134. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Iran/Pakistan


  • State

    • Warren Christopher
    • David Newsom
  • Defense

    • W. Graham Claytor
    • Robert Murray*
  • JCS

    • General David Jones
    • General John Pustay*
  • CIA

    • Admiral Stansfield Turner
    • Frank Carlucci
  • Justice

    • Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti*
    • John Shenefield*
  • Energy

    • John Sawhill*
  • Treasury

    • Secretary William Miller*
    • Robert Mundheim*
  • OMB

    • James McIntyre*
  • White House

    • Jody Powell*
    • Lloyd Cutler*
    • Hedley Donovan*
    • Zbigniew Brzezinski
    • Henry Owen*
  • NSC

    • William Odom
    • Gary Sick
    • Thomas Thornton*

*Not present for discussion of intelligence items


Domestic Issues:

[Omitted here is material unrelated to the hostage crisis.]

4. Hostages. The President has asked for more publicity on the role of the kidnappers and terrorists, pointing out that they are apparently in charge of policy. Gary Sick will work with State to compile a list of instances where the kidnappers reversed other authorities in Tehran.2 The list will be provided to Jody Powell. New urgency has been given to this question by the possibility that Bruce Laingen may be turned [Page 357] over to the kidnappers. In particular, the Spanish have reportedly been told by Ghotbzadeh that he will probably be unable to resist the request that Laingen be turned over. One way to counter this is publicity. (S)

[Omitted here is material unrelated to the hostage crisis.]

Intelligence Issues:

1. Exfiltration. The restricted group briefly reviewed the status of our people who are in hiding in Tehran. The Canadians believe that as long as they can maintain an open embassy, our people are safe in their custody. The Canadians are worried about the risks of an attempted exfiltration. Much has been accomplished on the planning side partly as the result of Peter Tarnoff’s trip to Canada. We have prepared both American and Canadian passports for their use. The Canadians prefer that American passports be used. The Canadian ambassador in Tehran will have the final say on this. A message is being sent to our people in Tehran via the Canadians.3 (TS)

2. Delta Team. There was a brief discussion of the present status of planning and training of a possible Delta Team operation.4 General Jones had spent most of Saturday in Fort Bragg reviewing the training. Admiral Turner said that they had had people inside the embassy compound but not inside the areas where the people are actually being held. He continues to believe that all the hostages are at the embassy, but he cannot prove it. The level of vigilance at the embassy appears to be tapering off somewhat. General Jones felt that the risk of a rescue operation was somewhat less today than it was before. The biggest risk is that our preparations would be picked up before we could act. There will be a more detailed discussion of this after the regular SCC meeting tomorrow. (TS)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box 107. Top Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. Carter wrote “Zbig, C” in the upper right corner.
  2. Precht sent the list to Sick in a January 8 memorandum. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East File, Box 31, Subject File, Iran 1/10/80–1/10/80)
  3. A copy of the note was attached to a January 3 memorandum from Tarnoff to Vance and presumably discussed with Carter at the Friday, January 4, foreign policy breakfast. The note states that the United States and Canada agreed that the six Americans would be provided with Canadian non-official passports and that Canada would close down its Embassy in Tehran right before the exfiltration to avoid reprisals. (Department of State, Records of the Secretary of State, 1977–1980, Lot 84D241, Presidential Breakfasts Jan/Feb/Mar 1980) Turner described the details of this and other options in a January 9 memorandum. (Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, Job 82M00501R: 1980 Subject Files, Box 14, Folder 1: C–372)
  4. In its planning stages, the rescue operation envisioned a helicopter movement of Delta force into Iran, followed by a night attack on the Embassy in Tehran. Once rescued, the hostages would be moved to an isolated airfield southwest of Tehran, previously secured by U.S. Army Rangers. The Delta force, the Rangers, and the hostages would be flown by MC–130s to a third country, and the helicopters would be destroyed on site. (Paper prepared in the Department of Defense, “Concept of Operations,” November 27; Department of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff Records, RG 218–07–0002, Records of J–3 DDSO, Box 6 Iranian Hostage Crisis 1979–1984, Miscellaneous Intelligence Files G597–605)