tv Iran Hostage Crisis 40th Anniversary CSPAN December 24, 2019 2:17pm-3:16pm EST
kathryn koob, held for 444 days, and kathleen stafford, who was able to escape in the mission, talked about their experiences during the iran hostage crisis 40 years later. the chicago council on global affairs hosted this event. >> good evening and welcome. i'm matt abbott, the director of government and diplomatic programs here at the chicago council on global affairs. welcome to our program. 444 days, voices of the iran hostage cry is. today's event is on the record, and we are live streaming. please silence your phones, though we welcome social media engagement. the council is an independent and non-partisan platform. views expressed by individuals we host are their own and do not represent views or positions of the council. before this evening's program begins, we'll hear a flash talk. the doctor is the ceo and
president of people analytics. his work focuses on demistying people's behaviors and opinions in complex societies and difficult contexts, such as iran. he holds degrees from syracuse university's maxwell school and a phd in policy studies from the university of maryland college park. following the flash talk, we'll begin our panel discussion, and i'll introduce our panelists at that time. unfortunately, professor john st stimple, the former chief of the tehran embassy section, is unable to join us tonight. please join me in welcoming the doctor. [ applause ] >> hello, hello. i appreciate the chance to be here. hello to chicago. it's my first time here. thanks for the welcome. [ applause ] >> oh, thank you. i am presenting to you a survey that has been jointly done between iran poll and chicago
council on global affairs. iranian public opinion four decades after the hostage crisis. yeah, so iran poll. independent company focusing on opinion polling, only on iran but from toronto, canada. hello to canadian consulate people here. we're based in toronto. that is one of our call centers in toronto. scientific polling from iran has been proven to be reliable, scientific. as an example, in the last presidential election in iran in 2017, when president rouhani, the current president was selected, iran poll was able to predict the results of the election. we send the results to economists. they published it web day befone the election. our prediction was accurate between two percentage points of the official results. it is something that could be
reliably used, as is with any other polling. so the polling i'm presenting today is used by exact same methodology. 1,000 sample size. it was conducted by telephone. it was conducted in october 2019. it is very fresh. going into it, iranians say the economy is bad and it is getting worse. interestingly, they blame their own government more than they blame the united states or the sanctions. so 68% of iranians say economic situation is bad. 54% say it is getting worse. now, 55% of iranians, they blamed the domestic economy by mismanagement and corruption. 38% blame the social pressures. you see the continued trend. that does not, however, mean that the iranians are not seeing
the effect of sanctions. when we asked how much of a negative influence are the sanctions having on the economic situation of your family, we get 76% of iranians say it is having a negative effect on them. 53% say it's having a lot of negative effect on their family. despite these poor economic conditions, despite all the pressure, still iranian people are not ready to give in to current administration's demands. so we proposed a scenario to them. in this scenario, we told them, suppose that the united states were to propose a deal where by most u.s. sanctions on iran would be gradually lifted and iran would be able to have a peaceful nuclear energy program. in return for agreeing to fully and permanently giving up the right to enrich uranium on its
soil and to always allow international inspections of its facilities. do you think you'd agree or not? 73% of iranians said, no, we reject that deal. 53% strongly rejected that deal. now why? two reasons. there was a classic rallying around the flag here. that's something you can expect from any human society. when we asked in the same survey how proud are you to be iranian, we get 90% of iranians saying they're extremely proud or very proud to be iranian. gallop is asking the same questions from time ago. united states, the american people, they're 47% extremely proud to be. iranians are 68%. this level of saying they're extremely proud is very similar to 11 september in the united
