Murtha: A Congressional Dinosaur Close to Extinction?
Sixty-five million years ago, dinosaurs ruled the earth -- with the same unthinking ruthlessness which Rep John Murtha (D, PA-12) rules the House Defense Subcommittee. His own website brags that "[o]f the nearly 10,000 men and women who have served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1789, only 90 have served longer than he has." But maybe, just maybe, like the dinosaurs, Murtha's time is up.
There's much to admire in Murtha's service, especially his 37 years as an officer in the Marines and the Marine Reserves. He retired a colonel in 1990. And since then... well, maybe not so much.
As a politician, he first came to national attention during the 1980 "ABSCAM" sting, in which one senator and five members of Congress were convicted on bribery charges. While never indicted himself, videotapes released two years ago show that Murtha's involvement was deep. From those tapes:
Now, as I told Howard, I want to deal with you guys a while before I made any transactions at all, period. In other words, I want to say, "Look put some money in these guys." And I, just let me know, so I can say, you know, these guys are going to — they want to do business in our district. Then there's a couple businesses that I'm not personally involved in but would be very helpful for the district, that I could make a big play of, be very helpful to me.
After we've done some business, then I might change my mind. But right now, that's all I'm interested in. Period. And I'm going to tell you this. If anybody can do it, and I'm not bull (expletive deleted) you fellows, I can get it done my way.
Later, Murtha tells the undercover FBI agent, "I'm not interested. At this point." From the sound of it, had the investigation gone on much longer, Murtha probably would have been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
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