Thursday, April 30, 2009

What Am I Thinking?

Guys, are you ever perplexed by women? 

The thing that drives me (most) insane about women in general and it applies to my beloved daughters is that they expect men to read their minds. 

I've been told before (living in a household of women) that they want us, meaning men, to anticipate their moods, needs and wants. 

it's impossible

Men are disarmingly simple creatures. Women give us too much credit for guile. The male brain revolves around sex, food and play. That's IT women. I've heard women say that it's insulting to women that men only think about those three things.
Uh, SORRY. We're men. We can't help it.

Don't get me wrong, balancing sex, food and play isn't as easy as it sounds. This life we men live requires a balance and it's usually not fulfilled to the extent it's needed. To an extent, sex can be offset by more toys and a meal. 

I do hear women say, "I don't understand men." 

I reply, "sex, food, toys." They shake their heads -- it can't be THAT simple.

Again, SORRY - it is.


A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mexico's Troubles

I met with some attorneys from Mexico yesterday and last night in my normal course of business. They flew up from Mexico City to meet me. While our discussions had nothing to do with the current national health concerns in that country, the flu is on everyone's mind. According to one very influential attorney (not a wild-eye'd crazy or conspiracy theorist by any means), the word in Mexico city is that over 5,000 people have died from the flu. Those numbers do NOT jibe with the word coming over the wire services. He said, "the people are poor, they can't afford medicine and they just die. If they don't go to the hospital, they're not counted."

People are trying to take precautions but most of those involve staying home, away from work and away from public places, further weakening an economy that was on its knees. Just about everything in Mexico City is closed and a horrible situation down there with the drug cartels is enhanced with fears of an epidemic ripping through the Mexico City slums. 

As an aside, in separate incidents, seven police officers were murdered by the drug cartels in Tijuana yesterday alone and another ten were wounded by gunfire. The cartels attacked several small police stations in the city and killed or wounded all the officers who happened to be inside. The death toll from organized crime murders is over 2,000 so far this year with a guess that the yearly number will top 8,000 by 2010. I don't have a precise number but there have been about 100 police officers murdered by organized crime/cartels in Mexico so far this year.

  • The first US Death from swine flu was reported today.
  • Researchers believe they located the first case of swine flu in the city of LaGloria, in Veracruz. And the first victim (a child) survived the illness.
  • Every public business in Mexico is closed until May 6th. To their credit, the Mexican government is clearly taking serious measures to deal with the crisis.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Death Valley - Ballarat

The Ballarat Trading Post, part of Old Death Valley that has been here since the days of the Gold Rush. The old cowboy runs the place, and it's part of the vanishing Old West. Ballarat is a long way from anywhere and there's nothing but the trading post that consists of a main room and a bedroom where the cowboy sleeps.
The Barker Ranch (above) was made famous as the hide out for the Charles Manson Family/cult in the 1960's. The ranch is the same now as it was when Manson lived there. Nobody has lived there since and it's one of many abandoned places in Death Valley. It's about a day's walk - maybe two - from Ballarat. The Mansons kidnapped two girls who escaped down the mountain to Ballarat and notified authorities.  Days after we left, somebody found another human skeleton not far from the house. After the cult killed people they kidnapped, they buried them in the hills in unmarked graves.
The Scorpion negotiating a mountain road.
My daughter, E-L, who likes to go off-road and to explore. She also likes to drive the rig on rough roads and is a good companion on these trips.

Tea Kettle Junction

Overlooking Death Valley from Chloride Cliffs. (CROSHAWK - not his real name - left and LL right) We both served in the Navy with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One, but at different times. My son-in-law, Braden took the photo (above). CROSHAWK came out to visit from where he is stationed on the East Coast for a visit and a romp in the dirt. 
There are a large number of odd things in Death Valley. This is a crossroads where people began leaving tea kettles. I don't know when the practice began, but when you go (and it's in the middle of nowhere), you are obliged to add to the collection.
There's nothing but old mining roads for hundreds of miles. Death Valley is a very big place.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea & Niger Delta

The Gulf of Guinea

The burgeoning profit that can be made by hoisting the "black flag" and becoming a pirate has been slowly migrating to the west coast of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea/Niger Delta.

