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March 04, 2005

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Ms. Demick wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer some years ago (mid 90's?). Her articles on the Israeli-Palestinian situation were equally one sided. I guess she failed upwards to the LA Times.

Nice pun, Charles.


I hear LA Times staffers don't wash their hands after they go to the bathroom, either.

My kneejerk reaction is to oppose CB's position (usually from deep lurk), so it's a good thing I followed the link before speaking up.

That was just like reading Judith Miller in the NYT.

"without rancor" -- now that would be good advice for BD to adopt in writing such pieces.

Let's see, according to BD (via Hewitt), every news article about N.K. must do the following, or it is aiding the enemy:

"... no reader, coming away from the piece, has any doubt that the regime is evil..."

If it does not pronounce the regime evil, then the news article is evil. That criticism is ridiculous and nonsensical.

The "Without Rancor" article consists almost entirely of direct quotes or paraphrasing of the remarks by the unidentified N. K. official. The article does not opine on the veractiy of the N.K. version nor endorce it in any way - it simply reports it.

Because it did not turn a flamethrower onto those remarks, it allegedly endorses them. Baloney. In fact, it is interesting to read the straight poop as it provides insight into the mind set of this crazy regime, or the propoganda that they are using. Perhaps people who have been in isolation for the last 50 years might misread the article as a nice travelogue about N.K., and see it as allegedly positive for N.K. No one else except LA Times haters would.

Continuing on the same rant, BD references Hewitt's comments about another article -- that article consists of detailed reporting of the horrific report by a N.K. defector of chemical testing on humans by N.K. The failure in the article? It reports the remarks by the defector as "allegations" instead of truthful certainties so that the reader can be certain that the LA Times has adjudged N.K. as evil.

Uh -- no. That goes on the op-ed page -- the news article reports the allegations and the source of the allegations. We have already had experience with "journalism" that reported Iraqi defector "truths" without qualification --- it is not a newspaper's job to advocate in news coverage what people should believe regarding those allegations; except for perhaps right wing media.

The final article truthfully reports on a phenomena in S.K. regarding hostility toward the U.S. -- again, the article is "bad" because it does not opine that these S.K. views are deranged. It just reports them, and by not condemning them, is allegedly sanctioning them.

As for the analogy about South Africa, the LA Times has run articles repeating the odious comments of white supremacists without polemicizing in the same article the vileness of the speaker. No one perceives the article as allegedly endorsing white power because it did not simultaneously castigate white supremacists.

Sorry, BD, I prefer news so that I can make my own judgments about events -- I prefer not to read indoctrination pieces, which seems to be your minimum standard for proper news coverage.

"As for the analogy about South Africa, the LA Times has run articles repeating the odious comments of white supremacists without polemicizing in the same article the vileness of the speaker."

Yikes, I'd like to read that article. I'm not sure I think that is appropriate either. Part of reporting on crazy people is noting that they are crazy.

It's nice that some ObWing commentators are remembering to put their names in the title, but sometimes they just don't have to. Could tell this one was by Bird Dog from the first line.

Well, I'm already involved in a thread on That Other Blog Over There On The Right about this, so I'll spare me & you-all a repeat of it: BUT:
Sorry, Charles, the "Walter Duranty" simile doesn't fly in this case (and besides, isn't that Timmy's line?). Barbara Demick has made her feelings about North Korea quite plain (in an email posted on PowerLine no less), and the attempt to paint the LAT's piece (poor titling aside)as a example of pro-Kim propanganda isn't borne up by a plain reading of the text.
dmbeaster hits the mark, above: just because a press piece about, say, a dictatorial state like North Korea, does not self-Fisk itself with ritualized condemnations does NOT mean that it is necessarily an endorsement of said state's actions or policies.
Except, of course, to a certain class of bloggers who love to jump all over some newspaper's poorly-chosen editing as evidence of ideological depravity.
Sorry, CB, all that's shown here, IMO, is sloppy editing by the L.A. Times (what a surprise!).

I think Bird is conserened with the easily impressionable youth, who are reading the LA Times.

I would agree with BD and Sebatian here except that that isn't the standard that reporters hold the Bush administration to.

If you are going to publish the lies of one government without comment, why not do the same for all.

Perhaps she should be awarded a Gannon for faxing above and beyond the call.

Eh. This is all of a piece with the right wing demands that newspapers refer to Palestinian suicide bombers as "homicide bombers," and Iraqi "insurgents" as "murderers" in the name of honesty. It's all just the same bullshit P.C. ideological purity code.

Myself, I already know that insurgents and suicide bombers and the N. Korean government are contemptible, brutal, and responsible for slaughter. I don't need my newspapers to fold in the proper trigger words to get me there.

Had I been the Times' editor (a horrible thought all by itself), I would have questioned what the news value of this piece was. Yes, it's unusual to get any take at all out of North Korea, but this, all by itself? Might the reporter not have gone out and tried to interview anyone else? If she did, and couldn't get anyone to talk, might that have been worth including? I would have pressed on this, but only because, as I said, I would have been unsure about the news value. (I mean: clearly the rationale has got to be: at last, we talk to someone in North Korea. -- I mean, it's not as though they'd print an entire story on the views of some random Parisian. -- But had I been the editor, or the reporter for that matter, I would have made efforts to talk to others, and if the reporter couldn't swing it, I would have reported that too.)

That said, I think the comparison to Duranty is completely wrong. Duranty reported the party line as fact, in his own voice. This reporter never does that. I also don't think it's particularly biased: it's presented as an account of the views of one person, and that's what it is. Moreover, it's not as though the reporter describes that person in a way that implies that he has credibility -- "Mr. Anonymous, an acute observer of the local political scene", etc. It's presented as what it is. And as others have said, it's not as though no one knows that North Korea is a dictatorship.

Because it did not turn a flamethrower onto those remarks, it allegedly endorses them.

That is untrue. The failing of Demick and Carroll in their reporting was that Mr. Anonymous and his remarks were taken at face value and were left wholly unchallenged. The fellow said not one word that departed from the North Korean party line.

The final article truthfully reports on a phenomena in S.K. regarding hostility toward the U.S. -- again, the article is "bad" because it does not opine that these S.K. views are deranged. It just reports them, and by not condemning them, is allegedly sanctioning them.

The report is unbalanced because the "man on the street" interviews can be easily and horribly skewed and, in the report in question, reflects the sentiments of a few college students, not the mood of the country. There was not even a reference to a poll to back up her story. This is a prime case of bias.

It's nice that some ObWing commentators are remembering to put their names in the title, but sometimes they just don't have to.

The post has been updated to include my name at the top.

isn't that Timmy's line

No it isn't. Nice post Bird Dog, you may find this of interest

I missed the satire in the article as well.

The failing of Demick and Carroll in their reporting was that Mr. Anonymous and his remarks were taken at face value and were left wholly unchallenged. The fellow said not one word that departed from the North Korean party line.

Sure, but it's also obvious from the article that this is the case. It's not as if the average reader would come away convinced of the objectivity of the guy. I'll second hilzoy's criticisms of the piece, but I think CB's reading of it is perhaps a product of his own bias. CB seems to feel the same as Sebastian, that "part of reporting on crazy people is noting that they are crazy." I don't think this is quite right. The reporter should provide enough information in the article for the reader to deduce that the person is crazy. Or, in this case, biased and probably not altogether trustworthy. I think that task was accomplished. The headline and teaser are poorly chosen, but that's not the reporter's fault.

Hilzoy is dead on -- its a lazy article because it is not much different than printing a press release. I actually skimmed the article this morning reading the paper, and had that reaction -- its boring and pointless. Also, the title is almost certainly not the reporters, but further lazy nonsense from an editor.

Speculation -- the reporter got the interview thinking it might amount to something, got crap, but printed it anyway.

The style of the piece is of a type that the LA Times occassionally runs -- articles that consist primarily of the subject's own words and expressions. What's nice about it is that it gives you the primary source material about something, as opposed to one layer of filtering. It can also result in a lot of drivel.

As for whether it misleads anyone -- perhaps those people that cannot tell the difference between the front page and the funny page, but no one else.

Well, after Charles' post made after this one, I'll try the commenting waters again.

First of all, yes, it is basically a straight from the horse's mouth post, but I would guess that it would allow the reporter to maintain some valuable sources that may, in the next year, become very interesting. Also, the absence of spin then allows the reporter to present what she wrote and get more access. (unfortunately, the LATimes doesn't say where the story appears in the dead tree version, which is an important point) Her previous reporting
seems to suggest that she is looking at the korea story long term, (this link to a realone audio file notes "In November, 2001, Barbara Demick opened a news bureau in Seoul, South Korea for the Los Angeles Times. One of her principal jobs is reporting the news about North Korea. Demick explains how she covers the news in a place where she can't go.")

Also of interest is her reply to a Powerline reader posted by 'Big Trunk' (and one should note that the original post on this was by Hindrocket on a tip from Hugh Hewitt, creating a sort of hackdom Tinkers to Evers to Chance)

I'm sorry if my story was seen as an endorsement of the North Korean point of view, but believe me, it wasn't.

I found it interesting to hear how a North Korean official tried to rationalize his country and thought my readers should hear what I did. Especially on the area of human rights, his remarks were truly repellent and I so I quoted them in full, giving him enough rope to hang himself. If I got an interview with Kim Jong Il, I'd certainly quote him as well, but all I had was this guy. In my long experience as a foreign correspondent, I've found that even the vilest war criminals justify their actions and that we have to understand their twisted logic to fight back.

I have probably written more in the last three years about human rights a abuses in North Korea than any other U.S. journalist. I broke one of the first stories on chemical testing on political prisoners, did a lengthy expose last year on how much money Kim Jong Il spends on his food while his country starves and another on trafficking of women. I frequently speak on North Korean human rights. If you're interested in North Korea, I can send you the pieces.

If you are really interested in blogging about North Korea, I would strongly urge you to take her up on the offer. This piece">http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/04-3NRfall/113-114V58N3.pdf">piece is a great description of exactly how she goes about her job and has an email contact.

As for the article, it is interesting for what it doesn't say. Note there is no effusive praise for Kim, which suggests that it is the military hardliners that are controlling things. The point about extensive Chinese business ties with NK is a given, but she underlines that point in the article.

The abortive 1994 agreement, in which the US failed to live up to its end of the bargain, as detailed in this Selig Harrison piece, should be kept in mind. I'm not saying that NK is justified, but we should understand that looking at it from the NK point of view, they can generate their own sense of self-righteousness.

Also, the notion that Japan is causing problems, but if the US shapes up, Japan will follow is a very important one. The guy is absolutely right that the LDP in Japan is using NK as a boogeyman to divert attention from serios domestic policy problems and to hold on to political power. The noting of Shinzo Abe (who has been placed on the LDP posters next to PM Koizumi) suggests the point that has been made by some here in Japan, that the Japanese government knew that North Korea had kidnapped Japanese citizens and kept it a secret, so the North Koreans might well be feeling doublecrossed. When Kim admitted that Japanese were kidnapped, there was a strong movement attacking the government for sending food aid without holding NK responsible, and the reaction by the LDP was to crank up the anti NK rhetoric. The fact is that Japan has dealt with NK before so it is probable there are more than enough skeletons in the closet. However, this informative piece by Gavan McCormack accepts Koizumi's surprise at the admission of the abductions at face value. McCormack's piece as well as this shorter piece by Gregor Bulychev, (which is important in that it comes from a Russian viewpoint) list the problems with an NK collapse, so if the US attempts to engineer such a collapse, they will face serious resistance from South Korea, Japan and most probably China because they would have to deal with the problems.

LJ nice post, however on enriching uranium, this country was aware of North Korea's eu program well before the 2000 election. NK exited the IAEA accords because we had proof which was the undoing of the 1994 accord.

TTWD, you'll have to set your wayback machine a bit further back than that. There was hardly a time when NK was not pursuing nuclear capability.

Timmy, please read the links which place that claim in its proper perspective. You may be thinking of this

The Clinton administration knew that North Korea was pursuing uranium enrichment, but they wanted to deal with the problem through quiet diplomacy. They wanted to avoid a confrontation with Pyongyang that would jeopardize the gains made in controlling the plutonium danger under the freeze agreement. By contrast, President Bush openly expressed his desire for regime change in Pyongyang soon after taking office. So his most influential advisors were looking from the start for an excuse to abrogate the 1994 accord. They were -- and are -- ideologically opposed to providing material incentives that would help to sustain the Kim Jong Il regime in exchange for denuclearization.

Here's what that kind of thinking gets you

The result was a paralysis of U.S. Korea policy until the summer of 2002. At that point new intelligence on North Korean enrichment efforts provided a basis for accusing North Korea of cheating and, thus, a rationale for abrogating the Agreed Framework. We don't know what the content of the new intelligence was, but we do know that the administration threw the baby out with the bathwater when it stopped the oil shipments to North Korea in December 2002. Pyongyang predictably retaliated by resuming the reprocessing of plutonium and ousting the international inspectors.

Geez, intelligence that no one knows about. Sounds familiar.

More from Harrison:

In October, 2002, the administration announced that North Korea had a program to enrich uranium to weapons-grade and might be capable of producing one or two uranium-based nuclear weapons per year by "mid-decade". Well, it's 2005, and we've heard nothing since then about those two weapons a year. In fact, the administration has presented no evidence at all to back up the claim that North Korea has a program in place to enrich uranium to weapons-grade. They're trying to finesse the issue without admitting that they exaggerated. I challenged the administration in the January issue of Foreign Affairs to present the evidence. The State Department spokesperson issued a formal reply on December 10th that carefully omitted the accusation of a military uranium program and referred only to a "uranium enrichment program." No reference to weapons-grade. That's finessing the issue because enrichment as such is not prohibited by the NPT.


Let me briefly summarize what I said in Foreign Affairs. North Korea has indeed explored the option of developing weapons-grade enrichment technology going back ten years. There is indeed credible intelligence that it has attempted to import the components and equipment needed for enrichment. What is in doubt is how much actually got to North Korea and especially how much they got from the A.Q. Khan network. On the day the Khan scandal broke the Pakistani government said he gave North Korea only discarded centrifuges to serve as prototypes plus some blueprints. Did he give them the thousands of centrifuges that would be needed to enrich to weapons-grade? Did he give them the large numbers of sophisticated components and equipment needed to make centrifuges?


We do know that the centrifuges Khan sold to Libya and Iran were made in a Malaysian factory. And we know that the Malaysian factory sent nothing to North Korea. Khan was out to make money, and his biggest deals were with the countries that had big money. So the United States will have to wait until General Musharraf provides access to A.Q. Khan. Period. If it turns out they did not give them thousands of ready-to-use centrifuges, that means that North Korea would have to scour the world for the special grade of steel needed to make the centrifuge rotors and go through a long process of trial and error to get the centrifuge cascades working. Unless and until we learn much more than we know now, it's a plausible hypothesis that North Korea has been forced to scale down its ambitions and settle for a pilot program or no coherent program at all, with lots of expensive equipment lying around unused.

From McCormack

The Bush administration, in dismissing any possibility of such a deal, has concentrated on an alleged North Korean “second track” weapons program, based on uranium. This matter is highly controversial.

The basis for this “second-track” charge was the claimed confession of a Pyongyang official to Deputy Secretary of State James Kelly on a rare Bush administration official visit to Pyongyang in October 2002 that it had a secret uranium enrichment program. That confession, in turn, was supposed to have prompted the U.S. to suspend its Agreed Framework commitments (in particular the pledge of 500,000 tons annually of heavy oil). Soon after, North Korea withdrew from the Agreed Framework and the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

No confirmation, however, has ever been forthcoming for the US claim. North Korea denies any such “confession,” and South Korea, China and Russia have all expressed skepticism about such a nuclear program despite dogged Bush administration efforts over the last two-and-a-half years to persuade them of its existence. Not only has Washington been unable to persuade allies and negotiating partners, but it has failed to persuade its own intelligence and diplomatic community as well. The January-February 2005 issue of the establishment journal on foreign policy, Foreign Affairs, carried a powerful dissenting article by Selig Harrison, former Washington Post journalist who is now Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and also chair of the "Task Force on U.S. Korea Policy," an influential group of ex-diplomats, officials, and academics. Harrison argued that the U.S. had deliberately distorted North Korea's statement in order to put a halt to the moves towards reconciliation between Pyongyang, Seoul, and Tokyo, that its negotiator had only said it was "entitled" to such a program or "an even more powerful one" to deter a preemptive US attack. Washington had done this, he argued, to step up pressure on Pyongyang and to stop U.S. allies from any compromise with "evil"; from, that is, appeasement. [7]

and this

In Harrison’s view, Kelly's charges, which were headline grabbing in the United States, depended on an exaggeration of dangerously minimalist intelligence, or, as he put it, the "treating of a worst-case scenario as revealed truth." North Korea, he agreed, might possibly have a secret program to produce low-enriched uranium (LEU), the fuel used to power light-water plutonium reactors, which would indeed put it in technical violation of the Framework. It was unlikely, however, that its scientists had solved the far more technically difficult task of turning it into high-enriched uranium (HEU) for weapons purposes. He simply did not accept what Washington alleged: that the North had an advanced program that would have enriched uranium weapons ready for deployment by "mid-decade."

In November 2004, Harrison’s "Task Force on U.S. Korea Policy" had already issued a paper, “Ending the North Korean Crisis,” critical of the administration. [8] If this paper, with its detailed policy proposals, was the first public broadside against the administration from middle-of-the-road members of the intelligence, academic, and bureaucratic communities, Harrison's Foreign Affairs article was the second, attacking the very fundaments of Bush policy-making.

In response, official Washington ratcheted up its efforts both at home and abroad. A riposte by Robert Gallucci, the official who helped negotiate the 1994 Agreed Framework with Pyongyang, and Mitchell Reiss, head of policy planning at the State Department during the first George W Bush administration, appeared in the very next issue of Foreign Affairs. [9] They insisted that enrichment was enrichment, and the danger of uranium, enriched to whatever degree, being either weaponized or exported was real. At the same time, Michael Green, the National Security Council's newly-appointed Senior Director for Asia, was dispatched on a tour of Asian capitals to try to bring various allies into line. He evidently reaffirmed the Kelly line on enrichment, perhaps by offering additional intelligence, and claimed as well that North Korea had been guilty of the grave offence of proliferation through supplying uranium hexafluoride (a component for nuclear weapons manufacture) to Libya. The evidence for this latter claim is not known in full, but the preliminary response of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was that the case was at best inconclusive; at worst, as one member of the IAEA put it, it was "hard to believe." [10] Harrison continued to insist, in a New York speech on February 16, that it was “reckless to base policy on worst case scenario intelligence driven by ideology.” [11]

So bureaucratic war raged in Washington on the Korean issue – and this took place against a backdrop of the previous year’s devastating revelations of the ways in which the administration had used wholesale political intelligence distortion and manipulation to justify its much-desired war in Iraq. Beyond Washington, at least, the thought that Harrison might be right and that the Iraq intelligence process was now only being repeated in relation to Korea occurred to many. The credibility of Washington’s search for a "magic bullet" of intelligence to crush alternative policy lines in Asia had been badly eroded by the intellectual, political, and moral capital squandered in Iraq.

Harrison also notes that the revelation of nuclear weapons may have been planned ambiguity

There's a dispute, as you know, about what the North Koreans said in Pyongyang on October 4th. According to Kelly and Jack Pritchard, North Korea admitted to having such a program. Professor John Lewis of Stanford went to Pyongyang and later wrote in the Washington Post that there might have been an interpreting problem. I wasn't there, but I did question them extensively last April and my impression is that their intention was to be ambiguous. Don't forget the context. For two years the Bush administration had conducted policy review after policy review on North Korea, but was unable to come up with a policy. The North Koreans expected Kelly to open a new chapter. Instead, they thought he was overbearing, arrogant and threatening. So they reacted in the way that North Korea will always react when it feels it is being pressured. They felt compelled to talk tough. The generals who have the last word there thought it would be helpful to keep the U.S. guessing. General Ri Chan Bok told me in so many words that the uranium issue is useful because "it strengthens our deterrent to keep you guessing."

I can imagine that the NK military hardliners are probably quite happy that people like you swallow their tough talk hook, line and sinker.


LJ:
Good post - kudos for following up a bit on Barbara Demick: Da Trunk at PowerLine ran her letter, and then dropped the subject (but not after some snark about her writings on the Palestinians (huh?) ). Unfortunately, to the right-wing blog-frothers who have whipped up this teapot cyclone, the fact that a brief Googling would show Ms. Demick to be far from an apologist for Kim Jong Il will naturally, make no difference in their blinkered self-absorbtion. Blogposting huffy headlines like "L.A. Times spews commie propaganda" and then wasting electrons spouting indignant bile into every Internet echo-chamber they can link onto is a lot more fun.
The Net is always touted as an unparalled tool for education - too bad some people just never learn.

LJ -- you should read the comments in response to Harrison's FA piece (the one in which he expressed skepticism about NK having nuclear weapons.) It's here. From TPM (where I found the link): "one of the critiques is co-authored by Mitch Reiss, who was until quite recently the director of policy planning at State, and the former head of KEDO and Robert Galluci, who played a key role in Korea policy and negotiations under the Clinton administration." The other is by someone Harrison quotes as a technical expert.

I read the article twice. The second time I even increased the font size in my browser for a closer look. Nowhere in the entire piece does Barbara Demick even murmur "Rah rah rah Kim!" Nowhere. This article is an example of reporting. Are you curious, like I am, as to what North Korea's semi-official line is these days? There it is.

Besides, the line she quotes:

"When you are watching a movie on TV, there might be a nice love scene and then suddenly the power is out. People blame the Americans. They blame Bush."

made me laugh out loud.

I should have linked that, but the Harrison link I gave was after the FA article and the reactions. However, given the Bush administration's use of intelligence, I take harrison's point that "It's reckless to base policy on worst case scenario intelligence driven by ideology. We should take a good hard look at the intelligence we're given on North Korea to make sure we're not conned again by our own government or, for that matter, by the North Koreans."

