Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund

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Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc
Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund.jpg
MottoI serve quietly, not seeking recognition or accolades...
HeadquartersAlexandria, Virginia
Scott Taylor
Chad Kolton
Ben Smith

Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund, Inc. (OPSEC) is a 501(c)(4) organization in the United States, formed in 2012. It began a media campaign critical of President Obama in August 2012, accusing his administration of disclosing sensitive information about the killing of Osama bin Laden and taking too much credit for the operation.[1]

OPSEC's members are primarily former U.S. special operations forces and intelligence community personnel. The group has extensive ties to the Republican Party and Tea Party movement, though it describes itself as non-partisan.[2][3][4] As of mid-August 2012, it claims to have raised almost $1 million.[5][6]

The military portmanteau "OPSEC" (Operations Security) is where security measures are taken to prevent friendly operations and intentions from being observed by an adversary's intelligence systems.

Leadership and composition[edit]

OPSEC's president is Scott Taylor, a former Navy SEAL who has served as Congressman for Virginia's 2nd congressional district since 2017.[6] Its lead spokesperson and former SEAL, Ben Smith, was also a spokesperson for Tea Party Express.[3] Another spokesperson is Chad Kolton, who worked for the Bush administration as a spokesperson for the Director of National Intelligence,[5] and who was hired to perform media relations for OPSEC in July 2012 through HDMK, a Republican strategic communications firm.[7] Public records filed with authorities indicate the group's treasurer, lawyer and TV producers also have affiliations with Republican Party organizations.[1]


During the 2012 United States presidential election it began a media campaign asserting that leaks of sensitive information from the Obama Administration have endangered U.S. personnel and compromised national security, and that Barack Obama has taken too much credit for the death of Osama bin Laden.[5]

Web video[edit]

On August 15, 2012, the organization released Dishonorable Disclosures, a 22-minute documentary film that accuses the Obama Administration of taking credit for killing bin Laden and leaking information for political advantage, featuring interviews with former special forces personnel. The film appears on the organization's website and on YouTube, and OPSEC also intends to show it in a handful of swing states, including Virginia, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Nevada.[2][6] Elizabeth Flock of US News questioned the group's claims to be non-partisan noting that "its ranks are filled with Republicans" and stating that OPSEC "has clearly taken a political side".[8] News reports have described the group's ties to the Republican Party, noting that several prominent leaders of the group are Republicans and Tea Partiers and that it shares an office with a Republican consulting firm and a Republican polling firm.[9][10][2][8][1][11]

The Obama campaign has likened it to the discredited "swift boat" smear tactics used against presidential nominee John Kerry in 2004. In an official statement, the Obama campaign responded to the film by saying "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".[9][8] Leaders of OPSEC responded by stating the group is non-partisan and unconnected to any political party or presidential campaign. The veterans political action committee called VetPAC has said "OPSEC is a shadowy Republican front group," and called their video "dubious" and "silly".[9][12][2][8][1][13] Juliet Lapidos of the New York Times called the OPSEC video "a dishonest hatchet job" and remarked that while the stars of the video presented themselves as concerned citizens with no partisan motivations, their positions were inconsistent with their decision to appear in the video.[14] Military journalist and former Marine, Geoffrey Ingersoll, reported in Business Insider that the video is a partisan effort instead of an effort to protect US troops, saying, "Obama used SEALs to kill bin Laden. Republicans are using them to eliminate Obama."[15]


In mid-August 2012, the group said that it had raised almost $1 million since June of that year.[5] Registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization,[1] which, unlike 501(c)(3), can participate in partisan politics,[16] the group is not required to disclose its donors and OPSEC has declined to discuss its funding.[6][4]


  1. ^ a b c d e Hosenball, Mark (17 August 2012). "Group behind Obama attack ad has Republican Party ties". Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Shane, Scott (15 Aug 2012). "Ex-Officers Attack Obama Over Leaks on Bin Laden Raid". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  3. ^ a b Rogin, Josh (2012-08-21). "In Facebook postings, OPSEC spokesman rips 'Communist-in-Chief Hussein Mao-bama'". Foreign Policy. The Washington Post Company. Retrieved 2012-08-21.
  4. ^ a b Hosenball, Mark; Alexander Cohen (August 14, 2012). "Special ops group attacks Obama over bin Laden bragging, leaks". Reuters.
  5. ^ a b c d McConnell, Dugald; Brian Todd (August 16, 2012). "Former special forces officers slam Obama over leaks on bin Laden killing". CNN.
  6. ^ a b c d Ohlheiser, Abby (August 15, 2012). "Special Ops Group Launches Anti-Obama Media Blitz". Slate.
  7. ^ Mundy, Alicia (August 15, 2012). "Faulting Obama, Former Officers Plan Ads on Bin Laden Leaks". Wall Street Journal.
  8. ^ a b c d Flock, Elizabeth (16 August 2012). "Navy SEAL Group Hits Back At Obama Campaign For 'Swift Boat' Comparison". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  9. ^ a b c Mark Hosenball; Warren Strobel; Christopher Wilson (15 August 2012). "Obama campaign accuses Republicans of smear tactics over bin Laden, leaks". Reuters. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  10. ^ Dilanian, Ken (16 August 2012). "Group attacking Obama for security leaks includes past talkers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  11. ^ Dozier, Kimberly (21 August 2012). "Special operators to anti-Obama groups: Zip it". Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  12. ^ Dilanian, Ken (16 August 2012). "Group attacking Obama for security leaks includes past talkers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  13. ^ Dozier, Kimberly (21 August 2012). "Special operators to anti-Obama groups: Zip it". Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  14. ^ Lapidos, Juliet (16 August 2012). "Return of the Swift Boat". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  15. ^ Ingersoll, Geoffrey (17 August 2012). "Why The New SEAL Ad Is As Outrageous As The Obama Leaks It's Attacking". Business Insider. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  16. ^ Internal Revenue Service. "7.25.4 Civic Leagues, Social Welfare Organizations and Local Associations of Employees". Internal Revenue Manual. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 2012-08-22. An exempt IRC 501(c)(4) organization may intervene in political campaigns as long as its primary activity is the promotion of social welfare.

External links[edit]