Thursday, August 17, 2006

L.A. Times lies runs cover for Murtha?

Patterico's Pontifications has this:

I heard back from General Hagee’s office yesterday regarding my inquiry about when Gen. Hagee briefed John Murtha about Haditha. The bottom line: Gen. Hagee’s office has directly contradicted an assertion by the L.A. Times that Gen. Hagee briefed John Murtha on Haditha before Murtha accused Marines of killing civilians in cold blood. Gen. Hagee’s office confirmed to me that the General’s first briefing to Murtha took place a week after Murtha had already made his public accusations.

The background is here. Briefly, Murtha made public statements on May 17 in which he accused Marines of killing civilians at Haditha “in cold blood.” On May 26, the L.A. Times reported that Gen. Hagee had briefed Murtha before his May 17 statements:

Hagee last week briefed key congressional leaders on the upcoming report. One of those, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), a retired Marine colonel, said later that Marines “killed innocent civilians in cold blood.”

I have bolded the word “later” to emphasize what The Times claimed: first, Hagee briefed Murtha, and then “later,” Murtha made the “in cold blood” accusation.

Based on news reports, I suspected this was wrong. Murtha’s “in cold blood” statement was made on May 17, and I believed that Gen. Hagee had briefed Murtha well after that. Later news reports — in particular this one from Reuters — appeared to confirm my suspicions.

But when I wrote the L.A. Times Readers’ Representative, she insisted that The Times’s report had been accurate, despite my having provided her with evidence to the contrary, including the Reuters story. Some suggested that Reuters might have gotten the story wrong, or overlooked an angle. So I contacted Gen. Hagee’s office directly.

I heard back yesterday from the Public Affairs Officer for the Commandant. She directly contradicted the L.A. Times’s version of the facts — but declined to criticize the article specifically. Here is her statement:

While it would not be appropriate to comment on any particular press article, I can confirm that the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Michael Hagee, provided a progress update on the Haditha investigations to Congressional leaders, to include Rep. Murtha, on May 24, 2006.

In a follow-up phone call, she confirmed that May 24 was the first progress update Gen. Hagee gave Murtha and others. I specifically asked her whether May 24 was the first time Gen. Hagee spoke to Congressman Murtha about Haditha, and she said “yes.” So Hagee first briefed Murtha on Haditha on May 24 — a solid week after May 17, when Murtha first accused Marines of killing civilians “in cold blood.” Yet the L.A. Times specifically said that Hagee had briefed Murtha first, and Murtha “later” made his “in cold blood” accusation.

If Hagee’s office is right, then the L.A. Times May 26 article was wrong. (read the whole thing)

Of course, this only confirms what we reported here on August 3rd, and here back on August 4th.

Someone here is lying, Congressman Murtha. And the L.A. Times' lame attempt to cover you isn't cutting it; unless, of course, they are going by what you told them.

(h/t Sara the Squiggler)


Read more at the Jawa Report, The Squiggler, and at News Busters.