It's also interesting that Reiss made this testimony in 2000 and said:

Despite all the criticisms of the Clinton Administration's handling of North Korea, the reality is that the next Administration, whether Democrat or Republican, is unlikely to substantially change U.S. policy. If there is a Republican Administration come next January, I would expect to see important changes in policy style and policy execution, but few changes in policy substance (with the possible exception of addressing the North's military posture along the DMZ). Indeed, leading Republican foreign policy experts advising Governor Bush have already gone on record saying it would be difficult for a Republican Administration to overhaul the current U.S. approach to North Korea.

These Republican foreign policy experts recognize that (i) the Agreed Framework and KEDO, (ii) former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry's Report of October 12, 1999, and (iii) ROK President Kim Dae-jung's "sunshine policy" of greater economic cooperation and reconciliation with North Korea provide useful tools with which to deal with many of the challenges North Korea presents. This is not to say the current approach is ideal. Far from it. It is the least worse option. But before dismantling the current approach, it is essential to formulate a viable policy alternative. Suddenly reversing Washington's North Korea policy, without such a policy alternative, would harm our relations with two key U.S. allies - South Korea and Japan - each of which has more at stake than the United States in promoting a stable and secure Korean peninsula.

As former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea during the Bush Administration, Donald P. Gregg, has recently observed:

A rapid and uncoordinated American policy shift away from the Perry Report and the "sunshine policy" to a more confrontational posture toward North Korea would undermine President Kim [and] confuse the Japanese…One of the greatest strengths of the "sunshine policy" is the regional support that it enjoys from Korea's neighbors. For the U.S. to distance itself from this support, and by so doing weaken it, would be counterproductive in the extreme.
North Korea would be strengthened, not weakened, by such a move.

Indeed, the likely result of such behavior would be the weakening of U.S. influence throughout all of East Asia, and perhaps beyond.

Since I live in East Asia, this is a bit more immediate for me, and I think that the US needs to adopt Hippocratus' dictum 'do no harm'. I take Reiss and Galluci undercutting Harrison's point on some of the technical points, but not on the general point that he makes. I also find it telling that Reiss has been appointed the Policy Planning Staff of the State Department, so I see this as more of toeing a policy line rather than a true rebuttal, but again, this is close to home for me.

Galluci also supports Harrison's point about the 1994 agreement breaking down link

Did they hold to their end of the agreement in that sense?

Absolutely. Absolutely. On our side, in terms of the hard part, so did we. We were obligated to create an entity called the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, an international entity -- which was really South Korea, Japan and the United States, and eventually, the European Union -- to build these 2,000-megawatt light-water reactors. That program didn't go as fast as the North Koreans might have liked. But it's a big deal doing that in North Korea. That was a hard point in terms of the deal, and we were doing that.

We also had to deliver a quantity every year of something called heavy fuel oil to provide energy replacement for what they were giving up with not having their own nuclear facilities. Did we meet every delivery schedule on the day? No. Did we generally meet the schedule, and were we generally providing what we said we'd provide? Yes. So in terms of the hard performance under the framework, both sides were doing it.

Also, this point underlines Harrison's main thrust

But as in 1994, all the negotiation was culminating in October, just before an election. Things changed -- drastically.

Oh, yes. Absolutely. No question about it. In the beginning of the Bush administration, I wasn't sure what was going to happen. We had South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, come and be very disappointed that, first, Secretary Powell says, "We'll continue with the direction in which the Clinton administration had us," and then we had the president say, "Not so fast. There's going to be a policy review."

I wasn't sure where that would go. Yes, they had a declaratory posture of some hostility to the Framework. But I rather thought they would also come to conclusion in as much as they were unhappy with the Framework that they might hold their nose in a sense and implement it. And that's indeed what they seem to be doing.

But they didn't.

But they didn't. But some things happened, and one of the very important things that happened was Sept. 11. That was catastrophic for this policy, because it created in the minds of everyone who is in the national security world the prospect of weapons of mass destruction developed by "rogues" coming into the hands of terrorists, and the lineage between the "rogue state" and the terrorist who cannot be defended against because of unconventional delivery. National missile defense doesn't do much good against United Airlines, and the transfer of fissile material to a rogue that can't be deterred, either.

So, by the time you get to the State of the Union speech in January 2002, you have an "axis of evil" phrase, which links rogues to the terrorist threat. That's when you began to see, I think, the possibility that the diplomatic situation with North Korea was going to go very bad. The North Koreans would notice not only the rogue references in the State of the Union, they'd notice the leak of the nuclear posture review. They'd notice the speech at West Point. Finally, they would read our national security strategy in September 2002 and find that we will deal, by preemptive action, or what we would call "preventive war," with rogues moving towards weapons of mass destruction who might be a source of fissile material for terrorist groups.

I think at that point that the jig is up. By the summer, the administration has told us they saw the enrichment program, the secret program, take off in terms of quantities of materials sought. So by the summer of 2002, I think the North Koreans were worried once again that this administration would deal with them by regime change -- a phrase they'd come to hear, and not appreciate, when applied to another point on the axis of evil.

This link is to a talk by Galluci at MIT. (requires RealPlayer)I think some of the points that he makes in his rebuttal are contradicted in the statements in his talk. He starts off with the point that the big problem is plutonium, gives an account of how the situation evolved (at the 18:00 mark, is the succinct summary) At the 27:40 mark is the beginning of a hilarious observation on face and quoting the UN charter. The summary of the current NK situation (with scathing comments about the current admin's position) and the 1 hour mark.

Charles Bird: The failing of Demick and Carroll in their reporting was that Mr. Anonymous and his remarks were taken at face value and were left wholly unchallenged.

Sorry to belabor the point, but that isn't a failing, it's a virtue. I'm sure the North Korean press bundles an ideologically proper political conclusion with each and every tidbit of news reportage they offer. When I read an American news article, given the choice, I'd rather draw my own conclusions.

This article is an example of reporting.

The article is a better example of transcribing than reporting.

