Thursday, February 17, 2005

It's our turn to defend those who have defended us!

In the prior post to this one, I commented on a bumper sticker that read "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." Speaking of that, it seems it's become politically correct to charge military members operating in a war zone with murder. I can't say people wearing uniforms and properly belonging to an establihed military of a soverign nation have not ever committed murder in the history of warfare, but the particular case right now seems to be a pretty clear cut case of proper military action, in concert with effective rules of engagement. It seems a Marine 2nd Lieutenant has been charged with pre-meditated murder, months after he reported the action he took during a raid on a house full of insurgents last April. While listening the the Tony Snow show this morning on the radio, a reporter from the Washington Times was on, and indicated Lt Pantano has also been charged with destruction of property over $500 (he shot the tires of a SUV that two men ran and got into during the raid). Just as a point of reference, Lt Ilario Pantano left his 6 figure job to join the Marines after 9/11. Hmmmmm...could he believes in what he does, or was he a closet psychopath, in a stockbroker's job, hoping for a chance to kill someone? Not likely. Here's what his peers, subordinates and seniors have had to say about the character of this junior officer. The report is a disgruntled subordinate registered the complaint. Not to say the enlisted don't see what happens and tend to actually be a good "BS" filter more often than not, once in a great while, one of them has a bad attitude and have a propensity to take out their "displeasure" on their seniors with allegations they full well know will end the careers, even if the person being accused is found innocent. The military rarely returns a person that is exonerated to any position of respect. There's a "well, there must have been something to it for it to have gotten that far" aura that follows that person around to the day they depart. When women at sea was still a fairly new thing, one of the Destroyer Tenders in Norfolk had a substantial sized female crew component. One of the female 1st class petty officers (E-6) was turned in for being a lesbian (this was in the later 80's), and that pretty much ended her career. The result of the investigation was the junior sailors she had working for her objected to being told to "turn to" (get to work), so they made up a false statements to hand into Naval Investigative Service. The planned conspiracy to get back at someone asking them to do what they committed to do in return for the paycheck from American taxpayers left a good Petty Officer behind. One day I'll get to a post on my thoughts on how this has come about via the themes from the TV and movies of the last few decades. I think this is part of what we are seeing here. Another part of this is the "delayed fusing" attibutes of it all. When ever I see that long time lag between an event and the accusation, there seems to be more to the story, and not in a good way for the accusers. While all of this may seem like fun to the ACLU type crowd, it will cause our service members in a combat zone to think a few milliseconds longer than they should. Will any American lives be lost as a result? There is some merit to "Shoot first and let God sort them out" in the tactics of staying alive in a combat zone. On top of that, will this trend continue to law enforcement within our borders? The truth needs to come out, no question on that. I'm confident that the military justice system will do that for us. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is well written, and years ago, F. Lee Bailey (a former Marine, btw) said he'd rather defend someone under the UCMJ than US law, as it granted more rights to the accused. It's sad that this situation will run it's course on the back (and emotions) of a combat Marine, now saddled with the doubts of the correctness of his action in a combat mission by those who have not experienced the same world. However, this may also be the forum to "put to bed" future attempts to hold warriors to a standard that is attainable only by complete withdrawal from World affairs and dismantling of the US Military. Both actions would not result in a safer world for anyone, least of all, us. There is something you can do to help. Lt Pantano's mother has put a site up, Defend the Defenders. It's not a registered non-profit right now, but who cares? It's important we stand behind the troops, in the combat zone, and where ever else they are called to serve, and as this situation points out, when they are accused and in need of being defended, as they have defended our freedom. It's ridiculous, at the least, and, as the bumper sticker exhorts us, outrageous at best. I'm outraged and I have been paying attention.

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