Bill clinton | News | North Korea

U.S. Journalists Seized in North Korea Released to Bill Clinton


Former President Bill Clinton's trip to North Korea was apparently the the result of a diplomatic effort that began as soon as the two U.S. journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee of Current TV, were seized almost five months ago, the L.A. Times reports:

Clinton_ling_lee "[The negotiations] have been spurred on by the administration's hope that they might lead to a resumption of gridlocked disarmament talks, according to people close to the process. The goal was a specific deal: If the United States showed respect by dispatching a high-level emissary to Pyongyang, the North would release journalists Laura Ling and Eun Lee, who were arrested along the border with China on March 17. 'This has been an orchestrated diplomatic process, carefully calibrated in both capitals,' said a person who has been close to the exchanges since they began. He asked for anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue. The mission appeared headed for a successful conclusion today, as North Korean media announced that the regime would release the two women, who were expected to join the former president in a flight back to the United States."

Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore,  Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Donald P. Gregg all volunteered to be the emissary, but Clinton was chosen.

It was reported that the journalists had been sentenced to 12 years hard labor in June.

Three CNN reports on the diplomatic triumph, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Oh, big surprise they chose Clinton! Even though these two women are actually working for Al Gore's network. Oops, sorry Al.

    The shot of Clinton sitting next to Kim Jong Il was a study in contrasts.

    Posted by: Paul R | Aug 4, 2009 6:14:53 PM

  2. Seriously, this is made my week.

    I felt so bad for them and now they're coming home!

    Posted by: Marcus | Aug 4, 2009 6:19:00 PM

  3. When the secretary of state can't make it happen just call in her husband!

    Posted by: RB | Aug 4, 2009 6:59:36 PM

  4. If Bill Clinton can deliver these two women from the clutches of an evil, dictatorial regime, perhaps for his second act, he can deliver us our equality!

    Or, really, does it take developing nuclear weapons and holding people hostage to get some attention nowadays?


    Posted by: Tommy | Aug 4, 2009 7:12:53 PM

  5. After delivering these two women from the clutches of a dictatorial, evil regime, he can - as a second act - deliver us gays our rights.

    Or what? Does it take active development of nuclear weapons and hostage taking to get some attention around here?


    Posted by: Tommy | Aug 4, 2009 7:22:09 PM

  6. Paul R


    The girls didn't choose who would come and get them. Though I also would choose Bill over the others listed :-) Even with the added cheeseburgers around his waist , U know he would be a great/ fun/ swinging from the chandeliers F@ck

    Kim jong picked Bill after being presented with the list of names.

    Kudos to Obama and Hillary for including Bill in the list, Kudos to Bill for accepting when Kim Jong said that they would respect Bill coming, and kudos to the girl's families (particularly that 1 HOT husband) for staying strong

    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Aug 4, 2009 7:28:26 PM

  7. I thought Bill Clinton was the erratic racist we didn't want involved in our government anymore...oh that's right, that what the Obama people said during the campaign. I keep forgetting that every word out of their mouths was a lie.

    Clinton's work was a real treat after all these years without an effective leader. Hope he sticks around for the next three-and-a-half to pick up the slack.

    Posted by: paul c | Aug 4, 2009 8:44:12 PM

  8. Well, where are the trashy queens now talking sh*t about the Clintons...? RIGHT ON MR. us how you do biz....Now let's see how Ms. Clinton does too....The Clintons kick butt!!~

    Posted by: Bosie | Aug 4, 2009 8:54:33 PM

  9. Paul C & Bosie

    If my memory isn't completely out of whack, both of u have posted in the past about the wonderfulness of palin, mccain, cheney, shrub, tax cuts for the rich, etc

    U'r concern trolling all of a sudden defending Bill Clinton smells more like trying to stir up sh@t between dems which neither of u are.

    PS Bosie.....It is a FEDERAL offense/ ILLEGAL for any and ALL US citizens to travel to N Korea. Hillary could not have given Bill the ok all on her own. It had to be OK'd by President Obama.

    Now go help shrub clean up his dog's poop because the dems are actually doing stuff that matters

    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Aug 4, 2009 9:07:26 PM

  10. PS

    If Obama fails, Hillary will not be riding in on a white horse in 2012

    Obama fails = repubs sweep in to congress with a majority and win the white house. Hillary knows her political future is tied to Obama for better or worse and if she has future aspirations for the white house (she says NO) then Obama must be successful and she can ride in to replace him after 2 succesful terms = 2016

    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Aug 4, 2009 9:13:28 PM

  11. That's why I love the Clintons, they're people of actions not words.

    Posted by: Daveynyc | Aug 4, 2009 9:33:34 PM

  12. Well, why the hell isn't Bill Clinton going to Irag to put a stop to the evil Nazi-esque torture and execution of young gay men? Are you there Mr. President? Can you hear me?

    Posted by: David B. | Aug 4, 2009 9:48:29 PM

  13. Totally agree with you, Jimmyboyo. Well said.

    Posted by: DJ | Aug 4, 2009 9:53:21 PM

  14. Jimmyboyo, I didn't mean to suggest that the two women had any say in who was coming to save them. Hell, they aren't even in the publicity shot. I meant the powers that be---in both the US and N. Korea. Clearly N. Korea wanted the highest-wattage name.

    And the White House is pretending like it had no involvement in this because it doesn't want it tied to the nuclear issue, which is BS. Just like the 3 hikers recently arrested in Iran...or the crazy dude arrested in Burma (oh, sorry--Myanmar) swimming to the home of Nobel winner Aung San Suu Kyi, which will "justify" putting her under house arrest for 5 more years.

    These Americans need to understand that these foreign dictatorships aren't kidding around, and that their "best intentions" often really fuck things up for the people they're supposedly trying to help. I'm glad things ended well here, but I can only imagine the concessions Clinton agreed to (in private) in exchange for their release. This isn't diplomacy; it's extortion.

    Posted by: Paul R | Aug 4, 2009 10:08:36 PM

  15. The Hill-Bill one-two punch keeps on working for our nation!

    Congrats to our State Department!

    Posted by: NYSmike | Aug 4, 2009 11:08:10 PM

  16. @jimmyboyo -- we all know that it isn't just your memory that's out of whack. It's your whole mind. Sorry to have to remind you of that.

    I'd be terribly impressed if you could find ANY statements made by me at ANY time that even hint at the "wonderfulness" of ANY of the people you listed, or for tax cuts for the rich. Your fantasy world is taking over what's left of your reality.

    Leave it to you to take the focus off of what Bill Clinton has accomplished for these women.

    Posted by: paul c | Aug 4, 2009 11:27:45 PM

  17. Good on Bill Clinton for helping free those people.

    Posted by: Technology Slice | Aug 4, 2009 11:59:45 PM

  18. Paul C, part of the problem may just be that there are too many damn Pauls on Towleroad at this point and it's easy for people to get confused. I've been accused of being a right wing troglodyte ever since I stopped using just my first name, then my full name (which I abandoned about a year and a half ago, after someone started stalking me).

    Funny, I rarely meet anyone named Paul in real life.

    Posted by: Paul R | Aug 5, 2009 12:51:12 AM

  19. Another homerun from a Clinton! I only wish Pres. Clinton were now serving his role as First Husband.

    Posted by: Dignan | Aug 5, 2009 1:01:06 AM

  20. Fantastic news I feared they would be swept under the rug and forgotten.

    Posted by: Jake | Aug 5, 2009 2:17:45 AM

  21. What people have to remember is that the North Koreans (Kim Jong Il) want attention from the rest of the world most of all. No matter what outrageous things they do, if we give them that attention, they back off. Clinton just gave them the publicity they wanted, and they gave in.

    Posted by: Jack M | Aug 5, 2009 8:14:56 AM

  22. Love your posts Jimmyboyo but 2016? I know that you love Hillary but do you really think she will run in 2016? I think that you are correct in Hillary's need for Obama's success but I also believe that she is in the position of which she will retire. Secretary of State will be the end of the rope for her.

    Further, Hillary 2016 implies that we have to struggle with NOBAMA for 7 1/2 MORE years. YAY! The future just keeps getting brighter and brighter.

    Posted by: RB | Aug 5, 2009 8:57:14 AM

  23. I'd like to remind all my progressive friends that while it's great that 2 journalists are now free, let's not forget that Bill Clinton also brought about the end of welfare, deregulated the financial industries, codified homophobia and heterosexism, and on and on. Neoliberal policies of the 90s set the progressive movement back. Thanks Willie.

    And where can i get that FAAAAABULOUS carpet?!

    Posted by: James Anthony | Aug 5, 2009 11:18:13 AM

  24. @ Paul R - I think in my case it's a mix of mistaken identity with the myriad other Pauls, and certain people viewing my Libertarian-leaning positions through their own distorted leftist periscopes to morph me into some sort of John Birch/Jospeh Goebbels/Phyllis Schlafly hybrid. But Jimmyboyo is particularly wacky and doesn't seem to ever let reality interfere with what his feelings/head voices tell him to say.

    As to the abundance of online Pauls - yes, I also encounter far more Pauls online than I've ever known in my life! It seems like there is at least one other Paul commenting on every site, whereas I have only ever known 3 others in my entire life. Maybe it's all the same dude and he's just an amazingly prolific commenter.

    Posted by: paul c | Aug 5, 2009 1:45:15 PM

  25. Paul C, I only comment under the name Paul on this site (and rarely on other sites; I try to control my online addiction).

    I was eviscerated by a few regular posters when I once mentioned in passing that my parents are Republicans---as though children automatically adopt their parents' political views or can change them.

    In the past year I've met 2 Pauls. I honestly think that, in addition to my father, those are the only 3 I've ever met. Until I was 16 I went by an embarrassing nickname (Chip), and I think I've met more Chips than Pauls.

    Posted by: Paul R | Aug 5, 2009 2:30:36 PM

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