Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Testing time: How will President Obama respond to piracy? 

Somali pirates have decided that it is great time to capture an American flagged ship crewed by our citizens.

Naturally, I have a few questions.

Why has this not happened before? Why were these pirates not deterred by the prospects of a response from the United States Navy (the very first mission of which was to stop piracy from Africa)? What will our president do about it?

This is a far more important moment for Barack Obama than the news media, judging by the lack of coverage on cable news this morning, believes it to be.

MORE: FoxNews has more.

WELCOME CORNER READERS: The tenor and scope of our response should not merely be tailored to getting these hostages back safely. Our Navy's command of the seas is a non-negotiable strategic asset. We need to know why our flag did not deter these bozos and take immediate steps to restore their respect for it, even if we have to bomb every pirate port on the Somali coast and suffer the charge of "disproportionality" from the international law fetishists. It's what Thomas Jefferson would do.

UPDATE (12:09 PM): The Corner is now reporting that the ship has been recovered. Here's the AP story:

The Pentagon says it appears the American crew of a hijacked ship has regained control of the vessel. A U.S. official says the hijacked ship's crew is free and one pirate is in custody.

Pentagon sources spoke on condition of anonymity because information was still preliminary. But sources say the hijacked crew apparently contacted the private shipping company they work for.

The shipping company, Maersk, has scheduled a noon press conference in Norfolk, Va.

Is this a United 93 situation? That would be wonderful, if true. Dan Riehl has more.

WE CANNOT STOP THE UPDATES!: The recovery by the crew of their own vessel does not, in the end, explain why our deterrence failed. [Or, actually, let Obama off the hook in fact, even if that is the political/media consequence.] There is the possibility that these pirates were too stupid to be deterred, or (as one of the commenters pointed out) they mistook Old Glory for the flag of Liberia, but neither explanation is particularly persuasive. The question remains, therefore: Will we take action to restore our deterrence notwithstanding the serendipitous recovery of the ship by its own crew?

AGAIN: Bastards still have the captain, so the president still has a choice to make.

Also, confirmation that this is the first attack on an American flagged vessel "in recent memory":
Cmdr. Jane Campbell, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said that it was the first pirate attack "involving U.S. nationals and a U.S.-flagged vessel in recent memory." She did not give an exact timeframe.


By Anonymous Proctor John, at Wed Apr 08, 08:41:00 AM:

To answer the first question: Because there aren't that many US-flagged vessels anymore. Among other reasons, the labor costs (US crew) are too high. That is why a lot of ships fly the Liberian flag, have Greek officers, with Filipino crew. US-flagged vessels are used only when they have to, e.g., US cabotage laws, such as carrying Alaskan crude to the lower 48.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Wed Apr 08, 09:14:00 AM:

They are also used to confer the protection of the United States Navy in hostile waters, such as in the "tanker war" toward the end of the Iran-Iraq war. Perhaps that explains the American flag on this Danish ship. So the question remains, why did the flag not deter the Somali pirates?  

By Blogger clint, at Wed Apr 08, 09:20:00 AM:

Somali pirates have been getting "bolder" (aka dumber) over the last several years -- so I'm less interested in why our flag didn't protect the ship than I am in the response.

I'm much more interested in the response -- both from the media and from our new President.

Sadly, I expect both to react in exactly the same way they are reacting to North Korea's new ICBMs, Iran's new nukes, Russia's resurgence, etc.

(Not saying there's an easy answer to any of these -- just that pretending they are unimportant is unlikely to be helpful.)  

By Blogger Purple Avenger, at Wed Apr 08, 09:21:00 AM:

Obama != Jefferson

10:1 he does nothing of substance and someone eventually winds up paying the ransom.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 09:23:00 AM:

Proctor John is quite correct.

Look up the "Jones Act", or section 37 of the 1920 Merchant Marine act. The essence of the act is that any ship carrying goods between US ports (cobotage) has to be US built, US owned and staffed by US citizens.
There are today less than 100 "Jones Act" ships over 1,000 DWT and they mostly ply the routes between the Alaska, Hawaii, Porto Rico and the continental US. Shipping between continental US ports (i.e. Boston to Miami) is limited to goods that cannot be shipped any other way and barges on the Mississippi.

That's what you get with government interference; the destruction of an entire sector of the economy.  

By Blogger Hell_Is_Like_Newark, at Wed Apr 08, 09:28:00 AM:

The British (and later the Americans) back in the days before the West became nation-states full of wimps, a British ship of the line would pull into the Somali port with now former pirates hanging from their necks on the yard arm.

A punitive bombardment of the port would commence rendering it useless for further use by future aspiring brigands.  

By Blogger L Nettles, at Wed Apr 08, 09:41:00 AM:

Just a little background since I am a fan of Malcolm Mclean the father of containerized shipping and the founder of Sea-Land Shipping.

"Sea-Land’s international services were sold to Maersk in 1999 and the combined company was named Maersk Sealand, which, in 2006, became known simply as Maersk Line.

The former Sea-Land's domestic services now operate as Horizon Lines, Inc, which accounts for approximately 36% of the total U.S. marine container shipments between the continental U.S. and the markets of Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, and to Guam. The company is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.  

By Blogger Zek, at Wed Apr 08, 09:46:00 AM:

As a former merchant sailor, most are Jones Act ships, as previously mentioned, but these tend to be small to medium sized.

Most of the larger ships that are part of Maritime Security Program, which is essentially a reserve of merchant ships that the government can call on in times of need to provide sealift operations. Several of these ships were used in the runup to the Iraq invasion in order to transport a large amount of cargo.

Obama must act strongly. Seizing an American ship in international waters is a like seizing an embassy.  

By Blogger A Jacksonian, at Wed Apr 08, 09:53:00 AM:

By the Law of the Sea, dating all the way back to the Black Book of the Admiralty in the 14th century, a compendium of European laws based on Roman sea law, a ship is sovereign territory of a Nation. When you fire on that ship, you attack that Nation.

This gets put into the US Constitution via the Law of Nations, and then into the US Code for Piracy. This is the only direct reference in the Constitution to a body of extant work already known at the time of the founding. There is a further implicit call-out making the President the head of the Armies and the Navies, thus responsible for responses directly against pirates via being the head of the Admiralty. Ships retain that status until they are out of easy reach of the sea, beyond headlands or other enclosure that cuts of the access to the sea. The early SCOTUS continually struck down laws in the early 19th century that Congress had put forward to limit that, depending upon the Admiralty source for the US to be the power as it was under William, not later Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain. US Ships do not fall out of US jurisdiction until that point, so the attack on the USS Cole is piracy against the US... if we dared to prosecute it.

It is interesting that Congress has extended this concept in the 1950's to include such international spaces underground and to the edge of the atmosphere... great stuff, that. One would presume to include extra-territorial enclaves such as Embassies guarded by Marines to put attacks on such places as piracy, also, but I'm not familiar with anyone ever bringing that charge. It would fit via the Law of Nations and our own understanding of how the Common Law incorporated the Law of the Sea under William. This is done to protect commerce and those traveling on vessels, and is also how a Captain can marry a couple under the laws of the Nation the ship originates from.

There is also a direct correlation with terrorism as a form of Private war unsanctioned by Nations, that put it into the same class of offenses against the law of nations as piracy. Piracy is just a sub-class of the larger class of offenses, not a separate one, and this was understood by the founders, also. We, apparently, are too civilized to recognize this and keep on trying to make something that is in the same larger class into something different than its brothers in that class, when it is their commonality that define them as offenses, not their differences.

No good will come of that.  

By Anonymous tyree, at Wed Apr 08, 09:57:00 AM:

President Obama will write them a letter. A very stern letter.

If he actually responds with some kind of force, I will personally offer a toast to him then next time I am at the bar with my friends.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Wed Apr 08, 10:18:00 AM:

I'm not a great fan of doing what Thomas Jefferson would do. See eg. the embargo act or Sally Hemmings (Chris Chambers, this is a golden opportunity if you ever wanted one...).

Since the whacky a$$ Somalis attacked in the dark, and probably do not possess advanced friend or foe id capability, my guess is that the American flagged vessel was just a target of opportunity.

To do otherwise is to give the Somalis way too much credit. A bottle or two of Johnny Walker red and "hey that looks like a big one" is probably the depth of their target acquisition SOP.

What would be wrong with putting limited ship to ship missle capability on our flagged vessels with some equivalent of an "air" marshall on board? Just a thought. As I recall most of the Dutch East India ships were armed. It seems to me that the easiest way to take these things out is to attack while they are still seaborn, since they are basically in boston whalers with grappeling irons. They had to follow the ship for 5-6 hours to get close enough to board, so they have to have lots of extra fuel on board. A small rocket or two in all the spare fuel tanks they are carrying will make a big impression.

We should also probably have a squad of DDGs, FFGs or maybe even a few of the new LCSs on permanent patrol in this area.  

By Anonymous JT, at Wed Apr 08, 10:29:00 AM:

I rather prefer Teddy's use of the Navy, but it's clear that there are increased acts against our Flag/interests to see what this a$$clown does about it. So far, Obama seems to be setting an expectation that we're back to pre-GWB times, when we're available for shinkicking. I do not believe that will make us safer, make our enemies like us more, or have an outcome the average American finds favorable.

I also think that any shipper near Somalia should be staffed by, say, a retired SEAL team, with the equipment to protect that assets they're hired to protect.  

By Anonymous Mr. Ed, at Wed Apr 08, 10:30:00 AM:

Weak Presidents always go overboard in response to tiny affronts, while getting run over from every direction on the ones that count. My expectation is that he will put 3 carriers to sea and sink the dingy the pirates drove up on. On the other hand really weak presidents even fail to respond to tiny affronts, until they are forced to respond, inadequately, to a significant affront, which they lose and leave us wounded and humiliated. I can see already, a bead of sweat on his forehead. It will only last as long as it takes him to find a way to blame this on Bush.


PS, you don't think the government will take over the Navy too do you?  

