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Friday, January 06, 2006

whoa 

WASHINGTON - Rep. John Murtha (news , bio , voting record ) says the military is blaming him for a recruitment slump instead of recognizing mistakes that have led to an enlistment shortage.
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"They're trying to direct attention away from their problems," said Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated Marine Corps veteran who has become a leading voice in Congress advocating an early withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq .

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a news conference Thursday that Murtha's remarks about Iraq are damaging to troop morale and to the Army's efforts to bring up recruitment numbers. Pace, the nation's top general, was asked specifically about an ABC News interview this week in which Murtha, 73, said if he were eligible to join the military today he would not join, nor would he expect others to join.

"That's damaging to recruiting," Pace said. "It's damaging to morale of the troops who are deployed, and it's damaging to the morale of their families who believe in what they are doing to serve this country."

Military officers usually are reluctant to get drawn into political debates, but Pace said Murtha's remarks about recruiting are relevant to his responsibilities as Joint Chiefs chairman.

Pace praised the congressman's record but criticized his remarks.

"When a respected leader like Mr. Murtha, who has spent 37 extremely honorable years as a Marine, ... has served the country extremely well in the Congress of the United States — when a respected individual like that says what he said, and 18- and 19-year-olds look to their leadership to determine how they are expected to act, they can get the wrong message," Pace said.

In a statement released Thursday, Murtha said: "The military had no problem recruiting directly after 9/11 because everyone understood that we had been attacked. But now the military's ability to attract recruits is being hampered by the prospect of prolonged, extended and repeated deployments, inadequate equipment, shortened home stays, the lack of any connection between Iraq and the brutal attacks of 9/11, and — most importantly — the administration's constantly changing, undefined, open-ended military mission in Iraq."

Later Thursday, Murtha said he's spoken with military leaders and "they're frustrated by their mission."

Speaking before a town hall meeting on Iraq in Arlington, Va., hosted by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., Murtha said Pace called him to discuss the war.


"Peter Pace told me this last night: They know militarily they can't win this," Murtha said.


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WASHINGTON -- Three key Republican senators yesterday condemned President Bush's assertion that his powers as commander in chief give him the authority to bypass a new law restricting the use of torture when interrogating detainees.

John W. Warner Jr., a Virginia Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, issued a joint statement rejecting Bush's assertion that he can waive the restrictions on the use of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment against detainees to protect national security.

''We believe the president understands Congress's intent in passing, by very large majorities, legislation governing the treatment of detainees," the senators said. ''The Congress declined when asked by administration officials to include a presidential waiver of the restrictions included in our legislation. Our committee intends through strict oversight to monitor the administration's implementation of the new law."
3 GOP senators blast Bush bid to bypass torture ban
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