Tuesday, January 26, 2016

This November, Remember the Benghazi Four

As far as cemeteries go, Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in the Point Loma area of San Diego is likely among the most beautiful and pristine. Its bright green grass extends to the deep-water San Diego Bay on one side and the vast Pacific Ocean on the other. Over 100,000 upright, identical marble headstones lie in meticulous order, marking the final resting places of brave American veterans from the Mexican-American War of 1846-1847 through the present.

One of these graves belongs to an American hero, Tyrone S. Woods, who should still be alive. Woods, who served the United States for over two decades in the U.S. Navy Seals, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and ultimately as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) contract agent, was killed in an attack by Islamic militants in Benghazi, Libya on the evening of September 11, 2012. Three other U.S. officials, U.S. Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, fellow CIA contract agent Glen Doherty, and U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens also were killed.

The story of Benghazi, like many of the Obama administration’s other policy failures, is tragic and angering for many reasons, but especially because it was preventable. Prior to the attacks, the Obama administration, including then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was warned repeatedly that the Benghazi compound was highly vulnerable to such an attack and in urgent need of additional security.  The requests for additional security never came.  Then, on the evening of September 12, the Obama administration was asked repeatedly by U.S. officials in Libya for permission to intervene against the Benghazi terrorists. Like the additional security, that request also was denied. And then, following the attack, the Obama administration lied to the American people about the fact that Benghazi was undeniably a terrorist attack (coming, in fact, on the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks).

On January 15, encouragingly, the true story of Benghazi was unveiled in brilliant detail in the new film 13 Hours, directed by Michael Bay (who directed TransformersArmageddonPearl Harbor and other successful films).

Americans should make a point of seeing this extraordinary film—and for many reasons. On the most basic level, 13 Hours tells the story of Benghazi with granular accuracy. On a deeper level, though, it’s really the story of the heroic instincts of five Americans in Libya who compassionately and heroically sought to intervene to save their fellow Americans under siege that day and the Obama administration, which found such an effort a political inconvenience two months prior to the 2012 presidential election and refused their requests.

In the days following the attack of Islamic extremists in Benghazi, the Obama administration misled the American people repeatedly, stating that the Benghazi attack was unrelated to terrorism when they knew undeniably it was terrorism. “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an al-Qaeda-like group,” then Secretary of State Clinton emailed her daughter Chelsea at 11:12pm the night of the Benghazi attack. The following day, Clinton told Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Qandil that “the attack had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest.”

These were the lies of Benghazi. But there also were lies about the War on Terror more generally, which the Obama administration sought (for political expediency) to say was being won.  It was a theme (and a lie) central to Obama’s 2012 campaign—and one the administration continues to tell to this day.

As we’ve learned painfully in the years since Benghazi, al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist movements around the world have expanded significantly on the Obama administration’s watch, largely because the administration set arbitrary, self-imposed deadlines for the removal of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and because it failed (and still fails) to have the fortitude necessary to confront radical Islamic terrorism decisively, or even to utter its name.

In recent months, following attacks in Paris and San Bernardino and just a few weeks ago in Philadelphia, the Obama administration has continued to go to great lengths to deny the reality that these and other terrorist incidents are connected, coordinated and conducted in the name of Islam.

The story of 13 Hours tells how they did the same in Benghazi, ordering American officials to stand down in their effort to save fellow Americans under siege and then lying about Benghazi’s etiology, seeking to depict it as some spontaneous outrage against an anti-Islamic film that never happened. The American people were sold these lies by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who promptly took to Sunday talk shows to say Benghazi was not an act of terrorism and ultimately by then U.S. Secretary of State and current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who brazenly lied to the families of these four fallen American heroes as their remains were returned to Andrews Air Force Base three days after the attack.

Politically, the Obama administration ultimately succeeded in permitting enough doubt to surround Benghazi that it became largely a non-factor in Obama’s November 6, 2012 reelection. But reality has a way of fighting back, and the reality of Benghazi is now reaching the American people with one of this year’s greatest films, communicating with impeccable accuracy the betrayal of the Benghazi four.