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Tilting at Windmills

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August 4, 2009

CLINTON SECURES PARDONS IN NORTH KOREA.... Sending Bill Clinton to North Korea to negotiate the release of two American television journalists was a very smart move. It also proved to be effective.

The former president, joined by the Center for American Progress' John Podesta, arrived in Pyongyang early Tuesday morning local time, and was able to secure pardons for Laura Ling and Euna Lee this afternoon.

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, pardoned two jailed American journalists, the official KCNA news agency has reported, according to Reuters. The report came after former President Bill Clinton met with the reclusive and ailing Mr. Kim in Pyongyang on Tuesday.

Mr. Kim granted "a special pardon," KCNA said in a statement. It was not clear how rapidly the two journalists, Laura Ling, 32, and Euna Lee, 36, might be allowed to leave the country. They were being held near Pyongyang after having been sentenced to 12 years at hard labor for entering North Korea illegally.

The pardon added to speculation among analysts in Seoul that North Korea, after months of raising tensions and hostile rhetoric towards Washington, may be ready to return to dialogue with Washington.

After North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator helped greet Clinton at the airport, there was some speculation that the talks might extend beyond the detention of Ling and Lee. Administration officials said that was not the case -- Roberts Gibbs told reporters that the detained journalists should not be "linked to other issues" -- and whether today's developments will lead to additional talks remains to be seen.

Broader negotiations aside, today's news is encouraging, and rescuing Laura Ling and Euna Lee from a North Korean hard-labor camp is unquestionably good news. Unless, of course, you're John Bolton, who's arguing that Clinton's successful mission is terrible. Indeed, the lead story on Yahoo News for most of the afternoon was this report, noting Bolton's complaint that the Obama administration is "rewarding North Korea for its bad behavior."

Bolton, one assumes, would have preferred a military confrontation to free Ling and Lee -- maybe with some of those lasers Newt Gingrich is so fond of.

I haven't seen any of the broadcast coverage of this today, but dday said the media is "turning this into Bill Clinton 'upstaging' the White House."

Sigh.

Steve Benen 4:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Comments

This is great news. No snark. Two Americans were held hostage by a hostile regime and President Clinton went and freed them. It's a great day.

Posted by: Chocolate Thunder on August 4, 2009 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Just say 'Doh'!

Posted by: Bill on August 4, 2009 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

The US pulled back demands for the journalists' release several weeks ago, which set the stage for Clinton to glide in and accomplish this task. Because we backed down, it enabled the North Koreans to release them while saving face -- it maintains the appearance that the action is not the result of the full weight of the U.S. government. Brilliant diplomatic move all around by the U.S. and North Korean governments.

Posted by: cyb1851 on August 4, 2009 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Did he happen to search for any "Yellowcake" while he was there, since this is an obviously nepotistic plum assignment to the lovely locale of North Korea.

Posted by: Gary on August 4, 2009 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, didn't Newt Gingrich want to use the sharks 'with frickin' laser beams on their heads" as a means of attacking North Korea...

Posted by: Brian on August 4, 2009 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

It IS great news. But that won't stop Fox from making tasteless jokes about the Big Dawg and two hot Asian (make that Oriental) hotties. Who'll be first? Hannity? O'Reilly? Glenn Beck?

Posted by: dalloway on August 4, 2009 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Congrats to the White House and former President Clinton. There have been a few small moments of genius and surprise that have come because we elected Obama -- and a few small ones are better than the endless negatives that people like Bolton helped establish -- and despite all our collective frustrations it has to be clear that our choice was the right one.

Posted by: Jay B. on August 4, 2009 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Who'll be first? Hannity? O'Reilly? Glenn Beck?"

Michelle Malkin

Posted by: Vokoban on August 4, 2009 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

The deal was already in the bag before Clinton ever left the US. In fact, Clinton's visit to NKor was undoubtedly *part* of the deal.

What the NKor gvmt wants is respect and security guarantees. This gets them a show of the former. Now hopefully Obama will find a way to roll back GWB's "Axis of Evil" declaration of war on NKor.

Posted by: Disputo on August 4, 2009 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I think John Bolton and other conservatives would have been perfectly happy to have two American citizens rot in a North Korean labor camp for 12 years rather the "reward" NK with a visit from a former President.

Posted by: tanstaafl on August 4, 2009 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Why does Bolton think that being put stuck in a room with Bill Clinton is any kind of "reward"?

Posted by: CJColucci on August 4, 2009 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Whether the release was pre-arranged or not, whether Clinton has his faults (and he does) or not, one must admit that he was always a great diplomat.

I'm glad those two journalists are coming home soon.

Posted by: Michael W on August 4, 2009 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

This makes me so happy. I am glad Obama is putting Bill Clinton to good use. I guess they really are a 2 for 1, and we are all getting a good deal on that one.

John Bolton, Fuck you! I hope Bolton dies a painful death very soon, preferably on camera.

Posted by: Patrick on August 4, 2009 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Actually I hope Bolton lives a long miserable life, turning so ugly that everyone can see his evil within.

Posted by: G.Kerby on August 4, 2009 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

I'd be pleased if the President invited former President Clinton to negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

One great thing about Obama is that he is not intimidated by the power of others. He often manages to use that power. (The exception is the Republicans in the Senate. They seem immune to his charm and the country's suffering.)

Kudos to Bill Clinton and to the current administration.

Posted by: mlm on August 4, 2009 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

All it took was sitting down to watch Baywatch together. Thanks for taking one for the team, Bill.

Posted by: shortstop on August 4, 2009 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

but dday said the media is "turning this into Bill Clinton 'upstaging' the White House."

That juvenile reaction by our media (completely ignoring the fact the White House approved the trip) is par for the course.

What I'm waiting to see is how long before Rush or Savage or Liddy or some other unhinged right-wing psychotic makes some tasteless on-air joke about Clinton hitting on one of the freed journalists. Should be before the night's over, for sure.

Posted by: electrolite on August 4, 2009 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

All it took was sitting down to watch Baywatch together. -shortstop

He brought them the Blu-Ray, complete with enhanced side boob.

Posted by: doubtful on August 4, 2009 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Broadcast coverage? From Hannity: it shows that we must have made a deal giving NK everything they wanted, or they wouldn't have agreed to release the journalists. Also, pick on Hillary as ineffectual, "why did they send Bill instead of her - oh, the "schoolgirl." See, Obama can't win: if he failed, they could complain he failed, and if he succeeds, he failed because he succeeded. Same trash from the excrement in bratcasting nutwork.

Interesting little segue on Hannity: He excoriates GM as the company Obama owns, but as he brought the company up around 3:50 PM today he went on an on about how wonderful their cars are now, gave a website, etc. Clearly, GM has some sponsor deal and the tap-dancing jackass thought nothing of skipping right from the big putdown to advertising for them. What a totally unprincipled, stinky little prick.

BTW, Happy 48th Barack Obama!

Posted by: N e i l B on August 4, 2009 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Happy Birthday to your President Obama!

Posted by: E. F. Lavender on August 4, 2009 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Actually I hope Bolton lives a long miserable life, turning so ugly that everyone can see his evil within.

Posted by: G.Kerby on August 4, 2009 at 5:09 PM

Already happened, G.Kerby. Look at him. I don't know if his life has personally been miserable but his evil presence has (like Cheney) certainly caused enough misery for lots of other nations in the world.

And speaking of Darth Cheney, does anyone doubt that if he was still disgracing the White House those two journalists would serve every minute of that 12 year sentence. Hell, Cheney would probably ask Kim Jong-il to add more time, just so he'd have something to personally giggle about.

Posted by: electrolite on August 4, 2009 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK
He brought them the Blu-Ray, complete with enhanced side boob.

Posted by: doubtful on August 4, 2009 at 5:20 PM

Enhanced Side Boob -- that's a great band name.

Posted by: Husker Blue on August 4, 2009 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Nice to see the Dems care about people. On the other hand, the GOP, don't care about 'nobody.' The guy on television saying about the captured soldier in Afghanistan, "I hope they kill him."

