A group of former Special Forces operatives is launching a media attack on President Obama over the killing of Osama bin Laden, Reuters reports. In the spirit of the infamous 2004 Swift Boat ads, which turned the military service of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) against him, a new video by the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc accuses Obama of taking too much credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden. OPSEC claims to be a nonpartisan social welfare group.
In “Dishonorable Disclosures,” its debut 22-minute video, the group accuses the Obama administration of deliberately leaking details of the Osama raid to “Hollywood producers” in order to take credit for the hard work of intelligence operatives and the Navy SEAL Team.
A voiceover wonders, “What is the cost of trading national secrets for political capital?”
This is a question worth asking Fred Rustmann, a former CIA undercover case officer and OPSEC spokesman who appears in the video. Rustmann, who was once a supervisor for covert operative Valerie Plame, was dispatched by the Bush administration to defend the leak that jeopardized her undercover identity. Rustmann claimed the leak had no effect on covert operations:
RUSTMANN: There are no major repercussions to the cover mechanism, no. To her — the question again gets down to whether somebody did this with malice or forethought. Then it’s a crime, and that person goes to jail.
COLMES: But isn’t the question whether any damage was done because of the revelation? Whether lives were harmed, whether anyone was harmed, or security was harmed?
RUSTMANN: Yes, I don’t think so. I think, if she were out there in that capacity, in that non-official capacity, and if she was handling agents — she was handling agents in another alias — we have different layers of cover that work.
In spite of OPSEC’s claims of nonpartisanship, Rustmann is just one of their members with prominent GOP ties. OPSEC President Scott Taylor is fresh from his failed 2010 bid to be the Republican nominee in a congressional seat in Virginia. Spokesman Chad Kolton, who argued the group simply wants to protect intelligence agents, started his career in House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) office before moving on to the Bush administration and, currently, working at a Republican-leaning PR firm.
Conservative groups have tried this Swift Boat attack on Obama before. But officers who were actually involved in the operation have publicly affirmed Obama’s important role in the death of Osama bin Laden. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates praised the president’s decision as “a very courageous call”. Admiral Bill McRaven, commander of the raid, agreed, “It was the president of the United States that shouldered the burden for this operation, that made the hard decisions, that was instrumental in the planning process, because I pitched every plan to him.”