JOHN MCLAUGHLIN'S "ONE ON ONE"
GUEST: CONGRESSMAN JOHN MURTHA (D-PA)
SUBJECT: THE U.S. ARMY AND IRAQ
TAPED: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2006 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 11-12, 2006
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN'S "ONE ON ONE"
GUEST: CONGRESSMAN JOHN MURTHA (D-PA)
SUBJECT: THE U.S. ARMY AND IRAQ
TAPED: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2006 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 11-12, 2006
(Federal News Service (Middle East) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: The Army is broken: so says this former
Marine combat veteran. He is now and has been for the past 32 years,
a member of Congress. In an in-depth speech, this representative
contrasted President Ronald Reagan with the current president, George
W. Bush. He outlined why he thinks the war in Iraq has stretched
America's armed forces to the breaking point.
Question: What is the exit strategy from Iraq? And is the Army
already broken? We'll ask Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Congressman Murtha, welcome.
JOHN MURTHA: Thank you very much. Nice to be here, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the speeches you gave December the 14th at
the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, you said that the Army is
broken. What did you mean by that?
REP. MURTHA: Well, my estimation is that, in the first place,
we've had to rotate these troops four or five times. We've got
112,000 people in the wrong MOS -- that's the military specialty that
they shouldn't be in. Abu Ghraib is a perfect example of when you put
people in the wrong MOS, they can't do the job. In other words, they
had people not trained to work in a prison. As a matter of fact, one
was from my district and he was accused, and the court said he
couldn't visit his family. He told the Army that, and they still put
him in the job. So he was supervising the prisoners there and he
couldn't handle it, and all that publicity that came from that was a
disaster for the United States.
We had people driving trucks that were MPs and MPs that were
truck drivers, and so forth. We've had to rotate them so fast that
the equipment is completely worn out. We have $50 billion worth of
equipment that has to be rehabilitated. I've been to the three bases
down in the South -- Fort Bragg, Hood and Stewart. Three premier
bases -- didn't have the equipment to train the troops before they
went overseas so the troops were the lowest category of readiness
before they went over. When they got overseas, they had to open up
instruction panels to see how to read the radios and so forth.
We're short radios in the United States. We need 52,000 SINGAR
radios; we only have 27,000, and on and on with the shortages in the
States. And the National Guard -- every single brigade has been
deployed, so now they're having to deploy people that aren't in units.
They have to deploy them individually. We could not sustain a second
front. And the thing that worries me the most, the thing that I'm
concerned about is the future of the Army.
For instance, the minute we start to withdraw, we'll start to
take out money out of the budget. Last year, out of the base budget,
the Republicans cut $8 billion out of the Defense base budget. This
year they're going to cut than that out because there's not
enough money for the other programs. And we'll make it up with the
supplemental, but as soon as the supplementals (dry ?) up, you'll
never have the money you need to have the Army rehabilitated.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the troop strength of the Army today and
what was it under Ronald Reagan?
REP. MURTHA: Well, the troop strength is substantially less than
Ronald Reagan. It's the smallest army since 1941. We have -- during
the Reagan years, of course, you had the Cold War and so we had a
substantially larger army. But now you have the smallest army since
1941 -- before 1941, as a matter of fact -- and its gone up and down.
And of course, the National Guard is an absolutely important part of
Now, what did they have to do in order to -- since they couldn't
meet the enlistments? What did they have to do because of the
problems they have? They cut off brigades. They said they needed 77
brigades last year. Now they need 70 brigades. They're going to take
six brigades out of the National Guard; and yet, it's two-thirds less
cost to keep people in the National Guard. They can't enlist the
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The total military is 2.2 million, according to
REP. MURTHA: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the total military -- it was under
Reagan. What is the total military today?
REP. MURTHA: Well, the military today is substantially less.
And I don't remember the exact figure, but it's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One-point-four.
REP. MURTHA: One-point-four.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that ring a bell?
REP. MURTHA: One-point-four-million, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, when we talk about the Army, it's
gone down from 781,000 to 492,000. And as you point out, there are a
lot of widespread equipment shortages.
REP. MURTHA: Yes, and we can't make the enlistment goals. We
gave them 30,000 extra people and they start reducing the goals. They
start changing your recruitment goals. They start taking Category
Fours into the Army and they -- they say, well, we're making the goals
now but they reduced the goals.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the Army -- do you think the
military today can meet its strategic commitment of a two-front war?
REP. MURTHA: No, absolutely not. No chance. They couldn't --
they could deploy people, but they couldn't sustain that. We can't
sustain the deployment. The reason they've reduced the brigades is
because of money and because they don't have the troops.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you think the budget he's proposed to
Congress regarding military growth is unrealistic?
REP. MURTHA: Well, it's not only unrealistic, it's not going to
happen. John, they're going to reduce that base budget.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Even .
REP. MURTHA: Even . And the only thing it'll make up for it
is the supplemental.
That's going to be --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So this is a worrisome situation from the point
of view of our national security?
REP. MURTHA: When you have a base budget reduced, that means the
military can't plan. For instance, the 30,000 additional troops that
we authorized for them, they have not in the base budget. Many of the
things they don't have in the base budget and that means the future of
the military is in jeopardy because of the cost of the war.
This war right now has cost us $327 billion. They're asking for
another 70 billion (dollars) and another 50 billion (dollars) on top
of that. That's $450 billion in --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much are they spending a month?
REP. MURTHA: They're spending -- I don't remember the breakdown.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One and a half billion (dollars)?
REP. MURTHA: Oh, it's than that. It's like $5 billion a
month. It went up from 3.3 to 4 (billion dollars), and now it's, I
think, $5.2 billion a month. But it's going to $450 billion, which
takes away from every other agency: Interior, HHS. Medicare had to
be cut because of this money.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When you spoke at the Ronald Reagan Building a
few months ago, you instituted a contrast between Ronald Reagan and
George Bush. What did you say when you contrasted these two
presidents in regard to the matter under discussion here?
MR. MURTHA: I'll tell you what I liked about the Reagan
administration, and I dealt with them directly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're a Democrat.
REP. MURTHA: I'm a Democrat. We had a majority in the House. I
was chairman of the committee or vice chairman of the committee during
that period of time.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've been in the Congress for what -- 37
REP. MURTHA: Been in the Congress 32 years and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And your principle focus has been national
REP. MURTHA: National defense the whole time I've been here.
And dealt with Reagan. As a matter of fact, Reagan was so good, one
time I'm in the committee, we're marking a bill up. Now, you talk
about lobbying -- this guy was a lobbyist. And I said, quit calling
me to staff because you're interrupting the markup, and a markup takes
days and days and we go through every detail of every bill. So I get
another call five minutes later. It's the president. I said, "It
can't be the president; he's in South America."
So President Reagan gets on the phone and he starts talking like
he always does -- this and that, "Jack, how are you?" This and that.
I said: "Well, I'm fine, Mr. President, but we're marking up.
What's the problem?"
He said, "It's a problem with the MX."
So I went out and found out it was a problem. Now, he's in South
America. His staff was so good that he knew there was a problem with
the Republicans in the MX in the committee room and straightened out
and won it by one vote. Went to the floor; we won it by a tie vote.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the larger point?
REP. MURTHA: The larger point is that Reagan was adaptable; he
had a good staff. When something happened -- Beirut's a perfect
example. He went to Beirut. We kept advising him to get out of
Beirut. But he was able to get out of Beirut, change his mind and
without a problem, and he was able to do it seamlessly. And that's
the difference. He changed direction. You know where he stood, but
he was willing to change direction. I think that's the thing that's
so frustrating about this --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean he was gracefully able to do that?
REP. MURTHA: He was gracefully able to do that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: After we lost the 287 Marines in Beirut, he did
it then, did he not?
REP. MURTHA: We lost 242, and two months later he was able to
work his way out of there, sent the Navy in and worked his way out of
there. So see he was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this president unable to do that, in your
REP. MURTHA: Well, he doesn't hold people accountable. He keeps
the same people -- the ones that have mishandled the administration of
this war so badly. They've changed the direction of the war from
terrorism to the war in Iraq and that's where we're spending all the
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The war in Iraq is not the war on terrorism?
REP. MURTHA: It's not the war on terrorism. We've diverted our
attention away from the war on terrorism.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where is the war on the terrorism?
