SEARCH BLOG: POLITICS
The post below was prior to the rescue of the captain of the Maersk Alabama. The end of the post pointed out that our tradition in dealing with pirates did not include FBI negotiators. The rescue was not a result of the FBI negotiators, nor a direct command given by President Obama because he was personally aware that Capt. Phillips' situation had progressed from "in danger" to "in imminent danger." Rather, the Navy officer in charge took standing orders allowing discretion to shoot the pirates if the hostage was in "imminent danger" and did so.
There are those who will mourn the pirates as victims of the "West." They will argue that the pirates were doing the only thing they could to defend themselves against the hostile force of a freighter carrying humanitarian food to African nations... including Somalia. And then there are those like Nick Davis who will argue:
I guess arranging "protection" makes Davis an "expert." More likely it makes him an opportunist. Now he warns about the "ante" being upped. I think the Navy just upped the ante and the other side folded.
Anti-piracy expert Nick Davis told Sky News: "They (the pirates) will learn from this. They're not going to stop piracy in any way, shape or form. They will up the ante, they will get better organised.
"The only people that would have been shot here are the foot soldiers. They're not the people that make the decisions and have the controlling interest.
"It's now going to fall back to the chain of command in the Somalian network of piracy, both ashore and in different countries, as to how they want to up the ante."
Perhaps it is time a few predators paid a visit to the "chain of command."
Forgive my confusion... and I'm certain there is a good answer... but what is the FBI doing negotiating with pirates off the coast of Africa?
US warships track lifeboat containing pirates and captured captainWhat is the mission of the FBI?
* Xan Rice in Nairobi
* guardian.co.uk, Sunday 12 April 2009 13.27 BST
Crew members of the Maersk Alabama
Crew members of the Maersk Alabama arrive in Mombasa, Kenya after overpowering Somali pirates and regain control of their ship. Photograph: Sarah Elliott/EPA
Negotiations between the FBI, Somali elders and four gunmen holding a US ship captain captive on a lifeboat in the Indian Ocean continued today as foreign helicopters circled a notorious pirate lair.
The lifeboat, which is being closely tracked by three American warships, is reported to be drifting closer to land, which US military officials fear would allow the pirates to escape with hostage Captain Richard Phillips.
His container ship, the Maersk Alabama, was briefly hijacked more than 300 miles off Somalia's east coast on Wednesday, but the all-American crew of 20 quickly regained control. Phillips, a 53-year-old former taxi driver, offered himself to the pirates as a hostage in order to safeguard his crew.
The pirates, who are armed with AK-47s and handguns, fired at a US Navy vessel that approached yesterday, but nobody was hurt and the boat withdrew. They have reportedly demanded safe passage back to Somalia and a ransom before Phillips is released.
The mission of the FBI is to uphold the law through the investigation of violations of federal criminal law; to protect the United States from foreign intelligence and terrorist activities; to provide leadership and law enforcement assistance to federal, state, local, and international agencies; and to perform these responsibilities in a manner that is responsive to the needs of the public and is faithful to the Constitution of the United States.
What authority do FBI Special Agents have to make arrests in the United States, its territories, or on foreign soil?
In the United States and its territories, FBI Special Agents may make arrests for any federal offense committed in their presence or when they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed, or is committing, a felony violation of U.S. laws.
Concerning arrests on foreign soil, FBI Special Agents generally do not have authority outside the United States except in certain cases where, with the consent of the host country, Congress has granted the FBI extraterritorial jurisdiction.Which host country has made this arrangement? Okay, negotiating... not arresting, but how does the FBI get involved in a military operation during which pirates have shot at a navy vessel?
When does the UN come in and investigate the captain of the Maersk Alabama for international crimes and set up a multi-billion dollar relief fund for Somalian pirates?
We have changed.
On 16 February 1804 LT Stephen Decatur led 74 volunteers into Tripoli harbor to burn the captured American frigate The Philadelphia. British Admiral Lord Nelson called the raid "the most daring act of the age". Boatswains Mate Ruben James volunteered to go on the raiding party. James was seriously wounded during hand-to-hand combat. Despite his wounds, or perhaps because of them, James put himself between an attacking pirate and the commander of that raid, Decatur, who remained uninjured thanks to James. Ruben James recovered from his wounds and continued to proudly serve his Navy for another 32 years. Lieutenant Stephen Decatur's exploit in destroying the captured frigate USS Philadelphia, and Captain Richard Somers attempt with the fire-ship USS Intrepid to blow up enemy vessels in Tripoli harbor, set valorous examples for the young naval service.
In 1805 Marines stormed the Barbary pirates' harbor fortress stronghold of Derna (Tripoli), commemorated in the Marine Corp Hymn invocation "To the Shores of Tripoli." First Lieutenant O'Bannon is remembered for heroism in the battle for Derna. O'Bannon's Marines were the first U.S. forces to hoist the flag over territory in the Old World. The "Mameluke" sword, carried by Marines officers today, was presented to O'Bannon in 1805.
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen...
George Orwell, "1984", first sentence