Question of the day

Ok, here’s the scenario:

You visit a country of your own free will. Or you travel there to live and work. This particular country is not known for being the safest place in the Middle East to visit. In fact, the US State Department issues warnings all the way back from 2005 urging “the need for caution and sound personal security precautions.” Nevertheless, you continue to stay in the country and/or still intend on visiting it. Then, fighting breaks out between warring factions. You’ve been unable to find a way out of a country known to be unstable, and you anticipate that the US government, at some point, will assist you and other citizens out of the country.

Do you also expect not to have to reimburse them for getting you out of a war-torn country you’ve already been repeatedly warned about?

We’ve a federal law on the books that states US citizens who have to rely on US gov’t assistance in order to evacuate from a country that is war-torn engaged in civil unrest, or just experienced a natural disaster must reimburse the government. But under pressure thanks to the usual posturing by certain Democratic members of Congress that the US ‘wasn’t doing enough’ to evacuate US citizens out of Lebanon and furthermore that the obligation to reimburse was absurd and mean-spirited, the State Department has said they will not require reimbursement from those who are being evacuated courtesy of the US government from Lebanon.

Democratic Minority “Leader” Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) made sure to invoke the alleged ‘slow response’ to Hurricane Katrina in order to demagogue the issue even more:

“It’s too bad this is being treated as a mini-Katrina,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

I see the grandstanding didn’t take long. You remember that after Hurricane Katrina and the firestorm of criticism the administration came under regarding the time it took to evacuate citizens in New Orleans (which was actually Mayor Ray Nagin’s and Gov. Blanco’s responsibility), there were accusations that the reason Bush’s FEMA supposedly didn’t react quickly enough to evacuate residents in New Orleans was because they were black – and Bush is a Republican, so he hates black people, naturally.

I wonder what the rallying cry for the left will be this time around?

I also wonder, will they, in their haste to condemn the administration, also point out what the State Department has had on its website for a year and a half now about security in Lebanon (emphasis added)?

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Recent events in Lebanon underscore the need for caution and sound personal security precautions. Former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated on February 14, 2005 in a car bomb attack in which 22 people were killed and many others seriously wounded; the potential for violence remains. Since February 2005, there have been 15 separate bombings in Lebanon, resulting in ten dead and 121 wounded.

Americans have been the targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past. The perpetrators of many of these attacks are still present and retain the ability to act. American citizens should thus keep a low profile, varying times and routes for all required travel. Americans should also pay close attention to their personal security at locations where Westerners are generally known to congregate, and should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings. Unofficial travel to Lebanon by U.S. Government employees and their family members requires prior approval by the Department of State.

U.S. citizens who travel to Lebanon should exercise heightened caution when traveling in parts of the southern suburbs of Beirut, portions of the Bekaa Valley and South Lebanon, and the cities of Sidon and Tripoli. Hizballah has not been disarmed. It maintains a strong presence in many of these areas, and there is potential for action by other extremist groups in the city of Tripoli. Tensions remain in Lebanon’s southern border with the possibility of Hizballah and Palestinian militant activity at any time.

Palestinian groups hostile to both the Lebanese government and the U.S. operate largely autonomously inside refugee camps in different areas of the country. Intra-communal violence within the camps has resulted in violent incidents such as shootings and explosions. Travel by U.S. citizens to Palestinian camps should be avoided. Asbat al-Ansar, a terrorist group with apparent links to Al-Qaida, has targeted Lebanese, U.S. and other foreign government interests. It has been outlawed by the Lebanese government but continues to maintain a presence in Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp.

In addition, dangers posed by landmines and unexploded ordnance throughout south Lebanon are significant and also exist in other areas where civil war fighting was intense.

Or how about that State Dept. travel warning on Lebanon, issued last Thursday?

This Travel Warning is being updated to alert American citizens that, due to ongoing security concerns in Lebanon, the U.S. Embassy has been granted authorized departure status. Family members and non-emergency American employees have permission to depart Lebanon. American citizens are urged to evaluate their personal security posture and consider departing in light of the current situation in Lebanon. The Department of State urges American citizens to defer travel to Lebanon. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on May 2, 2006.

The Department of State is concerned for the personal safety of American citizens due to the current security situation in Lebanon. In light of the events of July 12 in Southern Lebanon and the resulting escalation in tensions in Lebanon, including the closure of Beirut International Airport and the Port of Beirut, American citizens are urged to avoid non-essential travel in Lebanon. There remains the possibility of anti-U.S. demonstrations and American citizens are reminded that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. American citizens should avoid any areas where demonstrations are possible and exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations. U.S. citizens in Lebanon are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut where they may also obtain updated information on travel and security in Lebanon. See registration details below.

The Bush admin, in particular the State Department, has been taking major heat in the last week for a supposed ‘failure to adequately inform’ Americans living in Lebanon as to ‘what they should do’ in response to security issues in Lebanon, when in fact, the information has been on the State Dept. website for over a year and a half and what they’ve written there states essentially: Enter at your own risk. The State Department is now responsible for evacuating people who stayed in Lebanon knowing the risk. And now, thanks to demagogues like Harry Reid and others who possess a strong entitlement (aka “you owe me!!!!!!”) victimhood mentality, the State Dept. will be footing the bill, too.

AM Update: John Hawkins and Iowa Voice are on the same page.

PM Update: Make sure to check out the updates in Iowa Voice’s post (linked above) regarding how things are going for the Americans who have been evacuated – as well as some complaints from some of them because we aren’t delivering food to non-Americans as well as Americans. Unbelievable!

Related: Atlas Shrugs is blogging about Hezbollah in America (hat tip: ST reader Phil). Michelle Malkin is also writing about Hezbollah in the US.

Check here for the latest news on developments regarding the situation in Lebanon.


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