Swift Boat–esque Campaign Says Obama Exaggerated Role in Bin Laden’s Killing

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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 1:  (AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama stands after addressing the nation on TV from the East Room of the White House to make a televised statement May 1, 2011 in Washington, DC.  Bin Laden has been killed near Islamabad, Pakistan almost a decade after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and his body is in possession of the United States. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Barack Obama;
Photo: Pool

Though President Obama frequently cites his role in overseeing the operation that killed Osama bin Laden as one of his biggest successes, he usually makes it clear that he didn't pull an Air Force One and take out the terrorist leader on his own. However, Reuters reports that a group of former U.S. intelligence and Special Forces operatives is launching a media campaign attacking President Obama for taking credit for Bin Laden's death and allegedly leaking classified information. "Mr. President, you did not kill Osama bin Laden, America did. The work that the American military has done killed Osama bin Laden. You did not," says Navy SEAL Ben Smith in a short film set to be released on Wednesday. "As a citizen, it is my civic duty to tell the president to stop leaking information to the enemy ... It will get Americans killed."

A spokesman for the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc. says the group has about $1 million and is hoping to raise more with the release of its 22-minute documentary about the Obama administration's alleged leaks (which Reuters describes as "spy-movie style"). It's also planning to air TV ads in several swing states.

Like the group behind the swift boat ads that criticized John Kerry, the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc. claims it's nonpartisan, though it seems singularly focused on criticizing President Obama. (The FEC eventually fined Swift Boat Veterans for Truth after finding it was mainly working against Kerry.) Scott Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, said the group is merely a "watchdog organization," but added that the Obama administration "has certainly leaked more than others." Another spokesman, former CIA case officer Fred Rustmann, said the White House has been leaking classified information "to help this guy get re-elected, at the expense of peoples' lives ... We want to see that they don't do this again." The White House insists that it didn't leak any information, and two federal prosecutors are currently investigating.

The Obama campaign responded that no one in the group has the authority to comment on these national security issues, and highlighted recent comments from Admiral Bill McRaven, commander of the raid, about Obama's close involvement in the operation. The campaign added, "it's clear they've resorted to making things up for purely political reasons." Conveniently, there's no way of knowing exactly who "they" are. The group has set itself up as a 501(c)(4) — a group that's supposed to be aimed at educating the public rather than getting candidates elected or defeated — and thus it isn't required to disclose the names of its donors.