Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa.
The U.S. Navy awarded U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., its Distinguished Public Service Award, triggering an Internet campaign to have Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter withdraw it.
Murtha, who publicly accused U.S. Marines of cold-blooded murder in a firefight in Haditha, Iraq, and was caught on camera in the Abscam scandal appearing to negotiate a bribe, was honored by the Navy for his “selfless devotion to the Nation’s Sailors and Marines.”
The award credits him with making sure the military services “were provided the resources necessary to effectively conduct the Global War on Terrorism.”
“His courageous leadership, vision, and loyalty to the men and women of the Department of the Navy greatly contributed to their quality of life and helped create the most modern and highly trained fighting force in history,” the honor said.
Through shocking behind-the-scenes stories, Sen. Tom Coburn documents what you already suspect – elected representatives put politics and their own reelection bids ahead of principles. “Breach of Trust” names names from both parties.
It continued, “As Chairman of Subcommittee on Defense of the House Appropriations Committee, Congressman Murtha’s tireless advocacy helped maintain the Navy and Marine Corps team at the highest levels of combat readiness to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
An online petition that appeared almost immediately already has collected more than 17,600 signatures.
It was set up by Gabe Ledeen of VetsForFreedom.org.
“John Murtha deserves no such award. He has routinely and deliberately undermined the United States military, slandered servicemen serving in combat, and caused irreparable damage to our international reputation,” the petition says.
“While serving as a representative from Pennsylvania, Murtha called Marines from 3d Battalion, 1st Marines ‘cold blooded killers’ who ‘murdered innocent civilians.’ Before an investigation into the Haditha incident was even conducted, Murtha went on numerous television news programs and announced that the Marines ‘went into houses and killed women and children,'” the petition continues.
“He said, ‘There’s no question in my mind about what happened here. There was no gunfire, they killed four people in a taxi…24 people were killed.’ When asked specifically if he claimed that innocent civilians were intentionally executed by Marines, he said, ‘That’s exactly what happened.’ Not content to slander those Marines directly involved, he went on to claim that if these Marines were not punished, ‘other Marines would say well I’ll do the same thing.’ Murtha then continued to use this incident to lobby for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, citing it as evidence that our military was incapable of winning the war,” the petition said.
Eight Marines ultimately were charged in the incident. But charges were dropped against six, and one was found innocent in a court-martial. The last case has been delayed indefinitely.
“Despite the facts, John Murtha refuses to apologize to those he slandered,” the petition said.
“We the undersigned are appalled that the Secretary of the Navy would bestow the Department’s highest award for a non-employee to John Murtha after his vile and despicable attacks against U.S. servicemen. This petition is a vehicle to express our bitter disappointment at this betrayal of our combat veterans. Congressman John Murtha should apologize for slandering the Marines of 3/1, and for undermining the efforts of those servicemen and women who fought in Iraq. If he does not, the Secretary of the Navy should rescind this award as a sign of his unwavering support for those who served in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom,” the petition says.
At PajamasMedia.com, a commentator wrote: “I don’t think I’ve ever been number 4 on a petition before, but the outrage was immediate.”
The commentary said anyone who wasn’t sure should look up the video of Murtha in the Abscam sting.
Murtha also now is facing a lawsuit from one of the Marines he accused of murder, and at LittleGreenFootballs.com, a commentator wrote: “Yes, that’s the same John Murtha who accused the Haditha Marines of being murderers without evidence, before their trial, then refused to apologize when all charges against them were dropped.”
At Noliinsipientiuminiuriaspati, which claims to mean “Don’t Let the Turkeys Get You Down,” the opinion was concise.
“Murtha is a disgrace to Country, Congress, and the Marine Corps.”
And at Ace of Spaces, the writer said, “I hope this causes an active duty revolt.”
One location where there was boasting was Murtha’s own website.
In the most recent election, Murtha faced a strong challenge, especially after he labeled his own constituents “rednecks” and “racists.”
In the Haditha case, WND has reported extensively on the long battle by Marines against criminal charges. One defendant, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, sued Murtha for libel.
The case only developed after Murtha publicly accused the Marines of murder. His statements came after a military investigation of the firefight found “no indication” that the Marines had “intentionally targeted, engaged and killed noncombatants.”
Murtha previously drew attention in the late 1970s as a target in the FBI Abscam sting in which authorities probed influence-peddling on Capitol Hill.
Murtha escaped indictment in 1980 by a single grand jury vote despite being captured on video contemplating a $50,000 bribe, which he ultimately decided not to accept “at this point.”
“I expect to be in the [expletive deleted] leadership of the House,” Murtha said on the profanity-laced video.
In the Abscam case, U.S. Sen. Harrison Williams, D-N.J., and six House members agreed on camera to take bribes from FBI agents posing as Arab sheiks.
Murtha’s comments to the “Arab sheik’s agent” were: “I’m not interested – at this point. If we do business awhile, maybe I’ll be interested, maybe I won’t.”
“I want to deal with you guys awhile before I make any transactions at all, period,” Murtha explained. “After we’ve done some business, well, then I might change my mind. … I’m going to tell you this. If anybody can do it – I’m not B.S.-ing you fellows – I can get it done my way. There’s no question about it.”