Tags: West | Demands | Apology | Reid

West Demands Apology from Reid for ‘Politicizing’ Marine Deaths

By Todd Beamon   |   Tuesday, 19 Mar 2013 11:31 PM

Former Rep. Allen West of Florida demanded on Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologize for “politicizing” the deaths of seven Marines from a mortar shell explosion in his home state of Nevada.

“The most important thing that Sen. Harry Reid must do is to go over to the Marine barracks [in Washington], stand there with the commandant of the Marine Corps, before a formation of Marines and truly give an apology for what he said on the Senate floor,” West told Fox’s Greta Van Susteren. “For him to try to draw a connection between sequestration budget cuts and what happened, we don’t need anyone politicizing this event.”

The mortar-shell explosion killed seven Marines and injured seven on Monday night during mountain-warfare training in Nevada's high desert.

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The blast occurred at the Hawthorne Army Depot, a huge facility used by troops heading overseas, during an exercise involving the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The mortar round exploded in its firing tube during the exercise, Marine officials said. Investigators were trying to determine the cause of the malfunction.

The blast prompted the Pentagon to immediately halt the use of the weapons until an investigation can determine their safety, officials said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Reid tied the accidents to the sequester budget cuts that took effect on March 1.

“These men and women, our Marines were training there in Hawthorne,” Reid said. “And with this sequester, it's going to cut back this stuff. I just hope everyone understands the sacrifices made by our military. They are significant, being away from home, away from families, away from their country.”

The Democrat’s comments prompted West to say on Twitter: “Disgusted by your attempt to politicize the death of 7 Marines in NV. If you possessed any shred of honor, you’d apologize now.”

Reid’s office then issued a statement: “The idea that Sen. Reid thinks the Hawthorne tragedy has anything to do with the sequester is absurd and unsubstantiated by his remarks on the topic. Marines would not be forced to operate under unsafe conditions because of budget cuts.”

Still, West called the statement “cowardly” and told Van Susteren that it was insufficient.

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“It’s about time the American people demanded more and have Harry Reid held accountable for the statement he made,” West said. “To try to impugn the training and the readiness of our Marine Corps so that he can make these cute political points, that’s horrific.”

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