Skip to comments.Murtha's Anti-War Stance Overshadows Abscam Past (Timely repost for Pelosi)
Posted on 11/21/2006 10:24:58 AM PST by yoe
Members of the press have given extensive and glowing coverage to Rep. John Murtha's criticism of the war in Iraq, but have overlooked a number of other controversies the Pennsylvania Democrat has experienced over the past 25 years. This includes his reported role as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the Abscam bribery scandal of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Murtha has denied any wrongdoing, but Cybercast News Service has learned that one of Murtha's former allies, a Democratic congressman who served on the House Ethics Committee in 1981 and says he lobbied colleagues not to censure Murtha, now believes Murtha lied to him about his role in Abscam.
Since Murtha's Nov. 17, 2005, call for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, one CNN anchor has called him "one of the most highly respected members of Congress," the Associated Press has referred to Murtha as "one of Congress' most hawkish Democrats," and ABC News has noted that he is "a decorated marine who served in Vietnam."
But a search of the Nexis online database by Cybercast News Service found only three newspaper articles over the past two months connecting Murtha with the FBI's Abscam (short for "Arab scam") sting operation that led to the arrest of several congressmen for accepting bribes.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Murtha was one of eight members of Congress lured to a Washington, D.C., townhouse by a team of FBI agents posing as representatives of a fictitious Arab sheik. They handed out briefcases filled with $50,000 in return for helping the sheik gain residency in the United States."
Noting that Murtha "is not squeaky clean," the Brattleboro, Vt., Reformer reported that the congressman "did not take the cash" offered by the agents. Instead, "he asked the fake sheik to consider investing some money in his struggling home town, Johnstown."
The Washington Post referred to the incident as "an ethical scrape" in which Murtha was "named as an unindicted co-conspirator and testified against two House colleagues."
But, a videotape of a Jan. 7, 1980 Abscam-related meeting involving Murtha shows that the congressman's rejection of the offered bribe was less than definite. "I'm not interested. I'm sorry," Murtha told the FBI agent, but added that he meant "at this point. See Video.
"You know, we do business for a while, maybe I'll be interested, maybe I won't," Murtha said on the FBI videotape.
The congressman told the undercover FBI agent that he was a member of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct and acknowledged: "If you get into heat with politicians, there's no amount of money that can help."
In November 1980, the Justice Department announced that Murtha would not face prosecution for his part in the scandal. "I did not consider that any money was offered, and certainly none was taken," Murtha told reporters. "The FBI who taped the entire conversation knows damn well no money changed hands."
Eight months later, the House ethics panel also chose not to file charges against the Pennsylvania Democrat.
A July 30, 1981, article in the Washington Post quoted a committee source as saying that several allegations of misconduct against Murtha were rejected on a "near party-line vote." Since the panel was made up of six Democrats and six Republicans, seven votes were needed to file any charges.
Serving on the House panel in 1981 was Rep. Don Bailey (D-Pa.), who told Cybercast News Service that he was responsible for preventing the committee from punishing Murtha. "I saved his (posterior)," Bailey said.
"I worked hard, and I argued," and members of the committee "agreed with me," Bailey stated. "Part of my argument was that the FBI was overdoing it and there wasn't evidence that [Murtha] was doing anything wrong."
In 1982, as a result of congressional redistricting, Murtha and Bailey were forced to run against each other in a Democratic primary. Murtha emerged the winner.
In 2002, Murtha's ethics again became an issue in the congressional election. Bailey issued a public letter, the contents of which have been published on the Internet and confirmed by Bailey. In the letter, Bailey admits that his opinion about Murtha's involvement in Abscam had dramatically changed by 2002.
"I was, to be honest, critical about how you misled me about Abscam where you convinced me you had voluntarily told federal agents about the offer of money to you," Bailey wrote Murtha in the letter.
"I learned later, after I had successfully defeated the ethics charges against you, that you had merely manipulated the system to cooperate with federal agents to avoid prosecution," Bailey added.
On Jan. 9, Bailey told Cybercast News Service that he now believes Murtha was "pretty damn stupid" during the Abscam sting.
"The idea that somebody is going to trot out $50,000 in cash in front of you and you don't know that is wrong is pretty damn stupid to me," Bailey said. "What bankers or investors run around with $50,000 in cash?"
Just hours after the July 1981 House Ethic Committee vote sparing Murtha from charges, E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr., special counsel for the panel's Abscam investigation, abruptly resigned. At the time, Prettyman refused to discuss with the press his reasons for stepping down.
When contacted by Cybercast News Service regarding the investigation, Prettyman called the Murtha situation "very interesting," but declined further comment, citing the need to maintain attorney-client privilege.
Similarly, when Prettyman was interviewed by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call in 1990, the former special counsel declined to comment on why he had resigned. But when pressed on whether the resignation was due to the Ethics Committee's vote on Murtha, Prettyman said that would be "a logical conclusion."
