to export violence to the four corners of the globe
April 18, 2005 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Now here's an interesting story. And well worth the read. It mentions some disturbing facts - he reloads and starts shooting again - but is still sympathetic to our hero. Of course if you compare it with this... "nothing to see here folks, keep moving right along!" Oh, and is "frought" a word?
posted by milkwood (25 comments total)
It's fraught.
posted by ScaryShrink at 11:10 AM on April 18, 2005

The reloading thing makes me really uncomfortable.

Main Entry: fraught
Pronunciation: 'frot
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from past participle of fraughten
1 archaic a : LADEN b : well supplied or provided
2 : full of or accompanied by something specified -- used with with
3 : causing or characterized by emotional distress or tension : UNEASY

posted by Specklet at 11:28 AM on April 18, 2005

Fascinating. This deserves in depth treatment - a Bright and Shining Lie for Iraq.
posted by cptnrandy at 11:29 AM on April 18, 2005

I see the author is a fan of T.S. Eliot...

From the article:
"April 2004 was the cruelest month in the Iraq insurgency."

Contrast with The Waste Land by Eliot:

"April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain."
posted by symbioid at 11:35 AM on April 18, 2005

Yes symbioid, I spotted that one too. It made me cringe.
posted by milkwood at 11:42 AM on April 18, 2005

One part Patton, one part A Few Good Men, but thankfully a clear-cut case to the good people at the Washington Times. Thank God there's that crisp line between right and wrong.
posted by Hildago at 12:28 PM on April 18, 2005

"Thank God there's that crisp line between right and wrong."

I've often lamented that even when people are on your side they can do you harm by oversimplifying the issues.
On the one hand you have people saying your a hero on the other your a babykiller - with little or no recognition of the middle ground or your humanity.
As to reloading and firing again - there is only one rule when you shoot someone who could be an immediate threat, make sure you kill them.

As to all the other intangibles involved there - well, would you rather err on the side of going home in one piece or indeed at all or dying but not being court martialed?

This isn't a case of a guy opening fire on children or clearly innnocent non-combatant civilians after all.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:29 PM on April 18, 2005

It's a hard call. It appears nobody is talking if they saw the Iraqi's do anything before shots were fired. I think the guy probably severely over reacted under battle stress. Guys snap sometimes. But WE put them there so I am highly reluctant to say he should get the death penalty (even if I DID support the death penalty). I pity the poor bastards all the way 'round.
posted by tkchrist at 2:20 PM on April 18, 2005

not enough details to make the call;
full-autos fire awfully fast!
was the first clip full?
how many, how fast did it empty?
training; FAST reload; shoot!
did he 'empty' another full clip?
posted by emdog at 2:44 PM on April 18, 2005

The WT article's version doesn't even vaguely match the other piece. That's the scary bit.
posted by phearlez at 2:49 PM on April 18, 2005

I see the author is a fan of T.S. Eliot...

Actually, "april is the cruellest month" is one of the most quoted bits of poetry in the English language, along with "winter of discontent" and "to be or not to be".
posted by clevershark at 2:58 PM on April 18, 2005

I kind of like the guy, though I suspect he'd probably want to smack me around if we ever talked politics for more than 10 minutes. All I can say is it's too bad he was put in that position.
posted by MetalDog at 3:06 PM on April 18, 2005

Exactly phearlez! emdog from what I've been able to gather, though clearly a lot is innacurate, his gun was set to fire three rounds at a time and he emptied the second mag. In some articles it quotes him as saying he wanted to send a message to the other insurgents, and let's face it, he did! I just love the way the two Iraqis are called "suspected insurgents" which is a euphemism for "Iraqis". I wonder if Pantano, even today, has thought about the message he really sent to the insurgents.
posted by milkwood at 3:31 PM on April 18, 2005

As much as I would like to, I cannot fault him for his actions. From the way the first article read (ignoring the second one, as I find it neither interesting nor thought-provoking), it seems as though he'd always been working on his own moral plane, his own system of justice. It seemed to have been triggered again by the events of 9/11 and his re-emergence into the Marines, where his inner workings were reinforced by the situations in which he ended up, finally bringing him to this one event at which he decided it would be just and right to kill two unarmed people based on evidence that they would kill him had they the chance.

It's teetering on the fine divide between delusion and reality. Do I believe this shouldn't have happened? Yes. Do I understand why he did it? Yes.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 3:56 PM on April 18, 2005

The Great Big Mulp -- could you explain how working on his own moral plane excuses him from the law?
posted by Hildago at 4:06 PM on April 18, 2005

What hath God frought?
posted by rdone at 5:12 PM on April 18, 2005

do they say/know how many rounds actually found their target?
emptying a clip doesn't necessarily mean anything if only a few rounds hit and killed the person.
posted by emdog at 5:27 PM on April 18, 2005

Pantano said in one report that 80% of the rounds found their mark.
posted by milkwood at 5:34 PM on April 18, 2005

milkwood typically you have a 30 round clip. You can chew through that in three round bursts faster than you think for a number of reasons - least of which is the selector switch.
Lots of the grown up countries with big boy rifles have TAC switches, switches on their triggers so you can fire one round while in full auto so you don't have to empty the whole clip every time you press the trigger while your in full auto.
With practice you can do it, but...
Also the high cyclic rate can cause jams, it looks like he had a flash supressor which vibrates the shit out of m-16s.