REP. MURTHA: The war on terrorism is Afghanistan. The war on
terrorism is intelligence. The war on terrorism is police work. And
so we're caught in a civil war --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the war on the terrorism worldwide?
REP. MURTHA: The war on terrorism is worldwide, and we've
diverted our attention. We've made enemies worldwide. You have to
have help from our international community in order to win the war on
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is what you -- you concluded your remarks
at the Reagan Building by saying -- and I want to know whether you
still stand by this -- "given the sorry state of our Army, the erosion
of the U.S. credibility in the world and the deficit as far as the eye
can see, you've got to believe President Reagan is turning over in his
REP. MURTHA: That's exactly right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pretty tough words.
REP. MURTHA: Well, when President Reagan came in, the budget was
about $100 billion -- the Defense budget. And I remember President
Carter upped it a little bit because he was so irritated about being
criticized about not having it. So his last budget was a little bit
over $100 billion. Well, it increased substantially during the Reagan
years and we got the services back in shape. The services had been in
bad shape because of the Vietnam War, because after every war, we
start building down. We got rid of thousands and thousands of troops
under the Reagan era, but we got the Army back in shape; that was the
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You said here -- you also said that -- you said
that, in your view, President Bush has literally squandered the Reagan
legacy of, one, a strong military; two, a strong economy; three, a
respected position for America in the world community, and you detail
the reasons for saying that.
REP. MURTHA: Yeah, and I think probably the most important thing
is our credibility worldwide. We've lost that credibility. Everybody
I talk to and every poll I see shows us as not having credibility.
When you say there's weapons of mass destruction, when you say there's
an al Qaeda connection and then that turns out not to be true, then
you're not willing to admit you made a mistake. Listen, 120 Democrats
voted against it. I voted with the president. I thought he was
As a matter of fact, I was in Kuwait four or five days before the
war started and I listened to the military --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking about Iraq.
REP. MURTHA: I'm talking about Iraq. I was in Kuwait with the
Iraq war. And I said to myself, you know, they have weapons of mass
destruction. The military believed it, I believed it. But it wasn't
two weeks later when they didn't find them -- I knew that it was a
mistake and I said I made a mistake. I said, this was national
security and we shouldn't have gone to war. And then we didn't go
with enough troops, and now there's no exit strategy. That's the
thing. It's policy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're not running an official bio here today,
Congressman John Murtha, even though you have a very distinguished
one. You were in the Marine Corps, right? You left the Corps at what
-- at the status of a colonel. You served for what, 37 years?
REP. MURTHA: Yeah, I enlisted as a private, though, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You did?
REP. MURTHA: I enlisted as a private --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You enlisted?
REP. MURTHA: That's right. I enlisted as a private and I went
-- I was a (draw ?) instructor for three or four months before I went
to OCS. So I'm proud of the that, the way I went in.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The 12th District, that's the mining area.
REP. MURTHA: Steel and mining.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You live in Johnstown, Pennsylvania?
REP. MURTHA: East of Pittsburgh. Steeler country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah? What did you win your last vote by?
REP. MURTHA: Well, I didn't have any opposition last time.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Republicans or from anyone else?
REP. MURTHA: They didn't have anybody left.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Your constituents are still with you?
REP. MURTHA: They're still with me, yeah. They have confidence
in what I say.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do they buy the whole package?
REP. MURTHA: Well, most -- 80 percent of the people that have
contacted us are for it and 20 percent are against it. So I have to
assume that the constituents are for it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking about the opposition on the Iraq
REP. MURTHA: Yeah, redeployment of the troops. As a matter of
fact, I go into Home Depot --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll tell you where they're not with you.
They're not with you on the subject of the Army being broken.
REP. MURTHA: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you know why? Because you haven't explained
it to them.
REP. MURTHA: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's why we spent some time here, because the
American people don't know that the Army's broken, because this
extends far beyond terrorism. We're talking about our national
security in the case of a two-front war. And do we need to be
concerned about the danger of a two-front war?
REP. MURTHA: We need to be concerned down the road. For
instance, right now Iran is staring us in the face. Iran is three
times as big as Iraq. Iran has almost -- well, 58 million people they
have in Iran.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they have oil.
REP. MURTHA: And they have oil.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Second only to Saudi Arabia.