Sorry to belabor the point, but that isn't a failing, it's a virtue.

So a reporter failing to be skeptical and failing to ask hard questions is a virtue? You should be offended by those reporters asking such rude questions at the daily White House press gaggles.

Unedited and un-counterpointed propaganda from a hostile--technically enemy, given that the Korean War never formally ended--nation has no business on the front page of a major American newspaper, particularly with additional touches added by the editors to make the propaganda even more enticing. Ms. Demick has apparently claimed in email that she intended the words of the North Korean official (odd that she described him as a "businessman" if she knew he was an "official", isn't it?) to speak for themselves and let him hang himself, but even if we accept her story, that doesn't explain the credulous and fawning caption chosen by the Times for the article, and its placement on the front page (a placement in the opinion or even the human interest section--preferably accompanied by a strong counterpoint article--would have been far less offensive). If Ms. Demick is telling the truth, she is more or less of the hook--it is the editors of the LA Times who deserve the condemnation for the article's framing and placement, and for their pathetic attempts at self-justification in the light of the fallout.

A bad thing indeed, to be condemned.

I have been trying to understand the motivation, for I doubt Demick and the Times are actually NK agents. She was in China, and may have heard that the Chinese really, really don't want a NK collapse....refugees. There are no military options. So a move toward a more positive relationship, as SK wanted at one time, and probably still does, might be the only option left. Just speculating, these aren't my views, I am completely baffled about what to do with NK.

Or it could just be Bush-hatred.

Who wants to place the over/under on The Usual Suspects calling for Demick to be fired from her position?

The Clinton administration knew that North Korea was pursuing uranium enrichment, but they wanted to deal with the problem through quiet diplomacy.

Well yes LJ I know and a little about the technology which discovered it. But the Clinton Admin failed in getting the North Koreans to stop and the Bush Admin wasn't going to fund the "light water reactors", a tipping point ensued, the rest is history.


I'm surprised by the silliness in the response to this story. What do you expect when you look at an evil state - horns? You get brutishness. You get neglect, But you also get smiley people who believe their own propaganda. Ms. Demick's interview provided fascinating insight into the smiley side of the cult of North Korea. I'm sure if she could meet people from, or better still get to, the gulag or a village of hungry people, she would reveal that side, too. She wrote a great book on Sarajevo - "Logavina Street" - which told the story of that war from the close-up perspective of the families in one street.

Over the years, I've seen Americans and others - both conservatives and liberals - go soft and fuzzy over North Korea once they get a little access. In my opinion, it's usually driven by a missionary zeal to want to do something good for them. Ms D does not fall into this category. She's certainly not ideologically pro-NK. Only a few South Koreans fall into that category these days. Does she want to de-demonize NK and reveal the human side? I'd expect every decent reporter to want to. It's their business. Does she share the same view as a majority of South Koreans that President Bush is the "threat" in that as everyone else in the galaxy - SK, Japan, EU, China, Russia, Mars, Venus, Saturn and Jupiter - favors engagement as the way to truly effect regime change in North Korea? Who knows? It doesn't seep through the reporting. Which means she's doing a good job.

I think she deserves an apology.

For the record, as all NK companies are owned by the party, the govt, or the military, all businesspeople are "officials."

A correx, I didn't realize that Reiss had left the Policy Planning at State. Second, the link I gave for the Galluci talk should be http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/38/

Quite a number of interesting interviews there.

Well yes LJ I know and a little about the technology which discovered it.

I look forward to Timmy's explanation of the new technology that "discovered" the North Korean uranium enrichment. Sounds fascinating.

LJ, you would be amazed at what the guys and gals at MIT can put on spy satelites these days. Centrifuges are easy to spot unless they are buried deep beneath the surface.

LJ Here (see slide 4 of 9) and here. My introduction to the subject was talking to an engineer from MIT in the process of putting together a software lease.

Err, Timmy that slide is of a place in Iran, which may seem to you to be the same as North Korea, but it's not. (I'm also struggling to find the link between an engineer from MIT negotiating a software lease and a powerpoint presentation from an undergraduate physics course at the University of London)

The World Net Daily article you cite (by Jerome Corsi, co-author of _Unfit for Command_, you may also want to note his comments about the Catholic Church. However, I'm sure that the PhD in political science he has helps him be objective about issues of nuclear physics) is also about Iran and there is no mention of North Korea, which is, I thought, what we were talking about.

Looking at Slide 4, perhaps you are referring to this from the lecture

-Enrichment expensive & technologically challenging process

-Rely on tiny mass difference between 235U and 238U in gaseous UF6

-Use many gas centrifuges in series (or diffusion)

-Diffusion process requires ~10 MW energy(!) - heat dissipation observed from satellites

-Centrifuges require precision engineering: rotates at speed of sound

-Need to repeat process many times

-Highly enriched uranium (20-90% 235U) only needed in nuclear weapons & fast breeder reactors

-Enrichment process is same for 5% or >20%

-Thus enrichment can always be used for arms programmes...

But there is no comment about how uranium enrichment was 'discovered' for NK. Being your typical laconic self, I don't know if you think that the Bush admin discovered this before it sent Kelly to confront the North Koreans or if it was discovered during the Clinton admin. The point made by all of my links is that we knew about uranium enrichment, but that plutonium was what we were working to get off the table. Please listen to Galluci's talk as it gives a good overview in layman's terms of exactly what we knew about the NK situation when.

For the record, as all NK companies are owned by the party, the govt, or the military, all businesspeople are "officials."

Which makes the conceit that the "businessman" is somehow giving his own private views a bit asinine, does it not? Read the description of the man given in the article. It could describe one, maybe two men at the most--and the interview took place in a nightclub owned by--wait for it--the North Korean government! There isn't more BS to be found outside of a fertilizer plant than there is in the "factual" setup of this article.