By Blogger Ticker, at Wed Apr 08, 10:34:00 AM:

He will act just as Jimmy Carter did and do absolutely nothing, leaving the crews to rot until someone with some guts comes along and says enough is enough. That's gonna be a long 4 years from now.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 11:18:00 AM:

This is a terrible tragedy. I'm sure that, like the rest of us, President Obama is waiting for someone to do something.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 11:19:00 AM:

I agree with Mr. Ed. Even a weak president can easily respond to this attack with force. But this tells us nothing about how he would handle a difficult situation. (Such as Iran seizing a ship.)  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 11:23:00 AM:

this is crazy the response should be that the safety of americans anywhere is inviolate an these pirate villages should be razeso the ground with cruise missiles we have the satellite caopability to find where they are make the price dispropotionately high and they will think twice about doing it again the only thing they will respect is overwhelming force bear  

By Blogger Puck 101, at Wed Apr 08, 11:25:00 AM:

If we leave it up to Casper Milquetoast the squatter in the White House, or Hillary Rottencrotch, they'll probably apologize. After all, the both of them go about the world telling all who will listen, they we are a bunch of ungrateful bores. After all we don't seem to apprecieate the world letting us give our sons and daughters to go and die for them. And we don't seem to be grateful that they allow us to give them billions upon billions if food and money and medical help . Just give Hussein Obama, a chance and he will make the Pirates citizens, as long as they say they will vote the Democratic ticket next time... Or maybe they can promise to become Muslims and they surely will get preferential treatment... Hell , Obama doesn't care for this country why should they ? WEll , all you simpletons who voted for this faker can reap what he sows... But like those who support the Clintons, you'll never admit your mistake, until it's too late... There are none so blind as those who will not see.....  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Wed Apr 08, 11:32:00 AM:

Wow, this just gets better and better.

Apparently the reason this vessel was reflagged and had an American crew is because it was bearing US humanitarian aid bound for Mombasa, KENYA.

Wasn't that father that O spends all his time dreaming about from KENYA?

Let's see how the White House tries to wriggle out of this one.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 11:35:00 AM:

"Pedecaris alive or the Raisuli dead!" Oh, the good old days...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 11:37:00 AM:


Last week, an Israeli cargo ship, from the ZIM LINES, was attacked by Somali pirates. The actually got to climb up the side. But couldn't get onto the deck because the Israelis had run BARBED WIRE all around and across the deck. So, they left.

Sometimes, you don't have to be the Spanish Armada, with the biggest fleet, to foil terrorists.

Start with this terrorists are primitive savages.

But we no longer really do anything wise, militaristically, speaking.

Worse. We've just seen Obama trying to sell the SURRENDER document of an agreement with Iran.

Do you know why? Maliki hated Bush's guts. And, Maliki went to iran. Who provided the aid, along with syria and north korea; to defeat us IN PLACE. It helped that our soldiers were told "do not shoot civilians" ... even when they blow your comrades apart.

Soon we may see what happens when you take Jimmy Carter and add a teleprompter. I don't foresee success.  

By Anonymous Proctor John, at Wed Apr 08, 11:43:00 AM:

Going back to the question of why a US-flagged vessel, the story says that it was carrying aid. If that was US aid, i.e., being shipped by the US Agency for International Development, which is part of the State Department, then it likely would have had to have been carried on a US-flagged vessel. Maersk is a Danish company and its shipping arm has not been doing well financially. So, to get the business of carrying US foreign aid cargoes, they sold some ships to a subsidiary, flagged them US, and can now carry US aid cargoes.  

By Anonymous Hubbabubba, at Wed Apr 08, 11:51:00 AM:

Obama's response will more than likely be to appologize for the existence of Americans outside of our border, then invite the pirates for Tea at the White House. Perhaps after discussions in the Oval Office, they will all take a trip to Disneyland.  

By Anonymous Captain Rick, at Wed Apr 08, 12:04:00 PM:

We have Navy SEALS, who have rope.

Apply the two to pirates, and pirating will come to a screeching halt. There is no need under international admiralty law to bother with a lot of niceties, we can have the survivors swinging from the yardarms by sundown, and feed their worthless bodies to the sharks soon after  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 12:05:00 PM:

Forgive me for asking a dumb question: I like the Danes, and like obliterating pirates any day soounds like a fine idea; napalming pirates that attacked a US ship is OK with me: ...but it sounds like a Danish parent co used a US subsidiary to get US protection for what is essentially a Danish ship. Is this what the US navy ought to be rescuing? A ship owned by another country's shipping co?

Yes it has a US crew. And we probably ought to smash the pirates this time. But its not really a a US owned ship is it? What's to stop every country from reflagging their ships in bad waters and us having to save them? Sounds a little weird to me.  

By Blogger QB, at Wed Apr 08, 12:06:00 PM:

You ass wipes can't aim criticism at black who always blame the white man or somebody else for their failures - what the hell are the managers of the shipping companies thinking? Half a pea brain could extrapolate that the cost of hiring retired military is way cheaper than paying millions of dollars to these criminals. Don't lay back and don't 'DO SHIT" then blame the government for your poor business management. Evidently Obama is the second Christ - never have so many looked to one man to perform so many miracles - since the coming of Christ. This country is doomed - racism and infighting have already created irreparable damage. This country is in the throes of death, and the carcas is being attacked from all sides.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 12:06:00 PM:

"...they will all take a trip to Disneyland." ...and ride Pirates of the Carribean!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 12:06:00 PM:

Keep in mind that the pirates might have mistaken the US flag for the Liberian flag.

