Monday, October 18, 2010

Fallujah, U.S.A.

While commanding a Marine platoon occupying Fallujah, Illario Pantano gunned down two unarmed Iraqi men during a search of their vehicle. After perforating the bodies of his victims with more than 60 rounds from his M-16 (which means he had to reload), Pantano attached a sign to the corpses that read: "No better friend, no worse enemy."

In Pantano's retelling, the victims, Hamaady Kareem and Tahah Ahmead Hanjil, made a "threatening movement" in his direction after briefly conversing in Arabic. The intrepid second lieutenant, fearing for himself and the men under his command, shot them in "self-defense," leaving the sign as a "warning" to other "insurgents." That version was embraced by the militarist Right when Pantano confronted a court-martial in 2005.

During Pantano's 2005 Article 32 hearing at Camp Lejeune (the military equivalent of a grand jury), both sides stipulated that the supposed insurgents were unarmed; that they had been detained for over an hour while their sedan was thoroughly searched under Pantano's supervision; and that shortly before the shooting Pantano suddenly changed the "search" procedure, ordering the two unarmed Iraqis to search the car together after ordering two other Marines who were present to "face flank" -- that is, away from what would become the scene of a war crime.

In his summation at the Article 32 hearing, Pantano's defense attorney, Charlie Gittins, insisted that there were only two valid considerations.
Lt. Pantano.
The first was that whatever Pantano may have done in Fallujah on April 15, 2004, he was a Marine of irreproachable character. Presumably, this means he was simply entitled to waste a couple of unarmed Iraqi civilians.

"One of the great things about the military justice system is that character does count," Gittins insisted. "A military judge told me a couple of weeks ago that good character still is, alone, sufficient to result in an acquittal, that you can take [the] character of the accused, you can weigh it, and you can determine that alone provides you with sufficient reasonable doubt to acquit."

What this means, of course, is that Pantano could be exonerated of war crimes on the basis of who he supposedly was, rather than what he actually did.

The second defining consideration, Gittins continued, was that "you can't import civilian standards into a combat situation." Sure, there is a series of steps that military personnel are required to carry out when detaining a suspected "insurgent," but everything else is subordinate to the needs of "force protection."

Rather than being governed by the demonstrated facts of the case, Gittins insisted, the presiding officer should consider an "alternative scenario":

"Lieutenant Pantano is standing at the vehicle three or four feet away from these Iraqis. They converse in Arabic. They decide they're going to take his weapon and they're going to rush him.... Lieutenant Pantano might get a shot off, but one of them is going to get to him. And if that had happened, that would really be a crime. That would truly be a crime, to have a lieutenant of [the] Marines killed by two Iraqis."

"Under no circumstances would it be reasonable for Lieutenant Pantano to get within reaching distance of those two individuals," insisted his attorney. "Shoot. Aim center of mass, shoot to kill. Just shoot if you don't have time to go through the steps." There's nothing improper about pumping several dozen rounds into the targets as well, since "it's only the first shot that matters."

Nor does it matter that the victims were unarmed and outnumbered, Gittins maintained, since as "a matter of common sense -- and you can watch it on COPS, you can watch it on any show where they have actual video ... police officers on a day-to-day basis are killed by people who have no weapons."

This would seem to contradict Gittins' argument that it is "improper [to] import civilian standards into a combat situation." That apparent contradiction is resolved once it is understood that every encounter between domestic police and unarmed "civilians" is considered a combat situation.

Major Mark Winn, the officer who presided at the Article 32 hearing, dismissed all of the charges against Pantano. Elsewhere, the same military "justice" system that saw nothing wrong with Pantano's actions is pressing war crimes charges against Omar Khadr, who is accused of terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder for allegedly throwing a hand grenade at at U.S. soldier during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan. 

Please forgive a brief but relevant digression:

Khadr, a Canadian citizen whose relatives include Jihadis sympathetic to al-Qaeda, was 15 at the time he was wounded in Afghanistan and taken into U.S. custody. He has spent more than a third of his life in Gitmo, were interrogators used threats of gang rape to terrorize him into "confessing" that he had thrown a grenade that killed an American sergeant. His interrogator was later court-martialed for abusing detainees at Afghanistan's Bagram air base.
Thus according to the Regime's moral calculus, a partisan fighter who may have thrown a grenade at an armed U.S. soldier invading a foreign country is a "war criminal," but a Marine who guns down two unarmed Iraqis and then defiles their bodies in a premeditated act intended to "send a message" to insurgents is a war hero. 

Support Your Local War Criminal: Deputy Pantano.
Owing to the strength of his appeal to the militarist Right, Pantano is likely to be elected to the House of Representatives in a couple of weeks. His first career move following his exploits in Iraq was to serve briefly as a Deputy Sheriff in Wilmington, North Carolina

This is entirely appropriate, given that the mindset Pantano displayed in Fallujah -- "force protection" is the highest and most urgent consideration -- is substantively indistinguishable from the "officer safety uber alles" mindset that typifies contemporary domestic law enforcement. 

Despite the fact that law enforcement is a ridiculously safe occupation -- much safer than many forms of productive labor -- those who wear the habiliments of the state's coercive caste are relentlessly indoctrinated in the belief that they occupy a 360-degree battlefield, and that every Mundane they encounter should be treated as a potentially lethal threat. 

In any encounter between a police officer and a mere civilian, advises Sgt. Matthew Koep of the South Plainfield, New Jersey Police Department, "What's going to cause the situation to get worse is for the fear factor to rise in that officer. The officer is more likely to cut you a break as long as you can reduce that fear." 

This is why, according to columnist Jennifer Waters (who synthesized advice offered by Koep and several other police personnel), motorists who are stopped by the police should behave as if they're being detained at a military checkpoint: "Don't make any quick movements, and don't turn to grab your purse or put your hands in your pocket or under your seat to retrieve your license -- until the officer instructs you to. Then do it slowly." 

If you do anything to startle the timid creature in a government costume, you may very well end up dead -- and it would be your fault.

Sure, it's a terrible thing when a Mundane is injured or killed as a result of excessive or entirely unwarranted police violence. However, to paraphrase Charles Gittins' defense of
Orphaned at a checkpoint in Fallujah.
Pantano's atrocity in Fallujah, it "would truly be a crime" for a sanctified personage in a policeman's uniform to come to harm.

Anchorage resident David Zellmer was treated to a display of that same mindset on the front porch of his home after an encounter with an animal control officer. Zellmer wasn't inclined to answer questions about his dog, so the dog catcher returned with three police officers in tow. In an transparent effort to bully their way into Zellmer's home without a warrant or probable cause, the officers demanded his ID. Zellmer -- who recorded the exchange -- offered to retrieve it, but the officers insisted that they be allowed into his home.

"You guys can stay out here and I'll go and get it," Zellmer told them.

"Actually, we're going to go inside with you," one of the tax-fattened functionaries asserted.

"No, you're not, unless you have a warrant," Zellmer replied.

"I don't need a warrant," lied the armed tax-grazer. 

Eventually one of the heroes in blue held up his portable torture toy.

"You see that red dot?" he sneered. "That's a Taser. You don't want that."

"Sir, you're not going to go into the house where you have access to a weapon without us going with you," added one of the Taser-wielding thug's boyfriends. "It's that simple."

Bear in mind that there were four police officers present, at least three of whom -- unlike Zellmer -- were armed. One of them threatened the unarmed man with a lethal weapon because he had correctly asserted his constitutionally "protected" rights. Yet the assailants were the ones who saw themselves as potential victims.

"We frequently remind the officers, and we train the officers, that once you make contact with a person at the front door, particularly if you can observe them, you have somewhat of a controlled circumstance," explained Derek Hsieh of the local police officers union. "Once the person leaves your view, you can end up with an uncontrolled circumstance."

This is exactly the same "force protection" doctrine Pantano successfully invoked to justify his war crime in Fallujah.

"Basically, they bullied me and the threatened to Tase me," Zellmer summarizes. "I sit in my living room and there are four cops standing in my living room. It was totally surreal. I just couldn't believe I was in America and this was happening to me."

The setting may be Fairbanks, Fargo, Frankfort, or Fallujah; it makes no difference. When the State's armed enforcers are trained to act as an army of occupation,  geography is inconsequential.

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Dum spiro, pugno!


ncpagan said...

Oh please save us from Pantano and his ilk. - Cringing in Wilmington

Anonymous said...

I went to Patano's website and scrolled down to the area where his views on the economy are expressed. A large portion of his "solutions" involve creating trade war with China. Brilliant!. While most of our manufacturing has been hollowed out due to government plundering and regulation this small minded fool's cure all is to scapegoat those who have chosen a different path. One of freer markets, productivity and thrift.
If trade wars with China are what this clown really wants , when they start,he better prepare to explain to the lumpen boobs he represents why all of the shelves at Wal Mart are bare.
I say this with reverence: God spare us from leaders like this! us

Mimi said...

