Bloomberg obit headline calls Murtha 'Supporter of Troops'? 

The headline on Bloomberg's obituary for the recently deceased Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., is "Lawmaker Murtha, Supporter of Troops, Dies at Age 77."

That's a bizarre headline for someone notorious for not supporting the troops. Nowhere in the obituary is the word "Haditha" mentioned. In November of 2005, the Marine Corps launched an investigation into whether a group of Marines had killed innocent civilians in Haditha, Iraq. While the investigation was barely underway, Murtha took to the floor of congress and pronounced the Marines guilty. "It's much worse than reported in Time magazine. There was no fire fight. There was no IED that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. And that's what the report is going to tell," Murtha said.

Murtha was severely criticized for his remarks. Of the eight Marines initially charged in Haditha, six of the Marines have since been cleared or acquitted of all charges. Of the remaining two Marines whose charges remain unresolved, one wasn't even present for the alleged crimes, and the other's chief accuser was "not being truthful," according to one Naval Criminal Investigative Service report.

One of those Haditha Marines, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich filed a defamation lawsuit against Murtha for his statement accusing the Haditha Marines of being cold-blooded killers before the facts were in. The suit was dismissed last year by a federal appeals court not necessarily because it wasn't defamatory, but on the grounds that Murtha couldn't sued for something he said while acting in his official capacity as a Congressman.

It's true that Murtha was Marine and Vietnam veteran. But whatever good things there are to say about Murtha's life (also note that his serial corruption has also been largely unaddressed by obit writers), "supporter of the troops" is not a phrase that comes to mind.

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Mark Hemingway

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