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Captured U.S. Soldier Free After 5 Years; Phil Mickelson Probed Over Insider Trading

Aired June 1, 2014 - 08:00   ET



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After five years in captivity, their son Bowe is coming home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four years, 10 months and 30 days, he's been released on 30th day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His mother was crying when she answered the phone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think everybody burst into tears or couldn't get a silly grin off their faces.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It was an extraordinary and unprecedented negotiation.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is standard operating procedure for the Taliban to take prisoners and exchange them for their own prisoners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is truly a tribute to the professionalism of our military, across the board.

JANI BERGDAHL, SGT. BOWE BERGDAHL'S MOTHER: I didn't give up hope. Bergdahls certainly never give up their hope.

BOB BERGDAHL, SGT. BOWE BERGDAHL'S FATHER: I'd like to say to Bowe right now who is having trouble speaking English. (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) I'm your father, Bowe.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: It's just extraordinary, isn't it? And I think everybody -- we just even can't wrap our heads around it. Can you imagine how he feels?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And the family and the town and everyone there.

PAUL: Yes, I'm Christi Paul, thank you for spending your time with us.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Now, 8:00 here on the East Coast.

This is NEW DAY SUNDAY -- four years, 10 months, 30 days. That's how long Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was held captive by Taliban militants in Afghanistan.

PAUL: For him and his family, that had to have seemed like an eternity, right? Today, though, he is free, beginning this new life. That new life starts at a medical center in Germany where he's likely going to be evaluated and debriefed and at some point head back to the Midwest. Five Guantanamo terror suspects are also free. They were also released in exchange for Bergdahl.

BLACKWELL: U.S. Special Forces went into Afghanistan. They got him yesterday. And when they realized who they were on a plane carrying him to freedom, then he just broke into cheers.

Well, earlier today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Bergdahl release brought up emotion for him as well and he responded to charges -- because there is some criticism this morning -- he responded to the charges that the prisoner swap encourages kidnappings of more Americans. Listen.


CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Would this embolden terrorists. Again, I remind you, this was a prisoner of war exchange. He was a prisoner.


PAUL: So, we're covering this emotional complex story from every angle possible.

BLACKWELL: We've got CNN "STATE OF THE UNION" anchor Candy Crowley joining us from Washington and CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson, he's on the phone from Landstuhl in Germany.

Nic, let's start with you.

We've just heard some report about where Bergdahl is right now. What can you confirm for us on the record?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we can confirm he is at the Landstuhl Medical Center here undergoing checks with doctors. The nature of those checks, how extensive they are, have they actually begun yet, how long they would go on, we don't know the answer to those questions. All we're being told at the moment that he is now inside this medical facility beginning those checks.

PAUL: All right. Candy, we know that there is some controversy with this as well. Some Republicans have come out and say while they are thrilled that Bergdahl is coming home, they fear that this may open the way for the Taliban to see -- this as a tactic to take more Americans and further put our troops in harm's way. Are you talking about that, I'm assuming, today?

CANDY CROWLEY, "STATE OF THE UNION": Absolutely. Susan Rice, the president's national security adviser, will be on our show. And that's one of the questions we want to put to her.

What the administration has said so far is we are convinced that the government of Qatar who arranged for this prisoner swap, does have the appropriate measures in place to make sure these five men that are now gone from Guantanamo Bay and apparently on the ground in Qatar will not pose a risk to either the U.S. or its allies in Afghanistan. They're always going to be questions about whether that is so.

But we want to know, OK, what are those safeguards in place. This is a long-standing problem, and particularly so now that we're not so much fighting countries as we are fighting these sort of asymmetrical wars against terrorist groups. Lots of folks say, if you negotiate with terrorist groups, it only encourages other terrorist groups.

On the other hand, that's the enemy at this point, and you have a U.S. soldier who has been held for five years and you have the kind of conflicting motto from the military which is "leave no man behind."

Again, this is kind of a policy in motion, but you do hear Republicans saying this is just a bad idea to start negotiating with terrorists and saying, OK, we'll give you X many Guantanamo bay prisoners for this American or that American. We'll see how it plays out.

PAUL: All right. Candy Crowley and Nic Robertson as well, thank you both so much. And let me remind you, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley is coming up next hour 9:00 a.m. Eastern as she talks with national security adviser Susan Rice about the release of Sergeant Bergdahl.

