February 15, 2005
If the story actually happened the way LT Pantano says it did, then I'm about sick and tired of our soldiers and marines getting charged with murder in Iraq. If I may quote State of Fear...
Posted by Sarah at February 15, 2005 09:06 AM
If someone tried to kill you, you did not have the option of averting your eyes or changing the subject. You were forced to deal with that person's behavior. The experience was, in the end, a loss of certain illusions.
The world was not how you wanted it to be.
The world was how it was.
There were bad people in the world. They had to be stopped.
I doubt that the story is quite as the LT tells it. What an unbelievable PR blitz he has going right now, between his attorney and his mom's website. The Marine Corps, quite properly, are not releasing the facts that caused them to investigate the incident.
All of the news stories have left out the relevant info in the last paragraph of one story:
"The investigators could recommend Pantano face court-martial, receive administrative discipline
or that the charges be dropped altogether, the Marines said."
Charges are put on a charge sheet to formally inform the accused what he's charged with - then there is an Article 32 hearing, the equivalent of a Grand Jury hearing. Just because charges have been typed, that does not mean that the LT will face the charges in court and risk conviction. An officer is going to investigate the facts surrounding the case, the LT will be there to present his side along with his attorney, and the officer will recommend to the Commanding General that a court-martial should be impanelled to hear the case (there is probable cause evidence, and a panel or judge needs to determiine if the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt) or the case should be dismissed without further action - there isn't even probable cause to go forward.
I, for one, am very proud to be part of a military organization that doesn't take deaths of an enemy as lightly as other nations. Under the reasoning that we're at war, LT Calley might also have been spared any questions as to his My Lai massacre.
The fact that the Marines think they need to investigate indicates pretty clearly that there is something else to this story that has been hidden so far. And we can't expect the LT to tell us what that might be.
But this isn't just a knee jerk reaction - otherwise there would be hundreds of Marines charged with murder. Clearly, this is different for some reason. And I will bet you that there's more there than just one disgruntled enlisted man.
Take it from me - either he had been warned before of the proper way to do things or they suspect him of setting up the Iraqis just so he could kill them with impunity. Only an investigation will tell what really happened. You can't ignore such a serious complaint just because you want to believe the officer.
Now, if the World Court wanted to try our Marines, I'd be right there with you! But the fact that the military thinks this is serious indicates that something ugly is under this rock.
You seem to have a lot more faith in the military justice system than I think is warranted. I spent 20 years in and my revelation to you is that they're human too. The service isn't fair. It can't be, it's just a system, designed to help the most of us get along with the rest of us. People, can be fair, and often are in the service. That's to make up for the system. I think I'd hold off on the doubts in a man over a system just a mite longer.
I spent 6 years in, all as a JAG attorney working prosecution or defense. I have seen the way sausage is made from the inside. I can categorically state that I NEVER had a client charged where I was shocked with the charge. Some did not go further than the Article 32, but there was enough evidence to require an investigation and, in most cases, an explanation that satisfied the fact finder. There is something here - we just don't know what it is yet.