I don't think I need to go into a lot of detail - most of you know the background. This past summer the right end of the veteran (and non-veteran) blogosphere blew up with allegations against the President (and his administration) of leaking classified information about the SEAL raid to kill bin Laden for political gain. They didn't just get frothy-mouthed about this issue (of which they had some standing before they lost their reasoning faculties), they got active with at least one Super PAC started by a former Navy SEAL dedicated to OPSEC alone.
Fast forward a few months and the change in their position on OPSEC is so radical that it makes my head spin. Take the milblog This Ain't Hell - a staunchly conservative, veteran group blog that I occasionally visit for their amusing (if too serious) "stolen valor" posts. In primary contributor Jonn Lilyea's 11 June 2012 post, "Sanger defends Administration leaks", Lilyea says:
How about we let our secrets remain that way until whichever war we're fighting ends, so we don't intentionally get mired in the morass that the media made of this last war with their "open debate". ... And how about someone put a muzzle on the leaks out of the Obama Administration and let them debate the issues instead of smokescreening their failures.Pretty straightforward position: secrets are secrets and should stay that way while the secrets affect current operations. But when it comes to Benghazi the tone changes. Lilyea posits today, in a post that quotes a report drawn from an "uncovered" Secret cable, "Who knows what other information they're sitting on today that will blow up in our faces and cost more American lives later." Again, this classified cable that affects current operations coming to light isn't an OPSEC violation, it's "uncovered". Blatant, reeking hypocrisy.
The previously-mentioned Special Ops OPSEC Super PAC does not even hide their hypocrisy on OPSEC. In a press release from 17 October 2012, the OPSEC president said:
President Obama wanted credit after our military killed bin Laden. Highly classified secrets were leaked, endangering real heroes and their families. But when terrorists killed SEALs and diplomats in Libya, this administration does not tell the truth about what happened.In summation, this Super PAC was started because the President leaked classified info about something he shouldn't have leaked because it relates to ongoing operations. But the President is at fault because he doesn't leak classified info that relates to ongoing operations. Don't think about it too long or it will hurt your brain.
This hypocrisy isn't limited to fringe blogs (admittedly with more hits than this humble blog, but I'd rather be thoughtful than popular) or fringe political groups. A fringe blogger at a mainstream newspaper, Jennifer Rubin, supports hitting the President on the bin Laden leaks in a July post, positively quoting Governor Romney at the VFW, before accusing the President of "stonewalling" yesterday for not disclosing information that is rightly classified. I'm less concerned about Rubin as she's a pure political hack, but the point is that pure political hacks are taking their cues from veterans-cum-hacks because of the latters' perceived expertise.
These veterans and their hypocrisy is irritating at the least and dangerous at the worst. Because our veteran population is so small and our national defense so complicated, the general public looks to those few veterans who speak up to help explain how varied aspects of our national defense work. But the most vocal veterans on the issue of OPSEC, at least in volume, has been those who bathe in the fetid waters of hypocrisy. Their domestic political concerns are skewing how they present defense issues to the public, causing them to mislead the American public into believing the President is wrong for both leaking classified information and for not leaking classified information. And the American people don't know to juxtapose these two issues and see the hypocrisy of it all, even if there was some substance to the crux of their original position (minus the whole "Obama is a traitor" nonsense).
Obviously free-thinking people should always examine any argument for fallacies or validity, but too often we allow related experience to substitute for expertise. As my IAVA post made clear, being a veteran in and of itself does not make a veteran an expert on anything beyond his or her own experiences. Keep that in mind as you read through political discourse in the waning days of the presidential campaign.