October 9, 2006, - 12:09 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
With all the questioning of Republicans about “who knew what when?” this past week, we thought we’d ask a “who knew what when?” about the inappropriately surnamed Madeleine Albright. The woman acted as if all was solved, when it was not.
What did she know about North Korea and Kim Jong Il’s missiles and when? Well, these excerpts from this PBS Jim Lehrer interview with the dimwitted then-Secretary of State on October 30, 2000, might give us a clue of “who knew what when” and how clueless she acted despite knowing then:
JIM LEHRER: Did you accomplish what you set out to accomplish in North Korea?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I did, because I wanted to obviously meet with Kim Jong Il, a leader with whom no American official had met. President Kim Dae Jung of South Korea had met with him. But I had a chance to meet with him and talk with him, as it ended up, for almost 12 hours — six official hours and then various dinners and performances. And the point was to try to see how we could significantly reduce the threat from the missiles that the North Koreans have been producing. And I think that we have been, in a step-by-step way, been able to open some doors. The work that I did is now going to be followed up by meetings with technical experts, and we’re going to take it step by step.
JIM LEHRER: What did he say about the missiles?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, he’s basically prepared to look at some kind of an exchange in terms of this idea that he actually originally had raised with [Russian] President Putin about if we would launch some peaceful satellites for him instead. But he basically, I think, is prepared to take some important steps. We have to test it. We have to make sure that these aren’t just words. But I think it’s very important, Jim, to put this into context. You know, we were at war with North Korea 50 years ago. Since then we have considered it among the most dangerous places in the world. We have 37,000 troops on the Korean Peninsula. It’s a remnant of the Cold War, and if we have an opportunity to break this last barrier, I think it will be a very important step forward, and we need to keep pursuing on a very careful way.
JIM LEHRER: What’s the state of intelligence on the missiles and what North Korea has, what threat they pose to Asia and even to the United States?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I think we have pretty good intelligence on it that obviously I can’t discuss, but….
JIM LEHRER: A serious problem?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I think we have thought we had a problem with their potential of the nuclear programs and through the agreed framework that we worked out in ’94, we were going to freeze their fissile material programs. And now we have had a missile test moratorium with them for the last months. And we want to now make sure that we can significantly reduce the threat in a more permanent way.
JIM LEHRER: And you came away after these 12 hours with Kim believing that he wants… he will do that?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, this is what we have to test. I mean, I think that the information on him was kind of scattered, and it wasn’t until Kim Dae Jung went and said that he had some very important discussions with him and found him to be somebody that he could talk to, that was rational, pragmatic. I found the same thing. Basically, you know, we’ve had such weird stories about him, but it turns out that we had very good discussions.
JIM LEHRER: Where did those stories come from, that he was an irrational man who you could never have the kind of conversation you just did?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I think this is a hard thing to assess, Jim. I think that it’s conceivable that there were periods that this was what he was like. But it has been six years since his father has died. He is in charge of what is called kind of a hermit kingdom. And we had… he listened very carefully. He didn’t lecture me. I went through all my talking points with him. And he gave rational answers. And he seems pragmatic. Now, I think that he clearly has some very serious economic issues, and I think it’s worth us probing and testing.
Guess, what, Madeleine? It’s official: Your little test is over. But Kim Jong Il’s tests only just begun.
Thanks to Ruth K. for the tip.
Tags: Asia, Jim Lehrer, Kim Dae, Kim Dae Jung, Kim Jong-Il, Korean Peninsula, Madeleine Albright, North Korea, official, President, Putin, Secretary of State, South Korea, Spokesmodel Thought She Was Secretary, United States