Former President Bill Clinton greets American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee before they board the chartered plane headed back to the United States from North Korea.
Speaking at a Clinton Global Initiative event in New York, his first public appearance since the plane carrying the former president and the two journalists landed in Los Angeles, Clinton said that it would be “wrong” for him to say anything more about the trip.
“My job was to do one thing, which I was profoundly honored to do, as an American and as a father. I wanted those young women to be able to come home,” Clinton said. “Anything I say beyond that could inadvertently affect the decisions and moods either here or in North Korea, or the attitudes of our allies, and I have no business doing that. I’m not a policymaker anymore.”
Clinton said he has spoken briefly about his experience with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his wife. But he said he had not yet fully debriefed either of them or other top government officials.
“It would be wrong for me to say any more,” Clinton said. “I have an obligation to report to my government and otherwise to say nothing that in any way might tip the balance of any decisions that might, or might not, be made. I just can’t do it.”
Clinton did offer some details on the return trip back for the two journalists, who he said “were delightful on the plane trip home.”
“They were happy, and they tried to sleep and couldn’t,” the former president said.
Upon landing at an American military base in Japan so the plane could refuel, Clinton said the two journalists “got their first real, old-fashioned American breakfast: huevos rancheros.”
“They had to be careful, since they had been on a radically different diet for almost five months, to measure their intake,” he added. “It was basically a lovely thing.”