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[Page 727]

307. Record of Meeting in the Central Intelligence Agency1

TPAJAX

PRESENT

  • Lt. Gen. Charles P. Cabell
  • Deputy Director of Central Intelligence
  • Mr. Frank G. Wisner
  • Deputy Director/Plans
  • Mr. Richard Helms
  • Chief of Operations, DD/P
  • Mr. Kermit Roosevelt
  • Chief, Near East Division, DD/P
  • Mr. Tracy Barnes
  • Chief, PP
  • DD/P
  • [name not declassified]
  • Deputy Chief, Near East Division, DD/P
  • Mr. John Waller
  • Chief, NE/4
  • DD/P
  • [name not declassified]
  • Special Assistant to DD/P
  • Mr. Donald Wilber
  • Consultant
  • [name not declassified]
  • Reporter

Mr. Wisner: Mr. Roosevelt reported that in his conversations with the British going up to the highest levels they had expressed complete understanding of and agreement with the reasons which he gave for his failure to report adequately during the period from Sunday morning until Wednesday afternoon.2 These reasons were that he was faced with the choice of spending his time reporting fully and factually or getting out and acting—he could not do both—and he chose to do the latter. General Cabell responded that we, of course, are in full accord.

Mr. Roosevelt: I think that the reporting up until Saturday night was reasonably adequate, and I think you do have a pretty good picture of what was going on even though there were details that weren’t [Page 728]reported, but they can be filled in, but from Sunday morning on you have only the haziest kind of picture. We did report all the indications in the course of Saturday night that showed to us that the plan had gone astray. The radio jeep didn’t arrive, the telephone system wasn’t put out, tanks were moving but we couldn’t tell whose tanks they were, and it was just obvious that something had gone very sour, and there was a little shooting—not much. We weren’t sure of the situation really until about 5:50. At 4:50 after the curfew was over we sent out someone to look the situation over, and they said, “Yes, there are lots of tanks and troops around Mossadeq’s house,” but that wasn’t conclusive. That would have been the case in either event. At about 6:00 o’clock [less than 1 line not declassified] who was a tower of strength in this whole business, showed up in pretty much of a stew, and he said Nasseri had been arrested.

At that time I got hold of General McClure and asked him to go and call on General Riahi and try to find out what the situation was. I didn’t get McClure’s report until a lot later, but I believe it was then that Riahi told him that there had been an attempted coup by the Shah’s bodyguard under Colonel Nasseri and it had been defeated, but that there was American implication in the thing, specifically that Commander Eric Pollard had been implicated and that later on he told McClure that he had information that we were hiding out certain people in the Embassy including General Zahedi. I told McClure there was nothing in that, that Pollard had not been plotting, that we were not hiding out anyone in the Embassy.

Riahi was the Chief of Staff under Mossadeq. Mossadeq had an announcement put on the air at 7:00 o’clock to much the same effect that there was no American implication . . . that simply a coup had been attempted by the Shah’s bodyguard and had been defeated. There was no mention of any firman by the Shah, no mention of any attempt to replace Mossadeq officially or appoint Zahedi. Zahedi’s name never appeared in the first broadcast. [4½ lines not declassified] The Zahedis, father and son, showed tremendous courage through this whole business, so we then decided that the main thing to concentrate on was to prove to the Army and the people that this was not an attempted coup, that this was a legitimate change of government which Mossadeq had foiled by a coup. Accordingly our first step was to arrange for a secret interview with the foreign correspondents. There were only two—one from the New York Times and one from the AP—and we set that up for 11:00 o’clock. We wanted to have General Zahedi there, but he wasn’t able to be there, and, incidentally, we weren’t there. We set the thing up. Young Zahedi was there with, first of all, the original order of the Shah appointing Zahedi Prime Minister and, secondly, with a number of photostatic copies of it, which we gave to the correspond[Page 729]ents, and also a statement from his father which came out, as a matter of fact, which we sent out in the plane that went to Beirut to pick up Ambassador Henderson. We took over the firman then and kept it in our safe in the Embassy after photostating. There were two photostats made, one by Persians and one in the Embassy. The one by Persians was actually better, but ours was the one that got the most distribution and appeared in most of the papers. Now we then started immediately to prepare a statement for Zahedi to the press and public of Iran. He had seen the foreign correspondents. Now he was to speak to his own people, and we were worked up. We dictated in the course of that afternoon [3½ lines not declassified]. We did not have our own facilities for printing in Persian in the Embassy, but we had the facilities, but we didn’t have a type set up, and we were most reluctant to bring in an indigenous typesetter into the Embassy compound, so we compromised. We had [less than 1 line not declassified] type the thing out in Persian on a typewriter. He did 10 copies. We whipped them off to Zahedi who signed them and sent them back to us, and then we distributed them to the foreign correspondents, and to such of the local press as we could get, and also to a couple of key army officers. By the time we finally succeeded in getting this it was too late to catch the morning papers, [5½ lines not declassified]. This came out Monday morning.

Mr. Wisner: [less than 1 line not declassified].

Mr. Roosevelt: [1 line not declassified].

Mr. Wisner: [less than 1 line not declassified].

Mr. Roosevelt: [less than 1 line not declassified]. Now there was one other very encouraging sign Sunday evening, and that was that Tudeh began some demonstrations in which they shouted, “Death to the Shah,” and acting without orders, the Army started to beat the hell out of them, and they carted away four truckloads of bloody Tudeh demonstrators Sunday afternoon, and they had no authorization. It was just a spontaneous thing, and that gave us tremendous encouragement, so Sunday evening didn’t look nearly as black as Sunday morning. Now, of course, the thing that was bothering us was the security of our principal agents or allies in this business. You can’t call Zahedi an agent, but he was an ally, and he was someone to whom we had responsibility. We were desperately afraid that if he were captured the whole damn thing would collapse, and, therefore, we took the risk of hiding the principal people out in American houses. We actually did have some in the American compound and the house of one of our commo people, but most of them were outside of the compound but in American houses. That was necessary for two reasons: One, to try to give them some security, and also to enable us to see them because if they were hiding out in some locale where Americans never went, it would be impossible for us to see them, and in order to put this thing through we [Page 730]had to be able to be in quite constant contact with them, so we took this chance.

Mr. Wisner: Where was this famous “cave” that Zahedi was supposed to be in?

Mr. Roosevelt: It is entirely mythical as far as I know. Zahedi was in our hands from Monday morning on. He took care of himself Sunday night. He was turned over to us on Monday morning.

[1 paragraph (13 lines) not declassified]

Well, by Monday morning . . . of course, the news of the Shah’s departure arrived Sunday afternoon, and that was no particular surprise and really no particular shock.

Mr. Helms: He just took off?

Mr. Roosevelt: He just took off. He never communicated with us at all. He just took off. He was up in the Caspian. That was no concern except that we were concerned about getting either him on the radio, which I could see was difficult, or at least the statements from him on the radio from Baghdad in Persian, and I do feel that the British let us down on that. They should have been able to do that, but they didn’t. They struggled. I think the British seriously struggled, but the Foreign Office was just thumbs down definitely.

Monday was devoted largely to circulating photostatic copies of the firman, which had a tremendous effect, particularly among the Army, and trying to arrange for follow throughs from Zahedi. We got additional statements. We tried to place them. We tried to get the previous evening’s statement placed, and we tried to get the firman printed in as many papers or even just single sheet emergency papers as possible. [1 line not declassified] It was really an amazing thing, and I don’t know how they did it, but they carried the firman; they carried the fake interview with Zahedi; they carried the next day the real interview with Zahedi; they carried more copies of the firman photostats; and they kept attacking Mossadeq; and they still continued publishing. I just don’t know how they managed. Now we haven’t had a bill for it, but that was the general tenor of Monday’s events, and there were more talks between McClure and Riahi, and McClure himself was arguing at the time that the best thing to do was to make a deal with Riahi and hope that in due course he would overthrow Mossadeq.

The Ambassador arrived back Monday afternoon, and Monday was a day in which there was still a certain amount of pro-Mossadeq rioting in town and no particular indication of pro-Shah feeling except that these firmans were obviously having an effect. Everyone was asking about them. Was it true that the Shah had issued a firman? If so, why was Mossadeq lying about it? And wasn’t that a most reprehensible thing to do? Monday evening was a curious evening for me. We [Page 731]had a big Council of War in one of the houses in the compound and consisting of General Zahedi, [1½ lines not declassified] and myself. We smuggled these people in and out in the bottom of cars and in closed jeeps, and strangely enough never at any time was there any attempt to stop cars going in or out of the American Embassy, which was just as well, but, of course, there is an awful lot of traffic. I mean people . . . hundreds of cars come in and out of there. Well, this conference was going on, and I would have to leave it occasionally and go over and see Ambassador Henderson, and General McClure was sitting out in front of his house in the compound worrying over Ambassador Henderson’s forthcoming interview with Mossadeq and McClure’s previous interviews with Riahi, and they would say to me, “Now we must be able to assure the Prime Minister that we are not hiding out any Persians in the compound,” and I would say, “Please give them every assurance,” and we would discuss the matter for a while, and I would say, “Excuse me for a few moments,” and then I would go back to this meeting. Henderson knew perfectly well what was going on. He told me afterwards. He said, “You did the only thing you could do. You had to tell them, but you also had to do your business.” I don’t think McClure knew. The decision was eventually reached that night. It was a typical Persian discussion. It went all around the God damn map for about four hours. I felt no compunction coming in, and going out, and reassuring Henderson from time to time, and then eventually obviously someone had to make some decisions, and so we decided that we were going to make our play on Wednesday, and that we were going to send off three messages outside of Teheran, and that we were going to continue and intensify our activities inside Teheran, and the three messages were to be: [3 lines not declassified] and that we were then going to build up a terrific demonstration on Wednesday around the religious theme that it was time for all loyal army officers, and soldiers, and the people of Iran to rally to the support of their religion and the throne.

Then we wanted some outside military support from outside of Teheran, and it looked to us as if the two best bets within reach were the troops at Kermanshah under Colonel Bakhtiar and the troops at Isfahan under Brigadier General Mahmud Davalu. [6½ lines not declassified]

[1 paragraph (6 lines) not declassified]

Of course, the build-up that had gone on over the previous months, and particularly, I think, the material produced by the headquarters here, the cartoons and the articles, etc., had an accumulated effect by this time. I mean seeds weren’t falling on barren soil at all. You could see that there was a response, but Tuesday was a bad day nonetheless because there was nothing much we could do. [12 lines not declassified]

[Page 732]

Well, by that time we had suffered so many postponements in this business that it really looked as if we were damn close to the end of the road, and we said, “Well, all right, if the Mullahs can’t act until Friday they can’t act until Friday, and that is too bad, but we have got to have some kind of a demonstration on Wednesday. We can’t let this thing just drift because if it drifts it is going to drift away from us.”

The Shah’s statement3—incidentally it was from Baghdad—was by that time receiving a good deal of circulation by word of mouth, and that was having a good effect, so although there were discouraging signs, it didn’t look too desperate, so we sent out. [8½ lines not declassified]

Mr. Waller: [less than 1 line not declassified].

Mr. Roosevelt: Well, they did. Incidentally, those troops didn’t get to Teheran until after the thing was pretty well over, but they served a very useful purpose on the way because the one place in which there were serious pro-Mossadeq demonstrations on Wednesday was Hamadan, and these boys hit Hamadan just as the Iran Party and the Tudeh was out on the streets, and they shot them up a bit and sent them scurrying back to their hiding holes and came rolling on to Teheran. No one could understand just how this happened. The General Staff was very puzzled about it later. And incidentally in Hamadan the authorities were entirely confused. They couldn’t see how a man from Kermanshah had suddenly fallen upon them and taken care of their problem, so that was the first good news on Wednesday.

Then at about 9:00 o’clock in the morning, which I think is rather early, isn’t it, for demonstrations to start—

Mr. Waller: Much too early.

Mr. Roosevelt: By God about 9:00 o’clock in the morning they started getting word from the Bazaar that there were crowds out and that they were tearing the Iran Party Headquarters to pieces, that they tore down “Bakhtar Emruz”, and I think this was [less than 1 line not declassified].

Mr. Wilber: I wondered because one of the statements we got was that that mob was headed by people from Zuhrkhaneh exercise clubs, sport clubs, and [less than 1 line not declassified].

Mr. Roosevelt: We don’t know. We will find out in due course, but we don’t know yet, but when their targets appeared we felt fairly confident that [less than 1 line not declassified] and they went after “Bakhtar Emruz” which was the most virulent, and pro-Mossadeq, and anti-[Page 733]American paper, and they really wrecked that place, and the Security Forces wouldn’t fire on them. So things started developing, and by, I think, about 10 o’clock there was a mob headed toward Mossadeq’s house. That was where the bloodshed was because the troops were uncertain at that time, particularly Mossadeq’s guard, of what way things were going, and they fired on the mob. They obeyed orders, and they fired on the mob, and I think that was where most of the casualties were. The casualties so far as we could make out were greatly exaggerated in newspaper reports and Radio Teheran reports, as also was the account of fighting around Mossadeq’s house. I read Time this morning, and it said that tanks were shooting 75 millimeter shells at each other, and they were bouncing off World War II armament for four hours. Well, dammit all, that just isn’t true because one of the girls in the office went down to look at what was happening, and in front of Mossadeq’s house about 2:30 the fighting was all over, and the house was being ransacked, and there wasn’t anything like that. Later on there was mortar firing, and I think that some of the troops just lobbed mortars into Mossadeq’s house for fun.

Mr. Wisner: Weren’t there ransackers in there?

Mr. Roosevelt: They probably broke it down before they got in. I don’t think they would worry about whether the ransackers were in. There was a certain air of irresponsibility at that time.

Well, beginning about 10:00 o’clock we began to have really great hopes of the situation, [26 lines not declassified] and we brought him to the place where Zahedi was hidden, which was quite close to the Embassy compound in the house of one of our people. He was in the basement there, and we put the two of them together and we said, “Now, gentlemen, it is very likely that you are going to have to take action soon, and you just talk it over and decide what the best thing to do is,” and that was about 12:00, I guess, and what worried us then was the possibility that this, like all previous Persian demonstrations, would take time off for lunch and a siesta because that is the usual thing. At about 1:00 or 1:30 they knock off until about 5:00 o’clock in the evening, and, of course, we didn’t want to take our precious little chickens and put them out in the open if the damn thing was going to fold for lunch and siesta, so we didn’t dare make the move then. Furthermore we didn’t yet have the confident strength, but a great big crowd started heading up the road to Teheran Radio Station, and the road was blocked off by military, and they wouldn’t let any traffic through, but they were cooperating with the crowd, and so that looked very encouraging, and so at about 1:30, although there appeared to be a slight lull, we decided that things were pretty good, and I went off to get a bite to eat around 2:00 and started listening to Radio Teheran which had been discussing cotton prices all through this business but which switched [Page 734]to music at about 2:00 o’clock, and at about 2:15 there appeared to be something wrong with the record. It would halt or would sound slurred, and at about 2:30 the thing just went off the air, and we had no way of getting to the radio station, but it looked pretty good. The one real worry I had was that they might have wrecked the radio station so badly that they couldn’t get it on the air again, and while that would hurt Mossadeq, it would also hurt us if we were going to be able to make the play, so I went back to the Embassy, and at about 3:30 Radio Teheran came on the air again deliriously pro-Zahedi. As a matter of fact, it was an irresponsible and silly performance, but anyhow they were pro-Zahedi. As a matter of fact, they had one man speaking for a time who claimed to be Zahedi, which caused us to raise our eyebrows, but . . . so as soon as I knew Radio Teheran was on the air, we sent out a scouting party to determine whether there were still tanks and trucks of troops waving the Shah’s picture and the word, so about 10 minutes of four I went over to the house where Zahedi was hidden in the basement, and I found Zahedi in his underwear and khaki pants eating lunch with [name not declassified] who was clad in a dirty old sport shirt and some torn up pants. Zahedi had his uniform there, and I said, “Gentlemen, the time has come now. You are going to have to get out on the streets and take command of the situation, and we have Radio Teheran.” Unfortunately the radio we had given to them the batteries went dead, so they didn’t know we had Radio Teheran, but they both responded immediately, and they said, “Certainly, how do we do this?” and I said, “Well, what we are going to do is we are going to send [name not declassified] out in one of our cars with white tags—non-diplomatic tags—and we are going to hunt around until we find a tank or truckload of soldiers which are pro-Shah, and then [name not declassified] will get out, and he will pick up the tank preferably, and, if not, the truckload of soldiers, and he will meet General Zahedi at a given street corner at 4:30 sharp, and we will deliver Zahedi in a closed jeep with again white tags on it to this street corner. He will get in; he will ride up to Radio Teheran, and General Zahedi will go on the air, and he will make a statement, and after that you are in,” and they said, “Fine”.

There was some argument. [name not declassified] had the idea maybe they should go directly to the Chief of Staff’s office. I vetoed that. I thought it was too dangerous, so anyhow [name not declassified]—

Mr. Helms: Excuse me just a second. At this point had Mossadeq already fled? I mean are you aware he had disappeared?

Mr. Roosevelt: We weren’t sure where he was. He had left his house by then, yes, but we didn’t know. The rumor was he had gone to the Chief of Staff’s office, and so [name not declassified] went out on the street, but this, like every other part of the plan, didn’t go quite according to schedule.

[Page 735]

[name not declassified] got out on the Naderi, and he saw some air force officers, so he said to the guy who was driving him along, he said, “You have done enough. Now it is up to me. Let me out right here,” and the guy let him out, and [name not declassified] went up to these air force officers who recognized him and embraced him. [less than 1 line not declassified] and so very popular with them, and they said, “What can we do for you?” He said, “I would like a tank, if you please,” and they said, “Fine, we will get you a tank,” so they searched around and they got him a tank, and they put him in it, and they draped themselves all over the outside of the tank, and then they said, “Now do you know where General Zahedi is?” and he said, “Yes, I do and, as a matter of fact, we have a date to meet him at 4:30.” Well, then they looked at their watches, and it was only ten past four. They said, “The hell with that. Take us to him right now.”

[name not declassified] said to me afterwards, he said, “What can I do?” So he took them to him, and this tank came sailing right into the compound of this house, and Iranian Army officers poured out of it, and they went in and they got Zahedi out of the basement, and they put him on their shoulders, and they put him in the tank, and they marched up to Radio Teheran.

Fortunately there were so many wild stories going around that night that this one got no more attention than any of the others, and also, fortunately, the guy who got the credit for it was the landlord of the house. He was considered to be a great patriot for having hidden Zahedi out without the knowledge of the Americans.

Mr. Wilber: It is a long way out to the radio station. How did the tank get up there without breaking down?

Mr. Roosevelt: It just shows MAAG has done a good job. The tanks were getting around pretty well that day. We lost any immediate responsibility for the operation from then on. They took it into their own hands, and they kept in constant touch with us, but largely about security measures, what to do about the Tudeh, how to act when the Chief of Police whom they had counted on defected on them and fled to the hills.

Mr. Wilber: Who is he, Kim?

Mr. Roosevelt: Naderi, the Chief of Secret Police. They had counted on him. I think he was the person who betrayed them.

Mr. Wilber: I was wondering if you had any stronger ideas.

Mr. Waller: What happened to Mumtaz?

Mr. Roosevelt: He wasn’t killed. Mumtaz was in charge of the guard in front of Mossadeq’s house. They apparently did fight for a while. The first story we got was that Mumtaz had been killed in front of the house by a machine gun from a tank.

[Page 736]

Mr. Wisner: Was that the fellow who was mentioned in the telegram?

Mr. Helms: One telegram said he had to kill so and so.

Mr. Wilber: Yes.

Mr. Roosevelt: Did they say that we had to kill him?

Mr. Wisner: They said, “Unfortunately so and so (Mumtaz) had to be killed.”

Mr. Roosevelt: Well, Mumtaz, we had nothing desperately against him. He didn’t do very well by us.

Mr. Waller: Was he supposed to be in on it?

Mr. Roosevelt: No, he was not anyone we counted on, but we hoped at the last minute he would come on our side, but he apparently directed the defense of Mossadeq’s house and then fled at the appropriate moment, but the story was he had been shot and then committed suicide in front of Mossadeq’s house, but two days later he turned up without a scratch on him under arrest.

I think really when you come right down to it there were about three casualties among the military which is, considering all the shooting that went on, a remarkable thing, and probably somewhere between 50 and 100 civilian casualties.

Mr. Waller: What about the Qashqais?

Mr. Roosevelt: Well, the Qashqais had gone to Shiraz now without the mother who was in Teheran. The Qashqais left as far as we can make out Tuesday because they could smell that things weren’t going too well, and they beat it down to Shiraz, [9 lines not declassified].

There was one moment when the Tribesmen started to disarm the gendarmérie, and troops were sent down from Isfahan, and the whole thing collapsed, and the Qashqai were being very quiet, so nothing much came of them at all.

Now that covers the gap that wasn’t reported to Washington.

Mr. Helms: You may be interested to know as an aside that the FBIS started picking up Radio Teheran play by play, and it was blasting in here at a hell of a rate, so we were practically abreast of it the way you were in Teheran.

Mr. Roosevelt: Except Radio Teheran was an extremely unreliable source.

Mr. Helms: I mean it reported its unreliability. It would be off one minute, and on the next, and crazy the next, etc., so we were all sitting here sort of getting the pattern of this thing, wondering whether we were in, out, up, or down.

Mr. Roosevelt: By the time we had Radio Teheran we were in. It was just a question of getting them safely out on the streets, and, well, that was . . .

[Page 737]

Mr. Wisner: May I ask you a couple of questions here?

Mr. Roosevelt: Yes.

Mr. Wisner: What do the tribes, in particular the Qashqai, look like doing now?

Mr. Roosevelt: Well, I can tell you the first thing that happened when this government came in was all the tribes except the Qashqai sent telegrams to Zahedi saying, “If these Qashqai make any trouble, don’t send the Army after them. Let us go and take care of them.” A whole batch of telegrams came in, so that is one indication.

The Qashqai represented a problem that we have to concern ourselves with now because it may be, much as some people like the four brothers, that the time has come for them to go, and I think it could be done quite easily.

Mr. Wisner: Would they make common cause in your opinion with any opposition elements that might come up?

Mr. Roosevelt: They might, yes. I am in favor of fairly drastic action with the Qashqai.

Mr. Helms: When this fellow Roosevelt says somebody has got to go, you sort of go like this, don’t you, or they have had it?

Mr. Roosevelt: [1½ lines not declassified].

Mr. Waller: [1 line not declassified].

Mr. Roosevelt: [1 line not declassified].

Mr. Wilber: I wonder if it wouldn’t be the time instead of having us go for us to move in on them as we plan to do over the years and haven’t been able to quite pull off because of their resistance?

Mr. Roosevelt: It may be that that could be done, but the trouble is the one thing they have been consistent on is they have always been against the Shah. The Shah is now our boy and, dammit all, we can’t put up . . .

Mr. Waller: You don’t suppose we could force them and, as Don says, use a blunt instrument, not to do away with them but to get them to help us out on a couple of odd jobs?

Mr. Roosevelt: Well, it might be. This is going to take a little study. I don’t think it is anything we want to move too rapidly on. They are potentially very useful and also potentially very dangerous, and we have to decide which side of the coin is most likely to come up most often.

Mr. Wisner: I would like to ask another question here. It has more than one facet, and you can handle it in any way you like. It has to do with the Tudeh Party, and their present strength, and the strength of the menace that they represent at the present time, and what measures are actually being taken against them.

[Page 738]

Mr. Roosevelt: Well, first of all, about the present capabilities. [1½ lines not declassified] and after an initial period of confusion they all appeared to be presenting the same picture, which was one of very substantial disruption, that the leadership was still relatively firm in its intentions, but that the rank and file had pretty much dropped away. Has anything come in since I left to give a different picture on that?

Mr. Waller: No.

Mr. Roosevelt: They tried to arrange a demonstration on Thursday morning at 11:00 o’clock of which we got word, [less than 1 line not declassified] and the Security Forces got word, and it never even showed its head. I mean a few of them came creeping out looking for friends and didn’t find any and scurried right back underground again, and I would say that for the present time the Tudeh is in as bad shape as it has been. When was it last proscribed?

Mr. Wilber: February, ’49.

Mr. Roosevelt: Yes, well, it is probably in worse shape than that. Furthermore, the parties with which it has been allied recently, or with which it might have allied, are also in bad shape—the Iran Party. Has it been confirmed that Zirakzadeh’s brother cut his throat?

Mr. Wilber: We heard his older brother actually committed suicide, but we haven’t any additional confirmation.

Mr. Roosevelt: We have that too, and it was evident that the Iran Party had lost confidence in his leadership, and the great danger, of course, was an alliance between the Tudeh and the Iran Party.

Mr. Wisner: Well, what measures are being taken to further smash the apparatus and the machinery of the Tudeh Party?

Mr. Roosevelt: Well, both the Shah and Zahedi promised me that very vigorous measures would be taken. What slowed them up was the defection of this Police Chief of whom we had been hoping a great deal. [3 lines not declassified] But what happened, on Wednesday morning the guy took to the hills, and finally a day or so later we managed to arrest him. So the machinery that had been set up to take care of that just never functioned. Now when I last spoke to the Shah and Zahedi about it and pointed out the urgency of the matter, they said that they recognized the urgency, and what they proposed to do was combine the Army and the Police, or at least assign Army Officers and Army units to strengthen the Police and really go after these people in a big way.

Mr. Wisner: And the arms caches, surely they must be able to find those?

Mr. Roosevelt: According to the newspaper reports they have already found one of the two major ones. At least I saw that in the London Press.

[Page 739]

Mr. Wisner: Were any of the suggestions that we sent through to you in one rather long cable4 just about the day before you left—we hoped that you would receive it before your last conference there with the Shah and Zahedi—accepted, or was it simply fortuitous that some of these things were done anyway? These had to do with various measures such as the disposition of Mossadeq.

Mr. Roosevelt: Oh, yes. Well, those, as you probably recognized when you sent them, were already things that we were trying to do.

Mr. Wisner: Yes.

Mr. Roosevelt: The disposition of Mossadeq was a debated subject when I left. The Shah discussed it with Henderson.5 He discussed it with me a little bit, but I didn’t really feel that it was up to me to get into it too much. This was my final interview with the Shah on Saturday, and I had certain points that I wanted to get across, and I didn’t want to discuss a whole lot of things that really weren’t part of my operation.

Mr. Wisner: We appreciated that when we said it.

Mr. Roosevelt: I did say that I thought it was wise not to make a martyr out of Mossadeq, and the Shah agreed, but I think the Shah still at that time had the intention of having the public trial. Now I felt that Henderson could talk him out of that if it is the opinion of the United States Government that he should be talked out of it, but I would tell you one thing: I would be more inclined to trust his judgment and Zahedi’s about it than I would ours. I mean they know the psychology of the situation, and certainly from here we can’t tell it. Maybe Henderson [less than 1 line not declassified] out there can tell it, but I will tell you back here you certainly can’t, and the one thing that I did say to the Shah on the subject of trials was that I thought Riahi should be executed, and the Shah said, “Well, why particularly?” He said, “he may not have known he was acting against a firman of mine.” I said that he certainly damn well did know and that he had said to General McClure that even if he did know that it was your firman, Mossadeq was on the side of the people, and his loyalty was to the people, and I said, “He seems to have made a slight miscalculation, but I don’t think that excuses him for having committed treason,” and the Shah said that he didn’t either. In fact, the Shah got rather a nasty glint in his eye at that stage of the game. Riahi, you know, was the guy who wrecked us in the first attempt. If it hadn’t of been for him there wouldn’t be any trouble at all. So he and I think it is important for the morale of the Army that [Page 740]an example be made of the senior officer who disobeyed the orders of his Commander in Chief, so even though General McClure thinks Riahi is a fine man, I am afraid that I think he should suffer.

Mr. Wisner: I have a number of other questions to ask, but I think that probably they could wait. I am sure, however, that General Cabell and the rest of us would like to hear something about what happened in London.

Mr. Roosevelt: Oh, yes. Well, I don’t know whether you want all of this taken down or not.

Mr. Wisner: No, I don’t think this is necessary.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO Files, Job 80–01701R, Box 3, Folder 9, TPAJAX (Iran). Top Secret; Security Information; Eyes Only. Drafted by [name not declassified].
  2. August 16–19.
  3. See Document 269.
  4. Not found.
  5. Telegram 489 from Tehran, August 26, records a conversation between the Shah and Henderson in which the fate of Mosadeq was discussed. The Shah gave expression to his concern that Mosadeq not be made a martyr. Henderson’s reply was to say “that if Mosadeq should be brought to public trial he might be able with his histrionic ability to make it appear that his accusers rather than he were being tried.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.00/8–2653)