RICHMOND, Va. — The elite CIA security team that responded to the C.I.A. compound in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012 are the heroes of Michael Bay’s new flash-bang movie, “13 Hours – The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” which will be released in January, providing raw political meat just in time for the Iowa caucuses.
Three of the surviving operatives, who helped author the book that spawned the movie, were heroes Wednesday night at the Tuckahoe Woman’s Club in Windsor Farms, where they shared their harrowing story in great detail.
Kris Paronto, Mark Geist and John Tiegen have been touring the country, often at woman’s clubs or civic groups, signing copies of their book, “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi”, and telling how precious minutes were lost when they were told to stand down as the attack escalated.
CBS 6 had a chance to visit with Paronto, an Army Ranger veteran, before he joined his teammates on stage — and as Virginia and the nation try to decide how we should reach out to the thousands of Syrian refugees seeking asylum here in the U.S.
“My experience overseas, (for) 10 years,” Paronto said, “vetting small groups to assist us in fighting the war on terrorism, a hundred people is difficult to vet. And 10,000? They’re coming in from a country that doesn’t have an infrastructure to get background information. No, it’s impossible.”
Paronto is on the conservative side of politics. The president, Gov. McAuliffe and Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine say the refugees are the most carefully vetted of all travelers to the U.S. and we must shoulder our share of those fleeing their terror-ridden homeland.
“If there’s a good vetting process to get them in? Sure,” Paronto said. “The government’s got to come on TV and tell you what the vetting process is. Not come in and say we’ve got a good vetting process.”
He said this is a crucial time. “The radical Muslims, they are very good at what they do. They know what their strengths are, and that is blending, blending in with the local Muslims. And winning the hearts and minds of us westerners,” Paronto said.
He said we have a history of being warmhearted and welcoming to those in need. “And that’s good. But they know how to play that. They know how to play the hearts and minds game.”