states. so when there is a real attack towards your country, you have this effect, the rally around the flag. there is another point, iranians really believe they have the right to have peaceful nuclear program. 90%. so that helps, as well. a second reason for why iranians are rejecting the deal that we put in front of them, it's the simple fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. it's the idea that if -- in jcpoa, they didn't hold their part of the bargain, who says they will again? we have been asking the popularity of jcpoa, the nuclear agreement with iran, since 2015 continuously. 76% of iranians used to support it. now it's down to 42%. we asked another question from
iranians. thinking about how the jcpoa has worked out so far, which view is closer to you? first, the expeerrience shows is worked well for iran to make concessions, because they can negotiate mutually beneficial agreements with world powers. or the jcpoa experience shows that it is not worthwhile for iran to make concessions because iran can't have confidence that if it makes a concession with world powers, they'll honor the a i agreeme agreement. 72% of iranians say it has not worked well to make concessions with the world powers. i want to end with good news. it's better. first good news, iranians are really not supportive of nuclear weapons program. when we asked them, do you think iran should or should not develop nuclear weapons? we get 59% saying it should not. interestingly, 66% of iranians say the development of nuclear weapons is against the teachings of islam. while 17%, they say islam does
not prohibit the development of nuclear weapons. interestingly, only 18% of iranians didn't have an opinion about what islam says, which shows a very confident people about islam. the last point, iranians are not categorically against negotiations with the trump administration. when we gave them this option, if the united states returns to the jcpoa, leaves all sanctions related to iran's nuclear program, and is willing to talk in a forum that includes all the p-5 plus 1 countries, under such condition, to what degree would you support or oppose iran holding the meetings? they were supportive. the future does have some hope for us. thank you. [ applause ]
zbl thank y >> thank you very much. it is my distinct honor to welcome our panelists. kate koob is a professor. she spent over 27 years in the diplomatic service of the united states. in 1979, she was serving as the director of the iran-america society. she's one of the 52 americans who spent 444 days as a hostage in iran after the seizure of the u.s. embassy in tehran. kathleen stafford is an artist whose work has been acquired by american and foreign embassies in museums around the world. 1979, she was a visa clerk at the embassy in tehran when it was seized. she was one of six americans exfiltrated from iran with the assistance of the central intelligence agency and the canadian government after the embassy seizure. please join me in welcoming our
panelists. [ applause ] thank you again for being here. i'd like to set the stage. in 1979, what was the political climate like in iran when you arrived there? >> well, there were curfews. we were limited in terms of where we could go. my question was, what does an islamic republic look like? that was the reason i was there. this was the stated goal of the revolution, to establish an islamic republic. people were unsure. everybody was treading lightly. people who were known to have been workers for the shah lived in fear. people lived in fear. there were people yanked out of their jobs and, because of their loyalty to the shaw, were tried and executed. it was a very tenuous situation when we -- when i first arrived
in july. we were working carefully to see what we could do and what we couldn't. i was the director of the iran-america society, but i met with the italian cultural society, the german cultural director, et cetera. we talked about, what did we think we could and couldn't do in our cultural centers? everyone was walking care flich fully. >> we were there two months before the takeover. we a i rivalled in september. we just moved into the participat apartment. i had the clothes on the dining room chairs. she didn't come the day of the takeover. she was your housekeeper. >> that's right. >> i went to work. we were excited. this was a new adventure for us. we're going to see this wonderful country that is famous for its culture, poetry, and history.
