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Kermit Roosevelt

Peter McGuire

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Kermit Roosevelt, Leader of C.I.A. Coup in Iran, Dies at 84


Published: June 11, 2000

Kermit Roosevelt, who was a member of the famous American political family but who made his contributions to the nation in the shadowy world of spy craft, died Thursday at a retirement community in Cockeysville, Md., near Baltimore. He was 84.

Mr. Roosevelt's best-known exploit was as director of the 1953 coup that overthrew the leader of Iran, Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, a nationalist who concerned Washington because he was supported by the Iranian Communists at the height of the cold war.

Earlier this year, the Central Intelligence Agency's secret history of the coup surfaced, providing a detailed account of the overthrow, which brought Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi to power.

Mr. Roosevelt, the chief of the C.I.A.'s Near East and Africa division, spent much of his time in Tehran, trying to get the shah, depicted in the history as a vacillating coward, to summon the courage to dismiss Mr. Mossadegh.

''On Aug. 3rd,'' the secret history says, ''Roosevelt had a long and inconclusive session with the shah,'' who ''stated that he was not an adventurer, and hence, could not take the chances of one.''

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