‘13 Hours’ Is Light on Politics, But Sure to Stir Benghazi Controversy

Michael Bay's Benghazi Movie '13 Hours'

Michael Bay’s “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” does not contain any mention of Hillary Clinton. Also not named is President Obama. At times, the movie even goes out of its way to avoid politics, as the director has said that he has no political agenda.

But any movie about Benghazi is bound to still get caught up in the political fray, particularly one that is being released just weeks before voters caucus in Iowa in the official kickoff of the presidential race.

Conservative media for weeks has been abuzz about how the movie may impact Clinton’s presidential hopes, even as her campaign has so far avoided comment.

Last week, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly previewed the movie on “The Kelly File” and interviewed three of the CIA contractors at the center of the movie. Kelly introduced the segment as the “gripping new film that may pose a threat to Hillary Clinton’s hopes for the White House.” She then showed footage from the film.

Sean Hannity interviewed three of the contractors, Mark “Oz” Geist, Kris “Tanto” Paronto and John “Tig” Tiegen, on his radio show and Fox News program.

The movie focuses on the team of security contractors housed at a secret CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, and how they put their lives on the line to respond to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the nearby consulate.

Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed, but the events of that evening almost immediately became a lightning rod in the presidential election that year. That has continued into the most recent campaign, in GOP attacks on Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, and on Capitol Hill, where a special Benghazi committee queried her in an October hearing that stretched to almost 11 hours.

In the National Review, Stephen Miller wrote that Bay’s “straightforward portrayal of the attack will be as close as pop culture comes to analyzing the failures of the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton that night. Still, the fact that there is any reminder of Benghazi in our popular culture at all is doubtless giving the Clinton campaign major headaches.”

Media Matters for America, the watchdog group that has been critical of Fox News reporting, already has countered the way that the network has covered the movie.

“Interviewing three of the former CIA contractors about the movie based on their book, Kelly sought to revive long-debunked myths about the Obama administration’s efforts to respond to the attack,” Media Matters said.

Paramount premiered the movie in Dallas on Tuesday night at a benefit for veterans in AT&T Stadium and to honor the contractors and those who died in the attacks. Bay told one reporter that the city was “a great place to show it because it is the heartland of America.”

“It’s a powerful movie, and hopefully this gets the word out,” he said.

Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore told Variety that they expected about 12,000 to 15,000 people to show up for the event; as it turned out, 32,000 did.

Moore said that what particularly intrigued them was “this amazing story that was getting lost in the politics.”

“The fact of the matter is the word ‘Benghazi’ has been so connected to political debate that you can’t avoid the politics,” Moore said. “Our hope is that when people see the movie, it turns into a conversation about the heroism of these guys, about how some people lay down their lives to save others. “

The studio has aimed the movie at military- and faith-based communities, and the real-life contractors have made multiple appearances in conservative media. Cinemark, which has a big footprint in the South, is hosting pre-release screenings in more than 100 theaters on Thursday, with Bay, producer Erwin Stoff and real life contractors Geist, Paronto and Tiegen appearing in a Los Angeles Q&A live streamed to other theaters after the screening. “We are embracing the people who we really believe connect with this material,” Moore said.

While the movie is debuting on the cusp of a presidential primary, Paramount actually is following the same time frame of recent movies that have captured military and national security sacrifice in the Middle East, including “American Sniper” last year, “Lone Survivor” in 2014 and “Zero Dark Thirty” in 2013, all of which debuted in January.

Moore said that the release date was a function of Bay’s production schedule as well as the three-day holiday weekend.

“If this movie came out closer to the general election, that is when this movie would become a political lightning rod,” Moore said.

Bay’s film is based on “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi,” which was written by Mitchell Zuckoff and the security team, prefaced by a note about how they are avoiding the “political storm” and instead want to tell “what they did, what they saw, and what happened to them.”

The book and the movie do not avoid what has been a point of contention. As the consulate is under siege and Stevens and security personnel call for help, the security contractors at the annex are told by the CIA chief there to “stand down” and wait, causing a delay in response of about 20 minutes.

