Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Murtha says he wouldn't join military now

Murtha says he wouldn't join military now
Tue Jan 3, 2006 9:00 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rep. John Murtha, a key Democratic voice who favors pulling U.S. troops from Iraq, said in remarks airing on Monday that he would not join the U.S. military today.

A decorated Vietnam combat veteran who retired as a colonel after 37 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Murtha told ABC News' 'Nightline' program that Iraq 'absolutely' was a wrong war for President George W. Bush to have launched.

'Would you join (the military) today?,' he was asked in an interview taped on Friday.

'No,' replied Murtha of Pennsylvania, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives subcommittee that oversees defense spending and one of his party's leading spokesmen on military issues.

'And I think you're saying the average guy out there who's considering recruitment is justified in saying 'I don't want to serve',' the interviewer continued.

'Exactly right,' said Murtha, who drew White House ire in November after becoming the first ranking Democrat to push for a pullout of U.S. forces from Iraq as soon as it could be done safely.

At the time, White House spokesman Scott McClellan equated Murtha's position with surrendering to terrorists.

Since then, Bush has decried the 'defeatism' of some of his political rivals. In an unusually direct appeal, he urged Americans on December 18 not to give in to despair over Iraq, insisting that 'we are winning' despite a tougher-than-expected fight.

Murtha did not respond directly when asked whether a lack of combat experience might have affected the decision-making of Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and their former top deputies.

'Let me tell you, war is a nasty business. It sears the soul,' he said, choking up. 'And it made a difference. The shadow of those killings stay with you the rest of your life."


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