By David Jackson, USA TODAY
The dispute over national security leaks has entered the presidential election.
A group of former special operations and CIA officers has started a political action group accusing President Obama and aides of leaking sensitive information to promote their national security record -- and their re-election bid.
"STOP the politicians, President Obama and others, from politically capitalizing on US national security operations and secrets," says the website of the group, the Special Operations Opsec Education Fund, which includes Republicans and Tea Party members.
Obama and aides have denied leaking national security secrets; his campaign aides liken the new criticism to the "Swift Boat" attacks that Republicans used during the 2004 election to discredit John Kerry's Vietnam service.
Federal prosecutors and congressional lawmakers are investigating the sources of news leaks on issues ranging from the raid that killed Osama bin Laden to reported cyberattacks on Iran.
The Special Operations Opsec Education Fund has put together a 22-minute video called "Dishonorable Disclosures."
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said: "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. His two major foreign policy speeches never even mentioned Al Qaeda once, and he hasn't outlined a plan for America's relations with a single region of the world."
From The New York Times:
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.