By Jeremy Herb - 08/22/12 04:10 PM EDT
The top U.S. military official criticized a video from a group of ex-special operations and intelligence officers who are attacking President Obama for allegedly politicizing the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said he was “disappointed” with the members of the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund, when asked about the video Tuesday in interviews with Fox News and Agence France-Presse.
“If someone uses the uniform, whatever uniform, for partisan politics, I am disappointed because I think it does erode that bond of trust we have with the American people,” Dempsey said during his flight back from a trip to Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Is their criticism valid? I won’t comment on that,” Dempsey said “Is it useful? No, it’s not useful. It’s not useful to me.”
Dempsey’s comments have put the chairman of the Joint Chiefs in the middle of a political battle between former military officers and the Obama campaign.
The president's reelection team has criticized the OPSEC video as “swift boat tactics,” referring to attack ads against 2004 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) that questioned his military record.
President Obama told the Virginian-Pilot in an interview Monday that he didn’t “take these folks too seriously.”
“One of their members is a 'birther' who denies I was born here, despite evidence to the contrary,” Obama said.
The group’s chief spokesman Ben Smith has accused Obama in Facebook posts of being a Muslim and born outside of the United States, both false. He wrote that the president’s State of the Union speech was “was given by the Heir Communist-in-Chief Hussein Mao-bama.”
In its video, OPSEC charges Obama with releasing details of the bin Laden operation for political gain.
“We have become a political weapon — we are not,” Smith says. “Our job is to be silent professionals — we do not seek recognition; we do not seek popularity ... to make things public is wrong."
Scott Taylor, a former Navy SEAL and president of the group, said in an interview on Fox News’s “On the Record” Tuesday evening that Obama’s statements were “condescending and belittling.”
Asked about Dempsey’s criticism, Taylor said the
members of the group are no longer active duty military.
“We're now citizens, and we have a 1st Amendment right to be able to speak out, and we feel as though we're doing the right thing,” he said.