When President Obama made his first public comments on the rescue of an American cargo shop captain from Somali pirates, he said "...I want to be very clear that we are resolved to halt the rise of privacy in that region." Some have called it a presidential flub, but The World's Jason Margolis says maybe so, but it's not as straightforward as it seems.
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MARCO WERMAN: Some piracy news now. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today announced plans to freeze pirate assets. It's part of larger attempt to regain control of the waters off the coast of Somalia. Meanwhile, some people are still wondering what President Obama meant when he said this earlier this week.
BARACK OBAMA: And I want to be very clear that we are resolved to halt the rise of privacy in that region.
WERMAN: More now on that presidential utterance from The World's Jason Margolis.
JASON MARGOLIS: Here's late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel.
JIMMY KIMMEL: The president made it very clear that he is committed to stopping piracy, or at least he made it kind of clear.
OBAMA: We are resolved to halt the rise of privacy in that region.
MARGOLIS: Kimmel's producers really milked the joke by showing some archival video of George W. Bush seemingly joining in the laughter. Over on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough spent a couple of minutes poking fun at President Obama's slip-up. But within minutes, several viewers e-mailed Scarborough and said no, Mr. Obama used the term correctly. Here's Kenneth Kinkor, Project Historian at the Whydah Pirate Museum in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
KENNETH KINKOR: A privateer is essentially an individual or a company who's been granted a license by the government to go out and attack the shipping of the designated enemy, usually but not always, in time of war.
MARGOLIS: That's clearly not what the men in Somalia were up to. Even if they were privateers, does a privateer engage in privacy? Actually no, says Robert Rotberg at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
ROBERT ROTBERG: A privateer engages in "privateering".
MARGOLIS: Rotberg says the President probably just made a slip of the tongue or it was a teleprompter mistake.
ROTBERG: The only way we could demonstrate that he was saying what he wanted to say, it was that he was content to make up a new word, a neologism.
MARGOLIS: The White House hasn't spoken on that possibility. Now, if you were to hear Republican Congressman Ron Paul talking about "privateering", that wouldn't be a slip of the tongue. Paul said this week he wants Congress to hire private citizens to keep international waters safe and engage in â€œprivateeringâ€. Then, in the seas off Somalia it would be pirates vs. privateers. For The World, I'm Jason Margolis.