In August of 2009, a really good thing happened, just after a really bad thing happened. You may recall the story of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were taken captive in North Korea and accused of spying. You may also recall that Kim Jong Un demanded that the conditions of her release be that Bill Clinton go to North Korea and grovel before the egotistical leader before he would agree to release Ling and Lee to the United States.
It was a real test of diplomacy, and Hillary Clinton wrote extensively about it in her book Hard Choices, where she described the conditions under which President Clinton would have to behave in order to satisfy the North Korean despot. Mostly, he would not be permitted to smile while he was in the leader's presence. Apparently this was meant to be a test they did not believe he would pass, but he did.
When Ling and Lee returned to the United States, it was cause for rejoicing. It was a really, really good thing, and for most of us, it remained so.
Indeed, the New York Times even reported on the "emotional return" of Bill Clinton and the journalists to the United States.
Until today, when the New York Times chose to turn it into a smear of the Clinton Foundation.
Eric Lichtblau, who should also be old enough to remember it, seems to have lost all memory before say, 2010 or so, and so he wonders aloud whether the requests for staff passports for Bill Clinton and his staff "raise new questions about the Clinton Foundation's ties to the State Department."
A top aide to Hillary Clinton at the State Department agreed to try to obtain a special diplomatic passport for an adviser to former President Bill Clinton in 2009, according to emails released Thursday, raising new questions about whether people tied to the Clinton Foundation received special access at the department.
The request by the adviser, Douglas J. Band, who started one arm of the Clintons’ charitable foundation, was unusual, and the State Department never issued the passport. Only department employees and others with diplomatic status are eligible for the special passports, which help envoys facilitate travel, officials said.↓ Story continues below ↓
Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign said that there was nothing untoward about the request and that it related to an emergency trip that Mr. Clinton took to North Korea in 2009 to negotiate the release of two American journalists. Mrs. Clinton has long denied that donors had any special influence at the State Department.
Passports are handy things to have in hand when traveling as a special envoy at the request of the Department of State, which Clinton was doing.
“Judicial Watch is now attacking State Department officials and the 42nd president of the United States for rescuing two American journalists from North Korea,” the campaign said. “This is a new low even for this right-wing organization that has been going after the Clintons since the 1990s.”
Traveling with a former president does not convey any special diplomatic status, the State Department indicated in a statement regarding the emails.
“Diplomatic passports are issued to Foreign Service officers or a person having diplomatic or comparable status,” the statement said.
This is why you shouldn't believe any story about the emails, or the Clinton Foundation. In their zeal to find something -- anything -- to tear down the Clinton Foundation, they'll even conveniently forget an important diplomatic moment in order to gnaw at the edges of an organization doing nothing but good in the world. Why? To tear down the one sane candidate in the presidential race. Because they've got to be balanced!
What's next? A smear story about how ties between Clinton's State Department and Iran cast a shadow on Jason Rezaian's release?
In the age of Trump, they are working very hard to push everything Clinton down and make it something it's not, because they just don't know how to deal with the lunatic running on the Republican side of the ticket. It's far easier to revert to that which has been done so often for so many years, rather than step up and perform actual...journalism.