The capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden may actually be coming back to haunt Barack Obama.
Well, kind of.
As Reuters reports, a group of former U.S. intelligence and Special Forces operatives is launching a media campaign attacking President Barack Obama for leaking sensitive military intelligence, and taking credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The group claims it is non-partisan, but saves most of its criticism for the Obama administration and it's foreign policy/ military intelligence decisions made over the last three years. But while the group makes baseless attacks against Obama, it could be a canary in the coal mine of sorts for Obama: the president may be losing support among military service member and their families — an issue that could highlight how disenfranchised the post-Iraq/ Afghanistan generation feels.
The group — Special Ops OPSEC — bills its mission as: “Stop the politicians, President Obama and others, from politically capitalizing on US national security operations and secrets.”
OPSEC argues that high-level intelligence leaks, like informing the public about the Stuxnet virus and the play-by-play details of the Bin Laden compound raid in Pakistan, endangers American lives.
Their goals are, of course, very idealistic. What American politician wouldn’t capitalize on successful military operations, especially one that involved the biggest American villain this century?
Leaders of the group, the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc, say that their efforts are nonpartisan and unconnected to any political party or presidential campaign. They hope to "educate the public on the importance and necessity of Operational Security in today's environment."
As Reuters points out, OPSEC is registered as a so-called social welfare group, which means its primary purpose is to further the common good and its political activities are secondary.
While the OPSEC goal is noble, it is also unattainable. Politicians routinely use military issues to their own benefit. Think “wag the dog” to get re-elected, or media leaks designed to bolster public opinion on a specific policy agenda. OPSEC will never “stop the politicians from politically capitalizing.” This group complains Obama is leaking too much. Other groups like Wikileaks claim Obama is not leaking enough. Everyone has their own feelings. Either way, it is clear that war is an essential part of politics.
But other tidbits can be teased from the OPSEC story. Why are groups affiliated with the U.S. military turning against Obama in election 2012?
As a Rasmussen poll last month showed, military veterans chose Romney over Obama 59% to 35%.
In April, with the top three presidential contenders consisting of Romney, Obama and libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), it was Paul who enjoyed wide fundraising advantages with every branch of the military, out-raising Obama at a rate of two-to-one. Only until Paul virtually quit his campaign later that month did Obama take a fundraising lead with this group.
There is a sense of disenfranchisement among members of the military in the post-Iraq War world. American leaders sent the U.S. military on adventures into two separate countries over the last decade, and these soldiers found themselves in a quagmire of endless, objection-less war.
“Hope and change” candidate Obama in 2008 promised to fix it all, especially when it came to the military. Since he was elected, he has brought the war in Iraq to a close, but Afghanistan remains a hotbed (as OPSEC duly notes, in the year after Obama announced that Bin Laden was captured and killed, 330 service members were killed and 4,784 were wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq). America finds itself entangled in a perpetual War on Terror, despite Bin Laden’s demise, as flare-ups constantly occur in the Middle East and Africa.
More so, the Iraq and Afghanistan generation of veterans are finding it difficult to readjust back home. There has been difficulty on the home front. In late spring, it was reported that unemployment peaked at 12.7% for veterans who served in the military since 2001 (last month that number had fallen to 8.9%).
Studies show that nearly 20% of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have experienced a traumatic brain injury, and 10% to 18% suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A recent Pew Research Center survey showed that post-9/11 veterans found the transition to civilian life harder and had higher rates of post-traumatic stress than veterans who served in previous wars.
With this background, it is no wonder that military-related groups like OPSEC are lashing out against Obama and the establishment. Military members and their families face dire circumstances in modern America, issues which they themselves feel are going unaddressed by top brass in Washington.
OPSEC’s fundamental goal is to change the way Obama treats military matters. While their overall points concerning Bin Laden and Stuxnet are a bit over the top, their root problem, especially as it pertains to the modern military person, is worth taking note of.