November 30th, 2007
10:00 AM ET
15 years ago

Murtha clarifies surge remarks

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

Filed under: Iraq
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Brad, from the great state of Texas

    I can just imagine what Nancy told Murtha after the original statement–"John! How could you let the truth slip out? Don't you know we're trying to win an election next year by keeping Americans in the dark?"

    November 30, 2007 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Former US Army Officer, Kansas

    The purpose of the surge was to provide breathing room for the Iraqi government to get organized. They have done nothing. Naturally, the violence is down, US Combat Forces are not engaged in high intensity combat operations. And one would expect that reguardless of the over all success of the operation that it must accomplish something.

    However, let us not forget that even General Petraus stated that the situation in Iraq can not be fixed through the use of military force. Nor let us forget that a major part of the Generals plans invole the invovlement of the Iraqi people and tribal leaders, and that where gains have been made it has been a result of the engagement of Iraqis and not the use of military force. And not by actions taken by the Iraqi central government.

    So was the surge a failure, no it was not a failure, but in the same respect it was not a sucess either. Nor can the US military maintain troop levels in Iraq indefentely.

    We need to withdraw unnecessary combat forces from Iraq. We need to maintain enough military force in Iraq to maintain security of our military and political interests and provide for the continued training of the Iraqi military and security forces.

    The Administrations plans for Iraq today are no different than they were with the "stay the course" mentality.

    One can do lots of things militarily and still never have a political or diplomatic grasp of the situation that uses windows of opportunity provided by the military to accomplish anything moving forward in the reconcilation of Iraq

    November 30, 2007 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    John was busy counting his ABSCAM money and all the kickback dough he has made over the years for his ENDLESS pork projects while he made his initial and TRUE AS HELL STATEMENT.

    When he got home and Pelosi returned from getting her latest botox treatments, she called him TELLING him to change his story to previous talking points.

    Like a good lackey John agreed to restate what "he meant".

    We need NEW leadership in BOTH parties, this is brutal.

    November 30, 2007 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. Chris, Middletown, CT

    how do you "misstate" that the surge is working?? Then after discussions with the Democratic need to clarify?? Please...even the Democrats have to say "no...this is partisan politics....we will not vote for the socialist or the left wing more games" (well...I tried to get them to think)

    November 30, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. john williams san diego, ca.

    i would like to see a poll that asks 'was or is murtha more or less corrupt than 'duke' Cunningham from calif?

    November 30, 2007 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  6. RP, Jacksonville, FL

    How can CNN say that Murtha's comments "seemed to suggest" the Surge was working. That is what he said and that is the truth. No wonder CNN is widely known as the Clinton News Network.

    November 30, 2007 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. therealist

    Funny that, our chair of the House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee is saying, “the war in Iraq cannot be won militarily", when in fact, it was won on the battlefield in the first two weeks without losing a single battle.

    Funny that, a member of the 110th Congress saying that Iraqi politicians have, "failed to capitalize on political and diplomatic steps", when he is a representation of the worst, do-nothing, Congress in American history.

    Funny that..

    November 30, 2007 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. RightyTighty

    John Murtha called innocent Marines murders on National TV and instead of offering an apology he is hiding behind Nancy's skirt. John, Nancy and Harry are our enemies only hope at winning the war in Iraq. I do not care what John Murtha says, I hope he is sued for defamation of character by every Marine in Iraq..

    November 30, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. Steve in SC

    Cowardice at its worst! Somebody slappped his wrist and read him the democratic riot act!!

    November 30, 2007 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  10. A Kansas Vet, Kansas

    We are getting caught up in definitions.

    The Iraqi War was won years ago with the defeat of the Iraqi military and the ouster of Saddam. After all those were the military objectives of the operation.

    That ended the Iraqi War, then we went into a phase of military occupation that the administration refused to call occupation with a appointed adminstrator for Iraq outside the military.

    What we have today in Iraqi is the failure of the administration to take the victory handed them by the military and stabilize the situation by putting in place a stable centralized government capable of governing Iraq, until such time real reforms could be made by the Iraqi people. This can not be acheived through military means.

    It is time the war drums stop beating in Iraq and diplomacy take hold. The situation in Iraq can not be resolved purley through military means. A diplomatic solution must be acheived by the people of Iraq. Security for the people of Iraq must be provided by the Iraqi military and security forces. We can secure our bases and facilities, provide training and logistical support to the Iraqi forces, but day to day operations must be assumed by the Iraqi militay. By this point in time the Iraqi army should have been reformed and trained twice over.

    The purpse of the surge was to provide a window, it provided a window. That window was not used, therefore it failed. So it sort of worked, it did what it was suppose to do, but it was not taken advantage of by the adminstration nor the Iraqi government.

