Here we go again… the Swiftboating of Obama has begun

A few nights ago, I told you about a family member of mine who had shared a purposefully misleading political graphic on Facebook, and how I responded. The piece, which incorrectly attributed $5 billion of the nation’s debt to the “Democratic majority,” was produced by an organization called Right Change, a fake grassroots entity bankrolled by the multi-millionaire Fred Eshelman. Well, today, I find myself responding to yet another relative. This time, the item in question, sent to me by way of email, is a video, produced by an organization called the Special Operations Political Committee (OPSEC). Ostensibly it’s an educational entity run by former members of America’s special forces who are concerned about Obama’s leadership on national security, but it’s difficult to say who is actually calling the shots, as groups like this presently don’t have to disclose their funding sources. (You’ll recall that the DISCLOSE Act, which would have made such information public, failed to pass a few weeks ago.)

The video is an excruciating 22 minutes long, but I’d encourage you to watch it. There are lots of shots of people, who we’re told are Navy SEALS, sitting in the shadows, and talking with electronically distorted voices about how they won’t feel safe until Obama is out of the White House. According to them, you see, Obama can’t be trusted to keep sensitive information private, and this could jeopardize critical operations, and cost them their lives. (They also, apparently, don’t like that Obama took credit for the fact that they killed Osama bin Laden.) And, if you’re the kind of person who has difficulty following narratives, there’s also some great, grainy, black and white footage of Obama turning his back on the American flag and walking away from it, which they show in slow motion. Here’s the video, followed by my letter to the family member who sent it to me, along with a note about how the mainstream liberal media was probably conspiring to suppress it.

I’m not surprised that you wouldn’t have seen it in the traditional media, because it was just released this morning. And, for what it’s worth, I’ve already seen it mentioned in a Reuters article, and on the Huffington Post. So, it is getting out there, just like the Swiftboat attacks on John Kerry got out there… in spite of the “liberal media conspiracy”. It seems pretty pathetic to me, but I guess the Romney campaign has to come after Obama on national security if they want to win. And, given that we finally killed Osama bin Laden under Obama’s administration, that’s not going to be an easy thing to do. So, they’ll say that Obama took credit for killing Osama when the credit belonged to SEAL Team 6, and that he’s putting people’s lives on the line, and that he doesn’t appreciate the value of our operatives oversees. I can understand why Romney’s people would try to pull this nonsense, as they have to find a way to turn one of his biggest positives (the fact that we got Osama bin Laden while he was Commander In Chief, after Bush had neglected to do so for over seven years) and turn it into a negative, but I would have thought that you’d know better than to accept it at face value.

And, I don’t mean to be confrontational when I say this, but I do find it odd that you’d send me this video, which is full of outrage over Obama taking too much credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden, when, I believe, you didn’t say a single word that time Bush landed on the deck of an aircraft carrier in a fighter jet, climbed out in a combat pilot’s jumpsuit, complete with codpiece, under a sign announcing “Mission Accomplished,” and told us all how he’d ended the war in Iraq. (That war, by the way, wasn’t over. It wouldn’t end until Obama came into office, several years later.) How is Obama informing the nation on television that we got bin Laden, even remotely as bad as having our President dress up like he’s just returned from a successful combat mission, and strut across the deck of a warship to anxiously awaiting television cameras? Watch the two scenes side by side, and tell me who’s more guilty of grandstanding.

One more thing… If you want to blame someone for not understanding and appreciating the importance of national security, again, I’d suggest that you look to Bush, who was handed a briefing document entitled “Bin Laden determined to strike within US,” 36 days prior to the 9/11 attacks on our country, and, by all accounts, chose not to act on it. If people in the intelligence field want to be upset with a President who doesn’t value the work of our assets oversees, I’d start there.

And, for all the talk of how Obama’s politically motivated “leaks” are hypothetically jeopardizing the lives of our men and women oversees, let’s not forget that foreign agents most likely really did die when Cheney, through his staff, outed Valerie Plame as a CIA operative, in hopes of discrediting her husband, who, as you may recall, was the first government official to say that our justification for war in Iraq was bogus.