The UK has taken proactive steps to train the Nigerian Navy in small boat tactics and combat operations in an effort to head off pirates in that area, but it's been less successful than it hoped to be in forming a maritime security training center. 

Some of the pirates operate against commercial oil interests as a branch of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a militant organization currently engaged in an "oil war". Others are merely criminals intent on making money through piracy. An April 15th  article by David Lewis (Reuters) provides an overview. (CLICK HERE) to read it.

The USS Nashville (LPD-13) - underway as part of the Africa Partnership Station -  is currently conducting training exercises off the Nigerian Coast to enable the Nigerians to deal more effectively with their maritime security problems. I do not wish to offend the captain or crew of the Nashville, but the problem is more than brief training sessions with the Nigerians can provide.  Nigerian pirates captured an oil vessel off the coast of Cameroon ten days ago. Where was the Nashville and what could her captain or the captains of other warships from other nations have done if they were in the immediate vicinity?

The clear solution is to unchain international warships by providing them rules of engagement which provide for swift and severe reactions to pirate incidents rather than binding them with bureaucratic red tape. Pirates engage in piracy because they are successful. Eliminate the fruits of success and they'll find something else to occupy their time.

Don't Tread On Me!

What's in a flag?
They are symbols and they make powerful statements.
For some obscure reason the US Department of Homeland Security identified these flags as those used by domestic terrorists and that people who display them must somehow be mistrusted. (Cite: MIAC report dated 20 FEB 09 - Modern Militia Movement)

The striped flag with the snake on it (below and right) is the US Navy's Jack - the flag currently flown on the jackstaff of all US Naval vessels. Does the position of the US Department of 
Homeland Security also call into question the loyalty of the US Navy in general? As a retired officer of that service, I find that whole line of thought to be odious. -- And quite frankly, absurd. The positions taken early by the Obama Administration has led to President Barack Obama's popularity with firearms manufacturers as "salesman of the year" since there has been a literal run on firearms and ammunition since he took office. The Obama Administration should consider pondering WHY people would feel insecure in their homes and in their lives to the extent that this would happen, rather than declaring that the earliest American symbols against tyranny somehow equate to "domestic terrorism".

Friday, April 24, 2009

Stolen from the WoFat Blog

This article appeared in the Daily Telegraph, Sydney, AUS and also appeared on WoFat's blog yesterday. He scooped me but I had to include it here for all of you:

A SEX-CRAZED housewife banned from making too much noise during sex after 25 complaints to police, has been arrested for breaching the order - just two days after it was imposed.

Caroline Cartwright was served the anti-social behaviour order in the UK last Friday after magistrates found he guilty of breaking an initial noise abatement order.

But by Sunday, the 47-year old had already breached the terms of her Asbo (restraining order) and was arrested by police officers.

Caroline remains defiant and, despite a second arrest yesterday and the threat of prison, she vowed to carry on with her love life.

"I'm not going to stop," she said. "I've been making the same noises since the Asbo was imposed, and this morning we were making noises for three hours.

"I can't stop making noise during sex, it's unnatural not to make any noises, and I don't think that I'm particularly loud."

--All I can add as your faithful blogger is YOU GO, GIRL!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Universal Health Care

Senator Edward Kennedy (D)-Mass and Senator Max Baucus (D)-Mont have assured the Obama Administration that the legislation for universal health care will be ready by June 09. (CLICK HERE)

Please write to your elected representatives and insist that members of Congress subject themselves to the same health care facilities to which the public will be subjected, not the separate and privileged Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) plan they currently enjoy at our expense.

With few exceptions, the current administration is comprised of lawyers. There can be little doubt that the final Universal Health Care Act will require private medical insurance accounts and health care providers. This will assure lawyers' job security (right to sue for malpractice claims). Will the cost of health care be lowered like standards will?

Of course not, check your local hospitals. Liability claims eat 40% - 60% of the typical hospitals budgeted allocations now. As standards further deteriorate and lawyers sue, these allocations will certainly rise. Lawyer job security, it seems, is destined to improve regardless of economic crises.

Psychotronic Weapons Research

This is an area where pseudo-science and science meet and the results sometimes seem bizarre at the least. For the most part, there is some agreement that there are biological effects to extremely low frequency magnetic fields. Can those fields be harnessed for the purpose of mind control? It's a question people have been asking for the past seventy years.

The Soviet Union and today, the Russian Federation has conducted significant research into developing Psychotronic weapons that could be employed both secretly and more overtly for the benefit of national policies. Some of the results of researchers such as Igor Smirnov (psychodiagnosis and psychodirection) have been viewed skeptically and without independent scientific review, experimenting with the same methods and obtaining the same results, many scientists will remain skeptical that targeted mind control is anything but a myth.

However, while you are rolling your eyes in disbelief, keep in mind that President Vladimir Putin signed a law into effect in Russia in 2001 making it "illegal to employ electromagnetic, infrasound radiators and other weapons of psychotronic influence with the intent to harm - in effect methods of harming or influencing humans at a distance". The Russians clearly believe that such methods have merit.

Israel and other nations including the US invested time and effort into researching psychotronic weapons. The Israelis attempted to use them to control the Palestinians and found that they didn't work. They used the methods that were developed by the military and security services of the former Soviet Union. CLICK HERE to read more on the subject.

How do I feel about the issue of psychotronic weapons? I'm keeping an open mind.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Irish Republican Army - Rebel Tunes

I'm very fond of Celtic tunes and the tunes I tend to like best are the rebel songs. Mary Black's songs:
Crow in the Cradle
The Shadow 

I know that if friends of mine at MI-5 (the name changes frequently these days) in Britain see this post, I'll get a telephone call or two.

It doesn't matter, I'm fond of war tunes and the Wolf Tones irrespective of all else. To name a few:

Plastic Bullets

Kevin Barry

Boys of the Old Brigade

The Broad Black Brimmer

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Russian Black Sea Fleet Order-of-Battle

Sometimes you need a program to tell who the players are. IF, and I'm not saying when, Russia invades Georgia, a large armored force will deploy south from South Ossetia to cut the country in half and another amphibious force will invade along the Black Sea Coast. This order of battle deals with the Russian force that would strike from the west.

Chief of Staff Vice Admiral P. G. Svyatashov

Black Sea Fleet - Naval Infantry
2 Independent Naval Infantry Battalions (reinforced)
1 Fleet Spetsnaz Brigade (reinforced)
250 Main battle tanks
300 Infantry fighting vehicles
200 Tube artillery

Black Sea Fleet - Naval Aviation (available for operations against Georgia)
1 Naval Attack Squadron (Su-17)
1 Independent Transport Squadron (An-24)
This could be reinforced from other commands.

Flagship - Moskva (Slava Class Cruiser)
11th Anti-Submarine Ship Brigade (3 cruisers, 1 destroyer, 2 guided missile frigates)
41st Missile Boat Brigade
68th Coastal Defense Warship Brigade
247th Submarine Battalion
197th Amphibious Ship Brigade

Russian naval infantry (marines)

Organized Crime, Piracy and al Qaeda - a comparison

A distinction can be drawn between clan based piracy and traditional organized crime only that one normally operates on land and pirates operate on the sea.  At sea, crimes can be easily hidden by the sinking of a ship (or of dead bodies) such that there is little evidence remaining, therefore the crime of piracy has historically been held to be among the most serious that can be committed.

Practically there is are few other differences. Elisaveta Aleksandrova, who follows this blog has made the comparison between the Russian mafia, kidnapping members/associates from the Bulgarian mafia in the modern world. She further points out that there is a point where mafia corruption touches the highest portions of the government and impacts government policies. She asks whether al Qaeda may have involvement with these mafias.

Mafia groups are selfish and guard their territory that provides them wealth. With the exception of the mafia in Chechnya (Чече́нская Респу́блика) which is largely sunni Muslim, organized crime groups in Russia and Bulgaria would be completely at odds with al Qaeda because of the philosophy that al Qaeda brings to its operations - which clearly mirror organized crime. There have been situations in the past were al Qaeda worked in concert with Islamic groups in Chechnya, but they seemed to be relationships of convenience rather than permanent alliances. Wahhabism (the conservative form of Islam practiced by al Qaeda) is so extreme that it is often incompatible with the way other Muslims view themselves and the world.

So while terror, kidnapping, murder, money laundering, and piracy would seem meld seamlessly between groups, it seldom does in the real world. There are other motivations that have to do with territory and personal enrichment that often get in the way of cooperation. 