on the weekend, we went to the caspian sea, little trips. the weekend before the takeover, we made it back just in time. so kate's memories of what it was like before that are more clear than mine. >> this monday was the 40th anniversary of the seizure of the u.s. embassy. what were your experiences on november 4th, 1979, in the subsequent days? >> well, the iran-america society was, i think, about 3 kilometers from the embassy. we had our own building. this was a very strong structure and had been going well for many years. we worked together. the board of this society was iranian and american. we had english lessons and farsi lessons. the iranian board was working with us as we were trying to figure out with the italians and the french and the germans what we could do and where we could
go. and on that morning, we were having a board meeting. in the middle of the meeting, my secretary, ava, said, i think you better take this phone call. it was one of my board members saying, this is a major demonstration going on at the embassy. you might want to check and see that everything is okay at the society. as a matter of fact, two of my staff members went down to the embassy to see if they could see what was going on. we turned on radio and television to see if anything was being carried on the local news. it became very clear this wasn't going to go away. so the story goes on from there. but it was -- it was aggressive from the very beginning. we hoped, and my personal hope was that the foreign ministry would do what they had done at an earlier demonstration. i think it was in february. they basically said, okay,
you've made your point. you've demonstrated. this is an embassy. these are diplomatic grounds. now let's be on our way. we could settle down and see what was going on. that didn't happen, obviously. >> back at the branch, we were closed. the visa section was closed to protest the fact that there had been lots of graffiti, "down with america," "death to carter," written on the walls of the embassy that weekend. we were protesting. we had no visa applicants that day. so i went over. i thought this was a good chance to go over and get my diplomatic id card. i walked across the compound and turned in my passport, which meant i wasn't going anywhere without that afterwards. the ladies in the office were very nervous. they said, why did you come to work today? i said, i always come to work. they said, no, but today is the day of the martyrs. so then i went back across the compound and told my husband he should go over there because
those ladies were in a bad mood. he should get his id card, too. if he had gone, he would have been in the chancery at the time of the takeover. luckily he didn't listen to me, and we both ended up in the consula consulate. slammed all the doors when we saw that there was a mob outside. people had sticks and bats and things like that. so after about two hours, there were various activities that came and went. the rso walked across the compound, our regional security officer walked across the compound, trying to figure out what to do. he thought he could talk the students out of staying on the compound and leaving. so after a while, we thought we smelled smoke. we were all upstairs in the second floor of the building. it was safer. we thought we smelled smoke, so we thought we better -- we were probably going to have to leave. we destroyed the visa plate so no one could make false visas.
the other wife and i -- there was one other spouse there, another couple, cora and i were there on an exceptional basis. we were the only spouses there at post. washington had thought they would be bringing back adult dependents. after they saw the state of the country and that it was unstable, they were rethinking that. in any case, cora and i thought, they're going to send us home. we can't issue visas anyway. how far would you like me to go along? >> i think that is a good point. >> okay. >> prior to november 4th, did you ever anticipate that something as dramatic as the actual seizure of the embassy was a possibility? >> well, during our training period and talking about the history and what's going on, and given the history of the united states embassies all around the world, my fear was that there might be some sort of a retaliatory act, some reason or
somebody -- i thought we'd all be told to pack one bag and get out of the country. that's the normal procedure. although, that year, there had been a very serious demonstration of -- and one of our ambassadors, i believe, was killed in afghanistan? >> mm-hmm. >> earlier that year. there were memories in my mind of other takeovers, of not embassies but american diplomatic facilities. so i really was very much prepared to pack one suitcase and leave, but i was not prepared to stay for 14 months. no, i did not think that, about that. >> kathleen? >> i think we had a town hall meeting. must have been the weekend before that that we were told the shah was going to be allowed to enter the united states for medical treatment. then the ambassador -- i guess
it was bruce langan, he said, there are various possibilities on the gamut of nothing will happen and maybe they'll try to attack the embassy. none of us knew what would happen. it was a wait and see. as kate said, we were hoping it was just going to be at most we'd have to leave. >> where you stopped your story, many people in the room may be familiar with the movie "argo," which dramatized your exit from iran. what did the movie get right, and where did they take creative liberty? >> well, with that, there we were up on the second floor, thinking we smelled smoke. we should leave. various people left in groups. people were in the non-immigrant section that day. we looked outside the back door where the visa applicants could come in without having to enter
on to the main compound. that was a little alley off the side. that was a separate entrance that only we had. there was nobody there. the students either didn't know about that entrance, or because the consulate had been moved from a different part of the compound, they weren't aware of it. so we realized the coast was clear. we left in small groups. first the iranians. then our local -- the visiting iranians and then our local staff. then there were about 12 or 13 of us americans. we split into smaller groups. in our group, there was the other couple, bob anders, who was our boss, and joe and i, my husband and i, and a couple of other people. so we all went out with our group. it started to rain, which was probably really lucky because we put up umbrellas. everybody was concerned about rain and not us. so then we headed off toward the british embassy, which was supposed to be our sanctuary.
