THE BLOG
10/27/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Remember Haditha, Murtha and Marines?

Courage and Results

No one is convicted. The right wing spin doctors raise money off the very name Murtha but what really came out of the Haditha investigations? Not what you think. Anbar Province in late 2005 was a hot bed of Sunni resistance and insurrection. Indeed, many in the military considered the Province to be ungovernable. The fighting was daily and deadly but on November 19, 2005, in the town of Haditha, Anbar Province, Iraq an incident took place best described in a New York Times editorial, A Hard Look at Haditha, 4 June 2006:

...A roadside bomb struck a Humvee traveling in the vicinity, killing one of the marines on board, and sometime later 24 Iraqi civilians were gunned down, many in their homes. The victims included women, children and grandparents...


The story of Haditha was first revealed by TIME Magazine on March 19, 2006. In May 2006, Congressman Jack Murtha made the now famous comment "Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."

Effete propagandists and spin doctors like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh immediately accused Congressman Murtha both of calling the entire military cold blooded murderers and of rushing to judge the marines involved at Haditha. Yet, from the very beginning, Congressman Murtha's clear concern was the stress that constant rotations and daily ambushes were having on the troops in general and the Marines in particular. The other aspect of Murtha's comments is that he saw the increasing Iraqi Civilian causalities for exactly what they were - recruiting tools for Al Qaeda in Iraq and Sunni Insurgents. Those spin doctors politicized the incident by launching vicious attacks against Congressman Murtha, a decorated USMC combat veteran.

Why did they do that? The extreme conservatives in the Republican Party and White House were shocked when Democratic Congressman Jack Murtha, THE military expert on Capital Hill, called for an end to the War in Iraq. Murtha knew that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld had no strategy in Iraq. They only had a slogan: "stay-the-course." In what is called true leadership and courage, Jack Murtha put country before self and called for a redeployment from Iraq and the end to this war. The neo-conservatives in the Bush regime immediately turned toward a wave of personal attacks on every aspect of his life.

When the Marine Corps confirmed what had actually happened in Haditha, a very impassioned Congressman Murtha attacked the failed stay-the-course strategy and its impact on the troops. He reiterated how stay-the-course was actually aiding Al Qaeda. The extreme neo-conservative hate machine saw the perfect moment to strike; the troops be damned. Those effete spin doctors spewed hate and lies against Congressman Murtha on a massive scale which still continues today. However, no one has denied that the incident occurred which only served to exacerbated the situation.

What REALLY became of Murtha's comments is outlined in the New York Times article, Military to Report Marines Killed Iraqi Civilians, 26 May 2006:

In an unusual sign of high-level concern, the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Michael W. Hagee, flew from Washington to Iraq on Thursday to give a series of speeches to his forces re-emphasizing compliance with international laws of armed conflict, the Geneva Conventions and the American military's own rules of engagement.


What does all the above really mean? Acknowledging Congressman Murtha's warning that troops were being pushed too far and that those troops were being placed in intolerable situations meant three things. First, fewer US Marines died. Second, fewer Iraqi civilians died. Third, Al Qaeda's ability to recruit died. The investigations, trials and reviews forced the U.S. Military to modify tactics and rules-of-engagements to reduce civilian casualties which rapidly reduced civilian opposition to U.S. forces. When the Iraqi civilians saw that we clearly were attempting to live up to American ideals and values, Al Qaeda in Anbar was finished. I might also point out that this was happening before the surge.

Why am I telling you this now as the very economic core of America crumbles? Because Congressman Murtha showed outstanding courage and sacrifice. He could be sitting in Pennsylvania safe with no opposition. He chose country over self. It will take strong leadership and dedication to repair the damage done to this country. As Congressman Murtha and Haditha demonstrate, the way may not always be pretty or clear. I want a nation of strong leaders who may not always agree but who always have the best interests of the country first in their hearts and minds. Clearly that is Congressman John Murtha.