Rich Galen

In piracy, as in most other endeavors, there are a few "first principles" which must be followed.

If you want to be a successful pirate in the Gulf of Aden, then the Principal Principle is: Take all the hostages you want just make sure none of them are Americans.

You can take 16 Italians hostages (as pirates actually did on Saturday while the AMERICAN hostage situation was being played out) and no one cares.

According to the Associated Press, as of Thursday of last week some 260 hostages were being held aboard 14 ships which had been hijacked in the Gulf of Aden. One of those, a Norwegian tanker, was released over the weekend having been held by pirates since the end of March with 27 hostages on board.

Didn't hear much about them, did you.

But, you take ONE American hostage and the next thing you know you've got Greta Van Susteren elbowing Anderson Cooper for space on the beach to do live reports every 57 seconds. And, Vice President Joe Biden is sending out for a Winston-Churchill-First-Lord-of-the-Admiralty outfit so he can pretend he is relevant.

The second rule is, if you violate Rule #1 and take Americans hostage, don't take them off the boat you have hijacked in the first place.

If you adhere to Rule #2, you can hide the entire crew locked up inside a big ship. For all of its excellent equipment, unless Superman happens to be cruising the western Indian Ocean and decides to help out, the U.S. Navy can't see through the hull or superstructure to see who is being held where and by how many so they don't know where to shoot or when.

Second, a big ship has bathrooms right on board so that whole business of, you know, needing to let your hostage go overboard (if you know what I mean and I think you do) is moot.

Third, if you keep everyone on the ship then it is piracy and you are holding the ship for ransom. Deciding whether or not to pay to get a ship out of hock is a business matter.

But, if you take one or more people off the ship then it is kidnapping and you are holding an actual person for ransom which is now a matter of morality. Even a Somali pirate can see how that will play differently on CNN or Fox.

According to the Wall Street Journal about 50 ships a day - A DAY - sail through the Gulf of Aden which is about the size of Texas. If we can't find illegal aliens crossing the border when we know were the border is, it is not likely we can patrol the whole Gulf of Aden efficiently.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at