NEW YORK—Reps. Anthony Weiner and Jerrold Nadler announced proposed legislation on Sunday that would make organizations providing relief to survivors, families, and first responders of the 9/11 terrorists attacks eligible to receive the $50 million bounty placed on Osama bin Laden.
“In 2004, in an effort by Congress to try to increase speed of the prosecution and the capture of bin Laden, we in Congress, by a unanimous vote, increased the existing reward program that operates in the State Department by $50 million dollars by targeting Osama Bin Laden’s capture,” Rep. Weiner explained.
As of the announcement, the FBI’s “Most Wanted” page still lists a reward for up to $25 million for information leading to bin Laden’s capture, but his location was pieced together from a variety of sources, many of which were internal, some unidentified, and some through interviews with prisoners.
“Because there is likely no awardee for the $50 million bounty for Osama bin Laden’s capture, those funds should now be used in support of the 9/11 families, responders, and survivors,” said Rep. Nadler, co-author and sponsor of the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
“I urge the State Department to distribute the reward money to established organizations and institutions which provide services and programs to the 9/11 community,” said Nadler.
“A great deal of all of that reward money could not get spent. Early comments by the intelligence community, by the secretary of state, and by the military officials state that [much] of the information was gathered by our own intelligence forces and interviews with prisoners that were held,” Rep. Weiner said. “There is probably not going to be a reward given.”
The Rewards for Justice Program established by the State Department in 1984 was given $25 million in 2001 as a bounty on bin Laden.
In 2004, Congress passed legislation that gave the secretary of state $50 million to award those who provided information that would lead to Bin Laden’s capture.
Rep. Weiner says that because of the way the legislation was written in 2004, the bounty, if not rewarded, will be “stuck” in that account.
The legislation is a simple one. The representatives explained that this would only add a clause to current legislation, enabling the secretary of state to distribute the $50 million, or however much of it is left if part of the money is rewarded for the information, to organizations that provide relief to first responders, survivors, and their families. They are optimistic about the legislation.
“If we don’t make this change, the money will stay in the bank account,” Rep. Weiner said. “I think that there are many, many members of Congress with an overwhelming support for the idea of lending support to the many organizations that exist here in New York or elsewhere that are serving the needs of the survivors’ families.”
If passed, the money would go toward organizations like the Feal Good Foundation.
John Feal, the president of the organization and a first responder said, “Osama bin Laden was killed—time to move on. Here’s the problem: First responders, men and women who risked their lives without prejudice are dying.”
Feal recently paid for four funerals, deaths caused by illnesses they suffered from the 9/11 attacks, and says the money would help the broken families immensely through health care and scholarships.
Harry Edwards, the spokesman for the State Department has said that the department “does not generally discuss nominations for awards” and that if a reward is given, it would probably be under $25 million.