commentary

from murder to congress?

It’s a little frightening when extrajudicial killings by a candidate – in wartime or not – are not considered a liability in an election.

Below are pieces of a Democracy Now! interview on Ilario Pantano, a candidate for a North Carolina House seat and an Iraq vet prosecuted for killing two unarmed Iraqis in 2004.  Full transcript is available here, and you can watch the interview above.

JUAN GONZALEZ: In North Carolina, a Tea Party-backed congressional candidate is facing scrutiny for having killed two unarmed Iraqis while serving in Iraq. The candidate, Ilario Pantano, has said he has no regrets about fatally shooting the two at point-blank range after detaining them near Fallujah in April 2004. Prosecutors later alleged that Pantano intended to make an example of the men by shooting them sixty times and hanging a sign over their corpses that read, “No better friend, no worse enemy.” Pantano did not deny hanging the sign or shooting the men repeatedly after stopping their vehicle at a checkpoint. He admitted to emptying one magazine of bullets into the Iraqis, then reloading and firing thirty more rounds.

AMY GOODMAN: Despite his admission, the military cleared Pantano of wrongdoing in 2005. He’s now in a tight race with incumbent Democrat Mike McIntyre in North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District. Pantano’s campaign has been endorsed by former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin…

JUSTIN ELLIOTT: Fast-forwarding to the congressional race this year in the 7th District of North Carolina, you would possibly think that this would be a liability for his campaign, but actually, the Democratic incumbent and Democratic Party have not made an issue out of it. It’s been almost no one is talking about it…

JUAN GONZALEZ: And that’s because that district has a lot of military or ex-military who live there? What’s the district like?

JUSTIN ELLIOTT: Well, yeah, there are a lot of ex-military people in the district, and it’s a conservative district. The incumbent, Congressman Mike McIntyre, is a conservative Democrat. So, yeah, I talked to local political analysts, and they said, “Look, it’s far too delicate an issue for the Democrats to touch. A lot of people see Pantano as a hero.” To give you an example of how much this is not a liability, he was endorsed, as you mentioned, by Rudy Giuliani and also Sarah Palin, both of them in their endorsements touting his military record. He recently actually held a fundraiser at a gun range and said, you know, “You pay $25 and see if you can outshoot Ilario Pantano.” So it’s almost like he’s drawing attention to this. And the Democrats, again, have not—have been basically silent on it, so it’s not really an issue…

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, what’s very interesting is that he beat, in the GOP primary, a fellow Iraq war vet, Will Breazeale, who told the Daily Beast, as quoted by you, after his primary loss, that he considers Pantano “dangerous,” saying, “I’ve taken prisoners in Iraq and there’s no excuse for what he did.”

And these are the same candidates who argue that it will be gay marriage that will lead to the moral demise of the United States?

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