Politically speaking, Navy SEALs aren’t the safest targets to rail against in a presidential race, but the Obama campaign isn’t hesitating to take down a group of former SEALs who’ve criticized the president’s national security decisions.

On Thursday morning, campaign officials waged a full court press against the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund, a group of former U.S. Special Forces and intelligence officials accusing President Obama of leaking vital national security secrets and taking too much credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden. When the group launched its anti-Obama media campaign Wednesday, consisting of TV ads and a 22-minute film, it wasn’t clear if Obama officials would avoid a potentially messy confrontation or refute the military veterans publicly. But now the campaign has made clear it views the attacks in the same light as the 2004 John Kerry “Swift Boat” attack ads, which, however misleading, were painfully effective.

“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,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told Reuters’ Mark Hosenball last night. Taking a direct shot at the leaders of OPSEC, an Obama campaign official lambasted the group’s accusations about national security leaks this morning. “No one in this group is in a position to speak with any authority on these issues and on what impact these leaks might have,” said the official, speaking on background, “and it’s clear they’ve resorted to making things up for purely political reasons.”

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