Skip to main content

Dennis Rodman’s visit to North Korea in early 2013 sent shock waves through the international media and inspired a CIA-supported Hollywood film about assassinating Kim Jong-Un.  It also drew the attention of the US State Department, who recently released cables about Rodman’s trip, though they are highly classified and heavily redacted.

In response to a FOIA request by a MuckRock user the State Dept. released 18 pages of largely redacted material.  As a result the documents don’t let us know exactly what America’s top diplomats thought about the ex-basketball star’s meeting with Kim Jong-Un.  While CNN were describing it as ‘a big elaborate show’ the State Dept. were quietly keeping tabs on developments:

Later cables confirm that they also monitored mainstream and social media responses to Rodman’s trip, including comments by academics:

My own requests to the CIA and FBI about Rodman turned up ‘no responsive records’ despite Rodman admitting he had met with the Bureau to talk about his trips to North Korea and his friendship with Kim.  Strangely, in response to a nearly identical request to the CIA from another MuckRock user the Agency would neither confirm nor deny that they had any documents on the subject.

Adding to the surreal nature of this sports diplomacy, in the wake of the (apparently successful) recent meeting between Dotard and Rocket Man the former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appeared on CNN saying he fully endorsed using Rodman as an informal diplomat or spy.

CUOMO: So, let’s get to Jim Clapper, former head of the director of national intelligence here.

So, first things first. We hear that Dennis Rodman, we have him on the show later on may have given Kim’s men in New York, Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal,” and that he read it. Significant to you?

CLAPPER: Yes, it is, I have long been an advocate of involving Dennis Rodman in a —

CUOMO: So, Jim Clapper, the former head of — the former DNI, the director of national intelligence, you saw Dennis Rodman as relevant?

CLAPPER: I do. He is a unique person since he has a relationship with both Kim Jong-un and with Donald Trump and obviously has great rapport with Kim Jong-un who is a basketball fanatic himself. So, I think that there is potential here to engage Dennis Rodman in a serious way in promoting this relationship.

Are the CIA this desperate?  It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that sport was used as a vehicle to help to calm a hostile relationship between the US and a small Communist nation who posed no realistic threat.  Which begs the question – did anyone vet the VICE/North Korea/Rodman project before he went?  It’s impossible that such a famous person planning to travel to North Korea with a film crew could escape the notice of the CIA and the State Dept. but the released cables are all from after the visit, responding to it.

As I recently commented on facebook the most surprising aspect of all this is not that the Trump White House has finally done something sensible, or that this came so soon after The Interview – a CIA-sponsored revenge fantasy and provocation – but that using a former basketball star with a drinking problem as a covert diplomat actually worked.  However, denuclearisation of Korea is a positive and realistic aim, and the normalising of relations between North Korea and the US is a good thing for all sorts of reasons so to Agent Rodman I say: Well done, you have done your country proud and done the whole world a service.  I can’t wait for your Instagram post of when you go to some dusty basement at Langley and get shown your medal.


State Department Cables on Dennis Rodman’s visits to North Korea and meetings with Kim Jong-Un