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Memories of Murtha: Abscam

Robert Novak reminds us that Rep. Jack Murtha created quite a bit of controversy 26 years ago when he was labeled an unindicted co-conspirator in the Abscam investigation:

Jack Murtha proves there are second acts in American politics. I had forgotten that federal prosecutors designated him an unindicted co-conspirator in the Abscam investigation 26 years ago. I was reminded of it after Murtha became a candidate for majority leader, not by a Republican hit man but a Democratic former colleague in the House. In a long political career, Murtha has made bitter enemies inside his party who are alarmed by his new stature.


Murtha got into politics in 1968 as a 36-year-old highly decorated Marine and in 1974 became the first Vietnam War veteran elected to Congress. By 1980, Murtha was a lieutenant of Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill and was moving to the top in the House when the FBI named him as one of eight members of Congress videotaped being offered bribes by a phony Arab sheik.

The other seven congressional targets took cash and were convicted in federal court. The videotape showed Murtha declining to take cash but expressing interest in further negotiations, while bragging about his political influence. Murtha testified against the popular Rep. Frank Thompson in the Abscam case, which created lifelong enemies in the Democratic cloakroom. The House Ethics Committee exonerated Murtha of misconduct charges by a largely party-line vote, after which the committee's special counsel resigned in protest.

That salvaged Murtha's political career but limited his public exposure. The current Almanac of American Politics says: "He speaks for attribution to few national or local reporters, hardly ever appears on television and rarely speaks in the House chamber." That reticence has disappeared the last seven months, as he became one of the party's most visible faces.

Since Murtha is a darling of the MSM, it's no surprise that they refuse to publish this information about Murtha's background, which has got to be fairly easy for them to find. Instead they only focus on his military record, which Murtha uses to intimidate those who disagree with him into silence:

Murtha now wears his heroic combat record like a suit of armor. In recent House debate over the Iraq war resolution, Murtha dominated the Democratic side -- compensating for a lack of articulation with vehemence. Rep. Louie Gohmert, a freshman Republican from Texas, had the temerity to suggest that had Murtha "prevailed after the bloodbaths in Normandy and in the Pacific ... we would be here speaking Japanese or German." Murtha pounced on Gohmert, asking whether he had been in Normandy, Vietnam or Iraq as a combat solider. The Republican had not, and he meekly thanked Murtha for "all that he has done with the wounded."


Murtha disqualifies adversaries who have not tasted combat, which includes the vast majority in the Congress. He repeats the comparison between civilian officials in "air-conditioned chambers" and soldiers carrying "70 pounds every day facing IEDs." On "Meet the Press," Murtha referred to presidential adviser Karl Rove "sitting in his air conditioned office with his big, fat backside, saying, 'Stay the course!'"

It's ridiculous to argue that if someone hasn't been in the military, he can't comment on military issues. Murtha sullies his military record when he uses it as a club.

Update: It seems Murtha has a habit of directing earmarks to relatives of Democrat congresspeople. Betsy Newmark comments:

Just think of how the media would be yelping if a Republican congressman who was a fervent supporter of the administration's efforts in Iraq had these questions raised about steering earmarks to relatives of Democratic congressmen. You just know that, in those multitudinous appearances all over the media that Jack Murtha has been making, reporters would be asking him about these stories from the L.A. Times and Roll Call (no conservative lapdogs) if Murtha were a Republican. Instead, these questions never seem to arise. It is time for the media to stop giving Murtha a pass.

Indeed.


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Comments (34)

Yes. The last person I wan... (Below threshold)
McCain:

Yes. The last person I want deciding military strategy and tactics is the common foot soldier. There is a reason for West Point.

Talk about fat headed backs... (Below threshold)
914:

Talk about fat headed backstabbers, this nutcase fills the bill. C.O.C.

Based on this summary, Murt... (Below threshold)
89:

Based on this summary, Murtha didn't necessarily do anything wrong by "expressing interest" in further negotiations. That is exactly what I would have done in his position, to milk more information out of the "Sheik" and then go to the FBI and set up a sting.

Well, Mr Novak certianly kn... (Below threshold)
yo:

Well, Mr Novak certianly knows his wikipedia:

Novack:


... The videotape showed Murtha declining to take cash but expressing interest in further negotiations, while bragging about his political influence. Murtha testified against the popular Rep. Frank Thompson in the Abscam case, which created lifelong enemies in the Democratic cloakroom. The House Ethics Committee exonerated Murtha of misconduct charges by a largely party-line vote, after which the committee's special counsel resigned in protest.

Wikipedia:

... the video used to convict the other seven Congressmen showed him refusing the initial bribe, but offering to negotiate while bragging about his political influence. The charges against him were dropped in return for his testimony against Rep. Frank Thompson. He was eventually cleared by the House Ethics Committee.[1] on a largely party line vote, after which the committee's special counsel resigned in protest.


.. at least wiki cited their sources.

I'd have more respect for a... (Below threshold)

I'd have more respect for a retired decorated senior NCO Marine than an retired decorated O-6 Marine, and perhaps this article gives an inkling why:

http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewSpecialReports.asp?Page=//SpecialReports//archive//200601//SPE20060113a.html

89 said:Based o... (Below threshold)

89 said:

Based on this summary, Murtha didn't necessarily do anything wrong by "expressing interest" in further negotiations. That is exactly what I would have done in his position, to milk more information out of the "Sheik" and then go to the FBI and set up a sting.

Why didn't Murtha ever notify the FBI about the offer? Or if he did, where is the report and why wasn't it ever made public?

Actually, as I recall, one of the other congressmen caught up in the Abscam sting tried that defense. Nobody believed him.

oh .., sorry .. link:... (Below threshold)
yo:
and THAT, YO, has something... (Below threshold)
McCain:

and THAT, YO, has something to do with anything? You offer a detail without a substantive point. The astute clientele at Wizbang prefer the forest to the leaf.

Beyond what Novak has said, there is some evidence that Murtha greatly exaggerated his service in Vietnam. One of the fine bloggers here should put up that information, easily found on the net.

Oh, .. my issue has nothing... (Below threshold)
yo:

Oh, .. my issue has nothing to do with Murtha t'all (I despise the man and everything he represents to the marrow of my soul as I see him as a short curly's breath away from a traitor).

Regardless..., my point was that while Novak may be onto something, here .... his writing/research style may have held water in high school, but you'd think a man calling out another man, in print, over an ethical issue would have done a shade more work than to poorly regurgitate a website.

Could you point to one time... (Below threshold)

Could you point to one time that Murtha has says no one can "debate" Murtha unless they've worn the uniform?

I have heard him dogging Republicans who bring up Guadalcanal or the Battle of the Bulge who haven't been there.

Murthas proving to be a cla... (Below threshold)

Murthas proving to be a class A buddyfucker.

I kinda take it back.... (Below threshold)

I kinda take it back.

Murtha did ask that guy if he'd served in PARTICULAR wars ones that the Republican himself had brought up. Not if he had served in any war.

Wait...another "liberal war... (Below threshold)
moseby:

Wait...another "liberal warhero" ("jumbo shrimp" comes to mind) with questionable medals? Do we give him the benefit of the doubt? Maybe if he wasn't a criminal who ratted on his friends to get off.

What I would like to see is... (Below threshold)
stan25:

What I would like to see is Murtha's SF 180 I have heard that he refuses to make his military service records public. Kind of reminds me of another so-called Democratic war hero Three guess and the first two don't count. LOL I thought that with the way the Drive-By Media lauds them, they would be glad to release them to the public.

Actually Josh he said that ... (Below threshold)
serfer62:

Actually Josh he said that yesterday by implication. He questioned if his questioner had military back ground to question him.

Hey Gabriel, don't disqualify jFkerry so easily.

Personnaly I findmurtha to be a dispicble POS with no contact iwth reality...

What kind of person are you... (Below threshold)
Jonas Planck:

What kind of person are you, to attack the honor of a highly decorated veteran who fought for your freedom? You commie, perverted, leftist nutball! You should be ashamed of your disrespect to the troops!


Oh, wait, Murtha's a Dem? ARREST HIM! Arrest the scumbag traitor!! Make an example out of him!!!

nothing more laughable than... (Below threshold)
gozorak:

nothing more laughable than when a liberals use the combat records of self serving politicians to place their positions above question. How dare any non veteran, chicken hawk, neo con question the wisdom and bravery of men like Kerry and Murtha. By virtue of their combat records alone they are not to be questioned or criticized no matter how embarrasing, or out of touch, or corrupt, or laughable they happen to be.

