(I missed the fact that there was news again. Caught a pointer on TV *ack* while visiting my dad.)
The Good News is that charges against 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano, USMC have been dropped (registration required; BugMeNot works). We should all be thankful that someone in authority had the courage to see this for what it was--trumped up, political and in general, sour grapes.
Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, commander of the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, decided to drop the case. Huck reviewed the evidence along with a report by the presiding officer, Lt. Col. Mark E. Winn, who had recommended that the prosecution end.
Both Huck and a Marine prosecutor declined through a spokesman to comment. A Marine Corps news release said "the best interests of 2nd Lt. Pantano and the government have been served."
Well, we could argue that "best interests" part, but we won't. Let's just be thankful Gen. Huck acted as he did.
The Bad News is that Lt. Pantano has resigned from the USMC.
Pantano said Friday that he feared that if he did not resign, he could be redeployed to the Middle East, where he thinks he remains a high-profile target for terrorists and could be a danger to the Marines in his command. Death threats are still being made against his family, Pantano said, and his name is still circulating on a Pakistani Web site.
If Pantano had to return to Iraq, Stackhouse said, he would face again all the questions that have surrounded him in the past year, including being second-guessed about his actions in combat.
"It's sad, but it's understandable," Stackhouse said. "Ultimately it's best for both sides."
No one will say it in public, but I'd lay money that Lt. Pantano also couldn't help thinking that his "reputation" would follow him, and that every move he made as a combat commander would be examined under several microscopes.
That's the damn shame of this sort of thing. That, and the fact that we do more damage to ourselves that those who are fighting us can do.
But there's still some good news remaining:
And when one well-wisher asked what he'll do now, Pantano said that he wasn't sure but that the family wanted to stay in Wilmington.
"We're going to take some time to catch our breath," he said.
He'll probably take a vacation and spend time with his sons and wife, a stay-at-home mom.
Pantano knows he wants to help veterans somehow.
"I want to put together a foundation for the injured men in my company," he said. "I want to make sure they're taken care of."
Lt., welcome to North Carolina. I hope you'll find it to be home. Look me up sometime, and I'll take you and your family out to supper--a small thank you from me to you--for service honorably rendered.