Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Klein does the right thing...

On August 6th, I wrote this letter to Representative John Kline (MN-2nd CD)
Congressman John Kline
101 W. Burnsville Parkway #201
Burnsville, MN 55337
August 6, 2006

Dear Congressman Kline:

I am a Republican delegate, and have been a supporter of yours throughout your campaigns, but I feel compelled to call your attention to what I believe is an egregious error in judgment.

As you may or may not know, like you, I am a parent of a deployed Iraqi Freedom soldier. I took grave exception with Representative Jack Murtha's (PA-12) wholly premature remarks regarding the incident at Haditha, in effect pronouncing them guilty of "cold blooded" murder before facts were brought forth, before investigations were completed, and even before official briefings on the matter. To this date, charges against these Marines have yet to materialize, and there is evidence to suggest that the video tape from which Time Magazine took their "evidence" for their story that brought Haditha to light may have been spurious in origin. Additionally damning to the prosecution of this case is the refusal for the residents to allow the exhuming of the dead so as to allow autopsies of the bodies to corroborate accounts.

These egregiously premature pronouncements of guilt fly in the face of the Haditha Marines' Constitutional rights to presumption of innocence and entitlement to due process, and poison the waters of impartiality pending the outcome of facts and investigation.

As a result of Murtha's pronouncement of guilt, I started a blog two days after his 17th May, 2006 statement, entitled, "Murtha Must Go!" (http://murthamustgo.blogspot.com) to call to light not only Murtha's brazen disregard for the wellbeing and Constitutional rights of soldiers, but also to the fact that his rush to judgment may have unjustly given more fodder for our enemies to recruit other terrorists.

In a way, I expected such harsh, cavalier treatment of our soldiers’ rights from a democrat. Machiavellian politics come as easily for them as can a killer whale attack a baby seal.

But I was totally disheartened to learn that you, too, appeared to rush to judgment in the Haditha incident. Comments such as,

"I was saddened, surprised and outraged that this could happen," Kline said. He said he thought the incident would be regarded as "a horrific aberration" for the Marines."
smack of presumption of guilt almost as egregiously as do Murtha's pronouncements.

Why the need to rush to judgment? Why didn't you at least put qualifiers in your statement, such as "If the facts bear out that this actually happened, it would indeed be tragic."

Mr. Kline, I have always thought of you as a man of honor, and I still think that you are. However, you will be even more so in my eyes if you take steps to retract what can only be described as an unwarranted premature implication of guilt on our Marines. Even if they are eventually charged and found guilty, such premature assumptions are a travesty to the rights that Marines and soldiers everywhere strive to protect.

With greatest sincerity,

Leo J. Pusateri, Jr.
Murtha Must Go!! (http://murthamustgo.blogspot.com)
Now today, I read this:

A Republican congressman apologized yesterday to the Marines under investigation in the killings of two dozen civilians in Haditha, Iraq, last November, saying that statements he made about the case were taken out of context and that he did not mean to imply the Marines were guilty of wrongdoing.

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) issued the apology as part of an agreement with lawyers for Marine Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, who alleged that Kline had damaged Wuterich's reputation.

Wuterich had threatened to sue Kline as well. But Zaid said yesterday that Kline responded to a settlement request within an hour of its arrival Aug. 4. Kline wrote that news outlets used incomplete statements that gave the false impression that he had concluded the Marines broke the law.

"I am, of course, very concerned regarding any allegations surrounding misconduct by U.S. troops in Iraq," Kline wrote in his statement. "Such allegations must be taken seriously, but we should never rush to judgment before all the facts are known and the military criminal justice process is completed."

Kline, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was briefed on Haditha by Marine Brig. Gen. John F. Kelly, the legislative assistant to the Marine commandant. At the time of the briefings, the official investigations were not complete, and Kline emphasized that "conclusions have not been reached."

"As a retired Colonel in the U.S. Marines, I am especially proud of the sacrifices our men and women make day in and day out, especially in combat situations," Kline wrote. "And as a Marine officer, I would never want to publicly insinuate, implicitly or explicitly, that I have prejudged what took place that day on the battlefield or afterwards."

(***UPDATE***)More on what Klein said here:
"Some news outlets have promoted incomplete statements attributed to me that gave the false impression that I have concluded those involved committed unlawful acts," Kline said in the statement provided by his office.

Now, what about Congressman Jack Murtha, who found it necessary to proclaim that our Marines killed in cold blood, without reading reports, or without even receiving any official briefings.

Wuterich, through his lawyers, has denied any wrongdoing in the Haditha case. None of the Marines involved has been charged.

Wuterich took the unusual step earlier this month of filing a federal lawsuit against Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), alleging that statements Murtha made about the Haditha deaths were libelous. Murtha said after the lawsuit was filed that he did not mean to prejudge Wuterich, but the representative has not responded to a settlement offer that seeks a similar public apology, according to Wuterich's attorneys, Mark S. Zaid and Neal A. Puckett. The lawyers set last Friday as a deadline for Murtha's response.(emphasis added)

Since the "deadline" has been passed, it indeed appears that Jack Murtha, in his arrogance, will not take Congressman Kline's lead and apologize for his comments in which he prematurely judged Marines guilty of "cold blooded murder" at Haditha.

Color me unsurprised.