Posts Tagged ‘CIA’

After Thirteen Hours, 13 Flowers

January 18, 2016

Such is the world we live in–that decisions which really matter are being made by people who don’t really matter.

I know this statement is true, because I am an American, and America matters in what goes on in the world today.

And my opinion matters, at least theoretically, because I am a voter in America. In November I will be called upon to vote upon a very important question: Who will be our next President?

On the other hand, I, being only one voter, don’t really matter, because, as one mere citizen among millions, I don’t know much about what really makes this country run, or what goes on behind the scenes, or what happens at important defensive and/or diplomatic stations in other parts of the world. I certainly don’t legitimately know anything about, for instance, our American embassy in Tripoli, Libya, or a diplomatic outpost that might or might not have existed in Benghazi in September of 2012.

And yet, this year I will be called upon to render my decision about who shall or shall not be President, based on perception of a host of issues.

One of those issues that presently heats up our brewing Presidential politics is the question of what happened in Libya at Benghazi on September 11, 2012.

Somewhere back in my memory of school classes in American history, I do remember there was a political party called the “Know Nothing” party. If it were an active political force in our day and time, I would have to consider joining it, because there are some political/economic/military matters about which I know nothing. For instance, I know nothing about what actually happened at Benghazi on September 11, 2012.

But hey, I did see the movie about it.

Just last night, actually.

The movie was a real barn-burner. Or, outpost-burner. In the movie’s story, based upon the novel by Mitchell Zukoff, which is based upon the true story, angry Libyan attackers attempt to destroy or take control of the American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi. And they do set fire to the place. In the fire, our Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed, along with Information Officer Sean Smith. Hours later, two American defenders, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were killed during their valiant effort to prevent the attackers from taking control of the compound while many of our personnel were still occupying the building.

As you are probably aware, there is presently, and has been for the last two years, a whirlwind of political blameshifting that surrounds this incident, after the fact. The classic logistical questions are asked repeatedly:  Who’s in charge here? and Who was responsible for this fatal event in which four Americans were killed?

In regard to these two questions, I will mention no names here, because as I said before, I do not know what happened there, even though I did see a movie about it last night.

This morning, I was wondering about all of this. What really happened? Was the movie accurate? Was the novel accurate? Who knew? Who is supposed to make these determinations? (The US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee has already produced a decision about it.)

More specifically, if the movie’s credibility is in question, what scenes would implicate the moviemakers’ culpability in presenting a detail that misleads us viewers?

And then, as if by magic (the “magic” of the electronic matrix in which we live, see question above that initiated this commentary), my main question was answered.

Thanks to Jocelyn Noveck and Joshua Replogle, reporters for the Associated Press, and Paul D. Shinkman, who reported on this movie’s content and its opening weekend at the box office, I now know the specific movie scene in question. See the USNews report in which my question was answered:

If you would like to answer this question for yourself, watch the movie. You can also get a sense of the problem by watching the trailer, linked herein:

Although I now understand  a little more clearly where the real trouble of this divisive issue originates, I am in no real position to make a significant judgement about the matter.  I will, therefore, simply honor the persons who represented and defended our interests–the well-being of the citizens of the United States of America–on that fateful day in Libya three and a half years ago. I do this by awarding Thirteen “Flowers”, which are really nothing at all except a mention of their names.

After viewing Thirteen Hours, I offer Thirteen Flowers of appreciation to these who have served our nation:

Flower #1: Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who gave his life in service to us, the citizens of the United States of America

Flower #2: Sean Smith, Information Officer of the U.S. Department of State, who gave his life in service to us, the citizens of the USA

Flower #3: Glen Doherty, former Navy Seal, who gave his life in service to us, citizens of the USA

Flower #4: Tyrone Woods, former Navy Seal, who gave his life in service to us, citizens of the USA

Flower #5: Kris “Tonto” Paronto, who valiantly defended the American outpost in Benghazi

Flower #6: Jack Silva, who bravely defended the American outpost in Benghazi

Flower #7: Dave “Boon” Benton, who successfully defended the American outpost in Benghazi

Flower #8: John “Tig” Tiegen, who skillfully defended the American outpost in Benghazi

Flower #9: The CIA base Chief in Benghazi, whose leadership in the midst of anarchic circumstances contributed to preservation of the lives of many CIA personnel there.

Flower #10: Mitchell Zukoff, who wrote the novel, Thirteen Hours, which told the story of what these brave men did on behalf of our nation

Flower #11: U.S. Representative Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who first asked these questions in an official capacity.

Flower #12: Michael Bay, who directed the movie, depicting the story of what these brave men did on behalf of our nation.

Flowers #13: to 13 million and more Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, State Department and CIA men and women who valiantly defend the best interests of the United States of America, wherever our flag is raised throughout this dangerous world. Thank you for your service.


What about Drones?

February 7, 2013

President Obama’s nomination of John Brennan for Secretary of Defense has prompted nationwide discussion on the use of unmanned aircraft, or “drones” for limited warfare, intelligence gathering, and surveillance.

The issues surrounding use of these machine should be examined by the American people. We need to deal with the moral and human rights questions that are now being brought forth from many concerned citizens and Congress. We should make ourselves aware of how these drones are used presently, and how further applications in law enforcement and defense will change the administration of justice both at home and abroad.

My impression as a citizen of the United States is that these devices are being used mostly in military strategies under the auspices of the Defense department, but that the CIA is refining their use for surveillance and intelligence gathering. It is plausible and (knowing how technology spreads) possible that domestic agencies such as FBI, Homeland Security, ATF, FEMA, etc are seeking legal authority for law enforcement intelligence gathering and surveillance on the home front.

Here are a few questions in my mind so far that need to be dealt with:

~ Can precise use of drones really minimize and reduce collateral damage and loss of innocent civilian life in warfare?

~ Are drone assassinations a more humane way to eliminate terrorists and criminals than traditional means?

~ Who makes the decision, and on what information basis, about who is to be targeted?

~ Will target selection by military personnel and law enforcement officials amount to elimination of due process of law for the person(s) targeted?

~ What are the long-range implications for constitutional rights, such as trial by jury, and the old principle of “innocent until proven guilty”?

These questions are what stuck in my mind after listening, this morning, to a very informative panel discussion on the Diane Rehm Show, National Public Radio. If you have an hour to explore this important topic, I recommend you listen to this analysis as presented by guest-host Tom Gjelten and other informed participants.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress