Impeaching Murtha: Can It Be Done?

The other day, I wrote about the parents of Marine Lance Cpl. Justin Sharrett asking that Congress censure Senator John Murtha over his comments aimed at the Marines accused of committing a massacre in Haditha, Iraq.

Now, Beth at Blue Star Chronicles and Cao at Cao’s Blog have both written some excellent posts on the whole Haditha incident, so, if you want details, I would suggest you check them out. I have done a few posts, as well. And Beth has an excellent one up today.

I am not going to get into the whole incident, time-line, etc. I just want to mention Murtha’s involvement, and what can be done

  • Mr. Murtha later told reporters that the Marines were guilty of killing the civilians in “cold blood.” (WT)
  • Mr Murtha repeated his accusation that the Marines had sought to cover up the killings."This is what worries me. We’re fighting a war about America’s ideals and democracy’s ideas and something like this happens, they try to cover it up," he said. "It is as bad as Abu Ghraib, if not worse."
  • "I will not excuse murder, and this is what happened," Murtha said. "This investigation should have been over two or three weeks afterward and it should have been made public and people should have been held responsible for it." (cBS)
  • Asked about his sources during a midday briefing on Iraq policy in the Capitol, Murtha confidently replied, "All the information I get, it comes from the commanders, it comes from people who know what they are talking about." Although Murtha said that he had not read any investigative reports by the military on the incident, he stressed, "It’s much worse than reported in Time magazine." (Salon)
  • 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. (Army Times)
  • On May 17, for example, he said at a news conference, "Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood." (MMG)

Murtha essentially found the Marines guilty, before the investigation was even completed. Hell, it had just begun. He is being sued for defamation and libel. He would have been called as a witness if the trial had proceeded. And, let’s say they actually did massacre those Iraqi’s: they might have been acquitted over a technicality called "undue command influence." Though Murtha is not part of the military chain of command, like the President is, a sitting US Representative, who has been in Congress since 1974, and is a leading, high ranking, Democrat Rep, would have influence on any jury. It could be argued that, as such, he could have prejudiced any jury decision.

So, what can be done with Murtha, whose accusations and inflammatory remarks are now shown to be wholly and completely wrong? Whose remarks were completely improper, to put it mildly? Can he be impeached?

There is quite a bit of confusion on this subject. Some scholars claim that a Congress Critter can, some say no. It revolves around whether a Congress Critter is "civil Officer of the United States." (Article II, Section 4) The only member of Congress ever impeached was Senator William Blount, but the charges were dismissed in the Senate over lack of jurisdiction, as the Senate had already voted to expel him.

Which brings us to expulsion. It may not have the sexy name of impeachment, but, it is much easier, and doesn’t require the House to vote first, then the Senate, nor all the inquiries that would accompany them.

Article I, Section 5, of the United States Constitution provides that "Each House [of Congress] may determine the Rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member." Since 1789, the Senate has expelled only fifteen of its entire membership.

The rules also mean that a Congress Critter need not be charged with and convicted of "treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors." Censure is the usual outcome when a member is charged with disorderly behavior, and there is no reason to think that Congress would be able to get the 2/3 needed to expel Murtha, even had the GOP retained control, at least in today’s highly partisan Congress. Hell, Cold Cash Jefferson is still sitting, and, I have a hard time believing that, if convicted, the House would vote to expel him if he refuses to resign!

But, whether he can be expelled or not, it would be interesting to see if a GOP Senator even brought him up for expulsion. The charges? Undue command influence. Libel. Defamation. Disorderly conduct. Abuse of office. (I am not including anything from ABSCAM or other corruption charges, as they are not germane to the Haditha case.)

What can you do? If you are represented by a Republican Rep, write them. If not, write another of your State’s Representatives. Write some of Pennsylvania’s GOP Reps.

steal me

^^Steal me (graphic taken from Boot

Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, The Virtuous Republic, Stageleft, Big Dog’s Weblog, Right Truth, Walls of the City, Blue Star Chronicles, Webloggin, The Pink Flamingo, Leaning Straight Up, and Public Eye, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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8 Responses to “Impeaching Murtha: Can It Be Done?”

  1. Stacy says:

    Heh, Cold Cash Jefferson. Geez, what’s a person gotta do to get kicked out of the legislative branch? This is why I support Son #2 in roughly about 30 years for president. Remember him. He’s interested.

  2. With your teachings, I am sure he will do great!

    With Cold Cash, the typical response I get from liberals is “has he been convicted yet?” Meanwhile, they demand that any Republican that does something wrong immediately quit, before even a preliminary court hearing.

  3. It’s a shame that even if we could get every Republican in the house to vote for his expulsion (which I doubt) we wouldn’t get a single Dem to vot to expel Nancy’s pet butt wipe.

    This idiot is from my state I only wish he ran in my district so I could vote against him.

  4. Pal2pal says:

    Impeach or Expel John Murtha?…

    A must read by William Teach asks the question. We have been writing about Mad Jack Murtha for nearly two years and with each successive article the picture of this senile and cowardly old man becomes more and more bleak and disgusting. Please read the…

  5. Understood. All you can do is try and get your State’s Republicans to attempt to bring up censure or expulsion. It may fail, but it would sure be spectacular, and highlight the democrats treasonous actions.

  6. […] Leo at Blogs For Bush calls on Pelosi to censure Murtha. I still say he should be expelled. […]

  7. […] that is going to happen. If you would like to see a break down of how this is possible, check this older post about John Murtha, about 2/3 of the way […]

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