This is probably why Demick first points out that he "spent much of his career as a diplomat in Europe, [and] has been assigned to help his communist country attract foreign investment." She notes that the man "described himself as a businessman with close ties to the government." The man also "he did not want to be quoted by name because his perspective was personal, not official." I guess you are mad that the Seoul Bureau chief of the LA Times, rather than cultivate her sources, didn't add 'but of course, since any NK official is pure evil, I'm going to tell you his name just because he said he didn't want it splashed all over the media'. Really, is this that difficult to understand?

She notes that the man "described himself as a businessman with close ties to the government." The man also "he did not want to be quoted by name because his perspective was personal, not official." I guess you are mad that the Seoul Bureau chief of the LA Times, rather than cultivate her sources, didn't add 'but of course, since any NK official is pure evil, I'm going to tell you his name just because he said he didn't want it splashed all over the media'. Really, is this that difficult to understand?


Except that she not only repeated his self-description--she used it repeatedly in the article when quoting him, and the editors of the LA Times used it in the caption of the article. The description is a lie, and the writer and the editors put their stamp of approval on it by repeating it when it was not necessary. Your suggestion about his name is a red herring and misses the point: the point is that--as the writer seems to admit knowing in her quoted emails that are circulating around--this person was a North Korean government official circulating blatant North Korean propaganda, and the LA Times chose to give said propaganda the most benign presentation possible on the front page--and there seem to be no shortage of people willing to engage in apologetics for this journalistic atrocity, when one doubts that a similar performance on behalf of South Africa under apartheid or a similar state would recive similar shut-eyed chaperonage. Quite frankly, I don't *want* to understand why this is the case--I'm afraid of the conclusions it would cause me to draw about the apologists.

So, Scott, the refusal to denounce Ms. Demick as an NK propagandist renders one an apologist for NK? By that logic, your apparent regret that no such proganda in favor of apartheid SA ever appeared in the MSM (I love using that acronym) would make you an apologist for apartheid. Shudder to think.

Demick uses businessman three times in the article, the time I quoted and these two times:

"This was the right thing to do, to declare ourselves a nuclear power. The U.S. had been talking not only about economic sanctions, but regime change," the businessman said. "We can't just sit there waiting for them to do something. We have the right to protect ourselves."

and

"Is there any country where there is a 100% guarantee of human rights? Certainly not the United States," the businessman said. "There is a question of what is a political prisoner. Maybe these people are not political prisoners but social agitators."

Of course, the writer doesn't title the article or write the caption. And I don't believe that she gets to pick where it shows up.

I'm thinking you have a irony deficiency, but claiming that 'repeatedly' is equal to three uses seems pretty ironic.

I'm sorry you think the name point is a red herring. To me it suggests that there are some important stories lurking under the surface. I note that Demick posted another story about various views of the 6 party talks. You are welcome to claim this was a journalistic atrocity, but I think it speaks more to your inability to read between the lines and look at the story as ongoing than it does to any deficiency in Demick's reporting.

Also Chas, could I suggest that rather than paste posts that you make at Redstate here, if you could summarize and link them, it would be more appropriate? I know that Sebastian posted his anti-torture post here, there and at his own blog, but I think that was the first and perhaps a one off. It appears that everything you post here is posted to Redstate. I don't know what the hivemind was expecting, but when you were asked on, I was under the impression that you would be writing things for ObWi, not simply copying things.

Can I just put forth a question that nobody here seems to have addressed yet: What interest, exactly, would the Los Angeles Times, its editors, and writer Barbara Demick have in portraying North Korea as a benign, put-upon nation? How, exactly, would they stand to benefit by doing this?

But there is no comment about how uranium enrichment was 'discovered' for NK.

You acknowledge the capability to detect, old technology at that. You acknowledge that the Clinton Admin knew the North Koreans were cheating with their enrichment program. I will let you connect the dots, as it shouldn't be toooo hard.

I don't know what the hivemind was expecting, but when you were asked on, I was under the impression that you would be writing things for ObWi, not simply copying things.

I don't cross-post every time. Also, I made it clear to the collective before signing on that I would be cross-posting. One other thing, when you wrote "I was under the impression that you would be writing things for ObWi, not simply copying things", a Redstate commenter could just as easily say "I was under the impression that you would be writing things for Redstate, not simply copying things."

Why not have the same post in two venues? It reaches mostly different sets of readers, but I'm still the same writer after all. Why shouldn't an offering to Redstate be somehow less palatable to OW, or vice versa? Finally, the fact of the matter is that most of my posts originate here, and are cut and pasted over to Redstate, just to correct your misimpression.

Gee, Timmy, that was what the links I provided showed, that this was not 'new' intelligence, but intelligence from the Clinton administration that was repurposed to give the Bush administration a reason for leaving the Agreed Framework. I'm glad that we agree. In fact, you might be interested in this IHT (via NYTimes) article that points to China's reaction over our latest intelligence. Since you've been all over the internet looking for undergraduate physics lectures, I'll paste the interesting bits.

BEIJING Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing expressed doubt on Sunday that the United States had good intelligence about North Korea's nuclear program and said the onus for easing escalating tensions fell mainly on the United States and North Korea, not on China or other regional powers.

Li's assessment of North Korea, made during an extended press conference during China's annual legislative meeting, amounted to a double slap at the United States.

Whoops.

One task of the envoy, Michael Green, the top official handling Asian affairs at the National Security Council, was to dispel Chinese skepticism about the quality of American intelligence, Bush administration officials and Asian diplomats said.

