Why Did the Bounty on Osama Bin Laden Increase by $20 Million?

The U.S. government is offering a reward of up to $25 million for information leading to the capture of Osama Bin Laden. The reward limit had been $5 million. What changed?

Recent laws passed by Congress allow the secretary of state to offer or pay a reward of greater than $5 million if the secretary of state feels that such a reward is in the best interest of the national security of the United States. Apparently, Colin Powell thinks a $25 million reward for Bin Laden is in the country’s best interest. (Read this “Explainer” column to learn how the reward-paying process works.)

Can U.S. service members collect the reward? No. Federal, state, or local government employees as well as foreign government employees are not eligible if the information they receive is connected to their government duties.

How is the money delivered? Will the “winner” receive a giant lotto-sized check? Sure, if that’s what he or she wants. The U.S. State Department has delivered rewards in the form of checks, wire transfers, and even suitcases of cash. The method is usually left to the discretion of the informant.

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