Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

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Mr. Speaker, the pirates are back. These are not the Blackbeard, eye-patched, hook-for-a-hand, peg-legged kind of pirates from the Hollywood movies. The modern-day pirates are skilled, rich, violent, armed with automatic weapons, and are driven by a business that is generating up to $7 billion a year.

My constituents from Texas, Bill Rouse and his wife Judy, have navigated the oceans for years. Recently, they and another group of international navigators and sailors decided that Somalia and the Somalia pirates had made the seas too dangerous to sail in that region, forcing them to transport their ships and boats by barges to safer ports. Bill said that we cannot allow a bunch of thugs to take an entire ocean away from the world. And that is exactly what these pirates are trying to do. They have taken control of parts of the ocean and are trying to mock the most powerful nations on Earth, including ours.

Days before the ill-fated American ship Quest left for their journey, Bill asked Scott Adam to join them in transporting their boats. Adam, the skipper, said of the Quest, the Quest was circumnavigating the globe, and it was a lifelong quest. And they continued on their trip, although it turned out to be doomed, in the Indian Ocean. Just a week after Scott Adam and three other Americans were captured, they were executed pirate-style after Somali pirates captures the ship the Quest.

Pirates have also hijacked and kidnapped a Danish family. Bill Rouse has also met with these people on this doomed ship. This family, including small children, is now on the Somali mainland, still held hostage. Their captors have arrogantly warned that any military effort to save them will result in their immediate execution.

Bill has told me of other stories about the tight-knit community of people sailing in that region from all over the world. And they have been forced off of the sea because of the pirates. There are not enough resources to respond to these constant threats; and these pirates not only kidnap, murder, and hold for random small boat owners, but attack freighters and other commercial vessels as well.

In just 2010, Somali pirates hijacked 53 ships and held a total of 1,100 hostages for ransom; and pirate attacks have increased dramatically in recent months. Here is a drawing of the recent attacks of the pirates in the Indian Ocean. The red represents all of the pirate attacks between March of 2009 up until October of 2010. But the blue, which you see just as much of, represents the attacks by pirates in the Indian Ocean in just the last 4 months.

Piracy is a growing business because nations pay the ransom. Every dollar paid in ransom is helping the pirates of the seas finance their cause, expand their reach, and their thirst is even getting greater for more bounty and loot. Despite an increased international naval presence, the Somalian pirates are getting bolder, and they are getting more violent.

American has been dealing with the threat of pirates since the days of our Founding Fathers, over 200 years ago. During the youngest years of America, the Barbary States would blackmail American ships and the United States by demanding money in return for the safety of United States ships that crossed the Mediterranean Sea. For years, the United States and European governments paid the humiliating tribute to protect the ships, but then in 1801 the Barbary pirates felt the wrath of the United States when Thomas Jefferson sent eh United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps to take care of business with the Barbary pirates.

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