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Ted Kennedy’s Real October Surprise

From the archives of the Los Angeles Times:

Ex-Sen. Abourezk Discloses Secret Trip to Tehran in Late 1979

Edward Kennedy Efforts to Free Hostages in Iran Told

By RONALD J. OSTROW, Times Staff Writers and ROBERT SHOGAN, Times Staff Writers
April 22, 1986

WASHINGTON — In late 1979, in the midst of the Iran hostage crisis and Edward M. Kennedy’s struggle to wrestle away the Democratic presidential nomination from Jimmy Carter, the Massachusetts senator dispatched former Sen. James G. Abourezk on a secret trip to Tehran to gain the release of the 52 Americans held there.

"I risked my life and my career," Abourezk said Monday as he disclosed the unsuccessful mission made in December, 1979, at a time when Kennedy’s effort to reach the White House was suffering severely because of the hostage crisis. Kennedy confirmed the account through a spokesman.

The episode was revealed for the first time by Abourezk in a letter chiding Joseph Kennedy, the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, for returning a $100 contribution from Abourezk to the younger Kennedy’s campaign for Congress in Massachusetts.

A spokesman for Joseph Kennedy said that the contribution was sent back by an aide who believed that it might be too controversial because Abourezk, who is of Lebanese descent, is chairman of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which takes a sympathetic view of the fiercely anti-Israel Palestine Liberation Organization.

Ironically, it was Abourezk’s Arab background and ties to the Muslim community that led to his being asked to undertake the 1979 trip to Tehran by three associates of Edward Kennedy: then-Sen. John C. Culver (D-Iowa); Theodore C. Sorensen, former aide to President John F. Kennedy; and Jan Kalicki, a foreign policy aide to Sen. Kennedy.

At the time, Abourezk recalled in a phone interview, Kennedy’s attempt to unseat President Carter was in deep trouble, in part because the nation had rallied around Carter in the early weeks of the hostage crisis. To make matters worse for Kennedy, he had been accused by Carter Administration officials of endangering the lives of the hostages by denouncing Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran.

"He had just finished making a statement about the shah being a jerk," the former South Dakota Democratic senator said. "Carter and his minions came down on him."

Abourezk, who had come to know Kennedy well through their work on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he did not ask to speak directly to Kennedy. "It was better to give him an element of deniability," he said.

Accepting only his air fare as compensation, Abourezk said he spent "a few days" in Tehran where he met with then-Foreign Minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, who said: "We’re going to have to try (to release the prisoners). Kennedy is a good man."

But the trip failed because, Abourezk said, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was not ready to release the prisoners seized at the U.S. Embassy. The hostages were not freed until President Reagan was inaugurated for his first term on Jan. 20, 1981.

Kennedy said he did not inform the White House of Abourezk’s trip, said James Wieghart, an aide to the senator. In verifying Abourezk’s story, Kennedy added that he "had talked to a number of people and made a number of efforts" to gain the hostages’ freedom, Wieghart said.

In a letter to Joseph Kennedy, which he released in Washington Monday, Abourezk wrote: "I think you know that I ran, and won as a delegate for your father in 1968. I have supported your uncles each time they have sought national office primarily because of their courage–and that of your father’s–in facing tough and controversial issues."

In a statement issued in Boston, Kennedy apologized for the return of Abourezk’s $100 check and added: "In this instance I see a clear difference between Sen. Abourezk’s personal contribution and some of his political beliefs."

He added that if Abourezk were willing to resubmit his contribution: "I’d be quite honored to accept."

What’s this?

Just as Gary Sick and his friends in our watchdog media all have claimed, there really was an attempt at freeing the Iranian hostages as an ‘October Surprise’ in 1980 after all.

But it wasn’t Mr. Reagan (or his henchmen Mr. Bush) who tried to secure the release of hostages to get himself elected.

No, it was ‘the conscience of the Democrat party’ himself, Ted Kennedy. So that he could snatch the Democrat nomination away from Mr. Carter.

How absolutely perfect.

And how perfectly typical that our watchdog media has covered up the story all these years.

(Thanks to FeFe for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, September 5th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

13 Responses to “Ted Kennedy’s Real October Surprise”

  1. proreason says:

    Uh, isn’t it a crime for to negotiate with foreign country’s if you aren’t doing so as a member of the duly-elected admnistration?

    If I recall correctly, the crime is called Treason.

    John Kerry knows all about it.

    • JohnMG says:

      For it to be a crime, pro, there must be three elements present;

      First, the perpetrator must believe in the Constitution. Second, the perpetrator must commit the act anyway. And third, the perpetrator must be a Republican.

      If one of these three elements is missing, then no crime has been commited. Simple, huh?


      I don’t understand what Kennedy stood to gain. If he had successfully negotiated the release, how was he going to take credit for it? What negotiating power did he have?

      The only negotiating power he had was to promise more concessions than Carter when/if he was elected. Carter would have certainly received most of the credit for the pre-convention release thereby boosting his popularity and increasing his lead over Kennedy. This makes no sense – unless Abourezk went there to make sure that the ayatollah DID NOT release the hostages before the convention. Thereby denying Carter the hostage release boost!


      Reagan/Bush were accused of this treasonous strategy. A congressional investigation was initiated by the Democrat congress based on the seriousness of the charges.

  2. RightWinger says:

    “And how perfectly typical that our watchdog media has covered up the story all these years.”

    Well to the MSM, recorded history did not begin until Sept 12, 2001. Any written news prior to that involving Democrats is just complete hearsay or words were taken out of context. The MSM will make sure American history is revised accordingly.

  3. Dr.D says:

    I don’t think this damages his reputation as the conscience of the Democratic party in anyway. This is the sort of thing the Democrat conscience condones freely. It is only conservatives that would see this as improper — people like most of us who read this.

  4. The Redneck says:

    the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which takes a sympathetic view of the fiercely anti-Israel Palestine Liberation Organization.

    “Fiercely Anti-Israel?”

    That’s like saying Ted Bundy was “fiercely anti-virgin.”

  5. canary says:

    I was in the service and remember exactly where I was when I heard the good news. It was because Reagan said something about those barbarians. Course, now we can’t even call them terrorists. Obama implys terrorists are our brothers and sisters.

    Carter was so anti-military he was taxing the little pay we made back then, and even threatened one month that we would not get paid that month, because there wasn’t the money. This is one another thing Obama and Carter have incommon to today. Carter was given to much credit, when it was said he was just weak in foreign affairs, he is nuts.

  6. The media reported charges that George Bush flew over in a spy plane to make sure that the hostages were not released before the election. They were released less than an hour after Reagan’s inauguration just to embarrass the Carter administration. The seriousness of the charges warranted an full scale congressional investigation.

    Truth: Reagan’s team was talking about progressivelly severe blockades of Iran’s ports and airports. Reagan was seen as tough and pro military. The ayatollah choose to make the best deal he could with wussy-boy Carter. Ransom was paid in concessions that released frozen bank accounts, etc. (concessions that Reagan would not have made).

    To further disrespect Carter, the ayatollah delayed the release until after Reagan was sworn in. Reagan generously gave all credit to Carter as did the media.

  7. VMAN says:

    Somehow these anti-American thugs need to be thrown out of government and every other aspect of influence that effects real American’s lives. Frankly I don’t see this ending well.

  8. GetBackJack says:

    Turnspeak Propaganda

    “To accuse your enemies of exactly that you are doing.”

    Since we have no media, let alone a “watchdog media” we can expect all Conservatives to be labeled with every Liberal failure, FAIL and treason.

    I’m hoping Almighty God will do an Egyptian pay-back (if you don’t know what that is, read Ex 11-12:36) on the media and their political hookers, the Democratic Party.

  9. Liberals Demise says:

    “Political Hookers, the Demoncratic Party”


  10. P. Aaron says:

    QUOTE: Just as Gary Sick and his friends in our watchdog media all have claimed, there really was an attempt at freeing the Iranian hostages as an ‘October Surprise’ in 1980 after all.

    Aw darn! My favorite part of that whole story was the part about the SR-71. It’s a cool plane.

  11. stealthy says:

    Not included in the article, but what I think is very interesting, is that Senator Abourezk’s foreign policy adviser at that time was none other than Tom Dashelle. That’s where he got his start. What did he know and when did he know it?

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