On the fifth page of my local paper today, there's a little piece to the effect that a former security contractor will not be indicted for killing an Iraqi guard. With its usual sloppy reporting, the Associated Press tells us that Andrew Moonen was drunk when he "encountered and fatally shot Raheem Saadoun." A few paragraphs later, Moonen's attorney states that the shooter acted in self-defense and "returned fire." Did Saadoun actually fire at Moonen or does his attorney just say so? Was Moonen drunk? What other facts in the case are hearsay or just made-up garbage? The dimwitted "reporter" doesn't tell us. Everything's okay, though, because the U.S. ambassador to Iraq is sending a letter to the victim's family. That should make up for having their 32-year-old son/brother, father--not sure which, maybe all--murdered.

methylamine said...

Well kudos to young David for standing up for his rights. I do believe if he had been more assertive in stating them, there would not have been that "pred-prey" moment of uncertainty that opened the door for the thugs' further threats. Perhaps if he'd simply said "not without a warrant, you're not" and scooted inside...

OTOH had he done that, I can imagine said thugs enjoying a lovely break-and-enter moment followed by a thrilling session of beat-the-Mundane.

When I see these videos, especially ones where a thug is working over a Mundane in full view of the other sheep, I wonder "HOW LONG" before the other sheep start fighting back. It would take just ONE, and the dam would break; the others' pent-up frustration and rage would soon see the thug mobbed by righteously angry Mundanes, and the game would end.

liberranter said...

What else can one say here that hasn't been said in the past, over and over again, by thinking, freedom-loving people of all perspectives and experiences?

War criminal Pantano and his demented, animalistic fellowfeeders are "law enforcement/national defense" (and do not for a minute think that these two things haven't already been fully conflated in practical terms) in this country today. "Good cops?" They don't exist, at least not for very long as active-duty cops. As Will illustrated with this story link on yesterday's LRC Blog, the oh-so-rare human being of decency, honor, integrity, and respect for the law that on that rare occasion fails to get weeded out by the filters at the Gestapoakademie is in for merciless and, if needed, lethal cleansing and expulsion from the machine at the hands of the bottom-feeding majority.

Bottom line: Cops are, without exception, the law-abiding citizen's mortal enemies and must be viewed as such AT ALL TIMES. It is becoming clearer and clearer that the sheeple majority are FINALLY waking up to what has been obvious for over a decade and that they might, just MIGHT finally be realizing that it is not the Black or Mexican gangbangers of the inner cities or the less-than-well-kept suburbs that are the enemy of public order and safety, not the beturbaned or veiled Muslim that is the threat to life, limb, and liberty, but the Fat Blue Line Gang and their glorified fellow thugs who are their employers. Once this realization sinks in, all the military-grade hardware gifts in the world won't save them from the fury of Us the People.

Illario Pantano, you and your fellow war-criminal psychopaths might be "the Man" for now, but the days of your hold on power are numbered!

Anonymous said...

Were I an African-styled American, I might be tempted to sit back and say, "Payback's a bee-ahtch, huh, white boys?" now that the unwarranted intrusions and brutality have become equal opportunity.

Lemuel Gulliver said...

The prospect of this warped, self-righteous, and vicious creature Illario Pantano sitting on Capitol Hill, and passing "laws" for the rest of America to live by, gives me the chills.

God help us.

The only phrase my stunned mind can come up with is the expression coined by Hannah Arendt, writing about her impressions at the trial of that murderer of millions, Adolf Eichmann, in Jerusalem: "THE BANALITY OF EVIL."

Amos Elon, elaborating on Hannah Arendt's thoughts, wrote:

"She insisted that only good had any depth. Good can be radical; evil can never be radical, it can only be extreme, for it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension, yet — and this is its horror! — it can spread like a fungus over the surface of the earth and lay waste the entire world. Evil comes from a failure to think. It defies thought, for as soon as thought tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because it finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil."

THE MOST CHILLING and dreadful photos and movies of World War Two were not the photos we have all seen, of piles of emaciated Jewish bodies being bulldozed into huge pits for burial by the thousands.

Nor the photos of once-lovely cities reduced to piles of rubble, nor the photos of battlefields with dismembered pieces of bodies scattered here and there, nor the photos of individual soldiers, their dead eyes staring sightlessly at the sky.

No, the most horrible photos of that most horrible time were the photos and home movies of the mass murderers bouncing their babies on their knees, waltzing with their girlfriends and kissing their wives, sitting around outdoor tables drinking, joking and laughing, petting their dogs and kissing them on the head, and in all ways behaving as if they had not a care in the world or a shadow on their conscience.

Seeing those photos and movies of those carefree monsters churns the guts, and causes the head to spin and the brain to reel, at how such immense evil could appear so ordinary, so everyday, so charming, and so - in the words of Hannah Arendt - "banal".

So much like Illario Pantano.

So much like Dick Cheney. So much like George Bush, father AND son. So much like thousands of other rich and powerful men.

So much like any one of the hundreds of venal, corrupt, and vile men who sit in that whited sepulcher atop Capitol Hill and make life and death decisions for millions of poor, struggling human beings all over this godforsaken planet.

Stop the world. I want to get off.

God help us.

- Lemuel Gulliver.

William N. Grigg said...

Lemuel, what I find truly startling about Pantano is this: From what I've been able to learn he seems like a talented, capable, and very disciplined individual.

As a young man he was an outstanding student -- highly motivated, focused, an over-achiever -- and an idealist. Of course, few things are more lethal than idealism coupled with unaccountable power.

There are many adjectives that could be used to describe Patano, but "banal" doesn't apply.

Patano strikes me as an embodiment of Isabel Patterson's warning that in order for large-scale evil to be committed, a Regime must have not only the passive compliance but active, conspicuous involvement of "good people."

Anonymous said...

I was amazed, or maybe not, about the incident in Anchorage. What gets me is that even after having audio "evidence" to the effect that the cops were in the wrong and clearly threatening someone for some idiocy over a dog, the thugs in blue are sent to "retraining". Retraining in what? They clearly have a "policy" that ignores any Constitutional rights of the citizenry so what exactly is this training? Hmmm? And to top it all off... the talking bobble head for the news station advises people to comply with said constitutional violations and simply "file a complaint". Well hells bells! Forget your rights because the departments in question will not indict themselves. What kind of a moron would think so?!

Anonymous said...

I read a good article on this guy and the murder in New York magazine. From what I gathered this man is very edgy and usually looking for a fight. Not attributes that endear oneself to civilian life. He seems more cut out for a life of subsistence living in the bush. Maybe he should explore this avenue instead of pursuing a life of looting in Kongress. Hell I am sure "Behold a Pale Horse" Palin could give him some pointers on dressing a moose.

liberranter said...

Can any of us imagine the LAPD, the NYPD, the Seattle PD, the Payette, Idaho PD, or any PD in America having a choir?

The very thought has me torn between ROTFLMAO and projectile vomiting.

PS: Part of the problem is that America has not seen war on its soil since 1865. In six generations we have forgotten what ultimate violence looks like. Europe remembers - it has not been that long, and there are some still alive who experienced ulitmate violence first-hand, and want no more of it ever again. But we here in America are in love with violence as a solution to trivial differences of opinion, and as an exciting way to live our lives.

I've said it before on this blog and in other places: I truly and honestly don't see any other way for Amoricons to lose their culturally ingrained lust for blood, senseless violence, and aggression other than for them to experience a Coventry, Dresden, Tokyo, or Hiroshima against their own beloved cities and 'burbs. I pray with all my soul that there is some other less violent, painful, senseless, or destructive alternative. But it seems that the only way a bully is ever cured of his predatory inclinations is to be given a double dose of his own medicine. This, I fear, is exactly what is in store for the UFSA at some point in the very near future.

Lemuel Gulliver said...

OK, we agree on the second part.

As for police choirs, do not underestimate European police. They are well educated, intelligent, and have the full co-operation and support of the public, partly due to those choirs, and the youth days at schools, and the athletic contests, and all the other means they use to make friends with the public. This means, if you are a criminal on the run, you have 300 million pairs of eyes looking for you.

You never see a policeman in Switzerland. But I can testify that they are everywhere, walking the sidewalks in twos, dressed in business suits. They ARE armed, but their weapons are concealed. And if they have occasion to speak to you, they do so politely and quietly, without shouting or waving their arms or pulling their guns. But they are very businesslike. Sometimes a cold hard stare is much more intimidating than flying arms and raised voices. You don't mess with them. I imagine if they had to use their weapons, they would not miss and hit bystanders.

I once saw a police exercise (I assume) in Zurich. A van came screaming down the Bahnhofstrasse, screeched to a halt in front of a bank, and two file of SWAT team members came pouring out with machine guns and surrounded the bank in about 20 seconds. After 5 minutes, they all filed back into their van and drove away. This was 40 years ago, before we even had any SWAT teams in this country.

Do not, ever, try to break the law in any serious way in Europe. They are very, very tough, tougher than you, in spite of their choirs and youth festivals. The spirit of the Gestapo still lives, but chained and kept in check in the service of the people, not against them.

