|Subject: Poor guy, beaten and tortured as a captive, only to be later excluded from monitary compensations afforded others, only due because he was a Marine. ...
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Date Posted: Monday, March 02, 01:56:28pm
In reply to:
Dead at 62
's message, "Westley Williams, Held hostage at Iranian embassy from 1979- 81" on Sunday, March 01, 11:59:30am
..Westley Williams with his daughter Giada Williams, 6, on Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, at their home
in Troy, N.Y. Westley Williams was serving in the Marines when he was taken hostage in Iran in 1979.
Black, female Iranian hostages excluded from deal. ..
timesunion.com / By Chris Churchill
August 20, 2016
In 1979, when Iranian militants took over the U.S. Embassy in the country's capital, Westley Williams was among the Americans taken hostage. Like the others, he was blindfolded, beaten and tortured.
Today, most of the former hostages are set to receive up to $4.4 million in compensation for the ordeal they suffered — roughly equal to $10,000 for every day they were held.
But not Williams. Black and female former hostages, who were released early, are getting nothing.
"I was there and got my ass beat and everything else," Williams told me. "But I guess my service isn't good enough for them."
Williams is 60 years old and lives in a small apartment along Burdett Avenue in Troy. He's wiry, without a hint of paunch. He speaks rapidly, almost aggressively, with a voice that's as sandpaper rough as the life he's led.
Back then, Williams was a young Marine who had escaped, at least for a time, the tough streets of Albany's Arbor Hill. He was an elite guard who had been in Tehran for only two weeks when the embassy fell amidst a geopolitical firestorm.
"They overwhelmed us," Williams said of the militants. "Bum-rushed us."
Williams caught a break when, 20 days later, the Iranians released only the 13 black and female hostages as part of a publicity move designed to draw attention to the hypocrisy of American discrimination.
The other hostages would be held for an additional 424 days — and there's little doubt they suffered far more. Still, Williams says his life has been haunted by his experience in Tehran.
Williams, seen here in uniform …
"It was horrible," he said. "They did what they did. There was no sexual stuff, but there was a lot of hitting, a lot of interrogation and a lot of abuse."
Williams stressed that he did not want to leave the other hostages, including fellow Marines, behind. Doing so went against the Marine Corps credo, but the Iranians left no choice. They forced him on the plane at gunpoint, he said.
Nevertheless, the hostages who were released early faced whispered insinuations that they had earned their freedom by betraying their country's secrets. And decades after the end of the crisis, the two groups of hostages remained largely in distinct camps.
While both groups sought compensation for their suffering, and each fought for decades to receive it, they did so largely on separate tracks that included distinct lawsuits.
That helps to explain how Williams' group was left out of the fund created last December.
The language of the bill was based on a lawsuit filed against the Iranians by the larger group of hostages, according to the office of U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, who agrees that the legislation, as passed, is unjust and flawed. "Paul believes that anyone held for any amount of time, including Mr. Williams, should receive compensation for being held hostage," a spokesman said.
The money is coming from a $8.9 billion penalty paid by BNP Paribas, a French bank, for doing business with terrorist nations under sanction. The fund will also compensate other victims of state-sponsored terrorism.
But it won't help Williams and the 12 other Americans released with him.
"Why are we not included?" Williams asked. "I don't understand how they could do this."
I don't either, but the fix should be easy. Just amend the legislation or pass a new bill.
Still, it is unclear whether Tonko or anyone else in Congress will work to address the issue.
Williams, who has a six-year-old daughter, isn't shy about his main motivation: He needs the money.
His life since he left the Marines in 1983 has not been easy. He has struggled with demons, including drug-and-alcohol addictions and a violent temper. He has been jailed more than once, but said he has worked to clean up his life after being diagnosed with PTSD related to his time in Iran.
Williams' military disability payments are his only income. If Williams were compensated at the same daily rate as the other hostages, he would be due $200,000.
In fact, all 13 of the black and female hostages could be compensated for nearly $2 million less than the money due to just one of the 53 other victims or their families.
Williams refused to blame racism or sexism for Congress excluding the black and female hostages. But he did note that his Iranian captors repeatedly told the black hostages that they didn't matter to the U.S. government and that America didn't care about them.
Williams dismissed the claims as mind games then, he said. But now, he's wondering if the Iranians were right.
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