Perot Financed ’85 Jackson Trip in Bid to Free Hostages

<i> From Staff and Wire Reports</i>

Dallas billionaire H. Ross Perot says he asked the Rev. Jesse Jackson to help free American hostages held in Beirut and financed a 1985 trip by the Democratic presidential contender, according to a report published Tuesday.

Perot said the National Security Council asked him to contact Jackson to negotiate for the hostages’ release.

“We had one hostage, (CIA agent William) Buckley, who knew too much and it was very important to get him back. Somebody asked who had a track record on getting somebody out of Beirut and Jackson was the only one who had,” Perot told the Dallas Morning News.

Perot paid Jackson’s expenses--roughly $30,000--and sent an associate along to “make sure he had everything he needed.”


Expense Payment Confirmed

Jackson confirmed that Perot paid his expenses.

On several other occasions, former NSC aide Oliver L. North enlisted Perot to help ransom American hostages in Iran but NSC officials did not want to approach Jackson for help, Perot said.

“The list of people who take a chance like this is very short,” Perot said. “The list of people who have news conferences and shed tears is very long. He never blinked; he went.”


“The guy did what he was asked to do by our government and he never grandstanded. His record is two-for-two,” Perot said, referring to the 1985 trip and to Jackson’s persuasion of Syria to release Navy airman Robert O. Goodman Jr. in 1983.

Jackson told Perot shortly after his return in 1985 that one of the American hostages would be freed soon, Perot said. A few days later, Jeremy Levin, the Beirut bureau chief of Cable News Network, escaped from his captors.