A clarion voice stepped into the fray this week to push back against the global rush to judgment against our troops. Ilario Pantano, a Desert Storm vet-turned-Wall Street banker and new media entrepreneur-turned-reenlisted Marine from Hell's Kitchen, launched his gripping book "Warlord: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy" this week, which recounts his harrowing ordeal as a Marine smeared and cleared. Last spring, he faced the death penalty for defending himself and his men in the heat of battle and killing two Iraqi insurgents. He was accused then, as Marines are being accused now, of wantonly executing Iraqis to send a message. His family and friends' defense of Pantano was met, as those of Marines are being met now, with incredulity or apathy.
There were no pleas to withhold judgment against Pantano from the New York Times then. No Oprah sit-downs now with the wives and children of accused troops.
As an agitated, condescending Ann Curry of NBC's "Today Show" tried to paint Pantano Monday as a callous thug, he replied with quiet dignity: "I don't think it's helpful to national security to have this kind of self-flagellation before the facts are actually disclosed."
Innocent until proven guilty? Justice for all? Benefit of the doubt? These are apparently foreign concepts when it comes to Americans in uniform being held on American soil. Perhaps if our troops proclaimed themselves "conscientious objectors" and converted to Islam, they might start getting some sympathy.
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