Reporting on the Somalia Pirate’s attack on the Maersk Line’s freighter has to be one of the most confusing reporting jobs since the one on Obama’s economic bailouts. Every story introduces details that contradict the previous one. However, putting that aside, last week was a bad week for the burgeoning Somalia Pirate business.
First, a group of four teenagers armed with AK 47s attempted to hijack a U.S. Flagged freighter, the Maersk Alabama, which had a 20-man U.S. crew. When the crew declined the pirate’s invitation to surrender, the young buccaneers attempted to flee in a boat not equipped with a motor, taking the freighter‘s captain, Richard Phillips as hostage. Evidently, something had happened to their boat while they were aboard the freighter. Details are sketchy on this part of the story. It either failed to start, was sunk by the Maersk crew or sunk on its own. Reports vary.
After four days adrift in the Indian Ocean, three snipers from the USS Bainbridge, a Navy Destroyer dispatched to the scene earlier, shot and killed three of the pirates and freed Captain Phillips. The sharpshooters fired from the fantail of the Navy destroyer, or from a raft that had been dropped from a helicopter, or while floating nearby in the water, according to varying reports in the media. In any case, the skill exhibited by the three Navy Seals was flawless. Three simultaneous shots, three dead pirates.
In addition to losing three-fourths of the pirate crew, a further threat to the future of the pirate business was created by the U.S. media. It had a field day Sunday and Monday, praising President Obama for his courage, decisiveness and wisdom in handling the matter, while at the same time, predicting dire retaliation from the pirate industry. As for the President, after three days of silence, he finally bowed to pressure and turned the matter over to the Department of Defense.
Seeing the successful outcome of the rescue and the praise of the media it produced for himself, President Obama decided to do a “Thomas Jefferson” and get tough–kinda. In a statement Monday, he vowed, “to halt the rise of piracy”.
“I want to be very clear that we are resolved to halt the rise of piracy in that region and to achieve that goal, we’re going to have to continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks,” Obama said on Monday.
As is often the case with the media, the real hero goes without praise. In this episode, there were two genuine, good old-fashioned American heroes. The first one of course, was Captain Richard Phillips who risked death by surrendering to the pirates while alerting his crew to the attack and giving them time to avoid capture themselves. The second hero was the Commander who made the split-second decision to take the shots.
I searched more than a half-dozen articles in vain, trying to find out who the commander was who gave the order, without success. The real hero in this case is identified only as “the on-scene Commander” by Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. The unidentified commander and Captain Phillips were the only two who deliberately risked their own safety in order to save others, the real definition of a hero.
Had something gone wrong at the last minute resulting in harm to Captain Phillips, the one who made the decision to shoot would certainly have been “hung out to dry” by the media, the President and the Navy Command, in the best CYA political tradition. His career progress would have been cut short at least, if he was not reassigned to a patrol boat in N.Y. Harbor. America owes a big “THANK YOU” to this unnamed hero.