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tv   Smerconish  CNN  November 8, 2014 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

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but by injecting music into this space, we can inject life. >> something survived that horrible injury in afghanistan. and that was my ability to play the guitar. arthur and his program changed my outlook on what is possible. ♪ music has no stigma. folks who work with, when they do music, there is nothing injured about the way they do it. it's just good music. ♪ good evening, everyone. you're in the "cnn newsroom." thank you for being with me. i'm poppy harlow joining you live from new york. we are following several developing stories. first an update on coalition air strikes that targeted a suspected group of isis leaders in iraq. the leader is abu bakr al
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baghdadi, but there is no word if he was present. we'll have more in a moment. also, two american citizens are on their way home. one of them held in north korea for two years. kenneth bae. also matthew todd miller held there for seven months. they are free today. until a few hours ago, they were the only americans still being detained by the north korean government. miller was charged with committing hostile acts against north korea earlier this year. bae faced those same charges two years ago. and he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. one man has negotiated with north korea since the 1990s to help free americans. i'm talking about former new mexico governor, bill richardson, who also served as u.s. ambassador to the united nations. he went to north korea just last year to try to get kenneth bae released. five years ago, considered a potential envoy for the release of two americans. that role ultimately went to former president bill clinton.
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governor richardson joins me on the phone. thank you so much for being here, sir. and i want you to first please, if you could, take us into the mind of negotiators since you worked with north korean negotiators why do you think they decided to release these two americans right now? >> i believe there was two reasons. one, they were catching the north koreans a lot of heat at the united nations on human rights violations. they were going to be taken to the international criminal court. secondly, i believe they want to start a dialogue with the united states. the fact that there are very few conditions they have asked for with the release of kenneth bae and this other young man, mr. miller, basically asking for a presidential envoy. and releasing them without any apparent conditions. any conditions for giving them food or aid. when i negotiated with the north koreans, they're always asking for something very tangible in return. but this time, i think they're
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sending a message that they're ready to talk to the united states, and hopefully that will lessen tensions in northeast asia, with south korea, with japan. with some of our efforts to keep some kind of stability in that region. >> but do we have to be cautious not to look at this as too big of a door opening for diplomacy between the u.s. and north korea? should it be qualified? >> well, yes. because north korea, they're very unpredictable. they go hot and cold. but what is significant about this is that this is a decision that only could have been made by kim jong-un, the new leader. we know very little about. a month ago, he released another american without conditions. and now he seems to be doing it again. perhaps a condition that he asked for was send the presidential envoy, asked -- give us the status of some kind
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of an early dialogue, even though apparently he didn't meet with kim jong-un. but at the same time, it is a positive signal, a release based on humanitarian grounds, because we have demanded that in order for us to talk to north korea, they have to terminate their nuclear arsenal, and engage in arms control talks and north korea has in the past basically refused. so maybe it's a little opening. but you can't expect much immediately from north korea intangibly. they're all over the place. they're unpredictable. they change their minds. they're hostile. and they're isolated. >> we know now that president obama sent a short letter, hand-written letter with james clapper to be delivered to kim jong-un. i wonder -- we're also told there was no quid pro quo, no deal made here. that the u.s. didn't hand anything over or agree to anything for these men's release. do you think north korea is
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waiting for a particular gesture now from the u.s.? >> well, i believe they want some kind of talks. they want a little bit of a warming of relations. the north koreans love little messages, send former president clinton, send former jimmy carter. a letter like this, while it seems insignificant to others, is important to them, probably on presidential stationery, hand-written, simply saying that james clapper is my envoy, and we urge the release. it's symbolism that they like. they're big on protocol. so it was a skillful move on the part of the administration, and the good news also is that maybe we have opened another channel through our intelligence community, besides a state department, besides the u.n. mission in new york, that involves other officials in the u.s. government. and that's good. because this is a hostile
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country with nuclear weapons, with missiles. and we need to reduce the tensions out there, and maybe it will be the start to some negotiations. the north koreans are going to want food, humanitarian assistance, sanctions lifted, energy assistance. but again, you know, we want some kind of reduction of tension in that part of the world, particularly because we've got american troops there, close to 50,000. we've got allies like south korea and japan. and now we have the marine from mexico that i was involved in getting released and now the administration deserves credit for this effort, kenneth bae and mr. miller will go back with their families. particularly kenneth bae, who has been in prison for two years and suffering. and now he's going home. it's a good news story. and we need good news these days. >> we certainly do. it is wonderful news and we're
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all happy to report they're on a plane headed here and expected to land sometime tonight. governor bill richardson, thank you for your time. u.s. director of national intelligence, james clapper, went to pyongyang as an envoy to obama. he delivered this hand-written letter from the president to kim jong- jong-un, describing clapper as his personal envoy. joining me on the phone, david gergen, veteran adviser to four u.s. presidents. thank you for being with us. appreciate it. >> hello, good to talk to you. >> a senior state department official tells us that the letter from president obama was short and to the point. what do you make of the letter? >> i think the letter is just what bill richardson said. it wrapped a lot more authority around james clapper going. the north koreans historically have always responded better or they liked to work with a
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high-ranking american official. so bill richardson had -- you know, as ambassador to the united nations, carried a lot of weight when he went. similarly, of course, president clinton went over and got people released. so i think it has a lot to do with status. and the north koreans feeling like they're treated as a more equal partner and not just a third-rate country with a nuclear weapon. >> how much of a win is this for the obama administration after the mid terms? >> i think it's -- it's certainty positive. i don't think it's a big win for the obama administration, but it's a positive note. it will draw more attention to his trip to china, which is coming up this coming week. >> right. >> i think nobody knows when it comes to the north koreans actually what they're up to. they're so mysterious and isolated, as bill just said. some republicans will speculate, probably quietly, but speculate that, you know, maybe this did have something to do with mid terms. maybe they saw, washington has
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got the republicans on the chart, and the north koreans have historically seen the republicans as more threatening. but just as the same way that -- when reagan got elected, the iranians on the day of the inauguration, remember how they released hostages? so democrats will naturally vigorously disagree with that. they're going to say this was carried out very wisely by the obama administration. we didn't know he was going over there, it was all hush-hush and they got it done. and good for him. he gets points for that. so the democrats will dismiss that. but there will be speculation for as long as there is a north korea, the way it is today, there will be speculation about what the heck they're up to. >> well said. president obama leaves tomorrow for this trip to asia, and there is a report that chinese media and some are describing the president as a leader who has been downgraded by the midterm election results. is this a case where you think that political defeat at home
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could have a material, significant effect when the president travels abroad? >> there has been concern. and more than china. about that issue. historically, american presidents have paid a price in this midterm election the second term. but they have not been damaged by that. they have been able to go forward and do a lot of important things. so, you know, i think again, it's more in the realm of speculation. i don't think he's been weakened overseas. and, indeed, the congress in the next few weeks may well pass exactly what he wants on ebola during -- when he comes home. and more importantly, the purposes of power, they may well pass authorization and put money into the campaign against isis. so the president is still the commander in chief. and you're the commander in chief, the largest most powerful military in the world. so you naturally keep power as a result of that. whatever your domestic fortunes
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are. >> david gergen, appreciate the analysis so much this evening. thanks for joining us. >> thank you much. take care. this is the day kenneth bae's family and my next guest have been waiting for for a very long time. this is a very good day. david sugarman is founder of bring bae back. thanks for joining me. >> my pleasure. >> i know you've been talking to kenneth bae's family today. how are they doing? >> tears of joy. they're very, very happy. i don't think anybody expected this to happen so quickly. or the way that it did happen. so i spoke with terry as recently as a half hour ago. his sister. and she's -- she's a trouper. we've gotten very close since i met her in february and it's a blessing he's coming home. >> have you heard any details that they're willing to share about when he will actually come home, when the plane might land? when is he going to go directly and see his family. we know he's in poor health. does he have to go immediately for health care to the hospital?
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>> i saw and i think you saw as well they put out that press release and statement which i saw earlier that they wanted some time and space. so i'm not too certain. i trust the plane lands tonight between 9:00 and 10:00. >> have they told you about his health, how he's doing, the family? >> yes. not well. >> not well. >> yeah, not well. and i think -- look, i think -- and this is just me speculating. but i think part of this had to do with the fact that kenneth hasn't been doing well. cnn got the exclusive, you know, with the three prisoners. >> interviews. >> and even your reporter said he was so shocked at how -- >> how he looked, how much weight he had lost. >> hair was falling out, so on and so forth. >> how has the bae family held up the last two years? we know especially kenneth's siste sister, terri, has been very vocal, fighting for this. we know this is a man with three little kids at home. how have they managed through this? >> it's been really hard. i mean, i can't personally imagine going through it. but i've spent time with kenneth's mom here in new york. and it's been hard.