    John Murtha is not a coward, however we hear from cowards each and every day that call for the use of military forces that have never served a day in the military. It's easy to put the life of someone you do not know in harms way and its even easier to put someone else in harms way while you sit safely at home calling for military intervention. No soldier wants war, and ground becomes very valuable when it has been paid for once by a soldiers blood and sweat. But remmber, war is a result of a failure by someone, it is never the first means to an end, but the last means to an end. If it is used as a first means those holding office and ordering it are undeserving of thetrust the nation has place in their care.

    November 30, 2007 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  11. Mac, Severn, Md

    John Murtha, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi are a disgrace. They have continually put thier quest for political power/advantage ahead of what is good for the USA.

    I sincerely hope their constituents "retire" them from office.

    How pathetic that Pelosi has to spank Murtha for telling the truth!!

    November 30, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  12. Glenn,Birmingham,Al

    It is understood by both parties that the surge is working. This is something the democrats are going to have to deal with. It helps the war supporters (Clinton) but hurts the house leadership. Be interesting to see how they spin it.

    November 30, 2007 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  13. Walt, Belton, TX

    First of all John Murtha misrepresented himself as the all American war hero. Now he tells the truth about the surge and Nancy Pelousi tells him to shut up.

    Politics at its' grandest, folks!!

    November 30, 2007 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  14. John, A Current U.S. Army Officer, Atlanta, GA

    Hey Former US Army Officer, Kansas - or should I call you "A Kansas Vet, Kansas"? - you should try posting next time under yet another name so we think there's a real groundswell of angry vets in Kansas. Maybe try "A Service-Completed Kanasan Who Was Overseas But Now Isn't, Kansas."

    You are completely wrong about today's plans being no different than they were before...ummm, the presence of so many additional forces kind of proves that, doesn't it? Not to mention the fact that we are finally back on the offense, where we belong.

    The Honorable Congressman Murtha and so very disgustingly many of his comrades are doing little more than denying reality in order to pursue a perceived political gain.

    Only a fool can look at the reports coming from Iraq and actually *believe* there's been no progress. And hey, look! The senior commander on the ground says there's been progress. Maybe we should trust him more than these politicians. Just a thought.

    Speaking of which, Iraqi politicians risk their lives and the lives of their families EVERY SINGLE DAY as they work towards getting their government in order. And what's the last challenging issue our Congress – with all its history, experience, and safe environment to work in – actually resolved?

    Put down your DNC talking points, dude. Consider – just consider – reading some reports and coming to a conclusion that fits the facts rather than fits your Defeatist views.

    And try using another City and State next time you post so we can think your angry ignorant point of view is spreading.


    November 30, 2007 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  15. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    THE SURGE IS WORKING! Even Murtha has realized that now. I just don't read a lot of Dems' comments on this blog. Why are you guys hiding? Too cowardly to admit the truth I bet.

    I just wonder what Hillary and the rest of the Dems will be singing since things are looking better in Iraq.

    November 30, 2007 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  16. erika morgan black dimond wa

    The surge is looking like it is working because our soldiers have taken things into their own hands and begun the "search and avoid missions". Since these cessation of hostilities have worked by actually removing our troops from the fight; we can see exactly what will happen if all our fighting force is removed. The path has been proven, our soldiers have shown us the way, lets make it official.

    November 30, 2007 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |


    November 30, 2007 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  18. history repeats

    Brad, from the great state of Texas

    YEA THATS what happened.....or maybe not.....either way youll never be able to figure it out anyway

    November 30, 2007 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  19. history repeats

    Tom – Dedham, Mass

    i love the comment WE NEED NEW LEADERSHIP IN BOTH PARTIES!!! well thats not going to happen and if they are both evil as you think then i think demorcats are the lesser evil.

    November 30, 2007 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  20. history repeats

    Mac, Severn, Md

    you know what i love mac? that the republicans are going to lose. and then maybe all the people with the wool over their eyes will finally see how a government is supposed to work!!

    November 30, 2007 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  21. history repeats

    Funny that, a member of the 110th Congress saying that Iraqi politicians have, "failed to capitalize on political and diplomatic steps", when he is a representation of the worst, do-nothing, Congress in American history.

    Funny that..

    Posted By therealist : November 30, 2007 1:54 pm

    just like a republican to blame the people that dont have enough votes to stop the REAL culprit, and just IGNORE the real problem!

    November 30, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  22. history repeats

    John, A Current U.S. Army Officer, Atlanta, GA

    the reports coming from Iraq are not the same thing as FOX NEWS LIVE

    November 30, 2007 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  23. Jonathan, Holiday, Florida

    Murtha was clearly wrong to say that the surge is working. If the purpose of the surge is to let the Iraqi government take control then it obviously is NOT working. The Iraqi government has no intention of taking responsibility of its own country anytime soon. It is a shame that those who support President Bush don't even listen to what he actually says.

    November 30, 2007 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  24. Kate S., Washington, DC

    where is lefty loosey?

    November 30, 2007 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  25. Joseph, San Francisco

    The democrats are proving that they will take personal interests ahead of national security. If the War is turning around, then lets all come together and win it!

    December 1, 2007 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
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