Dealing With Terrorists
Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “Unlike Obama and unlike Bush and unlike Clinton and unlike every out-of-control American president since Roosevelt, there’s no hidden checkbook under the desk a la National Treasure 2. The president just can’t appropriate money. It’s like the other day we heard this nonsense about, [mocking] “Well, the Secretary of State is going to grant $1 billion to Ukraine.” Excuse me? According to this story here that I’m about to share with you, when this came up in regards to Tripoli, that funding request sat in the U.S. Senate for almost six years.” Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: I have this story here that I wanted to get into briefly as the final offering on the Bergdahl Taliban prisoner swap. This is from “America and the Barbary Pirates: An International Battle Against an Unconventional Foe.” This is written by Gerard Gawalt. It’s in the Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress. I’ve referred to this often because Gawalt basically is going through Jefferson’s correspondence and his diaries and is piecing together this particular part of his career. Many of you have brought this up before, [mocking] “Well, when Jefferson went after the Barbary pirates, he didn’t get Congress involved.
He just did it. See, commanders in chief are unilateral, see!” No, no. If we dig into this story, and it won’t take very long, that becomes apparent again. Even though the tendency was for the U.S. and other countries to basically pay ransoms to the Pasha of Tripoli, in the Jefferson administration, Jefferson didn’t want to do it. Now, his Secretary of State was saying: It’s better than war, dude.
Unlike Obama and unlike Bush and unlike Clinton and unlike every out-of-control American president since Roosevelt, there’s no hidden checkbook under the desk a la National Treasure 2. The president just can’t appropriate money. It’s like the other day we heard this nonsense about, [mocking] “Well, the Secretary of State is going to grant $1 billion to Ukraine.” Excuse me? According to this story here that I’m about to share with you, when this came up in regards to Tripoli, that funding request sat in the U.S. Senate for almost six years. The Senate refused to act on it. They wouldn’t act on it. There was no money. Jefferson could not just send a check over there with Madison or Jay, whoever the Secretary of State was at the time, and say: Hey, go give this to the Pasha, courtesy of yours truly. Tell him I found the checkbook under the desk. Nicolas Cage told me where it was. That’s not how it works, and that’s what this story reveals.
Jefferson’s plan for an international coalition foundered on the shoals of indifference and a belief that it was cheaper to pay the tribute than fight a war. The United States’s relations with the Barbary states continued to revolve around negotiations for ransom of American ships and sailors and the payment of annual tributes or gifts.
Mike: For all you that say, [mocking] “We don’t negotiate with terrorists. We don’t make deals with madmen,” uh, yeah, we kind of did. Yeah, here’s your proof.
Even though Secretary of State Jefferson declared to Thomas Barclay, American consul to Morocco, in a May 13, 1791, letter of instructions for a new treaty with Morocco that it is “lastly our determination to prefer war in all cases to tribute under any form, and to any people whatever,” the United States continued to negotiate for cash settlements. In 1795 alone the United States was forced to pay nearly a million dollars in cash, naval stores, and a frigate to ransom 115 sailors from the dey of Algiers. Annual gifts were settled by treaty on Algiers, Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli.
When Jefferson became president in 1801 he refused to accede to Tripoli’s demands for an immediate payment of $225,000 and an annual payment of $25,000. The pasha of Tripoli then declared war on the United States. Although as secretary of state and vice president he had opposed developing an American navy capable of anything more than coastal defense, President Jefferson dispatched a squadron of naval vessels to the Mediterranean. As he declared in his first annual message to Congress: “To this state of general peace with which we have been blessed, one only exception exists. Tripoli, the least considerable of the Barbary States, had come forward with demands unfounded either in right or in compact, and had permitted itself to denounce war, on our failure to comply before a given day. The style of the demand admitted but one answer. I sent a small squadron of frigates into the Mediterranean. . . .”
Mike: Some of you are going to go, [mocking] “See! He said …” no, he consulted with Congress. Congress appropriated the money and approved the measure.
The American show of force quickly awed Tunis and Algiers into breaking their alliance with Tripoli. The humiliating loss of the frigate Philadelphia and the capture of her captain and crew in Tripoli in 1803, criticism from his political opponents, and even opposition within his own cabinet did not deter Jefferson from his chosen course during four years of war. The aggressive action of Commodore Edward Preble (1803-4) forced Morocco out of the fight and his five bombardments of Tripoli restored some order to the Mediterranean. However, it was not until 1805, when an American fleet under Commodore John Rogers and a land force raised by an American naval agent to the Barbary powers, Captain William Eaton, threatened to capture Tripoli and install the brother of Tripoli’s pasha on the throne, that a treaty brought an end to the hostilities.
Negotiated by Tobias Lear, former secretary to President Washington and now consul general in Algiers, the treaty of 1805 still required the United States to pay a ransom of $60,000 for each of the sailors held by the dey of Algiers, and so it went without Senatorial consent until April 1806. Nevertheless, Jefferson was able to report in his sixth annual message to Congress in December 1806 that in addition to the successful completion of the Lewis and Clark expedition, “The states on the coast of Barbary seem generally disposed at present to respect our peace and friendship.
Mike: So there is some history of the United States negotiating with terrorists. That’s what Barbary pirates were. They were Muslims. We would call them terrorists.
End Mike Church Show Transcript