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it's been rough. and i check in with them. you know, i text with terri two or three times a week. and i call once a week, how is mom doing. i call her mom. how is mom doing. how are you doing? and it's been really hard, you know. your son or your brother to be locked up in a labor camp. >> yes. with deteriorating health. >> with deteriorating health, being in and out of a hospital. you know, it's not easy on them. >> absolutely not. we are so happy, and i know you are so happy. thank goodness for these men, for their families. thank you for joining us this evening. u.s. air strikes targeted a suspended group of leaders in iraq. was the brutal leader al baghdadi, among them? we'll discuss next. the trends and have-you-tried-this. now, i'm ready for someone to listen to me. welcome to, your free custom-fit, diabetes support program that actually listens to you. start building your fit2me program today using key areas of diabetes management.
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spokesman for u.s. central command says while the air strikes destroyed a convoy believed to be caring isis leaders, they cannot confirm al baghdadi was in that convoy. let's talk with bob baer, cnn national security analyst. you have said that killing the isis leader is a bad plan. and i want to read part of this op-ed you wrote last week. it says, the fact is, assassinations are at best tricky. the cure can be worse than the disease. to be sure, we're capable of militarily sdroig isis, but sunni grievances will remain and there will always be another man to take up the kujel. why do you say it is a bad idea to be targeting him or not the top priority? >> well, i mean, it would be a setback for isis to kill him. he's the spiritual leader of that group. but we don't know who would replace him at that point. the point is, we are facing a sunni insurrection in iraq and
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syria. there has been terrible violence in that part of the world. the sunnis feel threatened. they are going to throw up whoever they can to fight the shia in baghdad and damascus. so i don't think decapitating the organization is going to change things much. and additionally, we could get somebody worse. we just don't know how it works. >> that's a fair point. we were talking earlier this week when we got news that u.s. and coalition forces had been able to target and successfully kill a bomb-maker for the khorasan terrorist group. and we talked about the intelligence issue here. how much do you think that is a sign that the intelligence has gotten better? >> well, it's certainly gotten better in syria and iraq, i think, over the years. simply because we have been fighting there for so long. but the problem is, it's fragmentary. and you have to get lucky and that's what you're doing. but you certainly don't understand how any of these groups work or which bomb maker is doing what. it's in the cia a denied area.
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and if you don't actually have officers, you know, next to your enemy, it's very difficult to collect intelligence. whether it's for assassination or for any bombardment at all. if we're going to make this air campaign work in syria and iraq, we need, you know, close air support. and we need forward observers on the ground, which we're not ready to put in yet. but that may change very soon. and military does very well when they have boots on the ground. but, of course, that's very risky. >> all right, bob baer, thank you. stand by. we're going to get back to you in a moment with many more questions for you on this. thank you, bob. and the last american detainees from north korea are on their way home. this is great news. coming up, more about the man who flew to pyongyang with a letter from the president in his pocket. he helped bring those two men home. [car revving] [car revving]
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two american citizens are on their way home. one of them held in north korea for two years. matthew todd miller and kenneth bae were set free today, very surprisingly. and a senator from kenneth bae's home state of washington has been working closely with his family since his arrest two years ago. senator patty murray talked about the negotiations on cnn earlier today. listen. >> an amazing day for all of us who have been working on this. because of the persistence and
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insistence and strength of kenneth bae's family who have worked so hard for the last two years to make sure no one forgets kenneth. this is a case -- he is from our state and it's a case we have been working on for a long time. i have met with the family personally. they're -- his sister has -- terri has just been the most passionate, articulate person i have ever met, and have met with her and talked with her numerous times throughout this. and i think what -- why we're here today is because terri just would not give up and would not let any of us give up. >> well, in a story full of surprises, another big surprise is who went to north korea to pick up and bring home the americans kenneth bae and matthew todd miller. that person was none other than america's top spy, director of national intelligence, james clapper. he didn't go to pyongyang empty-handed. he carried a hand-written letter from president obama directly to north korean leader kim jong-un.
