One Free Korea Breaks State Department Scandal? Nicholas Burns’ Illegal Diplomacy?

NKHRA Progress Report: Who Is Keyzer Soze?,” by Joshua, One Free Korea, 23 November 2005, (from Live from the FDNF).

At the State Department…,” by Mi-Hwa, One Free Korea, 26 November 2005,

Mi Hwa…,” by Joshua, One Free Korea, 27 November 2005,

Props to Eddie of Live from the FDNF for alerting me to an OFK post that I missed.

Why, some of us want to know, has the North Korean Human Rights Act lodged in the State Department’s windpipe? Why, over a year after the bill was signed into law, does an executive agency that’s nominally answerable to the President of the United States fail to accept North Korean refugees who knock at the embassy gates? I specifically cite Section 303 of the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, which is now binding law:

The Secretary of State shall undertake to facilitate the submission of applications under section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act [meaning, asylum applications] (8 U.S.C. 1157) by citizens of North Korea seeking protection as refugees (as defined in section 101(a)(42) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(42)).

In plain English, that means that our embassies violate federal law if they fail to “facilitate” asylum applications at our embassies abroad. Yet Tim Peters not only informs me that our embassies are refusing to take these refugees, he’s said the same to Congress under oath, and he has it on film, thanks to CNN. One overseas ambassador, so another source tells me, went so far as to seek legal advice from Foggy Bottom as to how to interpret the law. He was told in no uncertain terms not to ask again.

One Free Korea‘s Joshua Stantaon is a well respected blogger. He recently met with Ambassador John Bolton, and a plaque he designed now hangs prominantly in Bolton’s office. Maybe that’s why a government leaker has chosen OFK to release the news

My source says that Burns doesn’t want our State Department taking any actions that would unduly offend Kim Jong Il, such as taking in refugees, or letting any pesky part-time Special Envoy muck it all up with unpleasant remarks about investigating infanticides, concentration camps, or gas chambers. Hence, we hear relatively little from Lefkowitz, and shouldn’t expect to hear much more of consequence. Just to be sure–according to a different source–State has placed individuals sympathetic to the Burns world view in Lefkowitz’s office . . . to better keep him inside the range of his electronic ankle bracelet.

Nicholas Burns: Rogue Diplomat?

Of course, this is only a leak — it may not be true. Conceivable it could be part of a power play by a secret cabal – a conspiracy – to embarrass a pesky enemy. But given the State Department’s history of rogue policy, the news is all too believable.

On the story’s discussion thread,” Mi-Hwa wonders if Dr. Barnett’s old enemy, the Department of , is behind the trouble:

At the State Department, the buck stops at Condi Rice. She obviously does not welcome North Korean refugees. Homeland security is probably the reason — they don’t want North Korean spies or terrorists.

The news even has Joshua, a firm Republican, questioning Secretary Rice‘s leadership

Mi-Hwa, Other than your speculation about Homeland Security being the culprit (one doesn’t need one if my source is right about State), I’m actually forced to admit that I agree with you.

Condi Rice is responsible for what her subordinates and our ambassadors are doing, or failing to do. She has sworn to uphold our nation’s laws. She must be accountable if she fails to do this.

Unless we kill Kim, we break North Korea through connectivity — not guarding the gates of Pyongyang’s prisons for them.

3 thoughts on “One Free Korea Breaks State Department Scandal? Nicholas Burns’ Illegal Diplomacy?”

  1. Joshua,

    I don't know any details of a DHS-Rice feud, but Barnett's despisal of homeland security is well known. To quote the article

    “I predict it’ll end up being the Department of Agriculture of the 21st century: in ten years we’ll have more DHS bureaucrats than transnational terrorists, just like we now have more Ag bureaucrats than actual farmers”

    PS: Thanks for the tip on the broken link!

  2. Hey, Josh. You got Terry Teachout's article on the NY Philharmonic biut missed the one Dick Allen and I had in the New York Times the next day–Oct 28, 2007. Today, the President of the Korea Society misrepresented what we said and made and argument about what the North koreans need and what they deserve. Actually, Dick Allen and I think think they deserve to hear the New York Philharmonic, and the NY Phil deserves to choose what they will play and how they will play it. The problem is what Kim Jong-il will allow. Here's what we wrote:
    October 28, 2007
    Op-Ed Contributors
    Concert Without Strings

    THE New York Philharmonic is considering a performance in Pyongyang, North Korea, next February, and already the regime there has begun to behave as though the proposed concert would be a tribute rather than an act of generosity.

    A final decision by the Philharmonic on whether to perform in North Korea after its China tour merits the most careful consideration. It would be a mistake to hand Kim Jong-il a propaganda coup.

    For those who recall the key role that cultural exchanges played in normalizing our relationship with Communist countries during the cold war, the idea of a concert by the Philharmonic in North Korea may appear constructive. But the cold war exchanges were successful largely because Western performers were committed to artistic freedom. In 1959, when Leonard Bernstein took the Philharmonic to Moscow, he included in his program a work by Shostakovich, the popular Russian composer whose career had suffered under Stalin’s censorship. Bernstein raced through the stirring last movement of the Fifth Symphony, demonstrating that artists have license to do just that. The audience, which included Shostakovich himself, was exhilarated.

    But North Korea is not like the former Soviet Union. Any outsider who reaches out to the suffering millions in North Korea must be cautious not to worsen their oppression. Consider how the regime prohibits international food donors from verifying who actually gets the food. Food aid is distributed only to the military and the faithful, and denied to those judged unreliable or disloyal. This is just one reason why Doctors Without Borders withdrew from North Korea in 1998.

    Normally, concerts in North Korea are limited to performances of music that Kim Jong-il himself is (falsely) credited with having written or at least approved. Merely to listen to radio broadcasts from other nations is to risk imprisonment. During a party on Christmas in 1992, one of the regime’s former propaganda officers, Ji Hae-nam, made the mistake of singing a South Korean song. She was sentenced to three years in jail and, as she testified to the United States Congress after her escape, beaten so severely she could not get up for a month.

    It would be wonderful indeed if the Philharmonic could expose an audience in Pyongyang to some of the West’s great anthems to freedom, or at least demonstrate that excellent music has been written outside North Korea’s borders — and that the outside world is not so threatening after all. But negotiations so far on the terms of a visit are not promising.

    The theater selected for the Philharmonic’s performance is one where, according to a North Korean official, Kim Jong-il himself perfected the acoustics. We can only hope that the American orchestra won’t be asked to play the same music the State Symphony Orchestra played earlier this month for the Philharmonic’s delegation to Pyongyang: Korean folk songs. The concert program ought to be the province of the Philharmonic, but who can expect that in North Korea?

    If, as some starry-eyed commentators have suggested, the dictator’s willingness to let the Philharmonic perform demonstrates a new level of “openness,” then the orchestra should be able to make reasonable demands: that the orchestra alone set its program; that the performance be broadcast on state radio for everyone to hear; that the concert hall be open to the public, not just the elite; and that the Western press be allowed to attend. If the regime refuses these conditions, the Philharmonic should, in the name of artistic freedom, decline to perform in North Korea.

    Richard V. Allen, national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan, is the co-chairman of the United States Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. Chuck Downs, the author of “Over the Line: North Korea’s Negotiating Strategy,” is on the committee’s board.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *