Sunday, April 19, 2009

Letting Pirates Go

It's happened again and the law obviously needs to be changed.

NATO forces for the second time in a week have interdicted and thwarted pirates trying to take over freighters off the coast of Africa. And once again, after disarming them, the pirates have been released.

Apparently the concept of an attack one is an attack on all doesn't apply to piracy on the high seas. In both cases, the first involving Dutch NATO troops, the second Canadian, the pirates were released because the ships attacked were not flagged Dutch or Canadian nor were any nationals of those respective countries held hostage.

So the pirates were disarmed. In the first case, where hostages had been taken, the prisoners were released. But then, the pirates were allowed to go on their merry way.

Eighty vessels have been attacked so far this year. Scores of troops have been deployed and tons of money has been expended on this issue. It's time, now, to take assertive and effective action.

If you're going to deploy troops in the area to deal with the pirates, then let them be dealt with.

The NATO troops should be given the green light to incarcerate any pirates the encounter. And if necessary to take lethal action.

Ships should include additional crews. Trained private security forces to protect the crew and the assets.

And Congressman Ron Paul's suggestion that Letters of Marque and Reprisal be employed should be given seriously considered.

The concept is contained in the Constitution of the United States. It authorizes the Congress to issue the letters to, basically, permit bounty hunters to track down and capture pirates.

It's not the first time that the Texas Republican has suggested using this tactic. In 2001, just after the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Shanksville, PA, Paul introduced legislation that would have issued letters to capture those responsible. The bounty hunters would have been motivated by money to go after Osama bin Laden and his cronies.

This brilliant idea, like so many suggestions Paul has made, went nowhere. And while it may be too late now, to issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal for the September 11th attacks, it's a tactic that can still be used to fight piracy.

Whatever action is taken, the idea of spanking the hands of the pirates and then letting them go does nothing to deter them from attacking, boarding other ships and holding the crew hostage for ransom.

Better tactics need to be enacted before the pirates take this a step further, killing hostages or spiriting them onto Somalia where they would be out of the reach of any efforts to bring them home safely.

We talk about issues like this and more weekdays at 5 PM New York time on News Talk Online on


Anonymous said...

Great Article Gary. It's alarming to learn that once these Pirates are captured, We don't really have any authority or know what to do with them so we catch and release? These ships should be able to have armed forces protecting them with full authority to use lethal measures if necessary.

Anonymous said...

Once again that "crazy" Ron Paul turns to the Constitution of the United States for solutions to our problems and once again his ideas are rejected.

I guess, then too, must our forefathers who fashioned this great republic have been crazy.

Anonymous said...

Gary this will happen again and again, until all involved, put some teeth into the law. I do not expect Obama to take action against the country of Somalia, as an Islamic country.Some have suggested the bombing of the pirate training bases on the vast shoreline of the country. With the country in a state of total anarchy, there are no easy answers. and really no government to work with in Somalia I do beileve that the merchant ships must have security on board, and they should not be defenceless in this time of prolonged pirate activity Barbara Erb

Anonymous said...

Barbara is right.

A couple of well placed bombs on their bases puts the pirates out of business forever.

How about showing some balls NATO and Obama?

Anonymous said...

The idea of letting these waterborne thugs go is anathema to me. It shows our weakness, because of our political correctness et al, and that weakness is exploited by terrorists on both land and water. We indicate that we are powerless, and that the power lies with them. Not a good position to be in.
Our Governments are there to protect us, not just perpetuate their images so they look like the good guys to all other nations. Ron Paul has the right idea - if our leaders don't have the guts then let others who do deal with the matter.

Anonymous said...

What kind of policy is that?! I'd get more of a punishment either a) spending the night at my local park [loitering: arrest and fine] or DUI [arrest] or lying nude at the beach [arrest and fine.]

But if I'm a pirate I get released?! This double-standard on the planet is getting the rest of us killed. [and taken hostage]

Deborah Young

Anonymous said...

It appears that NATO has had more than its teeth removed (look further down) or the member countries only care about their own citizens. This is an alliance?

Bravo to Deborah Young who nailed it. Since when is piracy something that is not punishable?

I say, do whatever it takes to stop this madness.

I think Barbara Erb was incorrect when she seemed to assert that Obama would take no action against an Islamic country. Obama made the decision to free the captain recently held hostage. That's a step in the right direction and has not embroiled us in yet another war, so far.

I don't like Congressman Paul's ideas on many subjects but he is right about this. As the old saying goes, "even a broken watch is right twice a day."


Anonymous said...

Any craft in the region that is not registered with an international authority (NATO or the UN), that is more than 5 miles off of the coast of Somalia should be sunk with impunity. Any surviving crew should be locked up as prisoners of war until such time as Somalia has a working government that will negotiate for their release.

In short, blockade.

Anonymous said...

Question: Are the pirates wrong to heist unguarded ships off the lawless coasts of Africa? If so, why? If not, why imprison them?

Pablo Manriquez

Anonymous said...

Ha! You're joking right? Maybe under Bush the U.S. would have the audacity to send in bounty hunters to defy international law. But those days are over. For the time being there is no solution, beyond sending in more navy patrols to deter the piracy. Somalia has no government, and the countries involved have no power to arrest unless the pirates are threatening citizens from their own country. Last week was a rare instance of one country's navy apprehending the pirates in the act of kidnapping their own citizens. The U.S. would be obligated to do the same thing if the pirates had hijacked a Canadian ship...let the pirates go.

That's just the way it is until rule of law is restored to Somalia.

Your solution is just self-serving and short-sighted.

Juliet Waters