GOP gives thumbs-up to Benghazi flick

GOP gives thumbs-up to Benghazi flick

Hollywood hit-maker Michael Bay’s blockbuster film about the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, opens nationwide on Friday, putting Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate Heller embraces Trump in risky attempt to survive in November Live coverage: Cruz, O'Rourke clash in Texas debate MORE on the hot seat.

The film, which is intended to be apolitical, is renewing public interest in the dramatic terrorist siege that left four Americans dead.

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Conservatives are reveling in the release, claiming that the $50 million film might finally convince voters that President Obama and Clinton — a top presidential candidate — betrayed the country’s trust.    

On Friday afternoon, Republican super-PACs America Rising and Future45 are hosting a private screening of the film for reporters in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood. Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSprint/T-Mobile deal must not allow China to threaten US security GOP senators condemn 'vulgar' messages directed at Collins over Kavanaugh GOP turns its fire on Google MORE (R-Ark.), a prominent national security hawk, is scheduled to stop by a “reception and discussion” afterwards at the Ritz-Carlton.  

Colin Reed, the executive director of America Rising, called the movie “an indictment” of Clinton’s “failed leadership and bad judgment.”

"The deteriorating conditions, the increased terrorist activity, the ignored requests for more security, the lack of adequate resources and personnel — these are all things that happened on Secretary Clinton’s watch and breakdowns she has to answer for,” he said in a statement.

A rave review in The Weekly Standard — a pillar of Washington conservatism — says Bay, the director of “Armageddon” and the “Transformers” franchise, “has taken sides in a way that one might not expect from a successful Hollywood director.” 

“It's certainly an effective critique of the Obama administration's misadventures in Libya and culpability in the Benghazi disaster,” wrote Stephen F. Hayes. 

Last year, “American Sniper” became a conservative favorite for its portrayal of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle.

The political impact of “13 Hours” is likely to be far greater.

Clinton, the former secretary of State, has faced questions for years about the terrorist attack and the security failures it exposed.

Conservatives insist that she and Obama were negligent in their duties to protect the four Americans killed in the attack and tried to cover it up after the fact.

Clinton is not portrayed as a character in the new movie, and any partisan bent isn’t intentional, Bay and the movie’s top executives have said in interviews.  

"My mother said, 'Don't do this movie,'"  Bay told the Los Angeles Times. "She thought it was too political a story. 'They'll rake you over the coals,' she said. And I told her: 'It's not political. It's a story of Americans who became heroes.'" 

John Krasinski, who stars as former Navy SEAL Jack Silva, actually appears partial to Democrats. In 2012, the Massachusetts native co-hosted a fundraiser for liberal icon Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMore Massachusetts Voters Prefer Deval Patrick for President than Elizabeth Warren Trump's trade war — firing all cannons or closing the portholes? Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 MORE (D-Mass.) along with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. “The Office” star contributed $5,000 of his own money to Warren’s campaign, according to campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

“The political nature of what’s happened has really overshadowed the human story of these six guys,” Krasinski told TownHall, a conservative website. “To me, I think there was a very particular interest in making sure that these guys were acknowledged for the heroism that they displayed that night, as a representation of all the men and women who are serving.” 

The movie is based off of the best-selling book by the same name, written with assistance of the five surviving CIA contractors who responded to the 2012 attack.

The Benghazi violence occurred at two separate sites. Attackers first targeted a U.S. diplomatic compound early in the evening, and then opened fire a few hours later at a CIA annex that was a mile away. 

The film reportedly depicts American military forces as notably absent during the pivotal moments of violence.

It also asserts that diplomatic security officials ordered the CIA team to “stand down” from racing to the rescue as the U.S. diplomatic mission was under attack.

That “stand down” order has been a target of fierce debate among lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Multiple analyses of the 2012 violence have dismissed the notion that such an order was ever delivered during the roughly 20 minutes between the time that the CIA security learned about the attack and when they departed to intervene. 

In 2014, a Republican-led review of the attack for the House Intelligence Committee concluded that “some security officers voiced a greater urgency to depart for the” diplomatic facility, but were “ordered… to wait” by the CIA base chief in Benghazi.

However, “no officer at CIA was ever told to stand down” by CIA headquarters or the station chief in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, the report said.

Instead, “there were mere tactical disagreements about the speed with which the team should depart prior to security additional security assets,” the report said.

According to the report, CIA leaders used the time to understand the situation at the diplomatic facility and look for help from local Libyan militias. 

Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyGowdy requests FEMA administrator’s travel records amid allegations Nunes: Russia probe documents should be released before election Gowdy: House Intel panel should release all transcripts from Russia probe MORE (R-S.C.), the head of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, indicated this week that his panel’s report might disagree with that conclusion.

“There are witnesses who say there was [a ‘stand down’ order], there are witnesses who say there was not one,” he told Boston Herald Radio this week. “And I wasn’t there… So the best I can do is lay out what the witnesses say, and then you’re going to have to make a determination as to who you believe is more credible.” 

The Benghazi committee is expected to release its report in the coming months.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday said that “13 Hours” “looks like an entertaining film” with “high production values.” 

“Obviously Michael Bay is an action movie director who has made some pretty entertaining movies. So I wouldn’t rule out that the president would see it,” Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Gowdy, for his part, has said that he “may at some point” see the Hollywood movie, but didn’t appear to be racing out on opening weekend. 

“I’ve got a long list of Hallmark movies that my wife has for me to watch,” he quipped to reporters earlier this month. 

“When I get through that list, if I’m not in the insane asylum, maybe I’ll watch this one.”

Top Democrat Elijah Cummings (Md.) was less guarded.

“I’m definitely going to go see it… I’ll see it this weekend,” he told The Hill.

Cummings said he “enjoyed” the book, and shrugged off concerns that it could deepen the partisan divide.

“I’ll tell you, if [the movie]'s pretty much consistent with the book, I don’t know whether it will rile up folks or not,” he said. “I doubt it.”