NC07: GOP-T Candidate Who Shot Two Unarmed Iraqis Likely to Be Elected to Congress

art-nymag-pantanoThe atmosphere around the 2010 midterm elections has been as charged with the potential for violence as any since the Vietnam era, at least. The poisoning of the political environment began last summer when cable news ran video of tea baggers throwing tantrums over the president’s birth certificate and similar issues at congressional town hall meetings. A little later, gun nuts made a show of loitering around presidential event venues carrying loaded rifles and handguns.

During the primaries, Nevada tea bagger U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle treasonously threatened “Second Amendment remedies” — in other words, armed insurrection against the United States — if the elections don’t go her way. Just last week, Rev. Stephen Broden, a tea bagger candidate for Congress in Texas’ 30th District proclaimed that armed revolution against the U.S. government was “not off the table,” if tea baggers fail to win control of Congress next Tuesday.

In just the past two weeks, there have been two incidents of tea bagger thugs threatening and even assaulting liberals at rallies and one instance of hired private security goons “arresting” a reporter for demanding answers from a Senate candidate about his record.

Now it appears that voters in two House districts are prepared to elect tea bagger candidates who are war criminals — literally.

In Florida’s 22nd District, Democratic Rep. Ron Klein is in a tight rematch with Allen West, who was removed from command as a lieutenant colonel and forced to retire by the Army after he pleaded guilty to assaulting a prisoner in Iraq. West appears to have an edge over Klein.

But West’s war crimes, as atrocious as they are, pale in comparison with the GOP-T opponent of Democrat Rep. Mike McIntyre in North Carolina’s 7th District. Ilario Pantano, an ex-Marine, murdered two unarmed Iraqis in 2004:

This much we know: The day that Marine Lieutenant Ilario Pantano killed the two men was like any other day in Iraq. It was [April 15, 2004], though no one could initially recall the date. The afternoon was drawing to a close. Soon, it would be dark. Already, 85 Americans had been killed that month, which would become the second deadliest of the war. To Pantano’s restless mind, all this had one meaning. “All of the conditions,” he thought, “are right for an ambush.”

At the scene, Pantano divided his platoon of 40 Marines. He sent a dozen to raid the house. The remainder dispersed, guarding his flanks. As Marines approached the target, a white sedan backed out and drove away. Pantano radioed that he’d take down the car. Pantano, 32, had with him a Navy medic, George Gobles, 21, whom everyone called Doc, and his new radio operator, Sergeant Daniel Coburn, 27.

Pantano yelled for the car to stop. When it didn’t, two warning shots were fired. The occupants, a man in his thirties or forties and another about 18, both wearing “man dresses,” as the Marines called them, finally stopped and raised their hands. They were unarmed.

Pantano received word from the Marines who’d taken the house. They’d found a modest cache of arms and also some significant items, including stakes used to aim mortars.

Pantano, who earlier had the Iraqis put in plastic handcuffs, now had Doc Gobles cut the cuffs off, which he did with his trauma shears. Then Gobles marched the two prisoners to their vehicle, placed one in the open door of the front seat, the other in the open door of the rear seat. Pantano motioned to the prisoners to search the car. He ordered Gobles to post security at the front of the car; Sergeant Coburn at the rear. Both men turned their backs on Pantano and the Iraqis.

A short time later, the shots started. Gobles and Coburn spun around. Pantano, ten feet from the Iraqis, emptied his M-16’s magazine, reloaded, emptied another. Later, Coburn recalled wondering “when the lieutenant was going to stop, because it was obvious that they were dead.” Photos, souvenirs taken by a Marine, would show one Iraqi nearly embracing the backseat of the car. The other lolled on his side, his head on the floorboard.

Coburn seemed distraught. He grabbed Gobles. “What the hell just happened?”

“Don’t worry,” Gobles said to settle him. “The blood is not on your hands.”

After emptying 60 rounds into the men, Pantano “signed” his work:

Over the corpses, he left a placard inscribed with the marine motto: “No better friend, No worse enemy.”

Six years later Pantano is on the verge of a stunning electoral victory that could send him to the US Congress in Washington. He is standing as Republican candidate in North Carolina’s 7th congressional district, which was last represented by his party in 1871.

With the help of the right-wing Tea Party movement, and with the benefit of his image as a war hero acquired from what happened on that fateful day in 2004, he has raised almost $1m (£630,000) in donations and is now level-pegging with his Democratic opponent, Mike McIntyre…

A few months after he killed the two unarmed Iraqis, a member of his unit reported him to senior officers and he was charged with premeditated murder. At a pre-trial military hearing, prosecution witnesses testified that the detainees, Hamaady Kareem and Tahah Hanjil, were unthreatening and that their bodies were found in a kneeling position having apparently been shot in the back.

The defence countered that weapons had been found in the house from where the Iraqis were fleeing. The men had turned on Pantano unexpectedly as he was guarding them. He shouted “Stop!” but they didn’t respond and he opened fire in self-defence.

Defence lawyers highlighted inconsistencies in the accounts of the prosecution witnesses and portrayed the main witness, who had been demoted by Pantano, as a soldier with an axe to grind. Forensic evidence was said to conflict with the prosecution case.

In the event, all charges against Pantano were dropped on grounds of insufficient evidence. But the officer presiding over the hearing recommended that Pantano be given non-judicial punishment for having displayed “extremely poor judgment”, adding that by desecrating the Iraqi’s bodies with his placard he had brought disgrace to the armed forces.

The 7th District, which is in southeastern North Carolina and includes Wilmington at the coast as well as inland areas around Lumberton and the eastern exurbs of Fayetteville, is a popular place to retire for the military. Real Clear Politics lists the race as a toss up.


  • Mike
    October 29, 2010 - 12:00 am | Permalink

    Plunder is groundless for all. Teabaggers always side w/ the banks…this is destroying our planet. For almost 400yrs years of this BS, thank you very much for NOTHING but a dead planet.

  • Kay
    October 29, 2010 - 6:37 am | Permalink

    What is one to think of the voters who will vote for this disgrace of a human being?

  • couchgnome
    October 29, 2010 - 9:06 am | Permalink

    It is going to be fun watching people whine about losing to tea partiers, republicans and…well ANYONE but racist, hater, KKK, La Raqza, MECHA, black panther loving democrats.
    Your hates speach and scrota-libida obsession are duely noted.
    I can’t believe I just wasted 5 minutes reading/responding this vile spewage.

    • Madison
      October 29, 2010 - 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for reinforcing three stereotypes about tea baggers: They confuse name-calling with political discourse. They are obsessed with the right-wing’s victimhood. They cannot spell.

  • dont_kerry_our_troops
    October 29, 2010 - 9:12 am | Permalink

    This is a disgraceful smear on another US service person for partisan politics.

    Some thing never change. This is what Democrats do.

    I suspect democrats are going to lose very badly because of their CONSTANT race-baiting of thier fellow americans and the alinskyite tactics such as this garbage article.

    November 2, for democrats and their hate-spreading allies,

  • billy
    October 29, 2010 - 12:40 pm | Permalink

    The shame is that people vote for violent people and then decry the violence in our society. they are the ones bringing it to us

  • Vicki
    October 29, 2010 - 8:29 pm | Permalink

    If this man was put on trial it is not something that a Democrat or liberal made up to smear this man. It is public record that he killed two unarmed Iraqis and that is not something that makes this guy seem stable. I don’t think we need this man in the government. Tea party candidates seem to be some very unqualified and extreme people.

  • dont_kerry_our_troops
    October 29, 2010 - 11:02 pm | Permalink

    He was AQUITTED.
    Why do democrats have such a hard time with concepts like “innocent until proven guilty”?
    Everyone understands he shot to Iraquis during a raid on an insurgent facility where weapons were found.

    It is scummy to call what soldiers do “murder”. It is particularly un-american aftet they have been aquitted.


  • dont_kerry_our_troops
    October 29, 2010 - 11:12 pm | Permalink

    If I had more respect for the opinions expressed here, I might bother with spelling a typos.

    In closing, you guys deserve to lose.
    The party of blame-america-1st has grown old and tired.

    The days where you can come to power in this coountry by smearing soldiers a la John Kerry are gone.
    Your race card has been way over-charged.
    Thanks for the memories….
    The party of Albraham Lincoln and Dr Martin Luther King is here to send you on your miserable way.
    Bon Voyage nov 2nd!

  • Ghost of Voltaire is GOP
    October 29, 2010 - 11:20 pm | Permalink

    These guys have a point.
    It is historically accurate to say that the US Democratic party is the party of the KKK. Even the History Channel calls the KKK “The terrorist branch of the democratic party” (see youtube).
    Left wing hate groups today ar no different than they were back then except the ethnicity of the hate groups has changed.
    Today we have a half dozen racist-seperatist groups that preach as vile as the KKK evet did and they are still major players in todays Democratic party.
    La Raza, MECHA, Muslim Student Association, NBP just to name a few.
    The tactic of smearing soldiers while dividing america by race has got to be stopped.
    Vote Republican and get rid of the haters.

    • October 30, 2010 - 8:07 am | Permalink

      Ghost – The idea that the KKK is or ever was a liberal terror group is flat wrong. Your analysis is based on a fundamental misreading of history.

      It’s dicey to try to make one-to-one comparisons between politics today and the politics of the mid and late 19th century, but it is fair to say that, by today’s standards, in the Civil War era and later the Republican Party was liberal and the Democratic Party was conservative.

      The GOP coalesced in the 1850s around a single issue: abolition of slavery. Abraham Lincoln was considered then what today we’d call a wild-eyed liberal, roughly equivalent to, say, Dennis Kucinich. For example, Lincoln had been defeated after just one term in the US House because he had been a vocal opponent of Pres. Polk’s unprovoked invasion and war with Mexico.

      The Democrats were singularly dedicated to preserving the status quo — which is the definition of conservativism — particularly on the issue of slavery. They justified this position because a) slavery was accommodated in the Constitution and b) slaves were private property and so should be exempt from government regulation. (This human “property” was valued at about $3 billion in 1860s’ dollars, which would be about $41.5 billion today.)

      One reason Lincoln won the presidency in 1860 is that the Democratic Party split and ran two candidates, John C. Breckenridge from the Southern Democratic Party, and Stephen Douglas from the Northern Democratic Party. There was also a fourth candidate, John Bell, a Tennessean from the Constitutional Union Party. Lincoln won with just 39.8% of the vote. If the conserva-Dems had not split, it is likely Douglas would have won with 47% of the vote.

      After the Civil War, the conservative Democratic Party — the losers — ceded the floor to triumphant liberal GOP and went into the political exile for decades. During Reconstruction, the most extreme Republicans in Congress, known as the Radical Republicans, sought to protect civil rights for blacks in the South through marshal law. In response to marshal law and civil rights for blacks, a group of ultra-conservative, adamantly anti-civil rights radicals in the South formed the KKK, which was then, as it is today, an ultra-right wing terrorist organization.

      The Democratic Party outside the South did not become liberal until the early 20th century — the switch from right to left in the North was complete by the time FDR was president in the 1930s. The switch from left to right for Republicans in the South did not occur until 30 years later, in the first election after the Civil Rights Act was made law in 1964. More recently, liberal Republicans have been driven out of the party — although there are still a few in New England, like Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Sens. Snowe and Collins of Maine.

      As the man says, you’re entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts. The KKK has always been a right-wing hate group.

  • Ghost of Voltaire is GOP
    October 30, 2010 - 10:54 pm | Permalink

    Total nonesense. Slavery was already abolished in the North. There was nothing “wild eyed” about it.
    The civil was was essentially triggered because of the Dredd Scott decision and the Kansas-Nebraska act upsetting the uneasy balance between free northern states and southern democrat states. So even the liberal claim that the civil war was not “about slavery” is an attempt to avoid the true guilt of the democratic party, but factually incorrect.

    Republicans promoted freedom from 1854 when they were formed and throughout the civil war and the passing of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments for exactly the same reasons Republicans like Bush believed so strongly in freeing people in Iraq.
    Democrats used identical arguments then and now to oppose freedom
    1) They are culturally incapable of grasping freedom
    2) “They don’t want it” (freedom)
    3)It is too costly
    4) it is none of our business
    5) It is not worth one drop of American blood.

    If one reflects on democrats arguments put forth both then and now one will clearly see:
    They have not changed one bit.

    Democrats continued to cover their racist KKK ties right up until this year when Sen Robert Byrd died.
    They down-played his joining the KKK substantially, incuding Clinton and Carter.
    Robert Byrd was a “Kleagle” in the KKK. That means he had to recruit at LEAST 150 (count ’em one hundred and fifty) young ment to become terrorists for the democratic party.
    This is verifiable fact. Democrats lie and try and blame Rrepublicans for their filthy racist past, but they are still ust as racist today.

    The New Black Panthers, La Raza, MECHA, MDA are all racist-seperatist hate groups no different than the KKK.
    Nothing has changed or reversed there either.

    The KKK was formed to oppose republicans and according to the History channel was the “terrorist arm of the democratic party”. Its memebers incuded Harry Truman and Chief Justice Hugo Black (appointed by FDR a man who swore he would never have his picture taken with a negro).

    Why do you think Dr Martin Luther King Jr was a Republican? Why do you think RFK and JFK went after him with the FBI?
    Why do you think a Democrat shot him?

    We have not even approached my opinion on this yet John.

    This is all factual proveable history that makes your narrative impossible.

    • October 31, 2010 - 9:26 am | Permalink

      Ghost – The Rovian Dittohead campaign to rewrite history is doomed to failure. George Bush did not invade Iraq to free the Iraqi people. That is, of couse, one of Rove’s Big Lies. George Bush invaded Iraq purely for domestic political reasons — in particular, so that he could be a “war time prezinent” and go down in history as a great leader. He got part of it right because he is going down in history.

      As to the reasons for the invasion, you have two choices: Either Cheney-Bush-Rove lied to the American people about their rationale for going in — they knew all along there were no WMDS — which makes them among the biggest liars in our history, or they sent American soldiers to die based on egregiously faulty intel, which makes them among the most treasonously incompetent war makers in US history. Lying or ineptitude, take your pick.

      And then there was the oil. If Iraq’s number one export had been olive oil, instead of petroleum oil, there is zero chance Bush would have invaded. That is an indisputable fact, as is the fact that his corporate buddies at Halliburton, Blackwater and the rest reaped millions in profits drained from the US Treasury. Iraqi freedom had nothing to do with it. Conservatives always put profits ahead of people.

      As to the Civil War, first, thanks for confirming my point that Republicans were enlightened and therefore the liberal party back then. It’s a bloody shame what has happened to the Grand Old Party since the Civil Rights Act became law. Lincoln has been spinning in his grave for nearly half a century.

      At the time of the Civil War, the North was rife with Copperheads, conservative Dems who supported slavery.The two conserva-Dem presidents immediately prior to Lincoln, James Buchanan and Franklin Pierce (who also happens to be Bush’s direct ancestor on his mother’s side), as well as Lincoln’s opponent in 1860, the conservative Democrat Stephen Douglas, were pro-slavery. In fact, Stephen Douglas owned slaves.

      It is patently false that liberals claim the Civil War was not about slavery. Only neo-Confederate racist conservatives claim it was about states’ rights, as you know. Conservative Southern oligarchs started the war to prevent their $45 billion investment in human “chattel” from being regulated out of existence by Big Government. It’s conservatives who haven’t changed one bit. They still put profits ahead of people.

      The Democrats may have a filthy racist past from the era when they were the conservative party but the Republican Party and conservative movement are wallowing that filth today. It is the party where racists, Islamaphobes, bigots and all-around haters feel right at home. The list of notorious conservative bigots includes some of the best-known media figures and politicians on the right: Karl Rove, John McCain, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Andrew Breitbart, James O’Keefe, David Duke, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Laura Ingraham, Pat Buchanan, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, “Dr.” Laura Schlessinger, Haley Barbour, Trent Lott, Jim DeMint, Carl Paladino, Tom Tancredo, Jan Brewer, Mark Williams, Maggie Gallagher, Joseph Farah and Fred Phelps and his cult, just to name a few.

