You remember Ilario Pantano, don’t you? Well, maybe not. It’s been a long time now since the media savaged his reputation, selling him to Americans as a cold-blooded killer, a story that ran endlessly on newspaper front pages and in TV headlines. Interestingly, the media was pretty quiet when the report came out clearing Pantano of those charges, which were nothing more than a smear by a disgruntled sergeant with a bone to pick against Pantano. Aside from minimal statements to the effect that he was cleared (so minimal that I missed them entirely), the media has had no reports about the sergeant and his malevolent attack, not just on a man’s career, but on something much more valuable — his reputation.
Frankly, in terms of “sex selling” in the media, a story about this kind of personal attack, based on nothing more than malice and lies, is also. Sadly for Pantano, it’s not sexy enough to convince the media that a wronged man deserved vindication as public as the attacks against him once were.
Please give a gift to Ilario Pantano this Christmas season by emailing to your friends and posting on your facebook and twitter accounts Arthur Herman’s reminder that, while Pantano was cleared as a matter of law, he is still a man whose (false) reputation precedes him, keeping him trapped in an endless nightmare:
Five years late, Ilario Pantano has been fully vindicated. Now where does he go to get his reputation back?
A dogged NCIS investigator has proven that Pantano, then a Marine lieutenant, should never have been put up on war-crimes charges back in 2004-5. But that doesn’t wipe away the endless smears thrown at him since.
Maybe the media and the bloggers hated him so much because he lived the classic American success story.
Born to a poor family in Hell’s Kitchen, Pantano showed the smarts to get a half-scholarship to the elite Horace Mann School — then put off college to join the Marines in the first Gulf War.
After that tour, he came back and worked nights to finish college, then landed a job at Goldman Sachs — until he re-enlisted shortly after 9/11.
In April 2004, 2nd Lt. Pantano was leading his squad in Iraq’s deadly Sunni Triangle when they stopped two Iraqis fleeing in a car from what turned out to be an insurgent ammo dump. Pantano ordered the pair to search their own vehicle to make sure it wasn’t booby-trapped. When they charged at him instead, he opened fire.
But one Marine, a disgruntled sergeant Pantano had disciplined more than once, claimed the two men had been kneeling and that Pantano shot them from behind. All other testimony contradicted him, yet that was the witness the Judge Advocate General’s investigating officer chose to believe when he charged Pantano with murder.
Since the witness kept changing his story and no evidence backed him up, the charges were dismissed in May 2005. But Pantano’s career as a Marine was over — and his nightmare was just beginning.
Read the rest here (and distribute it widely, please).