Navy SEAL Group Hits Back At Obama Campaign For 'Swift Boat' Comparison

A group of former SEALs hit back at the Obama campaign.

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A group of former special operations and intelligence members is hitting back at the Obama campaign after facing criticism for their new anti-Obama film, saying the campaign is trying to distract from the issue at hand.

On Wednesday, the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund released an online documentary decrying the alleged security leaks under the Obama administration. The documentary, called “Dishonorable Disclosures,” also features former Navy SEAL Ben Smith saying: “Mr. President, you did not kill Osama bin Laden, America did.”

[See: Photos of Navy SEALs]

Later Wednesday, the Obama campaign responded to OPSEC, technically a non-partisan 501(c)(4) social welfare organization though its ranks are filled with Republicans.

"The Republicans are resorting to 'Swift Boat' tactics,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement to Reuters about the film. “In 2008, the president said he’d end the war in Iraq in a responsible way and refocus on taking out al Qaeda’s leaders, and few would question that he’s kept his word.”

LaBolt's 'Swift Boat' reference group is to a controversial 2004 ad campaign launched by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth questioning the legitimacy of presidential candidate John Kerry's combat awards.

OPSEC says the comparison doesn't make any sense. "Swift Boat at its core was a personal disagreement between John Kerry and men with whom he had served in Vietnam," OPSEC spokesman Chad Coulton told Whispers. “This campaign doesn’t have to do with criticizing the president’s military service or anyone else’s.”

Coulton said the campaign instead was about criticizing "an environment" in which classified information was getting out to the public "at unprecedented levels."

Coulton also claimed that the group would criticize a Republican administration if it leaked classified information.

But like the many super PACs that claim 501(c)(4) status, OPSEC has clearly taken a political side.

On the homepage of its Web site, for example, OPSEC writes: "STOP the politicians, President Obama and others from politically capitalizing on US national security operations and secrets!"

OPSEC also works in close quarters to several conservative groups, sharing an office suite in Alexandria with Republican polling firm Tel Opinion Research and Republican consulting firm the Trailblazer Group.

Trailblazer partner Christian Ferry told Whispers he "had nothing to do with" OPSEC, but he told the New York Times he decided to sublet the group space because of "people I know."

OPSEC also faced criticism Thursday from a veterans political action committee called VetPAC, which told Whispers the documentary was "dubious."

"OPSEC is a shadowy Republican front group,” VetPAC Communications Director Jim Arkedis told Whispers. “They are just pretending to position themselves as above the fray." Arkedis also called the anti-Obama focus of the film "silly" and said that the public should be informed of national security issues that relate to the president.

Coulton responded by calling VetPAC's statement "partisan" and insisting again that OPSEC wasn't a partisan group.

"Dishonorable Disclosures" is to be the basis of a coming media campaign that will include TV ads, the group says.

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at eflock@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.