Murder????

Discussion in 'Military' started by CSM, Feb 14, 2005.

  1. CSM
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    CSM Senior Member

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    Washington Times
    February 14, 2005
    Pg. 1

    Marine Charged In Killing Of Iraqis

    Backers rally in defense

    By Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times

    He is the kind of Marine officer who seems to come off the assembly line, so patriotic that he rejoined the Corps after September 11 and went to Iraq to kill terrorists.

    That is why it is so hard for 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano and his family to understand how the Marine Corps could call the platoon leader a murderer. He escaped death in Iraq despite daily patrols and raids in the notorious Sunni Triangle.

    Back home at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Lt. Pantano, 33, found out the Corps has filed two premeditated murder charges for shooting two Iraqi insurgents in a dusty, terrorist-infested town near Baghdad. If convicted at a court-martial, he would face the death penalty.

    "He is a young, intelligent, charismatic Marine officer and all that that entails," states his mother, Merry K. Gregory Pantano, a New York literary agent, on a Web site she created to raise defense funds. "And yet he is incomprehensibly charged with heinous crimes related to a dangerous military operation that took place in 'the triangle of death.' "

    To Lt. Pantano, the two Iraqis who came toward him despite his order in Arabic to stop were mortal enemies. Booby-trapped suicide bombers are killing Iraqis by the score and some have even feigned surrender in order to get close to U.S. soldiers. But the Corps views it as murder and filed charges against him Feb. 1.

    The case, announced at Camp Lejeune last week, is already driving passions among Marines who know that a split-second delay in defending oneself can result in death.

    "Let's stand together and tell our government that it cannot send our boys to the depths of hell and not expect them to see fire and brimstone," said an e-mailer to Mrs. Pantano's site, DefendtheDefenders.org. "It's called war. Sad, dark, horrible, tragic and, in death, permanent."

    Lt. Pantano has retained Charles Gittins, a Marine reserve officer and one of the country's most prominent military defense attorneys.

    Mr. Gittins said his client reported the shootings to superiors and remained in combat for weeks afterward. It was not until an enlisted man, whom Mr. Gittins described as "disgruntled" after being relieved from two jobs, complained to commanders that an investigation began.

    "Lt. Pantano told everyone who needed to know," Mr. Gittins said. "He told them what he did and why he did it. After that, he served three months in combat. Nobody had any problem with it."

    The Corps has presented Lt. Pantano with a document known as a "charge sheet" that officially charges him with two counts of murder.

    Despite this, a Marine spokesman at Camp Lejeune said the officer had not yet been accused.

    Mr. Gittins on Saturday sent a letter to the base's commanding general demanding that he fire the public affairs officer for putting out erroneous information.

    Lt. Pantano, raised in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, had already served his country as an enlisted Marine when al Qaeda struck the World Trade Center. He eventually rejoined, graduating from officer training at Quantico, Va., and earning a commission.

    The married father of two sons took a hefty pay cut, going from the $100,000 salary of a New York stock broker and TV producer, to the pay of a Marine second lieutenant.

    "If he has a fault," says his mother on the site, "it is that he is too idealistic and puts moral responsibility and duty to his country and his men before anything else."

    Lt. Pantano arrived in Iraq in March 2004, leading a quick-reaction platoon, the kind of unit that is crucial to the U.S. military in its battle against insurgents. Such units receive intelligence reports on hide-outs and arms caches, and must move quickly before the enemy can escape.

    "He was in combat every day," Mr. Gittins said. "They were taking serious casualties. In the three weeks before [the shootings] happened, there were over 1,000 [dead and wounded] in his area of operation."

    On April 15, commanders dispatched Lt. Pantano's men to a house believed to hold insurgents and weapons. The Marines found bomb-making equipment and were removing it when two Iraqis tried to speed away in a sport utility vehicle, according to Lt. Pantano's account.

    The Marines stopped the SUV by shooting out the tires, apprehended the two and placed them in flexible handcuffs. After setting up a security perimeter, Lt. Pantano took off the cuffs and had the two search the vehicle as he supervised. If it was booby-trapped, the Iraqis, not Marines, would pay the price.

    It was at this point that the Iraqis stopped searching and moved quickly toward Lt. Pantano.

    "They start talking in Arabic and turn toward him as if they are going to rush him," Mr. Gittins said. "He says, 'stop.' They don't stop and he kills them. He didn't know what they were doing but they weren't listening to him. He was in fear of his life and he killed them."

    The lawyer said it turned out that the men were unarmed and there were no weapons in the SUV.

    "They were from a town that was really bad in terms of the insurgency," he said.

    Marine Corps prosecutors added two other charges that seem to Lt. Pantano's supporters to be piling on. The Corps charged him with destruction of property for slashing the vehicle tires so they could not be repaired.

    And, Mr. Gittins said, he was charged with desecration for posting a sign in English on the SUV that said, "No better friend. No worse enemy" — the slogan for the Iraq war of the 1st Marine Division's commander, Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis.

    Gen. Mattis got in hot water earlier this month when he said at a conference that "it's fun to shoot some people," referring to Islamic militants.
     
  2. Johnney
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    Johnney Senior Member

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    talk about disgusting! thats the type of shit that gets you killed in the US by the cops, why is it different over there in a war zone? bullshit is to light of a term for that.
    and what are those other chages? destruction? fucking please. hey i know, lets leave the enemy a means of escape!!
    and he defaced a suv, tough shit. so make him pay to repaint it. good grief how stupid can they be? and after how many weeks?
     
