Former Iran hostage experts speak up

And now let's turn to the real Iran experts for their insights on the Obama/Kerry deal with Iran--the Iran knowledgeable US-Iran diplomats and their staffs who had real hands on experience dealing with Iran during their unwilling stint as imprisoned hostages for 444 days after the coup that deposed the shah in late 1979 through 1980.  Many of them do not support this latest agreement, basically agreeing with many others that the US received nothing while noting you can trust the Iranians...to break every deal.  

Speaking recently, one former hostage declared

"It's kind of like Jimmy Carter all over again," said Clair Cortland Barnes, now retired and living in Leland, N.C., after a career at the CIA and elsewhere. He sees the negotiations now as no more effective than they were in 1979 and 1980, when he and others languished, facing mock executions and other torments. The hostage crisis began in November of 1979 when militants stormed the United States Embassy in Tehran and seized its occupants.  (snip) 

"And what do we get out of it?" asked Barnes. "A lie saying, `We're not going to make plutonium.' It's a win-win for them and it's a lose-lose for us."

Retired Air Force Col. Thomas E. Schaefer, 83, called the deal "foolishness."

"My personal view is, I never found an Iranian leader I can trust," he said. "I don't think today it's any different from when I was there. None of them, I think, can be trusted. Why make an agreement with people you can't trust?"  (snip)

Sgt. Rodney "Rocky" Sickmann, 56, of St. Louis, then a Marine sergeant, remembers clearly being told by his captors that their goal was to use the hostages to humiliate the American government, and he suspects this interim deal is in that vein.

"It just hurts. We negotiated for 444 days and not one time did they agree to anything ... and here they beg for us to negotiate and we do," he said. "It's hard to swallow. We negotiate with our enemies and stab our allies in the back. That doesn't seem good."

However some former hostages are a bit more optimistic about the deal.

Victor Tomseth, 72, a retired diplomat from Vienna, Va., sees the pact as a positive first step.

Tomseth, who was a political counselor at the embassy in Tehran in 1979, had written a diplomatic cable months before the hostage crisis warning about the difficulties of negotiation with the Iranians.

Still, he said in a phone interview Monday that it is possible to cut a mutually beneficial deal with them.

"The challenge is Iranian society and politics is so fragmented that it's difficult to reach a consensus," he said -- a problem that is also present in the U.S.

He said he considers the deal "in a category of an initial confidence measure."

John Limbert, 70, of Arlington, who was a political officer held hostage during the crisis and later became deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran in 2009 and 2010, also supports the deal. He said he does not view it in terms of whether Iran can be trusted, but whether the regime recognizes that a deal is in their own interest.

"I would say there is a consensus among the leadership, and the consensus is, `We like to stay in power. We like our palaces. ... We've seen the alternatives in Egypt and Tunisia," where established regimes have been toppled, Limbert said.

He said it's a mistake to be overly pessimistic about the prospects for a deal.

Whether they're for the agreement or against it, all the hostages will lose out on any financial compensation in any lawsuit from Iran as the $4 plus billion Iranian assets frozen in the US are to be returned to the Iranians. 
Who knows - if the case is ever settled, the Iranians might demand compensation for hosting the hostages. 

Incredibly, after 34 years some hostages are still hoping for an apology from Iran.

Laingen and fellow former hostages want the Islamic Republic at least to acknowledge the trauma of their captivity.

"We haven't heard that expression of apology yet. Why not?" Laingen said. (snip)

But one common thread is the feeling that Tehran needs to acknowledge or be held accountable for the 444-day ordeal of 52 Americans.

Certainly Iran will acknowledge the 444 days those 52 Americans--they'll probably demand compensation for hosting the hostages after the first six months of the current deal.  



And now let's turn to the real Iran experts for their insights on the Obama/Kerry deal with Iran--the Iran knowledgeable US-Iran diplomats and their staffs who had real hands on experience dealing with Iran during their unwilling stint as imprisoned hostages for 444 days after the coup that deposed the shah in late 1979 through 1980.  Many of them do not support this latest agreement, basically agreeing with many others that the US received nothing while noting you can trust the Iranians...to break every deal.  

Speaking recently, one former hostage declared

"It's kind of like Jimmy Carter all over again," said Clair Cortland Barnes, now retired and living in Leland, N.C., after a career at the CIA and elsewhere. He sees the negotiations now as no more effective than they were in 1979 and 1980, when he and others languished, facing mock executions and other torments. The hostage crisis began in November of 1979 when militants stormed the United States Embassy in Tehran and seized its occupants.  (snip) 

"And what do we get out of it?" asked Barnes. "A lie saying, `We're not going to make plutonium.' It's a win-win for them and it's a lose-lose for us."

Retired Air Force Col. Thomas E. Schaefer, 83, called the deal "foolishness."

"My personal view is, I never found an Iranian leader I can trust," he said. "I don't think today it's any different from when I was there. None of them, I think, can be trusted. Why make an agreement with people you can't trust?"  (snip)

Sgt. Rodney "Rocky" Sickmann, 56, of St. Louis, then a Marine sergeant, remembers clearly being told by his captors that their goal was to use the hostages to humiliate the American government, and he suspects this interim deal is in that vein.

"It just hurts. We negotiated for 444 days and not one time did they agree to anything ... and here they beg for us to negotiate and we do," he said. "It's hard to swallow. We negotiate with our enemies and stab our allies in the back. That doesn't seem good."

However some former hostages are a bit more optimistic about the deal.

Victor Tomseth, 72, a retired diplomat from Vienna, Va., sees the pact as a positive first step.

Tomseth, who was a political counselor at the embassy in Tehran in 1979, had written a diplomatic cable months before the hostage crisis warning about the difficulties of negotiation with the Iranians.

Still, he said in a phone interview Monday that it is possible to cut a mutually beneficial deal with them.

"The challenge is Iranian society and politics is so fragmented that it's difficult to reach a consensus," he said -- a problem that is also present in the U.S.

He said he considers the deal "in a category of an initial confidence measure."

John Limbert, 70, of Arlington, who was a political officer held hostage during the crisis and later became deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran in 2009 and 2010, also supports the deal. He said he does not view it in terms of whether Iran can be trusted, but whether the regime recognizes that a deal is in their own interest.

"I would say there is a consensus among the leadership, and the consensus is, `We like to stay in power. We like our palaces. ... We've seen the alternatives in Egypt and Tunisia," where established regimes have been toppled, Limbert said.

He said it's a mistake to be overly pessimistic about the prospects for a deal.

Whether they're for the agreement or against it, all the hostages will lose out on any financial compensation in any lawsuit from Iran as the $4 plus billion Iranian assets frozen in the US are to be returned to the Iranians. 
Who knows - if the case is ever settled, the Iranians might demand compensation for hosting the hostages. 

Incredibly, after 34 years some hostages are still hoping for an apology from Iran.

Laingen and fellow former hostages want the Islamic Republic at least to acknowledge the trauma of their captivity.

"We haven't heard that expression of apology yet. Why not?" Laingen said. (snip)

But one common thread is the feeling that Tehran needs to acknowledge or be held accountable for the 444-day ordeal of 52 Americans.

Certainly Iran will acknowledge the 444 days those 52 Americans--they'll probably demand compensation for hosting the hostages after the first six months of the current deal.