The Big Lie: This President is overstating his role in capture of Osama bin Laden and leaking national security secrets in order to improve his foreign policy record.
The Truth: The President painstakingly gave credit to all who participated in the mission that he personally approved against bin Laden, while protecting national security secrets far more scrupulously than the previous administration.
How do you deal with a Democratic president who is responsible for killing Osama bin Laden and most of Al Qaeda’s top leadership, a president who — in the midst of a highly polarized election — earns a 58 percent approval rating on terrorism, according to Gallup?
Republicans only have one trick up their sleeve when it comes to attacking a Democrat with an impressive military record. It’s called “swift boating,” and in 2004, the original swift boaters disgracefully demeaned the war record of Senator John F. Kerry, a genuine war hero and Democratic presidential nominee.
In 2012, the GOP faces an even more difficult predicament, running against a president who undeniably played a crucial role in not only ending a war but ending the life of the man behind the 9/11 attacks. Worse still, the GOP convention is about to nominate a ticket with less foreign policy and national security experience than any Republican nominees since at least the 1940s. Leading the ticket is a man who avoided the Vietnam draft when his church sent him as a Mormon missionary — to France! Which made the announcement of his vice presidential choice on a warship look just slightly ridiculous.
So Republican attacks on the President have to be even more outrageous to distract American voters from the truth they watched playing out before their eyes when bin Laden was dispatched.
A group calling itself Special Operations Opsec Education Fund has put together a short film and a website that attack the President for taking too much credit for the bin Laden raid and risking national security by approving intelligence leaks.
The claims are laughable in substance and originate from suspect sources — including many of the people behind the original swift boat attack, Republican partisans and members of the Bush Administration whose record when it comes to national security leaks was appalling.
Millions of Americans remember the President’s speech on the night of May 1, 2011. ” Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome,” he said. “The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.” They also remember the President visiting Ground Zero to honor the 9/11 victims and responders. And they remember the President paying tribute to the courageous members of the military and intelligence community who made the raid possible, then using the event as a pivot to “recede the tide of war.”
But the Opsec filmmakers attempt to create a false narrative by editing the President’s words and ripping his quotes out of context, making an argument only the most partisan voters will buy.
The President’s boldness in ordering the raid is beyond question. Adm. William H. McRaven of the Navy, the flag officer who oversaw the raid as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, said: “The president and his national security team — I’m not a political guy, but I will tell you as, as an interested observer in this — they were magnificent in how they handled it start to finish.”
What remain questionable are the people and the motives behind the Opsec smear:
Karl Rove, President Bush’s political boss, who was himself implicated in the unethical outing of active CIA agent Valerie Plame, endorses the effort. Fred Rustmann was a CIA employee who defended the Plame leak in 2005. Chad Kolton was a spokesman for the director of National Intelligence during the George W. Bush administration. He was known for his off the record briefings. And many of the participants in the film are Republican activists.
The only people who have accused the President of leaking are his political opponents — including Mitt Romney, who employs many of the same advisors behind the misadventure in Iraq.
This fresh eruption of swift boating is so lacking in credibility that the media immediately compared it with the widely discredited 2004 attacks on Kerry. The difference is that this time, Democrats are fighting back.
UPDATE: Of course, one of the founders of the OPSEC group is a birther.