Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pulling the pirate problem "out of the box"

NB:Lex got me to thinking, "Hey, didn't I post on this..." Actually, I did, but it was stuck in Draft back in JUN!!! Buttonology could always be my weak spot. Well, time to bring it out now.
Both here and at The Castle Argghhh!!!, Eagle1, MilBlogs, The Commissar, the subject of the pirates of Somalia has gained a lot of interest - and a wide variety of ideas. One of John's readers and blogger himself, HeartlessLibertarian, in the comments section over at Argghhh!!! brought out an oldie but a goodie that is worth taking out of the locker and checking out.
The only legal issue I could think of is whether of not Letters of Marque have fallen out of favor with the international law crowd.

Because the Constitution still says Congress has the power to issue them.
We are told to think "out of the box," so why not look at it. When you look at The Constitution, in Article 1 we find,
Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
Letters of Marque. Now there is something out of the history books. It is more than "I will fight your pirates with my pirates" - no something more. Consider it "outsourcing" - doing jobs the US Navy can't or won't do. Maybe we could get some help from our friends South of the Border...

Anyway, back to the serious work. If you have not seen a Letter of Marque, go here for a collection of them. Below is an American one from 1812.
Letter of Marque carried by Captain Millin of the American privateer Prince of Neufchatel during the War of 1812.
James Madison, President of the United States of America,
To all who shall see these presents, Greeting:

BE IT KNOWN, That in pursuance of an act of congress, passed on the 26th day of June one thousand eight hundred and twelve, I have Commissioned, and by these presents do commission, the private armed Brig called the Prince Neufchatel of the burden of three hundred & Nineteen tons, or thereabouts, owned by John Ordronaux & Peter E. Trevall of the City & State of New York and Joseph Beylle of Philadelphia in the State of Pennsylvania Mounting eighteen carriage guns, and navigated by one hundred & twenty nine men, hereby authorizing Nicholas Millin captain, and William Stetson lieutenant of the said Brig and the other officers and crew thereof, to subdue, seize, and take any armed or unarmed British vessel, public or private, which shall be found within the jurisdictional limits of the United States, or elsewhere on the high seas, or within the waters of the British dominions, and such captured vessel, with her apparel, guns, and appertenances, and the goods or effects which shall be found on board the same, together with all the british persons and others who shall be found acting on board, to bring within some port of the United States; and also to retake any vessel, goods, and effects of the people of the United States, which may have been captured by any British armed vessel, in order that proceedings may be had concerning such capture or recapture in due form of law, and as to right and justice shall appertain. The said Nicholas Millin is further authorized to detain, seize, and take all vessels and effects, to whomsoever belonging, which shall be liabel thereto according to the law of nations and the rights of the United States as a power at war, and to bring the same within some port of the United States, in order that due proceedings may be had thereon. This commission to continue in force during the pleasure of the president of the United States for the time being.

GIVEN under my hand and seal of the United States of America, at the City of Washington, the twelfth day of December in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and fourteen and of the independence of the said states the thirty ninth.

Jas. Monroe, Secretary of State.
Not that I am saying we should do this, but what if we had such a version put together for Blackwater? $1 million for a pirate skiff, and $50 million for a mother ship? Just a thought. I am sure some lawyer type could modify the Letter of Marque to match the 21st Century. I don't think Blackwater would have any trouble finding crewmembers either. I doubt they would go the Q-ship idea though. I see a more pro-active pirate hunting by them.

Don't laugh - fun to think about if nothing else, and who knows; it might be better than what we are doing now, which is nothing.

PS: Speaking of things that you find boarding your craft that cost you lots of time and money and generally make a mess - look at the boarding party that has hoisted itself over at Chap's place.

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