Monday, February 14, 2005

Update on Pantano

Fellow Southern California blogger, Rosemary from My Newz N Ideas, has more information on 2nd Lt. Pantano:

On April 15, [2004] 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 [SUV], 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.
Rosemary also links to this Washington Times article which indicates that the command to stop was issued in Arabic. Despite the fact that these men were subsequently found to be unarmed, this seems like a pretty clear case of justifiable shooting given the fact that these were enemy combatants in a war zone who were ordered to stop. There is a brief line at the end of the Times piece that is suggestive:
"The lieutenant reported it to his chain of command after it happened and they investigated and said good to go. Then three months later a disgruntled enlisted man makes a complaint," the lawyer said.
But without further details, it is difficult to tell if this is significant or just spin.

Rosemary points out in her email that she has been contacting other bloggers trying to get traction on this. Paul at Prince Pundit has a post, as does Sacramento radio talk show host Eric Hogue. I have emailed the link to Captain's Quarters, Citizen Smash and Mudville Gazette, but so far no coverage. Am I missing something important about this story, or has it just not reached critical mass yet?

Free Republic has more:
This NY Times piece seems to be trying to suggest that he is guilty. They are all over the "he was such a nice boy" meme, which is the serial-killer's trademark.

Here is commentary on the original Reuters piece I linked to below.

Several people seem to be aware of the "disgruntled enlisted man" angle, but I cannot find any supporting documentation.

UPDATE: Looks like Captain Ed has more pressing things on his mind, so he is off the hook. Our prayers are with you, Captain. But what's up with the rest of you guys?

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