OTR Interviews

Military group hits back at Pres. Obama's 'condescending and belittling' comments, defends First Amendment right to speak out

Military group who criticized president for taking credit in bin Laden killing responds to his recent comments


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 21, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: President Obama may say he's not taking some military veterans' criticism too seriously, but now the vets are taking on the president's latest words. Joining us is former Navy SEAL Scott Taylor. He is the president of Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund, who made the video attacking President Obama for national intelligence leaks and for bragging about killing Usama bin Laden.

Welcome, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it certainly seems that there's now -- I mean, you put out the video, then President Obama says he didn't take you guys too seriously. And now it's your turn, I guess, right?

TAYLOR: Well, I think this is a two-part answer. First, I would say that with all due respect to the president, I think his statements were condescending and belittling to a group that has collectively literally hundreds of years of service to this nation.

And the second part of the answer is I think that his dismissive statements actually mean the opposite because I think that he understands that the American people know that this kind of group has the authority and the knowledge to speak on the impacts of these leaks on troops on the ground and much more credibility than a campaign spokesperson.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, General Martin Dempsey is traveling from Afghanistan to Iraq. And one of my colleagues, Jennifer Griffin, is traveling with him. And he apparently takes issue with you. He says, "If someone uses the uniform, whatever uniform, for partisan politics, I'm disappointed because I think it does erode that bond of trust we have with the American people."

He then -- he then goes on to say that some of the critics -- that there are critics -- criticism that might be valid, but he won't comment on that. What's your response to -- General Martin Dempsey doesn't like former Navy SEALs speaking out like this.

TAYLOR: Well, I have nothing but respect for the general. He's active duty. We're not. We're now citizens, and we have a 1st Amendment right to be able to speak out, and we feel as though we're doing the right thing. And this is what we're doing.

And I understand that there may be folks who may take issue with it. I'd like to hear what his comments really were, or what his thoughts are that he can't speak about.

Of course, I just got a call from Afghanistan two days ago from an active duty teammate of mine who said, What can I do? What can I do to help out? And I told him, you know, Nothing because you're active duty, so you can't do anything.

So this group feels as though that we are speaking out on something that we feel strongly about and helping those who can't speak for themselves and can't speak out. And the response has been overwhelming, overwhelmingly positive.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you certainly have allies on the issue of national security leaks. There's an investigation going on here in Washington. So certainly, people are taking that very seriously, as well - - Senator Feinstein, who's -- who's one of the leading Democrats -- or one of the most outspoken Democrats on it.

The question of whether or not the president was bragging or taking credit for the killing of Usama bin Laden -- I don't think anyone doubts it was the courage and the bravery of the Navy SEALs and all the people who have been supporting them in this endeavor.

What -- what is it that you don't like that President Obama's done vis-a-vis the Usama bin Laden kill?

TAYLOR: Well, let me first preface this by saying our group is much more than just Navy SEALs. We represent all the special forces and intelligence -- former special operations and intelligence officials.

The president deserves credit, as would any president, for presiding over an operation like this. However, the high-level access to Hollywood producers, the year anniversary campaign commercial -- you know, we get criticized for the video, but if you see the video and watch it in its entirety, the "I" statements certainly overshadow the credit that he does give the team for taking the action.

VAN SUSTEREN: I suspect one of the sort of the -- what the president is zeroing in on is that there's at least one member of your group who's been quite vocal who is a member of the birther movement and has put some rather insulting things on his Facebook page about President Obama. And I suspect that he was really sort of speaking to that person.

I think that's sort of your -- I suspect that that's what he's driving at. Do you not agree?

TAYLOR: Well, let me say that our response is, in our group, it's very diverse. We have Obama donors, president supporters, and we have folks, of course, that are Republican. I would say that generally, the military, although it's diverse, probably is a little bit conservative. So it's not a far stretch to say that we have a lot of conservatives, but we also have former President Obama supporters and donors.

So I think that the campaign has done nothing but come out with statements, and including the president himself, that are directed at the messengers and sort of attacking them, and not taking seriously the actual message itself.

So I think that my advice to the presidential campaign and everyone out there, and Americans understand how serious this is, is to take the actual message serious, as was called upon by Democratic congressional leaders like John Kerry and Republican congressional leaders like Senator McCain.

VAN SUSTEREN: In my wildest dreams, Scott, I can't imagine anyone saying in reference to Navy SEALs, I don't take these folks too seriously. I can assure you that 99.9 percent of Americans are in great awe of the sacrifice of Navy SEALs and other intelligence officers people who put their selves on the line for us. I -- you know, I don't -- I suspect the president wasn't thinking when he said that because I know that -- I mean, everybody does respect the Navy SEALs immensely, and the intelligence people.

TAYLOR: Well, we really appreciate that. We're not looking for credit. We feel very strongly about speaking out about issues that are -- that could potentially hinder -- excuse me -- future operations and put our brothers and sisters that are on the front lines in jeopardy. And we feel strongly about it. We have our 1st Amendment rights. We fought for them. And we're going to continue to do so.

VAN SUSTEREN: And fought with great bravery and more than what the rest of us are doing, I might add. Anyway, Scott, thank you.

TAYLOR: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure, Greta. Thank you.