The recent kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian girls by terrorist group Boko Haram has sparked unilateral outrage around the globe. This act has left Americans torn between not wanting to interfere where they don’t belong, and not letting an atrocity like this go unchecked. Many who would usually decry the United State’s efforts to act as the world’s police are now clamoring for military intervention due to the sensitivity of this particular act.
In the face of over 200 innocent girls being sold into an unspeakably terrible life, isolationism and non-interference is a hard pill to swallow. This being said, the United States government does not launch its military every time somebody does something immoral; including the time in February when the same group shot and burned alive 40-59 school boys while they slept.
So far nobody, including the US government, has been able to reconcile their emotional desire to see these girls freed, and the need to keep the US military from acting as international police… expect for Ron Paul.
Buried in the less quoted parts of the constitution, a letter of marque and reprisal, would give America an easy solution on how to handle the Boko Haram situation. According to the Constitution Society, “letters of marque and reprisal are commissions or warrants issued to someone to commit what would otherwise be acts of piracy.”
Article I, Sec. 8 cl.11 of the US Constitution allows for this saying, “The Congress shall have power… to declare war, grant letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.”
Letters of marque and reprisal must contain the first three criteria below, and can optionally contain the last two.
1. Names persons, authorizes him to pass beyond border with forces under his command.
2. Specifies nationally of targets for action
3. Authorizes seizure or destruction of assets or personnel of target nationality.
4. Describes offense for which commission is issued as reprisal.
5. Restriction on time, manner, place, or amount of reprisal.
In 2001, Paul proposed a bill in response to the September 11 terror attacks, that would revive this forgotten procedure. H.R.3076.IH would allow for, “privately armed and equipped persons and entities” to carry out “all means reasonably necessary to seize…the person and property of osama bin Laden, of any al Qaeda co-conspirator, and of any conspirator… who (is) responsible for the air piratical aggressions and depredations perpetrated upon the United States of America on September 11, 2001.” A similar bill could easy be drafted for the current situation in Nigeria.
While some may be uncomfortable with the idea of sending mercenaries to deal with Boko Haram, they must surely be more uncomfortable with the idea of over 200 innocent girls being sold into slavery. A letter of marque and reprisal would quench the world’s justified bloodlust for the Boko Haram terrorists, while simultaneously keeping the United States from entering into a military conflict that does not concern them.
Written by Patrick Kane. Follow him on Twitter @PatVKane.