We’ve reported on the case of Marine Lt. Ilario Pantano, who has been charged by the U.S. military with murder. He killed two Iraqis who, according to his lawyer, threatened him after he stopped them when they were fleeing from a house where bomb-making equipment was found. We noted that Lt. Pantano’s mother has set up a web site called Defend the Defenders.
This morning the Washington Times reported that Lt. Pantano and his mother have come under attack from Islamic militants apparently headquartered in Pakistan:
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.
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.
Our instinct, of course, is to be sympathetic to a dedicated Marine who killed two men, who gave every appearance of being enemies, in the heat of battle. And cyber-attacks from Pakistan can only increase that sympathy. At the same time, we are aware that only Lt. Pantano’s side of the story has been told, and statements by his lawyer must be taken with a grain of salt. We’ll withhold judgment at least until the prosecution has had an opportunity to be heard.
In the meantime, though, it wouldn’t hurt to contribute to Defend the Defenders.