WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama said Monday that he was not bothered by an outspoken political attack made on him by a group of former CIA spies and US special forces troops.
The group claims to have no partisan affiliation, but last week's remarks mirrored claims by Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's campaign that the White House leaked classified details of the raid to kill Osama bin Laden.
Obama said: "I don't take these folks too seriously. One of their members is a birther who denies I was born here, despite evidence to the contrary. You've got another who was a Tea Party candidate in a recent election."
The birther remark relates to claims from Obama foes that the US president was not born in the United States.
"This kind of stuff springs up before election time," Obama added.
In a 22-minute online video entitled "Dishonorable Disclosures," a group of former clandestine operatives alleged that the Obama administration spilled secrets of the 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed bin Laden to burnish the president'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. Another group member identified himself as a birther.