Hiding: Osama bin Laden hid from US troops for nearly ten years after the September 11, 2001, attacks
SEAL Team Six veteran says ‘special operations community’ wants Obama out of the White House
- Ryan Zinke, a Montana state senator and retired Navy veteran, has formed an anti-Obama political group called Special Operations for America PAC
- New ad called ‘Bow to Nobody’ criticizes the president for bowing to the Saudi king
- Zinke says Obama’s Osama bin Laden ad ‘Once Chance’ uses the lives of special operations troops as a political football
By Toby Harnden
PUBLISHED: 13:02 EST, 28 August 2012 UPDATED: 09:09 EST, 29 August 2012
Critic: Montana State Senator Ryan Zinke is a former Navy SEAL Team 6 member
A former officer in SEAL Team Six, the unit that killed Osama bin Laden, said that ‘veterans and special forces community’ are determined that President Barack Obama be voted out in November.
Ryan Zinke, who retired in the rank of commander in 2008 after 23 years of service, said on Tuesday that Obama was guilty of a ‘despicable’ attempt to divide veterans and discredit those who, like him, opposed the White House’s policies.
A Republican state senator in Montana who served two tours in SEAL Team Six as a junior officer in the 1990s, Zinke was speaking to MailOnline at his party’s convention in Tampa, Florida.
He was awarded two Bronze Stars and rose to become acting commander of the US Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Arabian Peninsula and deputy commander of Special Forces in Iraq.
Zinke, 50, has been singled out on the Obama campaign website as being part of ‘an interconnected web of Republican operatives who are launching “Swift Boat”-style smear tactics’ — a reference to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group that assailed Senator John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee, over his Vietnam record.
Some of the SEALs who were on the operation that killed bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan in 2011 served under Zinke and he has met a number of them since the al-Qaeda leader’s demise.
Zinke is now heading up an anti-Obama Political Action Committee called Special Operations for America and is in Tampa to unveil a new ad that takes Obama to task for bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia.
Scroll down to watch the political ads
Prideful: Zinke believes Obama has claimed too much credit for the success of the Osama bin Laden raid last year
‘Bow to Nobody’: Special Operations for America PAC has produced an ad criticizing the president for bow to King Abdullah of Suadi Arabia
Furious: Zinke said the president’s new ad, ‘One Chance,’ makes political sport of the Osama bin Laden raid, which risked the lives of the Navy SEALS who carried it out
‘The veterans and the special forces community is firmly behind a change of leadership of the commander-in-chief,’ he said. ‘There is no doubt about that.’
Obama crossed ‘the line,’ he argued, by creating a campaign ad to coincide with the first anniversary of the killing of bin Laden that trumpeted the President’s role in ordering the operation.
Titled ‘One Chance,’ it features President Bill Clinton as saying that if SEALs had been ‘captured or killed’ then ‘the downside would have been horrible for [Obama].’
‘No one ever disputed that he made the decision,’ Zinke said. ‘I respect that fact. What I find appalling is that he would make a political commercial with former President Clinton talking about it. That’s where the line was and I think that action is what upset many.
‘But don’t tell me that the consequences of failure were just political, difficult thought the decision was. The consequences of failure would have been the troops on the ground losing their lives and military families back home losing a father, losing a husband.’
Dissatisfaction amongst serving and former SEALs was first reported by MailOnline in April.
The hard-hitting Special Operations for America ad, called ‘Bow to Nobody,’ shows U.S. special operations troops on maneuvers. Singer Jon Kahn speaks the words of a former Navy SEAL, saying: ‘We sacrifice not because we have to.
‘We bleed not because we want to. We fight because we need to. And sometimes we die because we love this country.’
He concludes; ‘I believe in American exceptionalism. As a Navy SEAL I fought so that I would never have to see my president bow to anyone.’
A photograph of Barack Obama bowing before King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at a G-20 gathering in London in April 2009 then flashes up on the screen before the message: ‘2012 New Leadership.’
Zinke said this action and that of bowing in 2009 to President Akihito of Japan, whose father was president when his country bombed Pearl Harbor, demeaned America.
‘I’ve seen tears cried watching our president bow. It has nothing to do with protocol. It has to do with the symbol of America bowing,’ he said.
‘As president, it’s unacceptable. I believe this president thinks the world is better off without America leading and his actions have stated that he believes America is better off being one of the pack rather than being the leader. I reject that theory.’
The ad, he said, was the first of three focusing on the theme of American exceptionalism.
‘This first one is very emotional, a personal story, to a degree, about me and about why I fought,’ Zinke said.
Opposition: Special Operations for America demands a new Commander-in-Chief in a commercial that blasts Obama for bowing to foreign leaders
Advocate: Obama enlisted the help of former President Bill Clinton to describe the possible fallout if the bin Laden raid had ended badly
Politics: Zinke believes Obama has also tried to draw Admiral William McRaven into the political fray
‘We need to maintain our leadership and the reason why we fought is that our president does not have to bow before any king or emperor.’
Zinke said he was saddened but not surprised to be singled out by the Obama campaign. ‘This is what the Obama administration does. They use misinformation, half facts, they try to distract from the issue and to a large degree they try to discredit.
‘Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to anyone who serves honourably. I think it’s despicable that a president would put veterans on his website and list them on an enemies list.
‘We can have the debate about the issues and I don’t dislike the president personally but I don’t favour Chicago politics. We should stick to the issues.’
Zinke said that Obama was seeking to politically exploit senior officers who were still serving, including Admiral William McRaven, head of U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and America’s senior uniformed officer.
When facing questions about his role in the bin Laden operation, Obama said last week: ‘I’d advise that you talk to General McRaven, who’s in charge of our Special Ops. I think he has a point of view in terms of how deeply I care about what these folks do each and every day to protect our freedom.’
Zinke said that apart from botching McRaven’s rank — he’s a Navy officer, not in the Army — Obama was attempting to politicise a senior officer.
‘Active duty military should be apolitical. To try to somehow pin them in a corner I think is an act of desperation.’
‘Americans don’t want to see our military become Republican or Democrat. Americans appreciate that our military belongs to all of us. But there is a difference between a veteran speaking out and active duty.
‘I respect Admiral McRaven, I know him personally and I think he’s a great leader but if veterans can’t speak out, then who can?’