Of course Im sure all of thos liberals who so value the infallibility of the combat veteran voted for REAL combat veterans George H W Bush and Robert Dole over the confirmed draft dodger William J Clinton right?

What kind of person are ... (Below threshold)
Lurking Observer:

What kind of person are you, to attack the honor of a highly decorated veteran who fought for your freedom? You commie, perverted, leftist nutball! You should be ashamed of your disrespect to the troops!

Glad to know, Jonas, that you detest Dems as much as the rest of us. You know, Dems like Sidney Blumenthal, who trashed George HW Bush and claimed he abandoned his crew on that Avenger.

That is what you were referring to, right?

Right on..... (Below threshold)
914:

Right on..

McCainYou p... (Below threshold)
mak44:

McCain

You posted: "Yes. The last person I want deciding military strategy and tactics is the common foot soldier. There is a reason for West Point."

That's why we should have a gaggle of chickenhawks running the Iraq war, like Bush, Cheney, rumsfeld et al.

Excellent post, Kim. I saw... (Below threshold)
Lorie Byrd:

Excellent post, Kim. I saw that Betsy Newmark blogged on this today too, and also had some info yesterday about Murtha steering earmarks to relatives of Democratic congressmen and women. We are definitely not getting the rest of the story on Murtha.

By logical extension, the C... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

By logical extension, the Constitution should be amended to limit eligibility to Congress to holders of the CIB?

Or should a CIB be a voting eligibility requirement?

I thought it was liquor that made one invulnerable to criticism, not a combat record.

But what do I know?

mak44, in case you don't un... (Below threshold)
McCain:

mak44, in case you don't understand the constitution, there is actually a reason why civilians oversee the military. Or perhaps I give you too much credit for trying to make a serious point. The war itself, as you know, is getting prosecuted by our expert commanders in Iraq, not by a corrupt government official named Jack Murtha. And you will agree that our militar commanders are doing excellent work, right? Consider that part of your liberal rhetorical obligation to "support the troops" both big and small.

I got to tell you most of u... (Below threshold)
jainphx:

I got to tell you most of us who served in Nam went out of our way to avoid Purple hearts.If you were carried off the line then,you diserved a P. H. The guys I served with laugh at people like Murtha. Show me some discernable scars John(either one fits here)I bet you can't, an whats more wont.

I thought it was liquor ... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

I thought it was liquor that made one invulnerable to criticism, not a combat record.

Then Ted Kennedy should be untouchable.

(And frankly, who would wanna touch him?)

You guys keep this up and y... (Below threshold)
Lee:

You guys keep this up and you'll do for Murtha what you did for the Dixie Chicks


Top Country Albums

#1

Taking The Long Way
Dixie Chicks

Lee, it will make Murtha ev... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Lee, it will make Murtha even more popular than Michael Moore, a propagandist for Saddam Hussein and other anti-American dictators. You can be proud of these people. Congratulations.

It will be an interesting n... (Below threshold)
serfer62:

It will be an interesting nomination in murtha's race. Perhaps a American will take him in either the primaries or the election...

serfer62, the Pennsyvania p... (Below threshold)

serfer62, the Pennsyvania primary was last month and Murtha was unopposed. He does have an opponent in the general election in Diana Irey, whose website is here:

http://www.irey.com/Default.aspx

I don't know how much of a chance she has (PA-12 is a pretty safe Democratic district), but I'm doing what I can to get the word out.

You guys keep this up an... (Below threshold)
mantis:

You guys keep this up and you'll do for Murtha what you did for the Dixie Chicks

If they keep it up Murtha's country album will hit number one?

No, Mantis. Murtha will sta... (Below threshold)
Lee:

No, Mantis. Murtha will start wearing rodeo fashionwear.

Either that, or the efforts of conservatives to "take down" Murtha will result in boosting his stock instead... just as the efforts by the right-wing bubblegum bloggers to "take down" the Dixie Chicks fell far short of their predictions.

I think it best to let Murt... (Below threshold)
McCain:

I think it best to let Murtha take down himself. Anti-American defeatism is easily detected by the electorate. It is why the Democratic caucus told Murtha to shut up about running for a leadership position.

Murthas methane will be His... (Below threshold)
914:

Murthas methane will be His undoing..

<a href="http://wizbangblog... (Below threshold)
snowballs:

Lee - wow. That is actually funny.




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