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In Tandem With RNC, FOX News Targets Murtha Again

Reported by Ellen - August 6, 2006 -

What a coincidence that the same week the RNC launched a new attack on John Murtha, Hannity & Colmes hosted Diana Irey, the woman running against him for his Congressional seat in November. Irey and Sean Hannity were full of chickenhawk outrage as they smeared Marine Corps veteran Murtha with a pack of lies.

Sean Hannity surely knew he was lying when, in his Hanctimonious voice, he said about Murtha, “Here’s a guy that without any proof, without any evidence, without any substantiation, without giving them the benefit of the doubt, accused our troops of killing innocent civilians in cold blood.”

Hannity was referring to Murtha’s 5/18/06 statement in which he said, “Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood.” Murtha was talking about an incident at Haditha, still under investigation but about which he had been briefed. Even FOX News’ own article on the subject reported that Murtha was “coming from a position of knowledge.” Also coincidentally, this week an initial report confirmed Murtha’s statements. See, for example, The New York Sun article called Initial Haditha Report Confirms Marines Killed Civilians in Cold Blood.

It’s nearly impossible to believe that Hannity didn’t know that. But he continued by saying, “I think it is the most harmful thing. It is so dangerous,” without offering a lick of proof as to the danger or harm caused. That came just minutes after Hannity "overlooked" serious anti-American demonstrations in Iraq in his report on Middle East reaction to the Israel-Lebanon war. “I think there’s just no shame here any more in the Democratic Party,” Hannity hypocritically added.

“We should be making sure we are supporting our troops,” Irey, who also never served, told Alan Colmes. “(Murtha) called them cold-blooded killers,” Irey wrongly insisted.

Colmes corrected that statement and put forth a number of good questions to her, such as pressing her on whether she would condemn President Bush for showing coffins of 9/11 firemen in his 2004 campaign ads just as she has condemned the Democrats for showing coffins of soldiers. Eventually, she called it wrong on either score.

But nobody asked her about the not-so-supportive-to-our-troops events involving her husband, Robert, a construction executive, and his connection to a sensational contracting scandal in Iraq, as reported in an excellent article on this race by Joe Conason in Salon.

Last January, the Associated Press published a fascinating and thorough feature story about a $300 million deal awarded by the Iraqi Defense Ministry to a consortium that included (Irey’s husband, Robert) and his brother William Irey. The Irey brothers had joined up with a shadowy arms dealer named Dale Stoffel, whose Iraqi patron was none other than Ahmed Chalabi -- the former exile leader and alleged conman who provided deceptive intelligence about Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction," and who has remained a favorite of Pentagon neoconservatives despite his checkered history. With Chalabi's support, Stoffel and the Ireys won a bid to rebuild military equipment for the Iraqi armed forces and market military scrap metal from all over the war-ravaged country. Clever as Stoffel's scheme may have been, it ended very badly. He soon became embroiled in bitter financial disputes with the Iraqi Defense Ministry, which he accused of corruption. In December 2004, not long after Stoffel started making official complaints to Washington, unknown assailants murdered him and an American associate in a mysterious drive-by shooting near Baghdad. Explaining her husband's involvement in this bloody mess could prove difficult for Irey. According to the AP, the huge deal won by her husband's consortium was obtained by hiring the same "powerful Washington lobbyists" who had represented Chalabi in his quest for American money and support.