That “stand down” order has been among the most controversial aspects of the Benghazi story. In the book and the movie, the CIA chief  tells them to wait, as he seeks out a local militia to respond to the siege. As the situation gets more dire, the contractors buck the “stand down” order and leave for the consulate.

Congressional investigators concluded there was no stand down order — even if there was confusion — but the contractors insist those words were used.

That moment has been for years the source of criticism from the right, the implication being that the “stand down” order came from higher up in the Obama administration and that calls for help were ignored. The movie does not delve into that claim. Tiegen told Hannity last week that he did not think that the order came “from above.” “I honestly don’t,” he said.

The movie does show how security at the consulate was insufficient and requests for additional measures were denied. The movie ends with a postscript of what happened to Libya, that it descended into a failed state and a haven for ISIS, points that have been brought up in Democratic and Republican debates.

But the question of the U.S. involvement in Libya is also left to the viewer to decide. The movie opens with a recap of the U.S. assistance that help depose longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, killed in October 2011, but toward the end of the movie, one of the contractors asks why they are there. Before the fateful attacks, Stevens is shown giving an impassioned if naive speech on America’s humanitarian goals for Libya, while one of the contractors, Paronto nods off.

Photo: The premiere of “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” at the AT& T Center in Dallas on Tuesday.

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  4. Texas Fred says:

    The movie is based on lies.

    Only one of the contractors actually claims he was told to stand down. The one known as “Tig” claims he was standing on the porch of the CIA Annex with the Chief of Base, the Deputy COB and the leader of the six man rescue team when the COB told him to stand down in response to Tig’s comment that “we are losing the initiative.”

    In the movie, it is Ty Woods whom was told to stand down, None of the three contractors actually claim they heard anyone tell Woods to stand down. The contractor called “Tonto” claims he was told twice to wait, but never told to stand down.

    The COB, the Deputy COB and the Team Leader say there was no stand down order and the HPSCI said recordings from the CCTV system in the CIA Annex back them up.

    The contractors are trying to distort a very wise, prudent, reasonable and professional fifteen minute tactical delay by the Chief of Base and the Rescue Team Leader to gather intelligence, assess the situation, formulate a rescue mission and request help from the local militia; into an order not to send help to the diplomatic mission.

    The contractors were heroes in Benghazi. But, they are lying about what happen to promote a movie being marketed to right wing conspiracy loons and Obama and Hillary haters.

    • JFM says:

      When two sides of a situation lie in direct contrast, it’s up to the observer to make their own choice and decide who is lying. Simple logic can be applied in this situation. Why would the contractors lie about this one small detail “to sell books.” This one small detail is contextually insignificant to their greater heroic story, which no one disputes. Feckless administrators, on the other hand, stand to gain considerably by lying about this point. It speaks to the greater and systemic failure of the system, the responsibility of those in charge, and a massive communication breakdown. It’s disappointing. The skirting of responsibility after the fact is even more disappointing. And before you assume it’s just another right-wing nut job posting in a comments section. I’m a two-time Obama voter, and likely a HRC voter this November, and I have no clue why I’m posting in a comments section.

    • Aidan Bell says:

      I can agree with you that these men are heroes, although I cannot with your belief that this is a movie being marketed by Obama and Hillary haters. The movie never mentions the potus or sec of state, and the contractors it is based on are not trying to fabricate a story. These men only want to tell the story of the experience they had in Benghazi. Would you believe some secondary source of information or a witness to the events that transpired that night? I think the logical answer is clearly the correct one.

  5. Sue Stewart says:

    Remember The Alamo. Then. Remember The Benghazi.
    +

  6. Pepper Brooks says:

    Even Politico–Politico!–recognizes that Media Matters is a Clinton front. But to Variety, they are a “watch dog” group. Death of journalism.

  7. C says:

    I saw the movie last night, if the story is true, then I know who to support in the upcoming race. I will stand by those who protected the American. USA! USA! USA!

    I feel for the CIA contractors who did what the could and lost so much for the country but was NOT allow to publicly recognized their act. They are my heroes and I will pray for them and their family. I wish the lottery winners will put 20% of their winnings to those 6 ex-CIA contractors or their families.

  8. Fel121 says:

    I wonder if the movie will tell us that the CIA was running guns from this compound?
    I’m guessing they will leave that little tidbit out, doesn’t fit the right wing narrative…

    • Gayle Harris says:

      Actually it showed the contractors paying for a truck of Russian arms. Or it was intimated by a paper bag thrown on the ground.

    • Recondaddy says:

      Wow. That was one of the stupidest comments posted, thus far.

      If the CIA was running guns from the compound (which I wouldn’t doubt, at all), you DO realize that it was done so during the administration of one of the most LEFT-WING presidents we’ve ever had and overseen by a LEFT-WING Secretary of State who is now running for president.

      I think you are confused. The so-called right wing, if they are responsible for this movie, actually did your side a favor by protecting YOUR president and YOUR candidate from further humiliation in including such a thing in the story.

      I’m thinking that you didn’t think your comment through before posting. Happens to the best of us.

      • Gayle Harris says:

        I think you have not been following very carefully. This has already been reported and testified to. The CIA was there to arm Syrian Rebels now thought to be ISIS.

  9. Ben Smith says:

    Frank Gaffney in an October 22, 2012 column “The real reason behind Benghazigate” explains the dynamics and logistics of the media-complicit cover-up now known as “Benghazigate”:

    The evidence suggests that the Obama administration has not simply been engaging, legitimating, enriching and emboldening Islamists who have now taken over or are ascendant in much of the Middle East. Starting in March 2011, when… Christopher Stevens was designated the liaison to the “opposition” in Libya, the… administration has been arming them, including jihadists like… Belhadj, the leader of the al Qaeda franchise known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group….
    Once Qaddafi was overthrown, Chris Stevens was appointed as the ambassador to the new Libya run by Belhadj and his friends…. It now appears that Amb. Stevens was there [Benghazi] – on a particularly risky day…. for another priority mission: sending arms recovered from the former regime’s stocks to the “opposition” in Syria…. known to include al Qaeda and other shariah-supremacist groups….

    Obama literally raced to the cameras to take credit for killing Osama bin Laden just hours after his body bobbed beneath the wake of the USS Carl Vinson. On a sequent campaign event, he reminded his admirers: “I promised to go after al Qaeda and bin Laden, and we did it,” and during the final presidential debate he took credit for having “decimated” “Al Qaeda’s core leadership.”

    Yet, evidence now suggests that the administration was concurrently coordinating a covert “fast and furious” “gun-running” operation aiding the very terrorist organization it claimed to have decimated by killing Osama bin Laden.

  10. truthseekernumber1 says:

    The movie depicts the facts, the many unanswered questions regarding Benghazi and the failure of the White House and State Department to scramble US military assets to protect not only an American Ambassador but numerous threatened US citizens as well.

    What the Oblowhard, Hitlery and the cowardly military brass refused to do, six brave Americans stepped up the the plate and fulfilled the mission on their own.

  11. Ron Ingram says:

    It’s the Age of Obama. (About seven years old.) “Goo-goo-da-da.” Representatives of the Democratic National Committee could not be immediately reached for comment. Read “Human (D) Evolution: The Origin of Our Left-wing Species,” by John Hayberry. You can get it on sale right now at Amazon. It’s the best book written in the past 150 years–ever since Darwin. Liberals hate it.

    TRUMP 2016!

    • iz says:

      That book title just iterates how insanely hateful and individualistic some far-right conservatives can be. When you stop focusing on liberal bashing (or even conservative bashing for some far-left people), then we can grow as a nation and as humans.

  12. teaisstronger says:

    MODERATE THIS

    TRUMP RENTED A THEATER IN IOWA AND WILL OFFER FREE TICKETS TO SEE 13 HOURS

  13. sasintexas says:

    I have not seen the movie but I will. I do not care about whether you have “D” or “R” in front of your name the fact still remains here in the US we were told the deaths of four American’s was caused by a video and this was also told to the families whose loved ones were slaughtered by Hillary Clinton herself. Clinton has denied she told the families this and they have all come forward and called her a liar. I believe the three contractor’s who were there in Libya version’s of the “stand down order” and therefore this administration lied their heads off, what does it matter now is a cowardly response, Ambassador Stevens and three other’s life could have been saved. The brutal treatment to our Ambassador is heart breaking as well as the three others. It still hurts my heart for the families suffering and they know that Hillary C. and the President could have saved them. What if those 4 men had been one of your’s would you care then especially since they could have been saved? I would not rest until the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth was exposed and let the chips fall at the feet of my government.

