Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Who should pay for evacuations from Lebanon?
A fascinating argument is ramping up fast here in Washington about the thousands of Americans still in Lebanon, but trying to escape the fighting. Simply put: Should they pay for their own evacuation by the U.S. government or should all of us pay for it through our tax dollars?

Air or boatlifts of Americans from wartorn nations are not new. Heck, many Americans have been helped out of all sorts of tricky foreign situations by the military or the State Department. But those who want these particular Americans in Lebanon to help foot the bill for their rescue make the following points.

1) They knew they were living in a dicey area to begin with. Yes, Lebanon has shown significant progress toward being a more peaceful, stable country in recent years, but the southern end of the nation is and has been essentially in the control of an internationally recognized terrorist group, Hezbollah. When you move to or visit such a place, these critics say, you are willingly putting yourself at some degree of risk and that's your burden ... no one else's.

2) This conflict, while fast-moving, has been intensifying for days. These "stranded" Americans should have got out while the getting was good.

On the other side, there are those who make their own strong points.

1) This conflict hasn't just been fast moving; it has developed at a lightning pace, going from a dispute over a pair of kidnappings into what resembles all out war in less than a week. It is unfair, they argue, for American civilians to be expected to foresee how bad it would get so quickly.

2) We encourage Americans to invest in foreign nations, to help spread the ideals of democracy, freedom and respect for human rights all over the globe. We can't then turn around and say, "Now, you're on your own," when times get tough. In addition, if people start fearing a big bill is going to land in their mailbox after an evacuation, might that not encourage other Americans in future disputes to wait even later before seeking help?

This issue of having people pay for their own rescues has come up in many different ways with all kinds of rescues: Hikers plucked from mountainsides where they've become rimrocked, motorists rescued from blizzard-swept roads, boaters pulled from stormy seas.

So who should pay for pulling Americans out of Lebanon: Those Americans? Or you?
Posted By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent: 1:42 PM ET
  105 Comments
If the individuals are paying taxes to the US on monies they are making in Lebanon, then the Us government should assume the expense. If on the other hand, no income taxes are being paid to the US, then evacuation cost should be the burden of the individual
Posted By Anonymous D.Ryan Albany NY : 2:34 PM ET
It is shameful, to say the least, to worry about the cost of evacuation at this stage. One of the known advantages of being a US citizen has always been the confidence that the US government will try to get you out of a country in turmoil, if need be (ask the many
missionaries in Africa's war-torn
countries).
If the UK can get its people out and not have them pay for it, the US can as well. If France can do it, the US can as well. Of course, we couldn't even get the Katrina victims out in time, so I am not holding my breath.
Posted By Anonymous Charles Killier, Tacoma, Washington : 2:34 PM ET
Good question.

Who's paying for citizens from other countries to leave Lebanon -- the people or their governments? Not that that should determine who pays, I just wondered.

It seems like people should pay, if they can afford it. I figure if they could afford to travel there, or live there temporary, they probably have money or means to get home on. If they don't have the money to get out, consider the cost to get them out a loan, or have the US pay for it.
We are paying billions of our tax dollars in Iraq, to wage war. It seems like we could spend some money to remove Americans from a war zone.

Linda
Boulder, Colorado
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 2:35 PM ET
There are different variables at work here. Here are few cases:

1) If the citizens of the United States are there for a vacation, they need to work out an arrangment with the airline company that flew them to the area affected.

2) If they are working there, then it is up to their company that they work for.

3) If someone is attending college there, then it is up to the government to try and help them.

It is a case by case situation and everyone needs to pay something, due to the fact that they choose to go to a unstable and violatile area of the world. It is also up to Israel, Hezbolla (sp), Lebanon to help defray the cost.
Posted By Anonymous Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA : 2:35 PM ET
People who have travelled to Lebanon on vacation or those who have made Lebanon their home in recent times should pay for their safe removal. The Ameican public bear the burden of such cost and should be making this known to the federal government.D
Posted By Anonymous D Loker - Sydney Australia : 2:36 PM ET
Why should I have to foot the bill? That's just unacceptable. When I travel, I am prepared to bail myself out no matter what the circumstances. Period.

The Government is being fair here.
Posted By Anonymous Tikka, Seattle, WA : 2:37 PM ET
I think the parties fighting should pay for it. The people on the other side of the globe will never get along. History is the proof. They are fighting, they should pay. It's not like they do not have any money!
Posted By Anonymous russ,cleveland, ohio : 2:37 PM ET
I think it's ridiculous for the Americans stranded to have to pay the govt. for their evacuations...if anything the evacuees need to be paid for the turmoil they've been through. I love this country USA, and if i could i'd pay for it myself but i think the govt has gone too far this time.. they need the money to pay Katrina victims and Iraq war victims i'm sure.
Posted By Anonymous Cindy Craig Liberty, Texas : 2:38 PM ET
I would much rather support bringing our soldiers home first, then this!
Posted By Anonymous Burress, Santa Fe, NM : 2:42 PM ET
I feel that the goverment is saying that the americans are going to pay but I dont think the government is going to make them I feel the only reason they are asking for compensation is because of the response people will have if they say they are going to pick these civilians up for free, especially since last year they couldnt help all the civilians stranded from Katrinia get out for free.
Posted By Anonymous Tequelia, Roanoke VA. : 2:44 PM ET
Tom,

I have become mezmerized by your blogging and enjoy reading them.
As for who should foot the bill for getting our fellow Americans out, I don't think that is the important issue at this point. Getting them to safety is. Thanks for making us think. Keep up the good work.
Posted By Anonymous Mel, Manchester NH : 2:45 PM ET
Perhaps the existence or amount of this charge should be linked to State Department advisories for a country. If such an advisory exists, people who require evacuation could be charged...
Posted By Anonymous John J. Segg, Chicopee, MA : 2:45 PM ET
What I don't understand is why are people still travelling to these areas now that the conflict has escalated?

Here in Canada there have been several people on the news who had planned trips prior to the conflict starting, and they are going through with the planned "trip". Why are commercial flights still going to these cities? Why are the governments allowing people to be put in harms way?
Posted By Anonymous Jenn, Toronto, Canada : 2:45 PM ET
Wow, that's a tough question we've been debating this morning at my house. My mother, who is a German-American, feels that it is no different than her own case of living in Germany with a US passport - and if she needed to be evacuated one would expect it done at no cost. I'm sympathetic to that view, but also see your point that people knew this was a dicey region when they moved or visited there - and they were cautioned before going. Let's just hope that the fear of not being able to pay doesn't leave anyone in a dangerous situation.
Posted By Anonymous Kelly, San Francisco, CA : 2:45 PM ET
This is another sad situation of leaving bewildered Americans helpless and vulnerable due to money and procrastination.

Why don't American politicians donate the monetary value of their perks (like golf trips and travel),political party donations, and other elite luxuries which would help with these basic, yet serious, international "costs" that these Americans abroad must pay?

I really doubt that would ever happen.
Posted By Anonymous Mary, Atlanta, GA : 2:46 PM ET
Talk about "all the angles"...This is a tough question, and I don't think there's one answer. So here's 4 options:

1. If you're an employee of the U.S. government, on assignment there, Uncle Sam pays.

2. If you're an employee of a private company/organization, the company should pick up the tab.

3. If you're a tourist, well, that's why they sell travel insurance (assuming you're covered for these type of events). The choice to vacation in these areas was voluntary, so if it's not covered, you should be responsible for the expense. It was your personal decision to take that trip.

4. As for students...again, the choice to study abroad in these areas is voluntary, and a known risk. Maybe some kind of cost-sharing with the university, Mom&Dad, the student, and the government.
Posted By Anonymous Susan, Long Island NY : 2:46 PM ET
I think that if you put yourself at risk..no matter what the circumstances, you should have to foot the bill. Governments bare the responsibility to get their countrymen out of harm's way but as mentioned in the blog, these people chose Lebanon and Israel as their vacation spot fully aware of the potential dangers therefore they should pay for their way out.

You mentioned that taxpayers often pay for mountainside rescues etc. however here in B.C., if you go out of bounds backcountry adventuring and get stranded or lost, you have to pay for your rescue. You bare the responsibility of your actions...not the taxpayers because you made that choice and I firmly believe they are right in billing them.

I think all countries are doing right by their citizens by offering help to get out before the problem escalates further but they also need to be responsible for the rest of us by sending a bill in the mail (reasonable bill with loads of time to pay that is)
Posted By Anonymous Jenna, Vancouver, BC Canada : 2:46 PM ET
Those americans should pay! Not me and you!
Posted By Anonymous Tim - Borger, Texas : 2:47 PM ET
When my car broke down, I had to pay for someone to "rescue" me, albeit a tow truck. No matter if it's a sea rescue, mountain rescue or a rescue from a foreign land, there needs to be some accountability. Consider an insurance policy. I now have towing insurance.
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Fremont, CA : 2:47 PM ET
when did money replace the value of a human life! is this all we care about anymore? when god does come back were all going to hell because money has become the new god
Posted By Anonymous Tracy, seattle Wa : 2:47 PM ET
Are other nations charging their citizens for evacuating them? This isn't a rhetorical question - I'm asking because I don't know.
Posted By Anonymous Arachnae, Sterling VA : 2:47 PM ET
Those are our people over there and this is not their war. Get them out no matter the cost. America preaches so publicly about having respect for your fellow man, one nation under one God, United We Stand! Let's prove it to the world that we mean what we say. Don't abandon your fellow man, no matter the cost. Now, more than ever, we should be committed to sticking together as a nation.
Put yourself in the position of the American citizens in Lebanon...How much faith would you have in your country if it just shrugged its shoulders and said, "Sorry. We just can't afford it."
Posted By Anonymous Shannon, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania : 2:48 PM ET
The government should pay for the evacuations. Sure this region has been unstable for years, but isn't that kind of the point. The region is hardly wining any peace keeping awards but over the years the status quo has been a certain degree of danger. It's only now that the status quo has been destroyed and Lebanon is faced with war. While war was inevitable, nobody knew it was going to happen now. These Americans hardly went into Lebanon thinking that next week I might die in a war with Israel or chances are they wouldn't have come. Let's not have any more American casualtees just because the government doesn't want to foot the bill for evacuations. If we can spend billions on a war with Iraq, I think we can spend a little money to make sure no more Americans die than possible.
Posted By Anonymous Emma Russell, Downingtown, PA : 2:48 PM ET
the people being rescued should pay, most of them - if not all - made the choice to go to Lebanon - they were not required to go by our government not the taxpayers. taxpayers should not bear the burden of rescuing people who select their own course of action or activity (in the case of climbers et al that may require rescue).
Posted By Anonymous D. O'Connor, Denver, CO : 2:50 PM ET
I pity the poor American souls trapped in Lebanon. Have you forgotten Katrina? This Government runs like a big business, and, everyday people are expendable. If there were a bunch of billionnaires who support GOP lobbyists stranded there, we would have nuked Hezbollah alread. We the people are on our own.
Posted By Anonymous Sandi, South Point, OH : 2:51 PM ET
Depends on who those Americans are. Are they in Lebanon as part of commercial operations that benefit the U.S. or are they simply vacationers? The latter are able to purchase trip insurance and the taxpayers really shouldn't have to foot the bill for evacuating people who could have purchased low cost insurance when they knew they were headed to a questionable location.
Posted By Anonymous H.J. Cihak, Alexandria, VA : 2:51 PM ET
It's sorry state of affairs when we refuse to help our fellow countrymen without having our hands out for payment. What happened to the concept of the Good Samaritan? What happened to helping out people in need? If we needed help, wouldn't we want someone to pitch in and offer us assistance? What kind of country have we become that we even need to discuss this? It's not something to be proud of!
Posted By Anonymous Christina, Windber, PA : 2:51 PM ET
When you choose to be in an area very likely to become a hotbed of activity or likely to become a military hotspot - I think you should be responsible to pay your own way out. You went there at your own expense & of your own volition - so pay up!
Posted By Anonymous Chuck, Olympia, WA : 2:51 PM ET
Oh Good grief! We're paying to liberate the Iraqis from their rock-and-hard_place situation; can't we extend the same courtesy to our OWN countrymen and women when they get stranded? Is *this* what the Dept. of State has been hemming and hawing over evacuation plans for? How to balance their budget vs. conserve American tax payer lives?

Regarding Argument (1) cited by Tom Foreman: Beirut has been pounded pretty thoroughly; I'm not aware that Beirut counts in the same den of thieves that proponents of this argument ascribe to Southern Lebanon.

Finally, there is an embassy in Lebanon. So, are the Americans posted to the embassy (Dept. of State officials) also going to be paying their own way to get out of a posting they accepted? Just how broke *is* the Fed? Very curious.
Posted By Anonymous leena, cambridge, ma : 2:52 PM ET
If the people wnet overseas on their own I say they should pay for getting out. But if we paid for them to go over there then we should pay to bring them back. Likewise if the company they are working for paid for them to go over there then that company should pay to get them back.
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Des Moines, IA : 2:52 PM ET
We need to remember that we waste billions each and every year in government waste & fraud. Really the cost to evacuate 25,000 people if all of them want to go is a drop in the bucket.

Also, children are sometimes victims of their parent's decisions. Women and children should always be taken out of these situations first and foremost. Children never forget war whether it is a civil war, a war on alcohol, a war on drugs or a death or divorce. The children need to be out of there ASAP!
Posted By Anonymous Renee Bradenton, FL : 2:53 PM ET
I am just going to say it although I know it will be unpopular. But I have no sympathy for these people stuck in Lebanon, nor am I willing to pay a dime to get them out. THEY chose to be there and they decided to take that chance. If they want to be crazy enough to think they are untouchable in a region that is unstable as that one is, they can't expect other people to feel sorry for them. I am tired of the people in this world who think they can do whatever they want and there should be no reprocussions of their actions. For me, you wouldn't catch me going to the middle east, whether I felt I deserved to go or not. Same goes for the reporters who stand outside their 10th floor hotel rooms so they can watch the bombs fly over their head and broadcast pictures of themselves shaking in their boots. What? Are we supposed to think they are heroes or something? I honestly have no sympathy. It's called freedom of the press and I respect that, but it's NOT freedom to do whatever you want. Do I want them to die? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I cry a tear for every American lost in whatever circumstance, especially the kids. But use your brain and realize this world isn't a place to do whatever you want. At least, don't be shocked when things start crashing down around you. Without a doubt, the people being rescued in Lebanon should be charged for the services.
Posted By Anonymous Paul, Denver, Colorado : 2:54 PM ET
If you are there for work: Your company should foot the bill.

All others should pay their own way.
Posted By Anonymous Anthony Los Angeles, CA : 2:55 PM ET
Let the financial responsibility fall on the entity that sent them to the area known to be unstable. If Dick & Jane went over because they wanted to start their own business, they should pay for the evac. If, on the other hand, a large corporation sent them over as they explored global markets, the company should pay. If they went over on a mission, let the church pay. People and businesses need to start being held accountable for making risky decisions.
Posted By Anonymous Doug, Evansville, IN : 2:55 PM ET
The U.S. government should divert some of the billions of dollars of aide given each year to Israel (which is through our tax dollars) to pay for the rescue of its citizens from Lebanon. Especially since it is with that aide that Israel buys all of their tanks, weaponry, F-16s, missiles, bombs, etc., which causes the dangerous situation in Lebanon and puts the lives of our citizens in peril in the first place.

Before placing all the blame on Hamas and Hezbollah for kidnapping Israeli soldiers, be aware that Israel has gone into southern Lebanon numerous times and kidnapped civilians, often just regular fishermen and shepherds. In addition, on June 24, Israel abducted two Palestinian civilians from Gaza, a doctor and his brother. There is still no word on them and no mention of them in the mainstream media.

Also, please know or remember that international law recognizes a difference between abduction of civilians and abduction of soldiers. The abduction and killing of civilians is the more serious crime, and it is the crime that Israel is the guiltiest of out of all the involved parties.
Posted By Anonymous Dibs Shermat, McLean, VA : 2:56 PM ET
We should all foot the bill, I would think that one of the privileges of being an American is knowing that wherever you go in this world you can count on your country to help you in an emergency. No one wants to have to be evacuated out of a foreign country, whatever the reason. These people are victims of happenstance, I'm sure no one makes up an itenarary which reads "Land, go to hotel, go sight seeing, put self in harms way, wait for the cavalry."
Posted By Anonymous Jorge, Jersey City, NJ : 2:56 PM ET
Israel should pay for it
Posted By Anonymous c Nic Dublin, Ohio : 2:56 PM ET
Excuse me if I am mistaken, but why exactly do we pay taxes? I work from January through April and all that money goes for income taxes to support our government. The rest, after April is mine. Now, the government wants citizens to sign promissory notes so that they may be safely evacuated from a war zone? They want us not to expect them to do a thing for us after a natural disaster like Katrina? Why do we pay taxes if they are going to turn around and send us another bill for services rendered? If we are "on our own", then why do we even need a federal government? Just so they can go argue with each other like children and not get anything productive done? So they can go to Washington and represent special interest groups instead of the people who elected them? If they cannot help us when we need them most, then why do we really need them at all? They better wise and remember why it is that they are even there...and it's not to skim money out of our pocketbooks. It's not to argue and bicker like babies and point fingers and blame at each other. They (the rep and dems) are SUPPOSED to be WORKING together. FOR US! Someone needs to remind them. And someone needs to remind the rest of us that we should rid Washington of ANYONE who does not remember why they are there this next November....