In his Friday, Jan. 13, response to the Cybercast News Service investigation, Murtha confined his reply to the controversy surrounding his military service and did not address the accusations surrounding Abscam.
"Questions about my record are clearly an attempt to distract attention from the real issue, which is that our brave men and women in uniform are dying and being injured every day in the middle of a civil war that can be resolved only by the Iraqis themselves," Murtha wrote in an email response.
"I volunteered for a year's duty in Vietnam. I was out in the field almost every single day. We took heavy casualties in my regiment the year that I was there. In my fitness reports, I was rated No. 1. My record is clear," Murtha added.
Murtha has thus far refused to release his full military records.
'One-man wrecking crew'
Since the Abscam scandal, Murtha has worked to limit the power of federal law enforcement officers.
In 1997, he spearheaded two measures -- one to prohibit non-members of Congress from filing complaints with the House Ethics Committee, and another to reimburse members and regular citizens for legal fees if they are ultimately cleared in a Justice Department probe.
This drew fire from Gary Ruskin, who at the time was director of the Congressional Accountability Project. "When it comes to institutional policing of corruption in Congress, John Murtha is a one-man wrecking crew," Ruskin said.
In response, Murtha argued that the legal fees amendment would "serve as a warning to the Justice Department to no longer interpret House rules to suit its own needs."
The Fiscal Year 2005 defense appropriations bill also created problems for Murtha. He helped write the bill, and it reportedly contained millions of dollars in federal funding for at least 10 companies represented by KSA Consulting -- a lobbying firm that includes the congressman's brother, Robert "Kit" Murtha, as a senior partner.
Murtha has denied any wrongdoing, and an Ethics Committee investigation into the KSA Consulting matter may be conducted later this year.
Anyone who calls for the withdrawal of U.S. military forces in Iraq "like Murtha and (peace activist) Cindy Sheehan becomes an instantaneous hero," Cliff Kincaid, editor of the conservative Accuracy in Media (AIM) Report, told Cybercast News Service, while "the media regard supporters of the war as fools and dupes."
To many in the media, Kincaid noted, the failure to find stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq "was absolutely convincing evidence this war was dishonestly sold.
"They're not going to let that happen again. In order to get back at the administration, they're going to try to undermine the policy with constant gloom and doom and negative news," Kincaid said.
However, Jim Naureckas, editor of Extra!, the bimonthly magazine of the liberal group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), disagreed that Murtha was receiving special treatment from the press.
"For someone who is considered, at least on military issues, to be a fairly conservative Democrat, to come out and say what he said, that's a pretty newsworthy thing," Naureckas told Cybercast News Service, referring to Murtha's call for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.
"Up until Murtha's statement, very few people in the opposition party had signaled that getting troops out of Iraq was a priority, and the people who had were generally on the left end of the party and could be more easily marginalized," Naureckas said.
Meanwhile, Bailey -- Murtha's former ally turned antagonist -- told Cybercast News Service that he is not bothered by the establishment media's decision to ignore the congressman's link to Abscam or any of Murtha's other troubles.
Murtha may be "a wise old sage" by now, Bailey said, pointing to what he called Murtha's real area of expertise -- proposing "pay increases in the United States Congress.
"He does that well," Bailey concluded.
(Monisha Bansal contributed to this article.)
(Read Article About Murtha's military record)
Murtha's Military record like John Kerry's are not complete for public view. Pelosi's days as speaker will be numbered IF she doesn't bow to the will of the Black Caucus, take John Murtha and other cut 'en runners as her cohorts in politics for Democrat/Socialists; stand down on Iraq i.e., cut and run leaving our Allies/Coalition hanging in the breeze - making a very weak America with only the UN, France and other Socialists countries standing with America as the U.S.A. loses all reliability except for appeasing the terrorists....
And then, again, maybe it doesn't...
As a lobbyist shamelessly told the Hill, (article here), "We are mortgaging our future on this war. Most people want to see the war over to go to the next-generation weapons.
Also, as Bloomberg (at least) has reported, (article here) Murthas earmarks rob our troops of training and equipment. The money is cut from the Defense Budget and sent to corporations in Murthas district for projects the Pentagon didnt ask to have supported.
So when Murtha goes into an anti-war rant, he is merely representing the wishes of his largest campaign donors.
E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr., is about as good as you can get in the Washington legal establishment for integrity. The federal courthouse in D. C. is named for his late father.
"Dirty Murtha" bump!
The ugly truth is that Democrats like Pelosi, Murtha, Reid, Kennedy, Kerry, Durbin, etc., have only two core principles; 1) acquire power over the lives of Americans, and 2) retain power over the lives of Americans.
Hey dummy, see what you get for trusting fellow a dumb-o-crat.