  14. Kent Marsh says:

    Media Matters was founded by the Clintons, funded by Democratic financiers and Soros front organizations like MoveOn.org (A group initially tasked with protecting Bill Clinton in the media during his Impeachment trial).
    If you want the “Clinton/Soros” perspective, then listen to Media Matters – a totally left-wing propaganda organization

  15. 1restitutio says:

    Media Matters is not a watchdog group…its is a liberal dem party donor funded group…propagandists….so is Variety Mag

  16. Strayhorse says:

    The acting Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, during the time in question represented by the attack of tangos on the American Ambassador and citizens defending America was serving at the pleasure of the acting President of the United States Barrick (Barry Soetero) Obama. So both BO and Hillary are guilty of the deaths of the American Ambassador and the decorarted American warriors. BO could have saved them all, BUT DID NOT.

  17. Teddy Novak says:

    “There is no sensationalism in that: We were told to ‘stand down’…those words were used verbatim – 100 percent.” – Former Special Forces Officer Kris Paronto

    “If the film portrays them as having ordered a stand-down, it’s clearly at odds with the facts.” – Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)

    Let’s see, a warrior fighting subhumans to defend Americans that night vs. a miserable leftist POS trying to defend the bedwetter-in-chief and his handmaiden that night.

    I’ll go with the warrior.

    zazzle.com/firstprinciples/products?rf=238518351914519699

  18. Susan Daniels says:

    Why does this movie never mention Obama or Hillary Clinton? Does Trump even know that?

  19. stonehillady says:

    All of it is a lie,,,, this an attempt to cover who and what Stevens was really doing there. Stevens was a mule for all intended purposes, he could NOT come home alive, he would have blown the neocon cover of Obama’s, Hillary, CIA, CFR’s and McCain’s(Rhino neocons) intent of selling and arming the enemy with weapons. This has the blood and treason of both parties on it.
    If Hillary goes down, they all go down, “Humpty Dumpty had a Big Fall, all the King’s Men, and all the King’s Horses couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together, again.”
    They (Congress & Obama) will protect Hillary, even if FBI Director Comey resigns, and tells the public why he is fit to be tied, the public can and will NOT do nothing, the nation has been used to fight wars for the Chosen People and will be no more, because they believed the lie from 9/11 onward. Not even the Donald can save you, your time has expired. Sad but, True.

    • Fel121 says:

      I wonder why it’s everyone seems to know this, yet the media continues to pretend not to be aware of it…

      • Gayle Harris says:

        In the movie that is exactly what the men said as they were being attacked by bombs, gun fire & RPG’s at both facilities ” Are you getting the feeling everyone knows about this but us?”

    • Tony Bianchi says:

      Couldn’t agree more to this comment.

  20. Hank Wershaw says:

    I know a 74 year old Brooklyn Jewish socialist who is probably ecstatic about this film being shown now.

    • Susan Daniels says:

      Stonehillady is exactly right. Stevens was there to help arm our enemies. He met with a Turkish representative right before the attack started and the Islamist terrorists let the Turk pass through them safely to leave. The CIA was also there because they were involved in the trafficking of armaments to our enemies. But the men who died were there under orders and our government should have, and could have, saved them.

  21. Terry Sumpter says:

    The era of the Clintons using their political influence for personal gain may be rapidly coming to an end. Can you imagine a confessed socialist is beating Hillary in her own party!

  22. Unaffiliated Voter says:

    Remember: ALL democrackkks are CRIMINALS from the TOP down…even the merely registered ‘crackkks too, by affiliation. Denounce your democrackkk registration TODAY !!! You don’t want to
    remain a CRIMINAL, do ya?

  23. Hillary says:

    Couldn’t y’all wait to show this movie until after the election?

