Tony Mendez. Argo, 2012
Tony Mendez was a CIA operative who managed what became known as the Canadian Caper, exfiltrating six Americans from Tehran in 1980. Portrayed in the film by Ben Affleck, who also served as a co-producer the film character, and other persons depicted in the movie, are involved in scenarios which were created for the film, rather than happened in the real event. Other parts of the film ignore or gloss over the real contributions of some, or present them as having taken place as a result of characters created for the film.
The film presents the American CIA as the saviors of the hidden Americans, detracting from the role of the Canadians in sheltering them in place. It shows the Americans first seeking refuge in the embassies of both the UK and New Zealand, only to be turned away by these allies. In truth, both embassies assisted the Americans, the British provided the first shelter and transferred them to the Canadians when it appeared as if the UK embassy was likely to be attacked.
The film contains a scene where a housekeeper at the Canadian ambassador’s home refuses to allow entrance by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. In reality, a similar event occurred at the home of British diplomat Martin Williams who was sheltering the Americans at the time. It was that event which prompted the move to the Canadians.
There was no lengthy delay awaiting the decision of the President, no cancellation of the mission causing Mendez to decide to move forward on his own, and no confrontation with security at the airport, nearly blowing the entire mission. In reality, the American contingent, disguised as a film crew, arrived at the airport at 5.30 in the morning to find relatively few guards and security personnel in place.
According to one of the Americans, Mark Lijek, “The truth is the immigration officers barely looked at us and we were processed out in the regular way.” Following their departure from the gate, there was no pursuit of the speeding airliner as it attempted takeoff, soon to be en route to Switzerland.