Some great advice on how to start your own business online! 
For more information please visit

Update on Ilario Pantano

If it hasn't been obvious all along, I'll admit it right here: I've got a huge bias with respect to this story.

I want Lt. Ilario Pantano, the Marine accused of murder in the shooting deaths of two Iraqis, to be innocent of the charges against him. I don't want to believe that a man who did so much right with his life, and for his country, could do something as callous and cruel as what he's been accused of.

But I said in the follow-up to my previous post on Pantano that I would consider new information as it becomes available, and now we've got some.

Pantano's lawyer, Charles Gittins, claims a U.S. Navy man who witnessed the shooting agrees that the two Iraqis disregarded Pantano's order, in Arabic, to stop moving.

However, the Navy witness claims the two men were moving away from Pantano, while Pantano claims they were moving toward him.

More details of the accuser's story have also come out, and they're pretty grim:

The accuser, described by Gittins as a "disgruntled" Marine Corps sergeant who served as a radio man, asserts Pantano relieved men who were guarding the Iraqis. The accuser said Pantano sent the guards away so they couldn't see what he was doing and uncuffed the Iraqis. Then, according to the claim, Pantano shot the Iraqis in the back, left their bodies lying out in the open and put a mocking sign on them in order to "send a message."

Gittins contends, however, that no one was relieved of guarding the Iraqis or told to turn away, and the Iraqis were shot all over their bodies – their backs, sides and fronts – with many rounds.

No sign was put on their bodies, he claimed, but Pantano put a sign on the SUV with the words, in English, of 1st Marine Division commander Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis: "No better friend. No worse enemy."

Mattis stirred controversy earlier this month for saying at a conference "it's fun to shoot" terrorists.
The new information is, to varying degrees, troubling. But the key point is, we now have three different versions of what happened:

•    Pantano says the Iraqis disobeyed his order to stop, and he shot them as they were moving toward him.

•    The Navy witness agrees the Iraqis disobeyed Pantano's order to stop, but claims he shot them as they were moving away from him.

•    And the accuser claims Pantano essentially executed the Iraqis, shooting them in the back in cold blood.

Notably, the accuser's story differs considerably from those of Pantano and the Navy witness. His claim of a cold-blooded execution followed by desecration of the corpses strikes me as fantastic.

Given that the Navy witness apparently corroborates Pantano's own account, save for the issue of whether the Iraqis were moving away or toward him, it seems that we're still left with a Marine who shot two men after they ignored his order to stop where they were.

It will be up to the Marines to decide whether that constitutes murder.

In another twist, the Washington Times reports there is some uncertainty as to whether Pantano is even being charged with murder at all:
Last week, the Corps initially announced that 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano faced unspecified charges in the shooting deaths. Lt. Pantano's civilian attorney, Charles Gittins, told reporters his client faced two murder charges.

But later, spokesman Maj. Matt Morgan, at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where Lt. Pantano is based, said the officer had not been charged.

This came as a surprise to Mr. Gittins, who said he has a copy of the official charge sheet signed by a prosecuting judge advocate that was handed to his client Feb. 1. On the sheet, it clearly states the Marine Corps has charged the 33-year-old officer with two counts of murder.

The Corps stands by how it has handled public relations in the criminal case of Lt. Pantano.

"I think it is because they are embarrassed by the fact they have charged him with premeditated murder," Mr. Gittins said yesterday. "They are looking for a way out."
I hope Gittins is right.


Anonymous said...

There was also another Navy person there who disagrees with the other Navy person. It is a matter of perception. Maybe they are all 3 telling the truth of what they saw. If so, do you remember the trick the Law Professor pulls on the first day of class? Has someone come in and commit a crime, then gets away. Then you have to write a report about what you saw. No one ever gets it right, totally. So someone loses his life because someone PERCEIVED an incident diffently? Not on my watch! Thanks for the heads up. 

Posted by Rosemary

Anonymous said...

Hi, Rosemary! Welcome to my blog.

There's a big difference between differing perceptions and a deliberate lie.

I hope that at the very least, the accuser's story of Pantano deliberately executing the two Iraqis and putting a sign on their bodies is proven untrue.

I can live with a little uncertainty about which direction the Iraqis were headed when they failed to stop moving. 

Posted by GaijinBiker

Anonymous said...

Rashomon, well there are differant perceptions but this:

1. he uncuffed them.
2. if you apprehended someone who's house is full of bomb material do you think they are safe to uncuff? I mean insurgents are known for being violent, and they were in that circumstance seemingly known insurgent, everyone agrees on this?
3. an officer, and where's the rest of his squad? Is it true he sent people away? It's in the discovery.
I presume his innocence, just too much I don't know.

i'd say having to shoot out someone's tires is clearly a combat situation and despite "wanting" him to be innocent, it just doesn't make sense from a safety stand point to uncuff suspects. either the officer was not using s.o.p. or he was in the heat of the moment not remembering common sense. Or in the heat of the moment deciding do get some pay back for something. Being a wartime situation it is clear that the Marine corp would seemingly give the benefit of the doubt, and that the charges are so serious that political pressures will be exerted in the case.

We are not getting the whole picture, I agree if they were running away or toward Lt. Pantano and they were shot, that doesn't constitute murder. A lawyer in executing the UCMJ isn't looking for scapegoats in this situation,(remember the footage on cnn in Falujah, that marine shot the insurgent, just in case. well he didn't get charged with anything, it was a combat situation.) it's a matter if the witnesses testimony holds up. If Pantano told other men under his command to leave, that's going to come out too. You don't think a Patriot is capable of murder? This guy is with out a doubt a Patriot, with all the good and bad that can imply. His lawyer is doing a good job defending him, playing to public sentiment. I think he's going to be let off innocent or not. Hope he's innocent though

Hoping and political pressure don't change the truth. Of course I hope Michael Jackson is innocent, because I still like his music. 

Posted by fasteddie

Anonymous said...

I am unwilling to jump to any judgements at this point, including that we 'know' and of the facts about what happened yet.

It is possible though, that this guy was never really a 'hero' as we think of the term but rather a homicidal maniac who found a way to legally do his killing, until he crossed the line anyway.

I am certainly not going to accuse Pantano of that at this point, merely I am pointing out that such a thing is not inconcievable, and might would fit what facts we know as well.

Personally I tend to believe the 'angry sergeant' story line at the moment, but I am sure the facts will come out in time. 

Posted by Dave Justus

Anonymous said...

I worked with Lt. Pantano for eight months in 1998 on a television show in NYC. I have nothing to add to the above comments save that I cannot imagine this young man doing anything other than his proper duty in exemplary fashion. He was that kind of fellow then, I expect he still is. 

Posted by Glenn Bowen

Anonymous said...

I knew Ilario in high school, college and well boyond. If you knew him, you'd know how absurd any question of whether this man could commit murder was. He has always been, and remains, one of the most stand up, honest and exemplory men I have ever known or met.  

Posted by old friend

Anonymous said...

I have personal experience with the U.S.M.C. and this kind of crap. My son stood a general court marshal for premeditated murder in Viet Nam. Despite all the testimony to his innocence the Marine Corp intent on protecting its own ass used the Naval criminal investigate service to lie,intimidate witnesses, withhold evidence in an effort to convict.Despite all of the "command influence" my son was exonerated by the court msrtial board. My advice to Lt.Pantano:Get the best lawyer that money can buy and all your congressional people to press for the truth as the Marine Corp in intent on conviction.

Posted by C.A. Roberts

Anonymous said...

I, too, hope this young man is not guily of the crimes. My brother was in Iraq, and Thank God, he came home unscathed. My understanding of military courts is that they are designed to find guilt, regardless of the facts. There are different rules for high ranking officials than for lower ranking officers. When are we (the government and the people as a whole) going to get behind the brave soldiers who are covering our butts by protecting our country? They VOLUNTEER to protect and serve.  

Posted by Jen H

Anonymous said...

I, too, hope this young man is not guilty of the crimes. My brother was in Iraq, and Thank God, he came home unscathed. My understanding of military courts is that they are designed to find guilt, regardless of the facts. There are different rules for high ranking officials than for lower ranking officers. When are we (the government and the people as a whole) going to get behind the brave soldiers who are covering our butts by protecting our country? They VOLUNTEER to protect and serve.  

Posted by Jen H

Anonymous said...

At this writing Lt. Pantano has already been exonerated. I am a retired Marine (20+) years. For my love of the Corps and what it stands for, I hope that the young Lt. is innocent of what he was accused of.

And I 'hope' you understand me when I say I SILL hope he is innocent of the crime(s) he was accused of. Because quiet as it's kept, being FOUND innocent of crime in a court of law, and actually BEING innocent of the crime are two different things.

People talk trash about the military, its procedures and investigations ..and CHARGES regarding military personnel DOING THEIR JOBS. I just think before people SAY that, they should KNOW what a military person's job IS. (Unfortunately there are even service members who have no clue, but THINK they 'do'.) Readers here have to realize that many Americans, serving in the U. S. Armed Forces or not, could never fathom 'killing Iraqis' as murder ..regardless of the circumstances. THAT is why you must give the military their SPACE, and let them investigate and DO what they have to DO.

From what I get via news and info on the case, and the different accounts of who was 'there', I don't see any problem with uncuffing prisoners to conduct a vehicle search. (I wouldn't want MY men doing it, considering the possibility(ies) of booby trap.) But I'd uncuff ONE of them, only. Why did the Lt. not want any of his men present? And what motive did the Sgt have for saying they were 'told' to look away? He may have been disgruntled due to being assigned a Lance Corporal's job, but such a charge could get the L T the Death Penalty for Christ' sake! WHY would the Sgt put himself OUT THERE like that? And why the 'sign'? Could those Iraqis have 'seen it coming' (not the sign, but the Lt's actions) and either fled or ran toward the Lt. figuring they had nothing to lose? IF that was the case, it really wouldn't matter WHICH way they were running, now, WOULD it? (i.e. If I was unarmed and aimed in on, I'd run, too.)

The point I'm making is ..IF the Lt. felt danger or perceived move(s) toward him to pose a threat or potential threat, then by all means, he had every RIGHT to kill those men. But if they were running towards him (or away) because they feared for THEIR lives from what THEY perceived while being alone with him, then the Lt. has to live with that.

Unfortunately, there are many American people (military and civilian) who would have no problem living with such a thing, when it comes to the lives of the enemy (threat or no threat) ..combatant or non-combatant. THAT is why you can't fault the military for 'investigating', heeding charges, and DOING what they HAVE to DO.

Lastly I just want to reemphasize that you cannot bash the military for doing THEIR job. Otherwise you'd have a lot of hot-headed military personnel with the 'means' to act out their frustrations with no repercussions to consider. As MUCH as I despise the fact that these 2 Iraqis were insurgents housing bomb equipment & weapons for purposes against the U. S., and I feel the Lt. and his men were much better off with those 2 dead than alive, I still don't want a trigger-happy military that condones taking advantage of the situation. That would make us no better than the Hitler regime. The trial a 'farce'? I don't THINK so. 

Posted by Ken Wetalk



Powered by Blogger.