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John Murtha Answers His "Fat Backside" Critics With Facts. Hannity & Colmes Excludes Most Of What He Said

Reported by Ellen - May 25, 2006

John Murtha spoke to Alan Colmes yesterday (5/24/06) about the Iraq war and the chickenhawk critics (such as Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter) who have been smearing him ever since he spoke out against it. But “fair and balanced” FOX News, which spent three nights attacking him on Hannity & Colmes, aired only one minute of the pre-recorded interview as the last segment on last night's H&C. That minute included the introduction. Condoleezza Rice, on the other hand, got five minutes to praise the war during her much lengthier segment which also served as the top story.

Murtha has been greatly criticized on Hannity & Colmes for having spoken out last week about the incident in Haditha, Iraq in which he said, “Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood.” In typical FOX News fashion, the debate was all about Murtha and his use of the term “in cold blood” and little or nothing about the war or Haditha. On last night’s H&C, Murtha responded. “I go to hospitals almost every week. I get so tired of these guys who never go to the hospital and don’t have a clue and they’re big supporters. They don’t see these kids blown apart. They don’t have a clue what’s going on over there. And they’re big supporters sittin’ on their fat backsides back here in this country. I get very upset when I hear these guys. I support the troops. Nobody’s done more for the troops than I have in the 32 years I’ve been in Congress… I also am not going to put up with covering something up... They’re trying to discredit what I’m saying."

The rest of Murtha’s interview was played on Alan Colmes’ radio show immediately following H&C so I tuned in. Here’s most of what the TV producers edited out:

Colmes asked, “What made you decide to speak out now about the incidents in Haditha?”

Murtha said he wanted to talk about “the tremendous pressure” on our troops. “They try to sanitize this war by saying everything’s going fine, everything’s alright and what I want to point out is what it’s doing not only to the troops, themselves – there’s two reasons I spoke out in the first place. One is because of the troops, the pressure on troops, the families. Only 1% of this country is doing this fighting. Now it’s fine to say we support ‘em. But all these guys supporting them, I don’t see any of THEIR families in there… These guys sit on their fat backsides over there in all these different buildings. They say, ‘Oh, we support the troops.” In the meantime, a small percentage are out there fighting… Every day when they go out, EVERY SINGLE DAY, an explosive device goes off, it doesn’t hit them. The next day, explosive device goes off, it doesn’t hit them. And then one of the guys gets killed and somebody else gets killed. So the pressure is tremendous. So the context of how I brought this out was – the pressure is getting to these guys.”

Murtha had quite a bit to say that countered Condoleezza Rice’s “Happy Iraq” discussed earlier in the show. All of it was edited out. “Who’s the enemy? That’s the other thing. (The troops) don’t know who the enemy is. In the daytime, they wave at them. At nighttime, they throw grenades at them. But the big thing is, 42% of them don’t know what the mission is, 80% of the Iraqis want us out of there.”

“…When (the Pentagon report) comes out, it’s going to be much worse than the Time story… I’m trying to point out that these troops are under tremendous stress. We don’t have enough troops. We’ve never had enough troops over there. I said we ought to have an extra hundred thousand. Then they disbanded the Iraqi troops. It got out of control.

“…When I spoke out November 17, there were about 500 incidents a week. Now, there’s over 1000 incidents a week. The unemployment is 60%, the oil production is below pre-war levels, the electricity production is below pre-war level and 30% of the people have potable water. Now, when you have a situation like that and then you have incidents that, where the troops are under tremendous stress – this is just – they’re trying to distract from the real war. They’re trying to sanitize the war.

“…This cannot be settled by the American forces. We’re caught in the middle of a civil war. We’ve got the Shi’a’s, a hundred thousand, we’ve got 20,000 Sunnis. And our troops are out there trying to settle something that can’t be settled by the Americans. 80% of the Iraqis want us out of there. 47% say it’s OK to kill Americans. The public has turned against this.”

Despite the attacks on him, Murtha said he thinks the administration is going to do what he’s suggesting. “I’m optimistic that you’re gonna see a withdrawal before the end of the year – a substantial withdrawal of our US forces by the end of the year.”

Colmes asked, “Do you think it’s largely because of what you’ve been saying?”

“No, no, no. This is because of the American public. Listen, the American public’s way ahead. They’re way ahead of these folks that don’t understand what war is all about. They’re way ahead of the news media. They’re way ahead of me. When I spoke out, I got 18,000 communications in the few weeks after I spoke out and 80% of those were favorable. Now that was then. And you have seen the credibility of the war since then. People want to know facts. They don’t want to know rhetoric. They don’t want to know ‘everything’s fine.’ They don’t want to hear platitudes. They want to see concrete examples of how things are going. And that’s what’s not happening."

Murtha said he was certain he would not support impeachment “unless the (pre-war) intelligence were distorted.” But Rumsfeld, Murtha believes, should step down. “I said before, that after Abu Ghraib he should have stepped down. The reason you had that incident is because the troops were untrained. They’re unsupervised and undisciplined. And they’re the ones that caused this furor which started the thing in the wrong direction. From that time on, the American public turned against this war.”

In response to the smears, Murtha said, “If somebody makes a suggestion, they criticize that person – a substantive recommendation: redeploy these troops out of the area, let the Iraqis handle it. And they make all these kind of criticisms… Let me just tell you this. I look at the facts. This is a policy decision. This is something where, as Theodore Roosevelt said, it would be treasonous not to question the president if you don’t agree with him… This has nothing to do with personality…

“…Listen, they are flailing because they have gone too far. They know it. They’re not – the public reaction has been the opposite. You’ve seen that... My whole career has been behind the scenes. But in this thing, I was so frustrated and the troops were suffering so badly in my estimation, and the future of the army was at stake. I needed to speak out and that’s what I’ve been doing.”

I just wish Murtha had confronted Hannity or one of the other “fat backsides” at FOX News in person and talked one on one about first hand experiences dealing with war and US troops.

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