Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn railed against Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and unisex bathrooms in a fiery but scattershot address that capped a raucous and emotional first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Monday.
Clinton is an "Obama clone" who would put the interests of other nations above those of the U.S., said Flynn, a national security adviser to Donald Trump who was passed over as a vice presidential choice in favor of Republican Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana.
"Wake up, America!" Flynn shouted to a hall that was emptying following the address by the candidate's wife, Melania Trump. Her speech has now come under criticism for allegedly plagiarizing sections from Michelle Obama's 2008 speech to the Democratic National Convention.
"The destructive pattern of putting the interests of other nations ahead of our own will end when Donald Trump is president," said Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. "We do not need a reckless president who believes she is above the law."
Flynn appeared to be calling for unleashing the U.S. military against a host of enemies but, as with other speakers before him, did not provide any guidelines on how that should be done.
Instead, Flynn went on a riff about bathrooms. He seemed to suggest that Democrats' support for the rights of transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice was sapping America's will to win.
"War is not about bathrooms," Flynn said. "War is not about political correctness or words that are meaningless. War is about winning."
He added that "America's once traditional, undisputed role as world leader is now in jeopardy. It's in jeopardy, folks. Coddling and displays of empathy toward terrorists is not a strategy for defeating these murderers, as Obama and Hillary Clinton would like us to believe."
Earlier at the convention, the grieving mother of one of the four Americans killed in the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, said through tears that Clinton lied to her about what led to the deadly assault.
Patricia Smith, the mother of slain Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, said that "For all of this loss, for all of this grief, for all of the cynicism the tragedy in Benghazi has wrought upon America, I blame Hillary Clinton. I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son. How could she do this to me?"
Smith, who has made the claim before, said that "In an email to her daughter [Chelsea] shortly after the attack, Hillary Clinton blamed it on terrorism," Smith said.
But "when I saw Hillary Clinton at Sean's coffin ceremony, just days later, she looked me squarely in the eye and told me a video was responsible. Since then, I have repeatedly asked Hillary Clinton to explain to me the real reason why my son is dead. I'm still waiting."
The video in question was a trailer for a slapdash, low-budget movie called "Innocence of the Muslims" made in California and mocking Islam that was put up on YouTube in July 2012, well before the Benghazi attacks. An Arabic version of the trailer was uploaded onto YouTube on Sept. 4, 2012.
The State Department condemned the video, which was blamed for inspiring attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Cairo, Khartoum and Tunis. Protests and attacks related to the video resulted in a number of deaths and injuries across the Middle East, Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
However, as numerous State Department, congressional and independent investigations have found, the attacks in Benghazi were premeditated and not related to the video.
Clinton has disputed Smith's account of what was said by herself, President Obama and National Security Adviser Susan Rice at Joint Base Andrews in private conversations with the families when the bodies of the four Americans were returned three days after the Benghazi attacks.
The fact-checkers at PolitiFact, a project of the Tampa Bay Times and affiliated news organizations, have been unable to resolve the dispute.
"It is impossible to know with certainty what Clinton told these families in brief conversations at a private reception only three days after Benghazi," PolitiFact concluded.
"Some, but not all, family members who have spoken to the media said Clinton mentioned a video or protests in their meeting. Some said she didn't mention a video. Clinton says she did not."
"If she did say something about the video, would it have been an intentional lie? It's very possible that this is one of the many conflicting pieces of intelligence that the administration was working with at the time. There simply is not enough concrete information in the public domain for anyone to claim as fact that Clinton did or did not lie to the Benghazi families."
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.