"The president does not have legal authority to go
into Iran there�s no question in my mind about that; and he wouldn�t have the
capability of doing that even if he wanted to." --Rep. John Murtha (D-PA),
ABC "This Week"
The traditionally hawkish Congressman Jack Murtha has been
the standard bearer for the Democrats in his opposition to the war. He led the
charge against the occupation of Iraq, calling it "a failed policy wrapped
in an illusion" and, now, he�s threatening to sabotage Bush�s plans for
sending another 21,500 troops to Iraq -- the so-called "troop surge."
The crusty ex-Marine doesn�t mince words and he�s not afraid
of the "Swift-boaters" and hatchet men on the Bush team. He sticks to
the facts (and his principles) and takes great pride in defending the interests
of the men and women who wear the uniform.
Good for you, Jack.
On Sunday, Murtha appeared on ABCs talk show, "This
Week" with George Stephanopolous. He used the opportunity to blast the
administration and Bush�s plans to send another 21,500 troops into the Iraq
Murtha immediately warned that he would use the power of the
purse to "look at how much money the Pentagon has and try to change the
direction of this war." He added, "The public has spoken."
Stephanopolous, taken aback, asked if Murtha were planning
to "defund" the war.
Murtha, who was recently appointed chair of the powerful
Defense Appropriations Subcommittee overseeing Pentagon spending, answered, "If
we have our way there will be substantial change and substantial pressure put
on this administration . . . The allies don�t want us over there. The Iraqis
don�t want us over there and we expect that even the Republicans will support
us when we get our bill up."
He then added ominously, "[We want a] redeployment of
troops out of Iraq" and "[we will] restrict funding until some of the
problems are fixed at home."
Other Democrats have reluctantly winched themselves onto the
antiwar bandwagon, sensing that public support is rapidly eroding. Only Murtha
has consistently put himself in the line of fire by threatening to cut off the
funds which lubricate the war machine.
Murtha is demanding that the administration "stop
extending tours of duty, stop depleting our strategic reserves, and retrain
returning soldiers so they can be �recycled�" according to the normal
procedures. He knows that the military is gravely over-stretched, so he�s
trying to derail the war with bureaucratic red tape.
"We don�t like to micromanage the Pentagon,"
averred the Pennsylvania congressman, "but we have to because they are not
paying attention to the public. You cannot sustain a war when only a small
percentage of the people support it."
Commenting on Bush�s desperate plan to surge more troops
into Baghdad, Murtha said, "George, we sent 10,000 troops into Baghdad
five months ago and it got worse! We had the highest number of casualties among
Americans and Iraqis in that month."
"We don�t want any permanent bases, we don�t want any
torture we�re going to try to close down Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib,"
Murtha said. "I don�t think you get any information from people who�ve
been there for four years, George. I think its time to send them back to the
countries they came from."
Stephanopolous continued to press Murtha on the main issue: "Do
you expect Congress to restrict funding for this war this year?"
Murtha: "I expect them to restrict funding until some
of the problems are fixed at home. We have no units that can be deployed to
Iran or North Korea. The troops are inadequately trained and equipped. We want
the strategic reserve to be improved. We don�t want tours extended, we don�t
want torture, and we don�t want permanent bases."
Murtha wisely used his time on national TV to provide his
own frank analysis of the present conflict: "You know they say that al
Qaeda is causing the divisions and sectarian violence? The invasion itself is
what causes the sectarian violence . . . It�s the occupation causes the
violence. That�s the problem we have and we have to change directions."
That�s the message the American people should be hearing
Murtha will face stiff opposition from Vice President "last
throes" Dick Cheney who proclaimed last Sunday on FOX News "that we
cannot have a war run by a committee." (It�s called "democracy,"
He�ll also clash with Bush who no longer believes he is
accountable to Congress for his actions. ("I fully understand that
Congress could try to stop me from doing it. But we�re going forward.") On
top of that, he�ll face the predictable wrath of the media and the warmongering
psychos, McCain and Lieberman.
Still, if you had to stake the future of the US Congress on
one man, you couldn�t make a better choice than Jack Murtha. He�s a political
warhorse who towers above the amalgam of windbags, phonies and opportunists who
fill out the Democratic leadership. He�s willing to put his neck on the
chopping block and go toe-to-toe with the gangsters and cutthroats in the Bush
That�s what it�s going to take to end this bloodbath.
Besides, he�s optimistic about his prospects for success.
When Stephanopolous asked him if he really believed he could change the policy
in Iraq, Murtha perked up and responded confidently, "Let me tell you,
George; it�s a whole new ballgame now."
Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: email@example.com.