A week ago I saw the movie, 13 Hours, the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Then I met and talked with a guy who was there, Kris Tanto Paranto. My friend and professional theater critic Kevin Carr reviewed the movie for me a couple of weeks ago as it was released. Kevin had very good things to say about the movie. So, here I go.
I don’t often go to movies, and only rarely to war movies because the Hollywood effects make me sick. Well, there was a little Hollywood in this—as Kevin mentioned, but darned little.
I really appreciated the way the film’s focus was on the facts—not politics. What people need to know is that our military has ready reaction forces of all kinds all over the world. When I was a rifle company commander in the 101st Airborne Division in 1967 we occasionally were the nation’s IRF, or Immediate Reaction Force. If someone blew the whistle my 100+ troops had less than an hour to be at parachute issue at the air field, ready to go to war—wherever we were needed. All our major commands have reaction forces. And fighter aircraft can fly far and fast. Yes, they need mid-air refueling, but refuelers are ready for emergencies, too. And then there are aircraft carriers, and more and more. Our military can respond.
The next point is that one never knows how long a battle will last. I’ve been in a number of fights that lasted 5-seconds, and one that lasted two months—the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. So, the oft-repeated excuse given by some of the incompetent cowards who refused to send help—that the help couldn’t get there in time—is total bull—loney—and they all knew it at the time. Because you don’t know how long the fight will last. The Benghazi fight lasted 13 hours; we could have and should have had a whole lot of US military forces there in that time. We could have had a pair of jet fighters overhead in about two hours—and they were ready to go. Other forces in Europe were also loaded and ready to deploy. I knew all of these things going into the movie.
What I first learned from the movie was how these contract guards dress and work. I was not surprised that they had a large quantity of weapons and ammunition available—why have them if they aren’t really well armed. I was impressed by how they quickly responded when things got bad. I was also not surprised to see that they worked well and communicated well as a team.
You won’t be surprised that what really got my anger up was the way the calls for help were ignored—ignored by the people who had the power to authorize action. The people with the responsibility and authority to act were, first, the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Of course, General David Petreaus, who was then the head of the CIA should have acted, too. Then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his top military advisor, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey; these two characters were in the Pentagon watching things—there was a drone overhead sending pictures out to the world you may recollect. These two cowards did absolutely nothing but make excuses. One excuse was that the situation was so confusing that we didn’t know how to respond—guess what? Combat is always confusing—the way you deal with that is to send in troops who can clarify issues. Of course, we can’t forget the President. He went to bed early because he was to—and did—go to a fund raiser the next morning; I guess no one bothered to tell him; this absolutely could not be the case. US President Harry S Truman had a sign on his desk that said, “The Buck Stops Here.” The buck does indeed stop with the president. He is responsible for everything our federal government does or fails to do—if he should have been awakened by someone—like Secretary of State Clinton—then that person should have been fired for gross dereliction of duty—but no one was fired.
As the brave defenders did their duty protecting the US Government officials they were hired to protect, all calls for help were effectively ignored. To say that I got more angry by the minute would be a major understatement. To see these brave men standing alone against a series of organized attacks—and to see them get wounded and killed, really set me off. Yes, this was just a movie—but I knew a lot going in, and I knew that this was a very, very accurate depiction of what happened.
It’s a very good thing that I didn’t run into any of the cowards I just mentioned as I left—I would have attacked them. It is a major miscarriage of justice and a clear demonstration that our justice system is corrupt since none of these cowards have been formally investigated and charged.
Wow, how do I end this tirade? I guess by encouraging all Americans to see the movie and then demand of their elected federal officials that a comprehensive investigation begin now—and demand of all candidates for federal office that they will pursue such justice if you support them.