So, in short, yes, I agree with you that it’s terrible when politicians grandstand, misuse intelligence, and endanger the lives of our courageous men and women serving oversees. I just think that trying to pin any of that on Obama, is ridiculous. And, it stinks of desperation. But, it worked for Bush in the race against Kerry, and I can see why Karl Rove and others think that it makes sense to try it again.

And, here, if you didn’t watch the 22-minute video above, is a 1-minute version from the same “Dishonorable Disclosure” campaign.

And this may not be the end of such attacks against the President. It looks as though retired Navy SEAL Commander Ryan Zinke, has also launched a SEALS against the President group. His is called Special Operations for America. So, if you’re a billionaire, and you want to hire former members of the special forces to say that the President is unfit for service, you now have at least two options… Capitalism at work!

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  1. Meta
    Posted August 15, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    I was just reading something about this in the New York Times. Here’s an excerpt.

    Chad Kolton, who was the spokesman for the director of national intelligence in the Bush administration and now represents the Opsec group, said that because it was classified as a 501(c)(4) educational group under tax laws, it was not required to identify its donors. He said the group had raised nearly $1 million since June and intended to run television and Internet ads, as well as show the video in swing states.

    Mr. Kolton rejected the comparison with the Swift Boat advertisements, saying they reflected narrow differences of opinion about Mr. Kerry’s war record. He said the Opsec group had a broader purpose in speaking out against leaks and the politicization of the Navy SEALs and the C.I.A., and it hoped to keep working after the election. No one who was involved in the Swift Boat campaign is working with the Opsec group, he said.

    Asked whether the group was not itself bringing the SEALs and C.I.A. into the presidential campaign, Mr. Kolton said that leaks were a bipartisan concern, noting that some Democrats, including Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, had complained vociferously about them and called for a criminal inquiry.

    Of the video’s anti-Obama tone and content, Mr. Kolton said: “I realize you see a lot of criticism directed at the Obama administration. But that’s the current administration.” He said “several dozen” former military and intelligence officers were supporting the campaign.

    The Opsec group shares an office suite in Alexandria, Va., with a Republican consulting firm, the Trailblazer Group. Christian Ferry, a partner in the firm, said that he had sublet space to Opsec because it included “people I know,” but that Trailblazer had no role in the project.

    Among the featured former members of the elite Navy special operations teams are Benjamin Smith, whose Facebook page identifies him as a model and actor who served in Iraq and later became a spokesman for the Tea Party Express and several Republican campaigns. Another former SEAL member, Scott Taylor, is the group’s president and ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate for Congress in Virginia in 2010.

    In a telephone interview, Mr. Taylor acknowledged the Republican ties of some members but said, “As many or more are apolitical.”

    “This issue is more than just politics,” he said. “Folks from this group, including me, have buried enough of our buddies.”

    In an effort to portray Mr. Obama as a braggart taking credit for the accomplishments of special forces and intelligence operatives, the video omits some of his remarks in announcing Bin Laden’s killing. In that late-night televised address, Mr. Obama credited 10 years of “tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals,” but that is edited out.

    Read more:

  2. Joseph j7uy5
    Posted August 15, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Those of us old enough to remember, recall the time when the Bush Administration, eager to show that Iraq really had a WMD threat, published papers that had been found after the invasion. American nuclear scientists quickly pointed out that our government had basically published a manual telling the whole world how to build a nuclear bomb ( They also blew the cover of Valerie Plame ( They also blew Operation Tiramisu, which undermined Israeli attempts to infiltrate Al-Qaeda ( They also blew a Pakistani operation against Al Queda. (

  3. Edward
    Posted August 15, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    It’s hilarious that people are offended that Obama went on television and told people that OBL had been killed, as though Bush would have kept quiet about it, out of respect for all of those involved. If Osama had been killed during the Bush presidency, they would have had is body at the Republican National Convention.

  4. KKT
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    I’d like to know if any of the former SEALS appearing in this video were paid to participate.

  5. Posted August 16, 2012 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Special Forces and SEALS are despicable murdering thugs and these are nothing but brown shirt wannabes. Being “officially” sanctioned to murder, still makes you a murderer.

