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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  August 4, 2009 4:00pm-7:00pm EDT

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that the party needs to recruit competent hispanics, i just want to be fair about this, right? he didn't use the word competent when he said that mccain said what the party needs to do is recruit hispanics but not just because they are hispanic. possibility same meaning but not the same word. we just thought we would let you know. here is suzanne malveaux now in for wolf blitzer in "the situation room." >> thanks, rick. happening now, breaking news, north korea pardons two imprisoned american journalists after extraordinary intervention by former president bill clinton, taking his case directly to kim jong-il in north korea. the two women convicted of hostile acts and serving a 12-year sentence of hard labor. now we are learning new details about what the former president has to do and say to win their freedom and when they will be coming home. wolf blitzer is off today. i'm suzanne malveaux in cnn's command center for breaking news, politics, extraordinary reports from around the world. you are in "the situation room."
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we are following breaking news this hour t is a stunning turn of events in north korea where former president bill clinton made a surprise trip to win the freedom of two u.s. reporters. it was less than an hour ago that word came out his mission is a success. now, after direct talks with north korean leader kim jong-il, the two women have been pardon and we expect will be home soon. we are working all of these angles and story now. begin with our cnn white house correspondent, dan lothian. dan, obviously, a lot of discussion at the white house. before, it was about this private mission that they were not connected to the white house. what do we know about the former president's mission? >> reporter: truly extraordinary developments here today. the white house though so far on the latest developments really having no comment. they have been very cautious all day, not willing to give a lot of detail, not even willing to talk about what the president's involvement has been in this --
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in this issue because spokeman robert gibbs saying this is really a very sensitive matter. take a listen to what he had to say today at his briefing. >> this obviously is a very sensitive topic. we will hope to provide some more detail at a later point. our focus right now is on ensuring the safety of two journalists that are in north korea right now. >> reporter: robert gibbs was not even following talk about how the president might be getting information from north korea, any communication that might be going back and forth about the success or failure of the mission there. in terms of timing and when we could get additional information, robert gibbs keeps pointing us back to a statement that he released earlier this morning when he pointed out that as long as the mission was still on the ground in north korea that the white house with would not be making any additional comment. we can take from that that
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perhaps when they are wheels up from north korea, then the white house will be speaking out. suzanne? >> perhaps too soon to know this, but we are assuming that obviously former president clinton very instrumental in the release of these two women, of these two journalists that there wouldn't want to be a sense from this it white house this president said in any way he was being overshadowed. do we expect that we might actually see the president today or soon if we see these two journalists on a plane with president clinton? >> well it is unclear whether or not the president will come out and get in front of the cameras to formally say anything on this issue. clearly it would be sort of -- it would be a big deal for this white house clearly if they can show case that this mission was, indeed, successful. what i can tell you in terms of the involvement of this president, robert gibbs was asked this morning whether or not president -- former president clinton did hand-deliver a letter to the leader of north korea from president obama. robert gibbs was asked again at
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the briefing about that. he referred us back to what he said earlier this morning and he said it is simply not true. >> do we have a sense, dan, of why the white house is being so cautious about this story? is it about the timing? making sure that these two journalists are safe that we see them, that they are well taken care of, or is it something else, that this is such a sensitive issue and a delicate time that perhaps they are not coming out quite yet? >> reporter: sensitive issue at a delicate time. again, the white house keeps saying it is about the safety concerns. they want to make sure that whatever is going on over there in these negotiations, that the safety of these two young women is paramount and they don't want to get in the way of that, suzanne. >> dan, we will have you stand by. obviously, as new developments unfold. bring in our senior political analyst gloria bore jer joining me now and also joined as well by someone, few westerners have more insight into north korea than new mexico governor bill richardson. he has visited the country, helped negotiate the release of
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other americans held there in the past and he is now joining us from santa fe. governor, i want to thank you very much for being here. a lot of news that has developed. you have been in former president clinton's shoes before in negotiating the release of former americans. take us behind-the-scenes, if you will. we have seen a couple of stills. we have gotten some news here, but what do you suppose mr. clinton was dealing with today with kim jong-il? >> well, first, the fact that president clinton went to north korea is huge, is huge for kim jong-il, who is right now ailing and he is looking for ways to shore up his domestic base, his succession. so, it gives kim jong-il a pretext to release the journalists. this is very important that this happened, the humanitarian release. but having president clinton there and the early signs, when i was there to negotiating prisoners, you see the little protocol issues, like president clinton was met by very
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high-level delegation of north koreans at the airport. they gave him a state dinner. the fact that he saw kim jong-il is huge. i never saw him. he only sees big shots, heads of state. and those were the signals. and then the fact that the two journalists have been officially pardoned by a request from the u.s. government to give them amnesty shows that the two journalists most likely will be released. that's the main objective. but what the president's trip does, it improves the atmospherics between the two countries, a relationship is really in bad shape right now. there is enormous tension. there is literally no dialogue. so, maybe what the bonus would be as president clinton's visit could get both sides to start talking. i bet you there are no negotiations on nuclear issues going on. >> gloria bore jer is here. how are you, governor? north korea has been angling
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with direct contact with the united states out of the six-party talks. do you think that -- do you think that they are going to get that out of this? >> we have lost the feed. >> oh, i think -- i think governor richardson has actually lost the audio. he is not able to hear us at this time. but obviously, someone who has the expertise in this -- in hostage negotiations as well as dealing with north korea with his own trip. >> absolutely. >> i want to go quickly back, if we can to dan, who is at the white house, dan lothian. dan, you and i were talking about the fact that the obama administration has been quite tight-lipped about how all of this has unfolded, is taking place. give us a sense of president obama himself. his message and his approach with kim jong-il has been very different than president bush, former president bush. he has really tried to reach out and create a dialogue with this leader, but he has been faced with a nuclear test, with these kinds of missiles, these kinds
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of things that have happened in the first month of his -- six months of his presidency. is there a sense of frustration there at the white house in terms of making steps with north korea? >> it is true, not just north korea but iran what the white house has seen as a different tone to the countries, in terms of nuclear ambitions, using a con sill tary tone rather than hitting them over the head. north korea, in fact, firing off these test missiles and nuclear missiles as well and so yes, even though the white house continues to reach out, north korea keeps reacting the way people pretty much expect north korea to act. the white house is trying to separate the two matters here, nuclear negotiations and these two women and they are sailinging one has to do with humanitarian and they don't think that both of them overlap. >> thank you, dan. i want to bring back governor richardson. governor richardson, do you have our audio back? >> i think i'm back.
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>> gloria bore jer was asking you a question. we will get back to her. >> i was asking you essentially what else the north koreans would be getting out of this, aside from the photo ops with bill clinton? clearly they want direct contact with the u.s. outside the six-party talks. does this qualify for that? would bill clinton have come with a message on that? >> this is what the north koreans get. one, they get international press over the visit of a former president. north koreans have always wanted president clinton to come. other american presidents, we have not done that appropriately. i think that's been the right decision, but they get -- kim jong-il shores up his domestic base. he shows his people he can deliver a former president to come to north korea. he helps them also with a succession issue. it is obvious he is not well. he is thinking about leaving power to one of his three sons.
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so, domestically it gives him that strength. now what else does north korea get? they get the fact that the united states sent a very high-level emissary to talk to them. the north koreans have always wanted to talk to us directly, they don't like the six-party talks of south korea, japan, china, russia, they want to go directly. they think they are a nuclear power. they are major players they can very unpredictable. so they get -- that's what they get. now, what they will probably ask for is direct talks. but who knows? they right now are acting very, very unpredictably because of the succession issues. i have never seen the hostility of the north koreans so strong. this is why i think clinton's visit is good. it cools down the atmospherics. >> the white house said that former president clinton did not come with any written statement from president obama. the official news agency there
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said that bill clinton apologized verbally. what do you assume bill clinton was armed with from this administration when he went there? >> i do believe the white house. i don't believe a message. deliver froermd president obama. they got what the north koreans wanted, a former president. so increasing what they are going to get doesn't make sense. they have already got major prestige by clinton going. what i do believe president clinton -- the apology was already done by the women at the trial. the obama administration has asked for amnesty. so the proper words were used, respecting their judicial system of the north koreans. so now, the girls can be released. and i think that is the ultimate objective of this trip. it's a very good objective
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because obviously what the north koreans have tried to do is use the two women journalists as bargaining chips i and in a way, they have got an little bit of a chip by getting former president to visit them after years of them wanting high-level visits. they got secretary albright but they have always wanted clinton to come. he almost came a few days before he ended his presidency some ten years ago. so, both sides get something. we get the two girls out. that is really important. i just talked to the families, to lisa ling. they are very excited. and maybe what we also get is a framework for talks. we want to talk to the north koreans. you don't want a country with four or five nuclear weapons shooting missiles out there without -- without some kind of international dialogue. you -- you don't want to isolate them. >> governor? >> yes. >> you said you just talked to the families of the two journalists? can you tell us what they said? >> well, i talked to lisa ling,
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who i've been working with on this issue for some time along with the administration, although i don't speak for the administration. they asked for my advice. and she is very excited, the fact that the girls have been pardoned. i think lisa is -- her sister has had some physical ailments, but the fact that it looks like everything is moving toward a return back home, she is very excited. lisa has suffered a lot. you know, it has been five months. this has been one of the longest detainments of americans that we have had in a long time and i have been able to get a couple of different ones out, but this one has lasted five months. there was a sentence of hard labor. the girls were, you know, getting obviously -- having some physical ailments, but the great news is that they are coming home. >> and being in touch with the family, have you had a sense of their -- the accommodations, the way that they have been living? governor richardson has just
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lost us again, i apologize. i want to go to jack cafferty in new york, "the cafferty file." i know jack is focusing on this question and this issue. jae jack? >> indeed, suzanne. go figure, bill clinton waltzes into north korea, wins the release of two journalists accused of enter hearing it country illegally and hostile acts. sentenced to 12 years of hard labor, which in all likelihood they never would have survived. the u.s. has been trying to win their release for weeks, months. from president obama to secretary of state hillary clinton, all efforts have been rejected up to this point. and then bubba comes along and bingo, the two women are free to go makes you wonder what gives, doesn't it in the old expression is beware of a stranger bearing gifts. well no one is any stranger than kim jong-il that weird little dictator who runs north korea, goes around threatening to blow up the rest of the world, nuclear tests, missile foo firings, he is a real day at the beach and he refusses to even listen to the international
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community when they suggest he give up his nuclear weapons program in exchange for membership in the community of nation and things like food. north korea has no food, but kim could care less. recently this absurd regime had taken to calling of our secretary of state, hillary clinton, names, things like, "she looks like a primary school girl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping." or they called her a "funny l y lady" unaware of the elementary etiquette of the international community. talk about the pot calling the kettle. now, hillary's husband waltzes in and waltzes out with these two prisoner it, it is very, very strange. but the families and will take it, take it absolutely and way to go president clinton. nice job. the question though is this, what does it say that bill clinton succeeded in north korea where the u.s. government had failed up to this point? go to cnn.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog. >> good question, jack, i'm sure
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a lot of people will be calling and e-mailing in. we want to go back to governor richardson. i believe he is back with us. and you were just making a point about the families and talking with the families. do we have a sense of the conditions of the two journalists who have been held? >> well, the reports that we have are that they were not at a prison, they were staying mainly at a guesthouse. i have seen those guesthouses, they are in good condition. they were well fed. the good news is that the north koreans let them make phone calls to their families on a periodic basis, let the swedish ambassador come in who represents us in north korea to check on their medical condition, not as much they should. here you have prisoners that have enormous mental strain, you know, the fact that two girls knew they had been sentenced to eight to ten years of hard labor, not being in contact with their families, not knowing when
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this nightmare was gonna end, which has been close to five months. the families have suffered a lot and they have been magnificent in their efforts to bring public attention to this issue so the biggest winners, obviously, with the american people and these families and the two girls and al gore, they work for al gore. president clinton obviously deserves the credit for being the one that made the deal. >> bill richardson, thank you very much. standing by as this breaking news story develops, we are covering it from all angles two american journalists pardoned for the alleged crimes in north korea and soon expected to be released, a trip, a surprise trip from former president bill clinton, initiating this and actually going to dan simon of current tv. . he is one of the people who actually employ these two journalists. also going to be going to white house correspondent dan lothian
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bring you back to the breaking news story, extraordinary developments. the two american journalists who were held in north korea since march, sentenced to 12 years of hard labor have been pardoned by north korea's leader, kim jong-il. this facilitated by former president bill clinton, all of
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this news developing just within the last couple of hours. you see the picture there with president clinton with kim jong-il. other officials are very short, relatively short visit there, posing for pictures. we expect -- what is expected is those two american journalists will be released soon after their pardon. i want to go to cnn's dan simon. he is actually at the home base of current tv. this is the television network that employed the two journalists, euna lee and laura ling, who were there in north korea who had crossed the border from china into north korea. obviously, dan there must be quite a bit of excitement and a sense of relief there that -- of this good news. >> reporter: yeah, suzanne. i'm told by a current employ kwloi is not authorized to spec to the media at this point but i'm told it is very joyous atmosphere inside. i can tell you i was just in the front lobby there and they had
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cnn on and they were obviously watching the broadcast and trying to follow the developments with us because they were very much kept in the dark as well. but at this point, we are waiting for an official statement from current. i'm told all the senior managers are in a meeting and drafting some sort of a press release. the one person i spoke to i asked if anybody had seen al gore, who, you know, founded current tv and makes frequent trips to the office here. he has not been seen today, but obviously, we are waiting to hear from him as well to get his feelings on what's happened, suzanne. >> okay, thank you, dan. this is cnn, breaking news. >> i now want to bring in our internet reporter, abbi tatton, who now has statements from the families of the two journalists.
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abbi what with we learning? >> reporter: this is posted to the campaign site from the families trying to lobby for the freeing of laura and una, just posted onto the website, a state from the families and getting this in, reading in together. the families of laura ling and u nah lee are overjoyed by this news. they say they are so grateful to the government, president obama, secretary clinton and the u.s. state department and the statement goes on to especially thank president bill clinton for taking on such an arduous mission and for vice president al gore for his tireless efforts. the campaign site was set up so people could help this effort through facebook, through letter-writing campaigns through, online petitions and the families want to thank all the people online who have been trying, working so hard for the release of the journalists. >> thank you very much. getting back to you obviously with more information from the families of those two journalists. we want to bring
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[ governor richardson standing by and obviously, you have had your own experience in hostage negotiations and relosing americans held there before in north korea. we were talking before about the role of the former president clinton there, bill clinton. what do we anticipate going forward now, that you have him doing such a -- facilitating such an extraordinary move in the obama administration. what -- how is this divvied up in a way and how do we make sense of what he has done, the role of his wife, the secretary of state, hillary clinton, and the former president, president obama? >> well, i believe the obama administration was very skillful, obviously, since we don't have direct contact with the north koreans, somebody else has to do it, unofficial envoy, president clinton is not a member of the government but he is obviously a former president and his enormous stature. the fact that he has gone and interceded has been -- is very
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important. the fact is the north koreans, i believe, have wanted somebody like clinton come for a long time. they wanted him to come, he was president, they are getting an ex-president. what this means, i believe is clinton's visit not just releases the two american journalists but also sets up a more positive tempo for us and the north koreans to start talking, period. because we haven't been talking, there's been enormous hostility. they have had underground tests. they are very -- they abandoned the six-party talks. so maybe this will provide channel for some direct talks with the north koreans or some kind of contact to negotiate some of these nuclear and other issues that divide us. >> when you say some direct talks what, do you mean? do you think that a message is going to come back via bill clinton than they want direct talks? what kind of message do you
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think they will send back to this white house? >> well, obviously, they are not just going to talk about the journalists. >> right. . they had a state dinner. he talked to kim jong-il. some kind of direction or statement president clinton may be able to come back with, like they want to talk directly to us and not go through the six-party talks or they would accept the visit by a special envoy. we have one, steven boss worth, coming to north korea. it could be any kind of messages like that. i don't believe they will negotiate reduction notice nuclear of arsenal in north korea, the pyongyang reactor, those thank is for negotiators. since they haven't been talking at all, since a the relationship has been frozen and hostile, any kind of future movement. that bill clinton can bring back and say we are ready to talk from the north koreans is a good
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step and so that's the added benefit besides the lease of the two journalists which is a great benefit to the country and to their families. >> do you have any sense why they didn't want the former vice president, al gore to go? there was a lot of talk about a month ago that al gore was going to be going over there and having these negotiations? >> well, look, these decisions about who goes are not just made by one side they can made by both sides it could that the north koreans wanted former president clinton. >> because he was higher stature? higher stature than -- >> well, yeah. yeah because's former president, because kim jong-il had wanted him to visit when bill clinton was president because bill clinton negotiated the agreed framework with north korea in 1994 because of the stature. obviously, the north koreans have got kim jong-il a great political internal benefit,
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having a former president there. just the worldwide press he gets shows that kim jong-il, by getting bill clinton is a major player that is what kim jong-il was trying to do this is why clinton is able to bring this but in return we get the journalists and maybe a thawing of the relationship good for both sides. >> governor richardson, you talk about stature and we know when president clinton was president, there was former president jimmy carter who went to north korea and managed eventually to get an accord, some sort of nuclear accord in '94. it was something that president clinton at the time, he wasn't particularly thrilled with that you had a former president that was making such a big trip and such a big splash. what does this do for president obama now? does this help him, hurt him, give him greater gravity it is a and stature in dealing with the north korean regime because of what president clinton has done? >> well, it shows that president
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obama has been skillful in dealing with north korea since the relationship is so frozen. the fact that i'm sure he concurred that president clinton go, he was on an air force plane. president clinton is doing a good thing getting the journalists back it shows sometimes you can engage in direct diplomacy between the governments, you use a third party envoy. and it could than the north koreans said we only will take bill clinton and that's it and the fact that we agreed to do this and the fact that i'm sure they are talking about other issues, not negotiating but simply talking about getting together next that would be a very important step forward but i don't want to diminish the fact that this -- our government has stood up for two americans that we're not going to leave them behind that we care about their humanitarian release, we care about free journalism and
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we care about bringing them home, i think that is another humanitarian aspect of the release of the two women that we shouldn't forget about, the status of the families, lisa ling, the parents, the two girls that now will be able to go home. al gore, i think deserves a lot of credit. i know he was working hard to secure their release. he has a lot of contacts, he was talking to the state department, just like many others like myself were doing. >> i understand that secretary of state hillary clinton also played an active role. is that correct? >> yeah, she did i mean, she call node get advice. she talked to foreign diplomats she talked to the swedes that are our intermediaries. she pressed this internationally. she was the one that talked about amnesty, which think was key in getting the north koreans to be able to justify, even though they went through their legal process, that they can now move ahead with a pardon, as just happened. yeah, she was very active. i think this is a plus for
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everybody, for us, for the north koreans and for the idea of peace of bringing people together and talking. we got to talk to these people. we don't want them running around with four nuclear weapons and hostility and a million troops, men and women in uniform in north korea, missiles around, we have 23, 27,000 american troops in south korea. you want to lessen tensions, that is the purpose of diplomacy, i think a that was the purpose of doing this. i want to bring in our foreign affairs correspondent jill dougherty to ask a question of you, governor if i may. jill? >> governor richardson, you know, you were talking about whether other subjects they might get into. and i'm just reading the statement by kcna. they say they had a can debt, in-depth discussion on pending issues between the dprk and the u.s. and reached a consensus of views on seeking a negotiated
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settlement of them. what do you think that means? how far do you think that former president clinton went, because he was supposed to be talking merely about the journalists? >> no well, jill, you know that is diplomatic language. you know, whenever two leaders sit together, you always say you had discussions on a wide variety of subjects. president clinton there was to negotiate the release of the journalists and he probably made that appeal to kim jong-il and kim jong-il responded and then they go and talk about other issues. basically, i would say that kim jong-il is talking to president clinton saying, you know this is the view of my country. and this is our position on this. and it was a simple, polite dialogue, but there was -- i'm sure there is no negotiating going on, but obviously, since we have differences over nuclear weapons, over whether we re-engaged in the six-party talks or bilaterally or human
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rights issues, they could have covered a number of subjects. but not negotiating. it's just ordinary diplomacy. it happened to me when i was there. they raise a lot of issues, they care about u.s. politics, they could have talked about the election, you know it is just a lot of things. >> governor richardson, woe would like to thank you for being here. we will keep checking in with you as this story unfolds, moving parts of this story, breaking developments in just the last hour or so wasn't our viewers to take a look, we are look at these bars, north korean television, we are keeping an eye out for any new pictures that we may see coming out of the region, out of the country, if, in fact, the two journalists are released some time soon or if the former president emerges, we will bring those pictures to you live as soon as they emerge t is about 5:3 a.m. in north korea in the morning. so, we expect that there will be a all right of fast-moving
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developments throughout "the situation room," so please stay with us after this quick break.
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we are watching this extraordinary development, the two american journalists held in north korea, pardoned for 12 years of hard labor. their sentence there, obviously with the help of former president bill clinton. we are keeping an eye on this breaking news story, those are the bars, the bars that you seeker north korean television. we are keeping an eye on what they are watching what they are seeing what ever unfolds, just how soon these journalists will be released. we will bring that to you as soon as it happens. the meantime, following other stories as well. brianna keilar monitoring all
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that into the situation room. right now, brianna what do you have? transportation secretary ray lahood says texting while driving is dangerous and the obama administration will do something about t lahood announced plans for a september summit to combat accidents caused by distracted drivers and says it will bring together transportation experts, safety advocates, law enforcement officers and also members of congress a recent virginia tech study found motorists who texted while driving were 23 times more likely to crash than those who are not distracted. last stop, the senate floor for the supreme court nomination of federal judge sonia sotomayor. senate deliberations began today and six republican senators so far have said they will support sotomayor to become the nation's first hispanic supreme court justice. now, their support basically confirms -- makes confirmation for her a virtual certainty. final vote by thursday and legal source says she could be sworn in as early as friday. we keep hearing evidence
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that the economy may have bottomed out but maybe not consumer bankruptcies. the american bankruptcy institute says consumer bankruptcy filing surged 34% in july to their highest level since october of 2005. the institute says the numbers reflect growing financial stress on u.s. households saddled with rising unemployment and pre-existing debt. this year's atlantic hurricane season is not quite living up to expectations, so, forecasters are lowering their storm predictions a bit. colorado university says they expect ten named storm notice atlantic ocean, four hurricanes and two major hurricanes of category 3 or higher. the team that originally predicted 11 storms. the atlantic hurricane season runs from june 1st through november 30th. we got a little ways here, suzanne. >> thanks, brianna. the drudge report linked readers to video of president obama making remarks that suggest he is targeting private
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health insurance. hundreds of thousands of hits later, the white house is pushing back and twit certificate battleground. and president obama, the controversy over the pro-and the police officer. we look how well he weathered the incident. you are it is in the latest polls and you are "the situation room." this is my verizon small business specialist, tom. now, i know the catering business but when i walked in here i wasn't sure what i needed. i'm not sure what i need. tom showed me how to use mifi to get my whole team working online, on location. i was like, "woah".
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following this breaking news story, developments over the last hour or some the two american journalists who were held in north korea, they have been pardoned after their sentence for 12 years of hard labor in pyongyang this facilitated by former president bill clinton who is there, who met with north korean officials, including kim jong-il, their leader. we are watching north korean television, these are bars here, waiting to see the fresh pictures, new pictures, what is come out of the region, out of the country there how quickly, how soon these journalists will be released, how soon we will see the former president as well as kim jong-il. obviously, a very important and fast-developing story and we will bring any news that we have as soon as it comes to us. there is another story that stole the headlines, put the white house on the defensive that we are also watching.
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now we are getting a first look at the fallout, the controversy president obama innighted when he said that police acted stu d stupidly in arresting an african-american harvard professor. our cnn political analyst bill schneider is joining us live. bill, did president obama, did he suffer any kind of political damage from the controversy that unfolded and how he handled this? >> reporter: a little, not a lot. gates gate was pretty asch local story until president obama weighed in with his assessment. >> the cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. >> reporter: do americans think the police officer acted stupidly? we asked, in a cnn poll conducted by the opinion research cooperation, fewer than a third of whites believe he acted stupidly. most african-americans think he did. do people think professor gates acted stupidly? most whites do. african-americans are divided.
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president obama later expressed regret. >> and i could have calibrated those words differently. >> reporter: do people think president obama acted stupidly when he made his original comments? more than 60% of whites think he did african-americans don't think so so, overall, was there any political damage to president obama? nearly 60% of the public say it had do did not affect their view of the president at all, but four times as many people say it had made them feel less favorable rather.that more favorable toward mr. obama. most people who say made them less favorable are not republicans. still, most white and black approve the way the president is handling race relations and most americans, white and black, think the so-called beer summit at the white house was a good idea. >> my hope is that as a consequence of this event this ends up being what is called a teachable moment. >> reporter: but a teachable moment? not quite. whites and blacks agree, the gates' incident has not taught
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americans a lesson that will lead to better race relations. most african-americans, including president obama, view the gates' incident as a racial conflict. most whites don't. suzanne? >> thank you, bill, bill schneider. we are counting down to the second 100 days of the obama administration and this thursday night, we will issue a new national report card on the president. what kind of grades is he earning? cast your vote right now, go to cnn.com/report card then get the rules thursday night at 8 eastern. coming up after this quick break, we will have the strategy session and that is when we are going to pose the question whether or not two for one is a good deal for this administration and for the american people. that is the clintons. so what do you think?
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the white house versus the drudge report. the white house is fighting back against the website for what it calls a campaign of misstatements i and outright falsehood on health care. let's bring back our internet reporter, abbi tatton. abbi what is the white house doing about this? >> this is like a counter off fen sense against the web site, the drum report. yesterday it links this video, a series of clips, some of them going back to 2003, where the president appears to be saying that your private health insurance could disappear. well, not so fast says the white house. the whitehouse.gov and also sent to out to their followers on twitter this video.
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>> well, nothing could be farther from the truth, the people who try to scare people when you true i do bring them health insurance reform are at it again and they are taking sentences and phrases out of context and cobbling them together to leave a very false impression. >> that is the white house's linda douglas and fighting back with videos of their own. they have clips that they are now circulating showing the president saying if you like your doctor, if you like your health insurance plan, you are going to be able to keep it at this point now, it is a battle for the clicks, the youtube video the drudge report linked to yesterday had about 400,000 viewers the last time we looked. the white house sending their video out to their 800,000 followers on twitter, hoping they will be watching this one. he is a former president who today secured the release of two u.s. journalists detained in north korea. she is a former senator and current secretary of state. hillary and bill clinton remain a formidable political package.
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is this two for one idea a good idea or a bad idea? joining me for today's strategy session are former democratic representative of texas and his republican counterpart, tom dave vif advice, a former representative from virginia. thanks for joining us in "the situation room." lots going on, obviously, but this whole idea, this was something that in the campaign that it covered, always you get hillary, bill, two for one a good thing or bad thing? >> today was a good thing. two reporters released from north korea, the former president going in. at least today it worked out, i think it will be a mixed bag as we work our way through this. >> absolutely. i would say it is a good thing and it allowed north korea to get ate tenning they so desperately crave crave. they want attention, respect and engage the united states and pave the way for succession. from our standpoint, we got the journalists released that is the news story. >> either one of you see the irony under this, in the obama administration, you get both clintons? >> get them both a good thing
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today, but it may not be another day. once the former president goes offmessage or offscript, people will link that-to-together but certainly worked today. >> big picture here, so much more about these two journalists we expect will be released and have been pardoned but the future of u.s. relations with north korea, does this help president obama open up to the possibility of direct talks? that's something that the north koreans want but obama administration has been sticking with the line, six-party talks so far? >> i think it does. obviously, the obama administration has wanted to engage the north koreans and has not had a good and effective way to do this. by sending president clinton there, president clinton is well respected over there, nearly went to north core he rhea he at the end of his last administration, hosted military leaders from north korea, so i this hi it is a good thing, opens some doors and always when we can open doors and talk with each other, i think under a what situation it is a positive thing
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for the united states. >> this helps kim jong-il, because they are in a fight for succession, he is ailing at this point. that picture next to former president clinton gives him respect. i think it helps him within the regime as well as externally. >> he has notoriously been an unbeliable negotiator in all of this. can we expect to see with these pictures, the release of these two young women that there is some goodwill that perhaps we should look at this leader differently in talking with him and negotiating with him or do we take it that far? >> this helps him internally, within the regime, this helps him externally, i think this is all about -- two pawns, i think he played his card here. i don't think it predicts anything for the future, doesn't hurt but i don't any it predicts anything. >> we have to hope for the best, obviously, hope that this opens doors, hope that they are dealing in good faith, we have to hope that they are making positive overtures for the united states. again, as tom is saying, i don't think that we can anticipate that there will be a cessation
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of the antics that they have exhibited in the past. this is more from their standpoint about helping them, helping the leader, helping with succession than it was doing anything for the united states. >> congressman, congressman, thanks for joining us here "the situation room." appreciate t >> good to be here. on our political ticker, it today is president obama's 48th birthday. happy birthday. he let age take precedent in the white house briefing room, bringing in cupcakes to veteran reporter helen thomas, who turns 89 it today. ♪ happy birthday to you
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>> got to blow it out to make it come true. there you go. hey. >> and madam tussaud's wax museum in washington is marking the president's birthday with his own party, assembling wax likenesses of him, the first lady, along with bill and hillary clinton and george w. bush, all wearing party hats in the museum's replica of the oval office. happy birthday to president obama and journalist helen thomas. and coming up after this quick break, we will obviously follow the breaking news of those two american journalists who have been pardoned after being sentenced to 12 years of hard neighbor north korea, thanks in part in large part, to former president bill clinton. coming up after this break. that's why you should consider... an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan... insured by united healthcare insurance company. it can help cover some of what medicare doesn't...
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jack joins us again with the cafferty file. jack? >> suzanne, the question this hour, what does it say about bill clinton than he succeeded in north korea where the u.s. government failed in regain the release of those two journalists held there since march? dolores writes, the north korean government has just proven what has been said by a few qualified
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experts over the years, they are hungry for recognition and respect for the west with. sending the ex-president of the u.s. was the exact writ rite thing to do it was an uncanny choice. he's step to or two away from the harsh rhetoric needed by the administration and yet he is important enough to greatly impress north korea. kudo it is to bill clinton and to the obama administration for choosing him. linda writes, the u.s. government hardly failed. let's remember, president clinton's wife is our secretary of state. the north koreans are like small, destructive toddlers they just wanted a senior level mommy or daddy official to come over, visit their hell hole and diplomatically beg. cameron in san francisco, yes, but what did we have to give back in return for this so-called trade? nobody trades something for nothing. carol writes, call me crazy, i'm guessing bill clinton, the secretary of state and president obama, all collaborated on this. what it says about this administration is they make a priority of getting things done and don't worry so much about who gets the credit.
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bravo. rufus in california says bill clinton's the ultimate negotiator and deal maker. if i were rotting away in a korean jail cell, i would want hillary's husband to negotiate my release. bubba could literally sell you your own shirt off your back, jack, so let's give props to president 42. he just earned himself the know bell peace prize. linda in connecticut said the little eldest loving ego maniac that runs north korea thinks bill clinton is worthy enough to be good press. clinton is a charmer and we needed charms, not arms torque win this battle. didn't see your e-mail here go to my blog at cnn.com/caffertyfile. a lot of e-mail, yours might be lurking there. suzanne in. >> thank you, jack. here "the situation room," happening now, bill clinton's surprise meeting with north korea's recluse is sive dictator pays off. the former president wins a pardon for two american journalists sentenced to hard labor. also, he is accused of letting millions of his own people starve while keeping
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world leaders in a constant state of concern. north korea's leader may be cruel and eccentric but is he crazy? we will look at kim jong-il. can north korea now be talked into giving up its nuclear program again? i will ask former defense secretary william cohen. wolf blitzer is off. i'm suzanne malveaux and you're in "the situation room." a former u.s. president makes a secret trip to one of the most secretive regimes in the world. bill clinton gaining a pledge of freedom for two u.s. journalists held to norm korea. straight to cnn foreign affairs correspondent jill dougherty. how did this come about and why do you think bill clinton was a able to pull this off? >> reporter: this didn't happen overnight this has been in the works quite a while, a few weeks. several candidates, remember bill richardson, vice president
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gore and also johner can rib, candidates for going to the north and trying to get those women out, but the person that the north koreans wanted and invited was bill clinton and that was a decision by the white house, we are told that he would be the best person to do it one of the reasons is because he is not a government figure, not anymore. and if he has somebody else, senator on what of, they were part of the government this gave the white house an opportunity to send bill clinten in kind of an unofficial humanitarian way to the north to try to bring those journalists out. it happened quite quickly, but apparently, it did not happen until there was an apolle jie made and here is how the north korean media described it, kcna saying clinton expressed words of sincere apology to kim jong-il for the hostile acts committed by the two american journalists against the dprk, that is north korea, after
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illegally intruding into t clinton courteously conveyed to kim jong-il an ernest request of the u.s. government to leniently pardon them and send them back home from a humanitarian point of view. so, that is how the north koreans describe it but certainly appears that you have president clinton and also you can almost say, suzanne, two clintons working together, secretary of state hillary clinton, who also contributed to this as well as bill clinton. >> jill what does each side get out of this deal? >> ultimately, i think tough say that the north koreans get some face, as it is very important in asia, face, their respect, that a former leader of the united states would come to north korea, sit down with their leader and then on the other side, the united states certainly gets the journalists out, number one, and potentially, according to some people that really watch north korea it is might, and that is a
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big might, bring the north closer to coming back to talks. again that could be a long way and not guaranteed at all. >> okay, jill, thank you very much. i want to show our viewers very quickly what we are watching from north korea, north korean television, just bars right now, but obviously keeping our eye on any developments that may happen out of the area, whether or not those journalists will be will be released soon, whether or not we will see the former president but we are keeping our eye out for anything that might happen and be released on the north korean side. i want to go to the white house, what happened behind the scenes to make the former president's trip possible. go to cnn correspondent dan lettian. what has the white house response been today, dan? >> reporter: suzanne, on the latest developments, the white house continues to have a no comment, but clearly here, this is a situation they are saying sensitive, they want to be cautious. i do want to take you behind-the-scenes, bring you up to date on how we got to this
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point. the story first broke last night roughly between 8:30, 9:00 is when we first found out about it, it reached out to some of our contacts here at the white house and given some indication the white house was receiving a statement, that was according to source. quickly, the white house decided to take a no comment stance. it didn't matter what information bed wed been giving by sources earlier, they simply said no comment t wasn't until this morning, almost ten hours later, that a short statement was put out by the white house and essentially suggesting they would make no former comment as long as this mission by former president clinton was on the ground that gives us an indication of where the white house is in terms of timing, don't plan on coming out perhaps in front of the cameras or release anything kind of statement until president clinton is wheels up from north korea, suzanne. >> do do we know whether or not the former president, bill clinton, was he delivering a message from president obama to kim jong-il as has been
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reported? >> reporter: yeah that was reported. there was some spec will aing that perhaps president obama did give a letter to hand deliver. robert gibbs was asked at the briefing if that took place. twice today he said that that simply just not true, that he was not given any message, either in writing or language, he was not given any message to hand deliver or to send to north korea. >> dan, thank you very much, dan lothian at the white house. let's get insight with someone very familiar with the communist refresh sheechl. jack pritchard is a former envoy to north korea. thank you for joining us in "the situation room." how significant is the development, beyond the release of the journalists? >> a big development. the north koreans simply used the fact we had two american journalists being held there. this is an opportunity in my opinion, for the north koreans to reset the relationship of the united states. they got off to' very bad start. they made miscalculations about the obama administration and now, this has given them an
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opportunity to say, let's hit receipt start bunt and do this better because they are headed in the wrong direction. >> you know it their thinking, you have dealt with them over the years, why do you suppose they turned? twist and decide this isn't working, we want to go in a different direction? >> i think the first time, we have seen the u.n. security council resolution, the sanctions from 1874 were looking as though they might have an effect on the regime. we saw an incident in which a north korean ship was set sail, ostensibly to burma, turned around, came back. the burmese government said if you had shown up, we were going to search you, these things were cumulative in effect, the north koreans saw no good future down the path they are on. >> do you do think it was the difference between the obama administration getting tougher, hard we are north korea on the willingness of the international community, other players who
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also said in the united nations, we are going to cooperate, get tough we are this regime? who do you think is the standout player in changing this dynamic? >> everyone deserves some credit, you are quite right. the entire u.n. community were given a tax. the u.n. security council resolution didn't simply slap the north koreans on the wrist it gave the others things to do, things to report and that was important. but again, the obama administration has dealt very deliberately, patiently and cooperatively with our allies and made a difference. >> what message do you think this sends to other nations like iran? >> hopefully, they will see the right message and that is there is a purposefulness about the u.s. policy and that given an opportunity to engage with the united states that is probably the right choice. >> you have been in situations like this before, obviously, this is a turning point, but a really delicate point in u.s./north korean relation. they could go the right way or
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just blow t what does the obama administration, what does president obama need to do right now this moment to take advantage of this? >> well what i hope comes out of this is a message from kim jong-il through president clinton to the obama administration that says give us a chance to talk with you first and then we are on our way back to multilateral talks. they may not have stayed that way but that is hopefully the message they deliver and what the obama administration needs to do now is take them up on that. rather than say, no, we are not going to talk to them bilater bilaterally, engage them. see where it leads but with the intent of getting them back to the multilateral track just as soon as possible. >> mr. pritchard, thank you so much for joining us in "the situation room". jack cav fertile itty is if new york with the cafferty file what are you following? >> before we nominate kim jong-il for the know bell peace prize for releasing those two journalists it is worth remembering who exactly we are dealing with here. the fact that former president clinton was able to gain the women's release should not
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change anything. north korea is a dangerous regime armed with nuclear weapons and amidst the questions who will succeed the little mad man who runs the place. all likelihood, north korea would lick to sit down, as was being suggested by our guest a moment ago, sit down with the united states for bilateral talks, just them and us. and negotiate another one of those phony deals that they have been party to in the past. their sword no good. they don't like the six-party disarmament talks aimed at trying to get them to give up their nuclear weapons program they would rather get the united states to agree to feed their people without having to do much of if anything in return. there should nobody letting up on the part of the group of six nations just because of today's humanitarian gesture on the part of north korea. these are the same people who threatened to fire a ballistic missile toward hawaii and made repeated threats against south korea and other of their neighbors there is absolutely no reason to believe that today's developments change anything when it comes to north korea but
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north korea undoubtedly will think that it does. here is the question. how will the release of the two american journalists affect north korea's relations with the rest of the world? go to cnn.com/caffertyfile. you can post a comment on my blog. suzanne? >> thanks, jack. north korea's pardon for the two u.s. journalists has friends and family rejoicing. we will take you to the headquarters of their employer, current tv. and we are learning more about these two women online, how celebrities joined the fight for their release. and what pressure did china put on north korea and did that have something to do with the pardon? i will ask former defense secretary william cone. swork. cop,ining two essential insurances, term life and disability in one surprisingly affordable package. strengthen your safety net and find out how affordable it can be at metlife.com.
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over the years, new mexico governor bill richardson has been a diplomatic troubleshooter, negotiated the release of other americans held in north korea and closely involved in this case as well. governor richardson spoke with me just a short while ago. >> i talked to lisa ling, who i've been working with on this issue for some time, along with the administration, although i don't speak for the administration. they asked for my advice. the fact that the girls are pardoned, i think lisa is -- her sister has had some physical ailments, but the fact that it looks like everything is moving forwards a return back home, she is very excited. she has been -- lisa has suffered a lot. you know, it has been five
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months. these -- this has been one of the longest detainments of americans that we've had in a long time and i've been able to get a couple of different ones out, but this one has lasted five months. there was a sentence of hard labor. the girls were getting -- obviously having some physical ailments, but the great news is that they are coming home. >> american journalists laura ling and u nah lee were working for current tv at the time of their arrest. former vice president al gore founded current it tv as well as joel hyatt of hyatt legal services. dan simons joins us live from the cable tv headquarters where i imagine he co-workers are happy now? >> reporter: they are thrilled. told by company employee not authorized to speak to the press yet but told the atmosphere inside is joyous. this one employee i talked to said that vice president gore
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comes to the headquarters quite often but not sure where he is today, everybody anxious to hear from him. i was inside an hour or so ago, as local media and myself showed up here we were told that senior executives were having a meeting and at some point, obviously, going to put out a statement, we have not received that statement yet but, of course, waiting here, waiting on any word here from current tv, suzanne. >> in thank you very much, dan simon at the headquarters of current television. celebrations happening online where there were large-scale reactions and celebrations for the release. what kind of reaction are you finding? >> so many people were fighting onlip for the release of these two journalists, through facebook groups, online petition, letter-writing campaigns a lot organized right here at the campaign site of the two families. so much pushed by celebrity test in on the lobbying campaign.
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ashton kutcher, 2, 3 million followers on twitter, public sizing the fact that two journalists were in prison in north korea. recently, footballer david beckham meeting with with the families of the two journalists as well. all this posted on that campaign website, so it is no wonder that now with this news, biggest trending topics, things people are talking about on twitter now are related to the release of these two journalists. talking about twitter, we should mention also that former bill clinton is being hail and absolute hero by so many dozens of tweets coming on the site. because it is twitter and bill clinton we can't bring you all of them but we should say that bill clinton super hero is pretty much summing it up now. so atmosphere of absolute rejoicing online for the release of these two journalists. >> thank you, abbi. a political coup but without a white house presence.
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why did the obama administration send former president bill clinton to do the negotiating? we will take a look at that and we will also take a look at how the journalists' release will affect north korea's relationship with the rest of the world. stay with us. you are "the situation room." e very beautiful. they come in blue or red, golden, green. bloom )d)d)d)d)d)d)d)d)d)d)d)d)dd
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this is cnn, breaking news. >> straight to brianna keilar who is monitoring all the stories coming into "the situation room" right now. brianna, i understand you have some breaking news? >> breaking news out of north korea, suzanne. according to the north core he reian news agency, bill clinton this is in quotes, bill clinton, former president of the united states and his party, left here today by air. they were seen off at the airport by the vice president of the supreme people's assembly and the vice minister of foreign affairs, kim kye gwan, monitoring more information and bringing it to you as we get it. predawn raids foiled a terrorist attack on one of australia's largest military bases. police arrested four young extremists with ties to an al qaeda group in somalia. officials say a seven-month
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investigation revealed a planned suicide attack on a base home to commandoes trained in counterterrorism and a black hawk helicopter squadron. i love jihad were the words heard inside a north carolina courtroom as officials say the recording was from the leader of a suspected terrorist group. the seven suspects, including ringleader daniel boyd, are charged with conspiring jihad overseas. authorities say they seized a variety of items from boyd's house, including an assault rifle and other guns, 27,000 rounds of ammunition and:documents promoting jihad against america. a plane landing on a resort island near thailand skidded off the runway in stormy weather and crashed into a building, killing the pilot and injuring at least seven others much the injured co-pilot was trapped inside the plane for two hours. the bangkok airways flight landed on the island popular with foreign tourists.
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muffy is home nine years later. she's enough white mutt. found sleeping on a shriller are of cardboard and identified by a microchip in her ear and thrown 12ed money miles away to her owners brisbane, australia. only muffy knows about the odyssey. makes you think about microchipping the animals. >> these stories are great. you hear them, very fun. >> that is great, brianna, thank you. north korea's leader may be cruel and eccentric but is he crazy? we will look closer at kim jung ill. and could cot pardon for the two u.s. journalists mean a turn in u.s./north korea relations? bill clinton's rescue operation came as hillary clinton launched a big trip to africa. did the former president overshadow the secretary of state? quality and reliability...
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here in "the situation room," happening now, two american journalists are released in north korea. what does this signify in the relationship between the united states and north korea? it wasn't an administration official who rescued the women but former president bill clinton, who swooped into north
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korea. his administration negotiated on at communist country's nuclear program in the 1990s but why send the former president now? brian todd has the answer. who is the reclusive leader of north korea? kim jong-il is accused of letting his people starve while he enjoys the joy brigades. i'm suzanne malveaux. wolf blitter is off today. you are in "the situation room." so, why did it take a former u.s. president to win freedom for the two journalists held in north korea? could the obama white house pull this off with its own officials? our cnn political correspondent candy crowley is joining me now. candy what do each side get out
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of this going forward? >> not sure it is not so much about politics as getting the two women out of north korea, that has been what the behind the scene negotiations have been about. what does north korea get? north korea gets the photo ops coming out of that country. bill clinton very, very popular overseas, very, very revered. and never underestimate what a feather in the cap that is for north korea which wants, above all, legitimacy. >> could have chose an number of people, former president jimmy carter, former secretary of state madeleine albright, even the to current secretary of state, hillary clinton. why do you suppose they collected president bill clinton to go over? >> i don't think they could have sent secretary of state hillary clinton simply because north korea, since barack obama became president, has set off, what, six, eight missiles with the
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president coming out saying this should not be allowed to stand. so you cannot send a u.s. official, otherwise have countries, i imagine, across the world sort of seizing u.s. citizens. on the other hand, north korea wanted some of that prestige. so, i think that this was not something that happened in a vacuum. it is not that the u.s. said, to okay, let's send former president clinton. i think that is what north korea wanted. >> what do you suppose clinton said to seal the deal here? what do you is suppose he actually brought to him? what do you think he -- if you can read the tea leaves? >> i think that was done deal before he left. i don't think there is anyway the former president of the united states, who is a senior statesman now, would go to north korea unless they weren't almost, you know, to a mortal lock that he was gonna bring home those two women. i think this was to go over and to make good on the u.s. side of that deal, to have this person of high visibility and high stature go over to north korea
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to get them. >> candy, thank you so much. did pressure from china help the u.s. journalists free them? former defense secretary william cohen joining me now, ceo of the cohen group which represents multinational companies who do business in china. good to have you with us. let's focus on that. what do you suppose? china always a member of the is six-party talks did they play a unique role this time around? >> hard to say china increasingly has been in the spotlight. you have a much tougher position taken by the south korea government today along with japan and the united states, so that left china and russia. now, most of the u.s. officials were saying that china holds the key here. china predictably would say we don't have as much influence as you think. i think the pressure was growing on china to do something about getting the north koreans back to the six-party talks. hard to say if they had the invisible hand here working but i think they obviously have a role to play and a bigger role to play in terms of helping to resolve the nuclear standoff we
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have with the north koreans. >> what was their role when it comes to the u.n. security council sanctions? the tougher sanctions passed this go-around? >> in favor, rhetorically at least, of much tougher sanctions and didn't want to put them into effect just yet. yes, we are you, at least verbally, rhetorically you weren't prepared to crackdown as hard as we would like to see them crackdown to put more pressure on, so it may be this was a way for them, if they were working behind the scenes torque say stay with us, we are bringing pressure, it is more gradual than would you like. nonetheless, it may prove to be pro-duck ittive in the long-term. >> do you think that president clinton had any kind of leeway in moving forward and freshing the nuclear issue and saying we want to talk about that, nuclear ambitions? >> well, according to the white house, he had no leeway for that, but in these situations, you sit down with the heads of state of another country, usually, you have another discussion and sure able to say
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there are many issues to resolve, the nuclear issue being among them. i think the white house did not want to have president clinton negotiating anyway or taking any step forward because that would appear to undercut their very tough bargaining position, saying we are make nothing deal, not taking two steps back to bring the north koreans back to the bargaining table. i think they wanted enough distance, the north koreans wanted high visibility, a former president. the administration wanted someone not part of the administration so they can say we are not making a deal on any other aspect with the north koreans this is simply bill clinton helping to bring this release about. it has no leeway to discuss any kind of negotiations. i think they had it both ways. >> this is such a reclusive regime in a country so closed, to have a former u.s. president there a former chief of staff, johners about, also there with him what kind of information do you think they took back with them that we can clean from this trip? >> not everything has to be said to be understood. words can go unspoken and still
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be heard. i'm sure that president clinton made his assessment of the health and well being of kim jong-il to say whether or not he is in full control of his faculties and perhaps rumors about his health have been exaggerated. so, that would be one thing. secondly, he may have been able to probe to see whether or not there is some flexibility on the part or willingness on the part of kim jong-il to, in fact, return to the six-party talks. so body language has a lot to do with it, some signals, some nuanced conversations, something offline, perhaps john podesta had a conversation with several people and bring that back to the administration and saying here is the way of moving forward without compromising principles of this thing saying we are not going to he reward them from bad behavior there is a lot that can be gleaned from a meeting such as. this it doesn't have to be written out specifically, you can glean a lot just from the atmospherics and exchange between the people. >> do you think this move by kim jong-il today help him with his relationship with the united states? >> i think it helps him perhaps
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at home. i don't think anyone is going to be -- change their opinion about the stalinist regime, as such, of the north koreans. i think the chinese understand who they are dealing with japanese, south koreans, do. it helps them at home. may send a signal that we are prepared to sit down or come back again. it may than the north korean leaders looking for his successor, building a foundation for that son -- one of his sons to take over, in the event he is away some time in the future. so it could be a number of motives involved, but he may be laying a foundation to say this is how i want to have my successor build upon the foundation i am currently laying. we don't know at this point. i think right now, we have got two young women about to be released and going to be back home safely with their families and we have president clinton, who i think did some really great work here. i think it was important. he is such a highly respected figure internationally. he has the clinton global summit initiative every year and he
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command a lot of respect. >> okay, bilkoen, appreciate it. thank you very much. he stays at home and sometimes wears four-inch platform heels, yet, he runs a nuclear-armed country. dictator kim jong-il of north korea releases two american journalists but who exactly is this man? and former bill clinton sweeps in and saves the day. did secretary of state hillary clinton have a role in this or was it all bill? we will ask donna brazile and kevin madden. stay with us. you are "the situation room." ♪ 'cause now i'm driving off the lot in a used sub-compact. ♪ ♪ f-r-e-e, that spells free credit report dot com, baby. ♪ ♪ saw their ads on my tv ♪ thought about going but was too lazy ♪ ♪ now instead of looking fly and rollin' phat ♪ ♪ my legs are sticking to the vinyl ♪ ♪ and my posse's getting laughed at. ♪ ♪ f-r-e-e, that spells free- credit report dot com, baby. ♪
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california governor arnold schwarzenegger is also reacting to the release of the two journalists from north korea. let's go to abby tant what is he saying? >> journalists working at san francisco-based current tv this just in from governor schwarzenegger that reads, "maria shriver and i happily
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enjoy all americans in celebrating the pardoning of euna lee and ling. i applaud those who work to negotiate their pardon. our heart felt thoughts are with the families of una and laura and we wish them both a safe return to california." a couple months ago, at the beginning of june, at the time of the two journalists' sentencing, governor schwarzen nearer said the state was are ready to offer any assistance to the government in bringing the two journalists home and mentioned the families of the two the family statement is on the campaign website, which is free laura ling and euna lee, celebrating their release today. that statement reading, "we are now counting the seconds until we hold laura and u nah in our arms again. joining me, donna brazile along with republican strategist
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kevin madden. very big development today. start off with you, donna. there were a number of people who could have gone, including al gore. why do you suppose it was bill clinton and in the al gore? >> first of all, former vice president gore has worked with the white house, the state department, a range of people who offered to help with the best intentions. this is like a symphony, everybody trying to ensure that these two women were released. i think the vice president, i'm not speaking for him, but i'm sure elated tonight to know the two young women will be coming home to their families. >> matter who it was, whether al gore had that primary role or played a background role? >> absolutely not. not who he is and not what this is about. this is about getting these two women back home safely to their
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family and clearly, former president clinton played a role in making this happen a win win for the country and the young women but for president obama, who i think really is pushing, you know, this whole effort to ensure the safety of americans by using a range of options, using former presidents and who knows what else. >> have you spoken with al gore today? >> no i have not, but i did applaud the fact that these two women were being released. >> what does this mean, do you suppose, for president obama? what does he need to do to make this moment, turn this moment into one that really translates into moving the relationship forward here in a constructive way? >> interesting to see whether or not this is an indication by the north koreans they are interested in kick starting bilateral talks and whether or not that would lead to multilateral talks. i do think that what's troubling about this in one regard is that it is a continuation of what many republicans have referred toz at basketball diplomacy with
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he go with north korea, make a deal with them, and we don't get anything in return. their veracity is continually in question and their ability to hold forth to the agreements we set are always in question. but i do think this has to be, for the obama administration and the president, a sign that they can continue to toward biliteral agreements, talks, wide disagreement on the republican side whether or not that is going to be helpful but there will be again an engagement with the other partieses and multilateral talks. >> this is a shaky routine and i think the democrats as well as the republicans have had a hard time getting them to stick to their promise to dismantle the nuclear program. i don't know if that is part of the discussions, i don't know if that is part of negotiations from here, but clearly, back channel negotiations to make that happen and thank god those young women are coming home to their families. >> any discomfort or concern this might overshadow his wife, the secretary of state? >> absolutely not. it shows that they are both strong people. they are both valuable assets to
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this administration and more importantly, senator -- secretary clinton understands clearly what's at stake in this world and i'm glad she was probably part of this as well. >> what is her role going forward? >> i would agree with that look there is no doubt that bill clinton, former president bill clinton has a huge shadow. hillary clinton also has a very big shad developthyic they both played ant sells sense of their relationship has been a partnership for a long time. i expect there was probably a lot of work together on this to see this toward an end, but i do think that this is not going to alter secretary clinton's stature at all. .i think that secretary clinton has her own resume, her own level of engagement with this president and leaders around the world that's not going to be greatly affected by this particular incident. >> i think we should refuel former president clinton's plane, once he gets back and send him to iran to get the three hikers, refuel it again
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and send him to get the young man from the taliban, just keep him in the air. >> what is his role going to be now he steps off that plane? >> he has the job he always wanted, outside the constraints of the presidency but all the things he really enjoys which is going out there, involving himself in the world issues, he is front and center on the world stage and he gets to work on issues like diplomacy but without having to deal with the media every single day and the white house. >> becomes a more powerful player than the president? >> absolutely not. there is only one president of the united states but bill clinton is right now helping the people of haiti. when president bush was in office, he called upon former president clinton to help with the tsunami relief, help with katrina relief. he is a valuable asset to this country. >> i would agree with you. there is a tradition there. and bill clinton is going to be front and center here. >> i want to talk, if i could switching topics, he with had had a poll on -- a new cnn poll
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regarding professor gates and sergeant crowley and the president and whether or not that beer summit was actually effective. some of those numbers showing a real difference between white and blacks and how they actually saw that. some of those numbers suggesting that for african-americans, it was more productive and they thought that race lee relations needed to be dealt with in a more serious watch donna, how do you see? >> well, i think first of all, the polls suggest that we still see race through the prism of our own experience, whether it is our experience with the police, people in authority positions or our perception of each other. it tells us we are not postracial, we have a a lot of work to do i think most americans agree that what president obama did, the "beer summit" is for the better it will help improve race relations at some point? >> kevin? >> i think donna is right, i think we do see -- unfortunately in this country we do see things very differently depending on
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our race. but i think we make a mistake by saying the beer summit, as it has been called, ought to serve as a microcosm for the larger debate in this country. i think there was much less to do with race on that particular incident and a lot more to do with class and at the end of the day it all had to do with two folks getting their back up when there was a way to resolve it quietly. instead it became this -- emblematic of race relations and i think we made too much out of it. >> last word, donna? >> we have made a lot of progress and i think this incident should not set us back. this country is on the road to equality and freedom for all, let's stick with that path. >> donna brazile, thank you for coming out and joining us. north korea's pardonen on the two u.s. journalists has friends and family rejoicing. our own anderson cooper talked to laura ling's sister not long ago. that is coming up. and kept world leaders wore froirg years what, really makes north korea's leader tick? a closer look at kim jong-il. you're in "the situation room." insuring your family's ifs can be confusing,
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north korea's leader has a reputation of being eccentric and cruel, a accused of allowing millions of his own people to
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starve. brian todd joins with us a closer look at the man bill clinton went to meet to tell us about him. >> kim jong-il is known for his brinksmanship on the world stage. his regime kim young eel is known for making western leaders lose sleep at night. he learned that in his own household. he cut his political teeth under the father of modern north korea, his own father, a brutally repressive dictator. before his father's death, he was known for erratic behavior. after his father died, observers say he temporarily cut back on the smoking and drinking but his ac sen tristys are legendary. >> he recruits at junior high level, attractive young girls to be enrolled in his joy brigades.
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they function for rest and relaxation for his hard work senior officials. >> reporter: u.s. officials say he once ordered the kidnapping of a south korean movie star and her director husband. he is only 5'2" but has been known to wear foush-inch lifts in his shoes. he likely suffered a stroke last year. most agree, this nation is now controlled by an insecure, paranoid tyrant. diplomates and others say, don't follow for the dr. evil comparison. >> everybody who has met with him and there have been quite a few south koreans, russians, north koreans say, this man knows what he is doing. he might be emotional and somewhat eccentric but crazy, absolutely not. his line of success is not quite clear. his youngest song, kim junk un
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wou would be the likely successor. >> we have seen pictures of him today. what do we make of his death? >> the intelligence omissions say he is feeling the effects of what they believe is a stroke he suffered last summer. he looked better in those pictures with mr. clinton today. >> thank you, brian. there is a joy in california as current tv celebrates the future homecoming of their coworkers in north korea. we will take you live to their headquarters. jack cafferty has your take on international politics and if the world will look differently on north korea after this latest move. you are in "the situation room." . at meineke, you're always the driver.
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in afghanistan, a boy slices tomatoes. in mexico, waving during a welcoming ceremony. in new york, giants quarterback, eli manning signs autographs after training camp. in germany, a two-day-old
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gorilla held by his mother. hot shots pictures worth a thousand words. a difficult ordeal for relatives of the two journalists, after they learned of the original sentence, hard labor at north korean prison, the sister and husband of laura ling spoke with anderson cooper. >> all we can say is that they are journalists. they were doing their job. my sister has been a journalist for years. that's all we can see. we don't know other specifics other than what was releasedment we just hope, given the fact that we know the girls have apologized profusely, that they will let the girls come home to us. it's been three months. that's been too long for us. since the verdict, no one has seen them. we don't even know where they are. we're particularly concerned about their mental state.
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when you tell two women they have just been convicted and sentenced to 12 years hard labor, we kanlg even imagine what they are feeling and what they are going through. i am sure they are just trauma advertised. because we haven't heard anything from them or about them, we are particularly worried. >> a lot of people have your wife and euna in their thoughts and prayers. what do you want people to know? >> we've been so touched by the sport and the outpouring of love and compassion for laura and euna. that has been a great source of strength for us. we are just humbled by that and very, very thankful. >> time now to check back in with jack cafferty. jack? the question this hour, suzanne, is how will the release of the two american journalists affect north korea's relations with the rest of the world. day says, hopefully, not at all. you don't get brownie points for
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fixing a problem you created in the first place. mike in washington says this move by kim is a smoke screen. he has had a lot of pressure over the nuclear discussion and controversy. he has used this act of good intentions to take the focus off the dangerous issue of nuclear issues. >> jamaal in st. petersburg, it's positive. i was done with them all together. i like laura ling's reporting. now, i feel better about them, like they could be an active member of the world community. that would be great. david writes, i agree with you, jack, north korea's leader is a maniac, can't be trusted. this pardon shows a flicker of humanity. i think our government should formally offer a modest thank you to north korea to keep the ball rolling. it might lead to further talks with north korea, even influence
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that other despot in iran to release his american captives. you never know. doug in ohio says that evidence suggestion that il is ill. it may signify something new. we should insist on six-party talks and not give in to the emotions of the day. jeff rights, north korea is a country shut off from the rest of the world. releasing the girls and hanging out with bill clinton was their ten minutes in the spotlight. it changes nothing north korea needs to disarm and help feed their people. amen. if you didn't see your e-mail here, go to my blog and look for yours there among hundreds of others. >> happening now, breaking news, two jailed american journalists will soon be home. they owe a huge thanks to bill clinton. he secured their release from
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north korean imprisonment. what, if anything, did both sides have to give up. while clinton was at the negotiating table, why wasn't al gore or bill richardson? wolf blitzer is off today. i am suzanne malveaux. in cnn's command center. you are in "the situation room." right now, it is warning in north korea there is speculation that bill clinton is still there. north korean state-run media says he has left. it says clinton got on a plane with his party. it is unclear if they are included american journalist euna lee and laura ling as part of that party or where clinton will head next. what is clear is that clinton scored a diplomatic triumph, securing the journalists release from north korean imprisonment.
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he has granted lee and ling a special pardon. they have been sentenced to 12 years hard labor for illegally entering north korea. the results of hush-hush negotiations. they deny a report that clinton delivered a message from president obama. the white house is mostly mum about this stunning development. let's bring in dan lothian. what do we know, dan? >> reporter: i can tell you that as you pointed out the white house is saying, despite these reports that the president, president obama, gave a message to former president clinton to deliver to north korea. that is simply not true, nothing written, nothing verbal. apparently, a message from the president here was not needed. it was a secret mission by a high-level envoy, former president clinton as he was getting flowers on his arrival, the white house was mum. no details or confirmation until
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ten hours later. why the delicate diplomatic dance. >> this, obviously, is a very sensitive topic, we will hope to provide some more detail at a later point. our focus is on ensuring that the two journalists that are in north korea are safe. >> reporter: this was a culmination of weeks of quiet diplomacy and senator john kerry ras also closely involved. one expert suggests the deal was virtually done before former president clinton landed. >> that doesn't mean every detail is locked down and it doesn't mean things can't go wrong. he wouldn't have gone unless he thought there was a good chance of success. >> reporter: the two journalists were sentenced to 12 years in prison after being charged with entering north korea illegally to conduct a smear campaign.
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according to north korea's state news agency, he met with kim jong ill and courteously sent a request to leniently pardon them and send them back home. there is some talk this could improve the relationship between the united states and north korea, perhaps bring north korea back to the table. the white house is saying these are separate matters. what happened today is a humanitarian issue. suzanne? >> do we know if president clinton was asked to deliver a message from president obama and the white house? >> reporter: they are saying that is not correct. they don't want to give any comment, any more information until he has left north korea. >> thank you, dan. you may remember, the women were arrested in march along the chinese border.
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they work for current tv, al gore's media venture. lee is south korean born but a u.s. citizen. she is married and has a daughter. laura ling is also married and the younger sister of lisa ling. listen to what her sister told our cnn's anderson cooper. >> all we can say is they are journalists and they were doing their job. my sister has been a journalist for years. that's really all we can say. we weren't in the courtroom. we don't know any sort of specifics other than what was released. we just hope, given the nakt we know the girls have apologized profusely, that they will let the girls come home to us. it's been three months and that's been too long for us. >> in our talk, what might both sides of the negotiating table have given up? let's bring in jack pritchard, president of the korean
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institution, a special envoy in george w. bush's administration and an adviser regarding the kl korean inform mags. >> in all of these pictures we have seen, the north korean president looks like a happy man here. why is he so happy? >> he is happy because he is standing right next to bill clinton. he has wanted to have bill clinton there for a number of years. that's the happiest i have ever seen him. >> why was bill clinton such an important guess tt for him? >> you may recall, in october of 2004, he sent a special envoy to the white house to meet with bill clinton. he brought a letter of invitation from kim jong-il to bill clinton, please come and we'll do all of your concerns about security issues at the time. >> the white house has said all along, this is an unofficial
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visit. how does something like this get arranged? >> when you take a look at this, you have john podesta, former chief of staff. >> why don't you icircle the people we are talking about? >> you have david stroth, an expert on korean issues, the former korean affairs officials at the department of state. >> so you have some big players here. >> let's move on back here and look at the table. they finally sat down across from each other. this looks like a negotiation. what are they talking about? on the surface, they are talking about these two young women. that really the main order of business? >> no. this is why they are there. those two young women, as we now know, have been pardoned, they will be on the plane with bill clinton. the purpose from a north korean perspective was to get in the meeting room with bill clinton. this is the same table we sat
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across from kim jong-il with secretary albright, the same lineup he has with him now. he wants to talk about other issues, particularly the u.s. relationship. >> so this is partially about world respect. they want to be seen as big, important players and having someone like bill clinton sit down with them makes it look that way. >> the north ckoreans say we ar a small country but having respect equalizes the difference in economic and military power. >> tell us this business about what did they say about hillary clinton look can like a school girl and going shopping? what was that about? >> what they can't do is let the rhetoric go by without responding to it particularly if it refers to what they call their leadership, kim juong-il r their system. >> her comment suggesting that
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their system was bias, unfair and unjust. >> that's ab luteally correct. part of what has occurred here is to rectify what she said publicly. the north koreans sent a signal and it said, listen, we need an apology for this. we need our system to be recognized. now, the u.s. government can't do that. they can't issue an official apology to the north cre yans b koreans did something quite astute. she had an opportunity at an informal news gathering talking about the two young women and said the family has been very remorseful and quite frankly, we are all very sorry it has happened. we hope the north koreans will grant amnesty according to their system. those were code words taken back to the north koreans saying this is as good as you are going to get. the secretary of state has said, listen, we are sorry this has happened. we respect your system. it is up to you to let them go.
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>> what about kim jong-il himself. many people have said his health officials are play nooth hands of his own opponents who want to say, you are no longer fit to be leader and your son is not fit to take over. how does this help him? >> that may be an exaggeration. there are not factions within north korea that would say that and survive very long but the feeling may very well be there. >> covertly. >> covertly at best. but it was said for the last year, his health is in question. the future of the regime, the future of the kim family, so they have been undergoing this let's take measures for short kirkti kir circuiting this problem. they put his brother on there. it would be a future mentor to one of his sons. >> what do you think president clinton picks up from seeing kim
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jo jung-il? >> this man will provit the health and well there annal zation. >> one more question. because some of this seems so strange to us. you know the culture and the government there a lot more. what does a portrait like this stay? this looks so stiff and so formal compared to what we do here? what is this all about? >> this is very standard. i go back to previous, almost the same seen. very powerful, larger than life painting in the background. the carpet that extends throughout the hall and now you have the one and only north korean in the picture. he doesn't have any aides there.
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he doesn't have his first vice minister there. this is the entire u.s. delegation that went on this trip. very sombre. this is the scene setter for the korean newspaper. the president of the united states and his delegation has come to meet and talk with our leader. >> projects power? >> yes, it does. >> just because you could know and i bet you can predict this, how will all of this be reported to the north korean people? >> we are getting a sense of that already in what we see in the reporting. it will be very strange. if president clinton were to take a look at this and say, i didn't say that, i didn't come and give an abject apology. i didn't ask for leniency. he may very well have conveyed a u.s. type of message. for the north koreans, they heard it exactly the way they wanted it. that's the way it will be reported. >> jack, thank you very much. thank you, tom.
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we'll get back to the breaking news from north korea in a moment. first, jack cafferty joins us with the cafferty file. remember the recession. some of the sharper financial minds out there think that the worst recession in decades may be ending soon. economist murial rubini thinks recession will end at the end of this year. he is worth listening to. his prediction isn't all rosy. he says there is a chance the economy will begin to recover only to drop back into a recession by late 2010 by 2011 because of growing government debt, among other things, a so-called double dip recession. former federal reserve chairman, ad an greenspan says, he is pretty sure we have seen the bottom of this thing and that economic growth may pick up at a faster rate than what experts are predicting.
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recovery depends on the housing market. other positive science include recent reports on improving home and automobile sales along with gdp numbers that show the economy shrank much less than it did. he said it helped put brakes on the recession. he is optimistic on the economy. one of the biggest areas of concern is unemployment. treasury secretary, tim geithner, says, even as the economy begins to improve overall, the unemployment rate may not peak until the second half of 2010. so here is the question. how will you know when the recession ends? go to cnn.com/caffertyfile to post a comment. there seems to be a consensus things are starting to look up but we have a way to go.
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he has been to north korea and stared into the eyes of its leaders. former clinton official, bill richardson. he has been in top negotiations to free americans. wait until you hear his firsthand account. their coworkers cheer the release of euna lee and laura ling. we are live at the media company where these women work. een in ad crash. do you need help? yeah. i'll contact emergency services and stay with you. you okay? yeah. onstar. standard for one year on 14 chevy models.
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more on breaking news.
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the freedom of two american journalists is being celebrated by their colleagues in san francisco. dan simons is there. we are watching a picture of some bars from north korean television awaiting for any kind of news or fresh video from there. it is about 7:15 in the morning north korean time. reports that president clinton has left. we don't know whether or not the journalists are with him. i imagine there is a lot of anticipation where you are about their faith. >> reporter: hi, suzanne. we are waiting for any word from the folks here at current tv. we are in downtown san francisco. you can see the current sign there. obviously, a number of media crews have assembled here. we are creating a little bit of a hazard inside the lobby. there are a bunch of crews waiting to hear from an executive from current tv.
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he asked us to come outside while we wait for word. when i was inside earlier, inside the lobby, cnn was being broadcast, there were about a half dozen employees watching our coverage. of course, they, along with everybody else, were in the dark as to what was happening. they were watching in real time waiting for all the latest developments. when i did speak to one company official about a couple hours ago, i asked him to characterize the mood inside. the word he used was joyous. we are awaiting more information. we will come back when we get more news. >> thank you, dan. ling and lee were first captured by north korea along its border with china. let's bring in emily chang who is in beijing. emily, what role, if any, did china play? what do we know about china's role? >> reporter: well, suzanne, we
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are still waiting for official reaction. all of these developments happening overnight. to know what role if any china played in this. we do know china is north korea's closest ally. 70% of the food, fuel and economic aid that makes it to north korea passes through china or comes from china. remember, this happened on the china, north korea border. at the very least, we can assume the chinese are going to be very happy about this. they are going to think this may be a step in the right direction, a step towards possibly breaking what seems to be the downward spiral of escalating tension from north korea and this increasingly aggressive behavior. >> thank you very much, emily. what was bill clinton's strategy as he dealt directly with kim jong-il and why he may be the only person that could have pulled it off. details of an obscenity laced rant by the treasury secretary. who was it aimed at and why?
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brianna keilar is monitoring the stories coming in "the situation room." what are you working on? >> reporter: the wall street journal is reporting that the obama administration is taking a
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marketly aggressive stance with top financial regulators. they say timothy geithner met with regulators and unleashed a critique filled with obscenities telling them enough is enough. they have had plenty of time to express their concerns with the plan to overhaul the u.s. regulation industry. it is time to get down to business. we keep hearing evidence that the economy may have bottomed out. maybe not for consumer bankruptcy. the american bankruptcy institute says consumer bankruptcy filing searched 34% in july. the ins sftitute says the numbe reflect growing financial stress on u.s. households saddled with rising unemployment and pre-existing debt. dozens of women in sudan, some wearing trauzers, protested in support of a journalist on trial for wearing pants. she faces 40 lashes for indecent dressing against islamic law.
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police beat the protestors and subdued them with tear gas. today is president obama's 48th birthday but he let age take precedence in the white house briefing room bringing in cupcakes and a candle to veteran reporter helen tol mass. she hairs his birthday but proceeds him by about four decades. one of your colleagues, suzanne? >> that's right. happy birthday to helen tom thomas and president obama. when bill clinton was president, clinton, a former president, went to deal with north korea. that did not work out so well. what is different about this time? a website called naked news says, there is something you should hear from president obama before he was president. the white house says it is deceptive. wait until you hear it.
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is bill clinton the only american outside the government that could have pulled this off? the former president scores the release of those two american journalists sentenced to hard labor in north korea. other people have dealt with north korea on america's behalf. few with names nearly as big as the one who is making news today. let's bring in our own brian todd. brian? suzanne, since the u.s. began dialogue with north korea in the early 1990s, there have been a series of envoys and top level negotiators. some were not household names. some were more high profile. former governor bill richardson traveled to north korea. former president, jimmy carter, helped secure an agreement to end the program temporarily in 1994. bill clinton's case, very unique. we are told that north korean leader, kim jong-il had been
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pushing for him to come to the u.s. he presided over one of the most tense situations. recently, a public spat between his wife and the north ckoreans resulted in hillary clinton being called a school girl. >> president clinton is president clinton. for what that means in terms of charisma, presence, still on the world scene, and no doubt a very good grasp of this issue from those days long gone. >> robert gallucci was president clinton's top negotiator in 1994 and helped diffuse a crisis over pyongyang's nuclear program. now that the government has granted pardons, i asked him how a clinton trademark might have played into it. when he goes into the room and turns on the clinton charm, would he do it the same way as
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he does it here and how might kim jong-il react personally? i am imagining but don't know that president clinton will be a tad more reserved than he might be at a georgetown reunion. i think he will adjust to the circumstances. at the end of the day, he is who he is. i think that he'll have an impact by his presence on the north korean leader. i think he will take account and be impressed. clinton can't look impressed. body language is critical here. for kim jong-il, wanted bill clinton to come there for at least nine years. >> i have never seen any picture or when i met with him in person in 2000 that type of a grin.
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you can't say it is a smile. you have to say it is a grin. he looks ecstatic. clinton might have gotten a message that north korea is ready to return to talks over the nublg program. >> what does north korea want over this? >> it could be a range of things to more energy resources. the images of bill clinton with kim jong-il are incredibly valuable. this may answer any questions about his health. thank you, brian. >> we are here with the best political team on television. gloria borger and candy growly and jessica yellin are here. a closer look here.
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jessica? >> there will probably be a lot of smiles on the plane ride home from north korea but not so much while the former president was photographed meeting with kim jong-il, president clinton kept a straight face. it would be hard to accuse him of seeming friendly. compare that with this, when his then secretary of state klinked glass with him. the white house tauld it a private mission just like white house called clinton's trip. as this trip, carter's all seemed to go well at first. carter reached an agreement to stop the nuclear program. here is wolf blitzer reporting back then in 1994. >> the carter proposes a
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dilemma. >> eventually, they accused the clinton administration of giving north korea too much attention by letting carter go and meet with them. despite president clinton's success today, could sending such a high-profile emissary backfire on the u.s. down the road? >> great question. we will start with you. gloria, good or bad? >> i think we don't know yet. it depends on what kind of message bill clinton brings back. we don't know what conversations took place as governor bill richardson was pointing out earlier. you have to assume that while there was a very narrow portfolio for the former president, that there were some other concessions. if a message came back about six-party talks or something that the united states wants, then that would be a win/win. i think we have to wait and see right now.
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if north korea wanted to send a message, there are avenues to do that. i feel clinton is more sort of -- what was it? is he really sick? did you get a sense of who around him is sort of -- it will be more intelligence. we have so little from over there. >> this thing could have backfired if they sent bill clinton over there and he wasn't able to secure the release with these hostages. these deals are always preset. they send a high-level emissary over to come in and score the big victory? if that hadn't happened, this would be a big problem for the obama administration. how significant is this for president obama gnnow that you have a former president who has gotten involved with the mix with north korea? >> first of all, it is probably a good use of former president bill clinton and all those folks who said, what is hillary clinton going to do as secretary of state and what is the role going to be for bill clinton?
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you see it right now. we have gotten these two women released, which is what we wanted to do. we have to wait and see. bill clinton, as candy said, will bring back intelligence. he mabrey bay bring back who ar. we don't know. >> during the campaign, what do you do with bill clinton? if he doesn't have anything to do, what do you do? >> i think we can overstate what bill clinton brought to this behind the scene. he clearly was key. this is who kim jong-il wanted to see. this is the man they wanted over there. this is the photo op that they wanted. behind the scene, it was the obama administration. and senator john kerry, we are now learning also had something to do with this. he is the front man. in that way, he is the last piece in the puzzle. this is after weeks and weeks of diplomacy. >> we are going to get back right after this quick break, he has also visited north korea and
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secured the release of americans. new mexico governor, bill richardson gives a unique perspective. he will tell us why this meeting was so different and significant on several levels. the website naked emperor news, it is a strange name brewing quite a controversy at the white house. we will tell you the connection between the naked emperor, the drudge report and the obama administration. to manufacture...e so proud the accu-chek® aviva meters and test strips... here in the u.s.a. plus, we've proven you'll waste 50% fewer strips... when you use our meter, which means greater savings... for people with diabetes, like me. now that's a true american value. accu-chek® aviva. born in the u.s.a. and you know what, it works. nutrisystem for men:
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where advanced degrees advance the quality of life. we are back with the best political team on television, kicking things off with the obama's administration latest war of words in the battle over health care reform. jessica, what do you have? now, the white house is taking on naked emperor news. really? a website by that name posted old sound bytes of president obama before he was president. >> i don't think we will be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. there will be potentially some transition process. i can envision a decade out or
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15 years out or 20 years out. i happen to be a proponent of the -- >> that video was picked up by the drudge report, another conservative media site. you might say, so what? the white house is not taking it likely. they did not miss a beat posting this response on line. >> there are a lot of very deceiving headlines out there right now, such as this one. this one says, uncovered video, obama explains how his health care plan will eliminate private insurance. she went on to debunk those claims. it is clearly the white house in campaign mode. this might be why. when you go out on the street and ask folks what think they president obama tells reform plans looks like, you get some answers like this. >> say if you are 58 and you
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need a liver transplant, the government gets to decide if you i.d. sp. >> where did you get that information? >> the web. >> she got it from the web and she takes it as gospel truth. is it smart or silly for the white house to take on the like of naked emperor news? you can say naked emperor has no journalism. remember during the campaign, they established their own website. this is the beginning of an aggressive pushback. they feel like democrats are getting heck ld on the web and i think now they are going to be
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in full 24-7 campaign. why? >> the polls are split they have to figure out a way to battle back and convince democrats not to cancel their town hall meetings. they have to do all of these things. >> the websites, when they popped up, the white house was on defense. you always knew they were in trouble. the debate has become a care ka yur. it is about socialized medicine according to the critic. the obama administration says, no, no, no. we are trying to fight the bad insurance companies. >> the white house has to get beyond that. their problem is, they don't have a plan they can sell.
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there isn't a plan. which is why they wanted one. they have to go out and sell this abstraction about health care. that is really difficult to do. i wouldn't suggest that a president who still has an approval rating over 50% who still had a democratic house, a democratic senate, still has the trust of the american people is in his first year. i wouldn't be betting against him getting something. will they have to mush around with him. yes, they will. the advantage is still his. even though right now, the summer and push back is all the critic. >> they are clearly on the defensive. when you have to reach back and squash these things, that means you are on the defensive. the real advantage for the obama white house, nobody knows what is in this plan anyway.
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this thing is impenetrably complex. voters don't understand it. >> you have got five committees, right? one of them we are still waiting for a bill i would disagree. if people find out they aren't going to get health care coverage. what do you mean. got to leave it there. thank you very much. we are getting some gripping i-reports of flash floods in louisville, kentucky. abbi tatton is sorting all of that out. what do you have? >> if you want to see what flash flooding looks like, take a look at this. this. that's the car, or the very top of a car if you can make it out there. cars parked at the university of louisville, parts of which were shut down earlier today. take a look at this one from an
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employee there who said he made it into university to work just a little bit before the emergency alerts went out saying, stay away, campus is closed. police say they took several people from vehicles that were stalled in the street. another i-report. she says this is the worst flooding she has seen in her neighborhood for decades. she has knee-deep water in her basement. we are hearing that 23 people lost power. thanks for the latest news. i want to go for lou dobbs for lou dobbs tonight. what are you working on? >> thank you very much, suzanne. it is amazing what's happening in kentucky. the weather they have had this year. tonight on lou dodds, complete coverage of former president, bill clinton's success in securing a pardon and the release of two american journalists imprisoned by america. what was the cost? the united states is rewarding
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bad behavior. the white house and senate majority leader, harry reid, blatzing americans w blasts americans who are exercising their constitutional rights to protest against the president's health care plans. we will have a special report against the democratic party's health agenda and find out, what is astro-turf? president obama has become the country's talk in his first six months of office. some say the president is overexposed but not on his birthday, surely. we will examine that. join us for all of that and more. back to you. he has been a diplomatic trouble shooter getting americans out of trouble in far off places. now, new mexico governor bill richardson looks at bill clinton's mission in north korea and what it means for both sides. plus, president obama cast as the joker on conservative reb
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bill richardson. he's visited the country and helped negotiate the release of other americans held there in the past. he joined us with his take on the breaking news. >> the fact that president clinton went to north korea is huge. it's huge for kim jong-il, who is right now ailing and he's looking for ways to shore up his domestic base. so it gaves kim jong-il a pretext to release the journalists. this is very important that this happened, the humanitarian release. but having president clinton there and the early signs when i was there to negotiating prisoners, you see the little protocol issues, like president clinton was met by very high level delegation of north
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koreans at the airport, they gave him a state dinner. the fact that he saw kim jong-il was huge. he only sees big shots, heads of state. and those were the signals. and then the fact that the two journalists have been officially pardoned by a request from the u.s. government to give them amnesty shows that the two journalists most likely will be released. that's the main objective. but what the president's trip does, it improves the atmospherics between the two countries. the relationship is really in bad shape right now. there's enormous tension. there's literally no dialogue. so maybe what the bonus would be is, president clinton's visit could get both sides just to start talking. but i get you there's no negotiations on nuclear issues going on. >> jack cafferty joining us again. jack? >> the question this hour is how will you know when the recession ends? some of the brighter economic
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minds around are suggesting we could see the end of this thing shortly. if not, if it hasn't begun already. >> dave writes --
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>> you didn't see your e-mail here, go to my blog. look for yours there among hundreds of others. >> jack, what do you think? you used to cover business news. what do you think? >> i think there are some signs that maybe we're bottoming out here and there. but still until the employment picture begins to improve and consumer spending starts to rise, you know, we see a job growth in the economy instead of job loss each month, and until we address the staggering national debt and government spending that's going on, we got a lot of plowing to do before this field is ready to plant. >> okay, the obama administration has a lot of work
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to do. thank you, jack. a new picture of president obama is circulating and it is less than flattering. the image portrays him as the arch villain the joker. some who see it are doing anything but laughing. and a boy, a wall and lots of tomatoes. just one of the images in today's "hot shots" just ahead.
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here's a look at today's
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"hot shots." in afghanistan, a boy slices tomatoes as they dry on a wall. in new york, giants' quarterback eli manning signed autographs after training camp. and in germany, a 2-year-old gorilla -- a 2-day-old gorilla is held by its mother. a new image of president obama is making the rounds and it takes his likeness, transforms it into that of a comic book arch villain. cnn's jeanne moos checks out reactions to this image of opposition. >> reporter: in the words of the joker -- >> why so serious? >> reporter: you'd look serious too if you were the president of the united states being portrayed as the joker. >> oh, my god! >> oh, my god! >> reporter: goodness and the joker don't usually go together, but on conservative websites this is the latest thing.
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someone took "time" magazine's cover and transformed it. hope was changed to joke. the image is making its way onto t-shirts. and onto a few posters alongside a highway ramp in l.a. accompanied by the words, socialism. the image got rush limbaugh's attention. >> it's becoming cool to make fun of obama. >> reporter: maybe not quite so much in new york city. >> yucky. >> extremely disturbing. >> stupid. >> childish. >> whether you like the guy or not, you don't do that to anybody. >> shame on them. >> reporter: shame doesn't seem to be inhibiting critics. >> bravo, mr. president. bravo. >> reporter: the white house had no comment on the joker image. but what do the joker and socialism have to do with one another any way? robert dockerty points out that the joker supports anarchy. >> the only sensible way to live in this world is without rules.
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>> reporter: critics counter the president and the joker tend to give away money. to cash in, the website "hero builders" plans to sell an obama joker action figure for 50 bucks apiece. but for some, the image is down right disturbing. >> i think i do have a problem with the white face. >> reporter: back when president bush was in office, he got the joker treatment. so did hillary clinton. but when it comes to the current president -- >> it's a right wing spin, disgraceful and you shouldn't bring any attention to it. have a nice day. >> reporter: according to the obama socialism wall clock, maybe it's time to give the joker joke a rest. jeanne moos, cnn, new york. >> this thursday, we take note of 200 days in office for the obama white house. cnn analysts and many of you will grade the president on the economy, health care reform, foreign policy and other issues yoar

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