If I were to take full credit for an heroic act, which I only played a part in, people would begin to look at me with a jaundiced eye, right? Well, that is how I now view the film-makers of Argo.
I liked the film, and at the end of it, I marvelled at the daring CIA rescue of 6 US hostages from the Canadian Ambassador’s residence in Tehran in early 1980. I thought how noble of the US govt to let the Canadians take full credit all these years for an operation that was essentially CIA, revealing the truth only when files were declassified. I was shocked to hear that New Zealand and British diplomats had turned away the 6 Americans when they were seeking refuge. Unheard of!
Eager to find out more, and doubtful about some sequences (the old diplomat in me having kicked in), I decided to do some background research and what did I find? That the film, Argo, took a lot of liberties with the truth. In this day and age, that should not be allowed simply for dramatic purposes, especially when people risk their lives.
The truth was: 1) the 6 US diplomats had brief stays in a number of diplomatic residences, including the Swedes and the British, before being given safe haven by the Canadians; 2) it was the Canadian Ambassador’s wife who went out and bought the tickets for the 6, who would be travelling on Canadian passports, not the American government in a last minute turn of events; 3) it was a New Zealand diplomat who drove the 6 to the airport. The other made up stuff – all that drama at the airport, for instance – is fine because it doesn’t denigrate anybody, but really, Argo film-makers, you should be feeling more than a twinge of guilt for glorifying the CIA role at the expense of people who helped save your compatriots’ lives!
Note: Former Ambassador Taylor’s opinion of Argo: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1267937–argo-film-gives-former-canadian-ambassador-ken-taylor-chance-to-set-the-record-straight