Progressive Cowardice

The story of two San Francisco women who are being held in North Korea on "espionage" charges continues to receive little more than local coverage, despite the obvious danager they are in, and the fact that one of them is the sister of Lisa Ling. The W$J has taken an interest, however: Arrest of U.S. Reporters Adds to the Tension.

The vagueness surrounding North Korea's recent arrests of two U.S. journalists on its border with China is a hallmark of Pyongyang's relationship with the world and a powerful tool for dictator Kim Jong Il's authoritarian regime.

The regime has said little about its detention of Laura Ling and Euna Lee of Current TV LLC of San Francisco since North Korean border soldiers arrested the two on March 17 near the Chinese city of Tumen.

Pyongyang has issued only two brief statements about the women, the latest saying they would stand trial for illegal entry and hostile acts toward the country. Pyongyang hasn't officially notified Washington of the charges, a State Department spokesman said Friday.


The detentions create a delicate situation for U.S. diplomats as North Korea prepares to launch its missile. The two reporters were working on a story about North Koreans who flee the closed country to make a better living in China, a situation that has persisted for decades and is embarrassing to both Pyongyang and Beijing.

North Korea's two statements are creating confusion about how serious a situation the women face. The use of the language "hostile acts" in the second statement has left analysts wondering if that means espionage. North Korean civil law books, reviewed in Seoul, are vague. Espionage convictions come with severe penalties, such as five to 10 years, or longer, in a gulag-like prison.

Charming. The women were working for Al Gore, of all people. Surely, he is up in arms about this: 

Current TV is a San Francisco-based media company launched in 2005 by former Vice President Al Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt that broadcasts user-generated and professional content over cable TV and online. About a third of its on-air broadcast is user-generated video.

Current TV executives declined to comment about the situation, as did Mr. Gore.

Jesus, what a coward. I'm sure he's got all sorts of grand geo-strategic rationalizations for staying mum, but he certainly wasn't shy about criticizing George Bush ("He Betraaaaaaaaaaaayed Us!") once upon a time. But Kim Jong-Il shows up, and suddenly Al's the soul of discretion. 

Not only that, he's ungallant, too. He sends a couple of young women into harms way for the sake of his TV network and then won't lift a finger to help them. 

Perhaps everyone is waiting for this weekend's missile test to happen before they start banging the can. If that goes off without a hitch, and there's still no movement on this, we really should start getting on Gore's case. 

Best Retirement Invesments Auto Search