Organized crime is parasitic. It needs legitimate business to continue in order for it to exist. It needs to corrupt governments to aid its efforts. The criminal goal is to make money.

Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization because its goals are political - it wants to turn back the clock so we can all live in a strict Islamic world in the way the religion was practiced in the first three centuries after it was founded under Muhammad and the Salaf (السلف الصالح‎) 

Piracy & Somalia Revisited

There are some in the West who believe that the political situation in Somalia can be solved through an international commission doing this or that. There have been fourteen such initiatives since 1991. Care to guess how many of them have achieved ANYTHING positive? Another United Nations initiative seems to be as neutered at the outset as the UN is itself.

The Horn of Africa is a strategic choke point for shipping transit and surrendering the territory to radical islamist organizations (including al Qaeda) should be avoided. At present Somalia is governed by a weak Islamic government with little control or legitimacy outside the capitol. The reality is and has been that clans rule the country on a regional basis. Calling Somalia a country is a term of art, not reflected by the reality on the ground.

Political choices: The Pirates (anti-al Qaeda) or the al Shaabab (pro-al Qaeda).  Not much of a choice.

Recommendations for the US - 
  • Keep an Amphibious Ready Group in the straits between Yemen and Somalia to protect US interests and to support our NATO allies as required. 
  • Avoid the temptation to engage the Somali clans on the ground (either the pirates or al-Qaeda win) because there is absolutely no winning strategy there. Somalia is one of those hell holes that's not worth one American life.
  • Establish a proactive stance at sea where Somali pirate ships are engaged at will by US forces. (more or less shoot first and ask questions later at sea) The presence of armed Somali civilian craft in the area constitute a clear and present danger to shipping.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thai Pirates - Crime of Opportunity

During the 1980's Viet Nam went through a period of ethnic cleansing during which time Vietnamese people who had ethnic Chinese roots were encouraged to leave the country. These refugees were the so-called "boat people".  Though statistics are not precise, they numbered between 500,000 and 600,000.

The boats they sailed in were essentially "floating junk" and they were inevitably overcrowded and once at sea, those onboard found they didn't take enough food or water with them. They were vulnerable in every sense of the word. Some people took what wealth they had in the form of gold and silver "thin ingots" often called "taels", though a tael is a measurement of weight. 

Thai fisherman, in an effort to separate these people from their money and to take women as slaves or for their own purposes from the ships turned to piracy in large numbers. CLICK HERE  -- and HERE for more information. The lucky women were sold as sex slaves in brothels in Thailand. The unlucky ones were used, and were tossed into the waves. The links provided above, document people who didn't make it, and of the ships that were not sunk (if they sank we have no record of them) also document the number of times they were attacked (by different pirates).

There was no cry from the international community because there was nothing to ransom and no nation wanted to take responsibility for the refugees they saved. 
As a footnote: The USS Dubuque LPD-8 (above)  (CLICK HERE) did not stop and render aid to a Vietnamese refugee boat in the South China Sea. The refugees resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. 58 people were died/eaten by other passengers. The commanding officer, Captain Alexander Balian, USN was relieved of command of his ship, but claimed that he was acting under standing orders not to assist refugees on the high seas. I suspect that his claim was sincere and that there was a policy in place.

Piracy - Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

The Tamil people's liberation (terrorist) movement (LTTE) is currently foundering after a forty year effort to break off from Sri Lanka (Island of Ceylon). The government of Sri Lanka has pushed them into the northern portion of the country and the armed resistance is using the civilian population as human shields as the are they control is diminished and as the apparent end draws nigh. 

Piracy on the high seas is one of the means used by the LTTE to fund itself. The Sea Tigers is the naval arm of the LTTE and over the past years, it was a significant threat to the Sri Lankan Navy. According to a 2006 publication of the Woodrow Wilson school of Politics and International Studies, the Sea Tigers destroyed up to 50% of the Sri Lankan navy.  That activity has diminished in recent months (CLICK HERE) as the territory the LTTE controls shrank. In February, the Sri Lankan military captured the Sea Tiger naval base at Mullaitivu.
Among craft captured was the Sea Tiger submarine (above). 

As the threat of high seas piracy from the LTTE Sea Tigers diminishes, pirates that are not aligned with this movement remain in the general eastern Indian Ocean, making transits by small craft more at risk than they would otherwise be.

