Will Anyone Collect Osama bin Laden’s $50 Million Bounty?

Now that the nearly 10-year-long manhunt for Osama bin Laden has ended, the question remains of what to do with the $50 million reward on the Al Qaeda leader? New York Representatives Anthony Weiner and Jerry Nadler have introduced a bill in Congress that would direct the money to groups that have helped those affected move on with their lives.  “If the bounty isn’t paid, Osama bin Laden’s victims should get it,” Weiner said, noting that “families and groups who helped deal with survivors of 9/11” should “benefit.”  Nadler added that the money “was allocated for 9/11 victims in effect, and this is simply saying to use it more effectively for the purpose that it was set up for in the first place.”

The State Department offered up a $25 million reward for bin Laden in 2001; in 2004, then-Senator Hillary Clinton of New York led the effort to pass a bill that would give the secretary of state the discretion to raise that total to $50 million.

The Obama administration appears to oppose Nadler’s and Weiner’s proposal.  White House spokesman Jay Carney said that no one took the necessary steps to make themselves eligible for the sum.  “As far as I’m aware, no one knowledgeably said, oh, Osama bin Laden’s over here in Abbottabad at 5703 Green Avenue,” Carney said.  “My sense is that the requirement for any kind of reward is to say that — not to accidentally, through intelligence gathering, provide information that leads to the whereabouts of somebody like that.”

Gary Faulkner, an American who went to Pakistan last year to hunt for bin Laden  — albeit unsuccessfully — thinks he deserves a share of the $50 million.  Several petitions and websites think the money should go directly to the Navy SEALs team that caught bin Laden, even though as government employees they are not entitled to reap the reward.  A third option would be for the government to keep the money, sparing the deficit another $25 million-$50 million dent.  In fact, there is no money set aside for the bin Laden reward.  But while the State Department maintains a broader fund that is used to pay for these kinds of rewards, there is no designated bin Laden reward money waiting to be collected.  Officials have said the information that pinpointed bin Laden’s location came from multiple sources and intelligence gathering efforts.  No single source was responsible for the intelligence that led to the end of the hunt for the terrorist leader.

John Feal, a Ground Zero construction veteran and advocate said 9/11 rescuers still bear the scars of that day, and could use the funds.  “If it was up to me it would be called the ‘No Responder Left Behind Act’ because my attitude now is we will not leave anybody behind who’s affected by 9/11,” Feal said.  His FealGood Foundation helped finance the funerals of five Ground Zero responders and workers in the past two months.