ads in major American newspapers in support of the Shah.
Just who is paying for all of this is somewhat of a mystery.
MAN: Long live Shah!
COUNTER-PROTESTERS: Long live Shah!
BARRY ROSEN: The Iranian government sent in their own people as a counterweight against these student protesters, students who felt that they had no voice in Iran.
(clattering) SICK: The students, of course, wore masks, so that SAVAK couldn't identify them and know who to come after.
(indistinct yelling) OFFICER: Get away from him!
(fanfare playing) (helicopter blades churning) (fanfare continues) (tear gas bursting) BARRY ROSEN: I stood there, and I was trying to listen, and then there was this cloud of tear gas.
(popping) I couldn't really see anything.
It was a fiasco.
SICK: They got out of control, and so the police used some tear gas to quell the crowds.
JIMMY CARTER: This morning, our nation and its people are indeed honored to have visiting us from Iran... MAN (quietly): Clouds of tear gas... ...his Imperial Majesty and Empress Farah.
SICK: And that tear gas came wafting over the lawn.
Everybody was coughing and sneezing.
CARTER: Historically bound together... SICK: I was in one of the front rows in the audience, and it was my very first experience with tear gas.
CARTER: Your Imperial Majesty, we welcome you to our country.
(woman gasping for air) MAN: Hell of a welcome.
SICK: The Shah was up there trying to make his speech and wiping his eyes.
Mr. President, Mrs. Carter... WOMAN (inhaling): Oh, God.
(crowd murmuring indistinctly) Thank you very much for your very warm words of welcome.
(shouting) (indistinct yelling) CROWD (chanting): Down with the Shah!
Down with the Shah!
Down with the Shah!
SICK: It was certainly my first acquaintance with the fact that there were a lot of young Iranians who were very, very unhappy with the Shah and his rule.
♪ ♪ PROTESTORS: Down with the Shah!
Down with the Shah!
REPORTER: For 30 minutes, they fought one another and police, moving back and forth across the Ellipse behind the White House.
(pained crying, yelling) The Shah should kill them one by one.
REPORTER: It took police reinforcements and tear gas to end the fighting, but not until more than 80 people had been injured.
PROTESTERS: Down with the Shah!
(indistinct radio chatter) For me... it was one of the first portents of "things are not going right."
This movement within Iran that I kept reading about was early on.
But look what happened here in Washington, where everybody is protected from what's going on.
(birds cawing) SICK: You go through these things.
It's not that, that it didn't register; it did register.
I mean, this was a very powerful moment.
But... it doesn't translate into saying that this ruler is doomed.
(indistinct clamoring) You looked at that group of people clustered across the street from the White House and you put that against a well-oiled regime with lots of soldiers and the like, and it was going to take more than that to bring him down.
(crowd cheering) REPORTER: The Shah told reporters he wasn't bothered by the demonstrations.
The nature of these demonstrations shows that they are violent.
They are nihilistic.
They are working for world disorder.
And... we are not a, a weakling that is going to fall.
SICK: We met in the Cabinet Room, and Carter apologized for this, was clearly embarrassed and aggrieved that this could happen to a guest that was there.
They sat down and immediately began talking high policy and military security and across the board.
REPORTER: The Shah of Iran said last night that President Carter talked him into changing his position from one of neutrality on keeping oil prices down to a position of activism.
ED BRADLEY: In a shift from his earlier public pronouncements, the Shah said Iran would fight any efforts to increase the price of oil.
It's now thought that the Carter administration will seek congressional approval for the Shah's request for sophisticated military equipment.
♪ ♪ CARTER: Some have asked why we came to Iran so close behind the delightful visit that we received from the Shah and Empress Farah just a month or so ago.
After they left our country, I asked my wife, "With whom would you like to spend New Year's Eve?"
And she said, "Above all others, I think, with the Shah and Empress Farah."
So we arranged a trip accordingly, and... (applause) ...came for the New Year.
(applause continues, fades) SICK: We didn't see any demonstrations in Tehran.
There were people along the road all the way in, and at no point along the way were we confronted with protesters at all.
Iran, because of the great leadership of the Shah, is an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world.
This is a great tribute to you, Your Majesty, and to the respect and the admiration and love which your people give to you.
I would like to offer a toast, and to the world peace that we hope together we can help to bring.
