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April 15th, 2009
10:11 AM ET

Congressman came under fire in Somalia

Rep. Donald Payne speaks to CNN's Kiran Chetry about coming under fire on his trip to Somalia.
Rep. Donald Payne speaks to CNN's Kiran Chetry about coming under fire on his trip to Somalia.

There are new developments today in the waters off of the coast of Somalia. Another U.S. ship, the Liberty Sun, was attacked by pirates. This time, the pirates were unsuccessful.

Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) is the first American member of the government to visit the country in a decade. His plane came under attack as he left Mogadishu earlier this week. Congressman Payne joined Kiran Chetry on CNN’s American Morning on Wednesday.

Kiran Chetry: You witnessed firsthand what a dangerous place and region this is. Why did you go?

Rep. Donald Payne: I've been dealing with that area for the last 20 years. And I had worked during the past two or three years trying to help them form a new government. They had a government I met with three or four times in Nairobi. They were meeting outside of Somalia, called a transitional federal government. They were not strong enough to maintain themselves. There was another group called the I.C.U., the Islamic Courts Union now called the Alliance that then took over a bit. It’s a complicated story but the U.S. suggested that Ethiopia intrude to bring peace, although Ethiopia is hostile to Somalia so that was really the wrong peacekeepers.

Chetry: You said this trip was largely successful. What about being fired on? What happened?

Payne: Well I think there’s certainly a group, the al Shabab, who may be the closest link to al Qaeda. They do not want to see this government work. That's what it's all about. I think the fact that I went there, that there were no problems during the day. We went around to the various places, met with women's groups, the prime minister, the cabinet people. I believe this was desperation. They don't want to see this new two-month government succeed. I assured President Sheikh Sharif that we would want to engage. They have a plan that they feel they can deal with piracy on the ground, on the land, rather than in the sea, which makes it very difficult. So they will be coming up with a plan in a couple of weeks and will submit it to our government and myself.

Chetry: The good news is that you guys didn't even know you were fired upon until you were safely in Kenya. The engine noise drowned that out. Thank goodness you guys are safe. Did the leaders you talked to have a handle on how dangerous this is and did they understand the urgency with which the international community wants them to do something?

Payne: No question about it. They think its going to prevent Somalia from moving forward. They know it's a dark mark on their country. They want to see it end. But, you see, the pirates have money with the cartels and the groups that support them. Al Shabab gets money from extremists who are anti-U.S. The government are the ones with no funds. So they said it's very difficult even though they're going to go forward anyway. But they're the ones that need the support.

Chetry: Would they support Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who said he hasn't ruled out perhaps attacking within Somalia. Would the government support that, an outside country like the United States launching attacks to cut down piracy?

Payne: I think if we supported the new government, had them form their own police, they have no police, they have no military. They know what to do. They know the terrain. I think it would make a lot more sense to give them the resources to see if they can do it themselves. If that fails, then we can bring in troops. I think it would, at this time, be a mistake to send in troops to try to weed out these terrorists.


Filed under: Piracy • Politics
soundoff (177 Responses)
  1. deus__ex__machina

    I've seen about three comments here from people who actually have a clue what is going on in Somalia.

    As for the rest, you know, if we're going to assume that government corruption and a criminal element existing in a certain region means that everyone in that region supports corruption and criminal activity, or if you're going to say that people who live in poverty unimaginable to us, in a land with no government to speak of, and are subject to retaliation and intimidation more brutal than the worst things that the most depraved drug gangs here in the U.S. could even dream of, that these people should somehow rise up and put an end to it all, and if they don't then they somehow support this corruption and criminal activity and are thus just as guilty as the criminals, if we're going to assume all that, and conclude that we are then justified in "nuking" the whole country, then I say, you're right about another thing, too: let's not waste our money and efforts on Somalia. There's plenty of areas right here at home where corruption and crime flourish hand in hand, where the people haven't risen up to put an end to it, and really, if it happens in one city, it probably happens throughout the state. So, what state do we nuke first? I hear the Mexican drug cartels are flourishing in the border states...and there's a meth epidemic out west, and throughout Appalachia...and the northeast is full of DEMONcrats and heroin addicts...plus, you can't expect a legitimate government to ever flourish here, with all these people calling for foreign forces to kill American congressmen overseas.

    Come to think of it, maybe other countries can start nuking us too...after all, we've overthrown more than a few democratically-elected leaders in recent history, and since we all vote and we all didn't rise up and put a stop to it, we must all be the worst sort of criminals ourselves, who wants Americans running around? We've got 95% of the world's serial killers, we've got violent gangs...not to mention the place is just teeming with blacks and muslims, let's just make it a parking lot and start over.

    April 15, 2009 at 11:54 pm |
  2. Holy Diver

    Look, i don't condone military action against Somalia, but i do agree that the piracy is an international problem that must be dealt with internationally. I'm sure the US or another affected country would volunteer to send in some special forces to seek and destroy the leaders of the pirates and the cartels. If the UN agrees, and Somalia agrees, then that would be best. Airstrikes are ineffective in a situation like this where civilians look pretty much like the pirates. Only by taking out the leaders of these organizations do we have a chance of stopping them.

    April 15, 2009 at 11:51 pm |
  3. Keith

    There needs to be security for any government to work. Giving the Somali government resources without the necessary time and security to train police and a military will just be wasted effort.

    April 15, 2009 at 11:35 pm |
  4. Mike L

    What you do is park a couple warships a few miles offshore and shell their docks and warehouses for a week or so. No ability to dock or supply = no more piracy. No troops on the ground = minimal loss. This is for the whole world, not just US interests. We have the technology lets use it! t

    April 15, 2009 at 11:33 pm |
  5. BumsLazy

    Why doesn't this bleeding heart liberal just go run their government?

    April 15, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  6. PCnomore

    Well, oops! My comment was not visible when I first logged in but showed up later on a refresh. My bad and I apaologize.

