Sunday, January 24, 2016

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – Not a “Non-political” Movie

Since the film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi premiered last week, I must have heard the term “non-political” used a dozen or more times to describe the movie.  If by “non-political” one means that the film doesn’t mention Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton by name, then the description is accurate.  But if “non-political” means having no political implications, the word is wildly inaccurate. 

13 Hours is, according to the most reliable witnesses of the events that occurred in Benghazi on September 11 and September 12 of 2012, a gut-wrenching exposé of the lies and criminal neglect perpetrated by the aforementioned President and Secretary of State.  Those most reliable witnesses are the five surviving warriors whose accounts of this long night are detailed in the book 13 Hours in Benghazi upon which this cinematic presentation is based.  It was their heroic efforts that doubtless saved the dozens of individuals in the CIA annex that was about a mile from the diplomatic compound where Ambassador Chris Stevens and Sean Smith were murdered.  Indeed, even those two deaths might have been avoided had the annex security group been cleared immediately by their bureaucratic superior to join the fight at the ambassador’s compound.

One lie exploded by 13 Hours is the politically-expedient deception that the Benghazi attack was caused by a demonstration that got out of hand--a demonstration inspired by an Internet video.  The attack on the Benghazi consulate and later on the CIA annex was clearly an organized assault that employed an array of heavy weapons including machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, GPS-guided mortars, and artillery mounted on gun trucks.  Indeed, a couple of the fighters in the film even joked with each other between attacks when they heard that some media had linked the violence to a “demonstration.”  It was as if these warriors were all too aware of how reality is regularly distorted for political purposes. 

Another dubious proposition that becomes hard to swallow is the official assertion that no help was available for the dozens of Americans under attack.  13 hours undermines this notion by periodically posting times on the screen during the seemingly interminable period from the first attack around 9:40 p.m. till around sunrise the next day when the final assault took place.  The movie doesn’t say why military aid wasn’t sent immediately, but it does vividly portray, in the person of the bureaucratic head of the CIA annex, a mentality that put professional standing above all other considerations.  It doesn’t take much imagination to extend that same self-centered perspective to the AWOL President of the United States who clearly wished to downplay a terrorist attack on 9/11 during his reelection campaign--a campaign in which Al Qaeda was repeatedly said to be “decimated” and “on the run.”

The clear focus of the movie is on the bravery of the six protagonists who fended off large groups of well-armed attackers in the face of bureaucratic resistance and political incompetence.  When aid finally arrived, hours were lost at the Benghazi airport thanks to uncooperative Libyan officials.  Then more precious time was wasted trying to locate the annex that was only a short distance from the torched diplomatic compound.  The film also emphasizes how utterly inadequate security was in Benghazi, noting that no other Western country maintained a diplomatic presence in this highly unstable city where numerous terrorist attacks had already taken place.  In short, the U.S. government’s desire to project an image of cooperation, trust, and stability clearly outweighed its concern for the safety of individuals stationed there.

Though the film doesn’t discuss the memorial for the four slain Americans at Andrews Air Force Base, any politically sentient individual will remember the efforts by President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to blame an Internet video, not an organized terrorist attack, for this tragedy--a misdirection campaign that went on for weeks and eventually resulted in the imprisonment of a hapless video maker.  The events portrayed in the film, however, not only make this claim totally implausible, they also make all but certain the assertions by Sean Smith’s mother, Tyrone Woods’ father, and Glen Doherty’s sister that Hillary Clinton repeated this audacious cover story to them at the memorial service.  After all, as far as the Secretary of State was concerned, what difference at that point would the true cause of the victims’ deaths make to their relatives?  Better to blame a shady foreigner in Southern California than to risk adverse political fallout.  Moreover, we now know, thanks to Hillary’s private email server, that shortly after the Benghazi terrorist attacks she acknowledged the truth about the assaults to her daughter, Libya’s president, and Egypt’s prime minister.

13 Hours clearly portrays the neglect and effective abandonment of dozens of Americans in Benghazi during a prolonged series of terrorist attacks.  In doing so it exposes the mendacity of the Obama-Clinton Internet video explanation of events that three relatives of the deceased insist the Secretary of State repeated to them at the memorial service.  If this highly plausible representation of what actually took place in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, has no political ramifications, then the truth, for all electoral purposes, no longer matters in America. 

P.S. I wrote this article before a very similar piece by Dan Henninger came out in the WSJ on Jan. 21.       

