By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — A group of former U.S. military and intelligence officers, including retired Navy SEALs, appear in a 22-minute documentary that was released on Wednesday asserting that the Obama administration has leaked considerable classified intelligence about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden for political gain.
They also claim that the administration has given itself too much credit for this feat of American arms and intelligence gathering. The film even makes the dramatic charge that the Obama administration is “purposefully putting lives in jeopardy” because of its purported leaks about national security.
The charges bear some resemblance to the “Swift Boat” tactics used against Sen. John Kerry in the tight 2004 presidential election against President George W. Bush in which Kerry’s service in Vietnam, seemingly a strength of the candidate, was turned into a weakness.
The particulars of the indictment against Obama as laid out in the new film, which is titled “Dishonorable Disclosures,” are:
CLAIM: The president announced the bin Laden raid before intelligence picked up from bin Laden’s compound could be fully exploited.
[FACT]: In fact, Obama and his national security team made every effort — successfully — to keep the intelligence about bin Laden a closely held secret for almost a year, from the time they first identified what they believed might be the al Qaeda leader’s hideout in the city of Abbottabad,
CLAIM: The use of hitherto covert “stealth” helicopters on the raid was publicized.
[FACT]: Pakistani journalists started arriving at bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound soon after the helicopter crashed and started filing stories about the mysterious helicopter and its oddly shaped tail rotor. It wasn’t much of a leap for reporters to ascertain that these helicopters had particular features that had prevented them from being detected by Pakistani radar.
CLAIM: The name of the secret unit that executed the raid –SEAL Team Six — was made public putting them and their families at risk.
[FACT]: During his speech to the nation and world, Obama did not divulge the name of SEAL Team Six, saying only that a “small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability.” It quickly leaked that SEAL Team Six had executed the raid, but this was hardly surprising as the SEALs are the principal Special Operations Forces in the Afghanistan/Pakistan theater, something that has been discussed in multiple news stories over the past several years and in bestselling books. And the SEALs have hardly kept a low profile of late, cooperating in a movie “Act of Valor” that was released in theaters this year, which actually featured real SEALs playing the parts of the heroes of the movie.
CLAIM: The name of the Pakistani doctor recruited by the CIA to help find bin Laden was leaked, jeopardizing him and the CIA’s ability to recruit spies in the future. The doctor is now serving 33 years in a Pakistani prison.
[FACT]: This information (about Dr.Shakil Afridi) first surfaced in a story in the Guardian newspaper in July 2011 after Afridi was arrested by the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI. It is obvious that this information was leaked not by the Americans but the Pakistanis who have done their own investigation of the bin Laden raid, which embarrassed them considerably.
CLAIM: Obama has taken way too much credit for killing al Qaeda’s leader. “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,” says a former Navy SEAL interviewed in the film.
[FACT]:As to the notion that Obama has taken too much credit for the bin Laden raid, well he is commander-in-chief, and it was entirely his decision to launch the risky raid on Abbottabad based on the only fragmentary intelligence that bin Laden might be there. As Adm. William McRaven, who was the military commander of the bin Laden raid, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last month, “at the end of the day, make no mistake about it, it was the president of the United States that shouldered the burden for this operation, that made the hard decisions, that was instrumental in the planning process, because I pitched every plan to him.”