    April 15, 2009 at 11:10 pm |
  7. PCnomore

    What a fool! Why is he even there? Shouldn’t he be at home serving his constituents? Just another out of control congressman pulling a publicity stunt.

    And to what end? There is no government there, no order, and no hope of ever having either in the region. Supplies only end up in the hands of War Lords and thugs anyway, and I for one am tired of seeing good supplies go to waste. AFRICOMM can’t even find a host Country on the continent that is friendly enough to set up a base of ops, so they have to stay in Europe!

    Look, we already have 2 fronts going which we need to get the heck out of so we can re-equip and prepare for the Chinese. It would be idiotic at best to put troops on the ground there or take action of any kind other than surgical spec ops missions and recon to keep the region pinned down. Keep tactical naval lanes open, and THAT’S ALL!

    And to the editorial staff, please don't delet this post; I have a right to express my views in a non abusive manner just like everyone else, just because it may not be to your militant left-wing point of view.

    April 15, 2009 at 11:07 pm |
  8. Brian

    @Ryan in the US:

    People like you draw the wrong lessons of history. You think Hitler could have been stopped, Japan could have been stopped with preemptive action, if it were not for the pacifists and the appeasers. Here's the thing. On the defense, you hold the moral ground. The moral ground that gives fighting men and women the right to say, they attack us now we fight back. The moral high ground that spawned Churchill's speeches, the anger of Pearl Harbor and so on. Harassing all Somali boats due to the actions of a few means we would *lose* the moral high ground. For the party of "family values" and "morals" Republicans sure don't understand them beyond bashing gays.

    I have another solution. Tell merchant companies to pay for their own defense with private security contractors manning .50 cals on the decks of their boats, rather than the millions it costs for the US military to be doing the private sector's work.

    April 15, 2009 at 10:55 pm |
  9. Angela

    Somalia has a government? For real?

    April 15, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
  10. Andrew

    'America needs to get off the couch and get involved before it is too late.' – Mike

    Hey Mike, knock yourself out. I'm pretty sure there is a recruiter near you who would absolutely love to enlist you (or your son). I've pulled my weight... twice. Look how wonderful that has worked out for us. Somalia is even more of a lost cause than anywhere else on this planet.

    April 15, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  11. clydedogg

    Anyone advocating harm to other people is disgusting and removes any credibility for their opinion.

    April 15, 2009 at 9:47 pm |
  12. Mike

    It is only a mistake if we send the military to act as policemen. We should send the military in to kill&destroy, not arrest&detain. Any police force should be composed from (surviving) local civilians, the US military should have no involvement in that whatsoever.

    April 15, 2009 at 9:10 pm |
  13. JT

    I think America is heading toward another civil war. The racist comments on this issue, other sites, be it sports, whatever are way past being racist.. These people don't realize there time has passed -the world dosen't need or want them and they will die off, show themselve and be weeded out. America is not as weak as they think. Every century or so you have to do the pruning. Good news the majority is diverse and or diverse minded and we can take care of ourselves. We just need to respond when the time comes -and thank God its almost here.

    April 15, 2009 at 9:06 pm |
  14. PCnomore

    What a fool! Why is he even there? Shouldn't he be at home serving his constituents? Just another out of control congressman pulling a publicity stunt.

    And to what end? There is no government there, no order, and no hope of ever having either in the region. Supplies only end up in the hands of War Lords and thugs anyway, and I for one am tired of seeing good supplies go to waste. AFRICOMM can't even find a host Country on the continent that is friendly enough to set up a base of ops, so they have to stay in Europe!

    Look, we already have 2 fronts going which we need to get the heck out of so we can re-equip and prepare for the Chinese. It would be idiotic at best put troops on the ground there or take action of any kind other than surgical spec ops missions and recon to keep the region pinned down. Keep tactical naval lanes open, and THAT'S ALL!

    April 15, 2009 at 8:58 pm |
  15. Mo

    Fayyaz qureshi smells greed. Greed of an Arab selling oil in exchange for leisure, immorality , drugs and human abuses. This PENGUIN is among those who spread distorted Islam to the poor refugees who sought refuge in the Wahabist Den. Instead they forced these refugees into rehearsal centres and then sent them back to Somalia to spread terrorism… Arabs should be the least to comment about Somalia

    April 15, 2009 at 8:54 pm |
  16. Mike

    this must be a republican area as almost all the posts are so stupid as to make me cry laughing!

    April 15, 2009 at 8:23 pm |
  17. Elmina

    As usual the US is after the future Oil of Somalia. First they sent Ethiopian troops to Somalia, then they financied the piracy for the excuse to send their troops in Somalia to put on their hand this rich oil country.
    Its the same history of Iraq with WMD, and piracy in Somalia.

    April 15, 2009 at 8:21 pm |
  18. Mo

    Fayyaz qureshi smells greed. Greed of an Arab selling oil in exchange for leisure, immorality , drugs and human abuses. This PENGUIN is among those who spread distorted Islam to the poor refugees who sought refuge in the Wahabist Den. Instead they forced these refugees into rehearsal centres and then sent them back to Somalia to spread terrorism... Arabs should be the least to comment about Somalia

    April 15, 2009 at 8:03 pm |
  19. Doug

    Message boards seem to bring out the worst in certain people.

    So many are advocating "bomb all villages and towns" scorched earth policy etc.

    What a great idea!!! Lets use that principle also in America. Wherever and whenever there is some sort of criminal activity going on let's go and bomb that whole town, city or whatever.... Man what a great solution, why didn't we think of that before?

    Oh yeah I forgot.. that's only for other peoples problems....

