Iraq war critic Congressman John Murtha dies at 77

On November 17, 2005, Murtha spoke on the House floor in a dramatic speech:

"I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis. I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid-December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice: The United States will immediately redeploy -- immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free, free from a United States occupation. And I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process."

You may recall the GOP led House, in an effort to embarrass Murtha and House Democrats, forced a vote on withdrawing from Iraq, a vote that went down to defeat 403-3.

The Washington Post reported on that vote on Saturday, November 19:

Though even many Democrats think Murtha's immediate withdrawal plan is impractical, it struck a chord in a party where frustration with the war and the Bush administration's open-ended commitment is mounting fast. Murtha galvanized the debate as few others could have. He is a 33-year House veteran and former Marine colonel who received medals for his wounds and valor in Vietnam, and he has traditionally been a leading Democratic hawk and advocate of military spending.

That anti-war stance made him a hated figure amongst some in the conservative media.

Murtha was a close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  He was also known to be - like Pinellas County's Bill Young, one of the all time masters of Pork-barrel politics.  As the Post reported today, he was known as "The King of Pork"

Critics dubbed Murtha, the chairman of the powerful subcommittee that controls Pentagon spending, the "King of Pork" for the volume of taxpayer money he could direct to the area around his home town of Johnstown. Most of the largesse came in defense and military research contracts he steered to companies based in his district or with small offices there.

He was also involved in the famous Abscam scandal of the late 70's, where he was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator.  And in the pas couple of years, he came under the scrutiny of ethics and investigative panels.

Again, Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha, dead on Monday afternoon at the age of 77.

Longtime Pennsylvania Democratic Representative John Murtha died Monday afternoon due to complications from recent gallbladder surgery.

The somewhat controversial lawmaker was 77 years old.  He was first elected to Congress back in 1974.  A former Marine, he became the first Vietnam War combat Veteran elected to the Congress.

Despite that lengthy career, he received the most notoriety of his career back in 2005, when he became an outspoken and respected critic against the Iraq war.  He had supported the 2002 resolution to go to war, but he later blasted the Bush administration's war effort, calling it a "flawed policy wrapped in illusion."

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