A Marine Corps staff sergeant who led the squad
accused of killing two dozen civilians in Haditha,
Iraq, will file a lawsuit today in federal court
in Washington claiming that Rep. John P. Murtha
(D-Pa.) defamed him when the congressman made
public comments about the incident earlier this
Attorneys for Frank D. Wuterich, 26, argue in
courtpapers that Murtha tarnished the Marine's
reputation by telling news organizations in May
that the Marine unit cracked after a roadside bomb
killed one of its members and that the troops
"killed innocent civilians in cold blood." Murtha
also said repeatedly that the incident was covered
Murtha argued that the questionable deaths of 24
civilians were indicative of the difficulties and
overpowering stress that U.S. troops are facing.
The congressman, a former Marine, has been a leading
advocate for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq.
In the court filing, obtained by The Washington Post,
the lawyers say that Murtha made the comments after
being briefed by Defense Department officials who
"deliberately provided him with inaccurate and false
information." Neal A. Puckett and Mark S. Zaid, suing
for libel and invasion of privacy, also wrote that
Murtha made the comments outside of his official
scope as a congressman.
As much as I hate the overuse of the civil court system in this country, I find myself liking the idea of suing these loudmouths in politics and the media who think they can get away with saying whatever they want. I hope Wuterich wins his suit. And I hope other lawsuits follow. Then someone should take aim at these loopy 9/11 conspiracy theorists. Accusing people of heinous crimes without proof is not "freedom of speech," it's defamation.