The release of Euna Lee and Laura Ling has catapulted Bill Clinton back onto the world stage, but as the New York Times reports, the former president—and husband of the secretary of State—was only selected for the role a few days ago. Hillary Clinton proposed several envoys for mission, including Al Gore and Bill Richardson, before her husband emerged as the North Koreans' preferred choice. It was Gore, whose Current TV employs Lee and Ling, who asked Clinton to travel to Pyongyang.
Barack Obama did not speak with Clinton before the mission, but national security adviser Jim Jones consulted him. A White House source says the administration did "due diligence" before Clinton's trip to ensure he would return with Lee and Ling. According to the source, Clinton traveled as a private citizen, carried no message from Obama, and did not offer any apology.