Nearly 2.5 million people have viewed a YouTube documentary made by former military and CIA officers blasting Barack Obama – and any president – for leaking national intelligence secrets for political gain.
“There’s a cost for our leaders grabbing for glory,” the video states. “Politics should never come before national security.”
The 22-minute video, titled “Dishonorable Disclosures,” was released only last week by Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund, or OPSEC for short, an independent watchdog organization designed to stop U.S. leaders from politically capitalizing on national security secrets and to educate the public on the importance of operational security.
OPSEC accuses Obama of nearly a dozen breaches of national security, beginning with foolishly announcing the death of Osama bin Laden “to prop up his presidency politically,” rather than keeping a silent cover in order to use the information obtained in the bin Laden raid.
“In a few brief moments of selfish grandstanding and political opportunism,” OPSEC asserts, “our commander in chief lost the single opportunity to exploit intelligence that, had secrecy been preserved, might well have crushed al-Qaida once and for all.
“Beyond this,” OPSEC continues, “the disclosure by the administration of a host of classified details pertaining to intelligence gathering by the various agencies prior to the raid, as well as voluminous details about the raid itself, puts American military and intelligence personnel at severe risk of not just a failure of a future mission, but death or injury incurred because the opponents now better know and understand the practices that our Special Operations forces and intelligence gatherers employ.”
OPSEC accuses the current administration of several instances of putting political gain in front of national security interests, including:
- Immediately publicizing the killing of Osama bin Laden rather than waiting “to fully exploit the treasure trove of information taken by SEAL Team Six”;
- Endangering the lives of a special mission unit by revealing its name, location and parent unit;
- Leaking sensitive details “anonymously” to the media by “unnamed officials”;
- Giving Hollywood movie makers special access to Defense and CIA details of the Osama bin Laden operation;
- Disclosing the tactics used in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound;
- Disclosing details that have already led to the capture, imprisonment and deadly peril of U.S. sources inside Pakistan;
- Deliberately disclosing U.S. and Israeli involvement with computer viruses targeting Iran’s nuclear program;
- Disclosing a joint U.S-British-Saudi covert operation that planted a spy inside Al Qaeda;
- Disclosure of details on drone use and a president-sanctioned “kill list.”
These actions, “put Americans military and intelligence personnel at severe risk both now and in the future,” the organization claims. “How many will be lost as a result of these reckless disclosures?”
In the wake of the documentary’s surge in popularity, the Obama re-election campaign quickly condemned the video as partisan and pointed fingers at Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, told the New York Times, “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.”
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., further released a statement also accusing OPSEC of attempting to “Swift Boat” the Obama campaign, a reference to former military officers during Kerry’s unsuccessful run for the presidency questioning his Vietnam War record.
Scott Taylor, an ex-Navy SEAL and president of OPSEC, however, quoted Kerry’s own words right back to him, as reported in The Hill just two months ago: “A number of those leaks, and others in the last months about drone activities and other activities, are frankly all against national-security interests,” Kerry said in June. “I think they’re dangerous, damaging and whoever is doing that is not acting in the interest of the United States of America.”
“John Kerry’s partisan campaign statement … failed to acknowledge his previous concern that leaks under the Obama administration were dangerous and damaging,” Taylor said in a statement. “John Kerry set aside his serious concerns about the impacts of security leaks on our country in order to issue a partisan campaign press release.”
Though Taylor had formerly run for office in Virginia as a Republican, he rebutted charges that OPSEC is inherently partisan.
“This issue is more than just politics,” Taylor told the Times. “Folks from this group, including me, have buried enough of our buddies.”
The video includes interviews with former CIA and Special Forces officers, Navy SEALs and others who insist the announcement and the details disclosed by the administration following the raid on bin Laden’s compound compromised national security.
A man identified as a former Navy SEAL in the video says, “As a citizen, it is my civic duty to tell the president to stop leaking information to the enemy. It will get Americans killed.”
The full, 22-minute documentary can be seen below:
Members of both political parties in Congress have been critical of the string of information leaks under the Obama administration.
“I believe the president made a serious mistake by announcing many details of the [bin Laden] operation,” former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., himself a former SEAL, wrote in a New York Daily news opinion piece. “By describing certain methods – the name of the unit involved, the kinds of equipment employed, the nature of intelligence collected and techniques of insertion and extraction used in the operation – the president violated a key rule of clandestine work.”
“What we’re seeing … is an Anschluss, an avalanche of leaks. And it’s very, very disturbing,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., following a New York Times report revealing U.S. involvement in the Stuxnet virus that targeted Iranian nuclear centrifuges.
“With each leak, our allies are left to wonder how much they can trust us with their secrets,” said Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., referring to the presidential “kill list” leak. “Some in the administration have decided that scoring political points in an election year outweighs intelligence operations.”
Even FBI Director Robert Mueller, following disclosure that the U.S. had a spy in al-Qaida’s Yemenese affiliate, said, “Leaks such as this threaten ongoing operations, puts at risk the lives of sources, makes it much more difficult to recruit sources and damages our relationships with our foreign partners.”
Despite the Obama campaign’s dismissal of the OPSEC video, Attorney General Eric Holder has directed two U.S. attorneys to investigate some of the leaks that are discussed in the documentary.
Chad Kolton, a representative of OPSEC, says his organization isn’t stopping with just the video. Kolton told the Wall Street Journal that OPSEC has raised close to $1 million for television ads that will run in six battleground states – now identified as Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada – later this summer.
OPSEC is seeking others to “join the mission” to “stop the politicians, President Obama and others, from politically capitalizing on U.S. national security operations and secrets.” The OPSEC education fund is registered as a nonprofit social welfare group, not a political action committee, which means it doesn’t have to disclose its donors and donations are not tax deductible.