Vessels taken  in acts of piracy by the Sea Tigers include: Irish Mona, Princess Wave, Athena, Misen, Morong Bong, Cordiality, Princess Kash, Farah III, and the Sik Yang.

Somali Pirate- al Qaeda Connection?

To spite the speculation that there is such a connection - and everyone seems keen to make one - I'll argue here that it's unlikely to exist to spite al Queda's likely interest to form some sort of common cause with the pirates. In presenting this argument, I relied on several sources outside of my own general knowledge including discussions with friends who have more or less forgotten far more than I will ever know on the subject. This is a blog, not an in-depth analysis. I'm trying to make the complex situation in the area a bit more simple, not to patronize the reader, but to make the issue as clear as possible to people with a passing interest in the subject.

The first and most obvious difference between al Qaeda and the Somali pirates is ideology. The pirates are driven by greed and criminal intentions whereas al Qaeda derives it's "legitimacy" from its ideological background and goals.

Secondly, there is a difference in structure and culture between the typical and classic al Qaeda organization and the clans that dominate Somali social structure and to the extent that it exists, the culture. 

Thirdly, politics in Somalia is based on clan warfare where several clans are at war with each other for control of the country.

To date, al Qaeda's inroads into Somali Muslims have been made among the Hawiye clan in Central Somalia. Trained al Qaeda operatives work within and operate under the protection of this clan but don't control or influence much within the politics of the clan itself.

The Somali pirates are members of the Darood clan, the principal rival of the Hawiye clan, and operate out of Northeastern Somalia. The pirates launch their attacks from coves on the northern coast of the Puntland region into the Gulf of Aden. To date, hijacked ships have been taken back to those coves where they hold the ships and conduct negotiations.  Darood clansmen in Puntland, conspiring with regional government officials, are not going to let their rivals among the Hawiye come into their area and take over their lucrative piracy operations.

Al Qaeda publicists would like to jump on the back of the successful Somali pirates whether they enjoy any association or not. It simply makes al Qaeda look more powerful. It is POSSIBLE, though I have no proof, that the Yemeni "mother ship" in operation this past week might have an al Qaeda nexus of some sort. If true, it would be an interesting development and one to watch closely.

Said Ali Jabir Al Khathim Al Shihri (aka Abu Sufian al Azdi), a senior Saudi al Qaeda operative in operating in Yemen called on Somali jihadists to increase their strikes “against the crusaders at sea and in Djibouti.” He said, “The crusaders, the Jews and the traitorous rulers did not come to the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden except to wage war against you in Somalia and abolish your newly established emirate, and by Allah, they shall be defeated. They shall bring a curse upon their people.”  Al Shihri was captured in Afghanistan in Dec. 2001 and was released from Guantanamo Bay six years later to the Saudi government. He now says "By Allah we shall open against them (non-Wahabbis)  a major front in the Arabian Peninsula.”

So while the pirates have no reason to make common cause with al Qaeda, alQaeda does have significant motivation to ally itself with the pirates. It's something to watch, something to blog about from time to time and from a Western perspective, it will be interesting to see what moves (if any) Washington makes.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dealing with Pirates

"There is not in all America a more dangerous trait 
than the deification of mere smartness 
unaccompanied by any sense of 
moral responsibility."
Pres. Theodore Roosevelt 
- a speech made at Abilene, KS, May 2, 1903

Photo above - of Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, US Army and the 1st Volunteer Cavalry Regiment (Rough Riders).

He is the last man who held the office of President of the United States that I personally admire. He knew how to deal with Pirates, he knew how to deal with people who abused US Citizens and he was a rampant conservationist, pushing for the creation of a National Park System. President Roosevelt was not shy about sending the "Great White Fleet" to protect Americans and American interests, yet his oft spoken motto was, "Walk softly and carry a big stick." He was responsible for the Panama Canal - that was given back to Panama in modern times...

When an Ilio and Eden Pedecaris and their two children were kidnapped by the Berber sharif, Mulai el Raisuni [and pirate] ) pictured right, President Roosevelt declared, "Pedecaris alive or Raisuli dead!" US Marines landed at Tangiers and deposed the Pashaw of Tangiers because he did not aid in the repatriation of the Pedecaris family. The story was popularized in a very good movie, "The Wind and the Lion" written and directed by John Milius.