we didn't know where it was. one of the iranian employees said she would show us. as we were walking that way, we saw a really large mob, another group of people coming from that direction. bob anders was with us and said, i live closeby. i'm going home. we said, we're coming with you, bob. we separated a little more and walked to bob's house. when we got to his house, we listened to the embassy radio. we could hear voices. we could hear all the americans talking back and forth. trying to figure out what to do. people talking about the vault, which is where all the classified information is kept. finally, we only heard foreign speakers. we knew everyone had been captured or taken. then we called kate. >> and they came over. it was evening by that time. >> that's right. >> we were still doing all right. as i said, my staff had gone out. they came back, and we were --
they said, yeah, it's really serious. so i called the embassy and got an answer switchboard -- or from the switchboard, embassy occupied. i remembered i had a direct extension. i called bruce's office. his secretary said, kate, it is bad. get ahold of the guys in the communications center. find out what's going on from them. they're in touch with state. i called using that, and they were shredding material, taking care of classified stuff. they said, call state. they gave me the number at the department of state to call at the operations center. they had another link. i and my staff. and some of my staff were helping me do this.
you know, god bless them. they were taking a chance. but they were monitoring what was being said on radio and television, taking notes, transcribing it. we were feeding that back to washington, to the op center, and also linking to the communication center until they said, we're going to have to go out. state says, tell them they've done a good job and we'll say good-bye. the next thing i heard was, tell them they're gone. we told them that. that was when the vault was breached. they were taken over by the farsi people. >> we were trying to figure out what was going on. toward evening -- well, kathy, another person had showed up there. she couldn't get back to the office. she had been at the airport that morning.
supposed to be going home. >> lillian johnson. >> lillian, right. she came back and was there helping us. the six of you showed up. i said, good. we can sleep. we stretched out on the sofas in the library. they got on the phones with washington until it was almost sunrise. i think you went to my house. >> we went to the other houses. we did eventually go to your house. >> okay. they had the car. we were there. the next day, someone came. i got out the back door and went around the corner to the german institute. they said, why don't you go home with us? i said, oh, this has got to get settled. this has to simmer down, and i have to get back to the phones. i talked with washington and they said, do you think it is safe to get back to the phones? i said, well, you know, i hope so. at any rate, i went back. bill royer, my deputy, the
english-teaching specialist, was with me. he was working right beside us. the second time they came for us, bill and i didn't get away. we were taken to the compound and kept along with the rest of them. >> what happened to us, thanks to being able to talk on the phone with kate, is this was the most peculiar situation. the official iranian diplomats were not in on the takeover. they were appalled. they knew this is not how you run an international affairs office. anyway, so from kate's office, my husband was talking to our -- and the number two in the ballroom at the foreign affairs office. they'd gone to complain about the graffiti on the wall, and they were stuck there. they were trying to sort this out and have someone from the iranian government go over to the embassy and tell everybody to go home.
so joe was able to talk to them. he even called the embassy and talked to one of the hostage takers. he spoke to -- we all spoke to washington. what that meant was that we had a number that we could call, vic, later on. we could call him at the foreign ministry. it was after we -- after you woke up and you loaned us your car, we went to another house, my house. i called my mother and said, it is all going to be okay. don't worry. i didn't talk to her for three months. then vic called and said, i have friends at the british embassy. they'll come and get you, and you can go spend the night at their compound. we did. but that night, their compound was attacked, too. they said, we really can't protect you. you'll need to leave. vic, we called vic again. he called his thai cook.
they could speak thai and nobody would know what they were talking about. his thai took had keys to four different embassy employees' homes. >> thai cook. really good. if you ever get to boston -- >> his name is sam. last name about this long. so the brits gave us a ride over to john graves house, who was a hostage, but sam had the keys to the house. he was waiting for us. we stayed two nights there. his regular housekeeper was worried that we were eating the food and drinking the wine, and she was going to get in trouble. she was going to turn us in. we thought about tying her up, but we thought, no. since sam had keys to kate's house, we went to kate's house. we snuck away in the night. we always had our clothes in the washing machine. without our clothes, we'd go to your house. there was no wall around it. there was just you on the
street. then we were feeling really exposed. we knew they were going to eventually find the housing list where all the americans lived. we were running out of money. so that's when bob anders, who had been there about four months, called his good friend, john, from the canadian embassy, and said, we're really in trouble. john said, why didn't you call sooner? yes, we'll take you all in. the brits took us. this was after about five days. the brits took us over to their house. we were in the safety net of the canadians. >> tell us more about that. the canadian government played an instrumental role in your exfiltration, keeping you safe. ambassador taylor. what exactly did the canadian government do during this time? >> they were absolutely amazing.
