Murtha, a moderate Democrat and long-time war hawk, had a long and distinguished 37-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps. He has been serving in Congress since 1974, one of only 131 people in US history to have served more than 30 years in the House of Representatives.
This article presents major excerpts of the NBC "Meet the Press" June 18, 2006 interview of Rep. Murtha by Tim Russsert.
Welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D-PA): Nice to be back, Tim. MR. RUSSERT: The president says, "stay the course," that within the next six months, Iraq will be secure under the direction of the new prime minister, and to do anything less now would be irresponsible.
REP. MURTHA: Well, "stay the course" is "stay and pay." This is the thing that has worried me right along. Were spending $8 billion dollars a month, $300 million dollars a day....
On the floor the other day, you may have heard this, one fellow says, "Were fighting this war." Were not fighting this war. One percent of the American people, these young men and women are fighting this war, with heavy packs, with 70 pounds of equipment, with helmets on in 130 degrees. Thats whos fighting this war. And they say "stay the course." Theres no plan. You open up this plan for victory, theres no plan there. Its just stay the course. That doesnt solve any problem.
Its worse today than it was six months ago when I spoke out initially. When I spoke out, the garbage wasnt being collected, oil production below pre-war levelall those things indicated to me we werent winning this, and its the same today, if not worse.
Anbar Province. Theres not one project been done in Anbar Province. Two million people live there. They have no water at all, no oil production, they have no electricity at all in that province where is the heartland of the defense. The first six months we went in there, notherenot a shot was fired, so it shows you how its changed.
Its getting worse. Thats why I feel so strongly. All of us know how important it is internationally to win this war. We know how important. We import 20 million barrels of oil a daywe use 20 million barrels of oil. We know how important, international community. But were doing it all ourself, and theres no plan that makes sense. We need to have more international cooperation. We need to redeploy our troops, the periphery.
What happened with Zarqawi could have been done from the outit was done from the outside. Our planes went in from the outside. So theres no reason in the world that they cant redeploy the troops. Theyve become the targets, theyre caught in the civil war, and I feel very strongly about it.
MR. RUSSERT: You sure do, Congressman, but so does the White House. Karl Rove, the principal political adviser to the president, went to New Hampshire on Monday, and he talked about Democrats who voted for the war and who have now changed their opinion. Heres what he had to say, and Ill give you a chance to respond.
(Videotape, June 12, 2006):
MR. ROVE: Like too many Democrats, it strikes me they are ready to give the green light to go to war, but when it gets tough and when it gets difficult, they fall back on that partys old pattern of cutting and running. They may be with you at the first shots, but they are not going to be there for the last tough battles. They are wrong, and profoundly wrong, in their approach.
(End of videotape)
MR. RUSSERT: Cutting and running.
REP. MURTHA: Hes, hes in New Hampshire. Hes making a political speech. Hes sitting in his air conditioned office with his big, fat backside, saying, "Stay the course." Thats not a plan. I mean, this guyI dont know what his military experience is, but thats a political statement. This is a policy difference between me and the White House. I disagree completely with what hes saying.
Now, lets, letsgive me, give you an example. When we went to Beirut, I, I said to President Reagan, "Get out." Now, the other day we were doing a debate, and they said, "Well, Beirut was a different situation. We cut and run." We didnt cut and run. President Reagan made the decision to change direction because he knew he couldnt win it....