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Subject: Trying to "swift boat" Obama isn't going to work, but here we go rss

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http://news.yahoo.com/special-ops-group-attacks-obama-over-b...

Smells like campaign season is in full swing.

Quote:
Special ops group attacks Obama over bin Laden bragging, leaks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of former U.S. intelligence and Special Forces operatives is set to launch a media campaign, including TV ads, that scolds President Barack Obama for taking credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden and argues that high-level leaks are endangering American lives.

Leaders of the group, the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc, say it is nonpartisan and unconnected to any political party or presidential campaign. It is registered as a so-called social welfare group, which means its primary purpose is to further the common good and its political activities should be secondary.

In the past, military exploits have been turned against presidential candidates by outside groups, most famously the Swift Boat ads in 2004 that questioned Democratic nominee John Kerry's Vietnam War service.
The OPSEC group says it is not political and aims to save American lives. Its first public salvo is a 22-minute film that includes criticism of Obama and his administration. The film, to be released on Wednesday, was seen in advance by Reuters.

"Mr. President, you did not kill Osama bin Laden, America did. The work that the American military has done killed Osama bin Laden. You did not," Ben Smith, identified as a Navy SEAL, says in the film.
"As a citizen, it is my civic duty to tell the president to stop leaking information to the enemy," Smith continues. "It will get Americans killed."

An Obama campaign official said: "No one in this group is in a position to speak with any authority on these issues and on what impact these leaks might have, and it's clear they've resorted to making things up for purely political reasons."

Obama has highlighted his foreign policy record on the campaign trail, emphasizing how he presided over the killing of bin Laden, as well as how he ended the war in Iraq and set a timeline for winding down the war in Afghanistan.

However, Obama has come under sharp attack from Republican lawmakers who have accused his administration of being behind high-level leaks of classified information.

They have pointed to media reports about clandestine drone attacks, informants planted in al Qaeda affiliates and alleged cyber-warfare against Iran that Republicans say were calculated to promote Obama's image as a strong leader in an election year.

The White House has denied leaking classified information.
The president of Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc, Scott Taylor, is a former Navy SEAL who in 2010 ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for a congressional seat in Virginia.
Calling itself "OPSEC" for short - which in spy jargon means "operational security" - the anti-leak group incorporated last June in Delaware, a state that has the most secretive corporate registration rules in the U.S.

It also set itself up as a nonprofit organization under section 501(c)4 of the U.S. Tax Code, allowing it to keep donors' identities secret. Spokesmen for the group declined to discuss its sources of financing.
Several group representatives say their main motivation for setting up OPSEC was dismay at recent detailed media leaks about sensitive operations.

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William Boykin
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Actually, the leaking issue is pretty bad. I think this attempt at 'Swift Boating' is a bit rough on the edges right now, but if they zero in on the key issue-

Obama (or people in his administration) have been leaking sensitive material in order to make the Boss look good in the 24 hour newscycle-

I think this might have some legs. Given that even Diane Feinstein has pointed out that this is a National Security problem, I think that this is the sort of attack which could be very damaging- it has the veneer of a being a bipartisan attack. If they can keep it a bit more focused on the issue of the political leaks, as oppossed to making it sound like disgruntled vets, I think this could be a very powerful line of attack on the President.

Be interesting to see what happens if both the GOP candidate and the Democratic candidate go 'underwater' with more unfavorables than favorables. Probably, the election ends up going with the incumbent, but who knows?

Darilian
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Obama's people are hardly denying that his White House leaked sensitive data:

Quote:
"No one in this group is in a position to speak with any authority on these issues and on what impact these leaks might have..."


And apparently, they aren't denying the leaks may have already gotten Americans killed. All they're claiming is that the people behind the ads aren't in positions of authority. Well, duh.
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William Boykin
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If the situation in Syria and Iran heats up, this could be the most successful line of attack for Romney to use against Obama.

However, that would entail Romney staking a position on Iran which is credible. The problem is that the extent to which this is just Iran's government posturing for domestic consumption, vs how serious they might be, is unknown to the general public.

I think its low order of probability, but Iran could have made the decision that if they're going to have a confrontation with Israel and the West over their nuclear program, better to have it in Syria than to wait. If Assad falls to a rebel government which feels beholden to the West, that makes it more likely that an 'air corridor' from Israel and the Med to Iran might open up. The problem is that Iraq won't let Israel make overflights without significant American pressure, so I don't think that this is really a credible threat to Iran, but who knows what Ayatollah Khameni is thinking?


Darilian
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Another take on this:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/20/opinion/bergen-washington-leak...
 
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Dave G
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bjlillo wrote:
Swift boat, verb: To tell an uncomfortable truth about a Democrat.


Close.

Swift boat, verb: To take a possible kernel of half-truth about a Democrat, embellish it with other half-truths or non-truths, and broadcast it publicly during an election while obscuring the source of your funding and claiming to have no partisan interest.
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djgutierrez77 wrote:
bjlillo wrote:
Swift boat, verb: To tell an uncomfortable truth about a Democrat.


Close.

Swift boat, verb: To take a possible kernel of half-truth about a Democrat, embellish it with other half-truths or non-truths, and broadcast it publicly during an election while obscuring the source of your funding and claiming to have no partisan interest.


That said, I think Dar is right about this being a potentially damaging issue. It's also maybe the only way the GOP can spin Bin Laden into a negative for Obama's campaign. If they pull it off and turn killing Bin Laden into a problem for the Dems it'll be masterful play by whomever is paying for it.
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William Boykin
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I think Obama can come out of this by

1). Firing some assholes over the leaking issue. Seriously. Obama needs to demonstrate that he understands this is a REAL problem, and act accordingly. That means, don't blame the GOP, don't blame Bush, don't make it a political football. Find the guys or ladies who are doing this, and fire them.

2). AFTER he's fired these fuckers, THEN focus upon how this current 'Swift Boat' organization doesn't have to reveal who their donor base is. If, after he's fired a bunch of people, the Romney campaign still tries to make an issue of this, he can then hit back and say "I've moved on over this issue, and here is Romney using this shadow PAC to try and hit me on something that I have dealt with. Its over, and until these people come forward with specific complaints that I haven't dealt with in my round of firings, I am not taking any questions about their allegations."

But for that to work, he HAS to fire someone. Otherwise, I think that the allegations will continue to grow, just as Romney's failure to divulge his tax returns is slowly eating at him in public opinion like a cancer.

So, Dar's 30 second BiPartisan Political Advice for the week:

Romney-Just release the damn returns already, you dork!!

Obama- FIRE THE FUCKERS WHO THINK LEAKING NATIONAL SECRETS IS A LEGITIMATE CAMPAIGN TACTIC!!

Darilian
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djgutierrez77 wrote:

That said, I think Dar is right about this being a potentially damaging issue.


Stop pandering to Dartillian, for a policy wonk, have you noticed he's never really right about many of his predictions?
 
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MWChapel wrote:
djgutierrez77 wrote:

That said, I think Dar is right about this being a potentially damaging issue.


Stop pandering to Dartillian, for a policy wonk, have you noticed he's never really right about many of his predictions?


I just can't live without Dar's approval. It's a flaw.

He doesn't have to be right all the time for me to think he's right on this one. It's entirely possible we're both wrong. I'm sure it's happened before.
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William Boykin
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djgutierrez77 wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
djgutierrez77 wrote:

That said, I think Dar is right about this being a potentially damaging issue.


Stop pandering to Dartillian, for a policy wonk, have you noticed he's never really right about many of his predictions?


I just can't live without Dar's approval. It's a flaw.

He doesn't have to be right all the time for me to think he's right on this one. It's entirely possible we're both wrong. I'm sure it's happened before.


Well, you are my intern. Have another cookie.



Darilian
 
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The leaking issue could work. I've heard lots of different views on this and don't know enough to judge but that's a story that could stick whether it's true or not.

