Monday, February 8, 2010

Rep. John Murtha, a voice for veterans, dies after surgery

Rep. John Murtha, the tall, gruff-mannered former Marine who became the de facto voice of veterans on Capitol Hill and later an outspoken and influential critic of the Iraq War, died Monday. He was 77.  The Pennsylvania Democrat had been suffering complications from gallbladder surgery. He died at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va., with his family at his bedside, the hospital said.  In 1974 Murtha, then an officer in the Marine Reserves, became the first Vietnam War combat veteran elected to Congress. Ethical questions often shadowed his congressional service, but he was best known for being among Congress' most hawkish Democrats. He wielded considerable clout for two decades as the ranking Democrat on the House subcommittee that oversees Pentagon spending.  Murtha voted in 2002 to authorize President George W. Bush to use military force in Iraq, but his growing frustration over the administration's handling of the war prompted him in November 2005 to call for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.  "The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion," he said.  Murtha's opposition to the Iraq war rattled Washington, where he enjoyed bipartisan respect for his work on military issues. On Capitol Hill, Murtha was seen as speaking for those in uniform when it came to military matters.

Source/more:  Associated Press/Comcast, http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-politics/20100208/US.Obit.Murtha/

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