    April 15, 2009 at 8:01 pm |
  20. Gus

    What a bunch of dribble! Guess this idiot and some of his bleeding heart liberals are going to come up with an idea that ths U.S.A. should send them a bunch of our tax dollars (more stupidity) to do whatever with. Hmmm, makes me think of us sending dollars and troops to Afganistan so we can support that opium producing country (more stupidity). And, oh yes, we should probobly send some (maybe a whole bunch) of our troops to get their heads blown off for that craphole. Our Country needs a bunch of people with an ounce of brains to push us to wake up that the whole damned world is NOT our problem – we have many and enough problems here in the USA without wasting any more of our resources on a craphole like Somalia, or Afganistan. If we pumped the dollars into our own country instead of wasting them on all this useless foreign aid, or useless wars, we would not have all the problems we currently have!
    Beef up our border security, military capability and quit wasting our resources you idiot politicians!

    April 15, 2009 at 7:57 pm |
  21. Lucia

    The congressman went to Somalia to hold discussions with government officials. Which government officials? Why is he alone involved in that and not through the UN? Is he trying to singlehandedly solve Somalia's political chaos? Smells like a politician's stunt to me...

    April 15, 2009 at 7:40 pm |
  22. Cache

    Does anyone remember how we won WWII?? We bombed everyone and everything in Germany and Japan, that's how. Enemy soldiers died. So did their children, their wives, their brothers and sisters, their aging family. The bombs did not discriminate.

    In Somalia, too, we must do the same thing. The only way to truly effect changte and force a responsible government is to make the people of Somalia truly know that if they do not comply they will be utterly destroyed. It may not be the 'modern' way to fight a war, but it is proven effective time and time again throughout history. The only difference is that the US does not seek to subjugate their people, but make certain that the price of piracy is so high, that it is so terrible, that THEY will stop piracy before it ever becomes a problem for the rest of the world ever again.

    April 15, 2009 at 7:32 pm |
  23. mike

    What a dork!!! How much $ did we have to spend to send this guy over there and find out Somalia is F***ed up. Then to hear the "brilliant" idea of setting up a regime to run things. Didn't we already play that tune 15years ago. Of course it would be a mistake to invade Somallia. It would be ten times worse than Iraq. What we should do is open up a can of special ops whoop a$$ on these guys. Limited, surgical strikes accompanied by small platoon sized groups of military personnel on US flagged ships. If there are any pirates after our strikes, the ones who still go after US ships will get rained on with mortars.

    April 15, 2009 at 7:25 pm |
  24. fayyaz qureshi

    Since day one, they are the greediest human beings on earth, please let us not be disillusioned with the Sec of States proposal of supporting the locals...they will be more then happy to receive more armament for their militias and then turn on the US again with the same equipment we give them, the world is tired of these greedy pigs. All they know is give, give, give and if we dont give they calls us all sorts of names and then turn on us. The solution is destroy the pirates launchig hubs..coastal towns...and take out the so called mother ships....finish them off....the coastal towns should be destroyed...

    April 15, 2009 at 6:54 pm |
  25. roger

    Payne got shot or worse became a hostage then we would have a full blown action going. Pirates are the rich since most people survive on $600.00 a year . Don't send troops send in the WARTHOGS and put some rounds in everything that is not a hut or tent

    April 15, 2009 at 6:53 pm |
  26. Mike

    let's not even think about wasting any american lives on Somalia!!... let them have a taste of our air supremacy , we could easily kick there ass from the air.....turn Somalia into a parking lot. Without a large enough assault they will never get the message. I repeat...never wast American lives on Africa...do it from the air.

    April 15, 2009 at 6:50 pm |
  27. Mark - "Borned and Raised an American"

    In reading the Comments Section on various stories this past month, I find that a majority of Americans ARE whiners and complainers. They all come with baggage that is exposed when the open up their mouths, and often their posts show they failed to even read the story. Come on America, get a grip and a life. Stop your complaining about Taxes you aren't paying, politician's positions that you have no understanding of, men that DID NOT kill a young girl, women that did not bed you last night. Wake up and take stock of the world around you and find yourself a true understanding of what's happening in the world, not the one that FOX fed you last night like so much stale popcorn.

    If you fail to Wake up, Grow up and Stand up, you will only shrivel and die like the 3rd world country you are becoming. Fast and Furious indeed. Fast becoming useless and furious about what you don't understand.

    April 15, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  28. Jack Walsh

    Really? Are people really criticizing this congressman for actually wanting to meet the leaders of the area in trouble? I don't see an single problem with his trip; yes, there are troubles at home, but there are other people working on those and, I'm sorry to say, the economic woes of Somalia is a bit worse than the ones here. He is not an idiot for wanting to contact the (hopefully) leaders of Somalia in person on the behalf of the US.

    April 15, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  29. Ryan in US

    We as Americans spend entirely too much time trying to peel through the reasons of why people are doing things instead of dealing with what they have actually done.

    News flash for everyone. Human beings are extraordinary creatures. We can be infinitely complex and yet very simple at the exact same time.

    You could spend a lifetime trying to completely break down the exact emotional and social reasons why a single person does or thinks ANYTHING. Bringing biochemistry into the debate makes it two lifetimes. Yet, regardless of how we all get there, humans respond to most stimuli in extremely common ways.

    The answer for the U.S. isn't in trying to solve the infinite reasons for the internal strife of Somalia. It is in relying on something we all have in common: respect for power and fear of punishment.

    Thomas Jefferson had it right in dealing with the pirate situation in the 1800s. Send the navy to hunt down and kill any pirates at sea and send the army to kill and destroy everything on land. No occupation, no mercy. Anyone, anything or any town that smacks of piracy or terrorism burns. All Somali water craft are confiscated to be tagged with markings or destroyed. Any ship seen or detected without these markings afterwards will be destroyed, no questions asked. Our Navy is losing places to target practice because of radical environmentalists, I think Somalia is a great place to relocate.

