A town hall forum hosted by Congressman Jim Moran and featuring Congressman Jack Murtha packed a large room in Arlington, Va., Thursday evening, and filled an overflow room, and had to turn away another 500 people. The media was well represented.
Audio: MP3. 75.7 MB, over an hour.
Both Moran and Murtha spoke strongly in support of ending the war as quickly as possible and pulling all U.S. troops out of Iraq. Murtha complained repeatedly that the Bush Administration contributes only “rhetoric” and no “substance” to this debate.
“Sixty to eighty percent of Iraqis want us out,” Murtha said. “And 45 pecent say it’s justified to kill Americans. The State Department’s own polls say the same thing. It’s time to let Iraqis take over this effort. Let them solve their own problems, as we did in the revolutionary war.”
“A number of senators running for president called me,” Murtha added. “I told them there were two policies. One is redeployment. The other is the President’s ‘stay the course.’ And they’re in between. I told them they’re missing an opportunity to show leadership. They’re so hesitant to take a position.”
Two long lines formed behind two microphones through which members of the audience could pose questions. One man asked what the real reason had been for the war. Murtha replied that he himself had believed there were WMDs, that he had been misled by the CIA, that Bush ought to have fired George Tenet, and that at this point it doesn’t matter what the reason was for the war.
Moran said that he did not support the war because he didn’t trust the intelligence about the WMDs: “It was not verifiable. It wasn’t even current.” Also, Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the attack on the U.S., Moran said, and “There were no terroirist operations going on in Iraq…. And you don’t go to war without a plan to win the peace.”
Someone asked: “Are we building permanent military bases in Iraq?” Murtha said no. Moran said no, but we have spent $700 million on an embassy.
In response to another question, Moran addressed the idea that withdrawal would result in chaos. “The insurgents are primarily Iraqis,” he said. “And foreign terrorists will be booted out once it’s not in the Sunnis’ interest to have them there.”
A veteran of the war asked “How come there hasn’t been an investigation of the fraudulent lead-up to the war by this administration?” Murtha gave a nonanswer.
Another vet asked “Why not impeach Bush-Cheney?” That question resulted in by far the loudest and longest applause of the evening — an extended period of foot-stomping, hooting, and hollering. Murtha gave a nonanswer. Moran replied that “impeachment is inconsistent with the democratic process.” When this led to boos and hisses and shouts of “It’s in the Constitution!” Moran added that impeachment “is not going to happen” in the current Congress, as if he were watching from the stands and not himself a Member of Congress.
Another member of the audience asked whether either congressman supported Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s bill to create a cabinet-level Department of Peace. Both gave non-answers.
At one point, Murtha said, “I support what we did in Fallujah, because we’re saving American lives.”
Another questioner asked about the Downing Street Memo and whether Democrats might consider making a lot of noise about the fact that “the intelligence wasn’t wrong, it was a lie.” According to this person, “people might then back the Democrats.”
Murtha agreed, and said “The Democrats need to get off their hind legs and not be afraid to speak!”
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