(glasses clinking, flash bulbs popping) SICK: The Iranian revolution started in January of 1978, within weeks of when Carter was actually in Tehran.
(applause) The irony, of course, was enormous.
(applause continues) ♪ ♪ In January of 1978, the Shah and SAVAK published an article accusing Khomeini of being a British agent, a homosexual, a lot of things.
And there was outrage about this.
(protesters chanting) It led to these demonstrations.
(indistinct speaking on megaphone) PROTESTERS (in Farsi): (distant weapons firing) SICK: And a number of people were killed.
In Shia Islam, there's a tradition that after a death, you wait for 40 days and you have a commemoration.
(protesters clamoring) There would be another demonstration.
(distant gunfire) More people would get killed, and 40 days after that, there would be another.
(weapons firing, crowd shouting) REPORTER: The government says that the death toll is officially 97.
The people here at this funeral say it was ten or 20 times that just in Tehran alone.
SICK: It was actually this 40-day interval that set off this series of demonstrations that got bigger and bigger as the year went along.
(protesters chanting) (chanting): (weapons firing) (helicopter blades whirring) (chanting): BARRY ROSEN: I was ready to go to Iran with the family early November of 1978.
But I was held back by Washington and told there might be a restriction in bringing families.
BARBARA ROSEN: By the time we were ready to go, the revolution started.
Families were told not to go, Barry was told not to go.
I think he delayed until almost Thanksgiving and then he was sent.
♪ ♪ BARRY ROSEN: And I said, "Well, looks like I'm going to have to go without the family."
But I was duty bound, I needed to go.
(horn honks) By the time I arrived in Iran, Ambassador Sullivan had already started to move American families out.
Many, many members of corporations and businesses were leaving.
PETER JENNINGS: Martial law has been declared in 12 cities, including the capital.
Just after it was imposed, government troops fired on demonstrators in Tehran.
They were defying a ban on public protest.
BARRY ROSEN: The military had already shot into Iranian crowds, in September of 1978 in Jaleh Square.
Killed many people.
(gunfire) JENNINGS: 58 people were killed and more than 200 wounded in today's bloodshed.
(horns and sirens sounding) BARRY ROSEN: The situation was becoming somewhat untenable, and no one really knew what was going to happen.
(crowd clamoring) (whistles blaring) My office was about a half a mile away from the embassy.
I would spend time walking around and trying to see what was happening during the revolutionary period.
(man speaking indistinctly) And so I walked one day to the university.
The faculty was having a slideshow on what was happening to the people who had been protesting.
(film slides shuffling) Men blown up.
Women shot in the head.
It went on and on.
(film slides shuffling) People were crying in the audience.
It was nothing fit for children, but children were there with their parents.
It knocked me out.
It really knocked me out, and I remember writing a cable to Washington about this and saying, "How can we be here "and support the Shah under these circumstances that were so absolutely disgusting?"
♪ ♪ (protesters chanting) REPORTER: Millions march in the streets of Iran protesting the rule of the Shah.
Violent and bloody clashes escalate between the Shah's militant opposition and his martial law soldiers.
Oil workers strikes impose nationwide fuel rationing, stop oil exports, and Iran goes to the brink of economic collapse.
In each case, the calls for mass protests were issued by this aged man, and Iranians eagerly obeyed him.
(man speaking indistinctly) (car passing by) JEROME: I was the producer for the CBC bureau in Paris when Khomeini arrived in France from exile in Iraq.
The Shah had made the mistake of thinking that if he was out of the Middle East, he wouldn't be able to meddle so much in Iranian affairs.
It was a huge mistake, because then all of a sudden Khomeini had all of the Western media right at his doorstep-- literally.
ROBERT McNEIL: To protect him from possible assassination, the French police are providing heavy, round-the-clock security.
JENNINGS: Khomeini was, by most accounts, a relatively obscure religious teacher until his outspoken opposition to the Shah's modernization program led to his exile in 1963.
He may hold more power over the fate of Iran than any other single individual.
What have the Americans done to you... IBRAHIM YAZDI: (repeating in Farsi) McNEIL: ...That you object to?
YAZDI: (repeats in Farsi) (speaking Farsi) YAZDI (translating): The American government, they have committed the biggest crime by imposing on our people the Pahlavi dynasty.
