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Bill Did It. Kim Jong-il pardons Euna Lee & Laura Ling -UPDATED

August 4th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon


Here’s the LA Times.

Here’s the NY Times.

And my smart pal Kevin Roderick already has a full, link-filled chronology of Lee and Ling’s ordeal up on LA Observed.

This is wonderful news!

Good slideshow at Huff Post.

(Is it me, or does Lil’ Kim look bizarrely ‘shopped, as my techie son would put it, into all but one of the photos? Oh, nevermind. Go, Bill!!!)



It is about 3 a.m. Wednesday. Laura Ling and Euna Lee are scheduled to arrive at Hangar 25 at the Bob Hope Airport in about an hour.

This morning’s New York Times details how both Clintons
—Hillary and Bill—had a role in the women’s release.

They also say that, out of a list of possible negotiators, that the Koreans picked Bill. Clinton had been slated to go to North Korea before the end of his own presidency, but other international issues pressed, and he never made it. Therefore this trip was looked on as a sort of completion of that interrupted presidential visit.

According to the Washington Post, Bill was not the Obama administration’s first choice for the job.

North Korea rejected the administration’s first choice for the trip — former vice president Al Gore, who co-founded the television channel that employs the journalists — and Bill Clinton left the United States only after North Korea provided assurances that the reporters would be released, the sources said.

The WaPo also had an interesting insight about how the White House managed to give the trip a sort of back door official status, which would please the North Koreans, while simultaneously truthfully denying that the trip had official status.

No government officials appeared to be aboard Clinton’s plane, but the nature of the delegation gave the mission a quasi-official status. It included John Podesta, Clinton’s White House chief of staff, who served as chief of Obama’s transition team and is president of the Center for American Progress. Also seen in photos released by the Korean media were David Straub, a former head of the Korea desk at the State Department who is now at Stanford University; longtime Clinton aide Douglas J. Band; and Justin Cooper, who has worked with the William J. Clinton Foundation.

Listen. Whatever worked. I think we’re all just glad that our local girls are nearly home. (And will be home by the time most of you wake up, have your coffee, and read this.)

Statements made by Lee and Ling’s very relieved and happy family members are posted at


Photo by Zhang Binyang/Xinhua, via Reuters

Posted in international issues, International politics, journalism | 47 Comments »

47 Responses

  1. Gava Joe Says:

    Awright Bill! Now if he can refrain from hitting on the two Asian wm on the plane ride home he’ll have scored a Grand Slam. On another serious note I see no reason to not “doctor” Lil Kim’s photos some. He’s been Il for awhile hasn’t he? A fly on the wall relays opening conversation between the two statesmen, Kim: “You bring Chivas”? Clinton: You got the Havanas?” Fifteen minutes later “the boys” are discussing Johnny Depp’s new flick and Lee and Ling are an afterthought. But hey, whatever gets the job done. I’m not sure Jimmy Carter was the guy for this mission.

  2. Monica Says:

    Kim wanted to see the blue dress…

    Clinton’s Cabinet: Drug Czar, Marion Barry
    Clinton’s Cabinet: Education, Dan Quayle (potatoe).
    Clinton’s Cabinet: FBI, John Gotti.
    Clinton’s Cabinet: Family Values Advisor, Madonna
    Clinton’s Cabinet: Family Values Advisor, Woody Allen.
    Clinton’s Cabinet: Health & Human Resources, Magic Johnson.
    Clinton’s Cabinet: Housing, Leona Helmsley.
    Clinton’s Cabinet: NASA, Jerry Brown.
    Clinton’s Cabinet: Surgeon General, Dr. Kovorkian.
    Clinton’s Cabinet: Transportation, Ted Kennedy.
    Clinton’s Cabinet: Treasury, Charles Keating.
    Clinton’s Cabinet: Veterans Administration, Jane Fonda.
    Clinton’s Cabinet: White House Staff, Gennifer Flowers.

  3. Em Says:

    Great news for Lee & Ling, but curious to know, what was the Quid Pro Quo?

  4. Monica Says:

    The blue dress.

  5. Michael Crosby Says:

    The NYT article says that Clinton would not have accepted the assignment if the release had not already been assured. Is this assertion reliable? It makes some sense that Kim would not release his prize pseudo-spies to just any diplomat, but it again raises the question re what Kim may have demanded in return. “Nothing” does not seem right.

  6. Bill Clinton Says:

    I tried homosexuality once, but I didn’t swallow.

  7. Bill Clinton Says:

    I was the pancake president. Anyone remember?

  8. Em Says:

    Of course the whole deal was pre-arranged. He did not fly over there blind. At what cost to USA?? – we citizens will probably never know, but you can be sure “The Kimster” drove a very hard bargain.

    Again, I am very glad for Lee and Ling and their families.

  9. oakwood alum Says:

    @Michael Crosby: I think what Kim demanded was that Bill Clinton come and give North Korea some prestige and publicity by treating it like a nation that needs to be taken seriously. You’re looking at the quid pro quo right there. The internal propaganda they’ll wring out of it will last for years.

  10. Michael Crosby Says:

    I’m not sure a guy referred to by his people as “Dear Leader” needs a lot of good “internal propaganda,” but it is indeed a different ball game he plays.

