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Men of the Year

Daniel Greenfield called out Frontpage’s Men of the Year: Three Who Died in Benghazi in an excellent year-end column. Our friends at FrontPage have granted us permission to republish it. Lest we forget:

In every war there are those we leave behind; buried in graves in the green fields or falling as ashes scattered on the desert floor. When soldiers die in war, they are honored and remembered, but when they die in a war that is not a war, then there is nothing to remember. All that remains is the cover-up.

There are many inevitable things in this world. The sun must rise, a weight must displace water and Time Magazine must give Obama his second Person of the Year cover. The watchdog poodles of the press can never find enough honors to drape around the neck of their skinny Caesar fresh from his glorious cover-ups on the fields of deceit.

Obama went on the cover and the dead of Benghazi went into the great white grave between the lines of print, the space where all the untold and unread stories go. It is the job of the propaganda press to bury the dead in those wide white spaces while honoring the men who sent them to their deaths with swaths of spilled ink. And it is our job to open up those white spaces and remember what those in power would rather forget.

Three men died in Benghazi that day. They were not the first or the last casualties in the War on Terror. They were not even the first or last three men left to die by their own government to avoid offending the locals in a war that wasn’t a war. They did not make policy. They were sent to do a job and they tried to do it to the best of their abilities, above and beyond the call of duty, in a place that Obama had gone to war to defend, but that despite American intervention had a hatred of America and a love of Islamism that went deeper than blood.

Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were former Navy SEALS. Sean Smith was an information management officer. Three men buried in the deep white spaces where government cover-ups fall and disappear into. While Time Magazine celebrates Obama; these three men are Front Page’s Men of the Year.

Charles Woods, Tyrone’s father, said of his son, “He wasn’t even there. He was at a safe house about a mile away. He got the distress call. He heard them crying for help. That’s why he and Glenn risked their lives to go that extra mile just to take care of the situation.“

The CIA told Woods and Doherty to stand down, but they chose not to listen. Whatever dirty games were being played in D.C., they were there to protect Americans first. The two former SEALS managed to evacuate twenty mission employees while under attack by as many as two-hundred Islamist militia members pounding away with machine guns, mortars and RPGs.

In another time and place, Woods and Doherty would have walked away with Medals of Honor, but instead they were denied air support and left to die. There will be no medals for them. There was, after all, no war, just as there was no war at Fort Hood, just another of those misunderstandings that ends in body bags and a wave of new efforts to resolve our differences with the Muslim world.

“My son was an American hero and he was going, he had the moral strength to do what was right, even if that was going to cost him professionally, cost him his job, even if it would potentially cost him his life,” Charles Woods said of his son. “He was a hero who was willing to do whatever was necessary to respond to their prayers for help.”

Unfortunately the heroism of Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty was not matched by the White House, the State Department or the Pentagon. While Woods and Doherty raced forward to save the Americans trapped in the mission, despite being twice told to stand down, all that the White House had to do was authorize aerial support for the beleaguered compound. Instead the help that Woods and Doherty were expecting never came.

Doherty and Woods were killed by a mortar on the roof of the CIA annex in Benghazi. There were reports that they died while painting the mortar with a targeting laser for a gunship in the area, but instead of air support, there was only death.

The first U.S. military unit arrived in Libya over 15 hours after the attack was over, after an extended comedy of errors, and 19 hours after Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta first ordered preparations for deployment. Despite nearby US air bases, assistance managed to take about as long and convoluted a route to reach Benghazi as was humanly possible.

“I believe that Obama murdered my son,” Patricia Smith, Sean Smith’s mother, has said. “I firmly believe this.” Tyrone Woods’ father has agreed with her saying, “They refused to send in those C130s. To me, I’m an attorney; this may not be the legal test of murder. But to me that is not only cowardice, but those people who made the decision and who knew about the decision and lied about it, are murderers of my son.”

The difference between murderers and politicians is that murderers get put on trial while politicians get Time Magazine covers. At the State Department a few officials are said to have resigned to spare those higher up the inconvenience and discomfort of an investigation. Even here, the truth appears to have been stretched. And it’s all meant to balance out. A few die in Benghazi and a few purportedly lose their jobs in D.C. And then it’s time for another Time Magazine cover and another outing in Hawaii where the golf courses are smooth and the drinks are even smoother.

“The first casualty when war comes is truth,” Republican Senator Hiram W. Johnson, who had been Theodore Roosevelt’s running mate, had said.

Truth died in Libya even before the war that was never officially named a war began. Its first American casualties fell in Benghazi, but as the shockwaves of the Libyan conflict expand into Mali, Egypt and Syria, it is all too likely that they will not be the last.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He blogs at Sultan Knish.

UPDATE: A reader has forwarded a set of comments and corrections:

With all due respect, four men died in Benghazi. Chris Stevens might well have been one of the organizer’s of the gun-running operation, but he died there, too.

Mr. Woods was a part of the gun-running operation. Mr. Doherty was not. Mr. Smith may or may not have been. Glen Doherty did not accompany Tyrone Woods on the rescue mission—he was still in Tripoli at the time of the rescue mission. Mr. Doherty died on the roof of a building with Mr. Woods as a result of—for the mortar men—a lucky shot.

The rescue mission rescued only five men, and the intruders numbered far fewer than 200. The rescue party numbered about 22 men, and they and the five—plus Mr. Smith’s body–miraculously(!?) escaped unscathed and without inflicting casualties on the intruders. The firefight story put out by the administration is almost certainly misleading—if not false.

Woods did not defy orders, and he was not denied permission to mount the attack.

The laser story is very questionable.

Mr. Smith was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and his death is truly to be mourned, but he did nothing heroic during the intrusion—unlike Mr. Woods and Mr. Doherty and the two wounded defenders of the Annex.

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