There was an exchange on this morning's Today between Mishal Husain and Lewis Lukens, former Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in London.
Mishal Husain: One Iranian analyst earlier in the programme said to us that it was in contrast to how the US handled the shooting down 1988 of an Iranian passenger jet with 300 people on board, that it took the US four years to admit that mistake.
Lewis Lukens: No. My recollection is that President Reagan, back at the time, actually acknowledged and apologised for that much sooner than four years but I'd have to go back and check my history on that.
It's intriguing that the Today team didn't 'reality check' that claim after the Iranian 'political analyst' made it, an hour before this interview. The Washington Post article headlined Reagan Apologised to Iran for Downing of Jetliner from July 6, 1988, three days after the US downing of Iran Air Flight 655, begins:
President Reagan said yesterday that he apologized to Iran on Sunday for the USS Vincennes' shooting down of an Iranian passenger jet over the Persian Gulf that killed all 290 persons aboard and declared that reparations or compensation to the families of victims are "a matter that has to be discussed."
Reagan, a White House spokesman disclosed yesterday, sent a five-paragraph diplomatic note expressing "deep regret" to the Iranian government on Sunday, shortly after U.S. military leaders learned that the guided-missile cruiser had destroyed the Iran Air A300 Airbus after mistaking it for an Iranian F14 fighter plane.
The president's message sought to assure the Iranian government that the attack was an accident, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said.
Reagan, speaking to reporters as he boarded a helicopter for a visit to ailing Salvadoran President Jose Napoleon Duarte at Walter Reed Army Medical Center yesterday afternoon, replied "Yes" when asked if he considered his message to Tehran an apology.
Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down on July 3, 1988. That report says that President Reagan apologised "on Sunday". July 3, 1988 was a Sunday. So President Reagan apologised to Iran on the very day of the shootdown. Therefore, the Iranian 'political analyst' was lying. Will Today clarify that?
P.S. Some of the ranting of this same Iranian 'political analyst', Seyed Mohammad Marandi, was then re-broadcast on the 9 o'clock Radio 4 news bulletin.