It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the North Korean government would use non-military Americans as political bargaining chips. “Convicting” Current TV journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee of illegally crossing into North Korea and sentencing them to 12 years at hard labor (though it was suggested by the North Korean government they they aren’t reporters but are really spies) is a tried and true tactic from the Soviet era.

I’m wondering, though, why more of us aren’t speaking out about having the government work toward their release? Sure, there are political channels that need to be observed and no one wants to have Kim Jung-Il get up on the wrong side of the bed, thereby jeopardizing the lives of Ling and Lee — or possibly ours with his threats of using nuclear weapons.

But if women — ordinary women like those of us out here in the blogosphere — speak up a bit, ask questions and petition for something to get done, how can that hurt? It seems to me that the collective voices of women around the world expressing concern about these two who’ve been held for three months could help, even if just a little bit. Women’s voices are powerful — just ask my friends over at MomsRising!

We can E-mail or call the State Department or contact our elected representatives to call for them to take whatever measures are necessary as quickly as possible to have them released. If we become the proverbial squeaky wheel, more people will talk about it. You can be sure if it was Anderson Cooper or Tom Brokaw in that North Korean prison, we wouldn’t even have to talk about this.

What if it was one of us? What if someone we know was sent overseas for work, imprisoned and separated from their families, including children? I know I would want as many people as possible to speak up for me, even if they didn’t know me.

I’ve never met Laura Ling or Euna Lee. I know women just like them, though — hard-working dedicated professionals trying to make a living and hoping to make a difference in the world. It’s easy to think of them as semi-celebrities, working for Al Gore’s news channel. But they’re women who were doing a reporter’s job trying to shed light on stories the rest of the world needs to hear.

A Facebook movement is underway, but we don’t really need Facebook, do we? All we need need are our real voices on the telephone and in letters to the ones in Washington who have the power to make something happen.

What do you — are you with me? Have your cup of coffee and then call or write the State Department or your Senator or U.S. Representative. If they hear from plenty of us, it just might help bring Laura Ling and Euna Lee home a little bit faster.

Update: Head over to Care2 to sign a petition to free Laura Ling & Euna Lee.