  6. John Galt
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    If Obama was a true patriot, he’d wear a bigger American flag pin, and talk more about how we can do no wrong, because God loves us the best. As he doesn’t do that, it’s clear that he hates America. Now, you might ask yourself, why would someone who hates America want to be the President. That’s a great question. And here’s the answer. He wanted to be President so that he could destroy the country from the inside. Personally, I believe that he did not want to kill Osama Bin Laden. I believe it was a setup to kill SEAL Team 6. Fortunately, they, being white men, outsmarted him, and foiled his dastardly plan.

  7. Knox
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    I’m sure the opinion of the SEAL in this video, who now works as a male model, according to the New York Times story, is of great importance to the people of America. Personally, though, I’m more interested in the opinion of the Navy Admiral who oversaw the operation to kill Osama. Here’s what he had to say, taken from the New York Times story linked to by Meta.

    In a CNN interview last month, Adm. William H. McRaven of the Navy, 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.”

    He added: “At the end of the day, 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, that was instrumental in the planning process, because I pitched every plan to him.”

  8. Eel
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I’m sure that Jimmy Carter, who was blamed for the botched rescue attempt of the hostages in Iraq during his presidency, will be happy to know that, by these new standards, all responsibility lies with those individuals executing the plan, and not with the President of the United States.

  9. mark k
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Swiftboating? I’d rather waterboard him for answers about fast and furious.

  10. anonymous
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Great comments from the conservative website Powerline concerning this video.

    Ben Conrad:
    “You should watch the whole thing, to appreciate how dishonorable the Obama administration is when it comes to national security.”

    Indeed. Obama cares more about manufacturing his own, personal “glory” than he does about the brave lives he has put in danger not to mention the intelligence we lost.
    All so Obama could look cool to his celebrity pals.

    Sadly, I suspect a narcissist like Obama has no problem sleeping at night. The courageous patriots he has risked the lives of (for no reason other than his own personal gain) mean nothing to him.

    Somehow, I doubt we will see any of the truth in Obama’s new propaganda movie.

    Now Obama has and will continue to belittle these heroes for telling the truth. There is not one iota of honor in Obama. I doubt he even knows the meaning of the word.

    Christopher Marc Hubbard:
    when did the president of the united states become a mole operating against our national interest? we can’t go jack bauer on him but voting him out of office will have to be enough. ENOUGH!

    Thomas Dowling:
    A Coup has already happened when Our Legislative branch, Our Judicial branch, and Our Military let the Usurper 0bama and his gang take over Our Executive branch.

    Stand by your oath……………The oath is simple and reads:

    “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”.

    Our Military have been following Illegal Orders by an Illegal Commander-in-Chief.

    “Never give an order that can’t be obeyed.” – Douglas MacArthur.

    Article 2 Section 1 Clause 5 of the Constitution of the United States says:

    “No Person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President;”.

    0bama and many enablers have committed Treason against U.S. and Our Beloved Constitution.

    Our Beloved Constitution solves ALL of our problems and must be Enforced, Respected and Restored.

    0bama Must Be Arrested as a Terrorist to “We the People’ and Our Beloved Constitution for charges including Treason, Espionage, Sedition and Fraud.

    A Traitor’s signature is Null and Void on ALL Executive Orders, Legislature, Treaties, Laws, and Appointments.

    The biggest enemy of America is already within!

    Truth is Truth!

    Eric Henery:
    “Death to Tyrants ad Traitors”

  11. Bob Krzewinski
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    As a Navy veteran, the commercial identifies two of the people in civilian clothes as “Navy SEALS”. If they are still Navy SEALS, or even in reserve status, their superiors should have them up on charges under the Uniform Code Of Military Justice as you simply don’t make public statements against the Commander In Chief or any other member of the military. Its just the military way.

    Probably, though, they are out of the military, but then if the commercial funders had any truth in their veins they would say “Former Navy SEAL” but then that doesn’t sound as good. And also for the record, nobody deserved a military title of “retired” unless you have 20 years in.

  12. Dan Richardson
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I think arguments in support of Obama have to move beyond comparisons to Bush.

  13. Various
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    To me there is some irony here. The Obama campaign has apparently been working hard to show the president as a decisive, militaristic strong leader with national security credentials . Obviously there was a little bit of grandstanding on the Bin Laden thing, but I’m also thinking about the more recent drone strikes and “Kill List”.

    Many of these things reach the press through leaks from the anonymous sources “close to the administration”. I would assume these leaks are just propaganda carefully calculated to influence the president’s image for political gain. At the same time they’re aggressively pursuing whistleblowers, reporters, wikileaks, etc.

    So these new swiftboaters are attaching the president for being a weak leader & allowing damaging leaks to occur. At the same time the administration pursues ever more sever punishment of whistleblowers & more agressive para-military action & assassinations.

    The conservatives already hate him for being a foreign born traitor and it looks like they can’t be convinced otherwise, no matter what. Liberals (or at least me) are getting pretty fed up with lack of transparency, secret warfare, rendition for torture, unmanned drone strikes, baseless propaganda from anonymous sources.

    Who knows – maybe he’s just doing what he thinks is right & not always thinking about political gain. Probably not though.

  14. Anonymous Mike
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Here’s everything you need to know about this partisan hatchet job.

    First, read the transcript of what Obama actually said on television when he announced the killing of Osama bin Laden.

    Then watch the above video, where you’ll see a portion of Obama’s speech.

    In the original speech, you’ll see that Obama praises the “tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals” and notes the “years of painstaking work by our intelligence community.”

    In the video, though, that is edited out. Instead, you see Obama taking credit for the attack.

    Then you see retired C.I.A. officer Dave Lamorte, who essentially says what Obama said in his original, unedited statement. “The administration didn’t capture, or kill or eliminate bin Laden or anybody else,”says Lamorte. “There’s a whole lot of folks in the intelligence and the military community who have been working on this for a very long time.”

    This is clearly a smear job, and anyone who thinks that this doesn’t have to do with the presidential election is stupid. This has absolutely nothing to do with members of the special forces that feel threatened and exploited. This is about pitting real, Muslim-killing, white, American “patriots” against Obama, undercutting his authority on national defense. This is dirty politics 101.

  15. Meta
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Fox News, in discussing this new campaign, is trying to rewrite history about the Kerry swift boat attacks as well.

    From Media Matters:

    Despite having been discredited years ago, Fox News’ Dana Perino today dredged up the falsehood that the 2004 “swift boat” attacks on then-presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry were accurate. Perino’s revival of the attack is a reminder that some in the media still misunderstand what it means to “swift-boat” a candidate.

    On the August 15 edition of Fox’s The Five, the co-hosts discussed a new super PAC ad that attacks Obama over his handling of the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden and the aftermath. During the segment, co-host Bob Beckel claimed the group was “swift-boating Obama.”

    Co-host Dana Perino responded by claiming, “on the swift boat thing, there were 250 sworn affidavits swearing that what they said was true. And Kerry never released his military record.”

    In her approving citation of the original swift-boating, Perino is distorting what it means to swift-boat a candidate.

    Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was a group that surfaced during the 2004 presidential election to attack John Kerry’s military service in Vietnam. The group denigrated Kerry’s service in a swift boat patrol in Vietnam, despite the fact that only one person who actually served under Kerry’s command was involved with them. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’s accusations were replete with false and contradictory claims, as well as attacks from group members who later had to admit they had no firsthand knowledge of Kerry’s actions.

    As a result, most people have come to associate “swift-boating” with dubious accusations, particularly involving the military, that are designed to harm a candidate.

    But Perino pushing the Swift Boat Veterans falsehood is not the only example of the media misusing the attack. The “swift boat” term was recently attached to questions about Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital. While the attacks on Kerry were demonstrably false, Romney was simply being asked to reconcile a dispute about when his influence over Bain’s business decisions ended.

    There will be more swift-boating to come during this election cycle, but The Five’s experience seems to demonstrate that few in the media will remember how to properly identify it as such.

  16. Various
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Oh yeah, no doubt it’s a partisan hatchet job. Absolutely.

    Obama has clearly supported the military and given lots of praise & credit to generals & the units who have conducted specific actions. I mean why else would the average person even know about Seal Team 6? He probably hasn’t given the CIA enough credit for their role but, of course, the stuff they’re doing isn’t really happening.

