Former Hostage Says Buckley Died Five Months Before Date Given by Captors
WASHINGTON (AP) _ David Jacobsen, a former hostage in Lebanon, says he thinks hostage William Buckley died on June 3, 1985, five months before his Moslem captors said he was killed.
″He was delirious. He was regurgitating. He obviously was running a very high fever,″ Jacobsen said of Buckley in an interview on NBC-TV’s ″1986″ to be aired Tuesday night.
″The guards came to me because I was a hospital director, and said, ‘What can we do?’ And I said you better take him to see, get a doctor to him. They said, ‘We can’t do that.’ I made some suggestions to what they could do,″ Jacobsen said.
The former hostage said he never saw Buckley because he was blindfolded but he sensed when Buckley died. ″There was just a long, long silence. When you’re in a small room ... there are certain noises that are associated with death.
″And so I firmly believe that William died the evening of June the third.″
Asked if Buckley was tortured, Jacobsen said, ″I have no way ... that’s just adding to the speculation. I have no way of knowing what happened.″
The Islamic Jihad, the pro-Iranian group believed to hold the hostages in Lebanon, claimed it executed Buckley in October 1985 after he confessed that he worked for the CIA. No body was ever found.
The Washington Post reported last week that Buckley was the chief of the CIA station in Beirut and one of the agency’s leading experts on terrorism. The story said Buckley was probably tortured and died months before his captors reported his death.
Jacobsen, 55, the former administrator at the American University Hospital in Beirut, was released from captivity in late October. He now lives in California.
He said that after Buckley’s death, the hostages’ captors provided better treatment.
″They brought us medicine. They brought a doctor in to see us. They even brought a dentist in. When the shelling came close, they moved up within the building to safer locations. They didn’t want us harmed, OK. We were too valuable. We were precious to them.″
Jacobsen also revealed that he once was ″beaten on the soles of my feet″ because the captors thought he purposely wrote a letter using bad grammar. Rather, he said, he followed their orders, writing down what they wanted, word for word.
″And then someone of the network television circled every mistake and said, mistakes in dictation. My captors felt that I, Dave Jacobsen, had made a mistake in their dictation even though they verified every sentence and every word. They were not happy.″
″That hurts, but you don’t die from it, OK,″ he said of the beating.
The former hostage used that example to emphasize the far-reaching effect of the news media, which have an audience that ″just isn’t the United States of America. They have an international audience. On these very sensitive issues, they have to remember that.″
Jacobsen also said he thinks the turmoil at the White House could delay the release of two hostages with whom he spent most of his time, Terry Anderson and Thomas Sutherland.
″It means that, I hate to say it, although I pray that they will be out but I’m afraid Tom and Terry are going to spend Christmas in Lebanon and I cry over that.″
Anderson is The Associated Press’ chief Middle East correspondent; Sutherland is acting dean of agriculture at American University.
Three other Americans were seized on the streets of Beirut this fall, but they are thought to be held by a group other than the Jihad. They are Joseph Cicippio, Frank Reed and Edward Tracy.
President Reagan announced Tuesday that he wants a special prosecutor to investigate the controversy over the shipment of U.S. arms to Iran, which reportedly led to the release of three American hostages over a 13-month period.
The investigation will center on the diversion of profits from the arms sales to the anti-government rebels in Nicaragua, or the Contras.
In Santa Ana, Calif., Jacobsen defended President Reagan’s approval of arms shipments to Iran and disputed allegations that his freedom was traded for weapons.
Jacobsen also said ousted National Security Council staff member Lt. Col Oliver North is ″an American hero″ because of his role in the operation.
″President Reagan and Col. North personally cared for my safety ... but they would never, ever, under any conditions, compromise American policy or the safety of other Americans for six hostages,″ he said Tuesday.
North was fired Nov. 25 from his job on the NSC staff after it was learned that up to $30 million had been funneled to the rebels fighting to overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua.
Jacobsen said it ″appears that arms have been going to Iran since 1981. None of the men held by my kidnappers were hostages at that time. Does that not indicate that it was simply not a swap of arms for hostages?″