  24. comprof says:

    Why have these liars not been prosecuted for fraud?

  25. The Democrats really feel it slipping.

  26. w5cbx says:

    Congress reached a different conclusion than those that were there because Congress is full of dissembling politicians who lie and deceive the people. Only fools would believe them over witnesses at the event.

  27. Chris Altschul says:

    That you weren’t absolutely outraged that these people were knowingly stranded, without your progressive puppets in Washington lifting a finger, is amazing. You are truly a partisan hack. And the intitial lies to cover the whole thing was a complete disaster. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  28. Kenema says:

    I’d believe the words of those there that night 365 days a year when put up against ant politician.

  29. Citizenfour says:

    Awesome movie. At the very beginning of the terrorists storming Ambassador Stevens’ facility, the so-called CIA Intel chief was told the POTUS (or POS) knew what was happening. Then they flash to military Command Posts with options. Then, the term “stand down” begins to resonate. I understand fully why Stevens’ mother burst out in tears at the premiere and screaming “Clinton is lying”!

  30. Recondaddy says:

    Those damned single quotes eff up the link.

    Go to pjmedia.com and search for “cross-border authority”

    Sheesh.

  31. Scott Black says:

    Has not ONE of ” these movies ” ever NOT been a smooth over job? Due to the fact the only thing the dumbed down American public will ever take seriously is the talking heads on TV and the movie screen…

  32. Tarheel says:

    Call it hearsay, but I was told BY a contractor that was there 3 weeks before, the reason he was there was to get his assets OUT, as everyone knew That on 9/11 there was going to be an incidence. It’s also pretty common knowledge that every other foreign consul had or was pulling there people out. All our intelligence knew there was going to be trouble. Chris Stephens had been begging for help. There is No excuse that this administration can give that can stand the light of day. Liars….the whole damn lot of them, and this needs to be hung around their necks.

  33. Marie Browning says:

    This country is in sad shape when a movie has to be made to get the truth out about the deaths of patriotic Americans. Wake up America. You have been lied to for the past 8 years and they still have another year in office.

  34. Obummer says:

    Remember when Hill was debating Obama and she said she had the experience to handle the phone call at 0300 (3am)?
    Well the phone did ring at 0300 when the ambassador was being attacked but Hill hung up on them and let them DIE!!!
    Hill is finished and everyone knows it!
    America is finally finished with Clintons and Bushes!
    The next president will need to bring America back or we are finished…
    Trump or Cruz will be the next President!

  35. Well what the congressional hearings failed to do maybe this movie will wake up some mush heads.

    • As a former soldier who has served in a foreign country during hostile times, I always had complete faith in my country and our leaders. I would be a liar if I said that I would feel the same way today. Hillary Clinton and Barak Hussein Obama are just carricatures of what real American leadership should be.

  36. Beavereater says:

    This movie will put the “what difference does it make” liar exactly where she belongs. Out of the limelight forever.

  37. Citizenfour says:

    It is a shame that the film will not let the audiences know how Clinton lied about the murders!

  38. Mr. Mxyzptlk says:

    It should be noted that there was no consulate in Benghazi…at least there was not one listed publicly by the State Department in 2012.

  39. An Embassy is considered sovereign territory, attack one and you attack the nation it represents. Americas leaders were aware of an attack on American soil and failed to respond. The cost was the life of the Ambassador and three brave defenders as well as the Embassy itself. They then blamed a video for the reason why without any consideration of the actual facts and circumstances. This was a complete and total failure and the cover-up and shielding by important media outlets only makes this much, much more than just that. These acts support the definition of high crimes and misdemeanors. A congress devoid of courage has left the citizens wanting for justice and the application of the law across the broad spectrum of the people. This includes the elitist political class.

    • hricher says:

      What became after they falsely accused the author of the video for inciting the attack. This administration went all out to throw him in jail! What became of him?

  40. obozo and hillary had ALL to do with it, and even hollywood cant stop that fact from coming out. It allready is out.

  41. The only controversy this film is going to stir up is with Hillary Clinton supporters.

    • chandler says:

      Hillary has a little ever 30% locked up. A sad truth no matter even if she pulled the trigger she would still have that percentage vote for her.