  3. Hobbit
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    Hobbit Senior Member

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    According to the Marine spokesman, he isn't officially charged. Here's what probably happened.

    Marine shoots two unarmed insurgents who fail to follow his order to stop. This is reasonable. They could be carrying a concealed weapon or bomb. It's a valid excuse for police to shoot a suspect, and these were soldiers in hostile territory. He reported the incident, and no problems arose.

    Now, one of his 'disgruntled' men, who has a grudge against him, decided he was going to 'get even' the with Lieutenant by coming up with this bogus charge. He went through the system and filed the paperwork, so there has to be an investigation. Then, some idiot who didn't get the whole story leaked what he thought he knew to the press.

    Something similar happened to my uncle, only it was racism instead of murder.
     
  4. CSM
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    CSM Senior Member

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    It is a bit unclear to me too. the article states that the Corps presented him with a "charge sheet" but then states he had not been accused yet????? The article also states that Marine prosecutors had added charges. How can you have a prosecutor in a court martial if there hasn't been a decision to have one yet???

    Something isn't right here.
     
  5. Johnney
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    Johnney Senior Member

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    wouldnt theyhave an Art 32 hearinf first?
     
  6. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    Some more information on this case.

    Former Marines Protect Pantano
    By Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times
    February 17, 2005

    Retired Marines set up a security watch yesterday around the North Carolina home of accused 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano, after a Pakistan-connected Web site depicted a beheading of the Marine Corps officer.

    "It's a show of solidarity for Pantano," Charles Gittins, his civilian attorney, said of the former Marine volunteers. Mr. Gittins said Lt. Pantano has been charged unfairly with premeditated murder by the Corps at Camp Lejeune, N.C., arguing that he killed two Iraqi insurgents in self-defense. Lt. Pantano reported the beheading on the Web site to the local sheriff, who is investigating.

    Mr. Gittins also said the FBI has opened an investigation after a Web site established by the officer's mother was shut down by repeated cyberattacks that might have come from Pakistan. The Web site, www.defendthedefenders.org, was set up by Merry K. Gregory Pantano to explain her son's case and his life story and to raise money for his criminal defense. The site crashed several times Tuesday and yesterday.

    An FBI official in North Carolina had no immediate comment last night. Mr. Gittins said he spoke with a special agent assigned to the investigation.
    The attorney said a check of who set up the beheading site shows that it was created in Pakistan. It has an address similar to defendthedefenders.org.

    The Marine Corps last week announced that Lt. Pantano, the 33-year-old married father of two sons, had been charged Feb. 1 in the deaths of two Iraqis. The official charge sheet accuses him of premeditated murder, which, if he is convicted at a court-martial, could bring a penalty of death.

    He also is charged with destruction of property for damaging the Iraqis' sport utility vehicle. Mr. Gittins said his client smashed the vehicle so other insurgents could not use it.

    The shooting occurred April 15 in the town of Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad. It was a particularly bloody time for Marines based near Fallujah, with daily insurgent attacks. Marines had to cease their assault on terrorists in Fallujah when politicians in Baghdad protested the mission, a move that allowed the enemy to continue using the town as a base to launch attacks.

    Lt. Pantano led a fast-reaction platoon. On that night, he received orders to raid a house thought to hold insurgents and an arms cache. The Marines discovered the cache, which included bomb-making equipment. They apprehended two Iraqis trying to flee.

    Mr. Gittins said Lt. Pantano had the two search the vehicle in case it was booby-trapped. At that point, the men started talking with each other in Arabic and then came at him. The officer warned them in Arabic to stop and then emptied his M-16. "After the killing, the number of attacks in that area went down to almost zero," Mr. Gittins said.

    In an environment where the next person encountered on the street could be a killer, troops in Iraq say that they never know when an insurgent will attack them and that they must act within seconds or risk death.

    The Marine command at Camp Lejeune has refused to discuss details of the case. The prosecution's version of events would come out at a pretrial Article 32 hearing, which has not been scheduled. After the hearing, broadly equivalent to a grand jury case in the civilian justice system, an investigative officer decides whether to recommend a court-martial or to dismiss the charges.

    Mr. Gittins said his client shot the insurgents many times, following Marine training to use full force. The two men were not armed. He said that the bodies were buried quickly and that no thorough autopsy, which would provide details of entry and exit wounds, was performed. He said Lt. Pantano's military defense team at Camp Lejeune has requested command permission to take a combat camera team to Iraq and further investigate the case.

    Mr. Gittins said the complaint against Lt. Pantano was lodged by a "disgruntled" sergeant who has been removed from two division jobs. He said statements from platoon members support Lt. Pantano's version of events.
     
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  7. CSM
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    CSM Senior Member

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    I am watching this closely. It will be interesting to see how the Corps handles this one.
     
  8. Johnney
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    Johnney Senior Member

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    it sounds like a freakin which hunt! everyones under a microscope since all the abuse cases started to come up. then some asshole gets all pissy and opens this crap up.
     
  9. Merlin1047
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    Merlin1047 Senior Member

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    I would expect this kind of witch hunt under Clinton or if kerry had been elected. George Bush needs to step in here and send a clear message that the military is supported by the White House. This is total BS.
     
  10. pegwinn
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    pegwinn Top of the Food Chain

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    A charge sheet is nothing more than a report of a violation of the UCMJ to the Commander. He will review the charges and determine whether to hold NJP, move for judicial action, or dismiss. Next in general is the Article 32 (Grand Jury with uniforms) if the CO or CA believes a court martial is warranted. I think the old Army slang would be "put on report"
     

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