A War Hero Is Vindicated–Again

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Gittens concurred. “I think they did the autopsies to implicate Ilario because we had blown up the hearing. The purpose of the autopsies was to get inculpatory evidence, not exculpatory evidence” (italic mine). Two days after the report was submitted to the Pentagon, Huck announced that all charges were being dropped, citing the autopsy as evidence.

None of it mattered to leftists determined to get Mr. Pantano. The charge, rather than the verdict, became fodder for several stories. Just prior to the charges being dropped, New York Magazine ran a story on May 21, 2005, wondering whether or not the “Manhattan preppy…with a handsome face, angled like a cat’s, and a soldier’s telltale crew cut,” was a murderer.

When Pantano resigned his commission, moved to North Carolina and ran for Congress in 2010, the stories became less speculative and more accusatory. Salon magazine ran a piece titled “From accused murderer to member of Congress?” wondering if a man who “killed two unarmed Iraqis and embraces Islamophbia could wind up in Congress.” The Daily Beast ran a story on “Jack Bauer Republicans” and referred to Pantano as one of two “renegade soldiers” running for office. Part of that story included comments by Pantano’s defeated primary opponent, Will Breazeale, who contended “there’s no excuse for what [Pantano] did.” Breazeale promised to do everything he could to assure Pantano’s defeat. The North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP) paid for a website that ran articles accusing Pantano of “changing his story,” claiming his version of the incident “is not one of self-defense,” and contending that “future Marine Corpsmen have noticed Pantano and are learning what NOT to do.”

Pantano lost the election. And his story might have ended then were it not for one man: William Rodriguez. Rodriguez had been bothered by the “rush to judgment” in the case and convinced the Marines to exhume the bodies five years later. “I informed the NCIS agent and others in the office that the remains of the two deceased Iraqis should be exhumed and examined, as that is the only way one can scientifically prove what happened.”

In late November, Rodriguez did just that. He proved the two men had been shot from the front, not the back. Furthermore, he went public with his criticism of the Marine Corps and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). “In a case like this, if I was charged with something, I would insist that the forensic evidence be looked at before I would be found guilty,” Rodriguez told the Washington Times. “They were looking at really going after him, making an example of him.”

He then added a sentence that ought to give pause to anyone willing to render judgment in this case, or any other combat incident–while sitting safely in front of a computer. “People were kind of second-guessing the soldier in the field in a wartime situation. That to me, personally, upset me for people try to second-guess a soldier who’s in the field facing danger every day, not knowing who is their friend or foe.”

Pantano, whose memoir, “Warlord: Broken by War, Saved by Grace,” is currently being re-released in paperback, plans to run for Congress again in 2012. As he explained in an interview on Fox News, “I was on the ground in Fallujah when it was a bloodbath. Your audience remembers contractors hanging from a bridge.” Regarding the specific incident, he remained firm. “I was defending myself…but without autopsy evidence there was no way to know for sure..the doctor who did the autopsies…has come forward to say this should never have happened and that I was an innocent man.”

Now the whole world knows. It remains to be seen whether those so quick to render judgment against Iliaro Pantano will be willing to offer their apologies to a war hero who has now been vindicated–for the second time.

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  • Lfox328

    This is an attempted smear of a vet by Leftists, who are determined to drum up another "My Lai". The facts are in favor of the defendant – does that stop our supposed pro-accused criminal Left?


    The only innocent accused they want to talk about is those that forward their Leftist aims. People like Pantano are ignored, and his acquittal is not noted. Instead, they lie and smear in an attempt to provide a warning to troops – stay in line with our aims, or we will send the dogs of prosecution after you.

  • charlie brown

    thank you sir for your service.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    The necessary evidence against this proud Marine was hearsay at best with false
    conclusions drawn improperly. The left can be understood for their perfidity but
    that the Marine Core and NCIS attacked this man is and outrage. It shows just
    how deep PC has eaten into our best organizations, leftists join the military to
    tear it down, leftist are like cockroaches in need of a boot…………………..
    Semper Fi Pantano……………………………………………………………William

  • Ken

    It's funny. I don't see any uber Lefties trying to off a counter point to this. Interesting. Probably because they cannot sanely justify anything.

  • John_Kelly

    Ilario Pantano I salute you Sir.

    You are a true Patriot and the pity is that we don't have a man of your caliber in the White House.

    Your courage and service are an absolute inspiration.

    God bless you Ilario.

    • WilliamJamesWard

      Amazingly John we still have people of the caliber of Pantano and the left
      sees this, those of the left ensconced in our institutions and organizations.
      The left knows to target any man or woman of good stature with false and
      denigrating appraisal. My point is that we have courageous Americans and
      they can and will make the difference in the ultimate fight for America and
      it's ability to clean house in the restoration of the Nation…………….William

  • http://nycright.blogspot.com Ron Lewenberg

    NCIS and the JAG prosecutor (persecutor?) should be tried with dereliction of duty.This was politically-motivated misconduct. His former sergeant should be prosecuted for perjury, which remains a crime.

    • WilliamJamesWard

      Ron you are absolutely correct………………Regards,………………William

  • FriendofGaryCooper

    This is absolutely miserable–that a good soldier is prosecuted for doing his job,
    and doing it well. Pantano is an achiever, and achievers make good targets for the left,
    in any field of endeavor. If there had been a well-organized left in 1918, they would have gone after Sergeant Alvin C. York.

  • tagalog

    The Left will never acknowledge the wrongness of the Pantano accusations. They will simply move on to the next phony issue.

  • StephenD

    Why North Carolina Ilario? Why not wrestle back the area you hail from? For too many years we watch as the left sets their talons in a strangle hold around the throats of NY. It’s time for them to see one of their own whom they can be proud of; a perfect stepping off point that may prove to be the turning for NY. I hope for the same in my old stomping grounds of Mass. but I won't hold my breath for either.

    Benvenuti a casa fratello. Welcome home Brother.

  • Alex Scott

    Despite all the evidence, Will Breazeale continues to call Pantano a murderer. While on the Dr. Rich Show, representing Combat Veterans for Congress, Breazeale spouted these lies again. http://www.drrichshow.com show archive Nov 16th seven minutes in. Contact the CVC and demand a public apology.

  • Kris

    It is unbelievable to me that liberals still attack our brave men and women who go oversees and fight. Did they forget that everyone is innocent until proven guilty? Now that Pantano has been exonerated for the second time, I hope those leftist colomunists walk away with their tail between their legs. I bet Pantano will be elected in 2012! We need more people in office like Pantano!

  • http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/212057/lorraine_a_corso.html Lorraine C.

    I am glad Mr. Pantano was vindicated, but not everyone is so lucky. As a former military member I can tell you this kind of injustice happens quite often.

  • geoplaten

    I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for an apology from the Left…

    Thanks for your service, wish you were running in my district.

  • aspacia

    Between Wbya and O's persecutions of our Border Patrol Agents and troops, it is a wonder anyone volunteers at all. Screw them both.

  • Maxie

    Then there's slimeball John Murtha (D) Congress creep who falsly accused Marines in (Haditha) Iraq of murdering civilians. They were jailed without charges having been filed and held for an extended period under improper procedures. All this in a contemptible, blatant attempt to gin-up a My Lai type scenario to help Dems win elections. Scum.