(CNSNews.com) - The anti-war group "Code Pink: Women for Peace" is thanking Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha on its website for his "courageous stand on Iraq." The group -- which sparked controversy last summer with anti-war protests at a military hospital in the nation's capital -- recently presented Murtha its "pink badge of courage" for his anti-war activism.
Code Pink's co-founder, Gael Murphy, and its coordinator for the Washington, D.C., area, Allison Yorra, met with Murtha earlier this month "to thank him for his courageous stand on Iraq.
"We presented him with our pink badge of courage and pink flowers sent by CODEPINK members nationwide," a statement on the group's website indicates. "Rep Murtha was very appreciative of these gestures as he has been receiving many responses to his public denouncement of the war."
Photographs on the Code Pink website show Murtha holding the pink flowers and standing arm-in-arm with Murphy and Yorra. There is no mention of the meeting with Code Pink or the award presented to Murtha on his congressional website.
Though Murtha originally voted for the resolution authorizing the use of military force in Iraq, he called for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq in November 2005.
The Pennsylvania Democrat was the recent focus of a Cybercast News Service investigation that detailed three different accounts of the injuries that earned Murtha two Purple Hearts in Vietnam. The report quoted former Democratic U.S. Rep. Don Bailey of Pennsylvania, who said Murtha once told him on the House floor that he, Murtha, did not deserve the medals.
Murtha's alleged ethical lapses were also investigated by Cybercast News Service
Code Pink was launched in 2002 by approximately 100 women opposed to a U.S. pre-emptive strike against Iraq. The group has conducted "vigils" in front of the White House and outside the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
As Cybercast News Service previously reported Code Pink was criticized for picketing the military hospital holding signs that read "Maimed for a Lie" and "Enlist Here to Die for Halliburton."
Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, told Cybercast News Service that Murtha embracing Code Pink, literally and figuratively, is "troubling to watch.
"I don't like to see someone who, historically, has understood the military and been supportive of it, in his votes at least, suddenly being associated with people who are historically anti-military, as an institution, and, also, contrary to American foreign policy goals," Donnelly said.
In a June 27, 2005, press release related to her group's endorsement of the anti-war coalition, "World Tribunal on Iraq" (WTI), Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans explained her reason for participating.
"I'm here to gather evidence to indict [President] Bush," she wrote.
An entire section of the Code Pink website is dedicated to the group's efforts to have President Bush and his subordinates indicted for alleged "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity."
Gael Murphy, pictured in the photo with Murtha, traveled to Lebanon in September of 2004 to participate in an "international strategy meeting" of anti-war and anti-globalization activists. Murphy is a signatory to the "Beirut Communiqué," which stated the coalition's beliefs, including:
- "We support the right of the people of Iraq and Palestine to resist the occupations."
"We demand an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine."
"We denounce the racist and colonial character of Zionism, Israel's State ideology."
Donnelly said, based on Code Pink's activities and associates, it is fair to question Murtha's relationship with the group.
"He could have chosen not to accept the award. That's the decision that he made and I think it's, therefore, fair game to inquire, 'Does he support the agenda, the broader agenda of that organization and its endorsers?'" Donnelly said. "I think, in fairness, you have to ask him, 'Have you thought this through?'"
Calls to Congressman Murtha's Washington, D.C. and Johnstown, Penn., offices seeking comment for this article Thursday were not returned.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D. Calif.) has called questions about Murtha's credibility as an authority on military matters "scurrilous" and Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne accused the Cybercast News Service of being part of a "war on actual Vietnam veterans" who "take on the powers that be" for reporting the accusations.
But Donnelly rejected the idea that Murtha or his anti-war views deserve deferential treatment because of his prior military service.
"It's absurd to say that only people with certain qualifications can engage in the debate about the defense of this country," Donnelly said. "That's only a ploy to try to limit informed discussion."
Most Americans, Donnelly argued, would not want debate about an issue limited only to those with professional experience in the field in question.
"If we limited public discussion about the military only to people with military experience that would certainly stifle a lot of intelligent discussion," Donnelly said. "It's such an absurd notion, I just don't buy it and I don't think the majority of people buy it either."
Murtha has dismissed questions about his record as "clearly an attempt to distract attention from the real issue.
"I volunteered for a year's duty in Vietnam. I was out in the field almost every single day. We took heavy casualties in my regiment the year that I was there. In my fitness reports, I was rated No. 1," Murtha added. "My record is clear."
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