      The neo-Confederate movement, including the KKK, is conservative, as are the neo-Nazi groups like Stormfront and Aryan Nation and the professional homophobe activist groups like Family Research Council (headed by Tony Perkins, an associate of David Duke), Focus on the Family, National Organization for Marriage, etc.

      But the biggest racist movement in the United States today is the tea bagger mob phenomenon. Someone summed up the history of the last two years in a sentence short enough to fit on Twitter:

      “Black man elected president, 25% of Americans freak out.”

  • Ghost of Voltaire is GOP
    October 30, 2010 - 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Former “Dixiecrat”, Democrat Sen. Ernest Hollings, who put up the Confederate flag over the state Capitol when he was the governor of South Carolina.
    Like I said. In view of documented facts, the “democrats and republicans switched and now republicans are the kkk racists” narrative is utter nonesense.

    Democrats have always intitutionalized and legitimized racism and slavery. They had the KKK then and they have a half a dozen racist groups now.
    The colors may have changed, Americans are much more diverse now, but the raccist grouping for special interests is still only done by one party.

    It is still dosgraceful and nothing has changed.

  • Arron
    October 30, 2010 - 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Wasn’t Al Gore Sr also Klan?
    During the time that Nixon ran. wasn’t george Wallace (D) the actual racist-segregationist in that race?
    How did he get completely blanked off of history and Nixon/Republicans labeled the racists?

    • October 31, 2010 - 7:59 am | Permalink

      Nice try, Arron. The Democrat who ran against Nixon was a World War II fighter pilot named George McGovern, a former senator from South Dakota. George Wallace was the Southern racist conservative. Yes, he had been a Democrat of the Dixiecrat ilk. He ran as the candidate from the American Independent Party that year.

      Update: Oops. I was wrong. Nixon’s Democratic opponent in 1968 was Vice Pres. Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota. McGovern ran against Nixon in 1972.

  • Ghost of Voltaire is GOP
    October 31, 2010 - 11:33 pm | Permalink

    The tea party movement is comprised of many of the same independents who voted for Obama.

    Wallace was a die-hard democrat who re-registered at the ;ast minute to be independent. Just like David Duke, an avowed socialist who is running around with Cindy Shehaan. Years ago he tried to run as a Republican, but unlike the Democrats and Byrd, republicans do not allow KKK members and he was ejected.
    Facts matter.
    Also, Bush clearly articulated the importance of Iraq people being free to choose their own destiny as the antedote to Jihadism the same as Linoln did when stating liberty as the antedote to the horror and injustice of slavery.
    The position are identical.
    In fact while liberals called bush “chimp”
    Liberal press in Lincolns day called him “Orangutan”
    There are literally dozens of little similarities like that. There are now 3 books makeing Lincoln-Bush comparisons.
    The KKK was and always has been factually a democratic institution, desiginged to oppose republicanism.
    Republicans joining the KKK are about as common as blacks joining the KKK.

    As recent as this year you had major KKK figures as leaders of the democrat party.

    Stop lying. Everyone here has wikipedia and google. It is easy to see I am 100% factual and accurate.

    • November 1, 2010 - 6:53 am | Permalink

      Ghost – Fact: There are no liberals who are in any way associated with the KKK. Not now. Not ever. There are no living, currently active, legitimate Democratic politicians involved in the KKK today. The KKK has a record of killing liberals, especially during the Civil Rights era. Even school children know that the KKK is an anti-liberal, ultra-conservative — and therefore pro-Republican Party — terrorist organization. The ultra-liberal Southern Poverty Law Center lists the KKK as a right-wing hate group.

      Fact: George Wallace was not a die-hard Democrat in 1968. As a racist conservative governor of the Dixiecrat persuasion, he believed the Democratic Party had been hijacked by pro-civil rights liberals and had adamantly opposed efforts by liberal Democrats in Washington to desegregate Mississippi schools in the mid-1960s.

