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Pirate’s tale / May 14, 2009
Dear Viewpoint:

Pirate’s Tale - The world was recently treated to a spectacular rescue of Captain Phillip from Somali pirates by the U.S.S. Bainbridge SEAL team. The President, his administration and its supporters claimed victory against pirates in the Indian Ocean, declaring questions as to the lack of experience, toughness and decisiveness of President Obama had been resolved. The facts speak differently.

The standoff, which should have only lasted a few hours, dragged on for four days. The President did not authorize the SEAL teams to the scene for 36 hours, against the OSC’s (on scene commander) recommendation. Upon their arrival, Obama imposed restrictions upon the SEALS refusing to allow any deadly action unless the life of the hostage was in “imminent danger.” The only outcome acceptable to the President was a “peaceful solution.”

The first time Captain Phillips jumped into the water the SEALs had the pirates in their sights but could not fire due to the restrictions imposed by Obama. When the pirates fired on the Navy boat bringing supplies, the SEALs again were prevented from firing on the pirates by the restrictions placed in them by the President. Two rescue plans developed by the Bainbridge Commander and the SEAL team were specifically denied by the President. After the Bainbridge Commander and the Seal team leader decided that they had authority solely determine risk to the hostage, the SEALs took action and eliminated the pirates.

The President and his supporters, as expected, immediately claimed credit for his “daring and decisive” actions.

This situation, which should have been ended shortly after the Bainbridge steamed to the location, instead became an embarrassing four day plus standoff between a ragtag handful of criminals with rifles and a U.S. Navy warship. Police Department swat team leaders in the United States are allowed to make decisions as to when to fire, but the president did not trust the judgment of a Naval Commander and Seal team leader. Even worse, the individual responsible for maintaining the safety of citizens of the United States, the President, showed that he could easily be lead into an embarrassing situation by individuals who have little education and certainly did not graduate from Harvard. His indecisiveness and meekness only serve to put U.S. citizens and U.S. interests at home and abroad at risk, and subjects to the United States to world-wide ridicule not seen since the days of Jimmy Carter.

Barry Bank

South Boston

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