they didn't -- we didn't know -- the rest of us knew up none of canadians. they took us in. when we arrived, ken taylor was there. at this point, there were five of us. the two couples and bob anders. so ken taylor, the ambassador, came over to john's house and said, i'll take two so you don't have such a big load. you know, a burden. joe and i, my husband and i, do not play bridge, so we went with him so the others could play bridge. we spent the next three months on their couch. we had wonderful rooms with them, but we could not leave the house. we couldn't call anyone. we could just sit there and read the paper and get -- have our hopes built up and drawn down by the news. but every night, ambassador taylor and his wife, pat, who was working at the pastor institute as a research scientist, would come home and give us any news they had, encourage us, and be so kind.
so i think at thanksgiving, we had a visit with the others. we went over and saw the other hostages. then we were sort of hopeful at that point. we were at a good point in negotiations, but they fell through. then at christmas, we were still there. we went over to the house again to see our friends. then it was pretty bleak because we didn't see -- every time they tried to negotiate with someone in the iranian government, they'd disappear. they'd lose their position. we'd have to start all over again. so finally, i think the story is that mcdonald, their secretary of state for canada, buttonholed cyrus vance at a meeting in europe and said, you've got to get those people. i've got to get my people safe, and you have to get those people out of my house. we're going to put them on bikes. if you don't do something. so this was december.
tony mendez, the cia officer who was absolutely brilliant, forger and exfiltrater, was given the assignment of getting us out. he thought the idea up of this hollywood movie crew. had the right number of people. he had friends in hollywood. they really opened a studio in hollywood. they sent out notices. they put notices in "variety" magazine. he came. in three days, he gave us some choices and made it quite obvious this is the choice we should choose. we learned our lines. the canadians gave us their clothes because we didn't have any. we had to have a suitcase. we went to the airport, and that waskoob, can you tell us about your time as a hostage? [ applause ] >> thank you. >> i'll also point out, you were one of only two female hostages who were held for the full 444 days. can you tell us about that
particular part of the experience? >> it's always very difficult to try and capencappsulize that bee it was a long time. i'll back up. people say, how do you do it? iowa pragmatism. i'm a farmer's daughter. you have to make it work. and the other one is i'm a cradle lutheran. i was taken to church when i was born to be baptized, and i grew up in a family of faith. and so my perspective in all of this happening -- actually, i just met a couple of the marines that bruce laingan's funeral a couple weeks ago. one of the marines said to me, he said, kate, why did you not ever say you were in solitary? he said, you keep saying, i was alone. my mind didn't work in those
connections of this is solitary imprisonment. my mind worked to the point, my god, i've been given an incredible gift of time. no appointments. no meetings. no plans. what can i do with it? i've always been fascinated, ever since i visited austria the first time, about the contemn p contemnplative orders of the catholic church. my mother thought i'd never talk. i started at 18 months. she said she didn't think she'd shut me up. i love words. i love communication. here i was, in a situation where i was being told constantly, don't speak. don't speak. so using what i had, the knowledge i had from the past, i thought, okay, i can explore this kontemplative time. that's where i started from. it was frightening because you didn't know what was going on.
it was frightening because you didn't know what was happening to your colleagues. it was miserable because you didn't know what was happening to your family. you worried about your family worrying about you. but for me, it was moving through a series of rooms all by myself, from november 22nd, which is when anne left -- was taken out of the room that we had been sharing. she at one end, i at the other, and don't speak. i know it was the 22nd because it was my youngest sister's birthday. that's why the date is there. it was march before she convinced them she needed to have a roommate, and we were allowed to become roommates again.
