(Incidentally, this has already been diaried today, Swift Boating Murtha, but the diary was quite short and basically consisted of links to several articles about this, and doesn't appear to have gotten much notice judging by the comments. I'm glad this diary was put up but I thought there was room for a followup diary that included more details and links. If people feel this is redundant, let me know and I'll delete this diary.)
First, here's an article on the Huffington Post describing a "secret" administration campaign to smear Murtha while putting up a facade of praising his war record and supporting his right to voice his opposition to the administration's Iraq policies.
It's a brief piece so I'll quote the whole thing:
The Huffington Post has learned the Bush administration recently asked high ranking military leaders to denounce Congressman John Murtha. Congressman Murtha has called for the Bush Administration to withdraw US troops from Iraq.
The Bush Administration first attacked Rep. Murtha for his Iraq views by associating him with the filmmaker Michael Moore and Representative Jean Schmidt likened him to a coward on the floor of the House of Representatives. When those tactics backfired, Dick Cheney called Murtha "A good man, a marine, a patriot and he's taking a clear stand in an entirely legitimate discussion."
Though the White House has backed off publicly, administration officials have nevertheless recently made calls to military leaders to condemn the congressman. So far they have refused.
Rep. Murtha spent 37 years in the Marine Corps earning a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and a Navy Distinguished Service Medal. His service has earned him the respect of the military, and made him a trusted adviser to both Republican and Democratic presidents and leaders of the armed forces.
No surprises there. Been there, done that, totally predictable. But this goes way beyond getting military leaders to condemn what I assume the article means only his opposition to the war. We're talking a complete smear of his his military, political and personal record, and thus his entire credibility. It's just a matter of time before we're shown pictures of him windsurfing on Lake Erie and sporting a diamond earing while chatting it up with Hanoi Jane in Provincetown, MA.
Well, it didn't take long. An outfit called Cybercast News Service (or CNS News, which I initially mistook for CBS News but which has absolutely no connection to it that I'm aware of) just put out an article smearing his war record, questioning the legitimacy of the two Purple Hearts he received while serving in Vietnam (for which he VOLUNTEERED), referring to an alleged "controversy" surrounding these medals which Murtha has supposedly been trying to play down for years, and even linking to another CNS article which discusses alleged Murtha links to the Abscam scandal of several decades ago.
Here is an excerpt:
Murtha's War Hero Status Called Into Question
By Marc Morano and Randy Hall
January 13, 2006
(CNSNews.com) - Having ascended to the national stage as one of the most vocal critics of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha has long downplayed the controversy and the bitterness surrounding the two Purple Hearts he was awarded for military service in Vietnam.
Murtha is a retired marine and was the first Vietnam combat veteran elected to Congress. Since 1967, there have been at least three different accounts of the injuries that purportedly earned Murtha his Purple Hearts. Those accounts also appear to conflict with the limited military records that are available, and Murtha has thus far refused to release his own military records.
A Cybercast News Service investigation also reveals that one of Murtha's former Democratic congressional colleagues and a fellow decorated Vietnam veteran, Don Bailey of Pennsylvania, alleges that Murtha admitted during an emotional conversation on the floor of the U.S. House in the early 1980s that he did not deserve his Purple Hearts.
"[Murtha] is putting himself forward as some combat veteran with serious wounds and he's using that and it's dishonest and it's wrong," Bailey told Cybercast News Service on Jan. 9. Murtha served in the Marines on active duty and in the reserves from 1952 until his retirement as a colonel in 1990. He volunteered for service in Vietnam and was a First Marine Regiment intelligence officer in 1966 and 1967.
Murtha and Bailey, once allies, were forced to run against each other in a Democratic congressional primary in 1982 following redistricting. Murtha won the election.
Murtha has, in the past, publicly dismissed any questions about whether he deserved his two Purple Hearts, noting during his 1994 congressional campaign that "I am proud of my service in Vietnam."
In his Friday, Jan. 13, response to the Cybercast News Service investigation, Murtha again defended his military record.
"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.
You get the picture. There's a lot more but it's basically more of the same.
Well, who exactly is the Cybercast News Service? Unsurprisingly, it's a faux news service a la Fox News that is owned and operated by well-known right-wing media flunkie Brent Bozell and his Media Research Center, a notoriously right wing-biased "media watchdog" that in its mission statement says that it is dedicated to bringing "balance and responsibility to the news media". Yeah--so long as that "balance and responsibility" is heavily slanted towards the right.
Just to give you an idea of who Brent Bozell and the MRC are, here are some choice quotes in praise of both:
"I don't think there's anybody, other than Brent Bozell, who spends more time giving examples of press bias than I do..."
"Brent Bozell and the MRC provide a most precious commodity - a quest for the truth. I can't possibly expose every example of bias and error that emanates from the national mainstream media, but Bozell and his group come as close as anyone can. MRC is a vital national interest."
Robert D. Novak, CNN Crossfire Co-Host and Nationally Syndicated Columnist
"The MRC is the indispensable counter-punch to liberal reporting, providing timely, accurate, and balanced analyses of the most egregious examples of media bias."
Brit Hume, Fox News Channel
"American conservatives have complained for years that the news media and, in particular, the broadcast TV networks, consistently labeled conservative public figures as such, but rarely do so with liberals. Now the Conservative Media Research center has run some numbers to make that case
Once again, you get the picture.
Thankfully, Murtha isn't taking this lying down. Here's his response to this attempted smear, also on the Huff Post:
Questions About My Record
This afternoon, CNSNEWS.com published an article entitled "Murtha's War Hero Status Called Into Question" on its website. The article questions the validity of my purple hearts. This is my response:
"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."
"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."
This is totally predictable, but it's also outrageous and we cannot let it stand. We need to do all that we can to support John Murtha and not let Karl Rove and his gang of media thugs bring down or even slightly taint yet another honorable man whose only "crime" was to stand up to an administration that has absolutely no honor, no dignity, and no shame.
So far this smear appears to be limited to the right-wing "media", but it's just a matter of time before it makes it to the so-called "Mainstream Media", with shills like Chris Matthews, Tim Russert and Wolf Blitzer taking indirect potshots at Murtha (being the dishonest cowards that they are they would never attack him directly, but that still won't stop them from helping this smear campaign along to boost their ratings and kiss up to their Bush-loving bosses and sponsors).
If there's even the slightest sign that this story is getting traction in the "MSM" (or Traditional Media, as Kos like to call it) then we need to immediately deluge them with emails, phone calls and letters to call them on it and get them to stop it.
THIS WILL NOT STAND!