In this world no morning is like every other. On one particular morning my bank of telephones had lit up and somehow I had missed the call. The message once retrieved went like this.
“Timothy we have a meeting with the Prime Minister call back tout-suite”.
I returned the call, immediately. A scandal was brewing in President Reagan’s White House.
Barbara Walters had just finished her third and last day as temporary co-host of ABC’s “Good Morning America” Wednesday when the phone rang. At the other end: Adnan Khashoggi, (my former business associate) the Saudi billionaire arms merchant.
” ‘I am going to Europe. Perhaps you would like to do the interview,’ ” Barbara recalled his saying.
That call led to a transatlantic trip at 4 a.m. Thursday that yielded exclusive interviews with two key middlemen–Khashoggi and Manucher Ghorbanifar–in the secret (now to be very public) U.S.-Iran arms deal being probed by Congress, the Justice Department and a special review board.
The interview was hurriedly transmitted back to New York by satellite from Monaco and aired Thursday night on ABC News’ “20/20” program, Walters’ double interview was as unique in circumstance as it was in content.
In the interview Khashoggi had eluded that Canadians where involved, and the only Canadian anyone knew associated with him at the time was yes, (big spotlight) yours very truly, finding myself right smack in the middle of it all. When the above statement was made to the media it was too late.
My building had been surrounded by various media. Elaine my assistant at the office had been flooded with calls, offers of large sums of money made to disclose my whereabouts while others beat a path to my office in an attempt to have a face to face with Elaine.
The momentum was building and this scandal, would become the infamous ‘Arms to Iran Contra Deal’, which shook the White House. Oh, someone was going to go down. The FBI, RCMP, CIA, the Justice Department where all investigating and you could not find a rock big enough to crawl under, oh my oh my. What a ride that was. I felt I was Lost in Breaking Bad and Dazed and Confused.
This is not the subject of Ben Affleck’s film based on a true story, Argo.
Argo, had it’s premier at this years Toronto International Film Festival. The film in which Ben Affleck stars in and directs is a political thriller that’s getting significant Oscar buzz, Argo tells the true story of the CIA’s attempt to rescue six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran in 1979 by posing as a sci-fi film crew. The film stay true to the historical facts for 80 percent then it takes that Hollywood turn to give it more spice. The film is loosely based on Tony Mendez’s account of the rescue of six U.S. diplomats – with help from Canada.
You also should see Argo because it’s the third piece of cinematic evidence that Ben Affleck is a really good director.
But if neither of those factors serves as adequate Argo motivation, perhaps you’ll be compelled to check out the film once you fully grasp how phenomenal its cast is, something I am still coming to grips with since the film festival in Toronto. Most people probably already know that Affleck plays CIA extractor Tony Mendez, and sports a truly fantastic late ‘70s haircut and beard.
At the film festival, we sat and watched Argo, connected to the subject of Iran, CIA, and the White House. Actors who played a role, and others who played a role caught in the web while years apart, yet connected. The festival opened with a bang in Toronto, which has a Canadian Football Team known as the ‘Argos’. Surreal or what?