I have NO problem footing the bill to get these American citizens safely out of harm's way. I foot the bill for all our government does whether I agree with it or not, why would anyone argue that this is not the right thing to do? Would it be different if they were standing on their roofs in New Orleans? They had to wait over a week for our government to respond then also. What is really going on here? Since when is our government exempt from protecting its citizens? Since when is that considered extra? They have no qualms about bailing out big business from their blunders... I have to wonder who our government is REALLY representing here. US or themselves???????
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer S., Kokomo, Indiana : 2:58 PM ET
How much are they expected to pay? Is this for a cruise from Beruit to Cyprus, only or are they to be charged for the trip back to the US?

Can they use Credit cards or will they be billed later? What if they had valid Airline tickets? Can they be re-imbursed because the runways are unusable? Will the airlines set up alternative pickup sites, where existing tickets can be used?
My understanding is there are many students and tour groups among the people stranded there, as well as business people, working on business in Lebenon. Those people would want to stay within access distance to their homes & livlihood.
I consider the word "evacuation" implies emergency and we are assisting them "escape" from iminent danger, you don't ask a drowning man to pay for the life preserver.
Posted By Anonymous Ann Guiles Sun City Center FL : 2:59 PM ET
Some sort of reasonable fee might be in order for those wishing to be evacuated, but certainly not the whole cost. The chartered cruise ship and administrative costs are probably excessive, and a government does have a responsibility to protect its citizens at home and abroad.
Posted By Anonymous Anthony Ina, Chicago, IL : 2:59 PM ET
If there was a US advisory to travelers to avoid Lebanon then I think they are on their own and should pay. Otherwise I believe the government should help.
Posted By Anonymous Susan Las Vegas NV : 3:00 PM ET
The taxpayers. We're talking about evacuating people out of a warzone. To suggest they should pay for it themselves is just sick. What if they can't afford to pay? Would the American public be ok with that?

The question seems to presume the answer to the question of why Americans are there in the first place. It's not just the family vacationing. It's those visiting sick relatives, or taking care of their families in some way. Their choice to leave may be far more constrained than the question implies.

This sure as hell isn't a ski accident.
Posted By Anonymous Catherine, Vancouver, B.C. : 3:00 PM ET
RE: Evacuations
I'm a retired foreign service officer, still on State Dept.'s rolls as a "reserve" officer. I've been involved in lots of evacuation planning, and in the midst of one "doozie" when Somalia fell apart at the beginning of 1990, when the US military took 39 USG employees and 350 others (some Americans plus a couple of dozen other nationalites). It's SOP that the USG foots the bill for the "emergergency" part of the evacuation, getting folks out of harms way to where they can arrange their own onward movement. For Americans without cash or a credit card, the State Dept. will "advance" travel funds under a promisory note to repay; in extreme hardship cases, repayment is sometimes waived. For any foreigners taken out by the USG, they're on their own for onward travel, tho' most could expect similar assistance from their own embassies.

The bottom line is: "Uncle" will pay to get you out of immediate harms-way, but it's your dime thereafter, as it should be.
Posted By Anonymous Chris Swenson; Bonita Springs; FL : 3:03 PM ET
Why should the taxpayers who are not in Lebanon pay for the evacuation of any person? If you were there for vacation obviously you were going to pay your airfare there and back. If you are theree on goverenment business, I think the government has a duty to evacuate you and not ask for reimbursement. Otherwise, you need to pay. This is a choice you made when you traveled to Lebanon. No one forced these people to go there for vacation, family reunions or work. Since when is the Federal Government a global travel agency?
Posted By Anonymous Denise V, Clemmons, NC : 3:04 PM ET
These people were there for what? If they have alegitimate reason for being there, sure why not have the tax payers pay.I kind of doubt though, whether they are involved in terrorism or what; so maybe just leave them even.
Posted By Anonymous Phil, B.C. , Canada : 3:04 PM ET
Well I would like to point out that the weapons used by Isreal to destroy Palestine and Lebanon at this moment I am speasking are made and payed by the United States. USA went on a war against Irak and paid Billions for that.
So american tax that citizens paid go to a war that was useless, to weapons and guns to Israel. But when it comes to rescue those poor innocent American Lebanese we ask them to pay for the evacuation, this is absolutely ridiculous and unfair.
Posted By Anonymous Mahmoud, Montreal, Quebec : 3:04 PM ET
I think it it ridiculous that the American government would expect these citizens to pay to get out of the country. When the National Guard came in to rescue people who were stranded in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina did they make them sign a promissary note first. To ask someone who is scared for his or her life to sign a legal document is unconscionable and would probably be thrown out in court. I can't even believe this is an issue. It is immoral.
Posted By Anonymous Heather, Winter Springs, FL : 3:04 PM ET
I definitly don't think they should be paying for their own evacuations. I agree with the point made that this conflict has escalated with frightening speed. I do understand the point that these people have choosen to live in or visit places that are notoriously violent, but I do not feel that we should turn our backs on fellow Americans.
Posted By Anonymous Diane, Richmond VA : 3:05 PM ET
It is the responsibility of the governments to look after the interests of their nationals abroad and come to help when the need arises. That's why it is wrong to ask the American nationals to pay for the evacuation. They have already paid for it by paying their taxes.

