OPSEC, a group of former military and intelligence operatives and creators of a long-form political ad that blames President Obama for a series of national security leaks, is firing back against criticisms from the nation's highest ranking military officer.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey on Tuesday told Fox News he was "disappointed" by the political use of the military uniform.
"If someone uses the uniform, whatever uniform, for partisan politics, I am disappointed because I think it does erode that bond of trust we have with the American people,” Dempsey said in an interview with Fox News while flying back from a trip to Afghanistan and Iraq.
But Scott Taylor, a former Navy SEAL and the president of OPSEC, argues that Dempsey's criticisms can be applied equally to the Obama campaign's "One Chance" ad, which features images of Black Hawk helicopters in flight and military pilots. The video, which is still available online, suggests Gov. Mitt Romney would not have made the same decision to call for the raid that killed Usama bin Laden.
“The Obama campaign continues to promote a highly partisan attack ad that used military footage and photographs from the White House Situation Room to support sharp criticism of the president’s political opponent,” Taylor said. “The use of those in uniform and the work they do for partisan political purposes is not only unhelpful, as General Dempsey said, but is dishonorable, and the campaign should immediately remove the ad for good.”
Taylor also claimed that unlike the Obama campaign's ad, all of the men featured in the OPSEC video were former military and therefore have the right to speak freely.
"Speaking openly about protecting those in uniform is far more helpful than speaking about classified intelligence or Special Operations missions, tactics and capabilities, which bipartisan leaders have said has reached alarming levels under this administration,” Taylor said.
Dempsey had said that as the steward of his profession -- the military -- he thinks it imperative that the military remain “apolitical.”
OPSEC unveiled its 22-minute video on its website last week and pledged to go on air with a TV ad sometime in September.
In the video, an array of retired CIA agents and other intelligence personnel suggest the administration has been leaking security details for political gain, and specifically criticize the president over his public handling of the bin Laden raid.
"Mr. President, you did not kill Usama bin Laden. America did," Navy SEAL Ben Smith said in the video. "The work that the American military has done killed Usama bin Laden. You did not."
The Web video showed clips of Obama's press conference in early May on the Pakistan raid, highlighting his comments about directing the mission. The video left out the rest of the remarks in which Obama thanked the "countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals" involved.
The Obama campaign, though, dismissed the video as akin to the 2004 "Swift Boat" ads.
"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 said.
The group seems to be most focused on the controversy over security leaks. Those leaks are currently under investigation by Justice Department attorneys.
The narrator in the video says former military and intelligence operatives who understand the importance of operational security "have had enough."
"Their mission -- stop the politicians from politically capitalizing on U.S. national security operations and secrets," the narrator says, as a picture of Obama flashes on screen.
Obama has condemned the leaks. He said in June that the issue is "a source of consistent frustration" for his and prior administrations.
Meanwhile, publishing giant Penguin Group has confirmed it has plans to release a book that provides a detailed, first-person account of the raid that killed Usama bin Laden. According to the publisher, the book, "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden," is written under a pseudonym by a Navy SEAL who participated in the mission. It's co-authored with Kevin Maurer and is set to be released on Sept. 11.
A spokesman at Dutton, a group owned by Penguin, says proceeds from the book will be donated to charitable causes that benefit the families of fallen Navy SEALs.