John Murtha Biography

Born: 1932
Died: 2010 (Arlington, Va.)
Best Known as: Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania

A typically hawkish congressman from Pennsylvania, Murtha was the Democrats' voice of the antiwar movement beginning in 2005, frequently criticizing the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq and the toll it took on U.S. troops. In May 2006, he held a press conference to discuss a not-yet-released official military report that U.S. Marines had killed 24 innocent Iraqis "in cold blood" in the city of Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005. The military did not launch a criminal investigation until mid-March, four months after the incident, and two months after TIME magazine had reported it to the military. In the weeks after Murtha's press conference, several other allegations of civilian murders by U.S. troops surfaced, providing further justification for his calls for a pullout of troops from Iraq. Murtha was also known for funneling hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks to his 12th Congressional district, which had suffered financially after the decline of the steel and coal industries. Just two days before his death, Murtha had become the longest-serving congressman from Pennsylvania, having first been elected as a U.S. representative in 1974.