Sunday, November 20, 2005


On Friday night (Nov 18, 2005) Congresswoman Jean Schmidt attacked Congressman John Murtha on the floor of the House of Representatives, implying that he was a "coward." Murtha, a 37-year member of the U.S. Marine Corps and a combat veteran, had called on the White House to establish a time frame for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Since the tragedy of September 2001, the Administration and their allies in Congress have sought to smear anyone who questioned their motives for the use of our nation’s unparalleled destructive power. In the lead up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, they accused of cowardice anyone who urged that lives be placed at risk only if our goals and plan to win the peace were clear. They do so again to critics who now call for an exit strategy. But just as slander could not take the place of intelligence before the war, nor for a plan to avert a public health disaster, establish security and win the peace in its aftermath, it cannot now take the place of a time frame for troop withdrawal.

The Bush Administration and their supporters have always been able to dismiss those in the peace movement as cowards. They have often tried to similarly smear their critics in Congress. But those who have never heard or seen a shot fired in anger, much less been in the path of hostile fire, cannot accuse decorated combat veterans of cowardice without drawing attention to their own faintheartedness. Slander cannot disguise the reality that all their arguments for war - weapons of mass destruction, terrorist connections, democracy and stability in the Middle East – have been discredited. But, it seems, slander is all they have left.


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