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Stealing America: What My Experience with Criminal Gangs Taught Me About Obama, Hillary, and the Democratic Party, by Dinesh D’Souza

A liberal who’s been mugged, it’s said, becomes a conservative. But what does a conservative become when he’s mugged by a corrupt, politically-driven justice system? Dinesh D’Souza’s latest book, Stealing America: What My Experience with Criminal Gangs Taught Me About Obama, Hillary, and the Democratic Party answers that question. D’Souza now views the Progressive movement as a criminal enterprise designed to pull off the biggest heist in world history—effective control of the enormous wealth created by America’s entrepreneurs. This bounty, the author argues, was made possible by the country’s embrace of a capitalist system that rewards industry and customer-centered innovation and discourages the hitherto ubiquitous ethic of theft. Democrats, however, through a reversal of traditional American values, seek to acquire power by vilifying wealth-creators and rewarding “victims” with trickle-down shares of the national loot—all while portraying themselves as righteous advocates of social justice.  

D’Souza’s book begins by discussing aspects of his prosecution for illegally contributing $20,000 to a friend running for a Senate seat in New York State. Of his case Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz commented, “What you did is very commonly done in politics, and on a much bigger scale.  Have no doubt about it, they are targeting you for your views.” Dershowitz’s opinion coincided with D’Souza’s ownd—namely, that his politics and especially the negative portrait of Obama in his 2016 documentary had ticked off the protagonist-in-chief himself. Clinton-appointed judge Richard Berman, however, denied D’Souza access to papers that could prove selective prosecution, arguing in Alice in Wonderland fashion that only evidence of selective prosecution could justify access to papers that would provide such evidence. 

Thanks in part to his lawyer, liberal Democrat Ben Brafman, D’Souza was able to avoid the prosecution’s desired prison stint of ten to sixteen months—an outrageous punishment since, in the defendant’s words, “no person who had done what I did had even been prosecuted, let alone sentenced.” Instead, D’Souza’s sentence consisted of 8 months of overnight confinement in a halfway house, community service, psychological counseling, a $30,000 fine, and five years probation. By contrast, consider Democrat fundraiser Sant Singh Chatwal, who clearly tried to buy influence, instructed a government witness to lie under oath, and made “more than $180,000 in straw donations to several Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton.” For these far more egregious offenses “Chatwal received a fine, community service, and three years probation.  No prison time, no confinement.”

During his eight months of overnight confinement with “more than a hundred rapists, armed robbers, drug smugglers, and murderers,” D’Souza began to see prisoners and a flawed justice system in a different light. He also began to understand “the psychology of crookedness”—a “system of larceny, corruption, and terror” that’s “been adopted and perfected by modern progressivism and the Democratic Party.” 

Instead of accusing Progressives of ignorance or naiveté, as most conservatives do, D’Souza focuses on corrupt motives that can be boiled down, a la Nietzsche, to envy and the will to power. The con-man pitch in this case is the cultivation of envy, justifying theft by accusing wealth-creators of unfairly exploiting workers or consumers and making themselves (i.e. Democrats) the arbiters of redistribution. In this regard, D’Souza explores the connection between mafia-friendly con-man, Saul Alinsky, who died living the Goodfellas dream life in Carmel, California, and his two most famous pupils, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The author also investigates the emotional tie between the President and his father—a consummate con-artist and polygamist. Instead of focusing on “anti-colonialism,” as in prior paternal analyses, D’Souza now emphasizes outright criminality and skillful lying, traits that connect the failed elder Obama to his wildly successful offspring who, in true Chicago style, perpetrates his cons inside the system. (E.g. If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it.)

To carry out their grand political heist, Democrats must marshal the emotions and votes of an army of envious underlings--stoking resentment among minorities, women, the poor, immigrants, gays, and other potential victim groups. In addition, this gigantic con requires intellectual support supplied in spades by academics like John Rawls who employ their philosophical sleight-of-hand to plausibly transfer money and goods from their creators to others—all for the greater good and, of course, via the state. Cultural indoctrination in the unfair-society pitch of progressive politicians is accomplished by inundating Americans with television programs, news stories, and Hollywood films that feature crooked businessmen, victimized minorities, oppressed workers, heartless millionaires, and hypocritical ministers. These professional propagandists promulgate their ideas out of envy, seeing themselves as members of the rightful ruling class based on their superior intellects and abilities. This same exalted self-image applies to educators who chafe over not being recognized and rewarded by their society any better than the average plumber. 

D’Souza ends his book with suggestions for exposing and defeating the progressive con—a task that requires courage, confrontation, and inroads into the near monopoly progressives enjoy in academics, journalism, and the entertainment industry. Stealing America is also filled with raw conversations between D’Souza and fellow inmates—exchanges that provide significant insight into the world these criminals and their hapless government overseers inhabit.

At the very least D’Souza’s experience with the legal system provides one excellent example of the overlap between the “psychology of crookedness” and the motives and methods of progressive politics. His poignant analyses of the Clintons, the two Obamas, and Saul Alinsky, however, provide considerably more fodder for an audacious thesis.        

Stealing America: What My Experience with Criminal Gangs Taught Me About Obama, Hillary, and the Democratic Party, by Dinesh D’Souza, Broadside Books, HarperCollins Publishers, November, 2015 (336 pages, $29.99, Hardback)