13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is not just an entertaining movie, it’s a 144-minute rebuttal to everything the Obama administration has been saying about the attack since it took place on September 11, 2012.
The “true story” of Benghazi, as told by the secret soldiers, is a powerful rebuke to the “tall tales” that were told by the White House, the State Department and their defenders. There was no “fog of war” that prevented the Department of Defense from sending military assets to Benghazi — just a foggy narrative that was created by the commander in chief and secretary of state to explain the debacle without looking weak and feckless two months before an election.
The movie is based on the book of the same name, written by Boston University journalism professor Mitchell Zuckoff with the five CIA contractors who were on the ground in Benghazi that night: Jack Silva, Mark “Oz” Geist, John “Tig” Tiegen, Kris “Tanto” Paronto, and Dave “Boon” Benton.
“Jack Silva” (played by “The Office” alum John Krasinski) and “Dave Benton” (played by David Denman) are pseudonymous names because their real identities have not been revealed.
The authors say in the book’s introduction that they wanted to avoid politics in favor of presenting a factual account of what happened during the 13 hours of fighting, but it’s clear that director Michael Bay has taken sides in the debate about what happened on the ground that night.
Oh yes there was a “stand-down order.”
Members of the security team at the annex were “jocked up and ready to go” within five minutes of the attack on the State Department compound, but were prevented from going for almost 30 minutes. That delay almost certainly cost at least one—and possibly both—of the lives that were lost at the diplomatic compound.
If there is a villain in the movie (other than the jihadis) it’s “Bob,” the CIA station chief who gave the security contractors the stand-down order. But the film has a lot of unnamed villains.
Who were the indifferent and indecisive officials in Washington who advised him to stand down? Who in Washington was watching—in real time—the drone feed of the attack?
Why were the buffoons in Washington blaming an obviously pre-planned terrorist attack on demonstrations over a YouTube video: “I didn’t see any demonstration!” one of the contractors said in stunned disbelief in reaction to the claim, as the enemy assault grew in intensity and RPG fire shook the compound.
Who are the officials in Washington who rejected the pleas for reinforcements?
At a conference organized by the Maryland Citizen Action Network last weekend, Kris Paronto revealed that two AC-130H “Spectre” gunships were on call and within range of Benghazi that night.
One of them was a six-hour flight away, co-located with a U.S. special operations team in Djibouti.
The other was at Naval Air Station Sigonella, in Sicily. “That’s a 45-minute flight,” Paronto said.
The Spectre gunship with its 25mm rapid-fire gatling guns, its 40 mm precision Bofors gun, and its 105mm canon is “good in urban warfare because you have little collateral damage,” Paronto explained.
In fact, it was just what the beleaguered security team needed.
The film depicts the men’s sense of abandonment over and over again.
We see the contractors desperately fighting off swarms of well-armed militants in Benghazi, and at the same time, U.S. fighter jets spinning their engines on an airstrip in Italy.
“There are pilots that come up to us and say, ‘Sorry, dude. We were ready to go,’” Geist said in a recent interview with the New York Post. “This wasn’t the worst [firefight of my life], but it was the longest,” Paronto said. “The only difference with this one was that we were left behind. That’s just the truth. No support came. Period.”
One of the untold stories of Benghazi is how the men relied on their faith to strengthen and sustain them.
The Select Committee on Benghazi is still trying to get to the bottom of why help never came. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared before the committee on January 8, and then-Department of Defense Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash is scheduled to appear before the committee today.
Last month, Judicial Watch released an email that showed that the Department of Defense had mobilized forces a few hours after the attack began.
An email was sent by then-Department of Defense Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash to State Department leadership that offered “forces that could move to Benghazi” during the terrorist attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.
In the email Bash described what was depicted so poignantly in the movie. “They are spinning up as we speak.”