"Don't Know Jack" Murtha
In May, Rep. John Murtha, D-PA, appeared on "Good Morning America" accusing United States Marines of killing ". . . innocent civilians in cold blood" and higher military officers of covering up murder.
Murtha, a Vietnam veteran and a retired Marine Corps colonel, said U.S. Marines murdered 24 unarmed Iraqis, including women and children in the city of Haditha on November 19, 2005, in retaliation for the death of a fellow Marine from a roadside bomb.
"There was no firefight. There was no IED (improvised explosive device) that killed those innocent people," Murtha said during the television appearance. "Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them. And they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. That is what the report is going to tell."
The alleged Haditha massacre was first made public in the March 27 edition of Time.
According to that article, "in January, after Time presented military officials in Baghdad with the Iraqis' accounts of the Marines' actions, the U.S. opened its own investigation, interviewing 28 people, including the Marines, the families of the victims and local doctors."
Murtha admitted he hadn't read the Pentagon's investigation report. He said his information about the alleged massacre came from military commanders and other sources.
Military public affairs officers refused to provide information about the Haditha investigation. "There is an ongoing investigation," said Lt. Col. Sean Gibson, a Marine spokesman at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla. "Any comment at this time would be inappropriate."
Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said, "It would be premature to judge any individual or unit until the investigation is complete."
Speaking on condition of anonymity, lawyers involved in the case said Murtha is wrong. One lawyer said that on the day of the incident, at least 15 civilians were killed by "a mixture of small-arms fire and shrapnel as a result of grenades" after the Marines responded to an attack from a house. He said "contemporaneous radio messages reviewed by military investigators" will prove the Marines were under fire. "There's a ton of information that isn't out there yet," he said.
Murtha, who has been criss-crossing the television news and talk show circuit repeating his explosive assertion that U.S. Marines murdered unarmed civilians, has yet to present any evidence that the Marines were not under attack when the Iraqis were killed.
As the ranking Democrat on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, Murtha has evolved as a one of the most vocal critics of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq.
Murtha, who originally voted for the resolution authorizing the use of military force in Iraq, flip-flopped last year joining the ranks of the so-called anti-war activists advocating a rapid withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq.
In November, 2005, Murtha set off a convulsion of angry words and personal insults after he proposed from the floor of the House of Representatives an immediate and rapid withdrawal of all American forces from Iraq.
After being recognized to speak, Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), the chamber's newest member suggested that Murtha was yellow for calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Schmidt told colleagues "A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp," an Ohio legislator and Marine Corps Reserve officer. "He asked me to send Congress a message to stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message - that cowards cut and run, Marines never do."
Democrat response was immediate. Jumping to their feet, they pointing angrily at Schmidt shouting repeatedly, "Take her words down" -- the House term for retracting a statement.
The uproar continued until Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. (D-Tn) suddenly charged across the aisle to the GOP seats, jabbing his finger furiously at GOP members and loudly accusing Republicans of playing political games with the war.
Democrats quickly guided Ford by the arm back to the minority party's side.
In January, Murtha accepted the "Pink Badge of Courage" for his "get out of Iraq now" stance from "Code Pink: Women for Peace."
Code Pink sponsors weekly anti-war demonstrations outside the gate at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, the convalescent home of hundreds of wounded veterans from the war in Iraq.
Code Pink organizers say their presence at the hospital is necessary to publicize the arrivals of newly wounded soldiers from Iraq and that the military hospital is the most appropriate place for the demonstrations because their demonstrations are designed to ultimately help the wounded veterans.
When wounded soldiers or their families pass through the hospital gate, Code Pink protesters hold signs that read "Maimed for a Lie" and "Enlist here to die for Halliburton."
Among the props used by Code Pink protestors are mock caskets lined up on the sidewalk to represent the death toll in Iraq.
Murtha served in the Marines on active duty and in the reserves from 1952 until he retired in 1990. Murtha volunteered for service in Vietnam and was a 1st Marine Regiment intelligence officer from 1966 to 1967.
According to Murtha's congressional website, he received two Purple Hearts, the Vietnamese Cross for Gallantry and a Bronze Star with combat "V" for service in the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam. Murtha also served in the Marines during the Korean War, but he never served in Korea.
Some in the media are accusing Murtha of ambitious political grandstanding.
The Washington Times wrote on June 21, 2006, "Rep. John Murtha is thinking big thoughts. Since coming out for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq last year, he has accused Marines of murder "in cold blood" before a preliminary investigation is even complete; accused the military of a cover up over the same incident; declared his candidacy for the House majority leadership post; and, most recently, refined his cut-and-run strategy in Iraq to mean "redeployment" to Okinawa, Japan.
"That's quite a splash for such a veteran congressman, who a year ago had zero name recognition outside Washington."
