An ex-military force with Republican ties is advancing into the presidential election campaign — with plans for ground and air assaults on President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund yesterday unveiled a Web site and a 22-minute film disparaging Obama for intelligence leaks to the media and for politicizing the killing of Osama bin Laden by mentioning it in campaign ads. Less than 24 hours later, the film had been viewed more than 200,000 times on YouTube.
Scott Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, formed the OPSEC group in June and says it has raised almost $1 million. It is organized as a nonprofit, which means it does not have to disclose its donors and is prohibited from acting primarily as a political group.
Yet its mission is driven by the presidential election.
Next week, Taylor will hold the first screening of the film, titled “Dishonorable Disclosures,” in Virginia Beach, Virginia. More screenings, which will include panel discussions with former military members, will occur in the coming weeks in battleground states, Taylor said.
He also hopes to air commercials related to the film in the same states, including Florida and Ohio.
“We’re doing this now because we believe our message is important, and the only time politicians pay attention is during an election year,” Taylor said. He unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for a Virginia congressional seat in 2010.
The film opens with a montage of news reports about various Obama administration leaks, including the revelation that SEAL Swat Team Six raided bin Laden’s compound. It includes interviews with Taylor and another former SEAL, Ben Smith, as well as two former CIA officers and three retired military officers.
At the conclusion of the film, each of the ex-military men says Obama’s administration is leaking intelligence infromation and must stop. “Close your lips,” said Paul Vallely, a retired Army major general. Vallely has been outspoken in his belief that Obama was not born in the United States.
Obama and his spokesman, Jay Carney, have said they won’t comment directly on the leaks, citing national security and an investigation by the Justice Department.
“We have mechanisms in place where if we can root out folks who have leaked, they will suffer consequences,” Obama said at a news conference June 8. “The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive. It’s wrong.”
Carney, at a July 26 briefing, said it’s “an insult and preposterous to suggest that this White House would leak information for political gain — classified information for political gain. That did not happen and would not happen under this president.”
This isn’t the first campaign by ex-military men to criticize a presidential candidate. In 2004, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacked Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s Vietnam War Service. It registered as a political committee and attracted large donors including Houston home builder Bob Perry, who remains an active Republican funder.
OPSEC members say they want their group to outlast the presidential cycle, becoming a sort of permanent watchdog against politicians who they believe are misusing military accomplishments for political purposes.
“Our men and women in uniform serve our country, not a particular candidate,” said Chad Kolton, spokesman for the nonprofit. Kolton, a partner at HDKM communications firm in Washington, served a year as spokesman for the director of national intelligence under President George W. Bush.
Joe Sobczyk contributed to this report.