So, let's talk about the Guantanamo Bay detainees released in exchange for Bergdahl. Their top Taliban commanders we know the group has tried to free them for more than a decade. So, apparently, these are people they really want. Here are their pictures.

But I do need to put a disclaimer up here. These pictures of photos obtained by WikiLeaks that matched the names released by the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense would neither confirm or deny their accuracy. But all these men held important positions with the Taliban, ranging from interior minister to chief of army staff.

BLACKWELL: And other stories breaking overnight, all seven people on board a private jet were killed in a fiery crash, pictures here. This is in the Boston area late last night. Officials say the plane apparently caught fire.

You can see here this is a photo from social media purporting to be of the crash site. There are flames there. You can see the smoke as well. The victims have not been identified. We know the NTSB is investigating this morning.

Also, a park official on Mr. Rainer thinks there's little chance of finding six missing climbers alive now. The group went missing a few days ago. It's believed they probably died in some sort of fall. Rescuers received a signal from the parties' emergency beacons, but only continue their search by air because entering the area from the ground now is just too dangerous.

PAUL: All righty. So, we've been covering, you know, what has happened with Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the fact that there are so many people who have been praying for five years for him to come home. Well, their wish is coming true now.

And next, why a family friend says she kept this lamp burning while Bergdahl was in captivity and what she wants to happen now.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think everybody either burst into tears or couldn't get a silly grin off their faces. It's long coming. It's been five years. We're just so relieved and grateful that he's been freed.


PAUL: Boy, it makes you believe in all the goodness again, doesn't it?


PAUL: Yellow ribbons, posters like these are a reminder that U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl may have been out of sight, but he was never out of mind.

BLACKWELL: And for the coffee shop owner where he once worked, leaving this lamp, this one here, leaving it on was a way to support.

PAUL: Sue Martin is the owner of that coffee shop and is joining us by now by phone from Hailey, Idaho.

Sue, thank you so much forgetting up very early, I know it is for you on a Sunday morning.

Tell us about Sergeant Bergdahl, because I know he worked for you. Help us know this man that we only know through pictures.

SUE MARTIN, HAILEY, IDAHO (via telephone): Oh, he's a wonderful young man. He's a hopeful young man. He's respectful. He enjoys people. He made multiple good friends amongst our customers and other employees at the time and is a joy to be around. He was a seeker, wanting to know about the world and wanting to be very helpful.

BLACKWELL: Sue, tell us about that moment when you found out that Bowe Bergdahl had been released and he's coming home. MARTIN: It was a complex series of emotions. At first I just wanted to make sure that it was accurate, and then once I found out it was truly accurate, I just -- it was just a wonderful sense of relief. I think the jubilation will come, but right now I'm just overwhelmed with relief and gratitude, gratitude that everybody worked so hard to guarantee his safe return.

PAUL: Sue, I understand that you lost your son Zane who was a firefighter in a motorcycle accident, and I'm certainly sorry for your loss. I can't even imagine that. I read, though, that Bowe kind of helped you pick up the pieces and took his place in a way for a while.

Can you explain, you know, what he did and what that meant to you?

MARTIN: Well, Bowe and my son Zane didn't know each other. But when Bowe came to work for me, he was just a sensitive person and he was watchful of everybody and his surroundings. He started doing things like shoveling the snow and creating a walkway for me to go to my car, brushing all the snow off my car, just doing those touching things that you don't see in very many employees. He was much more involved than an employee and very, very thoughtful.

BLACKWELL: So, we're seeing video of you putting a sign next to this lamp. I believe it's inside the coffee shop.

Tell us the significance of the lamp and what you're going to tell Bowe about it once he returns home.

MARTIN: Well, that lamp I put in the coffee shop the moment we knew that there was a captive. There were close friends and neighbors that we got together and understood indefinitely of any announcement that it had to be Bowe. My employees were in constant e-mail contact with Bowe and nobody could get ahold of him. We knew the particulars of where he was stationed.

So we assumed that it was Bowe. I put the lamp in there at that time. I put the sign in there later when it was announced that it was Bowe. We kept very quiet about it, concern for his well-being. I put the sign up so the customers would be aware.

And I was absolutely certain that everybody would be heartfelt-ly supportive of the family and Bowe himself. When he comes home, he can turn that lamp off.


BLACKWELL: Turn it off. Sue Martin --

MARTIN: It's been a long time.

BLACKWELL: Sue Martin, it was great to speak with you this morning, kind of giving us a picture -- more than a picture of the person as the country celebrates. Bowe Bergdahl is coming home.

PAUL: Sue, thank you so much. We hope you have a fabulous homecoming, you and all the folks there in Hailey.

MARTIN: Thanks.

PAUL: You're welcome.

After the release of Bowe Bergdahl, obviously, everybody is happy about it. Let's make sure that is well none. Everybody says they're thrilled he is coming hope.

There are some people, though, asking if the U.S. now notes with terrorists which is something we have always said has always been a motto -- that the U.S. doesn't do it.

BLACKWELL: Yes. We're going to have a conversation about the potential change in our policy with our political panel. That's next.


BLACKWELL: Well, for all the joy and elation, and there is a lot of it, upon the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, there's also some criticism.

PAUL: Yes, specifically in regard to the prisoner release, the five Guantanamo detainees in exchange for Bow Bergdahl. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said, and I want to quote this right here. Quote, "The fundamental shift in U.S. policy signals to terrorists around the world a greater incentive to take U.S. hostages."

Well, let's talk about that. CNN political commentator and host of "The Ben Ferguson Show", Ben Ferguson, on the right. CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona, on the left.

Good morning to both of you.



PAUL: Maria, good morning. Let me start with you. Did we just see the end of the political battle cry we've heard for so many years, we don't negotiate with terrorists?

CARDONA: No. I don't think so, Christie. I think what we're seeing is that this is no longer an easily defined black and white world. And I think we can all agree that terrorists who are out to do harm to the United States don't really need any additional incentive to do that. They're out planning to do that as we speak.

But I think what we need to keep an eye one is how we do keep our sacrosanct commitment to not leave anybody in uniform behind and make sure our national interest and our national security are taken care of. And I think the administration did a good job here of balancing all those things and making sure that we can bring home our men and women who are left behind on the battlefield and at the same time working with allies like Qatar to make sure our national security interests are moving forward.

BLACKWELL: Ben, did the U.S. negotiate with terrorists to bring Bowe Bergdahl home?

FERGUSON: Yes, make no -- well, look, I'm thrilled he was released for a human being, and for his family, and for five years being held by terrorists. That's a positive. What we paid for, a five-to-one switch with terrorists, giving up top Taliban political leaders.

Make no mistake about this, these five individuals were at Gitmo because they were high ranking members within the Taliban and they have the blood of American soldiers on their hand. There's the reason the Taliban asked specifically for these five for the last five years without changing their lists, because they're incredibly good at being terrorists.

And we did trade with terrorists. We did negotiate with terrorists. And so, now, you have a policy that America, that in many ways kept Americans safe, not just soldiers but also American citizens around the world, and we threw all that out the window yesterday when we did a five-for-one swap. And the terrorists know we just negotiated with them.

The White House can spin this how they want to. They can say, oh, this is a complicated issue and it's not as simple as some people put it. Well, the Taliban knows that we negotiate with terrorists and they got five of their guys for one of ours. The value of an American around the world just went through the roof if you're a Taliban. And that's the bad part about this.

PAUL: Maria, there's another quote I want to read from Representative Howard "Buck" McKeon of California, who kind of look at this from a legal perspective, apparently, he says. He says in executing this transfer, the president also clearly violated laws which require him to notify Congress 30 days before any transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo Bay.

Did the president violate a law?

CARDONA: No. And if you recall, Christi, when the president signed this new procedure in terms of how to go about trying to get the release of our men and women that are on the battlefield in uniform around the world, he signed a statement that clearly indicated that he didn't think that having to notify Congress for those 30 days was something that was constitutional because in the real world, and again, Ben loves talking about what could be in theory, we don't live in a theoretical world. We live in the real world.

In a real world, you can't necessarily wait 30 days, and if you do, then you could put our people in harm's way. That's exactly what happened here.

FERGUSON: See, I strongly disagree.

(CROSSTALK) CARDONA: Hang on, