185. Memorandum From Frank Huddle, Jr. of the Office of Research and Analysis for Near East and South Asia, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, to the Director of the Office of Iranian Affairs, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Naas)1


  • Assistant Secretary of State’s Appearance before the Fraser Committee

Tehran 8376 on Human Rights in Iran2 should be read with caution as some of its assertions contradict even unclassified State Department reportage and its analysis of torture and press control runs counter to a wealth of classified material which could conceivably reach Congress and greatly embarrass Mr. Atherton and the Department.3

To summarize from the enclosed stacks of documents:4

1) There are many references to “intense” interrogation and at least one reference to a terrorist who died “from the effects of his wounds and his interrogation.”

2) There are several references to terrorists who were quietly executed. I have included one or two as samples. Generally, SAVAK executes terrorists whose naming would embarrass the regime (i.e., people close to members of royal family).

3) USIS despatches on occasion refer to the government-controlled press (e.g., May 23) and there are numerous reports of direct government orders to the press. All the persiflage presented by Embassy Tehran isn’t really helpful in that its prima facie sounds extremely lame. March 20, 1975, TD summarizes the situation most accurately. My suggestion would be to point out that controlled presses are a way of life in much of the RNA world from India to Morocco.

As you read through Tehran 8376 for background material useful for the Department’s presentation, you might note the errors in the following paragraphs:

[Page 559]

2. Persian history has amply shown need for an intelligence agency as protection against domestic threats. You want to stress that, regardless of Shah’s rhetoric, he has genuine reason to fear the threat posed by dissidents within Iran not just the fear of subversion sponsored by foreign governments.

5. If you quote from this paragraph, be careful about the “due process” question, as traffic indicates that due process is not violated except in important cases.

6. On royal pardons, you can point out that the Shah, as of December 10, 1974, began celebrating Human Rights Day by freeing prisoners.

7. I have covered torture earlier. I think that Shah’s remark that “we are using the same methods that some of the very highly developed countries of the world are” should not be quoted as its irony is easily understood.

8. Also covered. Be careful about saying “all” executions have been carried out after extensive judicial proceedings as this statement does not jive with our reportage.

10. On two-party vs. multiparty system. Butler is technically wrong. Iran did have a multi-party system, although only two parties counted (like the US).

11. See attached TD’s.

12. Essentially accurate, but see one TD for less-guarded analysis of SAVAK.

15. Persian government doesn’t particularly have a good record for tolerance. Non-Shia pilgrims passing through Iran were generally harassed or killed in pre-modern times. Bahais are persecuted (most were driven out by Qajars and Reza) as were Parsis. If Fraser brings the subject up, I suggest the Department focus on good treatment of Jews and Armenians and let it go at that.

Overall, you might want to stress that the regime provides stable rule, has reduced many of the land-tenure inequities, and is popular with the common man whose economic lot has measurably improved under the current Shah.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P870050–1703. Secret; Noforn; Nocontract; Orcon.
  2. Document 184.
  3. Atherton appeared before the Fraser Committee on September 8; the text of his statement on human rights in Iran was transmitted in telegram 222610 to Tehran, September 8. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D760340–0323)
  4. Not attached.