From ending the war in Iraq in a responsible way to refocusing on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, President Obama has kept his word as commander-in-chief. But a conservative group called Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund is trying to score political points by distorting the facts around the death of Osama bin Laden. They’re attacking President Obama for talking about the operation that killed Osama bin Laden—but they’re not mentioning that the President has always said our troops and our intelligence officers were the ones who deserved credit.
OPSEC claims to be nonpartisan, yet it has significant ties to the Republican party. And it’s no surprise that Republicans are trying to launch a swift-boat campaign attacking the President’s strong foreign policy record. After all, their newly formed ticket lacks not only foreign policy experience, but also any concrete plan for America’s relations abroad. When it comes to foreign policy, Mitt Romney has offered the American people nothing but reckless, empty rhetoric.
Here are the facts.
When he became commander-in-chief, President Obama directed CIA director Leon Panetta to make the killing or capture of bin Laden a top priority in the war against al Qaeda. And on May 1, 2011, the President announced to the world that “justice has been done”: A team of Navy SEALs had finally cornered and killed bin Laden, who had eluded capture for nearly a decade.
From the moment he announced that bin Laden had been brought to justice, President Obama has praised the military and counterterrorism personnel who made the operation possible. From the East Room of the White House, President Obama said:
“Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice. We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.”
You won’t hear those lines in OPSEC’s video—they edited out the moments when President Obama’s praised the military special operators and intelligence officials.
Here are the other remarks OPSEC left out:
“Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”
“Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense.”
Military and civilian leaders from across the political spectrum have praised the President for making the risky call to order the operation. Robert Gates, who led the Department of Defense under both Presidents Bush and Obama, said President Obama’s decision to send special forces into Pakistan was “one of the most courageous calls … I’ve ever seen a President make.”
Today, because of President Obama’s leadership and the courage and skill of our nation’s military and intelligence heroes, bin Laden is dead, and more than two-thirds of al Qaeda’s senior leadership has been eliminated. Romney, by contrast, previously said that it was “not worth moving heaven and earth” to capture bin Laden.
A version of this was posted on the Truth Team blog.