Captain Phillips freed, 3 pirates killed

posted at 1:45 pm on April 12, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Here’s a happy ending on Easter Sunday for Hot Air readers.  Captain Richard Phillips is now free from the pirates holding him hostage, and three of the four captors are now free of oxygen use as a result:

U.S. intelligence official tells the Associated Press Sunday that an American sea captain held hostage by Somali pirates has been freed and was safe aboard a Navy ship. Three of the pirates were killed and one was in custody, according to the official.

U.S. warships and helicopters had been stalking the lifeboat holding Capt. Richard Phillips and his four Somali captors as a Somali official and others reported earlier that negotiations for his release had broken down. …

“The negotiations between the elders and American officials have broken down. The reason is American officials wanted to arrest the pirates in Puntland and elders refused the arrest of the pirates,” said the commissioner, Abdi Aziz Aw Yusuf. He said he organized initial contacts between the elders and the Americans.

Two other Somalis, one involved in the negotiations and another in contact with the pirates, also said the talks collapsed because of the U.S. insistence that the pirates be arrested and brought to justice.

Looks like we brought three of them to justice.  The fourth will get more protection than he deserves, but at least we’ve freed the captain and delivered something of a message.  We’re not going to let pirates run free, and if “elders” think we will, they found out differently today.

From now on, though, the “negotiations” should be us telling the pirates and their envoys that if they surrender, we’ll let them live.  If not, no quarter.  That should be our first and last offer.  If we keep dancing around with Somali “elders” and treat pirates like bank robbers, we’re going to be doing a lot more of these negotiations in the future.

Update: Second time’s the charm.  Phillips jumped overboard again, and this time, the Navy was ready to take out the pirates.  Great work, Navy!

Update II: Looks like the initial reports were incorrect.  After being authorized to use force by President Obama, Navy SEALs took their shots when it appeared the pirates were about to shoot Phillips.  Kudos to the SEALs, and kudos to Obama for making the right call.  If this had gone badly, he would have taken the blame, so it’s fair to credit him with taking the steps necessary to finally bring this to a happy conclusion.

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