AeroWesty
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What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Wed Jul 19, 2006 2:08 am

Apologies for steering attention away from the more serious and worthy issues unfolding in Israel and Lebanon for a moment. Something that's been a curiosity to me is the U.S. government's policy of billing American citizens for evacuation from a war zone (did we bill the residents of New Orleans who were rescued from rooftops after Katrina?). It's notable that other countries which have carried out evacuations of their citizens are doing it free of charge as a humanitarian effort, along with taking some Americans, as our assistance has been slow to come. Sweden is taking 200 Americans out today.

In none of the articles I've read, or stories I've seen on TV, has anyone said how much the tab will be per person. Does anyone know what it will be other than what some sites are saying will be a "commercially equivalent charge"?

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=38696

On Saturday, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut advised Americans in Lebanon that those who wanted to leave would have to pay for their transportation out of the country.

"For the portion of the trip directly handled by the U.S. Government, Americans will be asked to sign a promissory note and will be billed at a later date," the July 15 advisory says.

This is standard operation procedure, a State Department official said Monday.

The official said she did not know how much each evacuee would have to pay but added, "No one will be turned away because they cannot produce funds."
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L410Turbolet
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Wed Jul 19, 2006 2:32 am

Quoting AeroWesty (Thread starter):
Something that's been a curiosity to me is the U.S. government's policy of billing American citizens for evacuation from a war zone

I thought that situations like the tsunami one or this one are exactly the reason why people pay taxes and (among other reasoons) also maintain military.
I won't criticize other governments but our government sent two a/c to DAM last night, which brought around 100 Czechs and Slovaks from there. For free. And frankly the idea of billing them for this never crossed my mind. If we can maintain "VIP fleet" for politicians, who use them for missions with often questionable purpose and benefit for the country, we sure as hell can bring few people back from a war zone.

[Edited 2006-07-18 19:45:50]
 
nonrevman
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Wed Jul 19, 2006 2:40 am

I can only make a few guesses why this would be different from the Katrina evacuations. First, those in New Orleans lived there, and many did not have the means to evacuate. I would think that US citizens in Lebanon went there by choice.

Then there is the Department of State travel warning posted for Lebanon. I could imagine the government taking the angle that they went there despite the travel warning, thus the "free ride out" is not warranted.

As for those who have helped to evacuate American citizens, we certainly owe them a debt of graditude.
 
AeroWesty
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:03 am

I just caught the very end of Rep. Pelosi's comments on this, and apparently this policy came into being by congress in 2003 as part of other legislation (didn't catch which one). Rep. Pelosi is calling on the U.S. not to send out bills, even if promissory notes are required by law to be signed before transportation.
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:04 am

Quoting AeroWesty (Thread starter):
Something that's been a curiosity to me is the U.S. government's policy of billing American citizens for evacuation from a war zone

The reason probably is, because this isn't a mandatory evacuation order, but merely a precaution. Civil order is still in place. The US Gov't is issuing a warning to those traveling there, but for those that are already there, it would cost something because they aren't being forced to evacuate.
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ltbewr
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:17 am

One American woman who got out via the French government (her Father is a Lebanon national) was very unhappy for this billing, and suggested she will send her bill to Israel to pay.
Part of this policy is probably to discourage people from traveling to areas of high risk and with advisories. Still, the USA government shouldn't bill these people who are trapped in a now war zone and need to get out so are not either killed or become a defacto hostage by the warring parties.
 
rjpieces
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:32 am

I can't believe they actually bill for that....Seems rather unnecessary in a wartime situation.
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AeroWesty
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Wed Jul 19, 2006 7:52 am

So apparently in 2001 the State Dept. asked Congress to add the provision whereby Americans reimburse the government for evacuation, and it was included in the 2003 Foreign Policy Reauthorization Act. This was reported by CNN quoting a letter written by Sen. Biden, but I've not found it online yet.
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airwave
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:48 am

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 5):
Part of this policy is probably to discourage people from traveling to areas of high risk and with advisories.

Which is nice and all, but what about people who are there for business or other unavoidable obligations? I know the State Department enables US travelers to register contact info for when they're in country, so maybe there should be exemptions for the aforementioned groups.

Quoting RJpieces (Reply 6):
I can't believe they actually bill for that....Seems rather unnecessary in a wartime situation.

