"A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled, and less than that no man shall have." ~Theodore Roosevelt
Lt. Ilario Pantano is a United States Marine who was working the Sunni Triangle in Iraq, looking for illegal weapons in the midst of rising terrorist attacks. It was April 2004 and Pantano's platoon was sent out on time-sensitive information gleaned from captured terrorists about a terror hideout and weapons cache.
"Their search revealed weapons, ammunition, mortar equipment, bomb-making material and two fleeing terrorists. In an ensuing search of the terrorists’ vehicle... concerned for his safety and the safety of his men shot them both in self defense and then disabled their vehicle so it could not be used in further attacks."
The two Iraqi men that were shot by Pantano had been approaching him. He told them to stop in Arabic and they kept approaching. He had a split decision to contemplate his safety and that of his men.
"He and his men went on to fight with distinction and honor in Falluja and the surrounding areas and, when possible, aided in the reconstruction effort. Months later, the government began an investigation that only now, 10 months after the fact, alleges"... not only murder, but premeditation. (source)
"Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it... It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger."
What are they doing in the Pentagon? First the Fallujah Marine who shot the terrorist --Now this. Lt. Pantano was in the heart of the terror hot bed. He was privy to sights that most of us have never seen --ambushed, roadside bombs, suicide bombers. Two men who were ordered to stop in their language by a US marine holding a weapon and they keep walking toward him... What would you have done? Our troops are leaving their wives, children and mothers to put their lives on the line and then we (most of whom have never played paint ball let alone had real bullets whizzing past our heads) are going to presume to judge combat actions stateside? Is this for real?
Charging a Marine in a combat situation that is engaged with the enemy for premeditated murder (isn't all war premeditated murder?) sets a scary precedent.
"It sets a terrible precedent for Marines, who have to make life-or-death decisions in the field, facing terrorists who follow no rules or laws of war." (source)
Pantano's family has set up a website detailing information about this case and others like it -- I didn't see a petition on the site, but there is a place to donate money...Defend the Defenders.
(Michelle Malkin has a good article on this story...Go read it...)