Attack ad accuses Obama of taking credit for Bin Laden kill
New anti-Obama film compared to infamous Swift Boat video that scuppered John Kerry bid
A VIDEO produced by a supposedly non-political group of former US Navy SEALS has been hailed as a new low for personal attack advertising in American politics.
The 22-minute video, titled Dishonourable Disclosures [see below], has been compared by Obama's chief campaign press secretary to the infamous Swift Boat film which was a key factor in Democrat John Kerry's failure to get into the White House in 2004.
Funded by Republican donors, the Swift Boat video featured a group of veterans asserting – incorrectly - that Kerry had lied about his record in Vietnam. The term ‘Swiftboating' quickly entered the US political lexicon to mean a dishonest personal attack.
The new film attacking Obama claims the president has taken too much credit for the death of Osama bin Laden and that he allowed classified material about the raid to be leaked.
Obama has condemned a recent series of leaks of special operations secrets which some commentators alleged came from the White House. There have been disclosures about the Bin Laden raid, about a double-agent who disrupted an al-Qaeda terror plot and about the cyber-sabotage of Iran's nuclear programme.
CNN reports that Dishonourable Disclosures features a former SEAL, Benjamin Smith, saying: "As a citizen, it is my civic duty to tell the president to stop leaking information to the enemy. It will get Americans killed."
Scott Taylor, another former SEAL, says: "If you disclose how we got [into Bin Laden's compound], how we took down the building, what we did … it's going to hinder future operations, and certainly hurt the success of those future operations."
Smith also criticises the president for taking too much credit for the raid. "Mr President, you did not kill Osama bin Laden. America did," he says. "We have become a political weapon. We are not."
CNN points out that the head of US special operations - Admiral Bill McRaven, another former SEAL – recently did hand the credit to Obama, saying: "Make no mistake about it: it was the President of the United States that shouldered the burden for this operation, that made the hard decisions."
The Obama re-election campaign is outraged by the video. "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," Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt told AFP.
The Swift Boat film was predominately funded by a few very wealthy men – all Republican donors. The group behind Dishonourable Disclosures, the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund, says it has no political affiliation and, as an 'educational organisation', has no need to declare its funding.
Tellingly though, it shares an office with two Republican consulting firms in Alexandria, Virginia. Also, its spokesman Chad Kolton previously worked for the Director of National Intelligence under the Bush administration, while Scott Taylor, one of the former SEALS, is a failed Republican congressional candidate.