Rowan Scarborough reports on Marine Lt. Ilario Pantano, who is charged with murder for shooting two Iraqis who seemed to be attacking him after he stopped their vehicle. Pantano re-enlisted in the Marines after September 11 to hunt down terrorists. Here is what happened, according to Pantano:
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.”
Pantano’s mother has been active in his defense, and he appears to have a good lawyer. Based on Scarborough’s report, this is the kind of case that a lawyer would love to take to a jury. There may be more to it, of course.
Michelle Malkin is all over the story. Michelle has what it takes to be a great blogger: she suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder. And I mean that as the highest possible praise.
UPDATE: For more information, including an excellent contribution by Lt. Pantano’s mother, check out Defend the Defenders.