Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why we have yardarms ...

Lawfare ... oh good grief.
A federal judge today threw out the piracy charge against six Somalis accused of attacking the Little Creek-based Ashland, dealing a blow to the government’s attempt to revive a piracy statute that had not been used in nearly 200 years.

The Somalis still face seven other charges in the April 10 attack on the Ashland off the coast of Africa, but the piracy charge carried the harshest penalty – life in prison. They remain accused of firing on the Navy ship.

“The court finds that the government has failed to establish that any unauthorized acts of violence or aggression committed on the high seas constitutes piracy,” U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson says in his ruling.
I guess they were just skeet shooting.

Some day I must visit that curious world some of our Judges live in. In this case, a Clinton Appointee.

64 comments:

AW1 Tim said...

In future situations, it seems to me that a better course of action would be for the Commanding Officer to hold court on the Quarterdeck, then hang the bastards. Video tape it all and send copies to the appropriate offices. Muster the crew topside as wirnesses. Throw the bodies into the sea.

The lawdrae crap needs to stop, and that right quickly. Our Constitution is NOT a suicide pact to be used to our enemy's advantage.

AW1 Tim said...

That should be "wtnesses" and "lawfare". My apologies to the spelling fairies.

Redeye80 said...

The Ashland should have claimed self-defense and blew the bastards out of the water.

Guest said...

Cheap shot at the judge being a Clinton appointee.

If you read his whole decision maybe you could look past bias.

DeltaBravo said...

Maybe they weren't technically pirates yet because they didn't clamber aboard? 

Let's face it... we didn't want to pay for their room and board for the rest of their lives anyway.  We don't want word getting around that you can live in an American prison and get free food and a bed for the rest of your life if you shoot at an American ship.   They'll be on us like ants at a picnic.  (American prison > than Somalia right now)

If it happens again, use them for target practice.  Repel all boarders!

DJ Elliott said...

Unfortunately, the same reason we ask permission to ring 8 bells at noon applies.  COs lost high judicial authority in 1849...

Southern Air Pirate said...

Okay so USC Title 18, Chapter 81, sub section 1651 says: "Whoever, on the high seas, commits the crime of piracy as defined by the law of nations, and is afterwards brought into or found in the United States, shall be imprisoned for life." How can the laws of nations be vague in this sense? I mean most of our Admiralty Law is cut almost whole cloth from UK, Dutch, and other Admiralty law? I am so confused. I would think that shooting up in the air and not across the bow of the USS Ashland would have been a preferred siginaling form to get thier attention. I mean do you wave a gun at a cop and then shoot at thier car to get their attention? Or am I making this too simple and just in over my head again?

Casey Tompkins said...

What, the decision that "<span>unauthorized acts of violence or aggression committed on the high seas [don't] constitute piracy?"</span>

That's about as dumb as saying "unauthorized acts of violence or aggression committed on a public street don't constitute assault."

ewok40k said...

poor captain Kidd, he would avoid hanging , and probably even prison if he was living today...

d-rock said...

The judge has a shitty resume.  Norfolk State?  Come on!

C-dore 14 said...

ewok, If you get the opportunity you should read <span>The Pirate Hunter</span> by Richard Zacks.  His conclusion is that Capt. Kidd was as much a fool as anything else and his trial and execution was primarily to "cover the tracks" of the upper class investors in a failed pirate-hunting scheme.

Old NFO said...

Like the Mosque thing, we have to bend over backwards at all times to prove how open, tolerant and sweet we are.  Kill pirates?  Why certainly not, we wouldn't want anyone to think crapping on us carried consequences.  

mark said...

Something is wrong with your diction there, Redeye.  "should have blown the bastards out of the water" sounds better, but probably violates tenants of the modern Navie's civility and diversity standards.  All the same, they should have blown them away.

ewok40k said...

mea culpa for throwing in an example of victim of blurred lines between piracy and privateering (not first , as examples like Sir Walter Raleigh abound in history...), but he is perhaps the most famous pirate to be hanged...
as for the judge, maybe if his own private yacht was boarded at gunpoint he would see the definition of piracy in action...

ewok40k said...

