Sunday, February 14, 2016

13 Hours

Last I went to see 13 Hours with Delaney and Tia. Kendall was gone, and we’ve been wanting to see the movie. Since it was only in a few theaters, we decided this would be a good one to watch in the theater.

It’s an intense movie. With only a couple showings each day, in only every second or third theater, the movie is on it’s way out of mainstream circulation. However it was still packed when the show started. Glad we got there early for our seats. I suspected that lots of people are interested in the event, especially given the election.

I had no real idea how the story would be told. Is this a conservative blame show? A liberal excuse? In the end, I enjoyed it, but found myself angry at the end. For a lot of reasons, but certainly lots of emotions at play.

The story appears to be told from the point of view of 6 GRS contractors that were working to protect a secret CIA base in Benghazi. There was an old State Department outpost there, but really unused. They realize that Benghazi is a dangerous place and they try to avoid being out too much with the CIA spies. They don’t get along with the CIA chief, who doesn’t seem to appreciate them as mercenaries.

However Ambassador Stevens decides to visit the city, away from the proper embassy in Tripoli. He doesn’t bring much security, only a few, which isn’t well explained. Is this his decision? Budget from State? Who knows. In any case, the 6 GRS contractors meet the ambassador’s security and give advice, mostly telling them that this isn’t a good spot from which to defend themselves.

The GRS contractors are relegated to drivers for the ambassador, and not happy about it. On the day of the attack, they hear shots fired from their compound in the early evening, about a mile away. They can see an attack is underway, they get calls from the ambasador’s staff, and immediately they load and gather weapons, ready to go help defend or rescue the ambassador. However the CIA chief stops them.

They can see things deteriorating across an hour or so, including a large fire, and they eventually decide to go, disobeying the CIA chief. They make their way over, unsure of who the allies and adversaies are. They get into the compound, rescueing a few of the security people, but also can’t find the Ambassador in the fire. Eventually they retreat back to their compound. It’s late then, maybe 10pm. Not sure.

However they realize their “secret compound” isn’t secret. They start preparing to defend the compound, with the CIA people (26 of them) realizing that they aren’t safe. Throughout the night, they repel a few attacks by rebels, and only one of th GRS men, and one other security guy are killed. One is also badly wounded in the arm.

Throughout this, there are calls to the US and nearby military in Europe. However no one responds. A drone gets overhead, but not fire support, with these people fighting for their lives. We don’t know why, or who decides to not send aid. Is it State? The CIA? Military concerns? Who knows.

There is a quick reaction force from Tripoli that flies over. It’s a bit of a joke, only 8 or 7 people, but they would have helped. However they get to the airport around 1am or so and can’t get a ride to the compound. They don’t know how to navigate, which can be a chore in less developed places. They can’t also commandeer vehicles because who knows if the plane would be safe or they might be attacked.

The entire movie had me angry we didn’t support our people, at least the contractors. The CIA people knew the risks, but the ambassador and staff? And why didn’t he have more security? Was that his call? However before all that, why are we in Libya? It’s a mess, and despite the fact many Libyans supported us and mourned the Ambassador, it’s also a mess of a place. We haven’t made it better and not sure we could.

Afterwards we watched some of the GOP debate. As much of a clown car as that is, Trump had one thing right. We are not doing any good in other countries, and we never solve anything. We shouldn’t be trying to prop up or interfere in government elsewhere.

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