Ilario Pantano is a Warlord. That was the name of his U.S. Marines unit when he served during the Iraqi War. It was his second tour of duty after serving previously in the Gulf War. He had returned to civilian life during the 1990s and was working on Wall Street when the attacks of September 11th rocked his office in lower Manhattan. The first thing he did after the attacks was to go to his barber to get a military-style haircut. He knew right away that he was going back to war.
Some of you may remember Ilario Pantano from his appearance on The Daily Show with John Stewart. He was promoting his book Warlord: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy. I will never forget the interview because I have never seen John Stewart behave in such a respectful and professional manner while interviewing someone so diametrically opposed to him politically.
And there was plenty of potential for fireworks in the interview. Pantano had been accused of murder after killing two insurgents during intense fighting near Bagdad. But Ilario Pantano was cleared of all charges in an Article 32 Hearing, which is the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing. No trial was ever convened.
Ilario Pantano also acquitted himself well in the court of public opinion. Even when dealing with tough adversaries like John Stewart he overwhelmed them with a sharp mind and an articulate tongue. When I saw his interview with Stewart I knew Ilario Pantano was congressional material.
And now the Warlord is running for Congress against Mike McIntyre