The news of today’s dramatic hostage rescue in Colombia is remarkable for quite a few reasons. Obviously, the big news is Columbian political leaders who will fight the narcoterrorists are now free, which is unalloyed good news. The news of particular heartwarming quality is that many American citizens are also freed and will return home to see their families — some after more than five years of captivity. What a joyful way to celebrate America’s independence for them! (But shed a tear, even in your time of happiness, for your countrymen who are still captives elsewhere.)
But the most interesting dimension of this is the fact that not a shot was fired and the entire operation was pulled off by trickery rather than brute force. The good guys got some intelligence and figured out how to plant information of their own in the bad guys’ communication systems. So when the good guys showed up in a helicopter, wearing unmarked fatigues and Che Guevara T-shirts, the bad guys holding the hostages thought that this was a prisoner welfare checkup to be conducted by a neutral NGO and authorized by their superiors, and willingly let their hostages board the government helicopter. Only two FARC guards went with them, who were quickly disarmed by the Columbian forces while they were airborne. The chopper then flew the hostages away to freedom.
Three cheers for the soldiers and intelligence experts — Colombian, American, and otherwise — who helped pull it off, and three cheers for the freed hostages. It’s nice to have good news to report.