you didn't know if you were going to be challenged, left completely alone. part of the time i was in a little room that was a library, embassy library. i at least had things to read. i love to read almost as much as i lot to talk. i read the 1976 football yearbook, scuba diving in caves. the history of bell telephone. there was an administrative textbook. fortunately they found other material for me. it was a strange combination of what next, and is anything going on? are we just sitting here? if you don't like what's going on, wait 15 minutes, it'll probably change. the one thing that was -- one
could not change, one could not block were the demonstrations at night. the chants of "death to america," "death to carter," and the noise outside of the embassy compound. that went on on a regular basis from the first day until we the we could almost always count on demonstrations at least on friday and saturday nights. >> miss stafford, what happened when you got to the airport and how did it feel to return home to the united states? >> when we got to the airport they were very clever about when we would leave. we left first thing in the morning. it was about 7:00 flight or so. we were there at 5:00 so that meant the revolutionary guards, the big bullies were not there yet. and so it was sort of quiet. and we were wored about these some of the little slips that we
were supposed to have that would have been in their file someplace. and we were worried about that. but we weren't stopped, got through immigration. thought we were home free and it turned out our flight was delayed. we thought why was the flight delayed? we talked to tony and he said it would look more suspicious if we tried to get on another flight. they said just sit tight. so we -- the flight came in in about an hour. we got on the flight, and we did not have runways -- seen i'm sorry happy to say. >> when we finally were on the plane we felt god but knew it wasn't over yet. we had to wait until they said we are out of iran rn air space. when i saw in that in the movie he felt the same relief. they got away. >> they did.
>> but that was a wonderful moment. and afterwards when the other shall can dsh when you were still hostages i would have dreams that i was on that plane and you were all on the plane but you wouldn't talk to me. and so then when the hostages were freed they brought us back. and when you all were able to tell us that you were happy that we got out it was like a point for our side. >> it was. >> then i didn't have the dreams anymore. >> good, i'm glad. >> it was. one of the young women one of our guards had left something on her desk i was curious, she was gone out of the room. how close can i get? and there was something about eight americans having gotten home. and well part of that -- that wane -- they also sent a 13 -- wane it. >> eight women and five men. five african-americans home. and that was interesting. why did they send
african-americans home? because african-americans it's well-known are highly oppressed by the usg. and by showing this good will of releasing these except for the one they kept because they thought he could put the computer back together, you know, okay. we have our fun. the black american community, the african-american community would rice up in solidarity with them against our government. that's whatway one of the young women explained to me. she had never met an african-american or an african because one day she came into the office -- into the office -- well we weren't in offices we were held in offices in the embassy we in the room. and she came in and said i like black people. and i said oh? and she said, yeah, they're really nice. >> and i said -- >> and she said i just met some. we have some here from africa. and they're really really nice.
>> and i said, we'll i like some black americans and some than they're really nice and there are some that aren't so nice. they're just like people. and you know good and bad. so but she sh never had that experience. and so -- a lot of what they were thinking and working was very much outside of the realm of their personal experience. and so that made for some very interesting conversations sometimes when you were trying to figure out what was going on. it -- it -- but that's what diplomacy is all about, discovery. and that's when it gets exciting when you can discover something. >> and miss koob how did you find out you were coming home and what did it feel like coming back to the u.s. >> anne and i were in our room at the guesthouse and was was afoot we didn't know what.
but there were a group of allergan medical doctor there is giving us exams, sort of weird. and -- so many stories. then they said get your stuff together, you're going home. they told us before -- we moved 13 times during the course of the 14 months. i did. and they'd always say get your stuff you're moving. and so but they never said going home. and so anne and i were really very skeptical. and then had our get away bags together and we said we're ready lets go. and they said we'll be back for you a little bit later. and when they took us out of the building and put us on a bus for the first time we were put on a bus with the men. we had always been moved separately. and so they -- we got to the airport and i thought we might
really be going home when we got to the airport and there were two allege jeern planes on the home and before we could ask the question is everybody here -- they said yes everybody is here and nobody is seriously harmed physically. as we found out later a lot of people carried deep emotional scars with them and we were on the plane. and i said -- did anybody lose a -- a watch it was a seiko -- did anybody lose a seiko? bethat he found it and they brought us something to know what time it was. it belonged to one of the military attaches. they it taken it. >> before i open it to questions one file number final question how did your experiences in iran
shape the perception of the country and its people? >> iran is what i thought it was before i got there. it is a country of very proud people who have a right to be proud of their long history, their poetry, literature, their music, their art, and so many things they instigated -- they were the ones responsible for diplomatic immunity. when the s sochlt krom was established how many thousand years ago, this is a country that's complex with a lot of different pulls in many, many different ways. and they have a very -- they have a big job just to be able to recognize each and to move with each other. and i would like to fight -- and they all want the same things we want, education for kids, a nice house, they want a good job, and plenty of food and people taken care of when they're ill.
