Bill Clinton in N. Korea to Negotiate for Jailed Journalists

Former President Bill Clinton has arrived in North Korea where he will attempt to negotiate for the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, two Current TV reporters jailed and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor.

Will he succeed?

Scott Snyder, a North Korea expert for the nonprofit Asia Foundation, said Clinton's standing as a world statesman carried weight with Pyongyang.
"The North Koreans have a lot of nostalgia for the end of the Clinton administration," he said.

"The question is going to be how could he go to Pyongyang without some assurance that they would be released," Snyder said. "For someone at his level to go without a prior assurance of some kind would be to risk a huge loss of face."

I think he'll do it. He rocks.

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    Consensus on TV news (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:15:06 PM EST
    this evening is that the release has been arranged and BC is there to provide a prized status-conferring photo op for the NKoreans.

    That's surely true, but I wonder if this "photo op" trip isn't awfully good cover for some other more sub rosa mission to the NKorean government.  BC is one of the all-time best natural negotiators on the planet and it would make little sense to waste him by using him for nothing more than a photo op.

    It's also interesting that Bill Richardson is shut out of this, given his much vaunted, highly touted (by him) cred with the North Koreans.

    Bill Richardson seems like a nice guy, no? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Idearc on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:17:17 PM EST
    Seems? Yes. Nice guy? No. (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by oldpro on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:40:59 PM EST
    Not if you recall the primaries.  

    He seemed like a nice guy then (none / 0) (#16)
    by Idearc on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:53:05 PM EST
    I'm sure you remember the New Hampshire debate, he was the only one didn't engage in a firefight.

    besides, aren't the primaries over.  Bill and Hillary have moved on.


    I remember it all...that's the problem. (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by oldpro on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:59:26 PM EST
    Yes.  The primaries are over but what goes around comes around...especially in politics.

    So what did he do, again? (none / 0) (#23)
    by Idearc on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:02:06 AM EST
    you still haven't told me why you're angry.

    Sheesh. Google is your friend. (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:16:20 AM EST
    so's your keyboard (none / 0) (#31)
    by Idearc on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:16:55 AM EST
    gawd.  somebody is embarrassed.

    Don't be embarrassed, dear... (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:23:40 AM EST
    Here's an even more recent event to keep in mind when you're reviewing Bill Richardson's bona fides:  Obama nominated him for Commerce Secretary but he had to withdraw (remember?) just a few months ago amid a 'pay-to-play' scandal.  It's not the only Richardson scandal but I do my own research and let others do theirs if they really, really want to know.

    "dear"? (none / 0) (#38)
    by Idearc on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:41:16 AM EST
    condescending sexism from a clinton die-hard; how ironic.

    Sexism? 'Dear' is sexist? (none / 0) (#41)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:55:41 AM EST
    How could that be?  My son, my nieces and nephews and my friends of all sexes are 'dear' to me.

    Condescending I'll accept.  It's a substitute for namecalling when I move into 'Mom mode,' as in:  "Do your homework, dammit!"  That usually comes right before I send you kids to your rooms.


    What did Bill Richardson ever do (none / 0) (#4)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:34:29 PM EST
    to cultivate such cred and deference from North Korea?

    Here: (none / 0) (#8)
    by oculus on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:42:50 PM EST
    If this says anything about Richardson (none / 0) (#13)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:49:43 PM EST
    I missed it.  I have had four Hoegaardens tonight.  Maybe that has something to do with it :)

    Excerpt: (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by oculus on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:52:03 PM EST

    North Korea has previously held talks over detained U.S. civilians. Evan C. Hunziker, a 26-year-old American, was held in 1996 after he swam across a river into the country from China. He was released after three months when Bill Richardson, now the governor of New Mexico, negotiated his release in Pyongyang.

    [Emphasis added for the addled.]

    Ah, the Richardson connection is (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:57:36 PM EST
    revealed via the undrunk and reading oculus.  Well a habit is habit in North Korea and once someone is pronounced free of plague and noteworthy...it is hard to kill off that celebrity in North Korea.  Free the journalists Bill and Bill, snap snap!

    If it took 3 months (none / 0) (#35)
    by CoralGables on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:32:50 AM EST
    to get someone released that was dumb enough to swim into North Korea, I can only assume the negotiations were fairly dumbed-down also. Nothing against swimmers, but Evan must have had chlorine on the brain...that or the drugs and alcohol that led to his suicide a month after his release.

    Too much information. (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:46:15 AM EST
    It definitely has something to do with (none / 0) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:50:58 PM EST
    rewriting the first four steps :)

    Who am I to say boo about any of this? (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:32:27 PM EST
    I hope he is successful.  Bring them home, and while you are at it it would be nice if they were free to go home.  And since imprisonment for being a journalist super sux, perhaps when all is said and done and the cameras are done flashing they could go home.

    FWIW (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:38:33 PM EST
    places like N Korea have absolutely no concept of or ability to believe that there is such a thing as an independent journalist who is not a creature of the state.  They can't even imagine it.  To them, two Americans "posing" as journalists and messing around on their border is not a trivial event.  It's a completely paranoid mindset, like what's happened to the idiot hikers who recently wandered into Iranian territory despite having been warned to stay out of the area.

    These two journalists are lucky the N.Koreans were ultimately able to figure out they're essentially harmless.

    Of course, the U.S. had a long, long history in the depths of the cold war of co-opting journalists and students/scholars as part-time spies, so it's not as if there's no basis for the paranoia.