The Liberian flag is very, very similar to the US flag, and, as an earlier commenter pointed out, international merchant vessels rarely sail under the US flag.

In fact, I would bet that the pirates and their paymasters crapped in their pants once they realized what they did. The only questions that remain are the safety of the hostages, and whether the administration will demonstrate whether or not the presumptive soiled pants were appropriate.  

By Anonymous silvermine, at Wed Apr 08, 12:07:00 PM:

Don't forget -- even Jefferson paid the ransoms for years.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 12:07:00 PM:

I think he needs to point out to the Somali pirates that those Americans enjoy habeas corpus rights, and that just as soon as some big law firms in D.C. and NYC can be found to subsidize up some Jr. associates to do some pro bono, we'll be flying in a herd (pack? gaggle? epidemic?) of them to help the hostages, er, american combatants or something file habeas petitions in the U.S. District Court for the District of D.C.

That should fix things.

Failling that, he could always seek a UN Security Counsel resolution strongly condemning the action, and if that didn't work a resolution most strongly condemning it would surely work.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 12:08:00 PM:

God's wisdom will see Obama through and in the long run many of these comments will praise him...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 12:11:00 PM:

I'm Sure President Obama will react the same way he always does when the pressure is on. He'll vacate Washington and head to the west coast to make an appearance on The Tonight Show, leaving his lackeys in Washington to deal with the problem.  

By Blogger Diogenes, at Wed Apr 08, 12:12:00 PM:

Jacksonian: These are Muslim pirates. Muslims identify themselves as Muslims first. Nation-states are irrelevant. Under Islamic law, they are allowed and encouraged to kill the infidel, and under rules of "dhimmi" have a right to the dhimmi's property when ever they please. Therefore, terrorists and pirates can evade justified summary punishment on the battlefield/open seas, by proclaiming they are acting as "privaters" sanctioned under Muslim Law. I believe that was the justification John Adams and Thomas Jefferson heard when they first confronted the Barbary pirates. What is your response?  

By Anonymous CreepingSharia, at Wed Apr 08, 12:14:00 PM:

He will probably respond the same way he did when US citizen the American head of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) John Solecki - kidnapped by Pakistani jihadists just after Obama took office.

In other words he won't say a single word.


By Blogger John, at Wed Apr 08, 12:15:00 PM:

Just a clarification, she is not a recently reflagged vessel. She was built in 1998 and in 2004, she was US flagged.  

By Blogger Chuck Pelto, at Wed Apr 08, 12:15:00 PM:

TO: All
RE: Time Has Come.....

....for the SEALs to earn their pay.

That is if The One has the gonads to commit them early on.

Otherwise, we have Obama's Carter v. Iran Moment.

Too bad it came so early as to not provide a good effect on the 2012 election.....eh?


[A lack of planning is no substitute for inaction. -- sardonic Army staff puke axiom]

P.S. I remember the Iranian Hostage Crisis from being a senior first lieutenant in '78-79-80.

We picked apart the fiasco 'rescue' attempt at Infantry Officers' Advance Course (IOAC) at Benning School for Boys....  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 12:15:00 PM:

"Last week, an Israeli cargo ship, from the ZIM LINES, was attacked by Somali pirates. The actually got to climb up the side. But couldn't get onto the deck because the Israelis had run BARBED WIRE all around and across the deck."

This is clearly a war crime, no different from their aparteid fence. Those people could have been innocent civilians whose ship was sinking, and they could have been killed by the Israelis' razor wire barriers.

At least, that's how the media would spin it if the story wasn't safely buried.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 12:18:00 PM:

Gee whiz, I hope the crew remembered to Mirandize the surviving pirate. Somebody get him a lawyer! Maybe a partner from some huge DC firm looking to expand on their Guantanamo Bay practice. What happened to the other pirates? I hope they were treated well!!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 12:20:00 PM:

jeez. keeps adding it on. keeps getting better and better. new war with NK looming, iraq, afghanistan, iran, pakistan. And everybody wonders why we can't figure out how to make money? When were at war with 4 different countries were all going to be doomed.

OIF Veteran  

By Blogger Leon Bernotas, at Wed Apr 08, 12:20:00 PM:

Testing time: How will President Obama respond to piracy?

Is it NOT Him one of them???  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 12:30:00 PM:

Many of these comments are just amusing that real so to say, i think many were written by one. What i know is that if McCain is today the US president many would have said the Bush administration has enforced its continuity in attracting hatred to the US nation. But even though Americans know everything about change and asked for change, not many seem to know that you really don't have to ask for change because it is not only good but inevitable.

I believe there are times we should say, 'yeah, you really you know you disturbed my peace and not do that again', but i know that it is even not supported by nature that the same approach will last forever. I honestly do not know why Americans believe everything is straight away ego. There is need for that but there is more arrogance in acting that way. What must be done should and shall be done but at least act in a way that puts you in balance comment because you may never say you will win even the smallest fight some times.

Obama's style is too weak for so many, and he's not just promoting the US ego. I like every American to know that really America is falling and that's really because of this attitude. I believe that true greatness is even in acting lowly- sincerely, when you are actually much more above.

Permit me to say i hate these pirates, and i really want them punished beyond what you may even call normal, but i respect that there can be the greatest fall in such a small act of eating a fruit in Eden, so all the wars are to be fought but necessarily not with the same approach even if with the same weapons some times if it is targeted to victory.

As a citizen i would say i wish Obama good wisdom for every action. I know that many of those that put comment up there can not run a 10K dollars investment for a year and gain, because it is failures that really can criticize success well.

For simple goodness sake, Obama will act right i believe, he knows these people need to be shown they shouldn't have done that, but please this is not a manic administration like in the past.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 12:35:00 PM:

The Captain should now hang the surviving pirate from the ship's crane as a message. He is legally entitled to.  

By Blogger Stephen, at Wed Apr 08, 12:46:00 PM:

Maybe the pirates forgot to lock up the ship's cook.  

By Anonymous AVS, at Wed Apr 08, 01:15:00 PM:

So it didn't end badly as so many predicted.Maybe a little faith in America is in order.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 01:17:00 PM:

Now, that the tide has turn and the pirates are in custody of the Americans what do these people crucifying Obama have to say? Such hasty must-talks. Wisdom and balance makes the rule in this century, not to be manic or to always show we are who we are. So many people will because of ego use a bomb to kill a rat many times when so less reasonable.

Thank God for smiling on the US once again.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 01:35:00 PM:

>Maybe a little faith in America is >in order.

Faith in America isn't at issue, faith in Obama is what's at issue.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 01:42:00 PM:

"Now, that the tide has turn and the pirates are in custody of the Americans what do these people crucifying Obama have to say? Such hasty must-talks. Wisdom and balance makes the rule in this century ..."

Jesus, a comment posting fortune cookie - how blessed we are. Maybe God told those guys on that boat that they were on their own, that Fopbama had neither the will nor the interest to help them.  

By Blogger Chuck Pelto, at Wed Apr 08, 01:49:00 PM:

TO: Anonymouse
RE: Yeah...Right....

"God's wisdom will see Obama through and in the long run many of these comments will praise him..." -- Anonymouse

Looks like God's wisdom saw the crew through, as I suspect they could not count on Obama to do anything for them.


P.S. Just posted the flag outside the front door in honor of these men....NOT that Obama did anything for them.

And I doubt he would have.....  

By Blogger Chuck Pelto, at Wed Apr 08, 01:53:00 PM:

TO: All
RE: I Understand....

...that the rest of the pirates jumped overboard as the crew regained control of their ship.

I hope the crew threw a bunch of 'chum' into the water to bring in some big fish to keep the pirates in the water 'company'.


[Life is tough. It's tougher if you're a pirate up against Americans. -- John Wayne (paraphrased)]  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 01:57:00 PM:

Oh, this is too funny. The Times (London, not Darfur) describes the fact that pirates are overboard, and then says an unnamed American official "would not confirm how the Somalis [sic, really "pirates"] found their way into the ocean".

Love that part. They "found their way", isn't that enough?

Their DC lawyers will sort it all out! The American crew will serve some time before this is all over I'll wager!  

By Blogger Chuck Pelto, at Wed Apr 08, 02:04:00 PM:

TO: All
RE: Upon Reflection....

....I suspect that the crew realized that they had little choice in this matter but to (1) fight or (2) die.


Well, I think that they realized that if they didn't fight-back, they could well have been turned over to Al Qaeda to be beheaded in some future video, just because they were the hated 'Americans'.

I'm sure that Al Qaeda would have LOVED that particulare 'opportunity', and paid handsomely for it.


P.S. Looks like US Americans learned something useful from 9/11 afterall....  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 02:14:00 PM:

Fox is reporting the American captain remains a hostage.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 02:17:00 PM:

Great comments for the most part. Must take umbrage with whomever insinuated some nefarious link to US aid going to Kenya because the President's father was Kenyan.

Do a little reading and you'll realize that there is a severe food crisis going on in Kenya right now due to a corruption scandal involving strategic grain reserves, ongoing drought, and a slow down from the agricultural sector in the wake of the 2008 post-election violence. In a country of 35 million people, it's estimated that up to 10 million are currently in need of critical food assistance.

As a proud American (and member of the loyal opposition, BTW) who lives and works in this part of the world I'm doubly proud that we're doing the right thing as we always do and sending this food aid.

And I'm hoping we get some stories of some Somali pirates hanging off the superstructure of the Maersk ALABAMA as she pulls into port!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 03:01:00 PM:

Fox now has a story up repeating that the Captain remains a hostage of the pirates in a lifeboat, those who failed to "find their way" into the ocean I guess. The story reports the very interesting fact that an American vessel has not been captured by pirates in "over 200 years". I hadn't realized that, since I assumed American vessels are as liable to be pirated as those of any other nation and worldwide priate attacks are way up, as the very cool map indicates.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Wed Apr 08, 03:04:00 PM:

The humanitarian crises in Kenya is real.