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these simple but unusual facts raise a lot of questions, and are sure to provoke intense speculation. let's bring in cnn intelligence and security analyst, bob baer. bob, were you surprised clapper was the one chosen to do this? >> well, in one sense, i was. because this isn't the role of american intelligence, is to serve as diplomatic emissary to a country like north korea. this is either done through protecting powers like sweden or to the united nations or diplomats. so it was a surprise to me, yes. but on the other hand, the north koreans tend to attribute more power to intelligence chiefs than they do diplomats. so if they have an important message to deliver, they would want the intelligence chief there rather than a diplomat. so in that sense, it does make sense. and i think what we're seeing with north korea is this is maybe the possible detonte in our relationships. i think north koreans are worried about an ascendent
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china. and this is a new opportunity for us. >> what do you make of the fact of the hand-written letter. we're told it was short and to the point. but the gesture. >> i think it's absolutely crucial. you want to show that north koreans respect. we can talk to them at a high level. if they have complaints, they can deliver them to the united states. you always want to talk to your enemies rather than your friends. i mean, because that's where the channels are so important to avoid conflict. so you know, the president was absolutely right to send a letter and maybe next week can move to nuclear issues. who knows. >> it's interesting. you have a different perspective on this than a lot of the guests i've had on this evening that say don't read too much into this in terms of big picture diplomatic relations between the u.s. and north korea. but you seem to think this is really significant. >> i've seen these things before. in fact, i was involved in a back channel a long time ago. and it really opened up relations very quickly. you don't know where they're
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going to go. this was a gesture on the part of the north koreans. they are unpredictable. it's difficult to understand what they do and why they do it. so it's almost, you know, you can wait and see. say all right, we're listening. tell us what you want to tell us. >> yeah, absolutely. well, thank you so much, bob baer. we appreciate it. let's hope this is the beginning of more talks. we'll be right back after a quick break.
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two american men freed from north korea headed home.
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matthew todd miller and kenneth bae are in the air right now. they were released unexpectedly today. and while analysts try to figure out why and why now, they're two families are really looking forward to their homecoming. our ana cabrera is in tacoma, washington, where they will be landing. thank you for rushing up there. i am wondering what you know about when they may land on u.s. soil. >> reporter: poppy, it's great to be able to cover a happy story for once. we just arrived at the air force base, where these two men are supposed to be touching down sometime in the next few hours. sometime this evening. we have been asked not to show the air field. but i can tell you, we're just on the edge here. and, of course, the families are extremely excited for this moment. something that they have been waiting for for months, even years in the case of kenneth bae. i can tell you when the plane touches down on board, we're expecting both men, kenneth bae and matthew miller, along with james clapper, director of national intelligence and
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additional delegates also in north korea at the time of this release. bae is from washington, so when he lands hire in the u.s., he will be home-home. we know miller is from bakersfield, california. both families joyous today. we heard from kenneth bae's sister, who tells us she is crying tears of joy. he has been held for two years this week, in fact, in north korea. we know miller was arrested sometime in april. so about seven months ago. both men were arrested and convicted of hostile acts against the government of north korea, and were sentenced to hard labor. and when they sat down along with jeffrey fowle in that interview with our will ripley, that impromptu interview in north korea, we heard from kenneth bae describing that hard labor being eight hours a day, six days a week, working in a field for him. he had discussed on his health and concerns that his health was failing as he suffers from diabetes. we know he has high blood pressure and was dealing with kidney stones. so that was of grave concern. all of the men, of course, were asking for the u.s., pleading
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for the u.s. to help and send a team, an envoy of some sort, to try to plead for their release. and we're hoping to be able to get home to the u.s. jeffrey fowle was released less than a month ago and the final two americans held hostage in north korea will be heading home and landing in the u.s. sometime in the next few hours. i just want to read a quick statement from the family of kenneth bae. really a touching statement on this important day for their family. it says, quote, words cannot adequately express our relief and gratitude that kenneth is finally coming home. we have been waiting for and praying for this day for two years. this day has been excruciating for the family, but we are filled with joy right now. and i think that really says it all. apparently kenneth bae will be reunited with his three children, with his wife and other family members here in washington. and they said it will be an extra special thanksgiving, one they will never forget this year, poppy.