- Lemuel Gulliver.

Branson said...

Hi William. I'm a regular Agitator reader, and I was recommended to read your blog. On my first visit, I see at the top of this post a picture I took.

I took that picture of the bumper sticker a couple years ago in Brooklyn, NY. I emailed it to Balco and he posted it a few days later.

You are, of course, free to use it a hundred times over. Keep up the good fight.

William N. Grigg said...

Mr. Zaki, thanks so much! I think Radley Balko deserves a Pulitzer for his work on the Cory Maye case. It's a shame we weren't able to make it to New Hampshire last winter (my daughter came down with viral bronchitis); I had looked forward to meeting Mr. Balko.

Thanks for sharing that photo with the rest of us; it's both immensely valuable and profoundly disturbing.

liberranter said...

I think Radley Balko deserves a Pulitzer for his work on the Cory Maye case.

Indeed, William, as do you. Unfortunately, given the hacks, demagogues, and frauds routinely awarded that prize (and the type of person and work awarded it should tell us much about the people who confer it and their agenda), we really need to come up with an alternative prize that is free of the Pulitzer's establishment, statist taint. Let it be a prize that becomes associated in the public mind with hard-hitting, no-holds-barred, genuine investigative journalism that champions the cause of liberty. Once such a prize is established, you and Radley Balko would no doubt be the two top nominees.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the picture of Deputy Pantano gives me the creeps. Can you imagine being pulled over by this guy on a deserted road at 3 in the morning? I hate the idea that we have to be fearful of our uniformed employees, cringing and not moving until given permission, but just looking at him tells me it's the only smart thing to do in that case, in the sense that you are careful what you do around a rattlesnake or a rabid dog. I can picture him getting in your face like you're a marine recruit, screaming at you, and, if you give him 1/3 of a chance, deciding to put you down like a vicious mongrel, well, like he did in Iraq, I guess. You think he realizes we're not all in the military, with him as our commanding officer?

If we're going to continue employing cops in our society, surely there's a way to weed out defective hyper-authoritarians like this guy.

liberranter said...

Anon 2:02, exactly! As Will has brought up in previous articles and on his radio program, there needs to be an absolute prohibition in all 50 states against hiring combat military veterans as cops. Far too many of these individuals are SERIOUSLY disturbed, have no realization whatsoever that the missions of "law enforcement" and the military are, at least ostensibly, completely different in form and purpose; and are a clear and present danger to the citizens they swear an oath to "serve and protect." Pantano is a textbook example of why this prohibition is needed IMMEDIATELY. No, it will never happen as long as the brainless, authoritah-worshiping majority of the sheeple are unaffected by Fallujahan (can I coin that word?) violence at the hands of badgemonkeys, but maybe if enough Pantanos come back from the far-flung regions of the Empire, don FBLG uniforms and badges, and continue their predatory behavior against the domestic versions here at home of "wogs" and "ragheads" (i.e., you and me), then maybe, just maybe, a sufficient outcry will ensue that will lead to them being invited to search for "employment" elsewhere. We can always dream, can't we?

Lemuel Gulliver said...


I hope you get to read this. There is a superb series of articles on about the American "educational" system, by John Taylor Gatto, a 3-time winner of the NYC Teacher Of The Year Award, who quit the system in disgust. It will go a long, long way to explain why we have the society we have, and why 98% of Americans are angry, frustrated sheeple. Below is the link to the last in the series - it is Chapter 18 of a book he wrote on the subject, and at the bottom are links to the prior 17 articles/chapters. If you are a thinker like me, this will open your eyes. Understanding is half the battle. PLEASE do yourself a big favor and read these articles - any one of them can be read as a stand-alone essay.

Mr. Grigg, if you haven't, you should read them too, since I know you love your kids dearly, and would want to know just what the "educational" system is doing to them, and how. Here's the link to Chapter 18:

- Lemuel Gulliver.

liberranter said...


Yes, I have JTG's entire Underground History of American Education in PDF format and have been reading it piecemeal for the last few weeks. What REALLY blows my mind is the fact that Gatto, obviously a man of character, principle, and conviction, was able to survive three decades inside Amerika's most dysfunctional and politicized pseudo-education racket.

You're correct too that Gatto's expose summarizes, in all its ugly details, the reason why contemporary Amoricons are as dumbed down, unthinking, and pliant as they are. An utter travesty that is so deeply entrenched and metastasized in our society that its reversal is almost impossible.

May God have mercy on us, because that is ALL that will save this society.