The first trailer for Michael Bay’s movie 13 Hours, based on a first-person account of the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, was released Tuesday. Many sites—including Breitbart News—posted the trailer, but Vox went well beyond that, offering a 1,500-word review of the two-minute clip.
“Maybe it’s unfair to prejudge 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi based just on this trailer,” author Max Fisher writes before he proceeds to unfairly judge the film based on the trailer. His piece is titled, “Even the trailer for Michael Bay’s Benghazi movie is patronizing and dishonest,” which sort of suggests he’s not keeping an open mind. Fisher never explains how the trailer is patronizing, but he does engage in plenty of patronizing of his own:
Bay’s movie seems destined to make the American public’s confusion over what happened in Benghazi and what it means much worse. It may well be the decisive nail in the coffin of the American public’s effort to comprehend the Benghazi attack and its lessons.
Fisher’s main fear is that the movie will reinforce the idea that someone told CIA security agents to hold when they tried to respond to the attack on the U.S. mission.
First and most concerning is the idea that bureaucrats kept American military personnel from effectively responding to the attack, and thus contributed to the deaths that could have so easily been stopped. This myth has popped up in several different forms since the attack, and been refuted every time, including by a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee investigation. In fact, there were simply insufficient security personnel in the area to respond — a real failure, but not one that plays well in an action movie.
It’s true that investigations have found there was no outside military help available. However, that’s clearly not the conflict the movie is trying to depict. The film 13 Hours is based on a book by the same name. The book was co-written by members of the Annex security team who came to the rescue of those at the mission that night. Last September, three members of the team told Fox News’s Bret Baier they were delayed for almost a half hour by the top CIA agent at the Annex:
“You use the words ‘stand down,’” Baier noted. “A number of people now, including the House Intelligence Committee insist no one was hindered from responding to the situation at the compound… so what do you say to that?”
“No, it happened,” said Tiegen.
“It happened on the ground– all I can talk about is what happened on that ground that night,” added Paronto. “To us. To myself, twice, and to– to Tig, once. It happened that night. We were told to wait, stand– and stand down. We were delayed three times.”
According to the Senate Intel Committee report which Max Fisher links to “approximately 20-25 minutes” passed between the first call for help and the time the security team finally left the compound. That delay was caused, the report says, by the lead CIA agent trying (but failing) to round up additional support from nearby militias. Meanwhile, the Benghazi compound had been quickly overrun and was being set on fire by the attackers.
It’s fair to say there was a reason given for the delayed response from the Annex. However, it’s neither fair nor accurate to say the delay is a myth. And according to members of the security team, that delay was not without consequences. “I strongly believe if we’d left immediately, they’d still be alive today,” one member of the security team told Bret Baier.
To be fair, Fisher does allow that progressives eager to write off the film’s message should acknowledge, “there are real reasons that what happened in Benghazi should cause Clinton political problems.” That much is absolutely true. When the Senate Intel Report was released, the committee emphasized that the attack was “preventable” if not for the failure of the State Department to recognize security in the city was deteriorating and western outposts were a target.