Group Using Obama's Hollywood Supporters in Campaign Against Him (Video)
Former military and CIA officers employ images of Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Kathryn Bigelow in new effort to derail Obama reelection.
A group of former military and C.I.A. officers kicked off a campaign to malign President Barack Obama over alleged security leaks by appearing on seven TV shows on Thursday. The backbone of their effort, though, is a 22-minute video that has been viewed about 400,000 times since it posted Wednesday on YouTube.
While the administration and liberal organizations quickly denounced the group, known as OPSEC, as a clone of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that helped derail the 2004 presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry, the OPSEC team differs in at least one way: it is using Hollywood figures in the campaign against the Democratic president.
A component of OPSEC’s effort is the accusation from some Republican lawmakers that director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal were afforded access to classified details about the killing of Osama bin Laden, which is the subject of Zero Dark Thirty, a feature film Sony will release in December.
In the video, titled Dishonorable Disclosures, OPSEC member Fred Rustamann, a 24-year veteran of the C.I.A., complains of Obama taking credit for killing bin Laden, then he says:
“Days after the raid, Hollywood was invited into the White House so that they could receive a briefing on exactly how the raid took place, what kind of sources we had, what kind of methods we use.”
As he speaks, Barbra Streisand is shown presenting to Bigelow the Oscar she won for directing The Hurt Locker. More suggestively, Obama is seen speaking to a room full of Hollywood notables just as Rustamann delivers his line about a presidential briefing.
The image, though, is an official White House photo taken in March 2010, of Obama speaking in the Family Theater of the White House before a screening of the HBO miniseries The Pacific. Sitting in the front row are Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, two of the miniseries' executive producers.
The entire video is embedded below. The portion about Hollywood begins at the 11:50 mark.
While using stock footage and B-roll video is a hallmark of documentary filmmaking, Spielberg and Hanks likely won't appreciate that their likenesses are being used as a battering ram against Obama, given their support for the president. Spielberg, for example, has donated $35,800 to the Obama Victory Fund 2012 while Hanks stars in a 17-minute video promoting the re-election of Obama.
OPSEC, military shorthand for “operational security,” is also shorthand for the full name of the group, which is Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund. The nonprofit group bills itself as nonpartisan, though some members have been involved with conservative Tea Party groups and OPSEC member Scott Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate for Congress in 2010.
Dishonorable Disclosures begins with several well-known journalists and opinion-makers reporting on security leaks. Chris Matthews asks on MSNBC, for example, “Drip, drip, drip. What’s with all this leaking during the first year of the Obama administration?”
Beyond the video, the group’s website lays out several specific complaints of classified information they say came from the White House that, if known by terrorists, would get American military personnel injured or killed.
A sort of slideshow on the site lists 10 alleged damages as the result of leaks. “Damage #4” reads: “Obama administration gave Hollywood special access to DOD and C.I.A. details of the operation.”
The slide also contains a couple of lines from a Maureen Dowd column in the New York Times, one reading, “The moviemakers are getting top-level access to the most classified mission in history,” and the other reading, “It was clear that the White House had outsourced the job of manning up the president’s image to Hollywood when Boal got welcomed to the upper echelons of the White House and the Pentagon and showed up recently – to the surprise of some military officers – at a C.I.A. ceremony celebrating the hero SEALs.”