13 Hours – Political?

Really?  Is there really something to discuss? If this isn’t as plain as the nose on your face …

It is possible to identify how far down the mountain American politics has fallen in one word—Benghazi.

Benghazi is no longer the place in Libya where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed by Islamist militias. “Benghazi” is now just another neutralized buzzword in the bad-mouthing wars of American politics. As a professional cynic aptly noted to Congress, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Forget Benghazi. It’s time to move on to more important matters.

Such as what?

The movie “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” opened last week, and the cold-water machines have been hosing it. No one cares about Benghazi anymore, the conventional sniffing goes, because the box-office is tepid. At 144 minutes, “13 Hours” is too long and, really, it’s just too political.

I sat through it, and these political faces and names appear nowhere in the movie: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice. But for the last 75 minutes, I could think of only one thing: the Obama administration’s YouTube coverup, the story—or “talking points”—about how an obscure anti-Islamic video made in California caused Benghazi to happen.

“13 Hours” is a graphic, reasonably accurate depiction of the events on Sept. 11, 2012: the consular assault, Chris Stevens’s death, an escape under heavy fire to the CIA annex a mile away, and the successful, nightlong defense of the annex. With apologies to the politically delicate, “13 Hours” makes the memory of the government’s tall tale, which it insisted on repeating for more than a week, hard to stomach.

And one other, impossible-to- flinch conclusion: There ought to be a political reckoning over this with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, her emails revealed, was complicit in a White House concoction she knew the night of the attack was untrue. She is now asking the American people to let her succeed Mr. Obama into the White House. Benghazi is toward the top of the list of reasons they should say “no.” From the looks of it, many are doing so already.

The CIA military contractors who fought there and survived have said the story is not about politics but about valor and courage. It is that. The director of “13 Hours,” Michael Bay, told Bill O’Reilly this week it is wrong to call his film political. It is indeed mainly the account of a hard running battle with heavily armed jihadists.

But the only reason there is political controversy about Benghazi is that the Obama administration persisted in the false story that a You-Tube video caused a spontaneous assault on the consulate. In fact, President Obama built his Sept. 25 speech to the U.N. around Chris Stevens’s death, citing the video six times.

Had the administration told the truth, Benghazi would have been a legitimate, if difficult, dispute over the nature of the terrorist threat and consular security in northeastern Libya. But with the 2012 presidential vote less than two months away, the White House tried to displace reality with the preposterous YouTube story.

Political? What those six CIA contractors and several State Department security officers did by stopping a probable bloodbath of American deaths or a hostage crisis in Benghazi was save Barack Obama’s presidency.

Two months after the election, this is what Sec. Clinton told Sen. Ron Johnson at a congressional hearing: “The fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”

It was neither of those random thoughts. The plainest account of what did happen that night may be read in the Nov. 1, 2013, indictment by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia of Ahmed Abu Khatallah, commander of “an Islamist extremist militia.” In June 2014, U.S. Special Forces captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah, and he now awaits trial in the District of Columbia.

The indictment states that the purpose of the conspiracy led by Ahmed Abu Khatallah was to violently attack the mission and annex, to kill U.S. citizens there, to destroy buildings and to plunder property and sensitive information from the buildings.

The indictment says that at about 11:15 p.m. on Sept. 11, Khatallah and the militia forces “launched a violent attack on the Mission using firearms, to include handguns, semiautomatic rifles, that is, AK-47-type rifles, and destructive devices, that is, grenades and rocket-propelled grenades.”

At 12:30 a.m., they carried out the same armed assault against the CIA annex a mile away. At 5:15 a.m., a mortar attack killed Tyrone Woods, the team leader, and Glen Doherty, who had flown from Tripoli with a small but successful rescue group.

Political? A Clinton campaign ad in Iowa says, “She’s got what it takes to do the toughest job in the world.”

No, they did. She doesn’t.

Write to henninger@wsj.com


One thought on “13 Hours – Political?”

  1. Haven’t seen the movie, but recently finished reading the book “13 Hours” by Mitchell Zuckoff. Epic fail by our government “leaders” – especially former Secretary of State (now running for President) – when repeated requests for additional security by late Ambassador to Libya were ignored and/or declined. I, for one, do not trust this former Secretary of State to be the future President who “answers the telephone at 3:00 a.m.” when it rings in The White House.

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