- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The FBI on Tuesday released hundreds of pages of records concerning late Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha, but declined to make public any information about an ongoing investigation into allegations of kickbacks involving defense contractors.

The FBI released 24 pages of news articles involving the investigation into defense contractors that received millions of dollars in “earmarks”, but said the “bulk” of the materials on the probe must remain sealed.

“As this investigative file is still in ‘pending status’, the bulk of the file’s FBI documents are not releasable until the conclusion of the investigation” the FBI said in releasing the Murtha documents on its Web site Tuesday morning.

The Washington Times, among others, filed a request for the FBI documents mentioning Mr. Murtha under the Freedom of Information Act after his death at age 77 in February.

As Pennsylvania’s longest serving congressman, Murtha was a long-serving member of the powerful House Defense Appropriations subcommittee.

He also was considered a “subject of interest” in the FBI’s undercover ABSCAM case in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. Murtha was a target in the investigation and was offered a bribe, but the FBI did not release the video of the meeting in the batch of documents it released on Tuesday.

Other records made public show several death threats were made against Mr. Murtha over the years. One threat involved a 43-page e-mail calling for his assassination by a suspect who already was on probation for previously threatening Murtha.

Many of the documents released Tuesday were redacted, the FBI said, to protect “personal privacy, sources of information and material under court seal”.

Murtha’s name had surfaced repeatedly in connection with the ongoing federal probe into defense contractors that gave Mr. Murtha and other members of Congress campaign donations. In 2009, the FBI raided the PMA Group, a lobbying firm by a former aide of Mr. Murtha. The firm lobbied for defense contractors that won federal funding through earmarks, or special spending requests made by Mr. Murtha and other members of Congress.