You lie so profusely that I sobered up
- Green . The Purple Sails
the argonaut by gomagoti
In my old times in the Soviet Union we had a whole genre of the " KGB fairy --tale' movies.. The script would be nearly the same for all of them: there would be some crisis in the unnamed country and Soviet citizens would be stuck there while helping the progressive forces. A special KGB officer would be sent to the rescue and does it nicely with the help odd devoted local sympathizers. No bribes, no extortions, no blackmails, no killings if possible, all folks are humanitarians down to the bone and all are honest and dedicated -- the "heroes, not mentioned in the newspapers'. Usually those movies would be very neatly produced technically, involving well-known actors and people would watch them anyway. After leaving the movie theater many people would repeat the above quote by A. Green which eventually became a folk saying , "They lie so profusely that even a drunk sobers up."
The KGB officer in the movie always would be clean-shaved and sober. Aside of the beard, moustache and boozing of Ben Affleck's character the movie Argo resembles those KGB movies to the letter. I even thought for a moment that Ben bought one of the old Russian scripts, changed names and locations and went for the Oscars (in all fairness, the KGB movies never competed for any awards). A bottle of good beer did not help; I sobered in an instant and started counting the goofs:
- The embassy scene. It is shown surrounded by the mob with guns and that mob's activities are very well coordinated. That is a realistic perception; mobs are usually coordinated. It is unlikely though that in such situation the embassy would work on a usual schedule and have local visitors inside. How could they get into the embassy through the mob? I once saw a demonstration in Italy in front of the US embassy and it promptly closed its operations. So, no, I don't think they continued their everyday work in Iran. And where was the ambassador? His word was to be the main one in the decisions and instead chaos reigns. If the mob had been there for a long time as it is implied and the coordination was obvious then there surely was a surveillance of the building and that back exit was monitored. No way it wasn't. So why the six people knew about the exit but not the others? Why would they go out without even trying to change their appearances, white women et al? And how did they reach the Canadian ambassador's residence? Did they go on foot? And how did he know that they would come? And where was (for the whole movie) the RCMP ( Royal Canadian Mounted Police) or whoever designated to protect the Canadian diplomats, same as Marines do that for the US people?
- When the diplomatic rep. or an embassy staff person enters another country for a service his/her identity and a dossier are to be presented to the governmental organizations of that country. Thus the photos of all the US personnel were to be available to the Iranians from their own sources and they would not need to use little children to restore the pictures. Most likely they used kids to restore something else, like spying memos. To define who was missing the Iranians just needed to get the list of all the embassy employees and then- to verify who was in their custody. The whole idea that they did not know who escaped up to the last moment, 45 days later insults a person's intelligence.
- It is not clear if the Canadian ambassador's house was on the Canadian embassy compound or not but it seems that it was not. The housekeeper could be very loyal but an even meager watcher could notice the amount of provisions delivered as well as check the garbage and verify that instead of two people before there are eight. That's when kids come in -- Russian folks used kids for such missions routinely.
- Now we cross the ocean and get into the domain of the bearded Tony Mendez. The idea entertained that a group of Canadian citizens would appear in Tehran to investigate a possible location for the movie planned in Hollywood. In reality only one comes with fake IDs, give those to the six people hiding and get them out. It becomes obvious from the start that the President is not aware of that genius plan but two civilians in Hollywood are! What a plan! I guess there were more civilians involved because someone was to produce a script, someone was to make drawings, etc. How about the Canadians? Did they know? We don't know. Instead we are presented with unbelievable scenes where CIA leadership pretends not to know even who those six people are. Hey, what about the CIA residence in the Middle East? Where are those fellows? How about the almighty Israelis? Not a word either? The whole operation depends only on Tony M. and two guys in Hollywood . One of them called Hollywood a place where everyone lies for living. You bet.
- Ok, so now Tony comes to Iran through Turkey with all those fake IDs and files to memorize. The other six fictitious Canadians did not come at all! No cameras came either. So when the ;group' appeared at the Grand Bazaar for the survey how come the Iranians did not ask the obvious questions on where they came from? After that there is a scene where an Iranian guard who already knows the faces of all six asks the housekeeper when they came and she says that they came two days earlier. It would take five minutes to verify that she was lying but " we are in the fairy- tale.
- The six people believe Tony M. although they never knew of his existence before. Of course according to the movie they did not know about CIA at all. Then Tony finds out that some folks up there in Washington had changed their minds. The President still does not know anything. Tony "s phone in the hotel is secure, of course. He boozes (!!!) in the last night (the six folks drink too; was it all to protest the Moslem laws covertly?) and then decides to go for it anyway. During the process we discover that THERE WERE NO TICKETS RESERVED FOR THE FLIGHT BACK! PRESIDENT CARTER WAS TO AUTHORIZE THE TICKETS! Folks, I hope it was not like that. I hope the tickets were there from the start, lock, stock and barrel . If the tickets' issue really took place I would say we all are not protected from anything. And if Carter for real had to authorize the tickets in the last moment and after that did not fire all CIA for incompetence, I don't know what to say. What if there would be double- booking? Just imagine that.
7. The airport scene is surreal. I understand that the six had the stamps as , if they entered Iran by air. But that could be easily checked and found out that was not the case. Then those guards (all former students from the US universities as Affleck states in the movie) behave like children. They even call Hollywood! The easier way was to call Canadian embassy and verify with the clerk if any new Canadians had registered with them recently. Then during the last moment they really did not have to destroy their own gates. The gate has a direct phone to the cockpit also to the control tower, so they could just call the pilot or the controller. No beardy Affleck could help here and those pictures from Argo he presented would not help either . BTW, Argo was classified, so why Iranians did not show those pictures on TV to open a can of worms about the Hollywood's involvement? And what happened to that housekeeper? She is always alone and shown crossing to Iraq. What happened to her family? And in Iraq, did she survive?
Enough goofs? Here is what I think really happened.
There was a decision made that those six were the ones who had to try to escape most likely because of the knowledge they possessed and maybe due to humanitarian reasons ( two young families). They were most likely chosen by the ambassador and the local CIA operative of Iranian descent who was there or in close proximity. ( maybe he/she was with the mob). That operative secured the Iranian clothes for those six and took them out of the back exit at night BEFORE the mob stormed the embassy. He/she then brought them to the Canadian ambassador's residence and secured the housekeeper's cooperation. The six folks then requested Tony M. to come and get them because they knew of him and knew his role in the CIA. He came in with fake IDs and with full knowledge of proper Iranians also most likely with a lot of cash. That's why it took place only in 45 days or so after the embassy was taken; CIA needed to prepare. Tony then made sure together with the CIA operative that a) the right people were bribed and b) that Canadians and housekeeper cooperated. There was no Argo project and no Hollywood involvement although maybe the scene in the airport was genuine and they posed as movie people, gifts and all. The tickets were there all right and "good luck' from Carter was sent long before the actual act took place. The mythical Argo project was then created to validate the expenses. At the end of the event the CIA operative, the housekeeper and her family went to Iraq. End of the story.
We need a good script, don't we? Hope the Intelligence Stars were really awarded to the right people. Because if Argo project was real, took place like it is described in the movie or close to it and it was successful - then we live in the asylum.