A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Rep. John Murtha cannot be sued for accusing U.S. Marines of murdering Iraqi civilians "in cold blood," remarks that sparked outrage among conservative commentators.Now that Murtha has basically been granted immunity to say what the hell he wants, you can bet there'll be even more outrageous comments coming down the pipe from this idiot. Bottom line, will Pennsylvanian's ever see the light and get rid of the political stains that are John Murtha and Arlen Specter? Or will they each have to retire first?
The appeals court in Washington dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought by a Marine who led the squad in the attack. The judges agreed with Murtha that he was immune from the lawsuit because he was acting in his official role as a lawmaker when he made the comments to reporters.
Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich of Meriden, Conn., claimed Murtha damaged his reputation by saying the squad he was leading engaged in "cold-blooded murder and war crimes" in Haditha, Iraq, on Nov. 19, 2005.
At a Capitol Hill news conference in May 2006, Murtha predicted that a Pentagon war crimes investigation would show the Marines killed dozens of innocent Iraqi civilians in Haditha.
Military prosecutors have said two dozen Iraqis, including women and children, were killed in Haditha after one Marine died and two others were wounded by a roadside bomb. Wuterich is charged with voluntary manslaughter and other allegations, the only person still facing charges in the attack.
He has pleaded not guilty. He is accused of ordering his men to clear several houses with grenades and gunfire, leading to the civilian deaths.
Republicans and conservatives accused Murtha, a decorated Vietnam veteran and retired Marine Reserves colonel, of convicting the Marines before the investigation was concluded and fueling enemy attacks in retaliation. GOP challengers tried to use the comments against Murtha in the 2006 and 2008 campaigns, but his constituents overwhelmingly re-elected the congressman who has represented them since 1974.
Murtha, who is opposed to the Iraq war, has said he made the comments to draw attention to the pressure put on troops in Iraq and efforts to cover up the incident. He did not mention Wuterich or any other Marines by name.
A three-judge panel on U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that Murtha could not be sued under the 1988 Westfall Act, which gives federal employees immunity from lawsuits arising out of acts they undertake in the course of their official duties.