REP. MURTHA: Second only to Saudi Arabia. So how do we handle
it? We certainly are in no position to do any military thing, no
matter what they say about what's going to happen militarily. But
down the road, what worries me? China. China needs and
energy. China's dealing with Iran. China's dealing with Venezuela.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
REP. MURTHA: Are we going to have to prevent a -- I worry that
some country -- Japan, for instance: the reason they attacked us,
they say, is because we cut off their oil supply. Now what's going to
happen in China? Let's say China decides that they've got to find a
way to get oil from those countries. Are they going to miscalculate
because the United States armed forces aren't in good shape? We hope
not. That's why I'm so concerned about the future of this country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You served in Vietnam.
REP. MURTHA: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you've got the Bronze Star, two Purple
Hearts, the Vietnamese Cross for Gallantry. Have you been back to
REP. MURTHA: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You have?
REP. MURTHA: I've been back to Vietnam three -- two times.
President Ford asked me to go back; I went back. And then I went back
with Sonny Montgomery to look for the prisoners -- the missing in
action. So I've been back twice. And it's an interesting thing -- in
Hanoi they treated us very friendly. In Saigon they didn't treat us
well. And I'd never been there before because I was out in the field
when I was in Vietnam.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You spent time at the Walter Reed Hospital?
REP. MURTHA: I spend time at both Walter Reed and Bethesda. I
go out there almost every week to see the troops.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it break your heart?
REP. MURTHA: I tell you, it's probably one of the things that
disturbs me the most. We've had over 16,000 casualties -- 10,000 with
IEDs, which are the explosive devices. We've had legs off, arms off,
blinded. One young fellow, I remember, he had both his hands blown
off and he was blinded, and he wanted me to give him a Purple Heart.
And so I called the commandant and I said, "We've got to get this guy
a Purple Heart."
And he said, "Well the regulations say it only -- because it's
friendly fire" -- in other words, demobilizing bombs. So they weren't
going to give him a Purple Heart.
I said, "Well, we've got to find a way to give him -- if you guys
can't give him a Purple Heart, I'll give him one of mine."
And he said, "Well, it's going to be hard."
But he was out there. I was going out Thursday; he went out
Wednesday and we got him a Purple Heart.
The family -- that's all they asked for. That's how these people
are so -- I mean, they're so dedicated, the ones serving in the armed
forces, that they don't ask for a lot. But we need to take care of
And another thing that worries me, John, is, are we going to take
care of them down the road? They get good care in Walter Reed; they
get good care in Bethesda. Are we going to take care of them once
they get out by themselves? I had a young fellow that lost his foot
and was blinded, and he went home and they sent him back to Johns
Hopkins to check his eyes. And then they started sending a collection
agency because he wasn't paying his bills. I mean blinded. His
mother hadn't seen him and his father was in jail and so they sent him
-- so we got that straightened out. But the point is, that's the kind
of stuff that worries me down the road when this war is gone and these
young fellows are suffering for the rest of their life.
I saw a guy 45 years old the other day on the airplane when I was
coming back from Phoenix, where I was making a speech. And he was 45
years old and I said, "How are you doing?"
And he said, "Well, I lost my leg two years ago and I'm
struggling." He said --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think that's shattering?
REP. MURTHA: Well, it's devastating to me. I mean, I get battle
fatigue going to the hospital and I'm so proud of these kids who've
served. I mean, it really is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here is a cartoon that appeared in The
Washington Post and elsewhere by Toles -- T-O-L-E-S -- and there we
see Rumsfeld the doctor and the cartoon is trying to making the point
-- the cartoonist is -- to draw attention to Defense Secretary
Rumsfeld's assertion that the U.S. military isn't broken or stretched
too thin, but instead is in better shape than ever because it is now
-- as it says in the balloon over Dr. Rumsfeld's head looking at the
quadriplegic victim -- "I'm listing your condition as battle
hardened." And the point is that Rumsfeld's assertions that the U.S.
military isn't broken or stretched too thin, but is instead in better
shape than ever because it's now battle hardened -- the cartoonist is
not poking fun at the casualties or amputees, of course, but
graphically illustrating the point that the Army is broken.