But when asked by a Japanese journalist on Sunday to describe China's understanding of Pyongyang's nuclear program, including whether the country had produced nuclear fuel from enriched uranium as well as plutonium, Li answered pointedly and with a hint of sarcasm.

"Concerning whether North Korea already has nuclear weapons or anything about the question of uranium enrichment, I think that here you may know more than I do," Li said. "Or to put it another way, I definitely don't know any more than you do."

Ouch.

China's reluctance to do more creates a dilemma for the Bush administration because Chinese support - or, at a minimum, acquiescence - is essential to any escalated international response, including United Nations sanctions, a trade embargo, or military action.

But, I'm sure you're thinking, what is the GDP of China?

I don't cross-post every time. Also, I made it clear to the collective before signing on that I would be cross-posting.

If that was what they said, fine, but that wasn't relayed to us readers. But of course, I'm always the last to know.

One other thing, when you wrote "I was under the impression that you would be writing things for ObWi, not simply copying things", a Redstate commenter could just as easily say "I was under the impression that you would be writing things for Redstate, not simply copying things."

My impression was that you were a member of Redstate before you came here. If you decided to make this your main posting venue, fine, but I don't think that you can effectively serve two blog masters, as it were. Or three if you start posting again at Tacitus.

Why not have the same post in two venues? It reaches mostly different sets of readers, but I'm still the same writer after all.

One reason is precisely because it is for 2 different audiences that there should be some differentiation.

Why shouldn't an offering to Redstate be somehow less palatable to OW, or vice versa?

I made no statement about palatability and my suggestion is not based on anything within your posts, I am merely suggesting that you should concentrate your posts in one place.

Finally, the fact of the matter is that most of my posts originate here, and are cut and pasted over to Redstate, just to correct your misimpression.

Then I think that you should post a link at Redstate and direct readers here to discuss. There's no handy 'retrieve all posts by Chas Bird' here, but looking at the list of your posts at Redstate, everything that you have posted there has been posted here. A couple of things (Clint Eastwood quotes, Edgy advertising) are 'exclusive' to ObWi, but every Redstate post of yours is here, though some have different titles. More disturbingly, the posts you made here are updated (for example, the updates to the Soros-Stewart and the Rachel Corrie posts, which I think are significant points) If the content is the same, then shouldn't posts in both placed be updated?

So, Scott, the refusal to denounce Ms. Demick as an NK propagandist renders one an apologist for NK? By that logic, your apparent regret that no such proganda in favor of apartheid SA ever appeared in the MSM (I love using that acronym) would make you an apologist for apartheid. Shudder to think.

Uh, you might want to actually read what I wrote--I'm saying that such a piece about SA would have been generally denounced, including by people making apologies for this piece. I assumed that it would go without saying that a newspaper would have been behaving abominably to put the propaganda of the apartheid government on the front page of a major newspaper and present it favorably, and that no one would choose to defend it. Apparently, I was wrong.

Also, if my comments before haven't made it clear, I'm not sure how culpable Ms. Demick is--but the editors of the Times are clearly the biggest villains in this piece (other than the subjects of the article, who don't control the actions of the American media). They are the ones who chose to put the article on the front page, present it without counterpoint, and chose the disgusting title and captions that suggested the article was more a simple "human interest" story rather than propaganda. They're either deeply stupid and incompetent, or they're consciously working for the benefit of an evil government, and don't belong in their jobs.

Can I just put forth a question that nobody here seems to have addressed yet: What interest, exactly, would the Los Angeles Times, its editors, and writer Barbara Demick have in portraying North Korea as a benign, put-upon nation? How, exactly, would they stand to benefit by doing this?

When you actually catch a criminal* in the act, motive becomes an irrelevant consideration--in that instance, the defendant had better come up with an affirmative defense, and the burden of proof is on them to justify their actions. The LA Times has put enemy propaganda on its front page and made it look more enticing than it would have been, and their justification for doing so has been limp indeed.

*--before anyone goes berserk, I'm speaking metaphorically.

Care to venture a theory, Scott? Are the editors of the L.A. Times just trying to curry favor from their future North Korean overlords?

Don't really care why, Phil. It could be a bad case of Bush Derangement Syndrome, sunspots, or simply everyone there having a bad hair day. It doesn't matter to me, except that it was an intolerable breach of the standards of journalism, and the editors should pay the price for it.

More disturbingly, the posts you made here are updated (for example, the updates to the Soros-Stewart and the Rachel Corrie posts, which I think are significant points) If the content is the same, then shouldn't posts in both placed be updated?

I probably should have updated there, LJ. Since there are so many other contributors to Redstate and a significantly higher volume of entries, the posts fall by the wayside pretty quickly. FTR, I started here and at Redstate around the same time, not long after Tacitus closed his front page. I did make cross-posting links a few times, but at least at Redstate, it didn't look like a common practice, or at best it was practiced haphazardly. I will consider putting in some cross-pollinating links as it might foster greater cross-readership and more comments to both sites.

On a philosophical level, I just don't think there should be a need to change posts for different readerships or to Balkanize my writing. A quality post should be such whether conservatives or liberals read it. Professional commentators syndicate all the time, writing in both Democratic and Republican friendly papers, for example. I've seen the same pieces in the New Republic and the Washington Post. I don't consider myself as having "blog masters". Rather, I put myself closer to a free agent than as a writer having any "masters". If what I write holds water here, it should in other venues as well, or verce visa.

Thanks for the reply and your viewpoint is perfectly understandable. It's interesting to me because Sebastian suggested (in the first comment), that he makes adjustments in regards to the audience. I'm torn between the fact that there is a relationship with the audience (thus the necessity of altering how one puts their opinion) and remaining true to oneself (thus making sure that I say the same thing in each venue) which is the main reason why I don't blog (at least on political topics).

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