    Yes, this idea is extremely heavy handed and would certainly be condemned by soft nations who are cut from the same cloth of those who appeased Hitler. However, the world would quickly realize that in America, we love our friends and allies. But raise your hand against us and we'll take the whole arm.

    April 15, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  30. JML

    Right...................................AMERICA...................what ever happend to Political DIALOG? This man has been working with Somila to help bring about positive change, he should be commend not "ran-down-to-the ground" because the FAR-RIGHT feels as if you can ignore people you don't like (didn't we get over Bush's method for "not-handling" things folks)! Stop being such WHIPPIE-people, stand up for what you believe in and FIGHT the MF's! WHY should good people just "roll-over" and play DEAD?

    April 15, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  31. Ryan in US

    For all you who claim their government wasn't asking for money, you obviously read on a 5th grade level and can't comprehend the obvious inference for money, the politicians solution to everything.

    Violence and chaos will only end in a country when the majority of its citizens actually want law and order and are willing to stand up and fight for it.

    I didn't recall reading anywhere about this government only needing weapons and training to put down the pirates, terrorists and other war lords in their country. Not a word. Why? Because this is only another puppet African government without the popular support of its people.

    It doesn't cost much for an AK-47 and a boat, yet I've never seen the mass populace supporting this government motoring out to re-acquire the ransom money by force.

    If a government can't inspire a handful of its own people to be willing to sacrifice everything to fight for its ideals, why should we give them one dime? Why should we do the heavy lifting when they are unwilling to do so themselves?

    You can't help an addict who won't help himself and you can't save a country that isn't ready to be saved. It would do almost as much good to put a billion dollars on the deck of a ship, dock near the coast of Somalia and light it on fire to warm the country, as it would to hand it over to another corrupt government.

    April 15, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  32. J_maal30331

    I understand what he is trying top do, and i believe he knows what the consequences in going there because he's a man risking his life to help their government. Just hear me out.... he's just trying to make this place better than what it is he's trying to reform the government which isn't a bad idea because if we lived there we woyuld want someone to help us out too.

    April 15, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  33. PeaceLover

    I have never seen so many racist, right-wing Rush Limbaugh wanna-be's at any comment venue. Kill them, bomb them, nuke them, etc. Let us all sit back and stop for a second. For all the idiots here who think the only Superpower in the world taking on a poor country that had no central government for two decades is something to be proud of, shame on you. Somalia was on the verge of stability in 2006 under the UIC with no piracy, no warlords in Mogadishu and vicinity, peace and stability for 6 months in the territories it governed until the US decided it didn't like the guys in charge – they had beards (by the way the current President, Sheikh Sharif was the leader of the UIC in 2006 and was chased out of Somalia by the US & Ethiopians). The US then armed the warlords who kept Somalia in anarchy from 1991-2006, supported the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia and returned the misery of the 16 years past. Somalia has been in worse state since the American blessed Ethiopian invasion with so many extremist groups since. Ethiopa, an arch enemy of Somalia and the US are the creators of extremists in Somalia & Ethiopia was shamefully forced to withdraw from what became their Iraq. Somalis have always been secular Muslims who never mixed state and religion. The majority of Somalis are not anti-America or anti-west and have no issues with other religions. It is only a small # who take advantage of the situation on the ground and use religion to further their cause.

    As for the piracy issue here which seems to have brought out the Rambo in many, it didn't happen overnight. Fishing ships from the EU and Asia have been robbing the Somali coast since the early 90's. They intimidate the poor fishermen and overrun their nets not to mention the dumping of toxic waste from both of these continents. The # of sealed drums (many of which leak) that are found along the Somali shores is mind boggling. The people in these areas decided to take matters into their hands hence the beginning of this saga. Don't get me wrong, I have a problem with these guys going into international waters and hijacking ships from there but for the Love of God, if they find fishing trawlers anywhere in their waters, then I see no problem. Just 2 days a go a ship carrying the Italian flag that was pulling two large drums (content unknown) was captured in the Somali water . The "pirates" have been calling on the international community to verify the content and we have yet to hear of any country coming forward.

    Somalia needs the sincere assistance of the international community because the majority of Somalis who happen to be peace loving people want nothing but peace and normalcy. They haven't had that for two decades. For those calling for invasions and killings, just think that almost all of these pirates where born within the last two decades. The one captured by the US was only 16 years of age, a minor. The 3 killed were all under 20. Let us not get carried away everytime an American life is threatened, let us be logical, let us look at the roots of the problem and let us in a humane way look at a situation that has been so very inhumane for so very long.

    Sorry I went on for too long.

    April 15, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  34. Ricky, Valdosta, GA

    Maybe we should send all our politicians over to somalia and let them set up a government and we could also send the bankers and wall street wheels over there so they can set up a financial system as well. America would be better off and we could start fresh with a new group of elected officials that might actually care about the American people instead of corporate lobbyist and greed. Donald Payne and others like him could do us all a favor by moving there to stay.

    April 15, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  35. Mike K

    Crap!! It sounds like the bleeding hearts are gonna tie action against the pirates with rebuilding Somalia. The non-failed states in Africa are mostly pretty crappy places. Somalia is the worst. I will not support an extended mission there. Saudi Arabia can pay for any aid needed since they're in the region, are muslim and have the money. Our only mission should be a short one to take out pirates or their support network. Airstrikes and special forces only. Than it's up to the UN to feed these folks.

    April 15, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  36. Jackie in Dallas

    Cassandra,
    Rep. Payne was there as a part of a long-planned trip that included a number of African countries. Those types of itineraries are NOT published, just so such incidents do not occur that put our people at risk. It was sheer bad luck that the Represenative's plane came under fire.

    As for some of you others, would you be complaining if this were a white, Republican making the trip? Probably not. You'd be jumping up and down and screaming. We have very little financial impact on Somalia for a number of reasons: a) the government is very unstable (at this time, all we are giving is advice and some humanitarian aid, mostly furnished by private charities); b) they haven't asked for any aid; and c) Africa was never a major issue to President Bush and VP Cheney.