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

"Citizenship in a Republic,"    Speech delivered by Pres. Roosevelt at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

Paying Ransom to Pirates

A good article on BBC dealing with ransom paid to pirates can be accessed by CLICKING HERE

I understand how insurance works, but paying Somali pirates $1 million to $3 million per incident is one of the reasons that the problem has become so rampant. Ransom is always a bad idea as it encourages every Somali with a motor boat and and an RPG launcher with a dozen rockets to go into the pirate business. In a sense I can't blame them. If the pirate's carcasses washed up on shore with the tide, I suspect the whole enterprise might be less attractive.

Clear Policy on Piracy Needed

I've commented and I've criticized the problem of political inaction on the subject of piracy. The International Marine Bureau reports that at least 80 ships have been attacked on the high seas by Somali pirates in the Horn of Africa area since January 1, 2009. Of those, 19 have been seized by pirates who subsequently held the ships and their crews for ransom. 

Piracy on the high seas is not a new crime. In fact it's one of the oldest and there is a clear body of law that snakes back into antiquity. The only way to deal with pirates is with swift, severe and certain action. US President Obama is new at this, so he can be excused to some extent for not understanding the requirements of military operations. While I am clearly not usually an apologist for Pres. Obama, I hope he learns from this situation. I am surprised that the Dutch (who I have personally worked with and find to be VERY GOOD) were hamstrung by laws to the extent that they have not been able to be effective in rendering the pirates permanently harmless. 

Sending NATO ships into the area is a complete waste of time unless the rules of engagements are modified from their present standing. Ship's captains should be allowed to exercise their initiative in dealing with pirates as legal tradition and precedence allows.

Canadian sailors on the warship Winnipeg, part of the NATO mission, meanwhile helped ward off a suspected pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden on April 17, Sky News said today, citing Michael McWhinnie, a spokesman on the ship. The Winnipeg sent a helicopter after a civilian vessel reported that four people in a skiff were firing at it, according to Sky. The suspects fled, throwing their arms overboard; they were caught hours later and released after questioning, according to Sky. (Jones Hayden and Maud van Gaal - Bloomberg April 19, 2009)

One wonders what the Canadians learned from the pirates and why they were not held --  and why the Winnipeg's helicopter did not return fire after being fired upon and kill everyone in what was clearly a pirate skiff. I wasn't there, I'll withhold judgment. I'm simply curious, but I know the answer. Political realities tie the hands of military ship's captains. None of this serves to end piracy and only tends to encourage more of it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Piracy Laws

Piracy is important  in international law as it is commonly held to represent the earliest invocation of the concept of universal jurisdiction. The crime of piracy is considered a breach of jus cogens, a conventional peremptory international norm that states must uphold. Those committing thefts on the high seas, inhibiting trade, and endangering maritime communication are considered by sovereign states to be hostis humani generis (enemies of humanity) [source Wikipedia].

In the United States, criminal prosecution of piracy is authorized in the U.S. Constitution, Art. I Sec. 8 cl. 10The Congress shall have Power ... To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations.

In English admiralty law, piracy was defined as petit treason during the medieval period, and offenders were accordingly liable to be drawn and quartered on conviction. Piracy was redefined as a felony during the reign of Henry VIII. In either case, piracy cases were cognizable in the courts of the Lord High Admiral. English admiralty vice-admiralty judges emphasized that "neither Faith nor Oath is to be kept" with pirates; i.e. contracts with pirates and oaths sworn to them were not legally binding. In 2008 the British Foreign Office advised the Royal Navy not to detain pirates of certain nationalities as they might be able to claim asylum in Britain under British human rights legislation, if their national laws included execution, or mutilation as a judicial punishment for crimes committed as pirates. (Huh?)

Pirates were legally subject to summary execution by their captors if captured in battle. In practice, instances of summary justice and annulment of oaths and contracts involving pirates do not appear to have been common.

Since piracy often takes place outside the territorial waters of any state, the prosecution of pirates by sovereign states represents a complex legal situation. The prosecution of pirates on the high seas contravenes the conventional freedom of the high seas. However, because of universal jurisdiction, action can be taken against pirates without objection from the flag state of the pirate vessel. This represents an exception to the principle extra territorium jus dicenti impune non paretur (the judgment of one who is exceeding his territorial jurisdiction may be disobeyed with impunity).