REP. MURTHA: Well, and I agree the Army is broken. And as a
matter of fact, why would I believe what Secretary Rumsfeld says when
he said it would only cost $50 billion to win this war; when the
undersecretary said that the oil would pay for the reconstruction in
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, but the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and
some of the other military officers wrote a stern letter of reprimand
and irritation and sermonizing o The Washington Post.
Now, why was that? You know Peter Pace, don't you? The chairman
of the Joint Chiefs.
REP. MURTHA: I know the chairman, I know the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you hold them in high regard?
REP. MURTHA: I know all the chiefs and I held them in high
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that letter was promoted by
REP. MURTHA: I think it's inappropriate for the military to get
involved in politics. I mean, whether I agree with the cartoon or not
is beside the point. They distract from the real issue. The issue is
that we're fighting -- we're caught in a civil war and not fighting
terrorism as we should.
I mean, we're fighting terrorism -- we're detracting from
terrorism by fighting the war in Iraq. That's the thing. They keep
trying to distract from what I'm saying. The substantive
recommendation I'm making to them, they find all kinds of ways. As a
matter of fact, they won't show the caskets that are coming into
Delaware because they think that'll be depressing to the people.
The Washington Post the next day showed a young fellow with both
his legs off on the front page of The Washington Post. So you know,
the facts are we've got people who lose their arms and legs.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's clear up something with you, Congressman.
A few days ago a conservative publication, The American Spectator,
published an article attacking you and your ethics and integrity. And
the thrust of the article was because your brother, Kit, is a defense
lobbyist, and you're engaging in, quote, unquote, "murky ethics" by
virtue of the fact that he is the ranking Democratic member of the --
you are the ranking Democratic member of the Defense Appropriations
Subcommittee. How long has your brother been a defense lobbyist?
REP. MURTHA: Well, probably 20 years. But we treat him like we
treat everybody else. He's got a good project, we take care of it.
If he doesn't have a good project, we don't take care of it. He
served in the Marine Corps just like I did and he's a marvelous
brother, but he doesn't get treated like -- he just get treated like
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't do any favors for him?
REP. MURTHA: We don't do any favors for him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No quid pro quo?
REP. MURTHA: We treat him exactly like everybody else.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you actually have rejected some of the
ideas -- some of --
REP. MURTHA: Oh, absolutely, absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me ask you this -- were you involved in the
Abscam scandals in the late 1970s, the FBI sting operation into
congressional bribery? One senator and five members of the House were
indicted after accepting bribes from undercover FBI agents in the
sting, which centered around a fictitious effort to get support for
arms sales to Middle Eastern countries. Murtha was approached by an
undercover FBI agent, and you're on tape telling the agent, quote,
unquote, "I'm not interested." Is that true?
REP. MURTHA: Not only that, John; they pulled a drawer out and
they had $50,000 there and I said, "I'm not interested." I said, "I'm
interested in investment in my district, period."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So the person who wrote this is really writing a
smear -- a crude, cheap and actionable smear -- against you by say you
were an unindicted co-conspirator. It was never suggested throughout
the whole case -- in fact, the ethics committee exonerated you,
REP. MURTHA: Only two votes against out of 17 counts. I mean,
it was -- it cleared completed. That was in the grand jury stage of
it, for heaven's sakes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to take any action against this
person, whose name is David Holman?
REP. MURTHA: I'm not going to allow them to distract me, John,
from my mission. My mission is one thing: to get the president to
change his direction.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it character association --
REP. MURTHA: Well, it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- assassination?
REP. MURTHA: I'll tell you, in my business, I take a lot of
criticism. But in my estimation, what I do is try not to be
distracted by this criticism. They're doing everything they can to
distract from what I'm saying. I'm saying --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they're also using you as a ploy to distract
from the Republican Jack Abramoff.
REP. MURTHA: Yeah, good point.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think this story originates with The
American Spectator or David Holman, or do you think it originates
REP. MURTHA: Well, I have no idea where it originates, but I'll
tell you --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't see any sinister genius at the White
House pulling this string, do you?
REP. MURTHA: (Laughs.) I don't know the guy and I've heard a
lot about him, but I have no doubt that it could have originated
there. But the point is that they're trying to distract from what I'm
saying. They can't answer it substantively. They can't say --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you brother withstand any kind of legal
REP. MURTHA: Absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what do we do in Iraq?
REP. MURTHA: John, I'm convinced that we redeploy as quickly as
possible within safety of the troops.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does that mean? Move the troops out of the
cities in the borders of the country, would you say?
REP. MURTHA: That's right. Move them out of all of Iraq into
the borders of the country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And then inhibit the flow of goods?
REP. MURTHA: Well, what you do is you let the Iraqis -- you give
them the incentive to take over. That's what needs to happen. It's
their government. They've got to fight for their government. They've
got to work it out themselves.
We keep giving them advice. Let me tell you a statistic: over
60 percent of the Iraqis have no confidence in our Army at all. Only
18 percent believe in our Army, and 80 percent want us out of there,
and 47 percent say it's just fine to kill Americans.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we somehow caught in the middle?
REP. MURTHA: We're caught in the middle of a civil war. That's
the thing that worries me, and our kids are being killed
unnecessarily. And the sooner we get out, the sooner we redeploy --
and we could do the same thing from outside the country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, do you know (which goal around ?) now in
the goals that have been proposed to us? I count -- I think based on
something you said, I count six. We started off with Saddam was an
eminent threat to the U.S. security because he had weapons of mass
destruction. Number two, Saddam was a vile dictator who deserved to
be deposed. Number three, fighting terrorists in Iraq was better than
fighting them in New York. Number four, the goal was to transform the
Middle East by making Iraq the model of democracy. Number five, Iraq
is a central part of the war on terror. And six, we have to stay in
Iraq until we achieve complete victory for the sake of credibility. I
guess we're on six, right? What's complete victory, John?
REP. MURTHA: That's the problem; it's open ended and the Iraqis
are going to decide. He said, no politician in Washington is going to
make a decision about getting them out. Is he a politician? I mean,
is the president of the United States a politician? He goes out
fundraising all the time.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he talking political stability? Is he
talking the absence of terrorism? Is he calling for the defeat or the
containment of the insurgency by either the U.S. or Iraqi security
forces or some combination thereof?
REP. MURTHA: John, I predict that he's going to do exactly what
I'm recommending. He's going to redeploy our troops outside the
borders. And it may take a little longer than I like, but that's
what's going to happen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thanks so much for being my guest, and good
REP. MURTHA: Enjoyed it. Thanks very much -- (chuckles) --
BEGIN PBS SEGMENT
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you support permanent basing of U.S. troops
REP. MURTHA: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do not?
REP. MURTHA: I do not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No way.
REP. MURTHA: No way. And I don't support advisors in Iraq.
They'd just be targets and would have to withdraw. We don't know
enough about the culture, we don't have -- it just would not be in the
best interest of the United States to have troops there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see, by the way, that the Kurdish sector
REP. MURTHA: It's beginning to explode --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three groups.
REP. MURTHA: -- and what happens then -- what's Turkey going to
do? I was in Turkey when they voted -- the day they voted not to let
us go through. I was there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you noticed that the civilian war planners
whom you have dealt with and the military are two distinct operations,
and that the relationship between them is, from my perspective, very
heard to determine? What are you observing about the relationship
between the civilians and the military in the Pentagon?
REP. MURTHA: Well, John, there's always some dissension between
the military and the civilians that come in, but there's
dissension now than I've ever seen. As a matter of fact, I meet with
the military all the time, I talk to the military all the time.
There's no question about the difference.
For instance, they needed troops when they went in. And you
remember what happened to General Shinseki --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
REP. MURTHA: -- they prematurely announced his successor. So he
-- for all intents and purposes, he was out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he testified.
REP. MURTHA: He testified they needed 200,000 troops, and I
think they even needed troops than that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they also -- did they also question the
reconstruction -- the extent of the reconstruction effort and the role
of the military in that? Wasn't that before it -- before the
REP. MURTHA: This is a good point. Two -- the State Department
had a good plan, even the military had a good plan, and they dumped
the whole plan. They ignored it because they completely miscalculated
the intensity of the opposition we've run into. And then we
exacerbated it by Abu Ghraib, and of course the way the military
operates. The military has to operate that way in order to protect
lives, but they make enemies. So we've made enemies in this whole
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