    President Obama has only been in office for a few months, and has been rather busy with a number of other crises. When faced with a crisis involving Somalia, he consulted his experts and staff (which probably included Rep. Payne, as he has been in the area a number of times) and responded with what I think was proper restraint. The fact that Rep. Payne was actually in Somalia at the time was an accident of fate.

    April 15, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  37. NYC REPUB

    How about some good harsh, air attacks?

    April 15, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  38. REG

    @Dirk Ellis

    A One world currency......do you know how awful and idea that would be...... Apperently you don't know the prophecies in the bible. One world currency will mean someone will be able to control the economy. Read up on some of the end time prophecies and see how your idea winds up

    April 15, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  39. MoStock3

    Are you kidding this is 2 day old news and the attack didn't do anything to the plane. CNN doesn't want to cover the massive Tea party protest that is going on in this country right now since it may upset the Democrats. Wake up!!

    April 15, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  40. Nancy Ridgeway

    Nothing is more important than our own Government right here. I think Rep. Payne has another agenda visiting Africa.

    April 15, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  41. david

    As a historical aside, the U.S. in its fledgling state once resorted to piracy against the English.

    Why are so many of the comments regarding Somalia hopeless and degrading? Because its an African state are supposed to assume it will fail? What if the situation were transposed to the European continent?

    Ignoring the racial subtext to the dialogue, its pretty clear with recent events that even a 3rd world country such as Somalia which is in a mess does have an impact upon the interest of the U.S. and for that reason we do need to pay attention developments within its government. Assuming that because its govenment is in disarray and that we have nothing to gain by nurturing diplomatic relationships is an arrogant notion. We do have something to gain. It is a political wilderness and a state with Islamic influences. With encouraging law and order within the Somali government and if we don't assist the development of law and order in that country, it is only a matter of time before it becomes the next terrorist base. As of now, it has the ready participants and $$$ brought in lawlessly by piracy. These are facts likely not novel news but only recently made more public by recent events. Of course, we never pay attention to the small countries until something directly affects or involves a U.S. citizen.
    Well, we out to pay our attention now. It's in the best long term interest of this country.

    April 15, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  42. spencerblair

    Anyone visiting a free-fire zone on a Congressional junket deserves to get shot at. Once again, poor markmanship and a lack of fire control allowed a Congressman to escape.

    April 15, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  43. LouAZ

    Payne never says ANYTHING about being fired upon. Just what does "fired upon" mean in mediaspeak ? Any picture(s) of bullet holes in the aircraft ? Any picture(s) of mortar round explosion crater(s)in the runway, taxiway or "airport" grounds ?
    Is this another media created "non-happening" ?
    This "story" is nonsense !

    April 15, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  44. Mobius

    Guess what happens when you nose around places in which you have NO BUSINESS?

    Not all countries are as nice when "Americans" seek to intervene and usurp their sovereignty.

    No wonder we're known as the World's Bully.

    April 15, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  45. Mike

    Thank you congressman for doing your job and trying to help improve this world.
    Shame on all these clueless bigoted posters spewing their venom. They're no better than the pirates.

    April 15, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  46. Ari

    what was he doing there, the ignorant ask?

    newsflash, rushies, by working with the somalian government to solve the piracy crisis this congressman you are hating on is assuring that the sea-ways by which all the low priced garbage that you like to buy at wal-mart remain available for US commerce and unhindred. translated into grown-up, that means that it is in best global and US interest that any and all major maritime ways remain safe. its in our best economic interests. get it? do u think our govenrment goes around doing charity work?

    even if it did though, whoever said he should be dead or deserved to be, you are are all anuses. i know, you may not know what that means.. look it up. and maybe you should try to study what the fucntion of congress is. people like you do not deserve a democracy.

    April 15, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  47. Auctoritas Caritatis

    Though this may have been a publicity stunt, this kind of dialogue is necessary. I'm frankly disappointed at the individuals hiding behind the relative anonymity the internet provides to spew racial hatred and wishes of death upon a duly elected representative of our government.

    The current wave of piracy is a symptom of the lawlessness and the chaos in Somalia. Like any anarchistic region, it serves as a place where terrorists, pirates, and other blackguards may hide. Any aid we offer to stabilize the region, which I hope is not primarily financial in nature, will only help to shed light upon another dark recess of the world. Not only will this result in the people of Somalia being able to live their lives in relative peace, but we will have turned another hiding place for villainy into a place that instead purges it.

    April 15, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  48. Erica Long to Bob

    I am commenting specifically on your remark about the racial divide. You as well as the congressman must be a set of blithering idiots. Blacks don't just say 'give me the money.' Who do you think pays for whites/asians/hispanics and other blacks abusing our systems here in the United States? I DO. And I'm black. I'm ashamed of your remark, to blast us as a whole when I've worked and paid taxes for as long as I can remember. I suggest you take your racist rants to Rush Limbagh, as he probably needs something else to get on his soap box about

    April 15, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  49. Joe

    Is it really going to become such a global issue that we'd have to goto war with them like afganistan? i dont think it will...

    April 15, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  50. Cassandra

    I believe more to the story; Why was he there? We only heard of him been there when the pirate were shot and caught. something just don't sit right with that. What is the pirate buying with 2ms. Who will benifit from this money. A poor country stealing money; no way; some one else with common sense is behind his pirate mess. Starts with that senator.Then you will see where the money is going. I just can't believe those poor people leading this charge.

    April 15, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  51. Chill Out

    I don't really think anyone deserves to get shot for attempting to make peace. Good thing y'all aren't elected to Congress, we would have a bunch of Cheney's runnin around shooting everyone.

    April 15, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  52. Rey

    I think Chetry's FOX News fan club has followed her to CNN. I am atleast gratified to find out they can read.