My point was, given the nature of the aid and Obama's connection to Kenya, this would be a difficult one for him to duck.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Wed Apr 08, 03:06:00 PM:

Hey, does anybody know if Raile Odinga (Kenyan opposition to prime minister who set off this crisis) is actually Obama's cousin, or just from the same village?  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Wed Apr 08, 03:08:00 PM:

The fact that American vessels haven't been pirated in a while has to do with the fact that we don't have a merchant marine anymore thanks to Congress, as others have noted.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 03:13:00 PM:

PM Raila Odinga and pere Obama are from the same region (Nyanza Province) of Western Kenya and are both from the Luo tribe. Am sure they can trace some common ancestry but they're not first or even third cousins.  

By Anonymous Frucissiere, at Wed Apr 08, 03:17:00 PM:

I dont understand a couple of points.

1, Why, if the crew had comms with their shipping Co., then QRF not quickly action on the said vessel and resolve the situation?

2. If pirates did capture the ship, how did they, being Somalian, overtake a crew of hardened sailors and leave with only 1 casulty?

3. Why isnt the crew dead? Common people; Somalian pirates against American sailors- I dont think they play by our rules, ie: someones getting killed on first contact.

if someone could inform me of the answers I'de be thankful.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 03:22:00 PM:

Or, and this might be going too fasst for you me heartie, you could just read the Times article or the Fox article. Then you'de be informed!

By the way, if pirates were American and fat, as opposed to Somalian and skinny, whould they talk like this?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 03:45:00 PM:

The Jones Act is a Cabotage Law that still needs to be protected to this very day! I just went to this site and sent letters to congress and the Coast Guard because, apparently, even under this incredible economic situation, the USCG is letting foreign flagged, foreign owned and foreign manned vessels operate right here in the Gulf of Mexico. I would highly recommend going to (its free):

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 03:54:00 PM:

Go flog your protectionist crap elsewhere, you infernal fool.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 04:01:00 PM:



By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 04:18:00 PM:

Razor wire is a great idea.

Most of these ships have ZERO defensive capability or security, none. They are highly automated with surprisingly small crews for their size. The pirates are fast, in relatively tiny speedboats and are very stealthy. I have to assume most of these attacks are occurring at night? 10 guys way high up in a superstructure that's 5 stories off the deck or something - easy to understand why a small speedboat could sneak up "under the radar" as it were.

Most reports also state that the pirates are armed with RPGs in addition to a slew of automatic weapons. Not something I'd want going off if I was manning an oil tanker!

A final consideration is also that the Somalis are likely whacked out on quat, the local drug of choice, which makes users extremely agitated and aggressive, sort of like speed. I can tell you from experience (not personal use!) that a skinny weakling turns into Superman with an extreme attitude when they've chewed through their daily bundle of the stuff. Worse when they start to come off it. Wouldn't want to be at the mercy of an armed quat freak is the bottom line.

There was a company that was marketing some serious water cannons for use in fending off small craft a few months back. And of course a lot of international security firms are offering their services to shipping firms to combat the pirates.

Can any of you maritime types comment on possible legal constraints that leave these vessels almost completely defenseless? Or other non-legal explanations?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 04:57:00 PM:

Those of you who are so quick to attack President Obama, who has been in office for three months, sound like whiny little children. Pull your heads out of your ass and give the man a chance.  

By Blogger just common sense, at Wed Apr 08, 05:15:00 PM:

Obama said he was ready for the job! he said he knew what and how to do it! So now you ask us to wait till he learns, Please this is no internship you boob !!!! And note Obama will not act till he reads the polls first !!!!!!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 06:00:00 PM:

Obama will blame the crew and the owners for being there.  

By Blogger Diogenes, at Wed Apr 08, 06:31:00 PM:

Fox News states an international convention prohibits firing on pirates until they fire first. Thus, no preemptive strikes are permitted. This is another law passed by a Muslim dominated UN to protect their brethern and funding sources. Thus, Al Qaeda's piracy will continue and Saudi Arabia will continue to shower money from the sky to release its tankers. What a racket. Anyone ever heard of silent/soft Jihad?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 06:51:00 PM:

There are a great many ships passing through this area per year. The statistical probability of being attacked is extremely low, but it remains a statistical probability.
Carrying weapons can mean increased danger to the crew. Somali pirates are in it for the money. If they kill crew, they face an increased chance of being killed themselves, and then what good is the ransom? Neither side is escalating the violence. There are also liability issues to consider when keeping weapons aboard. It's not inconceivable there could be accidental shootings.
If that sounds wimpy to you, I agree. Working in the maritime industry myself, I understand the reluctance to put our mariners at risk. But privately, I wish we did more to deter these criminals.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 07:24:00 PM:

Little left to say here except; where is Stephen Decatur when we need Stephen Decatur types; I see little value in sending unarmed U.S. flagged ships into foreign waters of any definition. Sail softly but carry heavy munitions.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 07:32:00 PM:

the pirates knew it was American flagged vessel -- they have sources in several ports that tell the pirates when ships leave, where they are going, what they are carrying etc. No mistaking it for a Liberian ship.

