Skip To Content

    The CIA Spent An Entire Day Fact-Checking “Argo” On Twitter

    "Letting Ben Affleck film here? Best bad idea we've had."

    Filmmakers love to use real events as the basis for their movies, but rarely do the subjects of those films get to explain what actually happened to nearly as large an audience as those films enjoy.

    On Friday, however, the Central Intelligence Agency spent the day on Twitter fact-checking the Oscar-winning film Argo, directed by and starring Ben Affleck.

    We love #Argo, @TheAcademy award winning film by @BenAffleck. Today we tell you what’s "reel" vs. "real".

    The film depicted the agency's attempt to rescue American diplomats trapped in Iran during the hostage crisis that began 35 years ago this week, and it seems the CIA wanted to set the record straight on a few things.

    The agency started by making clear they didn't have an axe to grind, before getting into the nitty-gritty details.

    Real #Argo: All involved in the operation were innovative, brave, & creative. Thank you @BenAffleck for making a film that reflects this.

    It seems from almost the beginning, the filmmakers behind Argo chose to streamline events to make for smoother storytelling.

    Reel #Argo: When the US Embassy is overtaken the 6 US diplomats go right to the Canadian ambassador's residence to live for the 3 months.

    Real #Argo: 5 of them went to many different places until they ended up at the homes of the Canadian Ambassador & the Dep. Chief of Mission.

    Real #Argo: 1 American slept on the floor of the Swedish embassy before making his way to the Canadian Ambassador’s home after 2 weeks.

    That streamlining apparently also included Ben Affleck's character, CIA agent Tony Mendez.

    Reel #Argo: Only one CIA officer goes to Tehran to help exfiltrate the six American diplomats.

    Real #Argo: Two CIA officers with notable forgery and exfiltration skills used their talents & knowledge to get the six out of Iran safely.

    One telling difference — the filmmakers chose to have the diplomats go outside for a nail-biting excursion into Tehran.

    Reel #Argo: The CIA officer and the six diplomats go into town to scout locations.

    That never happened.

    Real #Argo: They never went to the marketplace to scout a location. The six hid in the Canadian’s homes for 79 days.

    The last series of tweets focuses on the film's tension-packed climax, with Mendez trying to sneak the diplomats out of Iran and back to the U.S. — a sequence in the film that's fraught with obstacles.

    Reel #Argo: The mission is called off the night before they are scheduled to depart.

    The real events, apparently, were less complicated.

    Real #Argo: Carter gave approval prior to the CIA team flying to Tehran, Iran. The details were approved by policymakers in Ottawa and DC.

    And, apparently, cheesier.

    Real #Argo: The night before the exfiltration the team received final approval; last line in that approval: "See you later, exfiltrator."

    Even the plane tickets were given a Hollywood punch-up.

    Reel #Argo: Airline tickets are not waiting at the counter and have to be rechecked before the tickets are authorized and confirmed.

    Real #Argo: The Canadians had already purchased the tickets for the Americans. There were no issues at the counter nor the checkpoints.

    Reel #Argo: The Americans are detained at the airport by security guards & a call is made back to “Studio Six” to verify their identity.

    Real #Argo: It didn’t happen. An early flight was picked so airline officials would be sleepy & Revolutionary Guards would still be in bed.

    Reel #Argo: Shredded documents are pieced together to reveal the face of one of the Americans & the plane is chased down the runway.

    Real #Argo: Skilled carpet weavers did reconstruct shredded documents, but they didn’t reveal one of the Americans at the last moment.

    Real #Argo: There was an hour long mechanical delay, other than that the escape could not have gone better. #nochase

    Finally, the CIA points out one event the film depicted with total fidelity.

    Reel #Argo: The plane clears Iranian air space and the Americans cheer and celebrate.

    Real #Argo: That happened; there was even a round of celebratory Bloody Marys. #ThankYouCanada

    And after pointing followers to Mendez's 2007 account of the operation, the CIA capped things off by quoting the film by way of complimenting Affleck.

    Real #ARGO: An exciting movie that it kept us on the edge of our seats. Letting @BenAffleck film here? Best bad idea we've had. #ThanksBen!