Thursday, June 01, 2006

J.R. Dunn on Murtha

From The American Thinker:

Rep. Murtha: Semper Fi?June 1st, 2006

As ugly as the Haditha incident appears to be, there are people who cannot resist the temptation to make it even uglier.

First reported in Time Magazine, the November 19, 2005 incident, in which up to two dozen civilians are alleged to have been killed by U.S. Marines, did not impact public opinion until Rep. John Murtha (D, PA) appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews, where the soldier’s pal revealed that the attack had been carried out “in cold blood” and was “even worse” than outlined in the magazine report. Murtha also acquiesced to Matthews’ eager suggestions that the attack was “another My Lai”, which, however bad it may be, is unlikely to be the case. Murtha later accused the Marine Corps of attempting a cover-up. No evidence of such a thing exists on the public record.

Although Murtha alludes to informants in the Pentagon, his version of the story has been challenged on several counts. His claim that troops were not under fire after the IED explosion that killed Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas are contradicted by tapes of radio traffic made at the time. Furthermore, the father of the dead Marine has gone on record to state that his son’s squad mates told him that they were under fire from the house in question. If true, this might change the complexion of events.

But that’s almost beside the point, because the words “cold blood”, “My Lai”, and “coverup” have already tried and sentenced everyone involved. Murtha’s statements are the precise reason why there are such things as gag orders. In entangling himself in the machinery of justice, Murtha has made a fair hearing extraordinarily difficult. Members of the military court will be under extreme pressure from the media and congress. The interests of the victims are in danger of being shunted aside. The final verdict, whatever it may be, will be distorted in the direction of hysteria and innuendo. Even if exonerated, the soldiers involved will always labor under a cloud. Worse still are the possible morale effects on troops in the field.

Murtha’s motives are difficult to fathom. Claims by some commentators that he is attempting to shift attention from a pending investigation into influence-peddling involving his brother’s company are impossible to verify. It’s difficult to imagine a man using a case as horrific as this for purposes of political maneuvering. But his own contention that he’s acting as a former Marine on behalf of the troops is far less plausible. It isn’t the troops, after all, who have spent the past year frantically trying to dig up another My Lai.

And besides, we know how former Marines act.

Evans Carlson was the kind of eccentric that abounds in U.S. military history. In the late 1930s, he was serving with the Marines in Tientsin, China, when he took the opportunity to visit Mao and his 8th Route Army at Yenan. Carlson was so overwhelmed by the experience—the comradeship, the ideology, the excitement of being part of a cause – that he became for all practical purposes a convinced Maoist.

Which didn’t prevent him from remaining a Marine. Taking some of the lessons he’d learned (including the Maoist slogan “gung ho” – “work together”), Carlson applied them to Marine Corps tactics and organization. At the outbreak of World War II he convinced his superiors to allow him to form a pair of Raider battalions, units that based their tactics in large part on Mao’s theory of guerilla warfare. After a half-successful raid on the Japanese-held island of Makin, Carlson led a dramatic month-long raid behind enemy lines on Guadalcanal, clearly demonstrating the potential of the raider concept. Though the Raider battalions never quite lived up to Carlson’s billing, they provided valuable service and acted as a basis for postwar Marine practice in units such as Force Recon.

Carlson remained in the Marine Corps, and in the early 50s, came to the attention of one particular ex-Marine, Sen. Joe McCarthy. Always eager to produce an actual communist to back up his rhetoric (most active communists had already been bagged by the time he appeared), McCarthy planned to drag Carlson before his committee and expose him as a follower of the evil Mao tse-Tung, whose troops were even then fighting UN forces in Korea.

At least, that was what he planned until a high-ranking Marine officer stalked into his congressional office and explained to the senator that once a Marine, always a Marine, and that Marines, no matter what the circumstances, never betray their brothers in arms.

McCarthy replied that he understood. At which point, legend insists, the officer said, “And besides, man, this is Carlson! You get him riled, he will f***ing kill you!”

Joe McCarthy was, at best, a vulgar, cheap opportunist. But he understood where at least one line was drawn: Marines did not turn on other Marines.

It has taken over half a century, but the Democrats have achieved a historic landmark. They have produced a politician beneath the standards of Joe McCarthy. A man who does not know where the line is drawn. Who will not allow justice to take its course. A man who will devour his own for the purposes of saving his superannuated political career.

This is the point where you’re supposed to repeat the words of Joseph N. Welch at the Army-McCarthy hearings, words that have come down as branding an entire epoch.

“Have you no sense of decency? At long last, sir….”

But I think we can let that pass this time.