Bogus charges coming from the shadows

    I finally got around to looking at the video above, produced by some former military and intelligence officers attacking President Obama for taking credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden and leaking intelligence information.

    “Mr. President, you did not kill Osama bin Laden, American did,” a grim-faced former Navy Seal named Ben Smith says in the video. “The work that the American military has done killed Osama bin Laden. You did not.”

    (Smith’s Facebook page, by the way, describes him as a model and an actor, as well as a public speaker in many areas, including politics.)

    The video features footage of Obama announcing the raid that killed bin Laden, clumsily edited to include every reference to himself, and none of his praise for the nation’s military and intelligence personnel who planned and executed the raid.

    But when I read about this, and saw the video, I thought of Peter Bergen.

    A source you can trust

    Bergen knows as much about bin Laden as any journalist alive, and in May I interviewed him for Fresh Air about his book, Manhunt, which chronicles the ten-year search for bin Laden and the raid that killed him.

    One of the particularly striking things about the raid was Obama’s approach to making the very tough decision on whether to go ahead with it or not. Despite years of intelligence work, officials weren’t certain whether bin Laden was in the Abbottabad compound or not.

    Obama looked at all the intelligence, reviewed the operational plan, drafted a team of experts to tell him everything that might go wrong, and then overruled his vice president and defense secretary to approve the mission.

    The president never claimed that he killed bin Laden. He just did his job.

    The commander-in-chief’s role is to protect 311 million Americans and make wise decisions about how to use our military and intelligence assets. This was a tough call, and if you read Bergen’s book, which I highly recommend, I think you’ll conclude that the president made it himself, and that it was the right one.

    In a post in May, I wrote about the stark contrast between the way this president handled his responsiblity and the way the previous administration manipulated intelligence to rush into war in Iraq.

    As for the video’s charge that Obama has compromised our security by leaking classified information for political gain, again turn to Bergen. He’s a national security analyst for CNN, and he pretty well takes that accusation apart in this piece.

    Show yourselves, if you have the guts

    One of the most disturbing things about this campaign is that it’s being financed by people who hide in the shadows.

    Because our political system now permits not only unlimited contributions but anonymous ones if you form the right kind of group, the organization promoting this attack is keeping his or her donors secret. To make an obvious point, this is not what you would call courageous behavior.

    To keep its donors secret, the Special Operations Opsec Education Fund has organized as a non-partisan non-profit under IRS rules, but as the New York Times Scott Shane reports, the group’s Republican connections are clear.

    This group, by the way, is not to be confused with Special Operations Speaks, another anti-Obama group whose founder, retired Navy Seal Larry Bailey told Foreign Policy magazine that he’s “a birther” who thinks “Barack Obama was not born where he said he was and is not who he says he is.”

    The special operations crew hasn’t placed any TV ads yet, just made the video to get some media attention. But it’s worth noting that TV stations don’t have to accept ads they regard as deceptive from non-candidate committees that try to place them on the air.

    As I wrote in May, Kathleen Hall Jamison of the Annenberg Public Policy Center has developed a program to encourage viewers of stations running deceptive material to tell broadcasters what they think. To learn more, go the webiste called FlackCheck.org and look for the Stand By Your Ad icon.

    I’m not endorsing Obama or any other candidate. There’s a fair debate to be had in this country about national security, the economy, the deficit, health care, tax policy and government regulation and whether the president’s approach takes us in the right direction.

    But we have to pay some attention to the truth.

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