Friday, May 20, 2005

A further update on Lt. Pantano

My loyal readers (all three of you) know that I've been following the case of Lt. Ilario Pantano, the Marine who has been accused of shooting two suspected terrorists. Here's the latest on the case.

The Jacksonville, NC Star-News reports that the government prosecutor has taken

...the unusual step Wednesday of questioning findings of the officer hearing the case, who recommends that criminal charges not be pursued.

If I understand their objections correctly, their theory is that Lt. Pantano set up a situation in which he would be forced to defend himself. I just can't figure that one--he was on a search-and-cordon mission, and captured two men who fled his unit's approach to a building . So by carrying out his orders he set this thing up?

The investigator who has recommended dismissal did find fault with Lt. Pantano's actions:

But Lt. Col. Winn was no more charitable in his comments concerning Lt. Pantano, whom he described as having erred from the beginning of the incident by focusing on the car and its two occupants rather than on the cordon-and-search mission itself. Lt. Col. Winn was sharply critical of Lt. Pantano’s admission that he placed as sign reading “no better friend, no worse enemy” on the car above the bodies and recommended disciplining of the officer for having fired as many shots as he did during the incident.

Let me comment on those. Based on what we're told, focus does sound like an issue. However, we don't know if he was focusing on the vehicle because the rest of his force was occupied or what. We need more information on this one.

The sign, on the other hand, I like. Ever heard of psyops? That's what it sounds like to me. Maybe it's over the top, but it's a war. We need to get this thing won, and if a few signs tagged on dead bad guys help, I can work with that.

First time, though, I've ever heard of someone being criticized for firing too much. What, are we short of ammo?

Come on guys, let's stop messing around with this Marine's future. It's the heat of battle--you have to react NOW. You don't have time to consider all the niceties that us armchair quarterbacks get look at. When you consider the situation in toto, I just don't see how you can fault the guy for much of anything.

I'll report any further developments.

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