I'm not really explaining this well, suffice it to say you get adept with firing repeatedly with three round bursts to get a sort of hybrid situation between firing once and firing a whole lot more than three round chunks at a time. And when your out - you reload - right fucking now!
And fire again if something is moving.
Since this training is something your life depends on you get kind of attached to it.
- for example - start right now writing with your off hand for the rest of your life.
It's not easy to break that training. It becomes hardwired. It's why sharks eat tires, cans, license plates - it's a reaction not a thought process.
So I certainly believe there is plenty of room to say it was not a deliberate execution. But as you pointed out - lot of intangibles.

I would think the message to the other Iraqi's would be "fuck with us and you die." A time honored message under certain conditions.
I'd like to see a "be nice to us and we'll be nice to you" message, but war doesn't make many opportunities for that.

I think the message the U.S. is sending the Iraqis is of the "Breaker Morant" variety. (IMDB this if you like).

Of course, if there is evidence he did in fact pull the trigger on what he believed to be two harmless individuals he should be prosecuted for that.
I haven't seen it tho.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:40 PM on April 18, 2005

True, Hidalgo. It doesn't excuse him from the law at all. And I don't think it should. I was thinking more in terms of what is justifyable rather than what is legal.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 7:25 PM on April 18, 2005

Magazines tend to empty much more quickly then you'd imagine, especially through an automatic (or "burst" in this case) weapon. When the news reports that a police officer shot a suspect or an assailant, we tend to be surprised at how many shots the officer fired. What goes overlooked is that even a novice shooter can empty a pistol in less than five seconds. Since no training can adequately simulate an immediate fear of death, it's no surprise that an experienced, well trained shooter, ill prepared for the frantic urge to save their own life, can empty their gun into another person in an instant. I mean, I've been shooting pistols for some time and I'm still surprised when my gun is empty, even firing slowly and controlled.

This is, however, no defense. At all.

In the case of officers of civilians shooting in self defense, the shooter gets a hard look if they dump that much lead into their assailant. In a self defense case, anything beyond the necessary force to cease the attacker is excessive and maybe even criminal. The point is not to kill them. The point is to stop them.

But that's not the case in a war zone. There, targets come and go. Quickly. If something is shooting at you, by all means, kill it. Merely halting your aggressor is not sufficient.

This case isn't exactly that, either. Based on the article linked at the top of this post, the situation depicted here is less like a battlefield fire-fight and more like a police traffic stop. While this event is occurring in the context of a war zone, it appears to be rather controlled. A large number of Marines took two Iraqis prisoner and instructed them to search their vehicle. (What's up with that, by the way? Is that some sort of procedure for avoiding booby-traps? It sounds unsafe.) While searching their vehicle, these two Iraqis were shot in the back by one man. This man, who was sniper qualified, couldn't have been standing far enough away that it would take a whole magazine of ammo to ensure that he hit his targets. He was also aware of the contents of the vehicle. The Marines looked it over before they un-cuffed the prisoners and instructed the search. He knew he wasn't going to get shot by them. Whether he premeditated the shooting or just snapped when presented with the opportunity, he shot these men in the back, many times, at a relatively close range.

In war, people are put into unimaginable situations and made to do unthinkable things. Some of their actions, we cannot blame them for. Still, within that context, there are laws, both conventional codified laws and moral laws. Even if it was a moment of mental weakness or combat induced insanity, he still did something wrong.
posted by Jon-o at 10:54 PM on April 18, 2005

Unfortunately, army training is not like police training. They were not armed according to the article. Wouldn't a city cop have arrested the perps instead of judging, jurying and executing them?
Note the derisive names - Ali Baba, man dress - calculated to dehumanize. Seems the bright boy fell for the psychological conditioning that he should have seen through.
posted by Cranberry at 11:09 PM on April 18, 2005

tkchrist writes "It's a hard call."

Smedleyman writes "Of course, if there is evidence he did in fact pull the trigger on what he believed to be two harmless individuals he should be prosecuted for that. I haven't seen it tho."

Hey look, we took over the country. We're in charge.

Sometimes you have to send a message by blowing a way a couple of gooks sand niggers. You have to show them who's boss.

No big deal. That's how we win their hearts and minds.

This country has really changed, and not for the better: if an Alabama sheriff had blown away a few uppity nigras this way fifty years ago, it would have been a two paragraph story on page 18 and a commendation.

So STFU lib'ruls.
posted by orthogonality at 4:21 AM on April 19, 2005

As an officer it's likely he had an M4 which runs full auto - emptying a clip takes about 3 and half seconds. Tactical reloading means reloading any time you can, regardless of how many rounds you think you've fired so I normally wouldn't see how it's relevant whether he changed mags.
From the description of the incident it ran dry and he reloaded and kept on firing. That seems to me like he lost the plot.

The bright boy wasn't conditioned Cranberry - he had "the warrior ethos" before he became a Marine. The guy (apparently) went through Scout-Sniper training which is pretty damned tough for anyone, let alone a 31 year old.

I think he made a mistake. I think he knows that he did too. I think the M4 in his cabinet might be used again sometime if he ever lets the guilt get to him.

I don't see many instances in the news of UK troops doing this, but then since most infantymen in the last 20 years did a tour of N.I. you learned to think really hard before shooting. R.O.E. are there for the safety of you and everyone else.
posted by longbaugh at 5:41 AM on April 19, 2005

Did anyone else find the links to Manhattan eateries and bars throughout the story rather bizzarre?
"War is hell," he said sternly, fingering his Mont Blanc pen as we stood in the vestibule of Angelica Kitchen. His sinewy muscles rippled as he waved at his friend, Lloyd Feit, passing by on the sidewalk. Feit, chef/owner of Café Loup, blows Pantano a kiss as he enters a taxi. And who wouldn't want to blow him a kiss? He's lovely. A lovely, fascinating murderer.
posted by Cassford at 8:10 AM on April 19, 2005

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