I wonder what would happen if the US were to directly and declaratively involve itself in this conflict--would Americans still be required to repay?

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 7):
So apparently in 2001 the State Dept. asked Congress to add the provision whereby Americans reimburse the government for evacuation, and it was included in the 2003 Foreign Policy Reauthorization Act.

Any word on whether you can get a tax write-off for that?  Yeah sure


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Bobster2
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:53 am

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 7):
So apparently in 2001 the State Dept. asked Congress to add the provision whereby Americans reimburse the government for evacuation,

According to State Department spokesperson, Sean McCormack: "If you go back in history, go back decades, it's the case where people pay the U.S. government what the going commercial rate is for transport out."

Sounds like it started long before 2001.
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:55 am

According to this http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/...7/18/lebanon.evacuation/index.html they want $3,000 per person to get on the helicopter to Cyprus.
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AeroWesty
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Wed Jul 19, 2006 9:15 am

Quoting Bobster2 (Reply 9):
"If you go back in history, go back decades, it's the case where people pay the U.S. government what the going commercial rate is for transport out."



Quoting Dragon-wings (Reply 10):
they want $3,000 per person to get on the helicopter to Cyprus.

Thanks for the updates. Earlier today one of the news scrolls said the fare would be "commercial rate +$1". 3G's sounds extraordinarily high for a chopper ride from Lebanon to Cyprus.

I still think that it's an embarassment that the richest nation on earth has to stoop to charging citizens like this. It goes against every fiber of my being to hand someone a bill when they ask for help.
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nonrevman
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Wed Jul 19, 2006 9:25 am

Of course, that $3000 only gets you to Cyprus. From there, you still have to make the necessary arrangements back to the states. I would imagine that the demand for air travel out of Cyprus is very heavy and thus the flights would be full. So, factor in a stay at Cyprus waiting for an available flight before you can leave the island. That must be a very expensive trip indeed.
 
AeroWesty
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Wed Jul 19, 2006 9:33 am

Quoting Nonrevman (Reply 12):
So, factor in a stay at Cyprus waiting for an available flight before you can leave the island.

It's been said Cyprus is expensive as it is, I can only imagine with an island full of evacuees how high prices might go. Hopefully people will be able to get out quickly using one of the charter flights that are said to be in process.

And the State Dept. has issued a press release, according to CNN, that they won't be charging now. Thank goodness.
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MKEdude
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:56 am

Quoting L410Turbolet (Reply 1):
thought that situations like the tsunami one or this one are exactly the reason why people pay taxes

Ahhh yes, the laughably naive European position that taxes should actually go towards something. Here in the USofA taxes are something we throw into a big black hole to subsidise poverty-stricken oil companies, destitute defense contractors, and generally helping out those who already have the means to help themselves.

I mean we won't pay to educate these people or keep them healthy, so why the hell should we pay to keep them alive when there are CEOs out there forced to drive year-old Jags. Stay strong Mortimer, stay strong  crying 
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Zone1
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Fri Jul 21, 2006 11:18 am

Quoting AeroWesty (Thread starter):
Something that's been a curiosity to me is the U.S. government's policy of billing American citizens for evacuation from a war zone

I don't know where $3000 came from but I read in multiple places that it would cost $150. Here is one link: http://www.nysun.com/article/36331

I perosnally don't think the US should pay for these evacuations if they really only cost $150. If you can't afford a $150 evacuation, then get trip insurance.
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MKEdude
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Fri Jul 21, 2006 11:43 am

I heard from multiple sources in the past couple of days that the State Department has decided to wave evacuation fees. I guess it was hard to play the gallant white knight when you are carting a credit card machine on your back.
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piercey
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RE: What Is The U.S. Billing For Lebanon Evacuations?

Fri Jul 21, 2006 11:44 am

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 13):
that they won't be charging now.

Oh, they'll be charging, they'll just be charging millions instead of thousands  duck 

Either way, send the bill to Tel Aviv. If they can start this war, they can sure as hell can pay for it... (Wait a minute, didn't we send Germany the bill after WWI and that was a leading rally cry to invade everybody?) Alright, retract that, but, unfortunatly, war is profitable.
Well I believe it all is coming to an end. Oh well, I guess we are gonna pretend.

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