      Fact: George W. Bush never articulated anything clearly in his life. Like Sarah Palin, he is too weak-minded to make coherent statements without relying on a script or teleprompter. (See a photo montage of Palin’s addiction to teleprompters here.) But the record shows that Bush never gave a damn about the Iraqi people. He couldn’t have care about their “freedom” when he ordered the invasion which led to the slaughter of at least 100,000 innocent Iraqi babies, children, mothers, fathers and grandparents for no legitimate reason other than his own warped sense of aristocratic aggrandizement. Similarly, he obviously not give a damn about lives and safety of the US troops he sent to die on a fool’s errand in Iraq. Again, Bush-Cheney-Rove either lied to the American (and Iraqi) people about why they invaded and occupied a sovereign country, or they went to war based on faulty intelligence. Lying or incompetent, take your pick.

      Fact: Speaking of incompetent liars, despite what a certain Mormon televangelist may tell you, it is impossible to compare what is considered liberal and conservative today and what was left and right 150 years ago. Generally, however, liberals historically have pursued enlightenment and sought the expansion of rights, while conservatives are obsessed with fantasies of the past and seek to suppress civil rights, block social progress and too often support oligarchical systems over democracy (as they did with the Confederacy in the 1860s, the Nazi movement in the 1930s and as they do today in their campaign to dupe tea baggers into voting against their own interests in order to turn the American republic into a corporate oligarchy). By those standards, Lincoln was a liberal. His opponents, including the press that called him names, were all pro-slavery conservatives.

      Fact: George Bush does look like a chimpanzee. See for yourself – link. (No offense to chimps intended.)

      Fact: Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., in a deliberate, cynical move to show solidarity with conservative KKK racists who murdered three young, liberal civil rights workers there in 1964. In his kick-off speech in Mississippi, he used the racist code phrase “states’ rights” — which as every neo-Confederate racist knows is the the conservative rationale for starting the Civil War. His statement sounds just like today’s racist tea baggery, “I believe in states’ rights … I believe we have distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended to be given in the Constitution to that federal establishment.” He went on to promise to “restore to states and local governments the power that properly belongs to them.” In other words, Reagan said he supported the conservative Confederate racist cause. (Important note: As president, he did not restore any of these rights, despite his promise to — just like, despite Republican propaganda today, he raised taxes at least seven times, including the largest corporate tax increase in history.)

      Fact: David Duke is a Republican. He ran for office in Louisiana as a Republican. Like everyone else associated with the KKK, he is a right-wing racist extremist.

      Fact: If you or someone in your family depends on public pensions and heatlh-care (ie. Social Security or Medicare), if you went to a public school or university, rely on public security and emergency services (ie. local police, fire and EMT services), if there is a county- or city-run hospital or library in the community where you live … YOU ARE A SOCIALIST.

  • Democrats for Hillary
    October 31, 2010 - 11:38 pm | Permalink

    You are calling the same people racist who actually voted obama into office.
    What a complete moron.

    See our film on how Obama cheated

    • November 1, 2010 - 6:24 am | Permalink

      Hey Democrats for Hillary – I was a Democrat for Hillary — she won the California primary 51% to 43%. Even so, I think Pres. Obama has done a great job, especially in light of the treasonous obstructionism by right wingers, including the dupes in the tea party.

  • Robert_l_USC
    November 3, 2010 - 10:52 pm | Permalink

    It is a fact that the Klan is and alsways has been an arm of the democratic party. What Country are you from?

    • November 4, 2010 - 5:01 am | Permalink

      Robert_I_USC/Democrats4Hillary/Ghost: Yeah? Prove that the Klan has been an arm of the Democratic Party in the last 40 years. Links from legit sources only — meaning no links from right-wing propaganda outlets, GOP-Fox “news,” Mormon televangelists or the like.

      If you can’t supply legit citations — and you can’t because everybody knows that since the death of Jim Crow racists and bigots of all kinds have flocked into the GOP and now form its tea bagger/evangelical base — we’ll assume you are either being lied to by a propagandist bent on duping willing subjects into buying into a rewritten version of history that supports the right wing’s hate agenda or you are a propagandist attempting to use this board to spread disinformation in support of racism and bigotry.

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