JEROME: Some of his lieutenants had been calling the Western press in Paris to publicize what they were trying to do in bringing down the Shah, this revolution they were running.
REPORTER: How far must the Shah now go before you're able to call for peace?
What must he do?
SADEGH GHOTBZADEH: He has no place in Iran anymore.
He perhaps has become wise and has understood that the sooner he goes, it is better for himself and for the Iranian people.
(protesters chanting indistinctly) Mr. Carter and the other... JEROME: That was my first introduction to the Iranian Revolution and to the people who were running it, and especially Ghotbzadeh.
I first met Sadegh Ghotbzadeh when he came to the CBC bureau to be interviewed by me.
We had a relationship in Paris, which carried on.
I have to confess that I fell for him the minute I met him.
He was really quite an extraordinary, charismatic, and impressive person.
We want to be free.
and leave alone to decide for ourselves.
JEROME: And that was the beginning of a long personal relationship I had with him.
♪ ♪ Being with Sadegh meant I had an understanding at a personal level of what was happening with the different factions and rivalries, especially among the moderates, who could not get their act together.
Ghotbzadeh, and Bani Sadr, and Ibrahim Yazdi-- they were the secular leaders of the revolutionary movement who had been working for the revolution for a long, long time in exile.
Can you tell us how it could be in Britain's interest to support your cause against the Shah?
(soldiers marching) JEROME: They realized they weren't going to overthrow someone as powerful as the Shah of Iran without the help of the mosque.
(soldiers marching) A lot of them-- of the moderates-- were almost willfully blind to what Khomeini really represented, because they wanted so badly for this revolution to work.
But they completely underestimated him.
JOHN CHANCELLOR: The Ayatollah Khomeini, who says he will establish a new Islamic government, is a tough and prejudiced man.
He has written, "We want a ruler who would "cut off the hand of his own son if he steals and would flog and stone his near relative if he fornicates."
♪ ♪ JEROME: One of Khomeini's main objections to the Shah was his emancipation of women.
So we women who were reporters really saw from the outset what this man was like.
KHOMEINI: BARRY ROSEN: The big spark in the revolution came from mullahs distributing Khomeini's cassettes from Paris.
KHOMEINI: BARRY ROSEN: These hardcore mullahs were willing to oppose the Shah, and they had connections with the poorer people.
(indistinct chanting) The ones who were trodden upon.
(indistinct chanting) They were going to lift up Iran.
(crowd clamoring) CROWD: BARRY ROSEN: The Shah didn't understand that for most of his reign, he destroyed the liberal opposition so devastatingly, that there was no opposition but the religious opposition.
♪ ♪ They are well-organized and they're there to tell the Shah, "You're gone.
You're not going to survive."
(birds chirping) SICK: I'm watching what was going on in Iran during this whole period time, and relaying what I learned to the president.
And we had this discussion.
Things aren't looking good, but the reality is the Shah has a 400,000-man army, superbly equipped with everything you could possibly imagine.
And the opposition appears to be a bunch of clerics operating out of the mosque, for the most part, unarmed.
Oh, well, who would you bet on?
We have confidence in the Shah.
We support him and his efforts.
BARRY ROSEN: It seemed clear to me that there was a split amongst the White House, the State Department, and people on the ground-- that is, many of us at the embassy.
The Shah of Iran had one of the largest armies in the world.
The officer corps was devoted to the Shah, but most of the soldiers were conscripts from the villages.
These were the ones who would be used to fire on their own people.
WALTERS: Your Majesty, there were reports that your army may be disloyal to you.
Are you concerned about this?
How could that be possible?
So the army you feel certain about?
You feel loyalty?
If it was so, it would be the end of the country.
BARRY ROSEN: Ambassador Sullivan was talking about the issue in a long memo, "Thinking the Unthinkable," where he outlined the possibility that the Shah may not survive, but that the most important thing was to keep the army intact.
(typewriter keys clattering) (indistinct yelling) "Thinking the Unthinkable" means we need to keep Iran working with us, even if there's a change in government.
♪ ♪ Whereas National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski was not in favor of hearing that.
He was thinking about the survivability of the Shah.
SICK: Brzezinski was an unreconstructed Cold Warrior, so I think he did see the Iranian revolution in Cold War terms.
