Transcript of interview on Fox News’ Happening Now. Jon Scott interviews Lt. Col. William Russell who is running against John Murtha to represent the 12th Congressional District of Pennsylvania.
Jon Scott: On a day when the top U.S. commander and our ambassador in Iraq testify on Capitol Hill about progress there more than a dozen Iraq war veterans are running for Congress as Republicans, a show of support they say, for U.S. troops and presidential candidate John McCain. It’s similar to what Democrats did in 2006 with some success. I’d like to introduce you to Lt. Col. William Russell. He is running against Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha, obviously a leading critic of the Iraq War.
Lieutenant Colonel, and I guess I should say retired now because you got out of the Army, at least out of active duty about what, six months ago now?
Lt. Col. Russell: Yes, actually I left active duty. I’m still active with the reserves and currently serve with the 464th Chemical Brigade in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
Jon Scott: You have said that John Murtha has “emboldened the enemy” with some of his anti-war talk. What do you mean by that?
Lt. Col. Russell: Well absolutely. When he threw the Haditha marines under the bus he put the United States’ Congress’ ‘stamp of approval’ on enemy propaganda. And certainly, John Murtha of all people, should understand this, having served as an intelligence officer in Viet Nam, he should understand enemy propaganda. As a savvy politician he should understand propaganda, and when he takes the enemy’s side of the story; puts it out as gospel truth; accuses our marines of cold blooded murder; he has reinforced their message on the Arab street and certainly undermined the support for the troops at home.
Jon Scott: Yeah, the Haditha case was front page news in the New York Times and made the cover of Time Magazine when those four soldiers were charged. Now the charges have been dropped against three of them. And at least in the most recent case when the charges were dropped it was on page, I think, A8 of the New York Times. It didn’t get the same kind of attention.
Lt. Col. Russell: Exactly, and of course, one of the key points is that all the murder related charges have been dropped against these soldiers or marines and Mr. Murtha has so far failed and refused to apologize to them. Including one of those marines, Justin Sharratt, who is from our district.
Jon Scott: Well, you’re obviously taking on a force, John Murtha, a long-time Member of Congress. Do you think you have a prayer of unseating this guy?
Lt. Col. Russell: Surprisingly he is vulnerable. Although he’s brought home a lot of earmarks in the past thirty years, a lot of people are recognizing that perhaps this is not the way to go because they are beginning to recognize that effects of the earmarks he’s been bringing have not been reaching the average person in Johnstown. He’s not bringing in working class jobs, he’s not bringing in manufacturing jobs, and mostly jobs are going to outsiders who move into the district, build big houses, skew the property values and the property taxes of the area.
Jon Scott: Really quickly, you have been through both Iraq wars, what do you tell people, now that you’re a candidate, what do you tell people about the prospects there?
Lt. Col. Russell: Well certainly we’re making a difference. I’ve spent a total of three years in the Middle East. We recognize that things are not going to work the same. There are some cultural jumps. In Iraq we have a country that has lived under a totalitarian regime for thirty years before we liberated it. Naturally when you have all the leaders of any clan or any class that might have been a threat to Saddam or the Ba’athists were categorically removed, tortured, or murdered, it takes a while to grow leaders. Within the United States Army it takes us two years to grow a new lieutenant and twenty-five years or thirty years to grow a general of the caliber of Petraeus. And we’re trying to establish an entire government in Iraq in a matter of a couple of short years from scratch. So there’s going to be a chance.
Jon Scott: Lieutenant Colonel William Russell, we have to say goodbye. Thank you.
Lt. Col. Russell: Thank you.
Lt. Col. Russell’s website is here.
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