Something else to consider: what happens if someone is unable to pay? Are they left behind, or is their property seized to pay for it?
Posted By Anonymous Harry, Indianapolis, IN : 3:06 PM ET
In my opinion.. if people were there for, or on behalf of, the US Government, then obviously, the government should pick up the tab, meaning, we the taxpayers.

On the other hand. If people went into that area on their own, then they should have known that it was, at best, an unstable political climate. It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a geopolitical mastermind to realize that the region is not what one would call "Safe". Certainly, help those folks get out of there, but I'm not ready for my taxes to pay for their short-sightedness. They may have had very legitimate reasons for being there, but were those reasons worth the risk?

If they were there on behalf of a business, then let the company that sent them pay the bill.

If they were there for some religious purpose, let the organisation that sent them pay the tab, they're getting away with not paying taxes anyway.

If they were there for personal reasons, then they must have been able to afford getting there, so certainly they can afford to get out.
Posted By Anonymous Alex R., Columbia, South Carolin : 3:06 PM ET
Simply put I dont know why an American would even want to be there let alone stay.Unless their family lives there. Why are you at CNN focusing on this at all? Lets just hope we're not evacuating anymore terrorists to this country. They fact that they should pay or not is besides the point.
Posted By Anonymous Jason, Columbus Ohio : 3:06 PM ET
I can see using taxpayers' money for true rescue situations (the lost/trapped hiker kind of thing), and the reasoning in the second part of Mr. Foreman's post makes sense to me in light of the short time of escalation of the situation in Lebanon right now.

However...I don't think the U.S. (meaning you and me) should pay to rebuild IN THE SAME PLACE those whose houses are swept down in mudslides; I have some serious concerns about pouring money into New Orleans for the same reason. Yes, the people there need to be helped, to get back on their feet, and to try to get back to a semblance of ordinary life. I don't pretend to imagine that I know what they are going through.

But who or what is going to keep them safe from the next hurricane? Does it make sense to rebuild in a location that, as far as I can tell from news reports, has little more protection than it did last year?

I believe it is our moral duty to help out those in need. In light of the many conflicts of politics and religion in today's world, both within and between countries, I find it heartening that in times of disaster and crisis, so many countries reach out and offer help to one another.

No one wished Katrina on the Gulf Coast; it certainly wasn't the fault of anyone living there; and no one wants it to happen again. But knowing it could happen again, does it make sense to try to get things back to where they were? Would anyone take a vacation in Lebanon right now?
Posted By Anonymous L. Baker Indianapolis : 3:08 PM ET
I am shocked that this is even being discussed. There should be no question of who should pay--the government. It should not even be an issue about money--it's about the safety of citizens. Whose idea was this anyway? Now, I am surprised that American Citizens in the Katrina floods weren't made to sign a promissory note before they were rescued from New Orleans; and what about survivors of the attacks of 9/11? Thank God they don't have to pay back the NYPD and FDNY. I guess Washington will use the rescue money to line the pockets of their greedy friends who hire illegal immigrants under the table.
Posted By Anonymous Paige B., Austin, TX : 3:08 PM ET
For all too long this Government has spent tax payers money on all kinds of "porkbelly projects" costing millions. We have foot the bill for a war we never should of gotten into in Iraq, we are footing the bill when it comes to Illegal immigrants services in this country. Now in the face of a crisis our people are being told they have to pay for services to get them out of a war-zone! No other country is doing this to their citizens, What does that make this government look like in the eyes of the world? I'm ashamed of this government.
Posted By Anonymous larry fasel, Tulsa, Okla : 3:09 PM ET
Your vacationing in a country where the main power broker is called the "Party of G-D!"......will that be visa, mastercard or cash?
Posted By Anonymous Adam, Montreal, Canada : 3:09 PM ET
Since when are Americans concerned about where their tax dollars are going?
Posted By Anonymous Kevin Littles, Toronto ON : 3:09 PM ET
Who came up with this idea? The goverment should pay, 25,000 US citizens need help,The goverment needs to help them. Would they rather see them captured and abused even possibly killed. Just think the news that would make!!
headlines!! Americans left stranded in the war zone. US goverment refuses to help, France sends in aid and saves the poor American refugess!!

Whats kind of nation are we becomeing?
Posted By Anonymous Greg Spears, Houston Tx. : 3:09 PM ET
unfortuntly, congress passed a law that says that citezens must pay. I found it at http://pnwcgs.pnl.gov/ProgramAreas/DfN/images/DfNbill20020930.pdf

look for section 201.
Posted By Anonymous Stephan Barski, Mentor OH : 3:09 PM ET
If you are there on official business or representing the Government in some way...Ambassadors, the Peace Corp...etc., then okay...use my tax dollars to help them get out.
But if you have been a RESIDENT, living there with your family and your relatives are from there and you have been there all this time...I'm sorry. You have to pay to leave. Nobody evacuated my family from NYC during the WTC attack. We have lived in NY all our lives. If terror broke out in NY again,.....I would move them all here with me to California. I would not expect help from anyone.
There is a time when you have to act responsibly, act sensibly, or be prepared for the possible consequences when you live in places like the Middle East, Africa...or even some parts of the Soviet.
Posted By Anonymous c4ligrl, Sacramento, California : 3:10 PM ET
Oh what a loaded question. Who should pay.....well either the companies who sent them there -- or if they're there voluntarily or on holiday they should pay. Not the taxpayers.
Posted By Anonymous debi, chesapeake, va. : 3:11 PM ET
I think its up to the U.S. government to pay for an evacution of this unforeseeable event. The Americans who are caught up in this mess have much more dire thoughts to think about right now then the financial burden of paying their own way out of Lebanon. Let us stand up for whats right in this country and show that we care about our citizens. We have spent nearly 300 billion dollars in Iraq, I think a couple of million dollars more should not intervene in the safety of American citizens.
Posted By Anonymous Ali Dearborn, MI : 3:11 PM ET
The American government has an obligation to protect its people. A government that doesn't support its own people shouldn't be surprised when its own people stop supporting the government. Should the government withhold rescuing or assisting the next Katrina or earthquake victims just because the people living there knew about the risks involved? Was it the fault of the victims of World Trade Center attack who died since they knew that the towers were attacked in the past? As a government we need to stop blaming innocent people and show some compassion for a change. The fact that we are even debating this issue just shows how selfish our society has become.
Posted By Anonymous Christopher, Brownsville, TX : 3:12 PM ET
If the "evacuees" can pay for themselves, than they should. If they cannot, or if they make a certain amount of money under a specified guideline, then they may apply for financial assistance to get out.