Perhaps the cargo (food aid, IIRC) was too enticing a target that they werent concerned about the US Navy (perhaps they also knew where our ships were and knew they had a window).

Perhaps what has stopped attacks against American-flagged vessels before is the dearth of American-flagged vessels rather than any deterrent value of the US military.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 07:45:00 PM:

We probably need to only flag ships that have the barbed razor wire and the water cannons. In the mean time, I think it would be wise to let the hostage professionals do their job.

After that, these pirates are not representatives of any country. There is no point in punishing any but the pirates themselves. They are on a life boat, another day without water and they will do anything asked.  

By Blogger Scott, at Wed Apr 08, 08:12:00 PM:

Piracy on the high seas from Somalia is an ACT OF WAR!!!!! Somalia government must stop the piracy AND return all vessels and people UNTOUCHED or face the retaliation of the United States NAVY marines and Airforce Army
That is my take on the matter.. Mr ONAMA use the jewels habging between your legs.. STOP bowing to the WORLD WE are STILL the most Powerful military in he world and maybe it is time for AMERICA to take control of the seas..  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 08:13:00 PM:

The crew are not armed or trained to defend themselves. Instead of putting a few needles in the haystack in the form of warships why doesn't each country put 10 heavily armed marines aboard each ship? One well trained heavily armed marine aboard is worth 10 warships 300 miles away. The piracy will stop after a few of them a blown out of the water.  

By Anonymous janusfire@yahoo.com, at Wed Apr 08, 08:34:00 PM:

Automatic weapons it's the adecuate response, they could be fired remotely from the vessel's deck.

Just at seeing it, those primitives will came back to theirs caves.

Or better, they could be eliminated.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 08:43:00 PM:

Likely the Somalians have figured that Mr Obama is really not a threat to them.. If He indeed wants The US to become Communist/socialist even.
I think the US Citizens need to dissolve the US Presidency.. let the states run their own affairs until the country feels the need for a president again.. The whole presidential facade is nothing but a scam inasmuch as the insurance is a scam, AND inasmuch as the Banking system is a scam (not to mention the stock market  

By Blogger Scott, at Wed Apr 08, 08:51:00 PM:

I feel that this 'ACT OF WAR' REQUIRES swift and complete reactionary force from the United States military. If we had not been buffaloed into GW Bush's private little war (or his revenge war for the failed assassination attempt of his father) Then the Somalia thing would be under control already.. As is we have too many troops stationed out of the country fighting a war that will in the end amount to nothing and as soon as the US withdraws I have little doubt that the government in Iraq will be usurped by AlQaeda and Bin Ladin will be hailed a hero.. I think the middle East has used our people for far to long and then Mr OBAMA had NO BUSINESS Bowing to anyone..  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 08:57:00 PM:

Love many of the comments, it's good to see America hasn't lost it's sense of humor and freedom of speech and political view. Maybe the government will own that soon, LOL. But anyway, I hope that he acts decisively and strongly against any attacks on Americans abroad in any form. Wisdom is always needed to balance our strength. It is with strength and courage that we are the land of the free and the home of the brave. I make no aplogies for our freedoms.  

By Anonymous Squealer, at Wed Apr 08, 09:38:00 PM:

Well, well, the skies have opened up today. What a fine rain of pathetic comments.  

By Blogger Ron Russell, at Wed Apr 08, 10:01:00 PM:

Obama may make some kind of move against these pirates--I really can't say. I would be a fairly simple thing to bomb some building in Somolia---no big risk and then those on the left could applaud his actions and say what a strong president we have. On the other hand, he may not act at all, fearing collateral damage. We do know what Jefferson did in a similar circumstance many years ago. Marines were sent to Tripoli--we all know the story. This will be a test for Obama and his advisors.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 10:34:00 PM:

I really feel that Obama should not set a precedent here by paying ransom.

a moderate  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 08, 11:00:00 PM:

I don't know much about large cargo vessels, so I pose this question....how do these rat faced somalian bastards board these huge ships...and why can't the cres take some sort of action to foil the boarding attempt??.  

By Anonymous TheHellYouSay, at Wed Apr 08, 11:17:00 PM:

In response to the last question, I heard on NPR that they use grappling hooks to board, but I don't know why you couldn't shoot their sorry arses when they tried to climb the rope.

As for the Obama bashers I feel real sorry for your families - being a blood relation to a half wit is a cruel punishment. You can criticize him all you want, but he's already got a clue and your man Bush couldn't even buy one with all of his fortunes. He was always too busy looking forward to a bike ride or some brush cutting while his appointees were busy making themselves richer than they already were when they took office. I sure do miss old Condoleeza Rice, she was one sharp lady, eh?  

By Blogger Jeff Faria, at Thu Apr 09, 12:10:00 AM:

Somebody tell Barry these aren't the Pirates of Penzance.

