On Steve Bing and the North Korea trip:
>The White House is trying to give the impression that ailing NK dictator Kim Jong-il, who suffers from terminal pancreatic cancer, was willing to release the reporters merely for the privilege of having a photo opt with former president Bill Clinton–no messages, no deals, no promises–just a sudden thaw in an otherwise frosty relationship.
>Anyone familiar with the past and current history of North Korean tactics knows this release-without-conditions was a total charade with a pre-agreed upon script. It was at once a propaganda coup for Kim Jong-il, coming across as the benevolent grantor of clemency, and a publicity stunt for media hungry Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
>But the reality is that no such private mission to NK is even possible. You can’t even file a flight plan into NK without a special government waver granted by the White House. Slowly additional truths have leaked out about the role of the National Security Advisor in coordinating this mission. Hillary Clinton, who as head of the State Department, would have been the normal one to vet this trip, but she was shunted aside so as to avoid the charge of making this a family affair.
>To further the private mission claim, Dow Chemical and wealthy Hollywood movie producer Steve Bing were tapped to provide the transportation. Naturally, a deep insider newspaper like the Washington Post had the lion’s share of the partial truths while still maintaining the myth that this was totally private.
Steve Bing doesn’t seem particularly sketchy, thought this whole NK trip certainly was.