We do that in the states all the time, like when someone is sent to the ER. If patients cannot afford to pay for all fees, based on their income, they only have to pay a certain amount and are put under a payment plan.
Posted By Anonymous Karin F., Austin, TX : 3:12 PM ET
Whether they pay to leave the country so depend on the reason the went there. Every case should be looked at individually. But yes, some of them should pay.
Posted By Anonymous Ernie, Memphis TN : 3:12 PM ET
Americans except those employed by the U.S. government should pay for their own way out. I am tired of paying for people stupid enough to live in wildfire, mudslide and hurricane zones; let alone, people who go to foreign war zones and get stranded.
Posted By Anonymous Nina, Bath, New York : 3:12 PM ET
Most knew the state dept had warnings for this region posted for years, many signed wavers (on behalf of their families) with employers/contractors stating a "no fault" style waver for terrorism and evacuations. This is a non-issue except for the media trying to create it as an issue.
Posted By Anonymous Gerald McPhearson, Washington DC : 3:13 PM ET
I have no problem with the U.S. asking for someone being evacuated to sign a promissory note. They knew they were going into an unstable country. If they are working for an aid agency, then that agency should be responsible for the cost of travel. Why do I have to foot the bill?
Posted By Anonymous S., Villa Park, IL : 3:13 PM ET
I believe that people who live in Lebanon and are US citizens should pay to go to a safe place. Tourist may have to be shipped to Cyprus but once there, they should pay for their own trip to where ever they want to go.
Posted By Anonymous Toby Akron Ohio : 3:16 PM ET
If you were talking about airlifting people out of Israel, would the subject even have come up?
These American people could not get out because the airports are wrecked, the road are closed the port is blockaded and food supplies are running out. All in the name of Israel defending itself.
Posted By Anonymous George Morris Stuart, Florida : 3:17 PM ET
I think it just points out that whenever someting occurs, either huricanes,other natural disasters or man made disasters, that as Americans the strong message we receive from this administration is "You are on your own." This does not give me comfort if there is another terrorist attack or some other occurance.
Posted By Anonymous Harold in Olympia, WA : 3:18 PM ET
People who are in Lebanon on vacation and those who have made Lebanon their home should pay for their own safe travels. The US public can't pay for everything in this violent world. The goal of the terrorists is to break the USA, they have not done so spiritually but they have suceeded in breaking the US financially indeed. Hope all in danger get into safe havens soon. Sadly, 2006 and we have yet to have another RELIGIOUS WAR.
Posted By Anonymous Inge, Pennsylvania - USA : 4:12 PM ET
Please get the fact straight.

It's not like Uncle Same demand money up front in order to let you on the evacuation plane/ship. Getting US citizens out of immediate harm way is always the priority of US government.

Charging the evacuees afterward is required by laws passed by Congress.

If you don't like it, lobby your Congressman/woman to change the laws.
Posted By Anonymous Nhan, Sacramento, California : 4:18 PM ET
There is an Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management that handles these things.

Basically, the USG will get you out of harm's way - to Cyprus or wherever. From there you are on your own.

See http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

So, what's the big deal? The person would have had to pay their own way home at some point or they can wait it out in Cyprus.

Now, there are side issues: cost of redundant housing, losses of personal property in Lebanon, etc. It is not the responsibiltiy of the Government or the taxpayer to reimburse any of that.

But just as countries fund resues at sea, I think they should handle the extraction from foreign countries. Extraction, not relocation or an extended vacation.
Posted By Anonymous Richard, Stockton, CA : 4:23 PM ET
I lived in Israel for some time and always kept a one way ticket handy. This has been a fast moving story but anyone in Lebanon with ties there such as family knows the risk. I wonder why they are so quick to leave...I don't hear too much about anyone trying to escape Israel though the airport I assume is still open. The Americans in Lebanon should foot the bill themselves unless the government makes them leave. Casual tourists should be helped out first.
Posted By Anonymous Juie, Oaklyn NJ : 4:29 PM ET
I couldn't have said it any better then 'Christopher, Brownsville, TX' (6 posts above mine)
Posted By Anonymous Alex S. San Diego, CA. : 4:30 PM ET
Anyone in those countries by choice should have to pay their own way home. It should not be the responsibility of the government to pay just because a conflict breaks out. The law is fair and just.
Posted By Anonymous Larry Coplin -Nashville, Arkansas : 4:31 PM ET
If those Americans in Lebanon could afford to go there is the first place, then they can afford to pay to get out, the government warned them many times, why do I have to pay for their vacations.
Posted By Anonymous Harry Kozell Arley Alabama : 4:52 PM ET
BTW what are 25000+ people doing in Lebanon? Are majority of these people americans of Lebanese origin visiting home? or Tourists? I can't imagine that Lebanon is such a tourist hotspot...
Posted By Anonymous MG, Los Angeles, CA : 5:03 PM ET
Israel is a great friend to the US. They are aware of Americans in harms way. I don't understand why they are not assisting the US in getting Americans out of the country. Israel already has boots on the ground, they absolutely should help us and help pay for it. Sticking it to stranded Americans is disgraceful.
Posted By Anonymous M. Meli Waldwick, NJ : 5:03 PM ET
UNBELIEVABLE!
It is apalling to me that there is even a debate as to who should or should not pay for the evacuation of American citizens. Get them out - NOW - and let our Congressional leaders debate the payment issue later. I bet if the 535 members of the House and Senate were to "donate" their next meal or "greens fee", there would be plenty to cover the cost of the evacuations.

