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Are Obama critics using 'Swift Boat' tactics?

A group with Republican and tea party ties says President Obama leaked information and took too much credit for the US Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden. It reminds some of the 'Swift Boat' attack on Sen. John Kerry when he challenged former President Bush in 2004.

By Staff writer / August 16, 2012

President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and other members of the national security team receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, in this May 2011 file photo.

Pete Souza/White House/Reuters/File


The demise of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden last year arguably was President Obama’s greatest national security achievement. For many Americans victimized or traumatized by the 9/11 terrorist attacks 10 years earlier, it brought a kind of closure. Large crowds literally danced in the streets outside the White House when Mr. Obama made the announcement.

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But now, Obama’s actions since bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALs and CIA operatives in a nighttime raid on his Pakistan hideout are being turned against him by political opponents – some with apparent connections to the Republican Party and the tea party movement.

Many see it as an echo of the “Swift Boat” attacks questioning Sen. John Kerry’s Vietnam combat record during the Massachusetts Democrat’s challenge of former President George W. Bush in 2004.

The attack on Obama, scheduled as TV ads to be shown in half a dozen battleground states, comes from the “Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund,” which is registered as a “social welfare group” (not a political organization) and therefore is not required to make public its donors.

The thrust of the group’s 22-minute documentary video is that Obama took undue credit for the risky SEAL raid, leaking information about the operation for political gain.

"Mr. President, you did not kill Osama bin Laden, America did,” Benjamin Smith, identified as a former Navy SEAL, says in the film. “The work that the American military has done killed Osama bin Laden. You did not."

"As a citizen, it is my civic duty to tell the president to stop leaking information to the enemy," Mr. Smith says. "It will get Americans killed."

The special operations group attacking Obama may not be formally political, but it appears to have significant political ties.

The group's president, Scott Taylor, is a former Navy SEAL who in 2010 ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for a congressional seat in Virginia, Reuters reports. A spokesman for the group, Chad Kolton, served in the Bush administration as a spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence.

The New York Times reports that Mr. Smith, the former Navy SEAL in the video, has been a spokesman for the Tea Party Express and several Republican campaigns.

The Obama campaign was quick to respond.


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