Chuck Scott: Being a Hostage In Iran Was “Sheer Hell”

Excusing the Shah’s “alleged” crimes & CIA coup

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | May 26, 2009                     

Colonel Chuck Scott Retired Army Colonel Charles W. Scott, a 31 year veteran of the U.S. military, was Chief of the Defense Liason office at the American embassy in Tehran, supplying arms sales and military assistance to the Shah’s U.S.-backed dictatorial regime.

On November 4, 1979, (“the most terrorizing day of my entire life”) the embassy was seized by revolutionaries after the United States refused to hand over the Shah to stand trial for his crimes. Scott recounts enduring torture, solitarily confinement and lousy food during the 444 day long ordeal, much of which he calls “sheer hell”.

When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became President in 2005, Col. Scott adamantly claimed that he recognized him as one of his former captors in Tehran (the claims have never been substantiated).

In his 1984 hostage memoir, the former diplomat discussed the significance of the 1953 U.S.-engineered coup that overthrew Iran’s democratic government to his captors. He recalls arguing with them over the atrocity, which he does not condemn.

The Evolution of Revolution (1999)

Col. Chuck Scott addressed the roots of the hostage ordeal in the 1999 ABC-TV special The Evolution of Revolution, part of The Century series hosted by Peter Jennings.

“One thing that the CIA was good at in those days was organizing opposition groups. General Schwarzkopf’s dad went in there with Kermit Roosevelt and handed out money to pro-Shah demonstrators and assisted in the ouster of Mohammad Mossadegh and the return of the Shah to the power.

From that day on, the people of Iran believed, basically as an article of faith, that the United States was behind the Shah, so therefore the Shah was a puppet of the United States and we were jointly and separately responsible for all of the Shah’s failings, shortcomings and excesses.”

Pieces of the Game (1984)

In his book Pieces of the Game: The Human Drama of Americans Held Hostage in Iran, published in March 1984, Col. Scott referenced the 1953 coup which he called “an open secret”. Yet he excuses U.S. actions and maligns Mossadegh.

“It is an open secret that United States sent Kermit Roosevelt and H. Norman Schwarzkoph [sic—Schwarzkopf] of the CIA to Iran to organize pro-Shah demonstrations during the summer of 1953, after the Shah was forced into exile by pro-Mossadeq demonstrations. Following his election as Prime Minister in 1951, Mossadeq, the charismatic nationalist leader who opposed the Shah, gradually usurped the Shah’s traditional prerogatives until a showdown was inevitable. He nationalized Iran’s oil industry, displeasing the British so much that they, along with most of the rest of the oil-consuming nations, boycotted Iranian oil for more than two years.

Historians remain divided on the Shah’s chances for victory in this power struggle if he had not been helped by the CIA. After the ouster of Mossadeq, many Iranians blamed the United States for the failure of his Nationalists to win in August of 1953. This thesis gained popular appeal as revolutionary fervor grew in the 1970s, and SAVAK and the other police organizations got more and more heavy-handed with the opposition. Blaming the United States for all the Shah’s alleged crimes is perfectly logical to Iranians; they have heard it preached for years by the mullahs, who used their position to mold public opinion. The important thing is not whether or not the Shah would have been returned to power in 1953 without U.S. help, but rather the perception that many Iranians have been schooled to accept — that the U.S., through the CIA, returned the Shah to power. To a majority of the Iranian people, this view is accepted as an article of faith.”


Related links:

U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker Says 1953 Coup Planted Seeds of 1979 Revolution

State Department Farsi Spokesman Alan Eyre Praises Mossadegh As An Iranian Hero

CIA Director Michael Hayden Avoids 1953 Coup Question

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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