Once together in uniform, still countrymen, but now on opposite sides of the fence: a Marine Corps veteran and 32-year veteran of Congress, and the retired Navy SEAL who wants to see him “redeployed” from Washington, D.C., in this fall’s election.
All because of seven words in May, the ex-SEAL says.
The former Marine is Rep. John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who in 2005 called for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. He served 37 years in the Corps, including tours in Korea and Vietnam, and retired as a colonel from the Reserve in 1990.
The former SEAL is Larry Bailey, a captain who retired in 1990 after spending 27 years as a SEAL officer, serving in Panama, Bolivia, Scotland, Colombia, Vietnam and the Philippines and now lives in North Carolina, according to his online biography. He once commanded the Naval Special Warfare Center at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif.
The issue: Murtha’s May 17 press conference in Washington, D.C., when he commented on a Time magazine report on the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians allegedly killed by Marines on Nov. 19, 2005 in Hadithah, Iraq, and used language that suggested the Marines were guilty — although no charges had been filed.
“It’s much worse than reported in Time magazine,” Murtha said. “There was no fire fight. There was no IED that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. And that’s what the report is going to tell.” He also released some details he said he’d gleaned from military sources.
“They killed innocent civilians in cold blood,” Bailey says, was prejudicial.
“I despised Murtha so much for saying what he said,” Bailey said.
The next day, Murtha issued a clarification, saying in a press release posted on his official government Web site, “These are allegations.” That didn’t satisfy Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, the squad leader of the Hadithah unit, who on Aug. 2 filed a federal lawsuit against Murtha for libel and invasion of privacy.
Bailey had already launched his group, “Vets for the Truth,” and www.bootmurtha.com, a Web site devoted to bringing down Murtha. The group is registered as a federal political action committee of “Iowa Presidential Watch’s 527 PAC” and has raised $14,000, half of which has been spent, Bailey said.
Bailey hopes to raise additional money to pay for an anti-Murtha ad in a Pittsburgh newspaper and continues to pay modest salaries to two volunteers in Murtha’s district who run his “Operation Street Corner,” a combination of on-the-street displays of anti-Murtha material and one-on-one electioneering.
The Web site, which practically shouts at viewers with its bold-face type and “Stop the Lies!” exclamations, is notable for another reason: It clearly tries to tie Murtha to Sen. John Kerry. “Absolutely,” Bailey agreed.
Kerry’s war record was attacked in 2004 by a group of Navy veterans, Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth, an effort Kerry was late to respond to and one many credited with contributing to Democrat Kerry’s loss to President Bush in that year’s presidential election.
“I totally approved of what the Swift Boat guys did in 2004 and would love to have been a part of that,” said Bailey, who said he’s a registered Republican but considers himself a libertarian. “But I was not a Swift Boat guy. I was a SEAL.” Bailey said his group, then known as Vietnam Vets for the Truth, was anti-Kerry but had “absolutely” no link to the SBVT.
But he’s clearly borrowed from its playbook. The Web site’s lead image is an artist’s rendering of Murtha, with Kerry, long-haired and wearing his combat fatigues in full post-Vietnam protest mode, drawn right behind him. Down the page, there’s a definition of “swiftboating” — “exposing the lies, deceit and fraud of self-glorifying public officials or candidates for office who exaggerate their military service by lying about their feats of heroism and combat wounds.”
But Bailey denied that he’s questioning Murtha’s combat awards, which include a Bronze Star with combat “V” and two Purple Hearts — or not-so-subtly trying to smear him through innuendo.
“We’re not,” Bailey said, noting that he’s also the recipient of a Bronze Star with combat “V.” “But having said that, if I found something that indicated without any question that there was something that was not authentic about it, we would go after him with great gusto.” (Read the entire story)
Monday, August 14, 2006
Veteran Navy Seal takes on Murtha...
From the Marine Corps Times:
Posted by Leo Pusateri at 8/14/2006 08:03:00 PM