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Apr-12-2009 11:37printcomments

American Sea Captain Escapes Pirates and is Safe

U.S. politicians and media pundits remain intent on claiming that the Somali's aren't pirates, as they plunder riches from innocent people in ships on the high seas and kidnap captains in lifeboats.

Captain Richard Phillips
Captain Richard Phillips

(MOMBASA, Kenya) - Captain Richard Phillips is a free man. He's the ship captain who was kidnapped last week by Somali pirates. Three of the teenage pirates who were holding Phillips in a lifeboat were killed and a fourth was captured.

Phillips reportedly escaped after jumping overboard. According to CNN, the rescue operation was conducted while one pirate was aboard the USS Bainbridge for negotiations on Phillips' release.

The families and tribal elders of the young pirates tried to negotiate the safe return of the ship captain. They wanted the four Somali teens to be returned to their families.

The piracy problem has been ongoing off the Somali coast since 1991. It began as a response to international vessels that were dumping toxic waste off the coast of this lawless nation and overfishing the waters on a regular basis.

The Somali pirates crossed the line this time by boarding an American-flagged ship. In a typical overreaction, both the United Nations and United States vowed to attack the pirates with weapons like a guided missile frigate.

Hillary Clinton said, "Secretary Gates and I are fully engaged in this matter. We consider it a very serious matter. These people are nothing more than criminals. And we are bringing to bear a number of our assets, including naval and FBI work in order to resolve the hostage situation and bring the pirates to justice. Piracy may be a centuries-old crime, but we are working to bring an appropriate 21st century response."

Clinton, like Matt Lauer on the Today Show Friday, seems intent on confusing people and changing facts by stating that these pirates are "nothing more than criminals". They are pirates, are the powers to be worried about glamorizing them by calling them what they are?

At any rate, the United States gunned down the young pirates after the captain was clear of the lifeboat they were occupying. Their lifeboat was completely out of gas and dead in the water. It seems logical that they could have been captured. The Navy SEAL's apparently stated that they killed the pirates "before they could pull their own triggers" yet the matter was ongoing. Perhaps they didn't fire because they believed they shouldn't do that during negotiations.

At any rate, it seems clear that Captain Richard Phillips is a man of epic, heroic proportions. His life is more interesting and will always be because of his successful escape from armed pirates. He didn't escape from a simple band of criminals. Hillary Clinton and Matt Lauer may get paid to lie, but Americans need to realize that piracy doesn't mean using your neighbor's Internet WyFy; it means committing crimes on the high seas.

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 in Afghanistan with Oregon troops. Tim recently returned from Iraq where he covered the war there while embedded with an Oregon Guard aviation unit. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

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Henry Ruark April 13, 2009 8:29 am (Pacific time)

Hostage-held-at-gunpoint is the classic climax one always hears when force prevails over any rational, reasonable way out negotiated by any means. NOBODY else can know that instant when command justifies firing smashing-slug into head of the one holding gun on any hostage, two lives on thread. May well be only way out of otherwise impossible situation unknowable to even much closer observers than we can be. Fact remains that negotiated settlement, with or without prison for pirates but with safe return for captain, could surely have been better end than bloody deaths of three misguided, misplaced youth --of ANY nation, even the most misguided one of Somalia. All honor to those involved in desperate situation surely demanding desperate action. Disclosure: One grandson is Ranger serving o-seas; second is Navy scholarshiper at OSU. I glory in their service...

vic April 13, 2009 7:23 am (Pacific time)

Heres an interesting article re the "pirates". http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-you-are-being-lied-to-about-pirates-1225817.html

Vic April 13, 2009 7:06 am (Pacific time)

The families of the teenaged "pirates" were gathered at port to help end this. Then the Navy offered to negotiate...this was heading for a peaceful ending, but us Americans need blood to feel strong, so we acted like we were going to negotiate ("by way of deception thou shall wage war") and the brave navy snipers killed three hungry desperate teenagers. And yes, they were teenagers. They should not have started this, but we seem to have gotten our playbook from the Israelis..whenever a peaceful solution rears its ugly head, kill it.

Daniel Johnson April 12, 2009 9:52 pm (Pacific time)

To Anonymous: are you the same "anonymous" I have seen posting on other stories. What are you afraid of? You don't even have to use your own name here, so why not pick a pseudonym and at least appear to be real?

Henry Ruark April 12, 2009 8:15 pm (Pacific time)

Anon: "End of story" ? Hardly, sir...root cause still at work driving still more pirates to sea via desperation. Hardly, when many persons internationally will now never again trust any good faith "negotiation" by U.S. With boat in tow, one Somali aboard, many will see plot to set up killing in retaliation for kidnap. Right or wrong, this ending surely nowhere near as useful for all as if negotiation had been complete with all four Somalis alive, returned to family, captain freed, returned to beautiful town in Vt. I know well...not so far from Burlington, where edited daily owned by GOP guru Bill Loeb. This sounds like his kind of deal...

Anonymous April 12, 2009 6:26 pm (Pacific time)

Well, what the commander did was get one of the pirates to agree to come on board, ostensibly for “negotiating”. That was a ruse to make it so that there was one less target to deal with. So, the negotiating allowed them time to assess the situation and gather intel and see what their defenses were. Remember, the Navy sent out a small boat, earlier to test their defenses. Next, after getting one pirate on board, they also were trying to “be the nice guys” to the pirates and they offered to “tow” them. And the pirates agreed to the tow. So, the Navy set up a short tow line (makes for better shooting, doncha know) and started towing those pirates (down to only three in the lifeboat now...). After everything was “set up”, all they did was wait for a good shot for *all* of the pirates to be visible at once. They saw their shot and they took it. Remember they kidnapped this merchant captain and held weapons on him. End of story... :-)

Henry Ruark April 12, 2009 12:39 pm (Pacific time)

To all: How uch more potent for the American image worldwide if we could only have awaited the outcome of negotation --THEN if that failed, do what would have had to be done.

Henry Ruark April 12, 2009 12:48 pm (Pacific time)

To all: How much more potent for the American image worldwide if we could only have awaited the outcome of negotation --THEN if that failed, do what would have had to be done. All due credit to those facing the pirate guns;realize the deadly danger from a time or two in police coverage. IF small additional waiting time could have been utilized, we might have had much greater American worldwide gains for both patience and some basic understandings for the natural drive of Somalis, given the excruciating details in Tim's early report. But we must be thankful not one drone attacked the Coast, and not one shell was fired from that hugely complex, costly, ineffective cruiser. Re Pub's mouth-flap and very shameful but revealing charge of "spin" --wonder what she ever wrote, for which channel, and under what conditions ? IF this is her definition of "spin", she would not last long on any daily since would be insulting nearly every other writer-there...

Pub April 12, 2009 12:12 pm (Pacific time)

Umm ... Tim, Secretary Clinton DID call them pirates. In the very paragraph above where you claim she didn't. This may be the most blatant example I've seen of a "journalist" tring to spin a story to an ideological conclusion. I can't believe our press has fallen this far.

Tim King: Please, give me a break.  I'm actually writing a story about guys like you right now.  Here's the link for Hillary's verbatim quote.  That means it is exactly what she said.  Read it and weep, and try switching from beer to Dr. Pepper, it will do you wonders Pub  http://www.state.gov/

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