  42. 4 dead in Benghazi while Obama slept and President Valerie Jarrett issued the stand down order.

  43. Jason Burnstein says:

    What a shameful and terrible display of leadership by Obama and Clinton.

  44. Clinton says:

    Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!

  45. Joe says:

    Just think what heroes Hillary and Obama would have been regarded as if they had sent military assets to assist the Benghazi consulate personnel. Obama did not care enough about this attack to even make an appearance in the White House Situation Room. I read somewhere Hillary went home that evening during the hours long attack. Dereliction of duty by both Obama and Hillary. No one has ever revealed where Obama was during the hours long attack.

    • Liberals love dead GIs. LBJ murdered 58,000+ in Vietnam. KGB Karter had 52 hostages. BJ Bubba Clinton had Black Hawk Down. And now this.

      • Clinton says:

        But you leave out the soldiers that died in Beirut and the thousands killed in Iraq and Afghanistan?! just because a Republican was President at the time? Are you slow boy?

    • Clinton says:

      Mama always said “stupid is as stupid does” Do you hv Forrest’s haircut too, retard?

      • Michael333 says:

        “Do you hv (sic) Forrest’s haircut too”….. Given his screen name he is a United States Marine. And you? You sit there in the comfort of your home and call him “boy” without ever recognizing he and his cohorts serve give their lives so you can enjoy freedoms which you obviously take for granted.

  46. Michael Guy says:

    Ever since the USS Cole and 09-11-01, our treasonously bribed politicians in Washington DC have been coerced by our perfidious allies, The Wahabbi oil sheiks of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to act as Janissaries for their Sunni Caliphate. Perhaps it is their vacillating threat to remove the dollar as the international petro-currency. This act would abrogate Bretton Woods and further destabilize Western economies and societies. But our Benedict Arnolds and Platonic enlightened philosopher kings in the Capital and in the Hague continue to support the Wahhabi, old-man-of -the Mountain, assassin sects that have been killing Americans, Africans, Asians, Shia, Christians and Hindus since 9-11. WE aid and abet Al Qaeda , the same group responsible for 9-11 so that the royal princes of the Saud and Thani family of Qatar can remove Assad and his Russian Gazprom energy lines that supply Europe and replace these Gazprom lines with pipelines that are controlled by the Wahhabi oil princes, We are to attack innocent Shia countries like Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Iran, countries that have never harmed America in the last 3 decades.. Reminds me of the “Yellow Press” propaganda against Spain in the 1890s. or that same progressive propaganda Woodrow Wilson used against the innocent Kaiser Wilhelm and his “Huns” to make the world safe for Democracy. Or George Bush’s justification of war against an innocent Iraq.

    • Clinton says:

      put the thesaurus down hillbilly before you give yourself an aneurysm.

      • Obummer says:

        Hey Boy, get out of your mothers basement, clean up your room, then go get a job!

      • Rob says:

        ‘Innocent Iraq’ – wow never heard that one, At least Bush had the backiing of Senate and UN and Hillary BTW. They obviously had weapons of mass destruction – they gassed the Kurds. Invaded Iran and Kuwait killing more the 100,000. OBozo just thinks he’s king and do anything by himself. Hopefully a conservative gets in and immediately undoes EVERY single Executive Order this criminal did!

  47. Clinton says:

    Obvious attempt (that will be successful) by Michael Bay to capitalize on the stupid Republican fanatics. These turds will pay any amount of money to glorify anything that might tarnish the black guy in the WHITE House. Quit blaming the colored man for your problems and educate yourself more than just a poduck high school diploma.

  48. getalife says:

    Flop.

    • Joe says:

      You must be thinking of that liberal attempt to rewrite history, ironically they called that movie “Truth”. It was about Dan’s Rathergate. That one did flop.

  49. P says:

    Paramount Vice-chair Moore…..no doubt related to Michael Moore.

  50. Chris says:

    Apache helicopter travels 200,mph and an f 16 up to mach 2…. Im pretty sure if they wanted to get there they could’ve been there within 13 hours with time to spare

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