Jim Kouri
U.S. Navy honors and memorializes corrupt congressman
By Jim Kouri
April 25, 2010

In a move that should shock and anger clear-thinking Americans, the United States Navy named one of its new ships in honor of one of the most corrupt political leaders to ever sit in the U.S. Congress.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced on Friday, April 23, the selection of the USS John P. Murtha as the name of the 10th San Antonio class Amphibious Transport Dock ship. Mabus made the announcement at John P. Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

According to Secretary Mabus, the USS John P. Murtha honors the late U.S. representative and Marine who dedicated his life to serving his country. Murtha served a distinguished 37 years in the Marine Corps and received the Bronze Star with Combat "V," two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry for his service in the Vietnam War, retiring as a colonel in 1990.

In his public life, Murtha served the 12th Congressional District from 1974 until his death in 2010. In his position as the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, he oversaw funding issues for the Department of Defense, including the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and the intelligence community.

Sadly, Secretary Mabus neglected to mention Murtha's role in political corruption such as the infamous Abscam scandal and the more recent PMA scandal.

However, a watchdog legal group filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the alleged stonewalling of the release of documents regarding the late Pennsylvania Congressman Murtha's long history of allegedly corrupt behavior, including his connection to the ongoing FBI probe of a congressional earmarking scandal involving the now defunct PMA Group.

PMA, founded by a former Murtha associate, was the late congressman's largest campaign contributor. Murtha raised $1.7 million from PMA and its clients between 2002 and the time of his death, proposing tens of millions of dollars in earmarks for the benefit of PMA, according to the well-respected public-interest group Judicial Watch.

Even after an FBI raid of PMA's offices in 2009, Murtha continued to seek congressional earmarks for PMA clients, while also requesting campaign contributions. Press reports linked six other Members of Congress to the PMA Group scandal, including Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN.), James P. Moran Jr. (D-VA), Norm Dicks (D-WA.), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), C.W. Bill Young (R-FL.) and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS.).

The House Ethics Committee recently — and controversially — found no wrongdoing, but the FBI investigation continues.

According to the Judicial Watch lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia:

"Starting in the mid-1970s until his death, Representative Murtha has been known for his allegedly corrupt practices as well as his inflammatory and controversial statements. During the Abscam sting operation, he was caught on tape allegedly offering political concessions for cash. More recently, Representative Murtha was being investigated for his ties to the PMA Group, a now defunct lobbying group... In a final effort to investigate and report on Representative Murtha's lack of ethics and his abuse of office for more than 25 years, on February 9, 2010 [Judicial Watch] sent a FOIA request to [the FBI] seeking access to any and all records concerning, regarding or relating to John Patrick Murtha."

The FBI acknowledged receipt of Judicial Watch's FOIA request on February 18, 2010, but failed to reply within the statutory allotted 20-day period. To date, the FBI has released no documents pursuant to Judicial Watch's request and has failed to demonstrate that documents are exempt from production.

As Judicial Watch noted in its complaint, "Representative John Murtha was a regular on Judicial Watch's "Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians" and recently featured at number nine on Judicial Watch's 2009 list for his connection to the PMA Group scandal.

"Congressman Murtha may no longer be with us, but there are important lessons to be learned from the long legacy of corruption he left behind," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "The fact that the House Ethics Committee recently whitewashed the PMA Group scandal makes Judicial Watch's investigation all the more important. Judicial Watch is committed to using these FBI documents to complete the public record on Murtha's long history of corrupt activities — and how it reflects on the ethics of Congress.

"Leave it to the allegedly 'transparent' Obama administration to stonewall this basic open records request. We hope the court reminds the Obama administration that is it is not above the law," said Fitton.

© Jim Kouri


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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)


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