Trying to nail Obama for "taking credit" on the Bin Laden killing seems like a very dubious attack. Both when the official announcement was made and since then I think Obama has been very clear that he took the decision but that the credit for the operation goes to those who carried out the mission. I've seen a few efforts to pain him as having acted like he killed Bin Laden himself but they always disappear, presumably because outside of folks who really hate him it's obvious bullshit.
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It's extremely clear from Aaron Sorkin's inside track that Joe Biden leaked the news early to his good friend, a fictional television news anchor.
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bjlillo wrote:
Swift boat, verb: To tell an uncomfortable truth about a Democrat.


I don't know about Obama, but I think the swift boat nonsense is one of the most despicable propaganda on Kerry, turning a true war-hero into someone he is not. Is this really how the Right want to treat those who have sacrificed for your country, just because they are now political enemies?
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William Boykin
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rshipley wrote:


From the article-

Quote:
Finally, is there any merit to the notion that the Obama administration is spilling secrets to burnish its national security record? To help answer that question, let's quickly recall some of that record:

-- In the first two years of his presidency, Obama quintupled the number of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, as a result more or less destroying al Qaeda there.

-- Obama has conducted around 40 drone strikes and airstrikes in Yemen, compared with the Bush administration's single drone strike there.

-- One of those Obama drone strikes killed the New Mexico-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, which appears to be the first time an American president has authorized the assassination of a U.S. citizen.

-- According to reliable news reports of drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, Obama has authorized strikes that led to the killing of at least 1,900 people, most of whom were militants but around 5% of whom were civilians. (The toll of 1,900 is more than double the total number of detainees who have passed through Guantanamo).

-- And, of course, Obama ordered the raid that killed bin Laden, a decision that was made against the advice of two of his most senior advisers, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who had served every president going back to Richard Nixon, and Vice President Joe Biden, who was elected to the Senate when Obama was 11.

This does not seem to be the record of a president who needs to bolster his national security credentials, something that seems to be well-understood by the American public.


The problem with Bergen's argument is that the President COULD have a very strong record on National Security- that doesn't necessarily imply he's got control of his staff. Rather, I would argue that the fact that the President does have a pretty strong record on the War on Terror only makes the endemic leaking that much....odder.

Why do it?

Sure, there is a degree of partisanship here. But I think that the deeper meaning here is simple- staffers have always used leaks to try and box in their bosses in order to win policy debates. As Bergen points, McChrystal's request for more forces in Afghanistan, a secret document, was photocopied and passed on to Bob Woodward back in 2009. This is, really, nothing terribly new. What is new is the extent to which Obama hasn't punished those who use leaks to box him into positions on policy. He gets angry and testy about it, but then he never actually fires anyone. If an ass chewing is the only cost that one pays to influence the foreign and domestic policy of the most powerful nation on Earth in a decisive manner- well, that's a small price to pay.

And its not just foreign policy- as Ron Suskind pointed out in his book on Obama's economic policy, Confidence Men, leaks were endemic from his office then also. This is a problem throughout the entire Executive Branch- its just that the security leaks on National Security are more serious.

Darilian
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As a side note-
I've been reading a lot the Foreign Policy blog- great stuff. There is a particularly compelling article by Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program, about our current intelligence estimates on Iran's nuclear program. It's worth reading in full, but his conclusion is germane to this conversation on leaks, and leaking.


Quote:
...One thing I learned living in Washington is that intelligence leaks are usually the losing side of an argument. I was at a meeting recently at which an old intelligence hand made the same point rather forcefully. Leaks are a way of appealing a decision through the media and political opposition. In this case, there are clearly Americans and Israelis who believe that the United States lacks a sense of urgency over the challenge posed by Iran. Hence the leak this summer that appeared in the Daily Telegraph and now in Haaretz. Whether these leaks are coming from dissatisfied officials in the United States or Israel is beside the point. We probably only have half the story. The losing half, at that.


