Opinion: Ron Paul to pirates: Here come the bounty hunters


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Ron Paul, the Texas congressman and darling of Libertarians everywhere, has an idea on how the United States can deal with the Somali pirates plaguing international shipping in the Indian Ocean: hire and train some bounty hunters.

The idea, unlike some of Paul’s proposals, is actually gaining traction in Congress. The U.S. Navy is too big for the mission, designed to do battle against the navies of other nations, So hiring and training bounty hunters to go after the pirates is, as Political Machine put it, ‘a classic case of fighting fire with fire.’


The mechanism would be a little-known power written into the Constitution called marque and reprisal. Leave it to a strict constitutionalist like Paul to have read that far into the document.

Anyway, the provision was used often during the Revolution and the War of 1812, and hasn’t been used since. Basically, the law allows the United States to hire private citizens to keep international waters safe.

“If we have 100 American wannabe Rambos patrolling the seas, it’s probably a good way of getting the job done,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Eli Lehrer.

If Congress does start using the procedure, it might want to consider a few amendments. Under current law, bounty hunters are allowed to keep the ship and any treasure they capture.

Here’s the congressman.

-- Johanna Neuman

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