He was tough, he was competitive to the nth degree.
As an example, he had a picnic for the members of the National Security Council staff and he said, "Why don't we have a soccer match?"
I was the goalie, actually, on Brzezinski's side and the game began and what everybody realizes is that everybody else was wearing sneakers and the like and Brzezinski had showed up in combat boots.
♪ ♪ He was not a lovable character.
We had long conversations about what was going on in Iran, and we came to the same conclusion every time.
Yes, there was trouble... (protesters chanting) ...but the Shah had the capacity to deal with it if he chose to do so.
(crowd clamoring) (chanting) (chanting continues) We misjudged him tremendously.
The Shah wanted everybody to believe in the image that he created for himself.
He worked hard at that.
And where we were really wrong in our intelligence analyses is that the Shah was unwilling, deliberately unwilling, to take the kind of severe action that was necessary to stop the revolution.
(indistinct radio chatter) JUDY WOODRUFF: There are persistent reports tonight that the Shah of Iran will indeed leave the country.
Official Iranian radio says he will go for medical treatment and relaxation.
(protesters chanting) (in Farsi): REPORTER: SHAH: ♪ ♪ BARRY ROSEN: January 16, 1979.
He goes to Mehrabad Airport.
He's met by a member of the military.
The officer tries to kiss his feet.
And he's given a small little chest of the earth of Iran.
That was the last time he ever saw Iran in his lifetime.
SICK: The amazing thing is how fast.
Hundreds of years of Iranian history, and it's all over in a year.
♪ ♪ (muffed whistling) ♪ ♪ BARRY ROSEN: The entire city of Teheran went wild.
People were just overjoyed.
♪ ♪ (cheering) ♪ ♪ REPORTER: At the Ayatollah's headquarters outside Paris, the word is that he's going.
IBRAHIM YAZDI: Ayatollah has made the following statement on the occasion of his departure.
(in French): (reporters chattering indistinctly) JEROME: Those of us who were part of the press corps in Paris, we all had the possibility of getting on that plane.
And I was one of those who was issued a ticket.
(plane engine droning) NEWS ANCHOR: "Sunday Morning's" Carole R. Jerome is on the Air France 747 with Khomeini.
JEROME (archive): It's tempting to try to imagine the feelings of Khomeini right now as he sits up there ahead of us.
During the weeks we've seen him at his exile headquarters in France, we have never seen him smile or show the slightest sign of emotion.
(speaking indistinctly) JEROME (archive): Sadegh Ghotbzadeh says he is calm right now.
(voiceover): There were many, many journalists on that flight.
This is an historic moment, and we felt very fortunate to be on that plane.
(archive): None of us are really very sure of just what awaits him and us down there.
(plane rumbling) We've touched down.
(voiceover): When the Ayatollah set foot again in Iran, someone said to him, as he came off the plane, actually, "How do you feel now you're back in Iran after so many years in exile?"
And he said, "Nothing."
He said he felt nothing.
(crowd cheering) BARRY ROSEN: I've never seen a crowd that large, and that exuberant, and that in love with someone.
(crowd cheering) (cheering, sirens blaring) It's extraordinary how one man can command such adoration, how so many people can believe that this frail old priest holds all the answers to Iran's problems.
(crowd chanting) KHOMEINI: (cheers and applause) JEROME (archive): This is a day of victory.
But there is a grim sullenness here too.
It's not over yet.
(voiceover): There must have been ten million people there.
And we realized, this is what a revolution looks like.
This is it.
REPORTER: The army, once loyal to the Shah, has now declared itself neutral, and the soldiers have been ordered back to their barracks.
REPORTER: Army barracks were plundered and guns distributed almost like confetti.
They ransacked police stations and commandeered abandoned tanks.
The atmosphere was euphoric.
Gunmen were everywhere.
BARRY ROSEN: The police force was totally disorganized, really didn't play a part in Iranian society at that time.
(flames roaring) JEROME: It was anarchy.
They often say if you put five revolutionaries in a jail cell together, they'll emerge with six different points of view.
There were so many factions.
(indistinct yelling) (cheering) REPORTER: A mass of people this size may look united and purposeful, but on the ground it's a shifting and volatile coalition of different and sometimes conflicting groups.
JEROME: There were first the Muslim students.
They wanted this Islamic Democratic Republic.
