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Murtha says war is lost

Pa. congressman outlines failures
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Donna J. Miller
Plain Dealer Reporter

U.S. Rep. John Murtha's booming Marine colonel's voice filled the tight spaces between Greater Clevelanders packed into the City Club Friday to hear him protest President Bush's war on Iraq.

He repeated the message he began trumpeting in November: that American military efforts in Iraq are failing and will continue to fail, while costing taxpayers $450 billion by the year's end.

The 37-year decorated Marine and 32-year congressman from Pennsylvania said:

Iraqis with 80 percent of them wanting the U.S. out need time to solve their own civil war. "It took 100 years to get stability in our country, with its own civil war."

"We needed to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people." Instead, more than 40 percent of them say it is all right to kill Americans.

"We needed to be able to pick up the trash, restore power and get the people working again." Instead, oil production remains below prewar levels; electricity is available for just 10 hours a day in the sweltering desert climate; 30 percent of the population is without drinkable water; 60 percent are unemployed.

Troops are undermanned, underequipped and dying at rates higher than during World War II and the Vietnam War. "I visit the [veterans hospitals] every week. The troops don't know what their mission is any more." And 8,500 of them have returned with shattered bod ies or brains and the permanent "shadow on your soul" that fighting a war creates.

Murtha took questions from several luncheon attendees who worried that Bush may be planning to invade Iran. The ranking and longtime member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee nearly shouted, "we will not" be entering Iran.

He also said that the subcommittee would not approve funding the construction of permanent military bases in Iraq. The audience broke into applause.

Murtha criticized Bush for using fear of terrorism to maintain public support for the war, when real dangers exist here.

U.S. ports are not secure, but they could be in one month, if the money that has been spent on the civil war in Iraq was spent on ports, he said.

Asked to predict the next threat to America that might require military force, Murtha said he's concerned about China and its increasing need for oil.

"And if they think that we can't respond because we are overextended in Iraq. . ." He shook his head.

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