Is Murtha Nuts?

Democratic Congressman Jack Murtha seems to have gone around the bend. Check out this exchange from this morning’s Face the Nation:

Congressman Murtha, thank you for coming this morning, and I want to start by quoting something that General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said this morning on “Meet the Press.” He said he believes the war in Iraq is going, in his words, “very, very well.” What is your assessment?
Representative JACK MURTHA (Democrat, Pennsylvania; House Appropriations Committee): Why would I believe him? I mean, that administration, this administration, including the president, had mischaracterized this war for the last two years. They, first of all, they said it will take 40,000 troops to settle this thing right after the invasion. Then they said there’s no insurgency. They’re dead-enders is what the secretary of defense said. On and on and on, the mischaracterization of the war. They said there’s nuclear weapons. There are no nuclear weapons there. There are no biological weapons there. No al-Qaeda connection. So why would I believe the chairman of the joint chiefs when he says things are going well. I ask my staff–when my staff–when they make a statement like this, I say, `Look, look in the latest report that the State Department puts out, the Weekly Report, and tell me how much progress we’ve made.’ So they look at it, and we’ve made no progress at all. Sixty percent unemployment, the Iraqis want us out of there. Eighty percent of the Iraqis want us out of there. Oil production below prewar level. Water production, only 30 percent of the people getting water. Now our troops are being fed well and being taken care of. They’re doing everything they can do militarily. But they’re in a situation where they’re caught in a civil war. And there’s two participants fighting for survival and fighting for supremacy inside that country, and that’s my definition of a civil war.
So I don’t believe the secretary. I think we’re not making progress. We’re caught in a civil war. We’ve lost almost 20,000 people in this war, if you count the casualties and the people who’ve been killed in the three years we’ve been involved.
SCHIEFFER: Now I’m going to make sure I understand. I mean, I think I understand what you’re saying, but you’re talking about a Marine and here you are an ex-Marine. This is a military man. This is not–this is not somebody, some civilian out there at the Pentagon. You’re saying you no longer believe what Marine General Peter Pace says when he says he thinks things are going well.
Rep. MURTHA: That’s exactly right. Why would I believe him with all the misstatements and mischaracterizations they’ve made over the last two years? And the public is way ahead of what’s going on in Washington. They no longer believe. The troops themselves, 70 percent of the troops said, `We want to come home within a year.’ The only solution to this is redeploy. Let me tell you, the only people who want us in Iraq is Iran and al-Qaeda….

It’s rather remarkable that a sitting United States Congressman would play so fast and loose with the facts, especially in the context of accusing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of being a liar. Pretty much every “fact” that Murtha hysterically tossed out is wrong.
Murtha’s suggestion that the administration said Iraq had nuclear weapons is absurd. (Why don’t talk show hosts ever seem to call Democrats on these wild misrepresentations?) Likewise his claim that there is “no al Qaeda connection.” In light of everything we now know, that statement can only be described as ignorant. And, even if we charitably assume that Murtha is behind the curve on this one, how about Zarqawi? How about Ansar al-Islam? How about the terrorist training camps? How about the many connections beween Saddam’s Iraq and al Qaeda that are documented in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report?
Murtha says he can tell we aren’t making any progress in Iraq because one of this staffers reads the State Department’s Weekly Status Report, which shows that “we’ve made no progress at all.” Maybe Murtha needs some new staffers. Whoever has been describing the State Department’s Weekly Status Reports to him forgot to mention a few things. Here are some selections from the most recent Status Report, dated March 1:

Iraqi Police and Coalition Forces conduced a raid resulting in the death of Abu Asma, the Al Qaeda military leader of northern Baghdad.
The Police Chief of Diwaniyah Province…and Col. Larry McCallister, commander of Gulf Region South District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cut the ribbon to officially open the 32nd police station in Diwaniyah Province.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed construction on the $118 million New Power Generation Plant in Basrah Province. The new plant will provide power to approximately 1.5 million residents.
On February 21, the US Army Corps of Engineers completed construction on the $3.4 million Al Abara Substation, an Electric Distribution Project in Diyala Province. The rehabilitated substation is capable of providing power to approximately 60,000 residents.
U.S. and Iraqi troops have stepped up their patrols in Iraq’s Baghdad and Babil provinces, and with assistance of ordinary Iraqis, discovered and defused numerous roadside bombs, mine fields and weapons caches.
Total trained and equipped Iraqi Security Forces: 232,100.
Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Ja’afari claimed that sectarian violence in his country would not derail efforts to set up a new government and said the security situation was as now under control….The number of attacks has dropped sharply over the last few days.
Construction is complete for the Al Basasel School project that 150 students and eight faculty members will utilize in Mosul. The US Army Corps of Engineeers completed constructed on several other educational facilities:
–Renovations on the Malk Al Ashtar school project in Diwaniyah, that will benefit some 2,000 Iraqi students.
–A girls’ school housing 480 students in Khairat, Karbala Province.
–Refurbishing of the Imam Ali School in Karbala….This school will serve approximately 960 students.
US Army Corps of Engineers completed a water pump station project that will benefit approximately 100,000 Iraqis in the western part of Mosul.
Construction is complete on two US-funded Village Road Projects in the Basrah Governorate that will provide improved transportation for 6,000 local residents in Taha and Al Khas….
The dinar remained stable against the dollar this week, ending at 1,476 dinars per USD on March 1.

And this is the source that Murtha cites as authority for the proposition that “we’ve made no progress at all” in Iraq!
Murtha claims the unemployment rate in Iraq is 60%, which is unbelievable on its face. This is a figure that is sometimes cited on far-left blogs, which I suspect are Murtha’s source; the CIA’s World Factbook estimates Iraq’s unemployment rate for 2005 at 25-30%. (The Factbook didn’t attempt to estimate the unemployment rate under Saddam.)
Murtha says 80% of Iraqis “want us out of there.” This too is silly, if by “out of there” Murtha means that 80% agree with his call for immediate withdrawal. We have linked to a number of Iraqi public opinion polls, like this one, where only 12% of Iraqis wanted American troops to pull out “at once.” I don’t know where Murtha got his 80%; the closest I’ve seen is the World Public Opinion survey, done in late January, that is reported on here. In that survey, 35% of Iraqis say they want the U.S. to withdraw within six months, and 35% “gradually over the next two years.” (29% want U.S. troop reductions only as warranted by the security situation.) So Murtha’s figure is ridiculous unless “wanting us out of there” means wanting us to withdraw over the next couple of years–which is what I want, as, no doubt, does President Bush.
Next comes one of Murtha’s most bizarre claims: “Water production, only 30 percent of the people getting water.” This seems pretty obviously false; otherwise, 70% of the population would be dead.
Murtha says there is a civil war going on in Iraq. Only, there isn’t. Murtha should know what a civil war is; we had one here once. You could tell it was a civil war, because half of the officers in the U.S. armed forces resigned and went south to fight for their “country;” afterward, opposing armies fought in the field. If that happens in Iraq, there will be a civil war. But it certainly hasn’t happened yet. Violence, yes; the Middle East is a violent place. But it is simply false to say that there is a civil war going on, as Murtha must know, if he is not completely unhinged.
Murtha’s claim that 20,000 American soldiers have been “lost in this war” is loopy, too. That number is pretty close for total casualties, but to suggest that everyone who has been wounded, no matter how slightly, is “lost” is both false and insulting to our combat personnel. If I’m reading these numbers correctly, only half of those wounded are even evacuated from Iraq, and two-thirds of those evacuated are accidental injuries. On any rational interpretation, Murtha’s claim that 20,000 have been “lost” is off by a factor of at least four or five.
It’s no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention that Murtha has joined the lunatic left. What’s disappointing is that journalists continue to treat him as a serious person, rather than as the crank he is.
UPDATE: One of the dimmest of the dimwitted left-wing web sites has tried to respond to this post. Among other things, the proprietor of this slough of ignorance has resurrected the old chestnut that Dick Cheney said in an interview that Iraq had “reconstituted nuclear weapons;” ergo, Murtha was right! This is so stupid it makes your head hurt. We debunked this silly claim here. On March 16, 2003, Cheney was interviewed on Meet the Press. The following exchange was part of the interview:

MR. RUSSERT: What do you think is the most important rationale for going to war with Iraq?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I think I

Responses

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