(WASHINGTON) — A group of former special operations soldiers has launched a media campaign aimed at accusing President Obama of wrongly taking credit for the mission that killed al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden.
“Mr. President, you did not kill Osama bin Laden, America did,” Navy SEAL Ben Smith says in a short film released today on the group’s website, opsecteam.org. “The work that the American military has done killed Osama bin Laden. You did not.”
The group, Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund, is a non-partisan group composed of veteran soldiers, Marines and intelligence officers unaffiliated with any party or campaign that is calling for an independent investigation into a series of high-level leaks of confidential information that they say compromise overall national security, founder Scott Taylor told ABC News.
But the group’s decision to target Obama about his military record during an election season has drawn comparisons to the 2004 Swift Boat ads, which attempted to cast doubt on Democrat John Kerry’s service in Vietnam.
Taylor, a veteran and onetime Republican candidate for Congress, said the campaign is intended to hold the president responsible for security leaks that originated in the White House.
“This is nothing short of gross negligence,” Taylor said. “We want people to be held accountable. The president wants credit for the burden of a tough decision to kill bin Laden, then he must also shoulder the burden of responsibility for leaks.”
Taylor said his group has already raised more than $1 million. Much of that money is set to be used for television ads that will run in battleground states.
The Obama campaign did not respond to requests for comment, but the president addressed the leak accusations at a news conference in June. “The notion that the White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive, it’s wrong, and people, I think, need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me approach this office,” he said at the time.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Marilia Brocchetto, Tim Hume and Claire Rigby, CNN
Schams Elwazer, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Tim Hume, CNN
Eric Bradner, CNN
Lisa Respers France, CNN