A Post article today, Bounties a Bust in Hunt for Al-Qaeda:
Jaber Elbaneh is one of the world’s most-wanted terrorism suspects. In 2003, the U.S. government indicted him, posted a $5 million reward for his capture and distributed posters bearing photos of him around the globe. None of it worked. Elbaneh remains at large, as wanted as ever. …
Since 1984, the program has handed out $77 million to more than 50 tipsters, according to the State Department. … In 2004, Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.) visited Pakistan to assess why Rewards for Justice had generated so little information regarding al-Qaeda’s leadership. He discovered that the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad had effectively shut down the program. There was no radio or television advertising. …
In 2004, Congress passed a law authorizing the State Department to post rewards as high as $50 million apiece — a provision with bin Laden in mind. Last fall, Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.) went further, introducing a bill that would raise the cap to $500 million. The State Department has declined to boost the reward for bin Laden, arguing that more money was unlikely to do any good and would only add to his notoriety.
Let’s see, billions spent via ordinary means, and millions offered in bounties, and it is the bounties they blame for Al-Qaeda’s notoriety and elusive leaders? The billions are spent and gone, while the millions in bounties we only lose when they actually work. How does this suggest we should prefer ordinary means to bounties? Perhaps this Post comment explains the real objection:
This "price in his head", millions in rewards business has had a stench to it all along. It’s evidence of our own raw materialism and reinforces the idea it’s our enemies who occupy the moral high ground.