    April 15, 2009 at 3:20 pm |
  53. Miscreants and Misanthropes

    I have never seen so many negative , racist, right wing ,misanthropic comments posted in one place other than the National States Rights Party, Aryan Nation or the Ku Klux Clan. Cong. Payne risked his life to try and promote some sort of long term solution for the Somalia problem, a huge problem by the way, and all some of you miscreants can think of is what is he doing there and who paid for the trip. Some even suggest he should not have survived. Through out human history there have been people who do not have to do anything but they step up anyway and try to contribute. MLK did not have to march to the corner much less Selma, AL. If I could do what Payne did I would but I would not even know where to begin. He may not be right but his heart is in the right place and he is DOING something.

    April 15, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  54. Jackie in Dallas

    By the way, Lee, yes we do have a State Department and a quite effective Secretary of State in Hillary Clinton. However, both houses of Congress have Committees on Foreign Affairs, because the more knowledge that is available, the more effective (theoretically) is their decision making. Since Rep. Payne is Chairman of one of those committees, he has every right to be working with his counterparts in Africa. In actuality, the State Department relies quite a bit on the Congressional Committees as well as vice versa. Their areas of focus are different.

    April 15, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  55. Jackie in Dallas

    I'd like to address a lot of the questions raised, especially the negative ones.

    1) Rep. Payne is doing his JOB. He is a member of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where he serves as Chairman of the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health. Trips to gather information and to work with his counterparts in other countries has always been required and is an acceptable travel expense. Because we no longer can be an isolated country - this is the era of globalization - we cannot neglect to learn first hand what is going on in other countries. Yes, we pay for these trips with our taxes, but then, we also paid for VP Cheney to take hunting trips to shoot his friends, and for the countless trips the President Bush made to cut brush in Crawford. Somehow, I think Rep. Payne is making better use of the money.
    2) He was warned, as were the other people on board that there were dangers inherent in being in Somalia. But if we want to see a resolution to the piracy issue, we need to deal with the elected Somalian government. Their trip was planned and he was already in Africa when the American ship was hijacked.
    3) We are not creating a government there, we are simply supporting one that was elected. By the way, that does NOT include financial support. Our options are to support the one that is pro-working with us, or one supported by al Qaeda. Personally, I think supporting the government that is anti-piracy, anti-al Qaeda is the better option.

    For all of you who expressed your desire to see him killed, all I can say is that you are pathetic. I don't understand how anyone who thinks of themselves as a true American, or a true Christian, or even a decent human being could wish that. You dishonor this country by your flippant and cruel comments.

    April 15, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  56. Joe

    SOLUTION:

    I think it is unfair to have tax-payers footing the bill to secure private shipping. Now that DOD has terminated Blackwater's contract in Iraq, i think Somali Pirates present a 'need-meets-opportunity' scenario for both International Shipping. Let private shipping comapnies hire Blackwater to combat the threat posed by piracy. It offers new business for blackwater (or other security contractors), satisfies Shpping lines' need for secuirity, eases the taxpayer/ military burden, plus will provide for some very very action packed shootouts at sea!

    April 15, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  57. Whacky Waco

    It is too bad that the Somali's did not capture this congressman. The Somali's are black, the congressman is black, and the president is black so that would make it black on black on black.

    April 15, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  58. Gary

    This guy is from Jersey. The same thing could happen around Newark
    Airport . Next time he just might listen to the State Dept.,and stay out of this area.
    The LAST thing the USA needs to do is go on the ground in Somalia.
    These people don't fight by any rules our troops would be handcuffed
    by.Zap them from un-manned aircraft.

    April 15, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  59. Doug

    From reading the comments on this issue, I can see the No Child Left Behind program has failed miserably. The only reason you cowards are criticizing this guy is because you are concerned that some tax dollars might get spent on someone with brown skin. Racists. White/Right Wing nutballs.

    April 15, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  60. jona

    I would hardly call this nitwit a "lawmaker" HE went there alone and as far as we're concerned he coudl stay there and no one would notice.

    Is he SO stupid as to be under the delusion that he could have an effect on Somalia?

    Next time.. please take the WHOLE BLACK CAUCUS with you.

    April 15, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  61. EG

    The US does not need to get itself involved with another direct invasion of a country. A third invasion would be disastrous to our economy. It would take decades to establish a working government in Somalia. This piracy problem affects Europe and the middle east more than the US. The country needs to be occupied by an international force, so it can start getting orgainized from scratch. In my opinion this international force should be made predominantly of African troops, and be financed mainly by Europe, the Middle East, and less so by the US.

    April 15, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  62. Jon

    The article never metions being shot at save the interviewers comment' and you never knew you were shot at'; most weird.

    April 15, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  63. Dick

    There is a reason why the United States has nuclear weapons and this place Somalia needs to have a few mega tons dropped on it from one end of the country to the other, all is guilty none innocent, no more Somalis no more pirates, end of story, just a vast nuclear wasteland where Somalia once was.

    April 15, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  64. Chas

    As soon as their plane was clear of the runway the ships offshore should have turned the runway into a sand beach.

    April 15, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  65. Matt

    I applaud his courage. A true politician – even though he knows the dangers of the country he is still willing to go there to represent the U.S. I bet 99.99% of you arm chair warriors (except of course for the Vets) won't even drive into a rough neighborhood because you're probably afraid of getting mugged. Also, you can't expect to give millions of dollars to the corrupt Somali government. Hell, a large percentage of pirate ransom's goes to the Somali government as kickbacks. You give them millions of dollars and come back the next day – it'll all be gone.

    April 15, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  66. Ken in NY

    After reading this I have to ask myself two questions.
    #1 Why is the US government involved in the creation of another country's government? (Is it not an internal matter, best left to those who actually live in that country?)
    #2 Who is paying for the Senator's trip? (Are trips like this one not draining the resources of our childern's future?)

