Zinke gathers troops to defeat Obama

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Former Navy SEAL Team Six commander and Whitefish state Sen. Ryan Zinke has launched a national political action committee representing special forces and other military personnel dedicated to defeating President Barack Obama this November.

Zinke is chairman of the board of directors for Special Operations for America that includes former Army Brigadier General and Bigfork resident Paul Vallely and former Montana Sen. Conrad Burns.

“We’re going to be the voice of special operations and the military and we’re going to do it in a professional, well-documented way,” Zinke said in a telephone interview from Santa Barbara, Calif., Wednesday. “The administration has given us plenty of ammunition to outline why Obama needs to be defeated in the interest of national security.”

The new PAC became national news Wednesday after the Drudge Report posted a link to a story about it published on Politicker.com.

“Navy SEALs, Special Operations personnel and veterans across America have been outraged since Barack Obama conveniently took credit for killing Osama Bin Laden for political gain,” a press release announcing SOFA said. “The active duty military has no voice as they are forbidden to publicly engage in the political campaign process and it is career suicide for senior military leaders to speak out against the president.”

Zinke said a political campaign commercial featuring former President Bill Clinton talking about the political risk Obama took in authorizing the Bin Laden raid was the “final straw” that motivated Zinke and others to form the PAC.

“I applauded him for making the decision, but the reason it was successful was because there were dedicated individuals who put their lives on the line,” he said. “There’s a difference between taking credit and being the commander-in-chief and saying, ‘I am so proud of the military.’”

Zinke maintains that Obama is “jeopardizing the safety of our troops, their families and our national security for political gain. Obama has exposed the identity of special operations units, leaked classified information and limited the rules of engagement of forces on the ground.

“It’s time to stop President Obama from negotiating away our freedoms and our ability to win on the battlefield. For those who have an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic, it is a call of duty to take back America from a commander-in-chief that is incapable of understanding the sacrifices that have been made for the values that have made America great.”

SOFA has organized partnerships with other military groups such as Stand up America and Veterans for a Strong America for a joint campaign against the president.

Zinke declined to say how much money the groups have raised. “Money is tight,” he said. “We are are a grassroots organization.”

But there will be advertising. “And we’re going to concentrate on the swing states to be influential,” he said, adding that the PAC will not have a high profile in Montana.

Zinke is a Whitefish native who served 23 years as a SEAL, including two tours at SEAL Team Six. In 2004 he was assigned as deputy and acting commander of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He retired in 2008 and was elected to the Montana Senate that year. This year, he was the lieutenant governor candidate for Republican Neil Livingstone, who lost in the June primary election.

Reporter Jim Mann may be reached at 758-4407 or by email at jmann@dailyinterlake.com.

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