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Friday, September 28, 2007

Haditha Marines: Judge Orders John Murtha to testify in defamation case

When John Murtha set off a firestorm by publicly convicting the Haditha Marines before they had even been tried, he was starting a chain of events that are continuing to snowball and one of those Marines, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, is suing him for defamation.

Another Marine, Col. Jeffrey Chessani plans on hauling Murtha into court also for libel.

The Justice Department tried to get the case dismissed, but his public accusations against the Haditha Marines are well documented and the Judge refused to dismiss the case and has ordered the Pennsylvania Democrat, John Murtha to give a sworn deposition.

A Marine Corps sergeant is suing the 16-term congressman for alleging "cold-blooded murder and war crimes" by unnamed soldiers in connection with the deaths of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha.

The deaths became known in May 2006 when Murtha, who opposes the Iraq war, said at a Capitol Hill news conference that a Pentagon war crimes investigation will show Marines killed dozens of innocent Iraqi civilians in the town in 2005.

Murtha's office declined to comment on the ruling. He has said his intention was to draw attention to the pressure put on troops in Iraq and to cover-up the incident.

The Justice Department wanted the case dismissed because Murtha was acting in his official role as a lawmaker. Assistant U.S. Attorney John F. Henault said the comments were made as part of the debate over the war in Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer said the congressman might be right, but said she won't know for sure unless Murtha explains himself. She did not set a date for Murtha's testimony but said she would also require him to turn over documents related to his comments.

"You're writing a very wide road for members of Congress to go to their home districts and say anything they choose about private persons and be able to do so without any liability. Are you sure you want to do that?" Collyer said, adding later, "How far can a congressman go and still be protected?"

Collyer said she was troubled by the idea the lawmakers are immune from lawsuits regardless of what they say to advance their political careers.


First we showed a letter written to John Murtha from L/Cpl Justin Sharratt's father, a heartfelt letter about Murtha's reprehensible conduct regarding those Marines.

After we found out that all charges had been dropped against L/Cpl Justin Sharratt, we asked if Murtha was going to apologize and we provided detailed information, webform contact to John Murtha, phone numbers, his office location and directions on how to get to his offices, for those of you that wanted to see him apologize to have your voices heard.

Then we saw the Haditha investigators recommending that all charges be dropped for the Haditha Marines.

Murtha's words before the Marines had been tried:

On Wednesday, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said the accounts are true.


Murtha, a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq, said at a news conference Wednesday that sources within the military have told him that an internal investigation will show that "there was no firefight, there was no IED (improvised explosive device) that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."


The Marine Corps issued a statement in response to Murtha's remarks:

"There is an ongoing investigation; therefore, any comment at this time would be inappropriate and could undermine the investigatory and possible legal process. As soon as the facts are known and decisions on future actions are made, we will make that information available to the public to the fullest extent allowable."

Murtha held the news conference to mark six months since his initial call for "redeployment" of U.S. forces from Iraq.

He said U.S. forces were under undue pressure in Iraq because of poor planning and allocation of resources by the Bush administration.
Murtha deserves to be publicly humiliated for those accusations against Marines without the benefit of a full investigation or trial and I am glad the judge has ordered this deposition.

Letter to Murtha from Marine's Dad.
Is John Murtha Going to Apologize to the Haditha Marines Now?: UPDATED.
Haditha Investigator:Drop Marine murder case.
Haditha Marine, Col. Jeffrey Chessani to Sue John Murtha.
Another Haditha Marine Exonerated-Still No Apology From Murtha.

Others discussing this: (via memeorandum)
Hot Air and Right Voices.