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"Coward" comment draws backlash

On the House floor, Rep. Jean Schmidt implied Rep. Murtha is a "coward" by quoting a constituent and friend. But the friend now says he never mentioned Murtha by name, and would never call a fellow marine a coward. Find out about the political repercussions on Countdown.
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This past Friday, Republican Representative Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) personalized her feelings about Congressman Jack Murtha’s call for a withdrawal from Iraq.  In a fierce debate on the floor of the House, Schmidt called Murtha a coward, later claiming she was only quoting somebody else’s sentiments.  Now, the individual whom she claimed she was quoting says he never said that.

Keith Olbermann, host, ‘Countdown’ discussed the political implications that will follow this continuing story on Tuesday, November 22. 

To read an excerpt of the story, continue to the text below.  To watch the video, click on the “Launch” button to the right.


SCHIMDT:  A few minutes ago, I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp, Ohio representative from the 88th District in the House of Representatives.  He asked me to send Congress a message, stay the course.  He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do.


SCHIMDT:  Danny and the rest of America and the world...


SCHIMDT:  ... want the assurance from this body...


SCHIMDT:  ... that we will...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  House will- the House will...

SCHIMDT:  ... see it through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... the House will be in order.  The House will be in order.  The House will be in order.


KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, 'COUNTDOWN':  When the mikes went back on, Congresswoman Schmidt was forced to apologize for her remarks.  Today, taking things one step further, claiming she did not even know that Congressman Murtha is a Vietnam vet.  She apparently was not listening to what just about everybody else was saying during Friday’s debate.

And adding insult to apology, the colonel she quoted, Ohio state representative Danny Bubp, is now denying ever having said what Ms. Schmidt said he said, a spokeswoman for Colonel Bubp telling “The New York Times” that although the congresswoman and the colonel did talk, quote, “He did not mention Congressman Murtha by name, nor did he mean to disparage Congressman Murtha.  He feels as though the words that Congresswoman Schmidt chose did not represent their conversation.”

Meanwhile, Congressman Murtha himself firing back, expressing confidence that his critics, specifically Vice President Dick Cheney, will agree with him eventually, Pennsylvania Democrat saying that the war in Iraq cannot be won on the ground, that he is just trying to prevent another Vietnam.  Over time, rather, Murtha predicts Vice President Cheney will come to see that it way too.

Mr. Murtha would probably suggest Mr. Cheney is already very late coming to that conclusion.  Opinion polls suggest the majority of Americans now agree.  The question is, how late?  A new report tonight now claiming that the president was formally told by his own intelligence community as early as 10 days after the 9/11 attacks that those agencies had little to no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks or to al Qaeda.

That potential bombshell appearing in the “National Journal,” which is reporting now that the president was told just that in his daily intelligence briefing, his PDB, on September 21, 2001, according to what the publication calls “government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter.”

A former high-ranking U.S. intelligence officer familiar with the intelligence product after 9/11 says the PDBs and other reports would have been, quote, “far more nuanced” than described in the “National Journal’s” report.

More to the immediate point, perhaps, the “National Journal” also reporting that the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the White House for a copy of that PDB, as well as dozens of others, in its efforts to uncover whether the Bush administration misrepresented the intelligence in the months before the war, and the White House so far refusing to turn over those documents.

If the report is true, some might call all that a conspiracy.