    April 15, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
  67. Rich

    Congressman Payne must have made this fact-finding trip with the blessings of State. His feedback and understanding of this germinal government, if they are that, will be extremely valuable in formulating an effective US policy on Somalia. He undoubtedly has information from the Nairobi group that will not necessarily be made public.
    That said, the piracy will need to be suppressed militarily, either unilaterally or preferably by the major powers in concert. This would mean direct action on Somali soil. Initially we need local humintel regarding the hostages, and the range of options to obtain their release. Not easy, no good options. But ignoring Somalia, permitting the piracy and al Shabab to grow further into this vacuum would be dangerous. That's why we "hire" presidents to make tough choices.
    This may be the first of many such tests of leadership for this president.

    April 15, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  68. enlightened

    If Somalia wants to be a muslim country, then other muslim country's should lead the way to rebuild. The Saudi's lost an oil tanker to the pirates and had to pay out the a$s to get it back. If they dont act, it goes to show Muslims cannot run a country on religious grounds.

    April 15, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  69. Tom

    To those who asked, this congressional publicity seeking has become suddenly worthwhile because of the wonderful story that an American ship was taken and Navy Seals drilled holes in the skulls of a few mutants. Now the public is talking about it and the cockroaches come out of the woodwork so they can become part of this story. It's not so surprising really. If you pay attention you will be able to notice the attention getters disappear as soon as the bodies of some slain Americans are part of the story.

    I do hope the US becomes more proactive in seeking out targets (pirates) BEFORE they are able to create revenue for thier terrorist sponsors.

    Take the fight to the enemy!

    April 15, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  70. Lee

    Why is this idiot out glode trotting. I didn't know the Constitution tasks the Congress with mediating foreign conflicts. I thought that was why we have a State Department and a Secretary of State... oh, OK, now I get it.
    Was he in a USAF aircraft?
    KNUCKLEHEAD.

    April 15, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  71. Mots

    Is there a reason CNN seems to favour the word "lawmaker" over "politician" lately?

    April 15, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  72. AngieS

    Did any of you actually *read* this interview? I'm not sure what you people are talking about but there was never – anywhere in the text – a mention of funding. No one said a single word about giving them money. Senator Payne talked about helping the fledgling Somali government to build an internal police force and military with which to fight piracy and corrupt factionalization within their country but he didn't suggest we pay them.

    No, the infant government of Somalia does not have any money. How could they unless they resort to piracy, themselves? This country has been in chaos for almost 20 years. Do any of you have an idea of what that looks like? How many of you live in mud huts eating bugs and weeds? How many of your children live in fear of being pressed into roving militias? How many of your wives and daughters are terrified of stepping out of doors? The UN can't help because WE the good ole' US of A have held the organization hostage for the past 8 years only using the UN when it happened to suit our needs and then casting them aside, afterward.

    Face it, people: we are a global society, now. We have a responsibility to each other to help where help is needed. We ARE our brothers' keepers and our brothers are in dire straights. Please quit your partisan slobbering and get off of your backsides and pitch in or at least be quiet while the rest of us get to work.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  73. tayla

    They claim to be "protecting" their coast ... from what? From Americans sending food to their starving people? THEN STOP SENDING IT!

    We should stop sailing aid past these animals until we can ensure our sailors are not sitting ducks for rocket propelled grenades and AK47 fire from pirates threatening to kill American and French hostages.

    I think they now hold over 200 hostages. How high must that climb before the militaries finally take serious action on pirate land bases and mother ships? Changing shipping routes would delay deliveries and cost much more when no one can afford it. I can't imagine insurance companies will continue to pay endless ransom claims.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  74. EMILY YSAIS

    HERE WE GO AGAIN... GETTING INVOLVED IN ANOTHER COUNTRY'S BUSINESS. WHEN DOES IT STOP?

    April 15, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  75. John Q. Public

    What's this Congressman doing going over to Somalia? He should be spending his time representing his constituents in New Jersey. What's wrong with this country? What's wrong with you people? You let the government continue wasting your money and destroying your country. Don't count on Obama to save you either, he's just like any other politician. I heard a saying that says the people get the government they deserve. That's why the US is in such poor shape, the people deserve it.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  76. Frosty

    Too bad they missed!

    April 15, 2009 at 1:51 pm |
  77. George Jungle

    This mistake here is that an i d i o t like Payne was voted in as a congressman. Obviously an invertebrate he is!

    April 15, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  78. Tom, Long Beach, California

    yes, a little straffing of the Al Queda losers is in order now......also time to blow up some pirates....let's not waste to much time with these losers...just eliminate the problem

    April 15, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  79. Rick Whittington

    What we really need to do is send a team of NAVY SEALS in
    to get really good intel then do it, wipe out these thugs without
    hesitation.
    They could probably wipe them out at night without even being
    seen or fired at, after all there the best.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  80. Chris

    I heard Hillary is quietly trying to "buy" Rep. Payne's story for her next election run.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  81. Mike

    Bob – your argument is negated by your rampant and racist generalizations about African-Americans. According to you only whites have money and blacks are asking for it or taking it. Please educate yourself before making such hateful tirades and welcome to the 21st century.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  82. Chick

    To Dirk:

    You are a socialist! Move to Canada if you are not happy with capitalism. One currency??? Never happening. As for this Somalia thing, I think the only way to win this battle is coordinated attacks both on land and sea, which will be executed by the U.S. and other countries which have been victim of the piracy.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  83. NH

    It looks like we are happy at spending millions dollars patrolling the Somali sea with our destroyers and carriers, when we could easily drop those to the new somali government to solve this problems of this poor nation for once and for all. But Nooo much like fast food we like our solutions fast, unhealty and without fullfillment. Way the go USA.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  84. BURNS

    CONGRESSMAN, GET A REAL JOB,DON'T SUCK FAME FROM ALL
    THAT SERVED FAITHFULLY IN THE MILITARY AND KNOWS WHAT
    IT MEANS WHEN FIRED UPON.