This should be a lesson to the idiots disrupting townhall meetings, "you're on your own." That's right, you are the ones who will be entered into the books of extremist books - possibly infiltrated, and arrested at a later date.

Hahaha, the GOP will not bail your sorry a**** out of jail, nor will they come to your defense. You will be considered guilty as charged, as your face is plastered across the television at townhall events!

Posted by: annjell on August 4, 2009 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

I'm very happy the journalists were pardoned.

Posted by: Chrystal K. on August 4, 2009 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, the townhall meeting crashers, listen up!

If the GOP can throw sarah palin under the bus, what makes you think they will be on your side.

They threw bobby jindal under the bus too.

And believe me, once the authorities really investigate you by interviewing your employers, neighbors and family - you will not have a leg to stand on.

You're oh so against the government, but the government will be taking care of your sorry a**, there in your cell, you will experience real rationing - food, clothing, medical.....

Posted by: annjell on August 4, 2009 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Dalloway, my money's on Maureen Dowd. She'll play this as another example of the Clintons undercutting Obama, load every imaginable sexual innuendo into her column to imply that Bill Clinton spent the entire time in North Korea canoodling with the female journalists, trash Hillary, find a way to trash Elizabeth Edwards too, and call Obama a femme, yet again. Anything to avoid admitting that his administration is getting results.

Posted by: T-Rex on August 4, 2009 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

I'll support attacking NK when I have absolute assurances that Bolton, Kristol, and Gingrich are leading the infantry in.

This is great news and a big success for Obama and the Clintons, and yet another blow for asshats like Bolton.

Posted by: George on August 4, 2009 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

A wonderful read.
Asshat republicanss too silly, too ineffective.

Posted by: consider wisely always on August 4, 2009 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

T-Rex, I bow to your superior power of prognostication. MoDo it will probably be.

Posted by: dalloway on August 4, 2009 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

I meant to add that this picture with Clinton was so close to the other picture. Seriously, I'm not sure KJI has moved. Maybe they have a wax figure for formal portraits.
runescape money

Posted by: runescape gold on August 4, 2009 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Good on Bill Clinton for helping free those people.

Posted by: Obesity on August 5, 2009 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

Gawd, Bolton is such a douche.. maybe NK should kidnap Bolton - then we'll see who's in favor of "rewarding bad behavior."

Posted by: Andy on August 5, 2009 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

Great job, Bill Clinton. Probably the only person who could easily accomplish this: a respected former president as an envoy who would satisfy KIM Jong Il's need for respect (however undeserved) and inspire a reciprocal gesture of respect, while having no extraneous cards to play to detract from the humanitarian quest.

Posted by: Luther on August 5, 2009 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

Most Americans can see through the media blare on this and are pleased with the result. And the GOPundits are simply adding further disgust - in the minds of the US majority - to the slagpile of disapproval towards GOPolitique.

Let the media spin this one. Normal people will still get it, and applaud the facilitated release.

Posted by: KevinHayden on August 5, 2009 at 3:40 AM | PERMALINK

after nixon....scooter libby.....and oliver north...

among others...

you'd think republicans would love pardons..

Posted by: mr. irony on August 5, 2009 at 7:45 AM | PERMALINK

Bolton's complaint that the Obama administration is "rewarding North Korea for its bad behavior."


i thought president bush invaded and freed north korea...

Posted by: mr. irony on August 5, 2009 at 7:52 AM | PERMALINK

Dalloway, my money's on Maureen Dowd.
Posted by: T-Rex on August 4, 2009 at 7:14 PM

And T-Rex wins! Modo delivers right on cue.

Posted by: electrolite on August 5, 2009 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Gawd, Bolton is such a douche.. maybe NK should kidnap Bolton - then we'll see who's in favor of "rewarding bad behavior."

Posted by: wholesale on May 18, 2010 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK

you'd think republicans would love pardons..
wholesale

Posted by: wholesale on May 18, 2010 at 3:32 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, didn't Newt Gingrich want to use the sharks 'with frickin' laser beams on their heads" as a means of attacking North Korea...
tungsten

Posted by: tungsten on October 13, 2010 at 3:07 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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