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Charges dropped against Ilario Pantano

Marine 2nd Lieutenant Ilario Pantano will not face a court-martial over charges that he murdered two Iraqi insrugents. The Associated Press reports:

The Marine Corps dropped murder charges Thursday against an officer accused of riddling two Iraqis with bullets and hanging a warning sign on their corpses as a grisly example to other suspected insurgents.

Autopsies conducted on the Iraqis' exhumed bodies backed 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano's assertion that he shot them in self-defense after the men disobeyed his instructions and made a menacing move toward him, Marine officials said.

..."Down at the unit level, there was never a question about Ilario's conduct and whether or not he did the right thing," said Charles Gittins, Pantano's civilian lawyer. "It was up in the higher echelons. The people removed from combat situations needed to put more trust in their officers rather than assuming they're guilty."
Gittins's statements to the press throughout this case have often struck me as ill-considered, and his latest comment is no exception. No one assumed Pantano was guilty. Instead, they followed up on what appeared to be credible charges of wrongdoing, letting the question of Pantano's guilt or innocence be decided by the military justice system.

It's not clear whether Pantano will face administrative punishment for shooting the bodies of the insurgents an excessive number of times, as investigating officer Lt. Col. Mark E. Winn had previously recommended. But regardless, Pantano must be breathing a lot more easily now.

How many New Yorkers thought about joining the military after 9-11? Pantano did more than just think. He left behind a high-paying job, a beautiful wife, a young son, and the comforts of civillian life. Like Pat Tillman, who walked away from a multi-million-dollar pro football contract to fight (and ultimately, to die) in Afghanistan, he felt certain things were more important than his own personal happiness.

Pantano may have made a bad decision when he shot, and kept shooting, the two insurgents to "send a message". But in those painful days after 9-11, he made an amazingly selfless and admirable one. With his legal troubles — and his career in the Marines — apparently over, I hope he is able to able to once again enjoy everything he gave up to serve his country.

Pantano may indeed enjoy civillian life again someday, but not right away, if he can help it. According to a statement by his attorney (which was included at the end of the article I linked above, but which I missed), he wants to try to return to a combat unit. Amazing.


Anonymous said...

Honorable men like Lt. Pantano make me proud to be an American. I wish there were more men like him, as I suspect there might be if the media and the school system gave men of character the same coverage they do celebrities and socialist/communist heroes. 

Posted by langtry

Anonymous said...

Here's another thought: Maybe Tillman and Pantano liked shooting people,
especially when they believe the people deserve it. The U.S. media assiduously propagate the idea that we have
to be reverent, not objective, as regards "our troops.'' I'm reserving judgment: Maybe Tillman and
Pantano are saints, maybe they were merely misguided, maybe misanthropic. But there is also a
chance that they saw the war as a huge thrill and ultimate test of their manhood. Would it really surprise Langtry and others that some men get a huge rise out of combat? While Langtry is apparently disappointed that there isn't enough military worship going on, a quick look at network TV news and Hollywood movies shows that
American culture celebrates war and military action and, to an extent, violence
in general. Why would guys like Tillman and Pantano be immune to that? Perhaps
for them, shooting "bad" guys was just more fun than tackling running backs or
selling equities. A Vietnam vet's wife once told me her husband had loved the
war and said it was by far the best, most exciting, rewarding time of his life.
Things got dead boring once he came home...Well, I better get back to watching CNN: they're having a special series on "Socialist/Communist Heroes Today."  

Posted by bunkerbuster

Anonymous said...

Bunkerbuster - unfortunately, you might try to be critical of Pat Tillman and Lt Pantano, but, it is guys like them that make it possible for you to have t he freedonm of speech that you enjoy. Defame them all you want, but history will remember them as selfless heroes, while folks like you will be among the millions of nameless, cowardly, losers. 

Posted by dannyboy

Anonymous said...

Dannyboy, The Constitution protects my right to free speech, not the U.S. military. Beyond that, I rely on the judicial system to guarantee that right, again, not the military. I'm surprised you didn't learn that in high school, though I'm not surprised you've been brainwashed to assume a link between free speech and military aggression.
Maybe Tillman and Pantano were themselves supporters of the American Civil Liberties Union; I just don't know, and neither do you, I suspect. Maybe they were just naive and believed the propaganda about the necessity of bombing our way to peace in the Middle East. Even if that was the case, it's hardly heroic.
And how is it defaming them to call for a little objectivity in assessing who they were and why they signed up to go join the horrific carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan. Frankly, I think there decision is highly suspect. Many, probably most, of the guys over in Iraq today signed up to the military because they couldn't get a job in the "booming" U.S. economy. Or, maybe their parents couldn't help them out with college tuition, so they signed on to get the benefits. That, while I would never call it heroic, I can understand.
Sorry, though, I just don't see how it automatically makes you a hero to go over to some country that did nothing whatsoever to attack you and terrorize the people with vastly superior firepower. That's not manly, it's not heroic and it'
s not smart. The fact that you give up a career in sports or finance to do it makes it even more suspect.
Lastly, there are plenty of heroes in Iraq. They're the medics, the volunteers, the non-imbedded journalists just trying to squeeze some truth past the U.S. military's propaganda wall. Those are the heroes, not stockbrokers and football players who volunteer for military aggression. 

Posted by bunkerbuster



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