Discover more from Dispatches with Hollie McKay
Words that Never Leave You: “I stopped doing all the interviews, all the mainstream ones anyway, and suddenly everything in my life got so much better."
Part Seventeen in an ongoing series from Hollie's book "Words That Never Leave You: Fifty Pearls of Wisdom and Reflection from Survivors Across the World."
In the fall of 2012, Kris Paronto – better known as “Tanto” – endured the most brutal night of his already extensive military career. He remembers almost every detail of the thirteen hours he endured guarding the under-attack U.S. Consulate. The onslaught was immediately etched into the dark side of American history, triggering political chaos and a lengthy congressional investigation rife with finger-pointing and indignation.
Indeed, when most Americans hear “Benghazi” now, they think first of the fateful early hours of September 12, 2012, rather than just a seaside city in Libya. That night, armed militants overran security at U.S. diplomatic and intelligence facilities in the fragile nation, which was left lawless and broken after the assassination of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi three weeks earlier. Insurgents, linked to terror faction Ansar al-Sharia, killed United States Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, State Department Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and contracted diplomatic security agents Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
But more than a decade after the tragedy, the unanswered questions were not insignificant. The reasons for not increasing security following recommendations and the Ambassador’s arrival in Benghazi from Tripoli were still up for debate across news stations, as were questions over where the weapons used by the rebels came from and why the U.S. government response was so disjoined and convoluted. For Tanto, a retired U.S. Army Ranger turned CIA security contractor, it is still tough to comprehend how the evening spiraled so dramatically out of control and the lack of subsequent truth and accountability.
Nevertheless, he no longer allows resentment to push him to the edge and eat away at his second chance at life. Part of that healing, of finding a place of calm and centering, emanated from a conscious decision to no longer agree to media opportunities that for years, made him an angry political pawn in someone else’s ratings game. Tanto also chose to turn away from the television, and limit the news-watching from his life, as it no longer served him.
“I stopped doing all the interviews, all the mainstream ones anyway, and suddenly everything in my life got so much better. I stopped watching it (mainstream media), too; I don’t think people realize how manipulative it all is. People get addicted to it, which is not how anybody should live.”
As someone who spent more than fifteen years pegged beneath the corporate media umbrella, I can concur without a shadow of a doubt that it is a machine meticulously designed to rile up the masses and send its audience into a clickbait spiral. While we all need to be informed and understand the happenings around us, we cannot do without switching off and implanting firm boundaries. We will drown without boundaries – and the media does not exist to protect and honor your sanity and soul.
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