American War Hero congressman wants U.S. troops out of Iraq soon

Thursday, November 17, 2005 "It is time for a change in direction." House Representative John Murtha (D-PA), one of the U.S. Congress' most decorated Vietnam veterans said during a Thursday news conference, and where he called for the withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq. He estimates it can be done within 6 months.

The holder of two purple hearts continued; "The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion...Our military is suffering, the future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region."

President Bush and members of his administration and the Republican Party in recent days have been criticizing Democrats who are calling the pre-war intelligence that made the case for the war in Iraq both false and misleading. Republicans, calling a Democrat "cut and run" strategy irresponsible, say abandoning Iraq now would lead to civil war.

Over the Veterans Day weekend just past, the president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, said on British ITV’s Jonathan Dimbleby program, "Within one year - I think at the end of 2006 - Iraqi troops will be ready to replace British forces in the south." But Murtha's heart-felt news conference, where AP writer Liz Sidoti said his voice cracked while he told of visiting wounded soldiers at a nearby Washington veterans hospital, was spurred by an obligation to speak for the troops.

Murtha, who had served as a Marine Corps intelligence officer in Vietnam, angrily denounced Vice President Cheney's recent "stay the course" rhetoric with sarcasm: "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 continued with multiple reasons he says caused him to come forward at this time; "Our military has been fighting this war in Iraq for over two and a half years. Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. Our military captured Saddam Hussein, captured or killed his closest associates, but the war continues to intensify. Deaths and injuries are growing, and over 2,079 of confirmed American deaths, over 15,500 have been seriously injured -- half of them returned to duty -- and it's estimated over 50,000 will suffer from what I call battle fatigue. And there have been reports at least 30,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed...Oil production and energy production are below prewar level. You remember they said that was going to pay for the war, and it's below prewar level...Unemployment is 60 percent...And, most importantly -- this is the most important point -- incidents have increased from 150 a week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over a time when we had additional more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revolution at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled." Murtha said.

Murtha said he would be introducing legislation forcing U.S. troops out of Iraq.

The House Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi, said of Murtha’s statements, "I think it speaks very strongly to the point that the President's policy is not working; two-and-a-half years after the President said, 'mission accomplished,' we still don't know what the mission is. So the focus really shouldn't be on Mr. Murtha, it should be on the President of the United States and his failed policy there."

In new PEW poll released today, public opinion jumped from 30% in 2002, to 42% today who believe that America should “mind its own business” internationally. It is a return to levels that were last seen in the post-Vietnam War period.