As for the US/Israeli alliance...that is a completely different can of worms. On one hand you could say that if Israel weren't bombing Lebanon, there wouldn't be a problem. On the other, does that imply approval of Hezbollah?

Israel, in my opinion, is given far too much leeway in how it chooses to deal with it's neighbors. One of these days, they will learn that they aren't the toughest kid on the playground and Big Brother (USA) is busy with other matters.
Posted By Anonymous Vic, Washington, DC : 5:08 PM ET
If the people in Lebanon who need to be evacuated are US government employees, the US government should cover all of their evacuation expenses, but if these people are employed by private corporations or religious organizations, they should indeed be billed. They don't HAVE to be there; they CHOSE to be there. Why should taxpayers have to foot the bill?
Posted By Anonymous Hilde, Old Bridge, NJ : 5:10 PM ET
And yet another example of biased reporting. Why don't we initiate the same debate for Americans in Israel? Oh yeah, I forgot they don't need to evacuate....they have the world's most powerful country on their side (USA) while they destroy a weakened city and kill innocent civilian victims instead of even attempting diplomacy with Lebanon. Anyone here saying the evacuation bill should be passed to the citizen as opposed to government should be ashamed of themselves. Yes it may not have been the wisest decision to go to the middle east but we don't know their particular circumstances and it is really sad when the factor of money takes presidence over the factor of LIFE!! It is bad enough our incompetant leader didn't respond to Americans less than 100 miles from his residence now he is going to pass the bill to Americans in a wartorn country simply because of his obvious distain for Lebanon. SAD.....
Posted By Anonymous Katherine, Woodland Hills CA : 5:13 PM ET
Please note that the evacuees are only being transported to the nearest safe location for further travel to the U.S. or wherever they want to go (it is up to them where they go from there Cyprus).

Also note -- remember this would be a business expense for companies who evacuate their people from hot spots all over the world. I think they should help pay for the trip to the safe location!!

Travelers to Lebanon just how were
they planning on returning home -- I imagine they have a return ticket much as I do when I travel -- so why is it wrong to request that they pay a share of the cost for their evacuation!! The government should recover the cost of transporting citizens to the safe port. Travelers are not charged for traveling to their homes as they are transported only to the nearest safe location for further travel home.

Just remember this is one evacuation from one country, the State Department in just one year while I was working there had at least four countries where evacuations were taking place. Should taxpayers foot the bill for these people as well - I certainly don't think so!!
Posted By Anonymous Sandra L. Hartley, Fort Myers, Florida : 5:14 PM ET
My wife and three little children are caught in Lebanon. They were visiting family. They have been traumatized by continuous bombing day and night and once they are evacuated to Cyprus they will face the daunting task of finding a flight out (essentially competing for a each seat with thousands of evacuees). As if this is not enough to worry about the government wants to charge them 300$ a person for the short trip to Cyprus. I was under the impression that as a taxpayer I can count on my country to help me when in need. We are spending 200,000$ a minute in Iraq and then turn around and charge stranded children 300$ each for providing help. May god bring them home safely.
Posted By Anonymous raed labban, salt lake city, Utah : 5:18 PM ET
Most of my international contracts (30 years' worth) always called for my employer to pay an evacuation bill. Not trusting anyone, I have always kept a cash U.S. dollar reserve (still do), to take care of myself--just in case. All that said, yes, the U.S. should get the people out at government expense. The discussion brings fresh to mind all of the poor people who were left in New Orleans during Katrina--no money to pay to get out. No wonder the world has such a dim view of Americans.
Posted By Anonymous Gypsy, an American in Mexico : 5:37 PM ET
I absolutely agree with the government on this. These people have chosen to live/vaction/work in this volatile area of the world. They should have thought of the risks and had their own plan for evacuation. It's not like the two countries have had a history of peace.
Posted By Anonymous L Carrall Kansas City MO : 6:33 PM ET
There are some americans' that left the U.S. to visit family memebers and even though they know it is not a "safe" place they never envisioned the amount of violence that has begun to take place. We as americans should cover the evacuation cost. These families should not have to worry about the cost to get to safety. If we will foot the bill for a war we have no business being in the least we can do is foot the bill to save our people trapped in a war we aren't part of.
Posted By Anonymous Beth, Wise VA : 6:41 PM ET
There was (past tense) an historic and long held American principle that we take care of our people, respect their humanity, shelter and protect them from harm, tyranny, aggression. I don't know where and exactly when we began to accept the depreciation and disgard our intrisic values, however the date of 9/11/01 seems like a good choice.