Well, it's rather a case where bank robbery charge is dropped because criminals mistook the police station for a bank :P

LT B said...

Low freeboard, slow ships, loaded w/ shooters that pop out upon provocation.  Piracy DOES have a solution.  Obama has just denied it and tried to treat them like kids who knocked over the corner store.  He and the Americans that voted for him are idiots. 

Our judicial system has long been derided by the cops that have to deal with that arm of the government.  They consistently show poor, um, er, what's the word?  Oh yeah, judgement.

cdrsalamander said...

Dude - easy with the knees.  Last judge I mentioned ... I noted he was a Bush 41 judge.

Now who has the bias ..... I didn't see you jump in there.

LT B said...

More judicial crap!:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/08/17/appeals-court-panel-law-faking-receipt-military-medals-unconstitutional/?test=latestnews

SWOINATOR said...

I am going to start wearing a robe and pretending to be a judge!  After all, it is my right.  Of course many of those who are wear them right now are also pretending to be judges. >:o

SWOINATOR said...

<span>I am actually shocked this "judge" didn't call out the ASHLAND's CO for unlawful detaining or firing on a civilian (I believe USN warning shots were fired but I may be wrong(!  Afterall, they are just hard working guys trying to make a liviing... right? 
 
I read this before Sal's post and wanted to vomit.  My AM coffee is coming up again.</span>

Grumpy Old Ham said...

Easy there, big fella...the Diversity mafia is listening...

Meanwhile, Thomas Jefferson weeps.

Salty Gator said...

shame on the gunnery liaison officer for saying "cease fire."  Keep shooting until it is sunk next time.  Maybe if we lose a few members of the SCAT team we'll sink them next time.  Probably not.  They'll just get sent down to GTMO and given "life skills" classes.

This administration makes me sick.  Way to suck at life.  Could they please just not suck at something?

Salty Gator said...

not entirely true.  UCMJ has provisions for commanding officers to conduct courts martials and pass summary judgement.  Having been engaged by pirates, the CO's--if they had the testicular fortitude--would have the legal right to try them as illegal combatants and execute them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lesson.  I guess I spent more time on how to kill people than proper English.  My bad.

Redeye80 said...

Oops, that was me.  Coffee, where my coffee?

Aubrey said...

Galrahn made a point in his post about this over at USNI that I think is on point here - he mentions protests, and points out that this ruling seemingly protects GreenPeace and CodePink and anyone else who wants to board a ship as an "act of disobedience" from charges of piracy. While I don't know that the ruling has that specifically in mind, in a day and age where there is a relatively popular reality TV show specifically about a group that pushes the edge of piracy as far as they can, that unspoken motive cannot be discounted.

And I think it is utter crap - if you enter my house, I get to defend myself and my property. If you attempt to come on board my ship, the same.  If my ship happens to be big and grey and filled with blue camouflage I get to do it with bigger guns and more people. If attacking a USN vessel has zero risked attached to it, we are in deep s%#t.

Aubrey said...

This is why we should just put the Marines in charge of pirate hunting: "Uhh, prisoners? They shot at us." 

The history nerd in me has this mental picture of URR on the quarterdeck of the Constitution with a cigar and a 9 pounder full of grapeshot...problem solved. :-D

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Coming to a courtroom near you (if you live in NYC):

<span>"A federal judge today threw out the terrorism charges against six Al-Qaeda suspects accused of attacking the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, dealing a blow to the government’s attempt to treat mass murder of American citizens in an act of war as a law enforcement issue.

The defendants still face other charges in the September 11th attack on the Manhattan landmarks, but the terrorism charge carried the harshest penalty – life in prison. They remain accused of misdemeanor explosives charges and denying civil rights to the 2,600 Americans killed in the attacks.

“The court finds that the government has failed to establish that any unauthorized acts of violence or aggression committed on American soil constitutes terrorism,” U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson says in his ruling."</span>

Andy said...

My basic comments here:
http://blog.usni.org/2010/08/17/judge-rules-attempting-to-hijack-us-navy-ships-isnt-piracy/

Essentially, the judge bought into the defense's argument that in order to have a case for actual piracy, the pirates need to board, seize and/or loot the vessel in question.  A lot like the case where the accused intentionally shoots, but does not kill the victim.  It becomes a charge of "attempted muder" not actual murder.  I most repsectfully demur from the judge's holding in this case.  I can assure you that in all likelihood this case will be appealed to SCOTUS.  I also expect that should that happen, the Court's opinion in the case will look to both US statutory law and other court holdings, but also to (gasp! choke!) the oft reveiled international law, just as Congress did in the language of USC 18:81(1651) linked below. (full disclosure: I had the choice of PG School or law school on my own dime.  I chose law school.  I did not serve as a JAG)  I would argue that all it takes is the intent to commit piracy and if you capture pirates in the attempt, they should be tried as pirates.  Just becuase they failed doesn't make them attempted pirates.

The Federal prosecutor's office in this case was no doubt under intense pressure from AG Holder, et. al. to bring charges hastily in order to reduce the issue becoming a political football for the WH. If at all possible, a way should have been found to try this case in Admiralty Court (mainly civil cases, however) rather than a Federal criminal court.

Bottom line? A lot of people screwed this up, all of whom were presuming this was a "slam dunk." No such thing until the judge's gavel comes down after the guilty verdict is read.

Grumpy Old Ham said...

<span>...there is a relatively popular reality TV show specifically about a group that pushes the edge of piracy as far as they can, that unspoken motive cannot be discounted</span>

As far as I'm concerned, Green"peace" and that bunch *are* pirates and ought to be liable for the damages they cause.  Hell, IIRC the latter bunch even fly the Jolly Roger on their ship -- I don't watch the show for the same reason I don't watch other shows that promote viewpoints or organizations I don't support, but my kids watch Animal Planet and it's hard to miss the commercials for it.

Grumpy Old Ham said...

Heck, I'd buy a lithograph of that image for a dollar....

Anonymous said...

URR was at the Maintop with a rifle last time we did this. I was the lookout on the footrope for the yardarm of the Mizzen skysail. BM1 Davy Jones sent me up there. Why? One didn't ask Davy any questions any more than Captain Jones himself.

LT B said...

I said the same thing today.  Hell, we have a new SCOTUS judge that has not even been a judge, right? 

LT B said...

Attempted piracy does not make them "not pirates," but rather poorly executing pirates.  We have given them a chance to learn, improve their capabilities along w/ collecting intel on what is admissable and how to work the legal system w/ the help of lawyers that would work for the ACLU, et al.  There is a way to handle pirates and by my view it means violently wiping them out or changing their economic motivations.

Southern Air Pirate said...

So what your saying is that the DoJ lawyers basically had a switchology failure and that is why the weapon failed to release? In that case then I think DoJ is hosing themselves, because they should have had a study group looking at how to make a case like this stick in our court systems. I mean they have all sorts of other special committees and groups and such, that they should have had a set of lawyers schooled in Amiralty law to be the working group for the point/counter point, and ready to prep all the briefs. Or is voter imtimidation and state government imtimidation that important that it needs to take up everyone in that department?

Andrewdb said...

What difference do you mean with "Admiralty Court" - the US District Court has jurisdiction over admiralty cases and Federal criminal cases.

Anonymous said...

Dead men tell not tales, and employ no lawyers.

Make it happen next time.

DeltaBravo said...

If they had wanted to make this stick they would have.  It's the same mentality that had them playing musical questioners with the Christmas Underwear Bomber before or after reading him his rights.  Kick the can down the road and it's someone else's problem.  Willfully inept, maybe? 

DeltaBravo said...

But in view of the totality of this administrations anti-terror efforts... I'm thinking this is just one more example of wishing the problem would go away and sweeping it under the rug by countering it with pale measures.  Barry was harder on the cop arresting the professor breaking into his own house. 

UltimaRatioRegis said...

<span>Say one thing for B. Hussein Soetoro. He IS consistent.  Another example of treating our Muslim enemies with kid gloves, bending over (backwards?) to ensure their safety and protection despite their desires to destroy us, while punishing American servicemen who are trying to fight a war.  
 
Despicable.  A word that seems increasingly descriptive of everything he does and says.</span>

UltimaRatioRegis said...

A .58 musket ball to the eye, or a good piece of hemp used to be the punishment for piracy on the high seas.

"Millions for tribute, but not one cent for defense!"  Got a nice ring to it, don'tcha think?

Southern Air Pirate said...

I wonder if we shouldn't look at how the Italians tried the PLF members busted after they siezed the MS Achille Lauro. Did the Italians charge them as terrorists or as pirates? I wonder if we had charged them as terrorists we couldn't have put them down in the Gitmo Resort while awaiting a ruling on that. If they charged them as pirates, well then again how does centuries of admirality law on piracy change and become too vague?
If this truely was to protect the civil disobedance folks from the eco-terrorist movement, then someone needs to tell the UN. Since their arm into maritime situtations the International Marititime Bu, views even illegally boarding a ship while anchored in a port as a form of piracy, or at least in thier monthly reports on pirate attacks around the world they have listed attempts by the Sea Shepards as pirates.

Again it really sounds to me that the DoJ screwed up big time if they didn't have enough time to prepare for the case. Simply cause the piracy thing had been growing for the last few years (at least since 2004) and no one in that department thought it would have been a smart idea to start and brush up on that field. Maybe again get some intermural groups together and run thier own private simulations on "I have to defend Pirate Sacodonuts/I Have to try Pirate Sacodonuts" and go through it all. It would really suck to have heard that the US DA was defeated by some ambulance chaser who typically took on defending car thiefs and members of gangs like MS13, and just using some shade tree lawyering was able to get these folks off.

Anonymous said...

SWOs don't shoot so good.

jgish said...

Maybe the Russians did it right after all...

DeltaBravo said...

That's why they need target practice!

xbradtc said...

that would be the common sense reading. But Gabe Malor over at Ace's did a post a day or so ago that showed that piracy, as understood as the law of nations, was "clarified" by a Supreme Court ruling some time ago as robbery on the high seas. As there was no robbery here, the court's ruling is pretty much in alignment with the precedent handed down. Can't really blame this on the district court judge. This is a consequence of a decision made by the Supremes a long time ago. 

And it is a further exemplar of the law being so defined that what everybody knows, just ain't so...

Byron said...

Oh, no, then we wouldn't have a "Global Force For Good"... :'(

Guest said...

While I know I'm against the grain here, I can see where the judge is coming from.  Do I think these guys are pirates? Yup.  Do I think they were committing an act of piracy against a US warship - not so sure about that.  I would argue that piracy (in its modern form) is against commercial vessels while assault warships starts to broaching acts of war.  Of course that brings a whole other arguement about government backing, etc.....

And the shot about the judge is because people feel a judge is being an activist when the decision is against their views, but being reasonable if he finds in their favor.  I would argue that judges are trying to make decisions based on the laws they have to work with.  If we want better decisions then our legislative bodies need to proved better laws - clearer, more concise, etc.

Therapist1 said...

I hate to say it, but the Judge probably had it right.  It is a hard thing to prove intent.  Whether they were pirates, islamists, angry fishermen defending their waters, etc......  The defense attorney did his job in questioning their evidence of intent to commit piracy.

