Congress Should Support the Troops by Censuring Murtha
Our military pulls the laboring oar to complete the mission in Iraq, and the troops seem to be doing quite a job of it only weeks into the surge, which Congress signed on to under General Petraeus (whom they approved for this position). But the Democratic Congress seems hell-bent on undermining the troops and their mission at every turn. For the most shabby and obvious partisan advantage. Even some erstwhile Republican supporters of the Iraq Mission seem to have lost their spine just as the tide is definitely swinging in our favor, making an honorable withdrawal of our troops possible in a not-so-distant future. The unserious proposal by Senators Warner and Lugar comes to mind.
Once again ordinary Americans rise to the challenge while our overpaid political elite ponce about on the stage making outrageous remarks and proposals in an effort to get approving coverage from a media (which itself for the most part seems determined to bury the significance of the mission and its remarkable achievements). But nothing - not even the 300 pointless investigations of an Administration marked by remarkable probity nor the base predictions of failure even before the additional troops hit the ground - proves the lack of serious purpose as much as the Congressional failure to censure Congressman John Murtha.
Marines had "killed innocent civilians in cold blood" after allegedly responding to a roadside bomb ambush that killed a Marine during a patrol in Haditha, Iraq, Nov. 19. The incident is still under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Multi-National Forces Iraq. [....]"It's much worse than was reported in Time magazine," Murtha, a Democrat, former Marine colonel and Vietnam war veteran, told reporters on Capitol Hill. "There was no firefight. There was no [bomb] that killed those innocent people," Murtha explained, adding there were "about twice as many" Iraqis killed than Time had reported.
Recommended disposition of ChargeDue to the disparate accounts, it is tempting to simply conclude that this case should be tried to either exonerate LCp1 Sharratt or convict him of a crime. However, to adopt the government's position that because there are two differing accounts, a general court-martial is warranted is an abdication of the necessary process of determining whether reasonable grounds exist to warrant a court-martial. It is not as simple as stating there are two accounts so a trial is necessary. Analysis of these two versions must provide reasonable grounds that the Government version of events may be true. In analyzing the evidence, I read several hundred pages of interviews, documents, articles and statements (IE 33-105). Ultimately, there is only one statement by an eye witness to the events, LCp1 Sharratt, and his version of events is strongly corroborated by independent forensic analysis of the death scene. The government version is unsupported by independent evidence and while each statement has within it corroboration, several factors together reduces the credibility of such statements to incredible. In addition, the statements of the Iraqis are unclear, contradictory in part, and simply state self-interested conclusions as to what occurred within house 4. Finally, to believe the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing evidence to the contrary and sets a dangerous precedent that, in my opinion, may encourage others to bear false witness against Marines as a tactic to erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq. Even more dangerous is the potential that a Marine may hesitate at the critical moment when facing the enemy. Much effort during the Article 32 focused on whether the victims were insurgents. Although determining if they were may have some bearing on the credibility of the Iraqi witnesses and may support that LCp1 Sharratt did perceive a hostile situation within house 4, such determinations are not necessary to conclude that LCp1 Sharratt is truthful in his account. From as early as February 2006 LCp1 Sharratt's statements are supported by the forensic evidence. It is likely that members of the Ahmed family were either insurgents on 19 November 2005, or that they were attempting to defend their house and family when Marines entered house 4 uninvited and unannounced. On that fateful afternoon, Jasib heard someone enter house 4. He investigated with his AK-47 in his hands. LCp1 Sharratt saw him and perceived him as a threat. Using his training he responded instinctively, assaulting into the room emptying his pistol. Whether this was a brave act of combat against the enemy or tragedy of misperception born out of conducting combat with an enemy that hides among innocents, LCp1 Sharratt's actions were in accord with the rules of engagement and use of force. Accordingly I recommend that the Charge and specifications be dismissed without prejudice. I further recommend that LCp1 Sharratt be given testimonial immunity and ordered to cooperate with ongoing investigations concerning the events of 19 November 2005. [Emphasis in original]