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Black Pirates meted Southern Justice

Dutch NATO forces rescued 20 hostages off the coast of Africa last week without loss of life. They thwarted a pirate attack, confiscated the booty, but must release the captured pirates owing to International Maritime Law. Contrast this with American cowboy rules of engagement. Several US Navy warships faced a solitary lifeboat on which three teenage Somali pirated held hostage Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips. The covered lifeboat remained tethered to the stern of one of the Navy ships while negotiations, we're told, progressed. Going into day three, before the American TV audience could lose interest, US Navy Seals rescued the captive Phillips at a cost of a 100% casualty rate to the pirates. Although the DoD did not initially want to reveal its anti-pirate tactics, spokesmen have admitted that the "daring rescue" was in effect three precisely-simultaneous sniper shots to the heads of the three captors. The fourth pirate already having been entrusted to the US ship's custody for medical care. The captain freed, the wounded pirate's collateral was thus gone, and his grant of safe-passage was rescinded. The official story is that US infrared imagery revealed that the American captive's life was in danger. One of the pirates was holding a gun to his head, and this act prompted the snipers to intervene. Negotiations, apparently, were not proving fruitful. I'm guessing that this account reflects the exact opposite of what happened. The navy snipers had been holding their fire until the moment Captain Phillip was NOT in a pirate's crosshairs. Although the Somali pirates were just teens, I bet they knew from brutal experience, what most of us know from violent television, that holding your gun to a hostage's head is the only way to prevent your rivals from gunning you down. Trapped in a lifeboat, the pirates knew that high powered US weaponry would be trained upon each of their heat silhouettes. The moment their captive was not in the predicted trajectory of the crossfire, nor threatened by a collateral death-spasm squeeze of a trigger, the pirates would be toast. The rescue operation began with a greater-than-three number of US snipers aiming weapons at the little boat. The more the better, to assure that at every instant, complicated by the rocking and turning of the lifeboat in the waves, at least one sniper could claim one pirate, without the hostage laying vulnerable to leeward bullets. The images in the sniper scopes were wired to a director's console, where the determination could be made when all three targets were spoken for, and the order could be given to fire. The last hurdle remained for the pirate who held his gun on the hostage to drop his guard for just an instant, lest he squeeze off a round into the hostage. Wanna bet that's what happened? Great marksmanship, no question. Plenty of training no doubt. We can take nothing away from the heroism shown in braving responsibility for jeopardizing Captain Phillip's life. It is probably also a common law

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