CRACKDOWNS

Clinton Takes Aim at Pirates

Watch out, pirates, Hillary Clinton is after your booty. The Secretary of State vowed the Obama administration is going to fight back against pirates by seizing their property and assets. "These pirates are criminals, they are armed gangs on the sea. And those plotting attacks must be stopped," she said. "We may be dealing with a 17th-century crime, but we need to bring 21st-century solutions to bear." The plan to thwart Somali hijackings has been criticized for being symbolic, since tracking and freezing pirate assets would be near impossible due to the very local and informal nature of their economy. This tougher stance will not address the political and economic instability in Somalia, which are piracy's root causes, Clinton said. But increasing attacks on ships, especially the attack on the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama, call for immediate action. Part of Clinton's plan involves immediate meetings of an international anti-piracy task force to organize more naval coordination against pirates. Federal agencies will meet Friday to discuss their strategy before an international conference on Somali piracy next week. The United States "does not make concessions or ransom payments to pirates," she added.