And Bani Sadir and Ghotbzadeh and the other moderates had been part of that.
There was the Mujahedeen Khalq-- the basically Warriors of God-- who were very far left, fanatical extremists.
There was the Fedayeen, another Islamist group that was more Marxist.
(singing): JEROME: There was the Tudeh, the Moscow-backed Iranian Communist Party.
And at first you had certain pro-Shah groups.
(chanting): JEROME: But they just melted away very, very quickly.
(weapons firing) It was like being a reporter with a camera crew at the French Revolution.
It's as though you were there at the guillotine with your camera.
BARRY ROSEN: Most of the executions were televised.
Whether it was a former member of SAVAK, whether it was the former prime minister of Iran, Hoveyda, and a large coterie of generals, they were being executed day in and day out by revolutionary courts.
One of the worst of all was Ayatollah Khalkhali.
He was called the Hanging Judge.
And you knew once you were in front of him, you were a dead man.
(weapons firing) Vigilantes, gangster-like guerrilla forces, were all over Tehran.
(flames roaring) (weapons firing, indistinct yelling) There were these battles going on.
And your incidents around the embassy that were becoming very, very tense.
(yelling, chanting in Farsi) JAMES ROBERTS: February 14, 1979, we were witnessing massive demonstrations.
I was a trained intelligence officer settling into the embassy in Tehran.
(protestors chanting) There were long throngs of crowds chanting in the street.
"Long live Khomeini," "Death to the Shah," though the Shah was already gone, and "Death to America."
BARRY ROSEN: I was with the ambassador at his desk, when all of a sudden... (loud crashing) (flames roaring) ...rocket propelled grenades fly through his window.
Put a hole in the wall about ten feet wide.
(weapons firing) ROBERTS: When we were under direct attack, we asked the ambassador, "Should we return fire?"
He said no.
(weapons firing) (clamoring) (weapons firing, indistinct yelling) REYNOLDS: This has been a dark, indeed, a devastating day for the United States in Iran.
An embassy seized by an armed mob.
BARRY ROSEN: Within moments, they were upstairs.
I surrendered the embassy, I said, "We give up."
ROBERTS: And they marched us out into the main parking lot and stood us up against the wall.
It would have been easy for us all to have been shot right there.
(sirens blaring, indistinct yelling) JENNINGS: It was certainly an interesting Valentine's Day at the American embassy compound-- left-wing Iranians stormed it, Khomeini's man rescued them.
ROBERTS: A negotiation occurred and we were "free."
But we still had these Iranian government officials in our midst.
REPORTER: The United States embassy here is in the hands of Iran's revolutionary forces.
The embassy is being guarded by Ayatollah Khomeini's ragtag militiamen.
ROBERTS: That first takeover was absolutely unprecedented.
Diplomats are supposed to be off-limits to the political vagaries of what's going on in the country where they're assigned.
BARRY ROSEN: Throughout history, embassies represent the place where the interchange of cultures and societies and politics takes place between nations.
It is a sacrosanct area.
SICK: Valentine's Day was a warning of what we were up against.
Embassies operate on the trust that the government around them will protect them.
And if they don't, there's very little that you can actually do.
You cannot turn the embassy into a fortress and have it defend itself against a whole country.
(sirens blaring) BARRY ROSEN: Between February 14 and November 4, 1979, the level of violence was enormous.
(flames roaring distantly, gunfire) It was a maelstrom of insecurity.
(demonstrators chanting) REPORTER: Anti-Americanism, particularly among the leftists, has flourished because of what is perceived by many as President Carter's too strong and too long support of the Shah.
PROTESTER: We are not opposite with the American people.
We are opposite with government, American government all over the world.
We are opposite.
And we want to kick out all imperialism.
We want this country for ourselves.
ROBERTS: I came back to the States and was debriefed by a number of agencies.
My advice was we should break our diplomatic relations, close the compound.
Too big, too visible, too much bad blood.
(gate rattling) I was convinced that our relationship was going to continue to deteriorate.
(indistinct chatter) ♪ ♪ REPORTER: There's been a lot of speculation about where the Shah himself and his empress might stay in the United States.
This is one of the places considered very likely.
It's the estate of publisher Walter Annenberg in Palm Springs, California.
