(Udate 10/18/08: National Republican Trust PAC just sent out another fundraising email with the subject line "Obama Lies Smashed by Neutron Bomb in Ohio." The "neutron bomb" refers to the PAC's TV ad.)
Tying Obama's policies to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a new political action committee is airing a TV ad in Ohio that calls the Democrat "too radical" and "too risky."
The language of the National Republican Trust's ad echoes attacks used by the McCain campaign. The ad focuses on Obama's support for allowing illegal immigrants to get drivers licenses, an issue that came up in the Democratic primaries. "The 9/11 plot depended on easy-to-get licenses. Obama's plan gives a license to any illegal who wants one," says the voiceover, behind images of 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta's drivers license, the smoking twin towers, and then Obama's face where Atta's used to be. The PAC's treasurer, Peter Leitner, says the ad is running in Ohio.
The PAC was formed last month by a former Defense Department strategist, a freelance journalist and a lawyer who have tried to prove a link between Saddam Hussein and the Sept. 11 attacks.
The National Republican Trust's executive director is Scott Wheeler, who has written for the conservative Cybercast News Service and Insight magazine, published by Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. His articles include "Iraq-al-Qaida link revealed," "'Dirty-bomb' plot underway in U.S.?" and "Exclusive: Saddam Possessed WMD, Had Extensive Terror Ties."
In his 2003 "Iraq-al-Qaida" piece, Wheeler wrote, "Senior investigators and analysts in the U.S. government have concluded that Iraq acted as a state sponsor of terrorism against Americans and logistically supported the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States."
President Bush and numerous government reports now say there was no link between Iraq and the 2001 strikes.
One of Wheeler's sources for the story was Leitner, who recently retired as a senior strategic trade advisor to the Secretary of Defense.
Leitner and the PAC's assistant treasurer, attorney Joshua Ambush, spearheaded efforts to sue Iraq and Saddam Hussein on behalf of the family of top FBI official John O'Neill, who was killed on Sept. 11.
More from Leitner after the jump...
Leitner was also a government whistleblower during the Clinton Administration, charging that senior officials ignored warnings about the transfer of technology with military uses to China. Wheeler made a documentary, featuring Leitner, called "Trading With the Enemy: How the Clinton Administration Armed China."
Now, Leitner tells us, his security concerns center on Obama. Echoing a persistent rumor on the fringes of anti-Obama sentiment, Leitner says it's not clear that Obama is "even eligible to run for the presidency" because "no one's ever seen his birth certificate." Nonpartisan fact-checkers at Factcheck.org and Politifact.com dispute that theory.
"Who is he?" says Leitner. "Almost everything about his background has been locked up in secrecy."
Leitner's group has spent about $140,000 blasting out fundraising emails through the conservative news site Newsmax.com, with one email saying that the PAC "is moving to implement a 'shock and awe' strategy against Obama in key states." The email continued, "We plan to take out powerful television ads, Internet ads and other communications to inform Americans about the dangers posed by Barack Obama."
Election filings show the PAC also paid $3,000 to the Web site of Clinton-adviser-turned-conservative-pundit Dick Morris for "Email Communication," three days before Morris endorsed the group in a Newsmax email blast.
Newsmax, incidentally, features the group on its front page today.