Jimmy Carter Says U.S. Should Grant Visa to Iranian UN Envoy Who Was Embassy Hostage Taker: "They Were College Students"
There has been outrage in the U.S. over Iran's bid to have one of the hostage takers who stormed the American Embassy in Tehran serve as its ambassador to the UN in New York.
Twenty-nine Republican senators have written to President Obama urging him to deny a visa to Hamid Aboutalebi, who was a member of a Muslim student group that took over the Embassy in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. The State Department says it's "troubled" by the move, but has not said if it will refuse Aboutalebi a visa.
Now Aboutalebi has found support in the
unlikely entirely predictable figure of former President turned globe-trotting America-basher Jimmy Carter. This evening he was interviewed on the BBC's Newsnight programme in the UK, and asked by presenter Kirsty Wark if the U.S. should give Aboutalebi a visa, here's what he said:
Well I hope so. I see no reason to prevent this person from serving as the official representative of Iran. You have to remember that those people who took my hostages back in 1979 were college students, they were young people and I don’t think they should be held culpable for that incident now, 35 years later.
"My hostages," as Carter calls them, were held captive and terrorized for almost 15 months. They were subjected to beatings, solitary confinement and mock executions. And before their eventual release, eight American servicemen died in a failed mission to rescue them.
But hey, the hostage takers were just college students! At the time, Carter said the embassy staff were "victims of terrorism and anarchy", but thanks to the wisdom that comes with old age he can now see that the whole thing was basically just student high-jinks; Islamic Fundamentalists Gone Wild.
While Aboutalebi would certainly be in good company among the thugs, dictators and crooks who regularly make a mockery of the UN, he should never be allowed on American soil. Former Tehran hostage Barry Rosen said his presence would be “like spitting on us”.
Carter also took his usual swipes at U.S. foreign policy, saying America's involvement in numerous conflicts "has given our country a bad reputation as far as peace and human rights is concerned". And he said that if he were President now he'd consider pardoning Edward Snowden, saying the punishment he's received "far outweighs" the crimes he's committed.
With former presidents like this, who needs enemies?