WASHINGTON (CNN) – Following a headline-grabbing uproar, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, moved swiftly Friday to clarify earlier remarks that seemed to suggest the Iraq surge policy was working.
The surge, he said in a statement, “has created a window of opportunity for the Iraqi government,’’ but so far the Iraqi government has “failed to capitalize on the political and diplomatic steps that the surge was designed to provide.”
“The fact remains that the war in Iraq cannot be won militarily, and that we must begin an orderly redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq as soon as practicable,” said the chair of the House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee.
Murtha, who recently returned from a trip to Iraq, told reporters Thursday that the "surge is working." The statement stunned his colleagues – Democratic leadership, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, is currently blocking approval of full funding requested by the Bush administration for combat operations in Iraq next year without a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal.
Murtha’s comments seemed to represent a dramatic shift from his views earlier this year, when he said the surge was not working, and warned of looming disaster for U.S. military forces in Iraq. He told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer earlier this summer that the president's views on the success of the surge in Iraq were "delusional."
“Nothing's gotten better. Incidents have increased,” he told Blitzer. “We have had more Americans killed in the last four months than any other period during the war."
– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand