Friday, March 25, 2005

Pantano conviction raises hope for justice and democracy, March 25, 2005

Fate of Marine will test American assertions of "justice for all"
March 25, 2005
By Ray Hanania
Marine 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano led a unit of Marines investigating reports of insurgents operating out of a home in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, Iraq on April 15, 2004 when two men tried to flee the building.
The two Iraqi men jumped into an SUV but were apprehended and handcuffed after Marines disabled the vehicle by firing on the tires, disabling the vehicle. It was a perfect arrest.
A search of the house revealed some weapons although the two Iraqi men offered no resistance nor did they threaten Pantano or the Marine detachment.
But within a few minutes, something went terribly wrong. Pantano killed the two prisoners, riddling their unarmed bodies with more than 50 bullets in a hail of gunfire from him that required a reload and a second magazine cartridge.
Nearly one year later, in an interview on Dateline NBC (Sunday, March 20), Pantano insisted that he fired on the two prisoners after they moved in a manner that he felt had threatened his life.
Apparently, Pantano explained, he suspected the SUV might have explosives and he claims he unhandcuffed the prisoners and ordered them to search the vehicle for weapons and explosives.
Pantano explained he heard them whispering together and when they failed to stop after ordering them to do so in Arabic, he opened fire.
Pantano didn’t shoot to wound, maim or injure. He emptied a full magazine and then reloaded and fired another magazine from his automatic weapon at the two prisoners, riddling their body with bullets. Each magazine holds 25 to 30 bullets. The two bodies were reportedly riddled with 52 total bullets.
Like many killings by Marines of Iraqi civilians reported by the Arab media, this murder would have gone unnoticed except that one of Pantano’s Marine detachment reported the incident to a superior weeks later.
Certain facts suggested that maybe the killings were unjustified and driven by an American whose hatred of Arabs caused him to re-enlist in the Marines after Sept. 11 after having already served one pre-Sept. 11 tour.
Those facts include:
The two Iraqis were unarmed. No explosives or weapons were found in the SUV.
The two Iraqis were riddled with bullets throughout their body, including being shot repeatedly while their backs were turned. Witnesses said both were shot in the back
Pantano claims he feared the SUV was booby-trapped, but he admitted that he stood less than 10 feet from the prisoners (some reports put it at two feet) as they searched the vehicle. Someone fearing a booby-trapped vehicle would certainly have stood further away.
After the killings, Pantano put a sign on the vehicle that reflected one of the many mottos of the Marine detachment’s commanders, which read "No better friend, no worse enemy."
To Arabs, the phrase "No better friend, no worse enemy" literally translates into "The only good Arab is a dead Arab."
Pantano had served in the Marines but after Sept. 11th, he volunteered to return reportedly telling Marine interviewers "They attacked us" and he wanted to attack them back.
Of course, no Iraqis were involved in the terrorism on Sept. 11. No Iraqis were involved with al-Qaeda. But apparently to Pantano, Arabs are just that, Arabs.
Questions remain. Did Pantano intentionally over-fire at the lifeless bodies to cover up his original shots to the backs of the prisoners?
Today, Pantano faces premeditated murder charges and a hearing is scheduled for April at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Pantano’s story is being championed by hate-mongers in the media, but little is being said about the two Iraqi victims, Hamaady Kareem and Tahah Ahmead Hanjil.
They can’t tell their side of the story. No effort is being made to convey it either. Americans have been whipped up into a frenzy of racist-driven hate mislabeled as "patriotism" and clearly the American news media is censoring itself not only in its day-to-day coverage of Iraq, but in its reporting here in the United States.
It is not patriotic to murder prisoners. It is not patriotic to murder innocent men. It is not patriotic to seek to cover-up murders simply because the victims are Iraqi and the killer is an American.
Pantano’s actions reflect poorly not only on the United States Marines, but also on a nation struggling to overcome the widespread racism and hatred that has gripped many Americans and inflamed by racist talk on radio and TV stations.
Will the dead Iraqis receive justice, or will the new American hate-patriotism excuse Pantano’s deeds?

1 comment:

Alec Rawls said...

To Arabs, the phrase "No better friend, no worse enemy" literally translates into "The only good Arab is a dead Arab."

Some moderate Arab voice. You are a stinking leftist truth-hater. If it was up to you, Saddam would still be murdering by the thousands. The Marines are the ones who are out there every day distinguishing the majority of Arabs whose liberty they are fighing for from the minority of Arabs who fight for fascism. You apparantly fall into the latter group.