MR. RUSSERT: Is it appropriate for the presidents principal political adviser to accuse the Democrats of cutting and running?
REP. MURTHA: I think its, its, its a, a namethey just use that. I say "stay and pay." And what I mean by stay and pay, and Im talking about the hardship on the families, the hardship on the troops. And theres no plan, thats the thing. Its easy to say that. Thats, thats an easythe public is way ahead of this. The public is two-to-one against what were doing, and they want a change in direction. Thats the thing I see the most.
MR. RUSSERT: But in 2004, you had a view that was much different than you had now, and this is what you wrote in your book: "A war initiated on faulty intelligence must not be followed by a premature withdrawal of our troops based on a political timetable. An untimely exit could rapidly devolve into a civil war, which would leave Americas foreign policy in disarray as countries question not only Americas judgment but also its perseverance." Arent you now advocating that?
REP. MURTHA: Yeah, youre absolutely right. Thats what I said then. And I think in the early stages, you have to judge that. But there comes a time when you got to change direction. There comes a time when you have to say to yourself, OK, weve done everything we could do, we cant win this militarily. Thats whyand I talk to the military leaders, I talk to the troops, I go to the hospitals all the time.
So theres two reasons that I felt it was absolutely essential we change direction. One is the troops themselves and what theyre going through and the fact that 42 percent of them dont even know what the mission is.
And, and the second thing is the long-term stability of this country, our inability to prevent another war because we dont have the resources. A $50 billion dollar backlog of equipment shortages and so forth. You just haveat some point you just have to change direction.
And if youre not winning, if youre losing, and thats whats happening. Were, werewhen I say losing, were, were losing ground over there and, and we have inadequate forces. We went in, the first place, we didnt have any reason to go in. We didnt have a threat to our national security. Thats been proven. Second, we wentinadequate forces to get it under control in a transition to peace. Third, the third thing was, no exit strategy.
I, Im convinced, though, Tim, I believe this, I believe the presidents sounding tough, but the presidents also saying its now up to the Iraqis. You watch what Im saying. Hes sayingand the vice-president and the president of Iraq, 80 percent of the Iraqis want us out of there. And the vice-president, president of Iraq said, We want a time table to get out. Thats what we need and the president knows that and thats what hes going to come up with.
MR. RUSSERT: You expect a significant American troop withdrawal by the midterm elections?
REP. MURTHA: I expect a significant troop withdrawal. Theyre trying to find a way to do this. The trouble is it keeps getting worse and they dont want to admit they made a mistake. You just haveat some point you got to reassess it like Reagan did in, in Beirut, like, like Clinton did in Somalia, you just have to say, "OK, its time to change direction."
MR. RUSSERT: Karl Rove invoked your name in New Hampshire. Let me show you that comment.
(Videotape, June 12, 2006):
MR. ROVE: I want you to think about the consequences of their proposed course of action. If Murtha had his way, American troops wouldve been gone by the end of April and we wouldnt have gotten Zarqawi.
REP. MURTHA: TheyLet me tell you, they built Zarqawi up. They have 1,000 foreign fighters. This is a civil war, and we did it from the outside, anyway. The good thing about whatwhen we got Zarqawi, it was Iraqi intelligence that came to the Iraqis that came to the United States. And then from outside the country, from the periphery of the country they went and bombed where Zarqawi was. So there, there was progress from that standpoint. But to say that it wouldnt have happened is absolutely a political statement.