Therapist1 said...

This is also why these cases remained in Naval courts and out of civilian entities.  They know piracy when they see it!!

The Usual Suspect said...

I guess the judge wouldn't know pornography if he saw it, either.  He would still be an idiot no matter who had appointed him.  You can't fix stupid or people educated beyond their intelligence.

Curtis said...

no no.

Had cash on you ?  Intent to deal.

Sieze your cash, your car, your boat, your wife, your daughter who the state just knew intended to commit the crime of underage child dealing, or whatever.

You usually make sense.  One might say I used to.

Curtis said...

Like USC ever made us the Justice of the Peace everywhere.  Get over it.

We used law to kill those who displeased us.

Bubba Bob said...

You right wing nutjobs make me puke. Did you ever think a judge could be taking his oath seriously and applying the law of the United States to the evidence introduced in the trial he presided over? No, of course not.

If the right wing loved freedom; which they don't; they'd point out how even the dirtiest of dirtbags are afforded a fair trial and the presumption of innocence. 

What would you right wingers say if you found out an americian lawyer defended enemies of our country who shot and killed our citizens? 

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Hey Bubba,

Thanks for the gross and ignorant generalization of opinions here.  Makes me think the rest of your comments are as well-considered. 

Show me where a Somali who shoots at a US Man-o-war and is captured on the high seas is entitled to all of the rights, privleges, and protections of an American citizen?

LT B said...

That just brought tears to my eyes.  That is the first time I've been called a right-wing nut job.  Sniff, sniff.  My weekend is starting off brilliantly now!

URR is correct.  The Constitution of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA, strangely enough, does not apply to other countries, and more importantly, does NOT apply to those who fire upon sovereign USA territory (embassy, ships, etc).

To bring Somalis to America to stand trial for firing on a US Ship on the high seas is silly.  The judge, like POTUS, has shown that killing bad guys is ideal to bringing them home and interogating or prosecuting them.  Roger, copy all.

Redeye80 said...

Bubba, did you get a little puke on your keyboard?  Sorry about that. Really.  Did it taste good?

Careful, don't let it come up on you again.

Yup, I am little on the conservative side and I love freedom.  I love it so much I dedicated 30 years of my life to protect those freedoms.  Even the freedom of speech.  I protected your ability shout whatever fooliness spouts from your pie hole. Your welcome. You don't have to thank me.

I think the judge was unable to interpret the 1820 law, well, because the laws back then were simple and enforceable, not like the volumminous laws we have on the books today.

Yup, fair trail, keel haul and then hang from the highest yardarm.

Old NFO said...

Of course the left thinks they should be accorded every benefit of doubt.  After all, they were Moslems shooting at Americans.

Bubba Bob said...

<span> </span>That's right, we do.  Liberals believe all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; even Moslems.  We think any person, any where, who is brought before the bar of an American court is entitle to all the rights and protections of the constitution. That you think they should not have a impartial judge apply the law to the evidence against them says more about the right than the left.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Precisely why they should never be brought before the American courts and given the rights under OUR Constitution as an American citizen would have. 

We also have an oath to defend that Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. 

Death to America's enemies.  They have the freedom not to shoot at US warships.  They did.  They should have been killed.

Jukion said...

Dirtbag lawyers will defend anybody.  Name one a "<span>american lawyer who defended enemies of our country who shot and killed our citizens?"   I'll show a body what needs hanging. </span>

Southern Air Pirate said...

We need lawyers even to defend the worst of the scum bags out there (like the members of the Nazi regieme or the members of the IJA post WW2) otherwise we surrender our civility and rule of justice to the idea of vengenace.

C-dore 14 said...

Being a "glass half full" kinda guy, I like to remember that American courts often have the option of the death penalty.

Of course a CIWS PacFire on the bearing of the pirate skiff might have made this whole thread moot.

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