BARRY ROSEN: When the Shah left Iran, he had requested to go to the United States.
There was this debate in Washington.
The ambassador said it would be a big mistake to do it.
The decision to accept the Shah was rescinded.
The Shah was asked to find another place to go.
(jet engine droning) SICK: Well, initially, he flew to Egypt, and met with Sadat.
REPORTER: This is probably the Shah's first stop on his road to exile.
He invited himself to Egypt, officials said, and President Sadat went along, perhaps with some nudging from the U.S. SICK: He then flew on to Morocco.
The king of Morocco was a friend.
(wildlife chittering) But he way overstayed his welcome, and eventually the United States had to come and quietly suggest that maybe he ought to move on.
He left there and went to the Bahamas.
REPORTER: Your Majesty, can you say how long you intend to stay here?
Well, I'm afraid not.
But it's a beautiful place.
Do you expect to settle permanently here, sir?
We are visiting.
SICK: He hadn't told anybody that he was ill.
He kept that a secret at the risk of his own life.
It was only while he was in exile in Mexico that we discovered that he was apparently dying and he needs medical treatment urgently.
(car horns honking) Carter was faced with a situation about bringing the Shah into the country.
And, he called a meeting: vice president, secretary of the defense, secretary of state, et cetera.
One after another, they went around the room telling the president that for political reasons, he simply couldn't say no to the Shah.
And at the end he said, "Well, okay, "I hear what you're saying.
"You're all unanimous that we should let the Shah come in.
"But I wonder what you're going to tell me when they take our people hostage in Iran."
♪ ♪ (siren wailing) CHANCELLOR: The Shah of Iran is in a New York City hospital tonight.
An American government source in Washington says the deposed Iranian monarch is suffering from cancer and a blocked bile duct.
The Shah arrived last night after getting special approval from the U.S. government to be treated at New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center, one of the country's best hospitals.
BARRY ROSEN: When we heard that the decision was made to permit the Shah to come to the United States, we were astonished.
(indistinct yelling) (chanting) Why did they not listen to us?
(crowd chanting) BARBARA ROSEN: The families, as well as the people who were in the embassy, always felt that if the Shah was truly a sick person and needed to be admitted to the United States for medical reasons, that was legitimate.
However, we also all felt families, as well as people at the embassy, that they should have been evacuated before the Shah was admitted to the United States.
There was no reason to keep the embassy open knowing the threats that had been made against our people.
BIERMAN: It may seem like paranoia to the rest of the world, but from everything the Ayatollah, his followers, and the press have been saying, it seems they really do believe that the Shah's sickness is just a cover, and that he's in the United States to plot a counter-revolution with the Americans.
(chanting) (car horns honking) BARRY ROSEN: Conspiracy theories within Iran are rampant.
And they're based in some fact.
They're based on 1953, on the coup against Mosaddegh.
♪ ♪ Many people were saying this is the United States doing it once again, bringing the Shah back-- to rule.
And he will murder us all.
♪ ♪ For those students, following the Line of the Imam, who were preparing already for something to happen, who already were coalescing and meeting, and they had groups of people organized in different ways, this was a perfect conspiracy.
(crowd singing and clapping indistinctly) (singing continues) REPORTER: The embassy is occupied by about 400 students.
On the outside there are... REPORTER: His name is Barry Rosen, he is the embassy's press attaché.
(indistinct radio chatter) BARRY ROSEN: I only served in Iran all these many years because I cared so much for a culture and a people who...
I really admired.
I said to myself, "Why am I a prisoner?
"Why shouldn't Henry Kissinger be the prisoner?
SICK: As far as the Iranian people were concerned, we were just as guilty as the Shah about anything that happened.
So when Americans asked, "Why do they hate us so much?"
which was a reasonable question, it just meant we had very short memories.
You didn't have to go back more than 30 years to figure out why they didn't like us.
(crowd clamoring) (crowd chanting) (chanting continues) ♪ ♪ ANNOUNCER: Next time... MAN: The hostages were going to be there until Khomeini decided to let them go.
WOMAN: He realized this was a way to hold the Americans over a barrel.
WOMAN: I never thought that the United States would try to free the hostages with military action.
WOMAN: You've never seen two countries that understood each other so little.
ANNOUNCER: The conclusion of "Taken Hostage," next time on "American Experience."
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