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MSNBC Countdown-Transcript

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MSNBC Countdown-Transcript

OLBERMANN: Tell that, though, to the 4th Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, or the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division. Both of those combat units are having to forego the benefit of counterinsurgency training at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, which has been specially designed to prepare them for war in the desert of Iraq.

They have to forego these trainings because they are deploying early, as part of the president's troop escalation in Iraq.

Joining us now, the only congressman who's actually served there, Representative Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania.

OLBERMANN: Thank you for some of your time, sir.

REP. PATRICK MURPHY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Thanks, Keith, thanks for having me on the show. I appreciate it.

OLBERMANN: You just got back from a tour of the region. You were in Iraq, you were in Afghanistan. Do you agree with General Pace's assessment about lack of military readiness? Or do you agree with the administration's contention that the U.S. troops are fully battle-ready?

MURPHY: I side with the military. General Pace is a good man, and I'll—he's a straight shooter, Keith. And the reality of it is, is our troops are spread very thin, and they need help, and we're going to give it to them in Congress.

OLBERMANN: All right, specifically, what do you do about two Army brigades, the ones we just mentioned, going to Iraq this spring, no longer getting the specialized training to fight in the desert, because they're part of this surge? What is Congress going to do to try to stop that from happening (INAUDIBLE)?

MURPHY: Well, the president has ordered them to go, and, you know, the reality of it is, I think all of us here at home need to pray for them. We're looking at what we can do in Congress right now. We obviously have a supplemental coming up, and we look forward to -- You know, we were having these hearings. The reality of it is, is, you know, they didn't even talk about it for the past six years. You know, they had a Congress that didn't like to ask the tough questions.

And, you know, I, you know, General Pace—I served under him, obviously, you know, Keith, that I served in the military, just got off of active duty a few years ago. And, you know, I talked to him about the training of the Iraqis. I talked to him about the readiness issue.

And Congress, you know, has finally asked him, you know, Do you need more troops? Do you need more troops? Under Rumsfeld, they never needed more troops. And now they're saying, We need 92,000 more. So we're looking at how we could do that for them.

OLBERMANN: All right, how do you deal with the issue of equipment? The administration promised to fix that appalling lack of body armor and the armor-plated Humvees. Has anything changed on that?

MURPHY: Well, they got the body armor, and the Humvees are getting fitted. You know, there's still more we can do. And the reality of it is, is that, you know, I think a lot of us who served over there are a little disappointed. We think they should be acting with a little bit more sense of urgency. And they're not. And so we need to make sure that we do, as a Congress, act with a sense of urgency and ask the tough questions.

OLBERMANN: All right. The tough question about Congress at the moment was—pertains to nonbinding and binding House resolutions. You voted for the nonbinding against the troop increase in Iraq. What is Congress going to do, bindingly, to resolve this war? When is the electorate going to see some concrete action on getting U.S. troops out of Iraq?

MURPHY: Sure, Keith, and we always said that the—that resolution that we had two weeks ago was the first step. So let's, you know, understand that. And I was very happy that it passed, I'm very happy that we had the debate, 393 members of Congress actually debated this on the floor, a debate that we haven't had.

So that was the first step. I have offered a piece of legislation with Senator Barack Obama and Congressman Mike Thompson, who is a Vietnam veteran, another paratrooper like I was. And the reality of it is, is that we said, We need a binding piece of legislation. We need to give the Iraqis a timeline. We've called for a 12-month timeline, so they come off the sidelines and finally fight for their country, so we can refocus our efforts on Afghanistan.

Keith, you mentioned—you know, I just was in Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan. But I met with General McNeil (ph). He is the commander, the NATO commander, an American general that I served under when I was at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. And I asked him, I said, Sir, what do you need? Do you need more troops? And he looked at me in the eye and he said, Murph, I need four more brigades, I need two more—I'm sorry, I need four more battalions, two battalions, about 1,500 troops of Brits, 1,500 troops of Americans.

The Brits just came through, and now he's asking our military for more troops. And we need to give it to him, because the Taliban, who are going to resurge and have this spring offensive, are coming, and we need to make sure that we support our military and put our eye back on the ball in Afghanistan, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Politically speaking, as the last question, Congressman, your majority leader, Mr. Hoyer, told reporters today that the Democrats are, now, let me quote him, "in the process of choosing the least dangerous, least negative alternative to resolving the situation in Iraq." Where do you stand on that? What's the most promising alternative that you see right now, besides the one that you proposed?

MURPHY: Well, I think the one I'm proposing...


MURPHY: ... is the best, Keith. But I think the reality of it is, is that we need to make sure that we win in the Middle East. We all are in agreement that we need to win there. But how do you do that? How you do that is, refocus on Afghanistan, and really set a timeline. A lot of people aren't willing to do a timeline. We need to give a timeline.

When I was there, I was a captain, Keith, as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division in 2003 and 2004. We had timelines for everything, timelines to pass their constitution, timelines to have their two elections. And every military operation has a military timeline. We need to make sure that we have that, so the Iraqis know that we're not going to be there forever.

And I'm call for a moderate approach, and I think that's what we need right now, is a bipartisan approach to this problem, and say, Listen, we can't bring all our troops home tomorrow from Iraq, but we can have an open-ended commitment, like the president wants.

What I've called for is a 12-month timeline to start bringing our troops home, so we could bring them home and refocus on Afghanistan.

OLBERMANN: Well, that latest "Washington Post" poll says you're now over 50 percent supporting timelines so maybe we will finally get this.

Representative Patrick Murphy...

MURPHY: Well, I tell you, the American people have a right, Keith, and I'm happy to stand with them.

OLBERMANN: Congressman, great thanks for your service to the country, and great thanks for your time tonight.

MURPHY: Thanks, Keith, I appreciate it.

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