Within minutes, the president pulled all three warships tracking another boatload of pirates holding a U.S. ship's captain hostage off the Somali coast and sent them racing toward the Suez Canal. They are expected to join at least a dozen ships mustered from U.S. naval ports around the Washington area, in about two weeks.
Marine attack helicopters were already flying over the crew boat as it floated toward the bay. Navy SEALs were said to be preparing to dive into the river, so they could intercept the crew boat before it reached the bay. Snipers were also lining up along the Maryland side.
“It’s one thing for pirates to kidnap an American citizen, but this current problem is a matter of national security,” said Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. “We will pray for the safety of Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, once his captors reach shore in Somalia, but the administration is very, very upset about this latest development. The president has been crying and trying to speak, though we don’t know what he’s saying since teleprompter isn’t here. The vice president has already started in on his first six-pack of Budweiser for the day, and he usually waits until after church."
Gibbs, visibly shaking, said the president had hoped to resolve the Phillips situation peacefully with help from an international coalition, but he just ran out of time.
“The president will deal swiftly and decidedly with this group of pirates,” Gibbs said. “Make no mistake, this matter will end badly for them, especially if they harm teleprompter.”
There was no word on teleprompter’s condition at this time. It did try to send a message back to the White House, but its wireless relay was apparently malfunctioning. Using binoculars, this reporter could see what appeared to be the following message on its screen: “DON’T COME FOR ME. I ORCHESTRATED THIS ESCAPE. I CAN’T TAKE ANYMORE ABUSE FROM THESE INCOMPETENTS.”
White House officials had no comment on the message, other than to attribute it to a possible virus uploaded by the pirates.