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Blitzer’s blog: How to pay for NATO Libya operation
June 9th, 2011
02:40 PM ET

Blitzer’s blog: How to pay for NATO Libya operation

Here’s a question I would ask outgoing CIA Director Leon Panetta during his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearings to become Secretary of Defense.

“Director Panetta, U.S. taxpayers so far have spent about $1 billion to pay for the NATO military operation in Libya. At the same time, the U.S. has frozen about $33 billion in Libyan assets in the United States. Would you support keeping a running tab on what U.S. taxpayers are spending to liberate Libya and then deduct that amount from the frozen Libyan assets?”

Based on what other Obama Administration officials have told me, his answer would probably be a polite and diplomatic NO. These other officials have raised questions about international law and whether using any of those frozen funds would be legal even though the money, of course, is designed to save Libyan lives and free the country from Gadhafi’s rule.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told me recently he supports the idea. “Not only the United States should do this, NATO should do it, France should do it, the countries that are involved there on the ground and in the air.” Reid said, “Yes. The answer is yes.”

Other members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, also agree it makes sense, especially at a time when the U.S. is under enormous pressure to cut spending at home.

If the Obama administration were to support the Libyan frozen assets idea, it would probably raise questions about potentially recouping money from oil-rich Iraq to pay for U.S. military operations there. That’s in part why I suspect Panetta’s answer would be NO.

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Filed under: Libya • Situation Room
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. s kel

    marty 1st of all shut the hell up. I know the country is just about sick and tired of the repugs,tea bangers hatred of the current president due to his party and skin color. I know your going to lie about the last two words i wrote ,but at least be true to yourself and openly admit it. Your whole partys political adgenda is based on stoping the progress of this nation by any means possiable( ex: supporting a poss pres candidate who openly called for rebellion and secesxion from, this country,perry,also our involment in iraq was based on criminal lies to boost the profit margins of several coorperations involved in that nation. ie: haliburton, and the merc coorperation black water). Yeah fool u go right on shouting your garbage, go right on.

    June 11, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  2. s kel

    damn vargas i liked what u wrote.

    June 11, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  3. opus512

    Since when did paying for war matter, since a Democrat got elected president? How are we paying for Iraq and Afghanistan? We've been doing tax cuts for ten years of war operations, and now people are worried about paying for Libya?

    June 10, 2011 at 4:36 am |
  4. marty

    Obama is a war criminal. He broke the war powers act. Congress still hasnt given him permission to continue his little war. Obama should be impeached and charged for war crimes. If convicted he should be given a prison sentence.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  5. gilbot

    Didn't We Save The World Twice ?
    I Think USA Is Due More Then A Fat Check .

    June 9, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  6. Tore

    Your idea is appalling. Regarding Iraq. I think the question would be how much the US should pay in reparations, since it was not a UN sanctioned operation. But following your line of thinking, perhaps liberating the Chinese would be a good idea. You could over bill them and remove your debt to them in the process. The question of course is if I buy liberation, I need to know what your billing me for. How do I know this and that really costs that much? Can my auditors have a look through your books?

    Anyway the US is rich. You guys are just scared of the word taxes.

    Regards from viewer from an even richer NATO country.

    June 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  7. Liz in dc

    Wolf this nation must take of 'Home 1st' the american people are suffing. our needs are great. we as a people have nothing left to give to any other nation upon the face of the earth.i have people to call my office here in dc they have no lights on the water is off and the gas in off. and the babies have no food to eat. it is enough

    June 9, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  8. George

    One billion in Lybia. Oh my gosh! We're quibbling over that paltry sum after spending nearly one trillion in a war in Iraq that went forward on false (no) justification for seven plus years with few if any questions about accountability for cost? Nice try, Wolf, but a little late for you and the rest of the media. As per usual.

    June 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  9. Steve

    I agree all military funding of deployed military operations should be born but the beneficiary "direct" beneficiary of the deployment. I would suggest an easy computation of (total defense budget / total full time military personnel) * personnel deployed in any military arena. We can no longer afford hiding behind the vague statements of "in our national or economic interests" and the tax payer get no return for his investment. if a country or group of countries are unable to pay in cash, they we will take equivalent FMV of goods or services in trade, preferring goods. Makes it dog easy to administer and account for.

    Would also abolish the tax free ride on internet sales. The tax revenue helps build our stat infrastructures and the lose of this revenue just shows up in other taxes. Also is to a certain degree give a marketing and economic advantage to companies that are not domiciled ANYWHRE and not contributing to our "common good". There are arguments on both sides, but believ ethey are mostly excuses... I don't care who pays the tax, but should be easy to collect multiply the tax rate on the credit cards billing zip code and have the credit card companies administer.

    America is still the bread basket of the world, but China recently made a large purchase of corn when the price on commodity exchange dipped. We are beginning an era where countries that exploit their children, belch toxins in the air, manipulate their currency to our disadvantage and then arrogantly attempt to intimidate the US government to do what is in THEIR best interest financially.could be come the norm. I would suggest regardless of the transaction type including ownership of food producing and distribution company's, we place a tariff on anything edible that leaves our borders. Even on futures contracts, which will irk the "free trade"advocates, but it could level the playing field.

    Also we should consider a tax on all goods and services from any country that does not invest their export revenue in building infrastructure, improving basic human rights, expanding democracy and providing a safe country through the enforcement of law. This would obviously impact allies such as Mexico, not a safe place anymore, Chine, list is too long, an various middle eastern countries.

    I've never shared any of this and not sure if or how it will be received... So just consider it my 2 cents.. and maybe not worth that 🙂

    June 9, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  10. ex-republican

    I agree with using libya's frozen assets to pay the taxpayers back for the mission in libya. why should the american taxpayer always bear financial responsibility for someone's else problems. they are an oil rich country.....with the price of oil these days they will make that money back in no time. so i would suggest to the american government to run a tab on the cost of the conflict in libya!!

    June 9, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  11. D. Vargas

    How about not giving money to Libya. How about giving our seniors the money for their cost of living raise that they havent recieved in a few years. Not to mention the 40 some million that our Secretary of State gave to a Pakistan school. What about or seniors and our schools, the teachers. Why do we give it all away? Really!

    June 9, 2011 at 4:12 pm |

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