Hawkhawk turns hawkdove, denounces chickenhawk
From the NY Times:
An influential House Democrat called the Iraq campaign "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion" today as he called for the immediate withdrawal of United States troops, intensifying an already bitter debate on Capitol Hill.
"It is time for a change in direction," said Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania, the leading Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee. "Our military is suffering, the future of our country is at risk."
Mr. Murtha, a conservative who voted in 2002 for the resolution authorizing use of force in Iraq and who supported the Persian Gulf war in 1991, called for "the immediate redeployment of American forces."
"It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region," Mr. Murtha said during an emotional news conference on Capitol Hill. His remarks were quickly denounced by House Republicans as defeatist and wrongheaded.
Mr. Murtha, a 73-year-old Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam combat, lashed back at Vice President Dick Cheney, who in a speech to a conservative group on Wednesday night condemned critics of the Iraq war. "The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone, but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history," Mr. Cheney said in an address to the group, Frontiers of Freedom, in Washington.
Mr. Murtha was disdainful of the vice president's remarks, saying that "people with five deferments" had no right to make such remarks. Mr. Cheney, like millions of other young men of the era, avoided military service during the Vietnam war.
"Our troops have become the primary target for the insurgency," Mr. Murtha said. Insurgents, he said, "are united against U.S. forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence." He went on to say that, before the Iraqi elections in December, the country's people and its emerging government "must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy."
"All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free," he said. "Free from United States occupation."