  11. Em Says:

    Yeah right – that was the quid pro quo – Prestige & Publicity!! Oakwood – Can I sell you some leftover Enron stock?

  12. Mavis Beacon Says:

    Em, what do you think was offered?

  13. Bill Clinton Says:

    Aside from his obsession with nuclear weapons, he likes horror and sex movies. A big James Bond and Mickey Mouse fan also. His breath and my socks, what a pair!

  14. Bill Clinton Says:

    I noticed his butt is wide, well Hillary’s is too.

  15. Em Says:

    Mavis Bacon wrote – “Em, what do you think was offered?”

    “CASH for Alleged Spies” would be a good “guess”!

  16. Em Says:

    Sorry – Mavis Beacon not Bacon – :C

  17. Em Says:

    Sorry – :) not :C

  18. oakwood alum Says:

    wow, good to know that, even after all these years, there’s something about Bill Clinton that brings out the total nut jobs. Enron jokes? Jane Fonda references? Stop it, guys, I’m laughing so hard, I can barely type.

  19. Em Says:

    Oakwood – best beware of “Carnie People” – they travel from town to town with their rigged games and cheap Chinese stuffed animals, preying on the little folks. Such a shame! ;)

  20. Woody Says:

    Clinton gave Obama a taste of what it’s like for a former President to ignore the current one by going to North Korea as though he was our legal emissary, just like Carter did to Clinton. It gives North Korea the satisfaction that it wants but doesn’t deserve. Why can’t former Democratic Presidents just stay out of foreign affairs?

  21. Em Says:

    Woody – I could be mistaken, but I think I read that Slick was supposivley carrying a written message from O’Bummer himself to Kim Ill.

  22. Gava Joe Says:

    That my friend Woody is a physical impossibility for William Jefferson Clinton.

  23. Em Says:

    Fixing It – “supposively” and Kim Ill. Is there no way to correct one’s typos?

  24. Gava Joe Says:

    Where the hell did Hillary go last week? Two weeks ago? Who the hell remembers. She took her “inroads” speech and noted our “progress” towards something or other. But when the Big Guy (ol Elvis hisself) treks over to confab w/Lil Kim AND drumroll please, rescues the two hotties from the gulag, he upstages Hill all to hell. Is that wedded bliss or what? Can you envision the text messages twixt the two? “You egotistical shithook” , “cockblocker”, etc. I love it The good Old USA has politics and high level shenanigans that rival even the French. Be proud my fellow Americans. I am. But then its a sure fire i’m high.

  25. Rolla Longnecker Says:

    Masturbation causes forehead cave-in, as well as deafness, Woody.

  26. Em Says:

    I think that Hillary is over in Africa on a several nation tour. If I recall Kim ILL – or at least N.K. – recently said that Hillary looked like a “Pensioner going shopping” or something like that. I guess that kinda put the kibosh on her getting something like this done – so I guess that left her husband who is far more charming in every way.

    I don’t know why Al Gore was not called upon to close the deal, as the two were working for his TV channel. In any event, I reiterate that I am glad that the ladies are free from what must have been a horrific experience for them. Perhaps they found that socialism is not all that it is cracked up to be.

  27. Grace Pinkapank Says:

    Em, theres a daring courage in your manner, but reduce your stimulants, and your typos.

  28. Mavis Beacon Says:

    Let me get this straight, so far all we know is that Bill Clinton went to N. Korea bearing no message from President Obama and secured the release of two Americans held unjustly. As far as I know, nobody in a position to know anything has suggested President Clinton offered anything at all. Somehow, this is terrible news.

    The craziness is exhausting.

  29. Boobpha Upthumpa Says:

    I’m pleased to see that the Obama Administration will not be obstructionist in tapping into Bill Clinton’s talents as an elder statesman. Bill Clinton may no longer be President but what he does with the remainder of his life will define his place in history.

  30. Boobpha Upthumpa Says:

    More than that, diplomacy works better than Bush’s ill-informed diatribes.

  31. Aurelian N. Schexnayder Says:

    The world has changed and playing Rambo is not going to cut it anymore. Diplomacy works, because it gives both sides an opportunity to talk about many issues not only the ones in the media.
    Why don’t some of you folks realize that some other cultures take a dim view of the usual in your face western style negotiations because their way is/maybe usually more measured, and perhaps steeped in protocol that may go back even centuries?

  32. John Moore Says:

    It’s great that one narcissist can shine on another narcissist to get those innocent people released.

    And that’s all that happened.

    Unfortunately, narcissist #1 is the husband of the US Secy of State and that could carry diplomatic meaning. Hopefully not.

  33. poplockerone Says:

    On the way back from N. Korea, I heard that Bill was listening to his favorite rap song – “Me So Horny” by the “2 Live Crew”.

  34. Bill Clinton Says:

    Heaven no, I was listening to …

    I’m Too Sexy
    By Right Said Fred

    I’m too sexy for my shirt too sexy for my shirt
    So sexy it hurts …
    I’m too sexy for this world.

  35. Woody Says:

    Obama was behind Clinton’s trip. That’s it. Reward bad behavior.