Jeffrey Lewis, "The Ayatollah's Pregnant Pause", Foreign Policy Blog, 8.15.12.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/08/15/the_ayatoll...,0

The article is worth in full for anyone interested in trying to piece together where we're at vis-a-vis Iran and their nuclear program.

Darilian
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Darilian wrote:
I think Obama can come out of this by

1). Firing some assholes over the leaking issue. Seriously. Obama needs to demonstrate that he understands this is a REAL problem, and act accordingly. That means, don't blame the GOP, don't blame Bush, don't make it a political football. Find the guys or ladies who are doing this, and fire them.


He has already used the espionage act against people leaking to journalists. He's not only fired people, but is prosecuting them. There are current investigations looking for other people who may have leaked information. He seems more on top of this than other administrations have been.

Quote:
Obama- FIRE THE FUCKERS WHO THINK LEAKING NATIONAL SECRETS IS A LEGITIMATE CAMPAIGN TACTIC!!


What leaks are we even talking about? The only leaks that seem to be real are about things that most people don't even understand. The part about it being a campaign tactic seems to be partisan bullshit.
 
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The Stuxtnet virus and drones- these are the specific leaks that that GOP attack dog Diane Feinstein was upset about.

Seriously-
I mean, I admire your attempt to try and spin this to make it not look a problem for the President, but you have to admit-

When Diane Feinstein says you're fucking up, as a Democrat, you really should be standing up and taking notice.

This is exactly the sort of thing that Obama should NOT do- try and spin it away and argue that really, this entire kerfluffle isn't a big deal, and if it is, its because the GOP are a bunch of meenies.

No, Obama should nut up, FIRE SOMEONE, and then move on. Because if he doesn't fire someone, Holder is going to be indicted for Contempt of Congress, and the GOP will sense chum in the water and go for the throat. Better to deal with the issue, directly, and in terms that voters will understand and sympathize with, than to let it bleed all the way through the election.

Darilian
 
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Darilian wrote:
When Diane Feinstein says you're fucking up, as a Democrat, you really should be standing up and taking notice.


Sarcastically holding up Dianne Feinstein as some sort of liberal paragon misses the fact that she is completely and utterly beholden to California's massive defense industry. Feinstein isn't getting upset about leaks in other departments; she's getting pissed about leaks that could potentially harm the position of her most important campaign contributors.

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Darilian wrote:
The Stuxtnet virus and drones- these are the specific leaks that that GOP attack dog Diane Feinstein was upset about.


Stuxnet is one of the things I'm talking about when I said most people don't know what it is. And drones aren't something you can keep secret. When bombs are dropping on terrorists, no one needs to leak it. Shit went boom.

I'm sure there are leaks since there are always leaks and it is usually to promote an agenda for the leaker or just to make him feel important. I've seen nothing that actually makes the case that anything is being done for campaign purposes.

Quote:
When Diane Feinstein says you're fucking up, as a Democrat, you really should be standing up and taking notice.


Fine, but that means fixing the actual problem, not admitting to something that makes no sense.
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mightygodking wrote:
Darilian wrote:
When Diane Feinstein says you're fucking up, as a Democrat, you really should be standing up and taking notice.


Sarcastically holding up Dianne Feinstein as some sort of liberal paragon misses the fact that she is completely and utterly beholden to California's massive defense industry. Feinstein isn't getting upset about leaks in other departments; she's getting pissed about leaks that could potentially harm the position of her most important campaign contributors.



Sheesh, MGK-
You could use that line of reasoning for any Democrat in the Senate. Or any Republican.

Is there a single elected politician you would trust when they said "Hey, my team is fucking up, guys, stop this, for the sake of the country!", without automatically assuming that their ONLY motivation is to protect the special interest that they are beholden to?

And if you really think that its all just eternal warfare between special interests, well, then who gives a damn. This means that Obama is just as much in 'bed' with these people, as is Romney, McCain, Biden, Ryan, and Palin would give her left eyeteeth to be. In which case, we might as well just take BJ's advice and slap Corporate Logos on their suits and ties, like high power Armani dressed NASCAR drivers.

Sure, Feinstein is in bed with defense contractors. But she isn't the only Democrat, either in the Senate or in the Executive Branch, who is upset about this. Its just that a lot of these people don't want to express their displeasure on the record, and be seen as giving aid and comfort to the Republican enemy. So for Feinstein to come forth and say- hey, there is a problem- takes a bit of political courage.

Ok, its not the absolutely bravest thing I've ever seen, but I think she deserves a WEE bit more credit than that. My sarcasm was directed more towards those Obamamaniacs out there who are determined to try and respin problems that the President has into not being problems at all, or at the very least, the fault of Republicans.

Darilian
 
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Darilian wrote:
The Stuxtnet virus and drones- these are the specific leaks that that GOP attack dog Diane Feinstein was upset about.


Wait, what? Stuxnet got outed because it got out and turned into a massive problem from a computer security perspective. And the drone programs got outed 'cuz you're not going to hide the fact that you're using them to kill people in foreign countries that aren't particularly happy with the fact that you're using them to kill people in foreign countries. Once the cat gets out of the bag (particularly on Stuxnet - that one is a huge problem in terms of showing people how vulnerable infrastructure really is to a concerted or well-designed hack), leaks are inevitable.

Every time I see someone making a fuss over leaks, I wonder what the hell they're talking about and nobody's been able to give an answer that makes a lick of sense to me. These "leaks" don't seem any different than any others that we saw during just about any other administration. In fact, they always strike me as being inflated because we're not talking about CIA black ops, we're talking about things that actually started showing up in public.

Or am I wrong? Fill me in 'cuz I was reading about Stuxnet since it hit the computer security wires in 2010 when companies like Symantec, Kapersky, and F-Secure started talking about how it was way too suspicious that 60% of the infected machines were in Iran. I'm not seeing that these leaks are any different than they were in the past.
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A good, pretty non-partisan overview of the leaking issue was done by Uri Friedman, over on the Foreign Policy blogs.

"Good Leak, Bad Leak
A look at the Obama administration's hot-and-cold approach to secrets.".
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/06/07/good_leak_b...

Here's a teaser from the introduction.

Quote:
There's something troubling about the recent leaks to the New York Times about President Barack Obama's involvement in authorizing the targeted killings of suspected terrorists and launching cyberattacks against an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility: they're coming from the same administration that has prosecuted more government officials under the Espionage Act of 1917 for sharing classified information with the media than all previous administrations combined. (As Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote in a 2010 memo, "People in the intelligence business should be like my grandchildren -- seen but not heard.")


So its odd-
Obama clamps down on people, but no one prominent, but the leaks keep occurring. And worse, it looks like the decision to prosecute or not could be politically motivated. At least, it smells that way, which is why this is a serious issue for the President.

Friedman goes through each of the major leaks, and notes the impact of how the Administration tried to keep on top of them. His conclusion is that the Administration clamps down- hard- on leaks when its about stuff that isn't particularly flattering to the Administration, but when it is, they don't prosecute at all.

It's a big article, and I don't want to quote it extensively, but if you're interested, you should check it out.

Darilian
 
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Darilian wrote:
Is there a single elected politician you would trust when they said "Hey, my team is fucking up, guys, stop this, for the sake of the country!", without automatically assuming that their ONLY motivation is to protect the special interest that they are beholden to?


Plenty of them - more on the left side of the aisle than the right, but there are still a few principled conservatives in this regard. But Dianne Feinstein? Smell test, she is not passing it.
 
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mightygodking wrote:
Darilian wrote:
Is there a single elected politician you would trust when they said "Hey, my team is fucking up, guys, stop this, for the sake of the country!", without automatically assuming that their ONLY motivation is to protect the special interest that they are beholden to?


Plenty of them - more on the left side of the aisle than the right, but there are still a few principled conservatives in this regard. But Dianne Feinstein? Smell test, she is not passing it.


Read Friedman's article on Foreign Policy and tell me what you think.

Darilian
 
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