April 12, 2009

Phillips Rescued: Congrats to the US Navy and Their Commander in Chief (But See Feb. 2011 Update)

The New York Times Global Edition’s home page at the moment is a self-rebuke (red box is mine):


(Update, 5:40 p.m.: The self-rebuking link is no longer at the home page, nor is the pic of Phillips with Frank Castellano).

Of course there are limits, NYT, but most of them, as Mark Steyn so brilliantly noted yesterday, are self-imposed.

Thank goodness Barack Obama ignored “many” of his cowardly “national security” advisers, who, according to yesterday’s Washington Post, were in full hand-wringing mode, best exemplified in the report’s final paragraph:

But many on the national security team insist that it is their caution and willingness to consider all aspects of the situation that differentiate them from the overly aggressive posture of the Bush administration that they say exacerbated the terrorist threat.

So there was a “Don’t be like Bush” drumbeat. How totally disgusting. These 2009 versions of Sandy Berger would have let the heroic Richard Phillips twist in the wind — actually in “a 120-degree oven” — in the name of supposed political perceptions and being liked by the New York Times, while trying to “reason” with those who have none. Phillips’s example puts each and every one of them, and the Times itself, to shame.

Again, a hearty hat tip to President Obama for ignoring the feckless and getting this one right, up to and including okaying killing the bad guys if necessary. He’s demonstrated more willingness to be a real C-in-C than Bill Clinton did during his entire eight years. May the trend continue, and not be a one-trick testosterone display.

More important, I hope that Obama and the portion of his “national security” team that remains, after he gets rid of those he should fire, recognize that this micro episode has many macro applications. Lesson 1: You need to make Bibi Netanyahu your best friend. Now. Lesson 2: Forget your Pali “pals.” ASAP.


UPDATE: Check out this non-reporting by the Times

A little after 7 p.m. in Somalia (which is seven hours ahead of Eastern time) , U.S. special forces aboard the U.S.S. Bainbridge shot and killed the pirates from 25 to 30 meters away, the vice admiral said, and pulled the captain from the water.

Well, NYT, what was he doing in the water?!?

Answer(s): Phillips, according to a multitude of TV reports, had again tried to flee for his own safety, giving the Navy a second chance to rescue him after a missed opportunity days ago. Why won’t they report that? (But according to an ABC video report, Phillips had stepped to the side of the lifeboat to relieve himself, thus gaining distance from his captors and giving Navy shooters the opportunity to take out the bad guys.)

UPDATE 2: Dave in Texas at Ace’s Place is less impressed — “As for Obama’s role in this, it seems it was neither heroic nor stupid. This is as it should be. He seems to have given his approval to the military’s requests for authority and then let them do their thing. He did his job, that’s enough for now.” Given the proclivities of the peaceniks in his entourage, he deserves more than passing credit for ignoring them. But now he needs to get rid of them — preferably very visibly. Maybe we’ll get lucky and enough of them will do what the late Cyrus Vance did after the failed Iranian hostage rescue attempt in 1980 — resign.


UPDATE 2, Feb. 23, 2011: Via NewsBusters commenter “jon_torlin,” a dissenting commentary from the right by Jack Wheeler at Open.Salon.com (copied in full for fair use and discussion purposes; apparently originally appeared at To The Point News, but is unavailable to non-subscribers) –


All of us want to raise our glass the highest this week to the Navy SEALs who popped those three Somali pirates. And I’m sure you want to hear the real story of what happened. Especially because there is a revoltingly opportunistic and cowardly side to it. Guess which side Zero is on (ZERO IS FOR “O”. YOU KNOW WHO!) ?

Why, for example, did it take SEAL Team Six (aka DEVGRU, Navy Special Warfare Development Group, the Navy’s equivalent of Delta Force) over 36 hours to get to the scene?

Because Zero refused to authorize the SEAL deployment for those 36 hours, during which the OSC (the On-Site Commander), Cmdr. Frank Castellano of the USS Bainbridge – repeatedly requested them.

Once the SEALs arrived – parachuting from a C-17 into the ocean near the ship – Zero then imposed Rules of Engagement (ROE) specifying the SEALs could not do anything unless the life of the hostage, Captain Richard Phillips, was in “imminent” danger.

