[Update: The dissenting comments have been erased again. Gov. Richardson’s fans want to create a cult of adulation in which all dissent is stifled and concentration camps are never mentioned. All of this is somehow familiar to a North Korea-watcher.]
[Update 2: Help us keep “Kim Jong Bill” on Wikipedia until he asks Kim Jong Il to close down Camp 22. I’ve put the text and code at the bottom of the post, below the line. Everyone is encouraged to keep pasting it back in if Kim Jong Bill’s supporters continue to show their authoritarian ways. Wikipedia shouldn’t be a fan site (as of now, it is). It should include fair criticism, too.]
Earlier, I referenced my visit to this fawning “unofficial” Bill Richardson campaign site. The host of that site put up an entry boasting about “Governor Richardson’s North Korean Breakthrough.” This is spectacularly ill timed, coming on the very eve of North Korea getting back its dirty millions and still missing the deadline to shut down Yongbyon. It’s as if Al Gore were to claim he invented those Nigerian spam e-mails. Specifically, Gov. Richardson claims,
My years of experience dealing with North Korea and my knowledge of the region allowed me to help facilitate this new resolution to end their nuclear weapons program.
So I asked “kencamp” if Bill Richardson had ever found the time to ask his North Korean friends — the ones who respect and listen to him, we are told — about a place known as Camp 22, which is very possibly the worst place on earth. Here is the answer I got:
About Deleting Posts
This morning I deleted three posts that appeared in quick one right after each other last night. All three were particularly critical of Gov. Richardson. While this website isn’t supposed to be a Richardson lovefest with no criticism allowed, we are a “for Richardson” site.I didn’t have time to research the claims in these posts in order to respond. The topics were social services in New Mexico, North Korea and honestly I forget the third. One of them still exists as a comment here, as it was double posted by the author.
If you don’t like Richardson and you feel that by posting here will get some attention for your gripe and “show those Richardson supporters” what a creep he really is, please think twice. I’ll delete your post and eventually delete your account if you persist. Feel free to start your own anti-Richardson blog or community though at any number of free services (here and here).
Yes, it’s their blog, and this is mine. But the post was on-topic, and there was no reason but the intolerance of dissenting views for deleting it. Here is the post I put up to replace the one that “emmetoconnell” deleted [Update: Also since deleted by the “Richardson for America” administrators.]:
======== Deleted Comment at “Richardson for America” =========
In all of Gov. Richardson’s travels to North Korea, did he ever ask his hosts about Camp 22? Does he know what goes on in there? Do you? There are 50,000 men, women, and children in Camp 22 and up to a quarter of them die there each year. Most die from hunger, disease, and abuse, but not all. Here’s what happened to one family:
‘I witnessed a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying in the gas chamber,’ he said. ‘The parents, son and and a daughter. The parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they tried to save kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing.’
Hyuk has drawn detailed diagrams of the gas chamber he saw. He said: ‘The glass chamber is sealed airtight. It is 3.5 metres wide, 3m long and 2.2m high_ [There] is the injection tube going through the unit. Normally, a family sticks together and individual prisoners stand separately around the corners. Scientists observe the entire process from above, through the glass.’
There are 200,000 men, women, and children in North Korea’s concentration camp system. Camp 22, the worst of these camps, stands alongside Mauthausen and Tuol Sleng as one of human history’s greatest crime scenes. Americans may wonder whether Bill Richardson raised this subject to the North Koreans who (as you suggest) hold him in such great esteem, and with whom he holds such influence. Does he realize just what his amateur diplomacy is legitimizing and perpetuating? What do the words “never again” mean to Bill Richardson? The answers to these questions say much about the kind of person he is, and the kind of president he would be.
Last time I raised this question, you chose the cowardly option of deleting this post and avoiding the issue. But you raised this topic. You’re boasting about the value of Bill Richardson’s warm relationship with these killers. This time, instead of just deleting my post, how about just asking Bill Richardson if he has any plans to mention Camp 22 next time he shakes hands with the men who run the gas chamber?
========= End Deleted Comment =========
Now, how much influence any American has with Kim Jong Il is dubious. In fact, Bill Richardson showed up just in time for the North Koreans to use him as a propaganda tool in anticipation of their “victory parade” this weekend. This year, they’ll celebrate Kim Il Sung’s birthday, plus the fact that they’ve hoodwinked the Americans yet again. History will judge President Bush harshly for this sellout at a time when economic and political pressure could have secured something far more lasting, substantive, and verifiable, and a wiser and better man than Bill Richardson would want nothing to do with it. The best thing history will have to say about Bill Richardson is that his claim is spurious. Even so, he shows his disdain for those who paved the way for this photo op:
The bottom line is that diplomacy works – there is no other lesson to draw from this monumental breakthrough. And we desperately need someone in the White House who understands this and can restore American international leadership.
The State Department’s negotiation of this reprehensible capitulation was complete long before the giddy North Koreans led Bill Richardson around the decks of the U.S.S. Pueblo and sent him home empty-handed. But in these strange times, bad diplomacy, like a rich woman’s baby, has a thousand fathers.
*[http://freekorea.us/2007/04/13/kim-jong-bill-richardson-and-camp-22/ “Kim Jong Bill” Richardson and Camp 22:] A human rights activist challenges Gov. Richardson on the closeness of his relationship to North Korea, and asks whether Richardson has ever called for the closure of the notorious [[Hoeryong Concentration Camp]] during this lengthy relationship.
*[http://www.dprkstudies.org/2007/04/13/bill-richardson-has-al-gore-disease-but-worse/ Another blogger (coincidentally named Richardson; no relation) questions Richardson’s claim to have facilitated a “breakthrough” in North Korea diplomacy]; the claim closely predated North Korea’s failure to meet an agreed deadline to shut down its nuclear reactor at the [[Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center]].