Former Beiruit hostage Tom Sutherland is now more rich that Donald and his son combined (probably). . .
June 26, 2001 6:41 PM   Subscribe

Former Beiruit hostage Tom Sutherland is now more rich that Donald and his son combined (probably). . . $53m comes from the US tax payers. The other $300m he was awarded to be sifted out Iran somehow. Granted, he and "cell-mate" Terry Anderson spent 70 months chained, gagged and probably unbathed, but can't they honestly say now, this was the best thing that could ever have happened to them? "We're not going to build any new houses or move away from Fort Collins . . .. We'll just be the same guys." Sutherland pooh-poohed the high falutin' rumors. What'd they expect teaching school in a den of lions?
posted by crasspastor (9 comments total)
Damnit! Stupid spelling errors and omissions galore (well, two of them). That "that", that was supposed to be a "than" in the headline, I pray doesn't make things more abstruse than I probably already made them. . .
posted by crasspastor at 6:52 PM on June 26, 2001

I think you're mistaken about the "$53M comes from the US tax payers" part. It sounds like the taxpayers aren't paying $53M of the $353M; rather, the government has bought out Sutherland's $353M judgment against Iran for $53M, and will then try to collect the full $353M from Iran and/or use it as a bargaining chip in negotiations. If successful, the US gov't could end up netting a $300M profit from this.

Under a law enacted last year, the U.S. Treasury will pay the Sutherlands the $53 million in compensatory damages, plus a 10 percent bonus, in exchange for them transferring rights to the rest of the claim.

It sounds kinda like those companies that offer to buy out your annual-payment lottery winnings or large legal settlements for a lessened lump sum up front. As for whether this is the best thing that happened to them- well, 70 months is a long time, and they couldn't know during that time that this would be the end result. If it had been offered as a deal up front- 5 years, 10 months in prison for $353M when you got out- a lot of people would take that bargain, abuse and all. Hell, I'd take that bargain if it were set up like that: Skip college, start the jail time at 18, get out at 24, and be worth $353M to enjoy snorting coke off a stripper's tits for the next 75 years of your life...
posted by hincandenza at 7:20 PM on June 26, 2001

I wrote it's "the best thing that's happened to them" with the qualification that "but can't they honestly say now" bit. When I had my nervous breakdown or my DUI six years ago, it sucked. Both thrust me into bankruptcy, joblessness (loss of job because no more drivie for me), built rifts in my relationships. Yeah it really sucked. Was my life ever threatened? Not by anyone other than myself. Was I tortured? Felt like it. Yet, looking back on it, all I can really say is, I'm glad it happened. As I wouldn't be where I am now (happy, positive, cognizant of what a DUI's all about and on my all too important meds). I'm really not lessening the pain they went through, in other words.
posted by crasspastor at 7:34 PM on June 26, 2001

can't they honestly say now, this was the best thing that could ever have happened to them?

crasspastor, don't take this personally but i think you are way out of line there.

two years ago i attended attended the 2nd annual amnesty international (canada) human rights festival at acadia university. one of the speakers was a wonderful woman who had escaped torture and lived to tell the tale. it had been somewhere around ten years since she came to canada and her physical body was heartrending to see. she looked like walking death, an undead caricature of human failure.

her tales of torture were so horrific that i, a seasoned human rights activist, literally had to stop my gag reflex several times. you know not the depths of human experience until you know the grim intricacies of torture. it is the denial of death, the imposition of unrelenting pain. when begging for death becomes your only prayer, you have nothing. absolutely nothing.

i hope you reconsider your opinion.
posted by will at 7:59 PM on June 26, 2001

Crass, I understand where you're comin' from, and it is a good thing that these guys are getting financially compensated for the years of their lives that have been stripped from them, but that's just to try to put a bandaid on a severed limb. Until you actually experienced being held captive and tortured for five years, I really can't take seriously your claim that you'd be willing to accept such a deal, even for enough crack money to cover a couple hundred thousand strippers' mammary glands.

In my book, money will never compensate for life. It's a token of compensation, but it doesn't equal or even shadow the cost. And with that said, I'm seriously considering contacting Fear Factor cuz I'd eat beetles and throw up on television for fifty thousand dollars.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:19 PM on June 26, 2001

Like I've tried to explain; I was not insinuating that what torture was endured by Sutherland has rendered his memories, nightmares and physical scars suddenly reminescent of pleasure. I was not belittling tragedy, indeed of humanity as a whole if, as they are, things like this "possible" in this world. And I also was not intimating that Iran should not have to pay compensatory damages. And a 100% unequivocal no sir, was my intent to disqualify anybody's (or anybeing's) experience who has undergone excruciating pain at the hands of bloodlusting zealots of any slant.

My point was the sum that seemed to me (if what Hicandenza points out is false) to be a ludicrously large for US taxpayers to have to foot. I wonder what settlement the speaker at Amnesty International was able to secure. And if so, if it could be possibly as high as what the link refers to. All this of course if it isn't some strategy to get a certain to be reluctant Iran to pay up.

Also again, not to call into credulity what those who have been tortured have had to put up with in reliving over and over their darkest days. But what we know of severe mental illness can also be described as:

grim intricacies of torture. it is the denial of death, the imposition of unrelenting pain. when begging for death becomes your only prayer, you have nothing. absolutely nothing.

Again that is not meant as an insult to any of those who have gone through like afflictions. Seriously!
posted by crasspastor at 10:37 PM on June 26, 2001

First, in the defense of the crass-man, I was the one suggesting the "snorting coke off a stripper's tits". It's one of those cliched phrases my friends and I use- we all have those phrases amongst our friends- a sort of all purpose 'way to waste money' joke. Such as "Hey, you worked a lot of overtime- whadya gonna do with the extra cash?" "Ah, I'll probably snort coke off a stripper's tits..." or "Hey, can I borrow $20?" "What for?" "Ah, I'm gonna snort some coke off a stripper's tits...". It may not seem funny now, but trust me, it's pure comedy gold.

Back on topic... I actually do think that the money can make up for it. Or more accurately, that the money doesn't make it better, per se (although $53M is a LOT of money- for example, imagine donating all of it to Amnesty Interntional, eh?), and I think on the whole they'd always prefer to have the time back sans imprisonment: no prison and a normal life vs. 6 years in prison and a large fortune, well- money isn't everything. But if someone was offered that as a deal up front, so that they knew while in prison that they'd spend exactly X number of years and upon leaving they'd make untold millions of dollars, then yeah- I think a lot of people would do that.

I guess I also want to point out that the human spirit is resilient. I don't know (and frankly, don't want to know) what Sutherland went through beyond the imprisonment, but money or no money, he's survived because people are survivors. It doesn't make it right, but it continues to amaze me how much people can endure, things I can't imagine undergoing. And if anything can help ease the memory, money might. I know that sounds callous, but that money can if nothing else give him leverage to maybe help prevent this sort of thing from happening elsewhere...
posted by hincandenza at 11:52 PM on June 26, 2001

Your not seeing the downside of being chained to a wall for 70 months. They arnt the same people coming out. You would not be the same person. Look at this way: they dont plan on doing anything with the money except give it to charity. Is that what you would do with the money? Not now, but after 70 months.. you might... and then what good is the money to you.
posted by stbalbach at 4:53 AM on June 27, 2001

What good is that money? Well obviously... you can use it to buy enough cocaine, and access to stripper's tits, such that you can while away your golden years snorting coke off a stripper's tits.

I thought I'd made that clear...
posted by hincandenza at 10:56 AM on June 27, 2001

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