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>> absolutely. i mean, he has three young children, and we've heard a lot from their family, but we haven't heard really at all from the miller family. so we'll be standing by and see if we hear from them, as well. ana cabrera, we'll get back to you soon. thank you so much. matthew todd miller and kenneth bae were unexpectedly freed. he had traveled many times without incident. and our paula hancocks filed this report just after he received a visit from his mother. >> reporter: an emotional embrace for a son she fears she might lose. she has been allowed to see her son kenneth just once during his captivity in north korea. >> my heart would ache when i saw him with a hospital garment in a confined, small space. >> reporter: bae has been hospitalized, suffering from a number of illnesses, including diabetes, heart problems and back pain. the 44-year-old was arrested in november 2012. bae was operating a tour group
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out of china, visiting north korea well over a dozen times. tried and sentenced to 15 years hard labor the following spring, his official crime, plotting hostile acts to bring down the government, and planning anti north korean religious activities. bae was filmed admitting to these crimes from his prison cell. >> translator: my wish is that the north korean government grants me mercy and the u.s. government will make more effort to help me return home as soon as possible. >> reporter: a former missionary says his christian beliefs would not have been welcome in a country officially atheist. a website shows bae as a father, son and brother. in every photo, he is smiling. a very different man seen here working eight hours of hard labor a day for three months before his health deteriorated and he was hospitalized. >> kenneth is a father of three, an american citizen, who was there legally working to provide
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for his family as a tour operator. he had no ill intentions ever, and he has definitely not tried to overthrow the government. >> our paula hancocks joins us live from seoul. i wonder what the reaction is on the ground from south korea to this unexpected move by their neighbor to the north. >> reporter: well, poppy, i think a lot of people will be surprised as they wake up to this news. it's early sunday morning here, and this happened overnight so many people will be finding out about this now. we did have a response from the foreign ministry overnight. they welcomed the move and also said they hope this could be a sign that one south korean missionary still being held in pyongyang could be released as well. certainly, i think the overwhelming feeling is surprise. many experts and analysts i spoke to over really the past two years said that kenneth bae's case in particular was particularly tricky. they thought his negotiations would be very difficult, and he would likely be the last to be released. so the fact that both matthew todd miller and kenneth bae have
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been released at the same time is something that will surprise many people. and now experts, of course, have suggested that north korea is using u.s. citizens in detention as bargaining chips. but to let both go at the same time is really very significant. it really is part of this -- quite heavy charm offensive we have seen pyongyang carrying out over recent months. poppy? >> paula hancocks in seoul for us. thank you very much. we appreciate it. coming up, former north korean detainee, jeffrey fowle, talks with cnn about the surprise release of his fellow detainees, bae and miller. you're going to want to hear this. quick break, we're back. big day? ah, the usual. moved some new cars. hauled a bunch of steel. kept the supermarket shelves stocked. made sure everyone got their latest gadgets. what's up for the next shift? ah, nothing much. just keeping the lights on.
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(laugh) nice. doing the big things that move an economy. see you tomorrow, mac. see you tomorrow, sam. just another day at norfolk southern.
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let's get you on the right path. call unitedhealthcare today. breaking news on north korea's stunning decision to release two american detainees, kenneth bae and matthew miller. we are just learning the plane carrying them is expected to arrive at mccord field in tacoma, washington tonight, at midnight eastern time, 9:00 p.m. pacific time. bae's family will meet the plane but will not grant interviews or give comments. according to the family, they received the call that kenneth bae had been freed last night at 5:00 a.m. eastern time. so very, very early in the morning. also, a senior administration official tells cnn, china assisted in the months-long pros of process of alonging this release. and the letter from president obama apparently played a crucial role. north korea contacted the u.s. government, asking for a visit from a high-level cabinet
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official. it turned out to be the director of national intelligence, james clapper. the letter is -- described clapper as the president's personal envoy to bring bae and miller home. clapper did not personally meet with north korea's leader. it's difficult for anyone really to imagine what it must be like to be incarcerated in north korea, cut off from family, friends, everything familiar. but jeffrey fowle was living that nightmare with little hope of coming home until over two weeks ago and unexpectedly he was freed with 30 minutes notice. he spoke on the phone earlier today with my colleague and friend, pamela brown, about his release and about the remaining detainees, kenneth bae and matthew miller. listen. >> i'm sure they're elated at the prospects of being reunited, coming home, getting back to things american here.
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i just am happy. i'm sure there are a lot of emotions going through their mind. >> when you all were held prisoner, did you interact much? did you have a relationship with them at all? >> with the other two americans? >> yes. >> i was given very little information. i never saw them or was -- had any contact with them whatsoever. >> despite that, i'm curious if you felt any sort of guilt or remorse when you found out you were released. you were coming home and they were staying behind in north korea. what did that feel like for you? >> yeah. i was very, very sad. i didn't realize i was getting released until half an hour before -- we took off. it was, you know -- hit like a ton of bricks. >> wow. and were you wondering why me, why are they letting me go and not them? >> yes, very much so. on the ride to the airport, i didn't know anything about their status and i was hoping they would be on the plane as well. but i got there and they said i was the only one coming home.
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and i was upset by that. i was happy, but also upset they weren't coming with me. i was the last one detained. kenneth bae or matthew miller should have been released before i was. but i'm glad to hear they're on their way home now. >> one of the big questions when you're released like this, what the reintegration process is like coming home, adjusting to life back in america. what was -- what has it been like for you? >> well, for me, it's been relatively simple. i was able to get my job back. i was terminated back in september. but the city i work for has reinstated me, fortunately. i'm grateful for that. so things have fallen back into place pretty well for me. kenneth bae has been gone two years now and it might be more difficult for him. since he was living in china before his yoordeal. so i'm not sure what his reentry procedure or matthew miller's would be like. >> what advice would you give them, jeffrey?
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>> well, somebody asked me that back a couple weeks ago. i would tell them to keep the faith. that's what got me through my ordeal of six months. faith in god and have faith i would eventually come back home. and that has come true for all three of us. we're all going to be back home, which is great, great news. >> and what was that like for you, when you stepped foot on american soil after being over there? what was that feeling like? >> it was fantastic. my family was there waiting for me on the tarmac at the air force base. and it was just great being reunited with them after a long separation. >> and now they will all be home tonight in a matter of hours. two americans held captive in north korea. they are free, heading home. their release caught everyone off guard. why did it happen now? what is significant about the timing? we'll talk about that, next.
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after years of hostility, north korea is suddenly behaving in ways that no one can frankly quite fathom. today it unexpectedly freed it's last two remaining americans, kenneth bae and matthew miller. three weeks ago, it freed another american, jeffrey fowle. christopher hill is former u.s. ambassador to south korea and iraq. now a dean at the university of
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denver. thank you for being with us, sir. appreciate it. >> thank you. >> what do you make of the timing of this? >> well, i think there are a number of things going on. one is that the north koreans may be a tad bit sensitive about their human rights record. they certainly were excoriated for it in the u.n. human rights commission. there was a report done by a prominent australian jurist, michael kirby, that really pointed out all of the evils of that regime. secondly, they're probably feeling pretty lonely. the chinese have kind of had it with them. and thirdly, the chinese and americans, president obama and xi jinping will be meeting shortly. so this was probably a time to get some attention. they made this request that they would release these two people in return for a high-level mission.