Ann Coulter identified Murtha as one of the Democrat's unassailable "human shields" in her new number one New York Times Best-seller Godless, The Church of Liberalism. Her point was that Democrats bootlick for the chance to push their leftist agenda using people like Murtha, a "decorated war hero,"whom no one should be allowed to question or criticize because of his sacred war record and sacrifice.
For many years, Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, effectively used a claim to a breast-load of Purple Hearts and other Vietnam medals as a shield against having to explain his cozy relationship with the communist Vietnamese during and after the Vietnam War.
It wasn't until Kerry started flaunting those medals (a Bronze Star, a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts) during his run for president that fellow Vietnam veterans demanded proof that he actually earned the medals. It was eventually established that not only were all of Kerry's Vietnam medals issued under "questionable" circumstances, but that Kerry used a loophole in Navy regulations to leave his Vietnam buddies behind slipping out of Vietnam after only three months.
Murtha's "I'm a wounded war hero" charade smells much like Kerry's undeserved claim to moral authority.
Now, just like the precarious predicament that the anti-war, pro-Hanoi Kerry got himself into claiming Purple Hearts for skin wounds inflicted by his own actions, the circumstances in Vietnam that led to Murtha's two Purple Hearts are being questioned.
A Cybercast News Service investigation reported that Don Bailey, one of Murtha's former
Pennsylvania Democratic congressional colleagues and a decorated Vietnam veteran, maintains
that Murtha admitted to him during an emotional conversation on the floor of the U.S. House in
the early 1980s that he really did not deserve his Purple Hearts.
Murtha and Bailey, according Cybercast News Service, were once political allies who were forced to run against each other in a 1982 Democratic congressional primary caused by redistricting. Murtha won the election.
Cybercast News Service noted that Murtha's accounts of his Vietnam War wounds conflict with the available U.S. Marine medical records obtained by the media:
"The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on May 12, 2002, reported that Marine Corps casualty records show that Murtha was injured in 'hostile' actions near Danang, Vietnam, on March 22, 1967, and May 7, 1967.
"In the first incident, his right cheek was lacerated, and in the second he was lacerated above his left eye. Neither injury required evacuation, the Post-Gazette reported.
"But an Oct. 26, 1994, article in the Herald-Standard quoted Murtha as describing two different injuries. 'I was wounded in the arm with shrapnel from a bullet that hit the motor mount of a helicopter. In the other, my knee was banged up and my arm was banged up when a helicopter was shot down from a very few feet,' Murtha told the Herald-Standard.
"A June 1, 1967, report in the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat quoted a letter that the newspaper indicated was sent by Murtha to his wife that same year. The letter apparently detailed yet another version of how Murtha qualified for one of his Purple Hearts. According to the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, Murtha's injuries involved his being 'struck in the ankle' by a 'shot that ricocheted off the helicopter.'"
During the 1994 congressional campaign, Murtha's GOP opponent, Dr. William Choby, challenged the validity of Murtha's Bronze Star with Combat 'V.'
"I find it very curious that Combat 'V' doesn't even exist in any of the materials he had distributed," Choby said in the Oct. 13, 1996 Herald-Standard . "His military record improves over the years," he added.
Choby told Cybercast News Service that Murtha's entire political career has been based on his war record. "Without that credibility of those combat medals, he would have never been elected to office," Choby said.
Murtha's "slander" and "outrageous lies" have earned the outrage of fellow veterans; some are referring to him as "Don't Know Jack" Murtha, because of his accusations of murder and his proposal for the U.S. to "cut and run"from the terrorist in Iraq.
Retired Navy Captain Larry Bailey, the former president of "Vietnam Veterans for Truth" (VVT), one of the grass-roots organizations that so effectively opposed John Kerry in 2004, is organizing a grassroots political campaign against Murtha.
"When John Murtha slandered the US Marines in Iraq the same way that John Kerry slandered Vietnam veterans, my Florida buddy, Mike Bradley, (a member of the VVT core group) and I and some other friends talked it over and decided to reprise the 2004 campaign, this time focusing on Murtha," Bailey said.
"The new effort we named "Vets for the Truth," or VFTT, which is inclusive of veterans of all generations, and especially of veterans of the Iraq War. As this effort developed, it became clear that the greatest contribution we could make would be to bring Murtha's outrageous lies to the attention of the voters of the Twelfth Congressional District of Pennsylvania in the hope that they would "boot Murtha," a phrase that has become the theme of our campaign."
Bailey's group has recently posted a website, www.bootmurtha.com, and they are organizing an Operation Street Corner campaign that is tailored to Murtha's district. He says that local volunteers are coming out of the woodwork and that "Don't Know Jack" is going to be shocked (SHOCKED!) at the level of opposition that is coming forth.
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