Rep. Murtha Remembered As Military Advocate Democratic Congressman John Murtha died Monday at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va., after complications from gallbladder surgery. He was 77. Murtha represented southwestern Pennsylvania for 36 years. Most of that time he was the top Democrat on defense appropriations — moving billions of dollars and sending as much as he could to his home district.
NPR logo

Rep. Murtha Remembered As Military Advocate

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/123519007/123518982" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Rep. Murtha Remembered As Military Advocate

Rep. Murtha Remembered As Military Advocate

Rep. Murtha Remembered As Military Advocate

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/123519007/123518982" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Democratic Congressman John Murtha died Monday at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va., after complications from gallbladder surgery. He was 77. Murtha represented southwestern Pennsylvania for 36 years. Most of that time he was the top Democrat on defense appropriations — moving billions of dollars and sending as much as he could to his home district.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

John Murtha died, yesterday, at age 77 after suffering complications from surgery. The reporters who covered Murtha, for many years in Congress, include NPR's Brian Naylor.

BRIAN NAYLOR: The first time most people outside of Pennsylvania heard of Murtha was in an FBI investigation known as Abscam in 1980. Murtha was taped meeting a phony sheik - actually an FBI agent - who offered him a $50,000 bribe. Murtha said he wasn't interested.

JOHN MURTHA: Unidentified Man: Okay.

MURTHA: Unidentified Man: Okay.

MURTHA: Unidentified Man: Okay.

NAYLOR: Murtha would later say he seemed to leave the door open to taking cash so as to persuade the phony sheik to create jobs in his district. Over the years, Murtha claimed to have directed $2 billion in federal funds to Southwest, Pennsylvania, becoming known as the King of Pork. In a 2002 campaign stop, he appeared at the groundbreaking for a new defense plant, clearly proud of what he had delivered.

MURTHA: In the last few years, we've created $35,000 jobs and 1,000 jobs just this year alone. Now, most of them have come from this kind of operation. We're talking about starting out with four or five people and ending up with hundreds of people.

NAYLOR: In recent years, Murtha, a legendary hawk, became a leading voice against the war in Iraq. Though he had originally voted for the resolution approving of President Bush's decision to send troops, in 2005 he grew disenchanted with the war's conduct.

MURTHA: This war has been so mismanaged that we have the responsibility to force the White House to be accountable. The policy's not set by the military; the policy is set by the White House, and we have to hold the White House accountable for the mistakes that they have made.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

NAYLOR: Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.