    The irony is that Obama has taken aggressive steps to pursue (detain / prosecute / defame / whatevs) whistleblowers and others involved in leaks – like Bradley Manning. It’s ludicrous to attack Obama by saying he can’t be trusted to keep sensitive information private.

    That this is even a viable political strategy highlights that we, on the left, haven’t done enough to criticize him for his flagrant disregard for oversight & due process in the name of national security, intelligence gathering and endless war. Not for being a softy.

  17. Mr. Y
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Permalink


    Thank you for bringing up Manning. That’s a great point. And I agree that we can’t, in our rush to defend Obama from these baseless attacks, lose sight of the fact that he’s wrong on so many issues. I agree with Van Jones (discussed here recently) when he says that we need to fight like hell to get Obama reelected, and then, the day after the election, start fighting him like hell on these issues. We need to start protesting him, in a significant way, the day he wins. We need to have a million people in the street on November 7.

  18. Oliva
    Posted August 17, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Mr. Y, there’s a good Mark Bittman op-ed in the NYT today, “Let’s Make Him Do It,” with much of your point and a few words from Van Jones, who is admirable for being able to be clear and stay energized and active about what needs to be done without losing all heart or perspective:

    President Obama didn’t create this system; he’s a product of it. A fundamental problem now is that the right has devised both a strategy and a movement, and the left has done neither. “All the bold answers are only from one side,” Van Jones, author of “Rebuild the Dream,” told me. “But we have to stop acting like there’s one person with agency in America, whose name is Obama. It’s not what he should do — it’s what we should do.”

    . . . It’s worth voting for progressives, but it’s equally important to recognize that until there is real pressure from the left, the money and influence of the right will continue to pull any president in that direction.

    Along with staying fully engaged and staying vocal about all that is not acceptable, I am one to think we need to be engaged and vocal in acknowledging the good too–brought brightly to mind nowadays as Lilly Ledbetter does a lot of public speaking (to talk about her new book). People did talk a very little bit about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, signed into law within weeks of Obama taking office. Hearing LL’s story (e.g., on C-SPAN) truly helps illuminate just how meaningful this legislation is. (I appreciate her point that this is not a “women’s issue” but affects everyone, given that many men and children have plenty at stake in what women are being paid and how they are treated.)

    Something(s) very debilitating happened almost immediately after Obama was elected–so much anger and disappointment about his cabinet appointments on the left, so much agony from the deeply ailing economy across the board (minus the top earners), deep hatred unleashed in shocking ways on the right. Instead of managing to hold many things in our hearts and heads at once, with energy and determination to press forward despite imperfections, people got to fuming and also carrying on with their lives, and we got the 2010 election and more flagrant racism and got farther from our very reasonable goals.

    I think it’s as important to broadcast the good as the bad, even if that impulse isn’t as powerful or immediate. (Neuroscientists say humans are wired to register the negative more than the positive, but it’s possible to nurture inner resources to be more balanced.) If we could spend appropriate time acknowledging what’s good, it would undoubtedly encourage more people to acknowledge what’s good and brighten things considerably and help steer us in a better direction, instead of being shamed into only seeing what’s not all right and believing that good has to be trumped by bad every time–possibly influencing a whole lot of less-politically-minded “independents” and “moderates” to be fed up with the whole mess and back out of caring much at all.

  19. Arturo
    Posted August 17, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    If people want more President-hating cinema, there’s also the feature length film “Obama 2016”.

  20. Posted August 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad that Mark likes his own post.

  21. Posted August 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have written it.

  22. RickyP52
    Posted August 20, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    OMG here comes the favorite form of right wing manipulation of the sheep…if you can’t tell them the truth then tell them lies which scare the shit out of them. I smell a Rove behind all this. Weapons of mass destruction, sharia law, islomophobia, they’ll stop at nothing to try and keep the sheep heading in the “right” direction. Reminds me of 1984. Orwell was pretty bright. Remember “war is peace” or so said big brother. Well the right obviously believes if you tell a lie often enough it somehow has credibility. And it’s incredible to me how many Americans are sucked in by this crap and are too stupid to figure it out for themselves.

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