Results for “osama bounty”
4 found

Putting a Bounty on Osama

The gang over at Crooked Timber are having a good time laughing at James Miller’s suggestion to increase the bounty on Osama bin Laden.

I’m puzzled, don’t the gang know that the United States has been putting bounties on terrorists since 1984? Or that Qusay and Uday Hussein were located due to a reward – as was Al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, as was Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 WTC bombing as were the terrorists responsible for the destruction of Pan Am 103? Could the gang be unaware that in the United States bounty hunters have a better record than the public police both at preventing bail jumping and apprehending fugitives once they have jumped bail?

Regular readers of MR will, of course, be better informed. By the way, my paper on the US system, The Fugitive: Evidence on Public versus Private Law Enforcement from Bail Jumping has just been published in the Journal of Law and Economics or email me if you don’t have access to the JLE.

Bounty Hunting in Pakistan

Gary Brooks Faulkner, an American citizen who told police he was
searching for Osama Bin Laden, has been arrested in northwest Pakistan
armed with a gun, a sword, and Christian literature.

More here.  Clearly, this guy is a bit of a nut.  Nevertheless, bounties have been quite successful at capturing terrorists.  I'd like to see the $25 million bounty on Bin Laden raised to say $500 million.  We could have avoided several wars at that price.

Previous MR posts on bounty hunting here.

The Return of Privateering?

TexasSignal: Rep. Lance Gooden, a Republican who represents Texas’ 5th District, has introduced legislation that would allow U.S. citizens to seize the yachts, jets, and other property belonging to Russian oligarchs who have been sanctioned in response to the invasion of Ukraine. In other words, privateering.

…In the age of sail, it was common for nations to issue letters of marque licensing private citizens to raid the shipping of enemy nations. The practice died down in the 19th Century with the Paris Declaration of 1856 outlawing privateers. However, the United States never signed the Paris Declaration, and Article I of the Constitution gives Congress the power to issue letters of marque.

Gooden’s bill would require President Biden to issue letters of marque to seize yachts and other assets belonging to sanctioned Russian citizens. Gooden’s office even says that letters of marque could be issued to hackers to go after Russia in cyberspace.

There are three questions. First, should some Russian citizens be sanctioned? Second, should assets belonging to sanctioned Russian citizens be seized? Third, should privateers be able to do the seizing under a legal regime? There is a lot of room for debate on the first two questions but oddly these questions aren’t debated. Sanctions of this kind are common and broadly regarded as legitimate although likely overused in my view. The latter question arouses the most debate but is to me the easiest to answer. Sure, why not? Privateering worked well in the wars of the 19th century and we could likely have saved trillions by using bounties in the war in Afghanistan.

Here’s my paper on privateering and my story about the time I went bounty hunting in Baltimore.

Bounties for bin Laden

My research convinced me that bounty hunters were an effective part of the American justice system so I have long favored using large bounties to find international terrorists. In 2008 the Washington Post argued that Bounties were a Bust in Hunt for Al-Qaeda:

So far, however, Rewards for Justice has failed to put a dent in al-Qaeda’s central command. Offers of $25 million each for al-Qaeda founders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have attracted hundreds of anonymous calls but no reliable leads, officials familiar with the program say. For a time, the program was generating so little useful information that in Pakistan, where most al-Qaeda chiefs are believed to be hiding, it was largely abandoned.

“It’s certainly been ineffective,” said Robert L. Grenier, a former CIA station chief in Pakistan and former director of the agency’s counterterrorism center. “It hasn’t produced results, and it hasn’t particularly produced leads.”

I wasn’t impressed with that argument at the time and now Seymour Hersh says it wasn’t torture or the billions spent spying on the world that led to bin Laden’s discovery but a bounty:

…the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US…

I can’t evaluate Hersh’s larger claims but I find this part of the story plausible.

 Addendum: The time I went bounty hunting in Baltimore.