we all want that. now lets figure out how to get it done, people. >> that's beautiful. >> thank you we have time for questions from the audio wednesday. as a reminder you can submit questions by typing ccga.live in the browser. please make sure your question is a question. in the third row, please and the microphone is on its way. >> how did your life change when the the aborted rescuer mission failed in the desert? what did they do? did you fear for your life. >> we didn't know it happened. we knew something unusual had gone on because there was unusual amount of gunfire around the embassy. and we didn't know whether it was more iraqis or what because that was always in the brush. and we were moved. and at some point a couple days
later one of the men came to me and he said, you cook don't you. >> i said yeah. >> we need you to cook for you and ms. swift and some of the men. >> and i said well how many am i cooking for. >> i can't tell. >> you i said wait a minute i have to have a number. >> he said lets just say it will be for four or five people. >>. that was our first indication that some of our colleagues have been moved off the compound or at least were not there with us. but we didn't know that. we just knew that all of a sudden there was a need for me to cook for the two of us and for two or three other people. and then later we -- i got a letter that i'm pretty sure i wasn't supposed to get because they did give us some of the letters mailed to us by school children and other -- people that we didn't know, because of course anybody we knew was going -- although i did get some letters from sisters but they --
and in little girl said i'm sorry the rescue attempt failed. i hope they try again. anne and i sort of looked at each other and thought how is this figuring? then they gave us a back issue of news week" i think it was but the stories about iran and the united states were torn out. you could see where they had torn out stories. they forgot the table of koepts and letters to the editors. it was a feast. so there was -- but that's also how we learned eight men died trying to rescue us. that was not a feast. that was stunning, absolutely stunning. and anne and i never did come up with another word to describe how we felt upon learning. just stunned. >> yes, in the second to last row, please.
>> i guess in the events leading up to the takeover politically when the shah left did you feel that foreign policy let you down and not backing the shah? or was the revolution unstoppable? >> we knew the revolution was -- was there to stay. it wasn't going to go away. but the shah -- the shah's leaving to go into the united states was, i think, as kathy already pointed out, a real danger point. we all agreed that this was not advisable. i understand from subsequent conversations with vice
president -- vice president mondle and other people there was hours spent in discussion whether this was good policy or not. and cy vance resigned because he so sfrongly disagreed. it was not an easy decision for president carter to make. but i think he did what he thought given the person that president carter is, of such integrity and humanity, that he really saw this as a -- a humanity issue. >> thank you. >> one additional note for the live stream audience there is a revised link. can you type in questions .meet.ps/iran. yes, sir, in the second row. >> first off, just thank you so much for your incredible service and courage on behalf of our
country. i understand that both of you after returning home ended up going back out, getting back into the foreign service, serving again in new places, some pretty difficult places even. can you talk a little bit about what that decision process was like? was that a difficult choice to make? and kind of why was it important to continue in your line of work. >> why don't you go ahead first. >> well in our case we thought we checked the box and it couldn't possibly happen again. of course i was evacuated from the ivory coast and suddenen. now i live in niger. i'm pushing my luck. it's a fascinating life, my husband loves what he does. and he does it well. and i'm a painter. so every place i go i have new things to pain and new subject
matter. and we think it's important work. so we keep going out. >> well i chose my next job very carefully. i left washington. i actually went to new york city. that was one of my assignments. we have something called a foreign press center in new york city and work with resident and visiting correspondents. our busiest season is during the u.n. general assembly. but that was an opportunity to feel out what was going to happen. and whether this was something i wanted to continue with, what other options were out there, if there were. and i found that actually i really liked what i was doing. and i liked the possibilities of what i could do in addition- dsh more in educational and cultural exchange work which i think is
so vital to all our interests worldwide. >> yes, sir, on the side, please. and a microphone is on its way. >> thank you so much. and i want to say thank you for sharing. you just presented to us as if if happened yesterday. it was really great memory. my question to both of you, have you had a chance to go back and visit the places that you have been in iran? thank you. >> i think my family would tie me up and lock me in a room if they even thought i was getting close to the place. no. i would not want to put anybody there in an awkward position, number one. number two, i have amazing iranian friends here in the united states. and i'm able to enjoy knowing them and not worrying about their safety, or my safety. and we can still have our conversations and carry on. would i like to go back?
