Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rep. Murtha Running For Cover

John Murtha is running for cover following this article and my call to his office for a statement. First, here's the key part of the Foxnews story:
The government's theory that Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt had executed the three men was "incredible" and relied on contradictory statements by Iraqis, Lt. Col. Paul Ware said in the report, released Tuesday by Sharratt's defense attorneys.

"To believe the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, and sets a dangerous precedent that, in my opinion, may encourage others to bear false witness against Marines as a tactic to erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq," Ware wrote.

Defense attorneys James Culp and Gary Myers said in a statement that he was pleased with the report and that it "reflected the value of the calm of a courtroom and the adversarial process."

Sharratt's mother Theresa said she was overjoyed.

"This is a huge result, that report is a declaration of Justin's innocence," she said. "This is very, very good news."
After reading this article, I called Congressman Murtha's office to see if he had a statement, "especially in light of his statements on This Week With George Stephanopoulos over a year ago."

I asked the woman that answered the phone "if Congressman Murtha had a statement following a news story regarding Lt. Col. Paul Ware's report stating that "The government's theory that Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt had executed the three men was "incredible" and relied on contradictory statements by Iraqis."

Instead of answering that question, she asked "So the trial is over?" I told her that it wasn't, that the recommendation was nonbinding. Then she asked "So it isn't over?" I confirmed that it wasn't. I asked if Congressman Murtha would "like to make a statement considering his accusations made over a year ago on 'This Week With George Stephanopoulos'"? Here's her response: "Congressman Murtha doesn't have a statement because the investigation is still ongoing."

Undeterred, I read her the quote from Cpl. Sharratt's mother:
"This is a huge result, that report is a declaration of Justin's innocence," she said. "This is very, very good news."
I said, "In light of Cpl. Sharratt's mother's quote, isn't it appropriate to make a statement?" Murtha's spokeswoman repeated "Congressman Murtha doesn't have a statement because the investigation is still ongoing."

I asked a third time only to get the same response.

They'll have to back away from that statement because the investigation isn't ongoing. The investigation ended when Cpl. Sharratt's Article 32 trial started. Therefore, Murtha's official statement is spin and isn't based on the facts.

It's my considered opinion that Murtha's office is tapdancing as fast as they can because they've been exposed.

I'd further suggest that this statement fails on another level. Murtha's spokeswoman said that he won't comment because the investigation is ongoing.
  • If he was worried about not influencing the investigation, why did he accuse these Marines of "killing innocent civilians in cold blood" on national TV?
  • Why did Rep. Murtha say "It's much worse than was reported in Time magazine"?
  • Why did Rep. Murtha say "There was no firefight. There was no [bomb] that killed those innocent people"?
There isn't evidence that Rep. Murtha was concerned then about not influencing the trial. Why the concern now? Or does his refusal to address this news have more to do with him spinning this to avoid taking responsibility for his accusations?

Rep. Murtha has reason to worry. He's accused a group of heroic Marines of cold-blooded murder. He made that accusation before being briefed by Gen. Hagee:
Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, is being sued by one of the accused Marines for libel. He had told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Gen. Michael Hagee had given him the information on which he based his charge that Marines killed innocent civilians.

But a spokesman for the Marine Corps said Hagee briefed Murtha on May 24 about Haditha. Murtha had made comments on the case as early as May 17.

On May 17, for example, he said at a news conference, "Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."
Now he's concerned about not influencing the investigation and trial?

Given what we know, isn't it much more likely that his spokeswoman knows that he's been caught wrongfully accusing a group of Marines of killing "innocent civilians in cold blood"? Isn't it much more likely that his accusations weren't based on facts presented at a Pentagon briefing? Isn't it much more likely that his accusations were based on his agenda to become House Majority leader?

His spokeswoman's statement is the least of his worries. This article clearly shows that Rep. Murtha's accusations were, at best, premature, which means he violated Cpl. Sharratt's rights to a fair trial and Cpl. Sharratt's due process rights.

This information should lead to an investigation into Rep. Murtha's accusations. Furthermore, he should testify under oath about the source of his information. Additionally, Rep. Murtha should be asked to explain why he wasn't initially concerned with Cpl. Sharratt's constitutional right to a fair trial.

If Rep. Murtha is found to have railroaded Cpl. Sharratt and the other Marines, shouldn't that be grounds to have him punished by the House of Representatives up to and including his removal from office? It seems to me that congressmen violating a soldier's constitutional rights and accusing the military of covering the underlying incident up before being briefed is about as serious an offense as it gets. It seems to me that that's corruption of a most odious nature.

Finally, shouldn't members of the Democratic leadership be asked if they knew that Rep. Murtha's accusations weren't based on an official Pentagon briefing. If they knew that he hadn't been briefed but still accused Cpl. Sharratt and the other Haditha Marines, aren't Democratic leaders guilty of throwing Cpl. Sharratt's constitutional protections under the bus? At minimum, they were morally responsible for chastising Rep. Murtha for his actions.

Finally, shouldn't Cpl. Sharratt and the other Haditha Marines be set free? Based on Paul Ware's report and recommendation, isn't it impossible to convict these men?

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Cross-posted at LetFreedomRingBlog