    CLINTON IN NORTH KOREA – By Neal Boortz @ August 5, 2009

    So yesterday I Tweeted the question: Think Bill Clinton will get any NK strange while he’s there? Well .. he may not have gotten any strange, but he did manage to get Kim Jong Il to issue a “special pardon” for OwlGore’s jailed journalists. At first, we were told that Clinton went on a personal trip. We all knew that was horsesqueeze. It turns out that the Obama administration did in fact ask Clinton to go and negotiate with the Gargoyle.

    The ransom was paid. What was the ransom? The legitimization of Kim John Ill through a visit by a former U.S. President. Next up? Iran?

    It sickens me to think about all the carbon emitted into the atmosphere by the private(?) Boeing jet and worsening global warming to pick up Al Gore’s employees. What was wrong with a slow boat from China?

  36. Felty Goosehead Says:

    Your wonderful bearing Woody has a lot to do with your beauty. Your thoughts, your whole mental picture, transmit intelligence.

  37. Felty Goosehead Says:

    With your strong sense of, ‘I’m Here!’
    I thought ‘What a man!’

  38. reg Says:

    Too bad Oliver North wasn’t consulted first. It could have been turned into an arms deal.

  39. Michael Crosby Says:

    These young journalists are free and back with their family and friends. It is at least in part because Bill Clinton is respected by world leaders, even the weirdest among ‘em, and he cared enough to take on the assignment. If Woody had his druthers, Clinton would not have gone to Pyongyang, and the two women would still be held there, for some time at least.

    What is it about Democratic former presidents? Perhaps it’s that they give a damn. If Reagan, who never turned a tap for anybody once he got out of the White House (not that he did much for the average American while in office), had gone over and brought back arrested and convicted Americans, the right would be ecstatic. Bush 41 did very little that didn’t pay big bucks after he left office, and it is obvious that Bush 43 isn’t going to venture anywhere except to speak to “his people”–rich Republicans.

  40. Woody Says:

    MC, you’re dang right that I wouldn’t have authorized Clinton to go to NK.

    Now, is Obama going to handle Iran the same way? Once you show your willingness to pay a ransom, others will expect it, too. How many more people might be kidnapped by rogue nations and how much in undeserved legitimacy will we give those nations in return?

    Also, until Jimmy Carter tried to redeem his failed presidency and involved himself in foreign affairs after he left office, former Presidents didn’t interfere with the duties of subsequent Presidents but simply made themselves available for private advice. In other words, while Jimmy Carter attacked and hurt later Presidents, Nixon, Reagan, & Bush were helping.

    “Rich Republican?” Wow, your wealth envy really shows. I thought that you were doing okay financially.

  41. John Moore Says:

    Woody, I would have. I don’t think KJI gets much out of this other than some publicity and some shining on.

    If it turns out there are under-the-table deals reducing pressure on nukes, then that would be a much different matter.

  42. Michael Crosby Says:

    Woody, I have never heard of an occasion when Reagan provided any support, any advice, or anything at all to any of his successors.

    As for the “ransom,” I agree with Moore. I don’t see it and I don’t assume it. If some evidence appears, the issue should be re-evaluated.

    Bush 43 called rich Republicans “his base.” I don’t think that’s changed. As for envy, if I were truly envious of rich Republicans, I’d become one.

  43. John Moore Says:

    Bush 43 called rich Republicans “his base.” I don’t think that’s changed.


    “Rich Republicans?” How about rich Democrats? Take a look at all those extremely wealthy bankers on Obama’s staff. They’re just the tip of the iceberg.

    The idea that the Republicans are the party of the rich became obsolete by 1980. It’s nonsense.

    The Democrats are now the party of the elite, rich establishment.

  44. Hiroshi Says:

    Why is it when the point becomes muddled and the sides are sniping from both flanks all these strange screen names appear out of the vapor? Why is that don quixote? Your rhetorical schmaltz always seems to accompany these short bursts. Words like draconian, diatribe, rascist and facist,divide and conquero, powers that be, shape-shifter, ect., followed by some spanglish that no one cares about except your infatigueable, onanistic ego. It befits you if you choose to expound so radical and one-sided that you use your true screen name like I do.

  45. Hiroshi Says:

    Whoops! “infatigable”

  46. Michael Crosby Says:

    Moore, yes, that was a quote from one of Bush’s fundraising speeches last year at a “rich Republican” dinner.

    There are certainly rich Democrats. They indeed wield more power than they should in the Democratic Party. But I don’t think any Democrat could or would consider them “his base.” Maybe Terry McAuliffe.

    Obama’s election, due in large part to contributions from more than a million mostly non-rich folks, proves there is still a mighty big difference between the financial bases of the two parties.

  47. John Moore Says:

    Michael Crosby – you’re dreaming. They’ve still got you fooled into believing that the Democratic party is driven by little guys.

    It’s crap. It’s nonsense. Both parties rely on big money donors, but there has been a huge shift over the decades with the rich moving to support Democrats. Silicon Valley, for example, is strongly Democratic. Likewise the financial world – you know, the folks who brought us the financial crisis we are in today.

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