A group of special operations and intelligence officers have launched a provocative online video -- soon to be a national television ad -- that accuses President Obama's administration of endangering the lives of soldiers and agents by recklessly leaking classified information for political gain.
The White House quickly compared the effort to the Swift Boat ads of 2004 that challenged the military service of Sen. John Kerry, then the Democratic presidential nominee.
"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," said campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.
But the men behind the video say it is motivated by genuine anger at the leaks, not politics.
Scott Taylor, who served more than eight years as a Navy SEAL and whose best friend was killed last August after the Taliban downed a U.S. helicopter with 22 SEALs on board, told The Washington Examiner, "I would've done this video if it were a Republican president in the White House leaking the information -- my political affiliation has nothing to with it."
Taylor, who ran unsuccessfully in 2010 for a congressional seat as a Republican and is currently the president of the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc., which released the video, called "Dishonorable Disclosures," said it is meant to save lives.
"I know there will be people who will come out against us, but realistically speaking every American should have a problem with these leaks," Taylor said. "These leaks are extremely dangerous and put American lives at risk."
White House officials have denied leaking the classified information. A number of members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, have criticized the leaks, which have revealed the president's direct role in the use of drones to target high-level terrorists, as well as details of the SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the Stuxnet virus used by the United States and Israel to sabotage Iran's nuclear program.
Earlier this year, as criticism of the leaks grew, the White House had U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder appoint two U.S. attorneys, Ronald Machen Jr., of the District of Columbia, and Rod Rosenstein, of Maryland, to investigate the leaks.
But that didn't satisfy a large group of former and current special operations soldiers and intelligence officials.
"The only way this will be resolved is for an independent investigation to take place," said a U.S. military official working in Afghanistan. "The fox can't guard the henhouse. The president needs to have an independent investigation, but that is likely not going to happen."
OPSEC representative Chad Kolton, former spokesman for the Office of Director of National Intelligence during the George W. Bush administration, also insisted the organization is nonpolitical. He said the group is deeply concerned with the serious nature of the leaks and vowed a Republican administration would have drawn the same criticism.
Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, another of the group's founders and a longtime critic of the Obama administration, said he was surprised by the vehemence of the White House's attacks on the group.
"I think we're all very well-qualified to speak with authority and many of us have suffered great losses on the battlefield," Vallely said. "We need the White House to stop leaking information about special operations and what they do and how they do it. We need administration officials to shut up."
Sara A. Carter is The Washington Examiner's national security correspondent. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.