In the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982, and the International Maritime Bureau define "maritime piracy".

Pirates seize Belgium Ship

Somali Pirate

I relied substantially on an AP wire article for this posting by Todd Pitman and Katharine Houreld.
Today NATO/Dutch forces rescued twenty fishermen from pirates who launched the latest attack today, but then they let the pirates go because they had no authority to arrest/detain them. 

Please, somebody tell me what I'm missing here. I understand that I may not be bright enough to grasp the concept of freeing hostages and then releasing the pirates who seized them on the high seas.

Pirates took a Belgian-flagged ship carrying 10 foreign crew near the Seychelles islands and have started hauling it toward Somalia today. 

AP reporters quoted London based piracy expert Roger Middleton who told them, "There isn't a silver bullet" to solve the problem. He said it's common for patrolling warships to disarm then free brigands because they rarely have jurisdiction to hold/try them. Middleton, the U.K.-based piracy expert, said NATO sees its "main role as deterring and disrupting pirate activity" — not prosecuting brigands.
Pirates have attacked more than 80 boats this year alone, nearly four times the number assaulted in 2003, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based International Maritime Bureau. They now hold at least 18 ships and over 310 crew hostage, according to an Associated Press count.
The first attack Saturday occurred in the pre-dawn darkness, when pirates hijacked the Belgian-flagged SS Pompei a few hundred miles (kilometers) north of the Seychelles, said Portuguese Lt. Cmdr. Alexandre Santos Fernandes, who is traveling with a NATO fleet patrolling further north in the Gulf of Aden.
Belgium officials said the ship sounded three alarms indicating it was under attack as it headed toward the palm-fringed islands, a high-end tourist destination, with a cargo of concrete and stones. The dredging ship had 10 crew: two Belgians, one Dutch, three Filipinos and four Croatians, Fernandes said.
As pirates steered the ship slowly northwest toward Somalia, 430 miles (700 kilometers) away, a Spanish military ship, a French frigate and a French scout ship all steamed toward the area to try to intercept it.
In Brussels, government officials held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation and possible intervention. "There is no contact with the pirates, not with the crew, not with any other parties," Jaak Raes, director general of the Belgian Crisis Center, told reporters. "We are sure that the ship now is heading to the coast of Somalia."
In a second attack later Saturday, pirates on a small white skiff fired small arms and rockets at a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker. Fernandes said the ship, the SS Handytankers Magic, issued a distress call shortly after dawn but escaped the pirates using "speed and maneuvers."
The attack occurred in the Gulf of Aden, a vital short cut between Europe and Asia and one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.
A Dutch frigate from the NATO force responded immediately to the distress call and trailed the pirates to a Yemeni-flagged fishing dhow the brigands had seized Thursday, Fernandes said. The bandits were using the Yemeni vessel as a "mother ship," a larger vessel that allows the pirates' tiny motorboats to hitch rides hundreds of kilometers off the Somali coast, greatly expanding their range.
The pirates climbed into the dhow and Dutch marine commandos followed soon after, freeing 20 fishermen whose nationalities were not known. Fernandes said there was no exchange of fire and Dutch forces seized seven automatic weapons and one rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
Pirates plucked from the sea by foreign militaries are being tried abroad. French soldiers take pirates who have attacked French citizens to Paris; pirates who have attacked other nations are hauled to Kenya, such as the 11 seized Wednesday when the French navy found them stalking a Lebanese-owned ship. India took 24 suspects to Yemen, since half were from there. The Dutch took five suspects to Rotterdam, where they probably will be tried next month under a 17th-century law against "sea robbery."
And Wal-i-Musi, the Somali teen who was one of four pirates who tried to hijack the SS Maersk Alabama this month, will be sent to New York to face trial. The three other pirates with Wal-i-Musi were shot dead by U.S. Navy snipers who freed the ship's 53-year-old captain, Richard Phillips, in a dramatic rescue a week ago.
The vast majority of detained pirates are set free to wreak havoc again because of legal barriers to prosecuting them. It can be difficult or impossible for prosecutors to assemble witnesses scattered across the globe and find translators. Many countries are wary of hauling in pirates for trial for fear of being saddled with them after they serve their prison terms.
Why aren't they tried, hanged and then buried at sea in a weighted sack?

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