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and i think president obama very wisely and with humanitarian concern agreed to do it. so at this point, it doesn't look like there's any real change in their policy, especially the issue we most are concerned about, which is their nuclear weapons. so i think we're -- we still have to wait and see. >> what do you think the significance is of having, you know, america's top spy, director of national intelligence, james clapper, be the one to go? typically you wouldn't send someone in that capacity to handle a mission like this. >> i think they asked for a high-level person, and they may have asked for mr. clapper or general clapper personally, i don't know. but certainly for the north koreans, that's of great interest, to have the d.c. ey eye -- i mean, the dni, director of national intelligence, to go there. i think the decision was made in washington, though, to get these poor people out. i mean, kenneth bae has been in
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fail health for some time. and so i think from washington's point of view, it was a humanitarian gesture. we'll have to see if there is anything downstream. certainly kim jong-un has shown very little if any interest in denuclearization and that has been a huge problem for the obama administration in going forward. >> yeah, no question about it. thank you so much for joining us this evening, sir. i appreciate it very much. coming up next, president obama picks loretta lynch to serve as the next attorney general. will her confirmation turn into another battle between republicans and democrats? eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee financial noise financial noise financial noise
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now to some other top stories this evening. another teen shot during last month's high school attack in washington state has died. 15-year-old andrew fryberg had been hospitalized since october
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24th when he was shot. he was a cousin and close friend of the shooter. his death brings the number of fatalities from that shooting to five, including the gunman, who killed himself. one student survived and was released from the hospital last week. in baghdad today, visit reminders of the volatile situation that still exists across iraq. a shiite neighborhood was rocked by a powerful pair of car bombs. police say at least seven people died in this attack and a short time later two more car bombs were elsewhere exploded. it claimed 11 lives. nearly 50 people were wounded also in today's attacks. back in the united states, no african-american woman has ever been attorney general. president obama today, though, nominated loretta lynch to that post. if confirmed, she would certainly make history. and her resume is impressive by just about any standards. our senior washington correspondent, joe johns, takes
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a look at some of the high-profile cases that have defined her career. >> reporter: as united states prosecutors go in the state of new york, the harvard educated loretta lynch has flown under the radar. >> you're regretting these mic placements right about now, aren't you. >> reporter: cnn legal analyst, jeffrey toobin, worked with her as a junior prosecutor in brooklyn in 1990. >> she has made her name as a workhorse, not a show horse. she is someone who tried cases as a junior prosecutor, ran the long island office and was promoted to be the u.s. attorney for all of the eastern district of new york. it's a job that is not terribly glamorous, especially compared to the u.s. attorney in manhattan. but it's a job that she has done twice. >> reporter: that's right. she has held her current job twice. first appointed by president bill clinton in 1999. at that time, she presided over the case involving a haitian
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immigrant victim sexually assaulted by a new york police officer. one of her first hires in the united states attorneys office doesn't see lynch as a prosecutor was a partisan agenda. >> she is absolutely not partisan. i am a republican. but she doesn't care if people are republicans or democrats. she cares about getting the job done. >> reporter: lynch also did a brief stint at hogan & hartson, the same firm john roberts left when he was appointed to the supreme court. and she served on the board of the federal reserve bank before returning to the u.s. attorneys office, appointed this time by president obama. what she's best known for recently is an investigation of citigroup mortgage securities and the indictment of new york congressman michael grimm. >> michael grimm made the choice to go from upholding the law to breaking it. and in so doing, he turned his back on every oath he had ever taken. >> reporter: joe johns, cnn, washington.
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good evening, everyone. you're in the "cnn newsroom," i'm poppy harlow. it is cnn breaking news this hour. two american citizens both sentenced to years of hard labor in north korea are now free. they are on their way home. this is a great news story. matthew todd miller, seven months detained. kenneth bae, two years detained. they were both released, surprisingly today. they are now in the air and expected to land on the west coast tonight. now that these two men are out, that leaves no more americans detained in north korea. this is the day that kenneth bae's family and my next guest have been waiting for for a very long time. david sugarman is founder of bring bae back campaign. he's a close family friend. he has been talking to them all day. thank you for being here. we appreciate it. >> thank you. >> wow. this is so good. so unexpected. how is the family doing? what are they saying? >> they're ecstatic, tears of joy, as you can imagine. mom is thrilled they're home.
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terri, the sister, is very happy ken is coming back. it's a great day for them. >> i know you had worked with many, many others on focusing attention on this through the campaign, et cetera. how surprised are you this has happened? >> i'm not that surprised. i'm really not. i personally -- and i've spoken about this before. i had dinner with the ambassador from north korea a week ago here in new york. i speak to them every day. i've been to the mission three or four times. i have had meetings. >> did you have indications this might be close? >> i got indications it was close, yes. and i told the family that, as well. >> like what? >> it's pretty big, right? so my last dinner -- so last week, they were telling me like, just be patient. be patient. and that was the first time they had done that. >> and they hadn't said that before. >> not only hadn't they said that before. it was the first time they had actually called me for dinner. and we had had three previous to that. >>