    VET NH

    April 15, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  85. Mike

    To the three commentators so far who have expressed that they wish the U.S. congressman would have gotten shot down while working to help Somalia: you are cowards and if you're American you don't deserve to be.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  86. Gavin

    To Bob,

    This is a congressman from NEW JERSEY – the only way they know how to run a government is by corruption! If the corruption means more money is being poured in that just means he'll get more in bribes and kickbacks. It's a win-win for everyone (if everyone only includes the people that go to your country club).

    April 15, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  87. Gavin

    After reading this story my only wish was that the Somalis had better aim. How appropriate that a congressman from a failed state like New Jersey is meeting with leaders from a failed state like Somalia to tell them how to "Move Forward". Maybe he'll give them advice on how to make taxes the highest in Africa, ignore their constituents and take bribes and kickbacks. Oh don't forget to criminalize victims of crime and victimize criminals; we wouldn't want murderers and rapists to get their feelings hurt.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  88. Dirk Ellis

    This in my opinion is definitely the beginning of the end of the financial system as we know it. We've come to a point where the monetary system is becoming obsolete. Cash is after all simply a tool for exchange. I will say that capitalism promotes a healthy competitive work force in producing the best product. But at the same time an insatiable greed for both power and more money. at this time I would say that humanity is at a cross road. I believe that it should start with a single world wide currency, eventually becoming a cashless society. as it is now we have the resources for every one of us to live comfortably, get a proper education, and become a productive member of society. I think if we were to pool all of our resources and distribute them according to your contributions to society we would eventually become the family of humanity verses the look out for me society that we are

    April 15, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  89. Bob

    Don't give them a single cent to do it themselves. They are incapable of taking on such an enormous undertaking

    What a bunch of bull Mr. Congressman. Just pour in the dollars and let corruption flourish. It cannot be managed properly. Period!

    After the Ethiopian pull-out, no African country wants to send troops in, whether as a UN mandate, or not. This is a war zone, it is not controlled by anyone. What makes you think you can make a change by quote "pouring in resources" (code word for bucks). My taxpayer bucks.

    We have such a racial divide in this country. Blacks see it one way and Whites see it another. Blacks say show me your money. Whites say, I want to keep my hard-earned money. You certainly don't hear such whining from Asians and Hispanics.

    Hey, look at Zimbabwe, there's a real shining example of moving from being the richest country in Africa to the poorest in 30 years. What makes you think that pouring bucks into Somalia is going to change the culture and actions on the ground. It will not.

    I believe our President, in coordination with other countries faced by this blatant piracy, especially Sarkozy, and others, will institute and execute a united action to rout out these pirates both on the water and on the land. Show no mercy. If someone steals my property then they pay. In this case with their lives.

    I could care less about what happens to them. The Somali Muslims started the war and their only objective is to make everything in Somalia muslim. Lawlessness led to piracy.

    It time to take a coordinated action with partner countries and not through a UN mandate. The UN crap never achieves its objectives.
    To weak.......weak.......worthless.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  90. Johnathan

    Everyone has known that Somalia is a failed state and that lawlessness rules it. Why on earth would an American Representative go there? Unless I suppose it was a publicity stunt on his part. I don't need to go there to tell anyone that it is a failed place and for him to use an excuse of wanting to see the conditions on the ground firsthand are simply foolish. With the issues that we have in our own country I sure that he could have found a much more worthwhile venture without having risked his life.

    Please CNN stop giving publicity to this idiot.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  91. AM

    Their is really no hope for Somalia.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  92. BRIAN

    TO BOSWELL WILLIAMS
    WOULD THAT BE THE NEW WORLD ORDER AND ONE WORLD FINANCIAL SYSTEM SPOKEN OF IN REVELATION JUST PRIOR TO CHRISTS RETURN,I THINK SO,BETER HOPE YOUR ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE FENCE WHEN THAT GOES DOWN.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  93. J.Crobuzon

    I'm sorry, do you have to be a hack plugging a website to post here? I pity Somalia; they must have had a president named Bush or Gingrich to be this messed up.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  94. Someone Fakesname

    Hey, CNN: you need to review your posts. The first comment here is an advertisement. The second talks about the article, but clearly it's intent is for you to come participate in a 3rd party action. Not to actually comment or contribute to this discussion.

    Should we send in clandestine troops? Probably. Would it be better to help their government establish it's own means to deal with the issue? That's a nice solution, but to do so, we need to pay for them to build a military and police force. Last I checked we just did that in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps we should go with the clandestine activities for now, and build American police and military resources for a change... here in the US, not overseas. Our pockets are not as deep as they once were.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  95. Greg M

    What's the point of having a UN? Isn't that their job, oh I forgort the credit cruch pinched their budgets, Thanks Greedy wall street!!

    April 15, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  96. Rick Whittington

    He was told not to go so he deserved to get shot at,
    he's an idiot.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  97. W.T. Fulcrum

    Really!

    April 15, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  98. Mike

    We have 2 responses to this story here. One is an advertisement for a social network, and one is a political statement from outside our country advocating stupidity and pointing to a web site that no longer exists. I cannot help but wonder why we Americans take such a narrow view of the world around us, ignorant to the effect of outside forces on our little failed system here. We have our problems here, but they are nothing close to what is going on elsewhere in the world. It all goes into the same pot. America needs to get off the couch and get involved before it is too late.

    April 15, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  99. Revolution

    Oh bummer, what would the country do with the loss of a congressman..sigh

    What do you call a congressional hearing at the bottom of the ocean?

    A good start

    April 15, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  100. Gerhard Steinmetz

    Boo Hoo...maybe we shoukl attack them after we are finished in Afghanistan

    April 15, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
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