To Kim Jong Il, With Love and Kisses from the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee?

Hot off the press — the North Korean press, that is — we find the following report by the North Korean state news agency, dated yesterday, May 28th: 


Gift to Kim Jong Il

   Pyongyang, May 28 (KCNA) — General Secretary Kim Jong Il was presented with a gift by the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
    The gift was conveyed to an official concerned Wednesday by a staff delegation of the committee on a visit to the DPRK.

 Come again? A Gift to Kim Jong Il????

Does House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman have an explanation for this? Does Kim Jong Il really need more tribute from the United States?  

Courtesy of a Bush administration gone AWOL these days in a rush to appease tyrants, Kim Jong Il in recent times has already received $25 million in suspect loot refunded by a U.S.- sanctioned bank in Macau, tons of free fuel, and for some time now has been enjoying the apparently limitless devotion of special envoy Chris Hill, who has taken to referring to North Korea as “we” (as in, “we” have missed and utterly muddied a whole heap o’ nuclear disarmament deadlines). In exchange for the old logs of North Korea’s aging Yongbyon reactor, Condi Rice is now twitching to take North Korea off the U.S. list of terror-sponsoring countries — never mind that North Korea has not remotely begun to come clean on kidnapped Japanese citizens, alleged ties to terrorist Hezbollah and the Tamil Tigers, and — what else was there? oh right —  clandestine uranium enrichment (which Pyongyang officials admitted to in 2002, and then denied… what a great game…). And never mind the global money-laundering, weapons-vending networks that helped produce the Yongbyon copy-reactor in Syria, destroyed by the Israelis last September.


 Have “we” got any more secret nuclear projects salted around the world, Dear Leader?

So, why has Berman dispatched staffers to North Korea?  — other than to deposit tribute at the feet of Kim Jong Il. There has been talk that with some fanfare North Korea is planning sometime soon to blow up a cooling tower at Yongbyon. Please spare us. That would provide the sort of Potemkin spectacle of “progress” that North Korea specializes in, a Kodak moment that Chris Hill and Condi Rice and George Bush himself are apparently desperate to present to the American public as a sign that Kim Jong Il is now an OK kinda guy. Are Berman’s staffers also queuing for tickets?    

Phone calls and emails sent earlier today to Rep. Berman’s office and to the House Foreign Relations Committee have yet to elicit any information about these staffers, or their mission. So far, the staffers stuck home alone will only say that they can’t say, and my questions appear to have vanished into that vast alternate universe of voicemail and email. Stay tuned.

Bets are that the gift was a pewter bowl or plate with a House of Representatives seal. If Kim Jong Il needs one of those, surely his networks dealing in missiles, counterfeit U.S. currency, and uranium-enrichment components could take a moment to order it for him off ebay. But that wouldn’t have nearly the propaganda value of a gift conveyed from the Chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, nor would it fit so neatly into Kim’s collection of tribute.




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