And none of them looks like Johnny Depp, either.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 09, 02:54:00 AM:

This is not a political issue because Somolia has no government and hasn't had one for ten years. This is strictly a military issue.
Considering that the only navies that have actually seized and recovered ships has been India and France. Frankly if I were the US Navy I'd be embarresed. France used a commando team at night and got their ship back. India confronted the pirates with one of her warships and they immediatly backed down.Where are the US Navy's helicopters? Where are the US Navy SEALS? We have the most expensive navy in the world and they can't defeat someone with AK 47's and RPG's? Something is seriously wrong when France and India can rescue their ships but we can't rescue ours. US Navy, your looking real bad from here.  

By Blogger yahoo, at Thu Apr 09, 03:38:00 AM:

Obama is a groveling, low-bowing coward and the world respects strength - not cowards. The U.S. has no respect under Obama. The question is: why is the ship unarmed? this is insanity, if the ship were armed, it would be a non-issue and we would not be spending tax dollars to go to their rescue!

After we've unarmed the entire United States (NO defense expenditure--just earmark give-away campaign paybacks), only the bad guys will have weapons. Who are we going to call on to protect us???  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 09, 04:28:00 AM:

Forget about dealing with the Somali government, there isn't one.

Two suggestions. Number one - convoys. If 90% of the cargo vessels in the area are in escorted convoys, there will be very few attacks on them.

Two - I'm thinking its time to return to the days of Q-ships, or East Indiamen. Q-ships accounted for 10% of the German submarines sunk in WWI. A Q-ship is something that looks like a freighter but is actually a warship. The US navy could do this pretty cheap if they wanted to; if not, maybe the Saudis would buy in.

Take a container ship, build a wall on the poop deck that looks like stacked containers, and hide an attack helicopter in it. Conceal a few twin 50-cal mounts (cheap) under tarps or in another container with drop-down walls, at corners of the ship at least. They will chop a speedboat to splinters in short order. Keep a small drone aloft to watch for small boats approaching. Military crew of course.

Wait till the pirates in speedboats make their intentions clear, then open up on them. Use surveillance from the drone and satellites to locate the mothership, which will be within a couple dozen miles, and sink it too, with the helicopter and rockets, or a torpedo.

They might rethink their business plan if the easy pickings disappear, and they lose a few motherships with all hands.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Apr 10, 09:05:00 AM:

..."My point was, given the nature of the aid and Obama's connection to Kenya, this would be a difficult one for him to duck"... Why? a statistics in TIME even recently showed that Obama is more Arab than an African, more Arab-American. Just consult..

What is funny here that i am sure of is that many of these people writing to attack Obama actually voted for him.. if they would say the truth, now... those of us that did not even voted for Obama are quite reasoning along with the way he's trying to change the US administrative style. It is a shame on these people if they think. Somebody said Obama said he was ready for the job so no one can say we should give him time. Such a comment has not proceeded from a well coordinated thought or more- might have been posted by an under-age.

Another funny thing is that Americans are failing on the views of these many comments to rather proclaim what they know inside them... These people commenting know that what Bush came to do was only to act.. Bush met a laid platform and then he only had to act on it, Obama on the other hand met a platform that before he would act must first straighten up.

When Obama talks and blame some things on the Bush administration he may actually be seeking a recess in that act, but we really know that it is true. I think we should ask ourselves first "how would i have handled this situation if i were the one" before we start assessing.

What is rather comical here is that many that are so good at commenting are only what we call 'congress tigers', they can talk, criticize.. look in to their lives..they are off..

I must confess to all that America-ego is inborn in every American and for that fact Obama is one hero trying to suppress it in the face of promoting reasons as against ego. And let me tell you all, what is inborn is forever inborn. So stop writing comments because you want to just comment.

I said i wish God's wisdom seeing him through but i never campaigned for Obama during election. I believe what it takes to lead well is also what it takes to follow well, or at least be a part of anything well. It is courage. The courage to shut up is required by many of these people just wanting to write comment about the president. It is a courage to realize that you are just being 'just-talking' and stop it to do something better with your time.

I was here supporting Bush when he was there because i know that the best thing a failure can do is to criticize and analyze. The best thing a normal citizen should do is to complain when it is right and not to run down the leader because they feel he should in one particular manner. And may be because they also aspire to be on top of an affair one day.

I tell you, even former president Bush is only trying to find consolation in claiming that history will judge him right in later time- no body likes to be referenced as the icon of a bad era or time in the face of the world- at least no normal learned person does. And yet i will never subscribe to the notion that Bush did too bad.

What i am saying is that Americans should learn that life is not designed to be bored by just one side of its reality. After those years of attracting hatred and vices, it is time to attract goodwill, it has not expunged us of our mind as the great US nation, we are still who we are. May be after this time, it will be necessary to attract hatred once again- but at least not just one side forever.

I am submitting once again by wishing Obama God's wisdom always. And i repeat: many of these comments will in the long run praise him. I am not expecting him to do so fantastic, he has already done that by breaking records- but at least like forever will be, when we shall weigh the balance of his failures and success after he has come and gone, i wish him God's grace and wisdom to have accumulated more on the success side.


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