The U.S. is planning to charge Americans for evacuation?

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Check out this LA Times article:

Thousands of Americans whose vacations and business trips to Lebanon have degenerated with sickening speed into stints in a battle zone remained stranded here under Israeli bombardment Monday, their frustration and anger mounting because the U.S. government hasn't gotten them out faster.


The frustration has been intensified by news that other countries have already pulled many of their citizens out of Lebanon, efficiently and free of cost. A ferry chartered by the French government carried about 800 of its citizens and several dozen Americans to Cyprus on Monday. The U.S. military evacuated about 60 Americans by helicopter Sunday and Monday.

Other nations have packed people into rented tour buses and driven them over the mountains to Syria. The U.S. State Department has warned Americans against traveling to Syria.

The main U.S. evacuation plan involves a Pentagon-contracted cruise ship, the Orient Queen, due to arrive in Lebanon today to ferry people to Cyprus. The ship can carry about 750 passengers for the five-hour trip. Defense Department officials said other private ships were likely to be hired as well.

Americans have been told to wait for a telephone call that could come in hours — or days. They've also been told they can't board a ship unless they've signed a contract agreeing to repay the U.S. government for the price of their evacuation.

Israel is effectively a client state of the U.S. in the area, and receives more of its foreign aid budget than any other country. Couldn't Bush tell them not to bomb the capital city while the U.S. is trying to evacuate Americans?

Related: this brilliant blog post from Huffington Post on the focus on pretty long distance shots of explosions rather than dead bodies, plus a letter from Beirut by Walid Raad.

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Please sign this petition demanding that the U.S. government assume full costs for evacuating our citizens from Lebanon. Please pass it on to help spread the word as the petition was just created.

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