Special Ops group attacks Obama over alleged security leaks, Bin Laden
A new ad campaign against President Barack Obama includes former U.S. intelligence and special forces operatives attacking the president for boasting about killing Osama bin Laden and accuses him of leaking material from the White House.
Attack ads have been a fixture of this election, but a new campaign is targeting one of President Barack Obama’s main political strengths.
On Wednesday, a group called the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund released a 22-minute-long video titled “Dishonorable Disclosures,” criticizing Obama and his administration for taking full credit for the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and accuses them of leaking vital secret information about the mission to the public.
While the organization, which is setup as a 501(c)(4), claims to have no partisan leanings, the New York Times reports that some of its leaders have been involved in Republican campaigns and Tea Party groups. They’ve already raised about $1 million and hope to raise more in order to have the ad broadcast on TV in swing states.
President of the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund, Scott Taylor, is a former Navy Seal and Iraq War veteran. He said the ad isn’t about being partisan.
“The only time that politicians pay attention is when they’re up for re-election, so it’s appropriate timing in the sense that the nation’s paying attention and we’re trying to educate them and this is when the administration will certainly pay attention,” he said.
The video features an edited version of the president’s address on the death of Bin Laden, but edited out a key remark, where Obama thanked the men who undertook the operation and praised their efforts:
“We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.”
However, Taylor said the entire speech along with a commercial made on the year anniversary of Osama’s death, supersede that comment. He also said that it's really not the point.
“It’s not just about him taking credit. I do think the president should take some credit for the killing of Bin Laden,” he said.
Taylor said the group is most concerned with stopping the security leaks they say are from the Obama administration. They have called for an independent investigation into the source of the leaks, which Taylor said are dangerous to future operations and have potentially put people’s lives in jeopardy.
“The argument would be — you certainly don’t come out and say who the clandestine unit was. They released the information on how the vehicle got there, who the group was, how many there were there, what the attacks were to get it done. And obviously, whether you’re fighting war or you’re playing a game of basketball, you don’t want the other side to understand your tactics,” he said.
Admiral William McRaven, commander of the U.S. Special Operations command, also expressed concern that the leaks could jeopardize future operations and result in lives lost.
Yet, at the Aspen Institute last month, McRaven praised the handling of the operation under Obama and has never placed any blame on the president for the leaks.
The group has yet to produce evidence that the leaks are directly from the Obama administration, which, according to the New York Times, has prosecuted more leaks of classified information than under all previous presidents combined.
“There’s certainly news stories out there, online, in the public domain that quote unnamed high-level sources in the government. And let’s face it — this is secret information. It’s compartmentalized. There are only a certain amount of folks who understand and know some of these secrets anyway. So, it’s pretty clear that it’s coming from some of the highest levels of government,” Taylor said.
The Obama campaign has compared the group’s accusations to the “Swift Boat” and “Veterans for Truth” ads against Senator John Kerry in 2004.
But Taylor rejects the comparisons.
“This is not a ‘Swift Boat.’ We’re a serious coalition of Seals, Special Forces, Delta Force, Marines, ex-CIA officials. We have a very deep bench,” he said. “You have a group of men who are upset, who have buried many of their friends in the past decade. If it takes coming out of the shadows and talking about, speaking against leaks of national security secrets and asking for accountability of those, they’re willing to do it.”
The group's nonprofit status means that it could disclose donors, but doesn’t have to. Taylor said the group will uphold its commitment to its donors to not disclose their identities, but he did, however, describe them as people who are “very patriotic and who feel very, very strongly that we shouldn’t release national security secrets because it puts people’s lives in jeopardy.” He also described many of the group's members as "apolitical."
According to the New York Times, the Opsec group shares an office suite with a Republican consulting firm, the Trailblazer Group. Christian Ferry, a partner in the firm, told the Times that he had sublet space to the group because it included “people I know,” but that Trailblazer had no role in the project. Some members of the group are self-described Tea Party spokesmen and supporters. In 2010, Taylor ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate for Congress in Virginia.
As for the donors' political affiliation, Taylor said, “I don’t know the political affiliation of most of the people. I don’t care about it. This supersedes politics."
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