ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer issued a stern warning to the Obama administration in the aftermath of the killings of four Americans at the hands of Somali pirates on Tuesday: Retaliate or face the consequences.
“If I was a Somali pirate & if O doesn't retaliate, I'd keep taking hostages,” Fleisher, who served as the White House’s chief spokesman during the first two years of President George W. Bush’s presidency, tweeted. “If crime/terror pays, there will be more crime/terror.”
There has been no word from the White House about what action the Obama administration might take in the wake of the killings, but ABC News’ Jake Tapper reports that over the weekend the president authorized the use of force against the pirates in case of any imminent threat to the hostages.
Early Tuesday morning, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan notified President Obama that the four hostages — Jean and Scot Adam from California and Phyllis MacKay and Bob Riggle from Washington state — had been killed.
The Americans, who were on a round-the-world journey on their yacht, encountered pirates last week 300 miles off the Somali coast. U.S. officials had attempted to negotiate with the captors when gunfire broke out. American military forces killed two pirates in the shoot-out and captured more than a dozen others.
“4 Americans killed by pirates,” Fleisher tweeted. “This is the 3:00am call that Hillary warned about. If O doesn't want more killed, he must strike back.”
His message refers to 2008 campaign ad run by the presidential campaign of then-candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton that sought to raise questions about Obama’s readiness to handle international crises.
One Somali pirate was recently sentenced to 33 years in prison for his involvement in the 2009 hijacking of a U.S. shipping vessel, the Maersk Alabama. U.S. forces intervened and saved the life of the Alabama’s captain. Pirate activity has been on the rise in East African waters over the last few years.