Originally created 07/04/05

'I am not a crook'?

"The speed of Iran's opening will be delayed. But there will be no way to hold in check the desires of the young. It's 2005, not 1979."

- an Iranian woman, on the election of a hardline president

We certainly hope so. But you might forgive some former U.S. hostages for thinking otherwise. In Iran president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's face, they see one of their captors from 1979's 444-day siege of the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

His friends near the circle of Iranian power flatly deny it. But one takes little comfort in Iranian officials' protestations that "I was there, and I don't remember seeing him!" That alone indicates the Iranian government is already populated with the captors - i.e., international criminals. Indeed, Ahmadinejad is mayor of Tehran.

Iran didn't become an axis of evil when President George W. Bush said so. It stretches back to the days of Jimmy Carter.

Even so, it is a stark reminder of Iran's lingering antagonism that the president-elect might have been one of the principals in the 1979 attack on the U.S. embassy. It's a sign that relations with the West may not improve anytime soon. That's especially worrisome because the now-legendary hardline conservative Ahmadinejad is set to take over a country with nuclear ambitions.

We are glad the U.S. government is taking these allegations seriously, and is looking into whether Ahmadinejad was a hostage-taker. "We have not forgotten," a State Department spokesman told reporters. "We have not forgotten the fact that 51 of our diplomats were held for 444 days, that they were taken hostage."

The rise to great power of any of those criminals is a sad chapter - one we hope their children in Iran will rebel against.


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