Thus, when Capt. Phillips attempted to escape by jumping off the lifeboat into the ocean, the SEAL snipers had all four pirates (one later surrendered) sighted in and could have taken them out then and there – but they could not fire due to Zero’s ROE restrictions.

When the SEALs approached the lifeboat in a RIB (rigid-hull inflatable boat) carrying supplies for Capt. Phillips and the pirates, the pirates fired upon them. Not only was no fire returned due to the ROE, but as the pirates were shooting at the RIB, SEAL snipers on the Bainbridge had them all dialed in. No triggers were pulled due to the ROE..

Two specific rescue plans were developed by Cmdr. Castellano and the SEAL teams. Zero personally refused to authorize them.

After the second refusal and days of dithering, Cmdr. Castellano decided he had the Operational Area and OSC authority to “solely determine risk to hostage” and did not require any further approval of the president.

Four hours later, the White House is informed that three pirates are dead and Capt. Phillips has been rescued unharmed. A WH press release is immediately issued, giving credit to the president for his “daring and decisive” behavior that resulted in such success.

Zero has absolutely no military knowledge or experience whatsoever. He demanded decisional control over the entire hostage drama to the last detail. All actions required his personal approval. He dithered like a coward while the world laughed at our warships flummoxed by four illiterate teenagers with AKs in a lifeboat.

Only when the Navy Commander decided to ignore his Pantywaist-in Chief and take action and responsibility himself, were the incredible skills of the SEALs put into play.

That Zero could cynically and opportunistically claim that his “bold” “calm” “tough” leadership was responsible should remind everyone that not a single action, not a single word of this man can be trusted. He is bereft of honesty and moral character. That’s why he’s Zero.

The HFR raises a glass full of pride and gratitude to Navy Commander Frank Castellano, the Navy SEALs for their incredible competence, and our military. Let’s hold a Tea Party in their honor.



  1. I served with CDR Castellano back when he was an ensign. Good guy. Glad to see him in command.

    Comment by Largebill — April 12, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

  2. #1, congrats to him and his crew.

    Comment by TBlumer — April 12, 2009 @ 5:34 pm

  3. I give Obama credit for going against type and making the right and conservative, albeit easy, decision. Hopefully he learned something for the future.

    Comment by Joe C. — April 13, 2009 @ 9:09 am

  4. The hand wringers added an interesting aspect to Obama’s circle of advisors. Their actions as pacivists are consistent with Obama’s stated position as being against the use of force to solve problems. But here the anti-war “pacivist” leader ordered the deaths of 3 people to save one person. Wasn’t the whole point of opposing the war in Iraq saying that killing and violence are not the solution???? Interesting inconsistency in Obama’s behavior don’t you think? So consider the huge inconsistency he just created by so easily signing off on the kill order (twice).

    Obama’s rise to power was via the ANTI-WAR movement, a movement that essentially believes violence and killing people are NEVER the answer to any problem. We know a certain segment was just pure Democrat politics who chose the anti-war position just because it was against W, however the rest of them would rather choose the European way in dealing with the pirates (Obama’s handwringing advisors) – pay them off. Obama clearly doesn’t hold the opinion of the latter so we must conclude he LIED about his anti-war position, he used it as a convenient vehicle to mislead people for their voting for him. So basically Obama has been caught in yet another lie in a string of unending lies.

    What this says about Obama is he does believe taking life is acceptable (contrary to the Anti-War movement) IF it advances HIS agenda. It’s not the idea of a government defending it’s people here with Obama as I believe many miscontrue his choices, it’s Obama sanctioning the killing to defend HIS credibility in world affairs and HIS credibility as President, NOT saving a merchant sea captain from pirates. When you confront the inconsistency of his rhetoric versus his actions you begin to realize Barack Obama is an extremely dangerous man because he possesses no conscience at all (psychopath). Remember, this is the guy who not only supports abortion but supports killing a child who survived a botched abortion attempt, this man has no empathy.

    Comment by dscott — April 13, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

  5. The Unburdened Mind: http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=936

    check out the Pseudo-Scientific Psychopath Detector, notice anything?

    Comment by dscott — April 13, 2009 @ 4:58 pm

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