yein. >> i lived in german speaking countries eight years. that's yes and no all at once. >> i'd be afraid to go back. unfortunately iran keeps taking innocent citizens and using them as hostages to exchange. >> right. >> and i think there is a number of people right now hoot are in that position and just been nabbed and will be used here for political make points the. so i -- i would love to go back. it was absolutely the most beautiful country. and there is so much of it i haven't seen. but i'm not going to take that chance. >> yes, sir, in the back, please. mid-way, back. >> sorry about your trauma there. i've got a question. given that thousands of americans have been killed by japanese, germans, koreans and
who have you, we still managed to have very good relations with them after so many years. we have a great economy with the japanese and germans and everybody. but somehow we have a psychological block with iran, can't seem to get over it. can you explain that in. >> i think they can't get over it either. they've been scarred or haunted by our interference in their election with mosadik pmt so they believe we are not trustworthy and for recent events they feel that we don't keep our word. and we will always have iran that was really the beginning of our first confrontation with militant islam. and so we have this shadow over everything. i think any kind of thinking we do about having relations with iran, it's always in the back of our minds, can we trust them? they don't follow international
law. so -- >> and even though we now the shah was terminally ill with cancer, and that his coming to the united states was a last ditch chance for him, the iranians, remembering mosadek were absolutely convinced it was a employ to put him back in power. i think you said it right, kathy. there is a long history there we have to work at bit by bit, piece by piece. >> we only have a few minutes remaining i'd like to ask you for the last few minutes if you could tell us a bit about where your lives are taken you since you left iran. >> lets see. i decided after those days that life is short and fragile and i should be painting, because that's my passion. so that's what i have been doing the last 35 years. i have exhibitions and workshops with local painters.
and i work now with a school for the deaf, do little art classes in niger because they have little access to anything. and that's something we canhp &% focus on together. and i can't say much the first time i was there. i have a masters in theater that was my undergraduate. how with theater you do you get into the foreign service?
you do ultrale exchange. then i ended up teaching intercultural communication as well as -- and this is really important, reconciliation. and that's why i feel so strongly that we have to seek to find those points where we can find agreement and where we can build on for each other a new and a better world. hate doesn't produce anything of really fine quality. it destroys us and tears us apart. and when we give into it it gives us each and every day. back to my lutheran roots we're said, love your enemies. not easy. but god's grace is sufficient for most of that. and so i feel so strong hi that we need to be able to help people reconcile what's happened in their lives to move forward and not let them keep that
bogged down forever. that's where it's taken me. [ applause ] >> it's wonderful to end on the optimistic note miss koob. miss stafford thank you for sharing the powerful experiences with us. thank you for your service and please join me in thanking our speakers tonight. [ applause ] all week we're featuring american history tv programs as a reprevow of what's available every weekend on cspan3. the lectures in history, american art i facts. real america.
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government. 40 years ago iranian protesters stormed the u.s. embassy in tehran taking 66 american hostages. next on american history tv author david farber talks about his book "taken hostage" which chronicles their ordeal and examines the u.s. government's first encounter with radical islam. i think the 1979, 1980 hostage crisis between the united states and iran really set the tone probably for our relationship all the way through today. it was really a significant juncture point in how the united states's people thought about political islam, the nation of iran and lets be honest, how they think about us. there were two powerful movements in iran, both of which worried the united states but one more than the other. there was a come