The short answer is YES, by all means should Uncle Sam pick up the entire bill to transport its citizens the hell out of there. And, do so with a measure of speed, grace and reassurance to its people. End of story. What a stupid, unecessary P.R. nightmare for the Govt. What an awful message of insecurity to send to those stuck there, and to the entire nation. Question: who is sporting their thinking caps in Washington, these days? Answer: No one. WWD reports that thinking caps are not being manufactured or worn in the United States. The entire production of thinking caps has been outsourced and manufactured globally with the contract given the lowest bidders.
Posted By Anonymous Sherry, Phoenix, AZ : 6:42 PM ET
Getting a medical evacuation off a mountain side because you ran out of steam or got injured while on a weekend excursion is much different than being evacuated from a war zone. We're Americans and should proudly take care of our citizens' needs in situations like the one in Lebanon. Besides...I'm not sure you could come up with the proper amount to bill someone if we send a batallion of Marines to rescue them. hahaha
Posted By Anonymous C Howard, Seattle WA : 6:46 PM ET
Israel should pay for the evacuations, since they're the ones creating the need for them. The US appropriates funds to Israel, then sells them military equipment which they pay for, essentially, with our taxpayers' funding. So why not bill them for the evacs?
Posted By Anonymous Julio Recio, NY : 6:52 PM ET
In almost all cases, I would not want the gov't to pay for something like this. However, it should pay up and take it out of the billions we give to the Israelis each and every year. If it wasn't for the new Kadima-led gov't and it's need to prove itself "tough" (Olmert lacks military credentials, unlike Sharon), none of this evacuating would be necessary.
Posted By Anonymous Bruce in Corpus Christi, TX : 6:52 PM ET
For my fellow Americans who think everyone should anticipate every possible scenerio, I hope you never experience your careful planning destroyed in less than 24 hours of completely unforseen circumstances.Unfortunately, many people around the world do not have that luxury.

This may come as a shock to many people, but not every country in the Middle East is savage and a war zone.

Lebanon has been in relative peace, is a beautiful country, and was NOT a war zone before this began. It has spent 20 years rebuilding and the vast majority of people are tired of fighting and want peace.

I think the government should pay to get the Americans to Cypress. For those who had return tickets the airlines should honor those tickets. Other citizens should have the chance to get out regardless of financial ability.
Posted By Anonymous Lina, Boston, MA : 7:10 PM ET
I agree with the other postings when they echo - compassion first. These are American lives they need to be saved.

However, I think the travel advisory put out by the government should perhaps include an evacyuation fee notice. Once the citizens are back home safely they, or the firms that employed them, should pay up in good faith.
Posted By Anonymous Hari Batnagar, San Carlos, CA : 2:54 PM ET
I seem to remember that the premble to the constitution reads, "to provide for the common defense..." Now, I might be out on a limb if I say that a county is not made up only of its land, but primarily of its people. An American is an American anywhere on the planet. The first order of business is to get them out at any cost, not sit there whining about nickel and dime issues.

Perhaps we might have had the same argument over Katrina victims. Come on pepople. Losing a dollar or two is nothing compared to losing a loved one.
Posted By Anonymous Amanda, Pittsburgh, PA : 2:58 PM ET
Tom,

I think it's ridiculous for the United States government, to worry about the cost of evacuation at this time, when U.S. citizen in country has torn apart in war , the government busies talking about whom should pay to evacuate the citizen, but they never think who should pay the $300 billion cost of the war in Iraq,

I think our government should pay every cent, to bring our citizen home, instead of spending it on couple of rocket that it will kill some innocent

Ali
Virginia
Posted By Anonymous Ali, Chantilly, VA : 3:17 PM ET
We already have paid for a lot of the destruction by giving Israel $2.5 billion per year in weapons, so I would hope that we spend a measely couple more million to get people out of the situation as a result... especially since we have not done much to help simmer the situation.
Posted By Anonymous Brian Foster, Neenah, WI : 3:28 PM ET
I dont mind my tax dollars going to help these people. We Americans need to start extending sympathy to our own since we have no problem helping the rest of the world. Not helping is like feeding your neighbors kid but letting yours starve. Come on people!!
Posted By Anonymous Sharon, Tampa FL : 3:29 PM ET
The US can afford to rescue American Citizens - save money somewhere else. For those with dual citizenship - paying half seems fair.
Posted By Anonymous Laure McCloskey Claysville PA : 3:33 PM ET
Americans who are trapped at this war-they must pay for their own evacuation for a few reason a. they are there for their own business/personal interest b. all Americans knew that Lebanon isn't a stable conditions and war could broke out at anytimes c. the Americans tax payer have no abligation to pay for this rescue mission (my opinion)
Posted By Anonymous Dean Yang, St. Paul, MN : 3:39 PM ET
We all (mostly) pay taxes, and we all use different assets and services that are purchased with the money. IT ALL EVENS OUT!

If someone is working overseas, are we then going to refund them money because they weren't over here using our highways and schools?

This nonsense about having individuals pay... let's get serious. This shouldn't even be a debate.

And this is why our government has travel warnings! We can't blame people for going over there or living there if the government hasn't explicitly told us not to go there.

The government is assuming the risk for not perviously providing a travel warning to Lebanon. The government (by the people, of the people) should pay.
Posted By Anonymous Brian F., Neenah, WI : 3:48 PM ET
I agree with Lina, who suggested above that the U.S. government pay to evacuate citizens to Cyprus. I would also add that the government should consider attempting to provide temporary housing in Cyprus until citizens are able to make their way home. I feel that if the U.S. government supports Israel in its quest to destroy Lebanon, then the U.S. government should also provide care for those whose lives it is disrupting by supporting Israel's military conquest.
Posted By Anonymous Andrea, Grand Rapids, MI : 4:03 PM ET
ISRAEL ... plain and simple. They should also pay the extra cost for my gas.
Posted By Anonymous Nicholas Nix, Heath, Texas : 4:03 PM ET
Why don't we just deduct the cost of the evacuation from our payments to Israel? Hezbollah may be terrorists but they aren�t endangering our citizens. The bombs that are being dropped are manufactured in the USA and delivered by IDF.
Posted By Anonymous Sam Parker, Albany Ohio : 4:24 PM ET
It's a simple answer. Let the country that we are giving 2.5 billion dollars in aid annually (why?) and carte blanche to agressively destroy Lebanon, ummm I mean defend herself....the worlds leading terrorist state, Israel.
Posted By Anonymous Dave C., Arlington, VA : 4:25 PM ET
They knew or should have known the risks associated with being in a country other than the US. They should be required to pay their own way out.
Posted By Anonymous Rob, Tallahassee, Fl : 5:43 PM ET
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