The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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November 26, 2013

What former hostages think of Iran's nuclear deal

McLEAN, Va. — A nuclear deal between the U.S., Iran and other world powers has been described as a trust-building step after decades of animosity that hopefully will lead to a more comprehensive deal down the road.

But for many of the 66 Americans who were held hostage for 444 days at the start of the Iranian revolution, trusting the regime in Tehran feels like a mistake.

"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.

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?"

Schaefer was a military attache in Iran who was among those held hostage. He now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., with his wife of more than 60 years, Anita, who also takes a dim view of the agreement: "We are probably not very Christian-like when it comes to all this," she said.

The weekend agreement between Iran and six world powers — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — is to temporarily halt parts of Tehran's disputed nuclear program and allow for more intrusive international monitoring of Iran's facilities. In exchange, Iran gains some modest relief from stiff economic sanctions and a pledge from Obama that no new penalties will be levied during the six months.

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