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.       

No comments: