In a predetermined verdict that suprised no one, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, "reporters" for former Vice President Al Gore's San Francisco-based Current TV, have been sentenced to twelve years in a North Korean concentration camp. Their crime?
Ling, 32, and Lee, 36, were arrested March 17 along the China-North Korean border after top officials in Pyongyang said they had encroached on North Korean soil while reporting a story on human trafficking by Kim Jong Il's regime.
Well, it's certainly possible and perhaps likely that Ling and Lee found themselves on the wrong side of the border; neither one of them are experienced in the art of reporting in hostile territory, and neophyte enthusiasm is out of place on the fringes of the world's most hostile regime.
So now they find themselves prisoners of Kim Jung-Il, who will hold them until he gets something that he wants; likely, a guarentee of non-interference in their nuclear development and proliferation (remember: "No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons."), as well as a wad of cash. And Kim Jung will hold them for a long time, as international pressure is not a thing that the NK regime is reactive to.
So how will Obama react? As the stories build about the reporter's plight, and the exposes of the horrors of the North's labor camps come to light, will he bow to pressure from the left side (the media, Hollywood - after all, Ling is a relation of CNN's LAura Ling) and give the Norks another win, while rewarding the concept of hostage-taking as a diplomatic pressure tool? Or will he stand firm against the buttons and bumper stickers that will demand that he "Free Ling and Lee!" ?
Finally, what is Al Gore's role in all of this? Current TV is his vanity project, an unsuccessful media company trying to hoist itself on the buzzword of "user-generated content" to push its left-wing agenda. Amateur in design and presentation, it is watched by virtually no one and has zero influence (thankfully) over people or policy (despite a gratuitous Emmy for "Best Interactive Television Service", whatever the hell that means).
It is Gore's reporters that have been taken hostage here, where is the voice of the ex-Vice President? (Current TV's website has no mention at this time of the sentence, they are crowing about "contractors being questioned for a murder" in Iraq). Has he been told to silence himself, and let the administration handde this? Or is he shamed by sending out two inexperienced reporters into a situation where they have become pawns in a game of nuclear chicken?
More likely he's befuddled. And poor Ms. Ling and Lee now face hell on earth, literally. And Obama can either bail them out at a tremendous cost to the safety of the free world, or face the heat for their continued imprisonment.
The only winner here is North Korea, for no one appears inclined to lift a finger against them. And that, my friends, is very bad news indeed.