"At this time, particularly on Memorial Day...I think we should be calm and reassuring to the American people that the men and women of our armed forces are admirably and professionally conducting their heavy responsibilities." The top Republican said: "I respect my friend, John Murtha. I also was privileged to wear the Marine uniform. But we've got to let the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the investigation system, proceed before we reach any conclusions on this matter."That's a polite way of telling Murtha that his rantings should stop until the investigation is completed. When Warner says "we've got to let the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the investigation system, proceed before we reach any conclusions on this matter", it's suggesting that Murtha's declarations are based on an incomplete set of facts.
On a matter as sensitive as this, the only time a sitting U.S. legislator should comment is when he's got a complete set of facts based on a complete investigation. Anything short of that is sloppy at best & ill-advised at worst.
Earlier in the broadcast, Murtha said there was "no doubt" that the accused Marines were guilty, adding that he suspected that a cover-up of their war crimes goes "up the chain of command." "This is very serious," Warner acknowledged. "But the military is looking at it equally seriously."Murtha's comment that "their war crimes goes 'up the chain of command'" is reminiscent of his comments about Abu Ghraib. That investigation's findings didn't support Murtha's claims then. It'd be awful if this investigation found that Murtha's comments weren't factually supported, too. Based on his history of being wrong on important aspects of past investigations, I'll hold off on making a conclusion in this current investigation.
In contrast to Murtha's pronouncements of certain guilt, the former Navy Secretary said questions remain about "what happened and when it happened and what was the reaction of senior officers in the Marine Corps." Warner pledged to hold hearings on the Haditha incident, but not until the Uniform Code of Military Justice had "run its course."
Warner's statement that questions remain about "what happened and when it happened and what was the reaction of senior officers in the Marine Corps" shoots down, at least temporarily, Murtha's conclusions. If "questions remain about what happened", how can Murtha be certain? Does he have the ability to pierce the 'fog of war' & know with certainty things that the investigators don't know? Color me highly skeptical of that 'ability'.
I've got another question for Murtha: He's said that he's talked with people close to the investigation. My question for him is why he got briefed on this & the Senate Chairman of the Armed Services hasn't? You'd assume that Sen. Warner would've mentioned that during this interview if he'd been briefed. Why should I trust Murtha saying that he's been briefed when he's made such categorical statements based on an unfinished investigation?
For more on Murtha, see this post on Residual Forces blog.
Technorati Tags: Murtha, John Warner, Haditha
Cross-posted at LetFreedomRingBlog