    You are telling this to someone (none / 0) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:45:02 PM EST
    who for a time lived in South Korea.  It is just me, but the North Koreans never "found out" that the journalists were essentially harmless, only helpful.  And they've always trusted Bill Clinton, I suppose they will again.  They are a very "closed" culture.  Where does Bill Richardson figure in though?  I really want to know.

    I'm only guessing, of course, (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by oldpro on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:54:37 PM EST
    but I cannot imagine the Sec. of State making Bill Richardson an envoy to anywhere for anything after his behavior during the primaries.  If he's going to be rehabbed, I doubt it will be by Hillary...at least, I hope not.  I'm with Carville on Richardson...

    I'm drunk now (5.00 / 0) (#22)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:59:51 PM EST
    I'll use em where ever its beneficial to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  

    Have another on me! n/t (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:14:20 AM EST
    Where the heck is Jimmy Carter? (none / 0) (#6)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:40:01 PM EST
    Isn't he making house calls anymore?

    And I guess HW didn't feel like going with his buddy either.

    My only problem is that Bill Clinton is the husband of the US Secretary of State.  I thought he was clearing things with the Obama White House now, but then again maybe they recruited him?

    I dunno (5.00 / 5) (#9)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:43:57 PM EST
    Where is George W. Bush, do you suppose?  Any reason he's not being used as a diplomatic asset around the world?

    Ah yes, Dubya Bush and how much (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:46:03 PM EST
    North Korea trusted and trusts him :)

    I have this vision of both Presidents (5.00 / 3) (#19)
    by oculus on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:55:20 PM EST
    Bush parachuting into N. Korea.  And that's the last we hear of them.

    Who are both Presidents? (none / 0) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:03:50 AM EST
    I have had four overpriced beers and I'm only able to envision a Bush in this typed shared dream of yours.....who is the other President who disappears into North Korea?  You can't mean Richardson.......heh heh heh

    HW and GW Bush. (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:09:39 AM EST
    I wouldn't trust W (none / 0) (#36)
    by CoralGables on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:34:26 AM EST
    as a diplomat for farm animals.

    Jimmy Carter is 85 and Roslyn (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by oldpro on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:47:34 PM EST
    can't be far behind.  Lots on the Carters' plates without adding anything more....

    pfffft he's building furniture (none / 0) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:53:40 PM EST
    out of Paulownia.  I planted four in my yard this year because of that.  He isn't dead yet.

    P.S. You planted FOUR?!? (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:10:51 AM EST
    Stand back!  Hope you have a big yard...

    They've started slightly slow (none / 0) (#33)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:24:05 AM EST
    I'm not disappointed because we have some shade around here.  We did remove trees that they are replacing, so not a huge amount of competition in the immediate vicinity either.  All four are tremendously healthy though given they are very new to the yard.  My husband can't wait (he will because he's going to be in Afghanistan....he'll be waiting) for this light weight yet waterproof wood.  He's literally frothing.  Goes out at least once a week and does assessements of how the three foot trees are doing.  They were a foot about three months ago.

    Slow start! Gee...they've only (5.00 / 2) (#34)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:28:40 AM EST
    tripled their height in 3 months....YEAH!  I hear they can grow ten to twenty feet a year...or more!  Depending on the climate, soil, water, etc.  How long will the spousal unit be gone this time?  He should have shade when he returns!

    We probably aren't getting (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:39:27 AM EST
    the full start off because of how much existing shade we have.  We have a very wooded property, a lot of mature trees but we have weeded out some that were undesireable like black walnuts.  I want to grow other things so we removed a couple and we removed a couple of gums that throw those pokey balls (husband's griping phrase) all over the place.  Then we replaced them with Jimmy's trees.  They are being grown specifically for a wood worker here at chez MT.  Supposedly they can be cut down and rejuvenate from the roots here.....but cripes so can a black walnut and a pokey nasty ole gum :)  We'd prefer the Paulownia to take full advantage of us though.

    open thread? (none / 0) (#40)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:49:30 AM EST
    Can we keep this to Korea and Clinton's attempt to free them? Thanks everyone.

    Of course not! Dead? Who said dead? (none / 0) (#25)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:05:12 AM EST
    I said they have a huge agenda and a full plate alreeady, through the Carter Center and with Habitat.  I don't doubt Jimmy could do it but when others are available, it seems a lot to ask of him now.

    I have no manners (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 12:06:56 AM EST
    I'm fine asking it of him :)

    The worst thing he could say is: (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Fabian on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 06:55:25 AM EST

    I was a total fear-of-rejection coward and had to ask people if they would help with a project.  When I whined about this herculean task, that's the advice I was given.  "Ask!  The worst thing they could say is "No."."


    He's also proved himself (none / 0) (#43)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 01:03:50 AM EST
    to be an incorrigible freelancer in the past, unlike BC.  I wouldn't trust him for a NY minute on any important diplomatic mission, and I'm glad Obama and Hillary apparently don't, either.

    Heh! (none / 0) (#44)
    by Idearc on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 01:15:57 AM EST
    using incorrigible in the same sentence as Bill Clinton is funny.

    Oh, sure (5.00 / 3) (#42)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 01:01:55 AM EST
    Bill Clinton must be freelancing and Obama must have been taken totally surprised by the news.

    Good grief.  What planet are you from again?


    They're called PRECONDITIONS (none / 0) (#46)
    by JoeCHI on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 02:04:48 PM EST
    Obama said he was against them.  Um, right.

    Thank God that The Big Dog made preconditions a part of his preconditions.