WASHINGTON — A group of former CIA spies and US special forces troops on Tuesday launched a political attack on President Barack Obama, accusing him of overseeing reckless leaks about sensitive operations.
The group claims to have no partisan affiliation, but the assault mirrored claims by Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney’s campaign that the White House leaked classified details of the raid to kill Osama bin Laden.
In a 22-minute online video entitled “Dishonorable Disclosures” the former clandestine operatives alleged that the administration spilled secrets to burnish Obama’s standing without regard for the safety of US troops and agents.
The “Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund”, employing the military acronym for “operational security,” includes members who have been active in Republican and right-leaning Tea Party campaigns.
A former member of the Navy SEAL commandos, Scott Taylor, who ran and lost as a Republican candidate for Congress in Virginia in 2010, is identified as the group’s president.
The Obama camp compared the attacks to ads that targeted former presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004, in which veterans questioned the senator’s military record in the Vietnam War on patrol craft known as “Swift Boats.”
“The Republicans are resorting to Swift Boat tactics because when it comes to foreign policy and national security, Mitt Romney has offered nothing but reckless rhetoric,” spokesman Ben LaBolt said.
“His two major foreign policy speeches never even mentioned Al Qaeda once, and he hasn’t outlined a plan for America’s relations with a single region of the world,” he said.
The Obama campaign team views the Bin Laden raid and foreign policy issues generally as strong points for the president, portraying Romney as ill-informed and inexperienced.
The Opsec site accuses Obama of rushing to publicize details of the Bin Laden raid last year instead of waiting “to fully exploit the treasure trove of information” taken from the Al-Qaeda’s compound in Pakistan.
Noting that US forces have suffered casualties at the hands of Al-Qaeda and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan since the May 2011 raid, the group’s website asks: “How many will be lost as a result of these reckless disclosures?”
Members of both political parties have expressed outrage over a spate of disclosures about the Bin Laden raid, a double-agent that disrupted an Al-Qaeda terror plot and cyber sabotage of Iran’s nuclear program.
Obama has denied the White House was behind any leak effort and officials say the president’s administration has taken a tough line on disclosures of classified information, launching a number of prosecutions.
The Opsec group rejects comparisons with the 2004 Swift Boat ads and said its members were not part of that campaign, according to the New York Times.
The organization says it does not have to disclose its donors as it is registered as an educational group.