Arrested Reporters Spying for U.S. CIA?
By Victor Thorn
Why has former vice president Al Gore remained so publicly silent about the March 17 arrest by North Korean authorities of two female journalists working for his San Francisco-based network, Current TV? In early June, Laura Ling and Euna Lee were convicted of “grave crimes” for “the hostile activity of illegally entering North Korea.” Their sentence: 12 years of hard labor.
But much more exists beneath the surface of this story. On June 11, blogger David Drake posed a compelling question. Since Gore is ideologically copacetic with President Obama, and considering that his administration yearns for hard data regarding Kim Jung Il’s nuclear ambitions, what if “Obama needed some spies in North Korea, and Al Gore told him he had just the two people for the job”?
Drake continued, “What better cover for a spy than to claim to be a journalist?”
Whether actual or alleged journalists, on March 19 the Associated Press’s Jean H. Lee reported that the two women were arrested after “ignoring warnings to stop shooting footage of the reclusive country.” Evidence shows that they illegally crossed the border; then upped the ante when “they ignored orders to stop filming.” North Korean soldiers took them into custody.
What makes this story even more intriguing is the fact that Laura Ling’s sister, Lisa, entered North Korea under false pretenses in June 2006 to film a National Geographic documentary entitled Undercover in North
Korea. Posing as a volunteer for Nepalese eye doctor Sanduk Ruit, Lisa Ling used miniature hidden cameras to capture damning images of the secretive regime. The young reporter then included material provided by the Department of Defense and State Department to produce a very harsh portrait of what she called “the most terrifying country on Earth.”
Writing for the Asia Times on April 21, Donald Kirk called Lisa Ling’s film “one of the most severe indictments of North Korea ever to appear on television.” Ling enraged the country’s hard-liners by directly targeting their so-called “Dear Leader.”
“North Korea is ruled by an absolute dictator who has nuclear weapons. Kim Jung Il controls everything. What happens here in the Hermit Kingdom may touch everyone in the world.”
Lisa Ling’s career has been quite storied, including a stint on ABC’s The View, host of National Geographic Explorer, and as a correspondent for CNN and Oprah Winfrey. Still, her exposť on the “unimaginable horrors” of North Korea most certainly incensed its leaders.
When coupled with the defiant resumption of its nuclear weapons program, Kim Jong Il may see the capture of Laura Ling as a perfect way to enact revenge against her sister and the U.S.A.
Though ignored inmost news stories, two other individuals accompanied Lee and Ling in North Korea. One of them was “cameraman” Mitchell Koss, who’s been an influential media insider for decades.
According to the Asian-American news site Epicanthus, which has closely followed this case, “Mitchell Koss is no mere ‘cameraman.’ He’s a wily veteran newsman, a pro’s pro, who has reported from every hot spot on the globe for the past 30 years.”
Employed previously as a producer for CNN, ABC, and PBS, Koss has “commanded an almost surreal level of access from usually secretive government agencies such as the State Department, Department of Defense, DEA and ATF.”
Koss was also in Al Gore’s employ at Current TV when the two female journalists were arrested.
That’s not all. Koss acted as a mentor to not only Anderson Cooper of CNN, but also Lisa Ling—sister of imprisoned “journalist” Laura Ling. There also appears to be a common agenda at hand. On August 24, 2003, Koss wrote an op-ed column for the L.A. Times entitled Refugees Could Undo Kim. Essentially, this article promoted the use of North Korean refugees to overthrow Kim Jung Il’s regime. Coincidentally, when Lee and Ling were arrested, they were disguised as North Korean refugees, and the people they sought to interview were, as Jean H. Lee describes it, “North Korean defectors hiding in China.”
The circumstances surrounding Koss get even stranger. As Lee and Ling fled from North Korea toward China before being apprehended, Koss escaped the border guards, only to be arrested by Chinese authorities. They freed him several days later. Since that time, Koss has remained in seclusion, refusing to comment on the case to anyone except the State Department. Some speculate that a fourth member of their party intentionally led them into a trap, but until Koss emerges from the shadows, the mystery persists.
Does the CIA still use embedded media provocateurs and plants as they did during their Operation Mockingbird days? Todd Shields of Editor and Publisher answered this question on December 7, 2001.
“The Central Intelligence Agency says its policy is not to use journalistic cover for its operations abroad, but it also says tough cases might force it to do so.”
North Korea undoubtedly qualifies as a tough case. Even more peculiar is the fact that the CIA’s vast mind-control program—MK-ULTRA—actually evolved from the propaganda-based Operation Mockingbird, which was inspired by brainwashing techniques made famous in North Korea (Š la The Manchurian Candidate).
The CIA has utilized a stable of journalists since its post-World War II formation. Ben Bradlee—Washington Post editor and famed Watergate player—served the CIA under Operation Mockingbird in the 1950s during his stay in Paris. In a groundbreaking article for Rolling Stone magazine on October 20, 1977, Carl Bernstein listed the benefits of having CIA journalists at their disposal. They are “accorded unusual access, permitted to trade in areas often off-limits, and spend much of their time cultivating sources in government.”
Are Euna Lee and Laura Ling spies? It’s not certain at this time; but as Brian Stelter of The New York Times wrote on June 8, “The detainment of two Current TV employees has been shrouded in secrecy by the television channel.”
In addition, instead of publicly championing their cause, co-owner Al Gore, like Mitchell Koss, “has steadfastly refused to comment.” Their tepid reaction makes it difficult not to recall what former CIA Director William Colby quipped: “The Central Intelligence Agency owns anyone of any significance in the major media.”
Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and the author of many books on 9-11 and the New World Order. These include 9-11 Evil: The Israeli Role in 9-11 and Phantom Flight 93.
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(Issue # 26, June 29, 2009)