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ARLINGTON, Va. — A Marine who was caught in the “crossfire of political correctness” after shooting two Iraqis will tell his story in a book, his publisher said.

In May 2005, former 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano was exonerated of murder and related charges in connection with the shooting deaths of two Iraqis Pantano suspected were insurgents the year before near Mahmudiyah, Iraq.

Pantano was accused of shooting the pair 60 times and hanging a sign over their corpses that read, “No better friend, no worse enemy.”

Pantano acknowledged the shootings but said he acted in self-defense after they moved toward him in a threatening way.

Now Pantano is busy writing “Warlord: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy,” due out in June 2006, said Mary Matalin, editor in chief of Threshold Editions, a branch of Simon and Schuster.

Pantano released a statement via e-mail Monday praising his former comrades.

“I’m so proud to have walked amongst and fought beside these fearless men doing an incredibly difficult job day and night. The Warlords of 2/2 (2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment), like so many units who have fought multiple times, are back for their third tour, demonstrating the bravery and esprit de corps once again that makes America proud,” he wrote.

The book is being co-authored by Malcolm McConnell, who also helped write “My Year in Iraq” with L. Paul Bremer and “American Soldier” with Tommy Franks, according to a Threshold news release.

In order to understand how Pantano acted, one must understand the nature of the enemy, Matalin said.

“This is a ruthless, sadistic, barbaric enemy that beheads hostages, brutalizes women and blows up children,” she said.

Matalin calls the book an “unapologetic” view of being an American Marine accused of murder in the middle of a major upsurge in insurgent violence.

Matalin served as Vice President Dick Cheney’s communications director, and was a host of CNN’s “Crossfire” before that.

“This is understanding who this enemy is and what it takes to defeat this enemy, and the warriors who step up to the plate to get it done,” she said.

For U.S. troops overseas, Pantano’s book will be a firsthand account by one of their own, Matalin said.

“Nobody understands it like those who’ve been there,” she said.

Pantano resigned his commission in June. The Marines had no official reaction to news of his book Monday, said Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Douglas Powell.

A spokeswoman for Simon and Schuster wrote via e-mail that she was not able to say how much Pantano was paid for the book.

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