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NYT and WaPo Contra Murtha and Pelosi

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Even the New York Times and, less surprisingly, the Washington Post have come out in opposition to Representative Murtha’s hair-brained and possibly unconstitutional scheme.

From today’s New York Times editorial:

We fear that clever maneuvers like the one proposed by Representative John Murtha, reportedly with the backing of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to dress up a reduction in troop strength as a “support the troops� measure won’t help contain the war or make American troops safer. Mr. Murtha would link this year’s war financing to the Pentagon’s adoption of new deployment rules, including longer stretches from the battlefield for returning troops, more specialized training and better defensive equipment. That would let representatives cast a politically safe vote for financing the war, while forcing the Pentagon to gradually reduce the number of active duty troops available to serve in Iraq.

This page has advocated many of the same reforms � but not as a back-door way of forcing lower troop numbers in Iraq. Congress’s overriding goal must be to find the most responsible way to extricate American troops from what is becoming an increasingly unwinnable war, while trying to contain the suffering and minimizing the damage to American interests in the region.

Instead of camouflaged troop squeezes, Congress needs to grasp the problem straight on and do what the administration won’t do. It must impose tough requirements and deadlines on the Iraqi government, and link the future of all American troops in Iraq to the timely achievement of these goals.

From today’s Washington Post editorial:

[Murtha’s] aim . . . is not to improve readiness but to “stop the surge.” So why not straightforwardly strip the money out of the appropriations bill — an action Congress is clearly empowered to take — rather than try to micromanage the Army in a way that may be unconstitutional? Because, Mr. Murtha said, it will deflect accusations that he is trying to do what he is trying to do. “What we are saying will be very hard to find fault with,” he said.

Mr. Murtha’s cynicism is matched by an alarming ignorance about conditions in Iraq. He continues to insist that Iraq “would be more stable with us out of there,” in spite of the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that early withdrawal would produce “massive civilian casualties.” He says he wants to force the administration to “bulldoze” the Abu Ghraib prison, even though it was emptied of prisoners and turned over to the Iraqi government last year. He wants to “get our troops out of the Green Zone” because “they are living in Saddam Hussein’s palace”; could he be unaware that the zone’s primary occupants are the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy?

It would be nice to believe that Mr. Murtha does not represent the mainstream of the Democratic Party or the thinking of its leadership. Yet when asked about Mr. Murtha’s remarks Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered her support. Does Ms. Pelosi really believe that the debate she orchestrated this week was not “the real vote”? If the answer is yes, she is maneuvering her party in a way that can only do it harm.