ILARIO PANTANO’S CREATIVE EDITING…. One of the year’s more controversial U.S. House candidates is Ilario Pantano, the Republican nominee in North Carolina’s 7th district. You may recall Pantano’s controversial military background — in 2004, he killed two unarmed Iraqi detainees, twice unloading his gun into their bodies, and placing a “No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy” sign over the corpses as a message to the local community.

Pantano, who fired in upwards of 60 shots in total, said he was acting in self-defense, but the military accused him of premeditated murder. The charges were later dropped when a key witness’s testimony could not be corroborated.

Pantano’s former primary opponent, also an Army veteran of both wars in Iraq, said it would be “dangerous” to elect Pantano. “To shoot two unarmed prisoners 60 times and put a sign over their dead bodies is inexcusable,” Breazeale said,

Pantano nevertheless hopes to parlay the scandal into a successful run for Congress. This week, we learned that he’s already getting the hang of Republican rhetorical tricks.

Ben Smith noted yesterday that Pantano has a campaign commercial featuring news stories about his background, which wouldn’t be especially interesting were it not for some remarkable editing. For example, an NBC News clip originally told viewers:

“His decision to take two lives led to rare criminal charges that could cost him his own life. Ilario Pantano, described by one superior as having more integrity, dedication and drive than any Marine he’s ever met, now stands charged with murder.”

Pantano took the clip, removed the context, and showed the same NBC segment in his ad, telling voters:

“Ilario Pantano, described by one superior as having more integrity, dedication and drive than any Marine he’s ever met.”

Similarly, there was another segment on his background that showed an interview with Pantano. As it aired:

“You served in Gulf One, you got out, you got a big great job at Goldman Sachs, a beautiful wife and a kid, then 9/11 happened, you come home, your hair is shaved off, you’re ready to head back into a war zone to help America.”

Pantano took the clip, and decided to remove the part about his work at Goldman Sachs.

The campaign yesterday claimed the segments had to be edited this way in order to “fit the time frame” of the 30-second spot.

What a remarkable coincidence. The parts about the candidate’s background as an accused murderer and Wall Street trader just happened to be the parts that didn’t fit under time constraints.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.