Interesting article from Stratfor – Why US Bounties Fail.
The United States Government, through the State Department, has a program where bounty money is disbursed to credible informants that aid in the arrest of wanted terrorists.
The bounties can range as high as $30 million, as was paid to the people who turned in Saddam Hussain’s sons Uday and Qusay in the Iraq war. In addition, the informants’ entire families are relocated to safe locations under a sort of international witness protection plan.
The problem with this program, as laid out in the article, is that it’s not been very successful.
The review process for approval sounds convoluted enough, with committees and subcommittees and advisory boards.
In order for a high-profile reward such as that offered for Saeed to be established, a case has to be made before an interagency rewards program committee, which is chaired by the director of the Diplomatic Security Service. In addition to State Department personnel, the committee includes representatives from the Department of Justice, the FBI, the National Security Council, the CIA, the Department of Defense, the Department of Treasury and the Department of Homeland Security. This interagency RFJ committee also authorizes the payment of rewards once cases are resolved and an informant is nominated to receive a reward. The secretary of state must personally authorize any reward offer exceeding $5 million, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton approved the reward for Saeed after receiving the committee’s recommendation.
Whew….! From the point of view of the informants, they and their families are at extreme risk the whole time the “tip” is being processed through the machinery of government. A guy could get whacked waiting on his payday.
And as for the size of the bounties themselves, these days $10 million doesn’t seem to be much money, even when compared to the risk.
I remember having an email discussion at the start of the Afghanistan campaign in 2001 (wish I could find it, but that was a couple of computers ago) with some politically active friends. In my view at the time, the US Government could have have just outsourced the whole war, if the objective truly was getting Bin Laden. Just pay a large enough bounty. Even two or three billion dollars seems small money compared to the trillion or so that have been spent in a decade of war. This, of course, is setting aside the thousands that have been killed and wounded, on both sides.
For a cool couple billion, I would wager that a mercenary crew could have outfited itself quite nicely. Planes, tanks, and enough cash to grease the skids along the way. For enough cash, paid Johnny-on-the-spot, I’d wager you could get most people to do most anything.
How Much Is Enough?
A company I worked at had a program for recruitment of key people. Bring in a new hire, and you’d be paid $400 net, grossed up for taxes. People are expensive to recruit, and $400 is small money compared to the recruiting/interviewing/selecting process. As it turned out, it was small money. The program was not very successful.
In a smart move, instead of the program being discontinued, the reward was bumped up to a net $1,000, and heavily promoted within the company with posters, emails and such. The results improved dramatically. Turns out a grand was the sweet spot. More than double the original amount.
Maybe the State Dept are being pikers on this. Could a doubling or quintupling of the reward money bring about better results?
We all know what we are, we’re just haggling on price.
Readers, what do you think, do the rewards offered by the US Government seem measly? How high would you set the bar?
Why these portraits of Anna Akhmatova? It’s the first result when you punch in “public domain” in Creative Commons.