Does Rep. John Murtha know something we don’t?

Rep. John Murtha, infamous for his call in the fall of 2005 for a US military immediate withdrawal from Iraq, claims to know – prior to the completion of a military investigation – that US Marines in Haditha, Iraq on Nov. 19 “killed innocent civilians in cold blood”:

Rep. John Murtha, an influential Pennsylvania lawmaker and outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, said today Marines had “killed innocent civilians in cold blood” after allegedly responding to a roadside bomb ambush that killed a Marine during a patrol in Haditha, Iraq, Nov. 19.

The incident is still under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Multi-National Forces Iraq.

The Marine Corps originally claimed that a convoy from the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, hit a roadside bomb that killed Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, 20, of El Paso, Texas, and the ensuing firefight killed 15 Iraqi civilians — casualties the Corps at first claimed were killed in the bomb blast — including seven women and three children.

A March 27 Time magazine report published claims by an Iraqi civil rights group that the Marines barged into houses near the bomb strike, throwing grenades and shooting civilians as they cowered in fear. The report prompted calls for a Pentagon probe.

“It’s much worse than was reported in Time magazine” Murtha, a Democrat, former Marine colonel and Vietnam war veteran, told reporters on Capitol Hill.

“There was no firefight. There was no [bomb] that killed those innocent people” Murtha explained, adding there were “about twice as many” Iraqis killed than Time had reported.

No official investigation report has been released by the Pentagon and a spokesman for Murtha was unable to add to the congressman’s remarks.

Is it right for Murtha to make these statements prior to the investigation into them being completed? The blogosphere’s reaction is, as usual, split down the line with conservatives condemning it and liberals (of course) praising it.

The two strongest condemnations come from Confederate Yankee and Gary Gross. Double ouch.

Michelle Malkin has a comprehensive link roundup of reaction to this story from conservatives in the blogosphere. See the video of Murtha’s pre-complete investigation comments here.

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