Tags: Congressman | Savage | Support | Marine | Under | Fire

Congressman, Savage Support Marine Under Fire

Sunday, 06 March 2005 12:00 AM

One document viewed by NewsMax has Pantano purposefully telling the two other American military personnel at the scene of a vehicle stop – a Marine sergeant and a Navy Corpsman – "Take up posts facing away!"

The document goes on to further allege that Pantano then proceeded to gun down the men who had emerged from the truck - Hamaady Kareem and Tahah Ahmead Hanjil – by rapid fire "in the back with an M16A service rifle."

The charging paper also alleges that Pantano then placed the bodies "on display to send a message to the local people" and affixed "a sign stating, ‘No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy'" near their bloodied bodies.

Pantano and other military subordinates dispute the allegations and say the claims have made by one disgruntled Marine.

Pantano has claimed he gave the pair of Iraqis ample opportunity to heed his warnings and they did not comply.

The case has drawn in national figures, including the nation's third largest syndicated radio host Michael Savage.

Savage has made defending Pantano a cause of his "Savage Nation" show.

Savage, the recent author of "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder: Savage Solutions," says, "I have committed $50,000 in Paul Revere Society funds in defense of Lieutenant Pantano. I will donate 10 percent of all my web book sales to reimburse the Paul Revere Society for this donation."

Savage, however, takes pains to point out that he has no official standing in the Pantano camp – a cadre of supporters led by Pantano's mother, who has put up a Web site, DefendtheDefenders.com to collect donations for her son's legal defense as he prepares to stand before an investigating officer sometime between March 15 and April 15, according to Marine spokesmen.

Savage's book becomes available April 12th.

Meanwhile, the lawmaker who represents the North Carolina district containing the sprawling Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune has made it known he wants the Commander-in-Chief to step in and end Pantano's painful journey down a legal highway that could have him fighting for his life against a charge of a pair of first-degree murders.

Third District Representative Walter B. Jones asked President Bush in a letter to support Pantano as he faces charges of pre-meditated murder for his military actions in Iraq:

"While serving in Iraq last April, Pantano was forced to shoot and kill two insurgents when they refused to follow his orders. Now back at Camp Lejeune, Pantano is facing charges of pre-meditated murder for actions even his platoon members called self-defense," writes Jones.

Jones adds, "In an August 2004 executive order detailing your desire to strengthen our intelligence activities, you stated that to improve our ability to prevent terrorist threats, we are to ‘…give the highest priority to the detection, prevention, disruption, preemption, and mitigation of the effects of terrorist activities against the territory, people, and interests of the United States of America.'

"It is my strong belief that Lt. Pantano was serving in the interests of the United States when he engaged the enemy and sought to preempt their actions through any means necessary."

Congressman Jones highlighted how Lt. Pantano's situation may cause further questioning about the war in Iraq and may even lead some potential enlistees to second-guess their decision:

"The ongoing war in Iraq has taken a toll on this nation. Families have been torn apart by the loss of a loved one who has paid the ultimate price in service to our country. Charging Lt. Pantano with murder is not only wrong, but is also detrimental to morale in America. This sends a potentially flawed message to those considering enlisting in the military."

Jones further noted that the knowledge of the accusations against Pantano could cause other Marines to question their own future actions thereby endangering both their own life and the continued success of the war on terror.

Rep. Jones has also sent a copy of the letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter for his review of the matter.

Even one of Pantano's former employers – before the Gulf War veteran re-upped and charged off to Marine officer training at Quantico, Va. – has gone public with enthusiastic support:

In a released statement, CameraPlanet said:

"We have a great deal of experience regarding Mr. Pantano and his character during his work at CameraPlanet.

"A detailed and dedicated manager, Mr. Pantano took over CameraPlanet's newsgathering operation as we entered a period of extreme danger, complexity, and risk.

"During his tenure with CP - he oversaw more than twelve months of production, including work that sent Eve Ensler and a crew to Afghanistan, Linda Ellerbee and a crew to Afghanistan, and Peter Arnett, and a crew to Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Often on call 24 hrs a day, Ilario was dedicated and focused on the safety and security of all of the members of the crew - establishing detailed and thoughtful protocols to keep our teams out of harms way. Mr. Pantano was instrumental in hiring our traveling security teams, and in assuring that all members of the team operated within agreed upon parameters.

"In addition to the newsgathering trips mentioned above, Mr. Pantano oversaw an assignment for the State Department, documenting the opening of new schools in Afghanistan. This too was conducted with dedication and detail.

"There was never a time that we found him to be anything other than thoughtful, focused, and rigorous."

Such testimony as to character can be invaluable, but in the end it's the facts – what occurred on the ground in Iraq - that vitally matters.

Pantano has maintained from day-one that he fatally shot two Iraqi insurgents after he thought they may have armed themselves while conducting a forced search of the vehicle for booby-traps.

Indeed, reportedly, the sports utility vehicle's two seats, front and back, were not bolted down - an insurgent tactic for hiding, and quickly retrieving, weapons. In the trunk were metal cans filled with nails and bolts — the deadly projectiles insurgents build into improvised explosive devices.

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One document viewed by NewsMax has Pantano purposefully telling the two other American military personnel at the scene of a vehicle stop - a Marine sergeant and a Navy Corpsman - "Take up posts facing away!" The document goes on to further allege that Pantano then...
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2005-00-06
Sunday, 06 March 2005 12:00 AM
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