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Archive for Friday, November 18, 2005

Hawkish Democrat calls for withdrawal of troops

November 18, 2005

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— One of Congress' most hawkish Democrats called Thursday for an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, sparking bitter and personal salvos from both sides in a growing Capitol Hill uproar over President Bush's war policies.

"It's time to bring them home," said Rep. John Murtha, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, choking back tears during remarks to reporters. "Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty."

The comments by the Pennsylvania lawmaker, who has spent three decades in the House, hold particular weight because he is close to many military commanders and has enormous credibility with his colleagues on defense issues. He voted for the war in 2002, and remains the top Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

"Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence," he said.

In a biting response, Republicans criticized Murtha's position as one of abandonment and surrender and accused Democrats of playing politics with the war and recklessly pushing a "cut and run" strategy.

"They want us to retreat. They want us to wave the white flag of surrender to the terrorists of the world," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

"It would be an absolute mistake and a real insult to the lives that have been lost," said Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif.

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., speaks during a Capitol Hill news conference Thursday. Murtha, an influential House Democrat who voted for the Iraq war, called for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, another sign of growing unease in Congress about the conflict.

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., speaks during a Capitol Hill news conference Thursday. Murtha, an influential House Democrat who voted for the Iraq war, called for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, another sign of growing unease in Congress about the conflict.

Just two days earlier, the GOP-controlled Senate defeated a Democratic push to force Bush to lay out a timetable for withdrawal. Spotlighting mushrooming questions from both parties about the war, though, the chamber approved a statement that 2006 should be a significant year in which conditions are created for the phased withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Murtha estimated that all U.S. troops could be pulled out within six months. He introduced a resolution Thursday that would force the president to call back the military, but it was unclear when, or if, either GOP-run chamber of Congress would vote on it.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., stopped short of endorsing Murtha's position, even though he's one of her close advisers. Her counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Harry Reid, of Nevada, said, "I favor what the Senate did," referring to the statement the Senate adopted.

Seldom overtly political, Murtha uncharacteristically responded to Vice President Dick Cheney's comments this week that Democrats were spouting "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges" about the Bush administration's use of intelligence before the war.

"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done," Murtha said.

Murtha once worked closely with the vice president when Cheney was defense secretary. During Vietnam, Bush served stateside in the National Guard while Cheney's five deferments kept him out of the service entirely.

With a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, Murtha retired from the Marine Corps reserves as a colonel in 1990 after 37 years as a Marine, only a few years longer than he's been in Congress. Elected in 1974, Murtha has become known as an authority on national security whose advice was sought by Republican and Democratic administrations alike.

Murtha's shift from an early war backer to a critic advocating withdrawal reflects plummeting public support for a war that has cost more than $200 billion and led to the deaths of more than 2,000 U.S. troops.

Comments

bearded_gnome 9 years, 1 month ago

yes, however, I called Dennis Moore's office to express very strong opposition to this proposal, and his staff was completely noncommittal...so dunno how the slippery [when wet] Moore will vote.

hope he will vote the right way, against the 'cut and run' proposal! pat Robert's[not pat robertson]'s staffer plainly stated that in the 'unlikely event' that this insane proposal made it out of the house, that Roberts [on relevant committees] would oppose it!

the good thing about this vote, arminius, is that it will put the michael moore/cindy shewolf/cut-and-run/whiteflag defeatist demorats on record with a vote. and, when in a few months we are pulling most of our troops outa Iraq, in triumph with a functioning democracy going...there they [the cut-and-run party] lay abandoned on the side of the road, vacuous senseless and stupid.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 1 month ago

Thanks Arminius, and you are correct.

Denny Moore being a sure vote for Nancy Pelosi...a foaming at the mouth San Francisco liberal...not much sense in that!

did you hear Sam Johnson's house speech tonight? damned good.

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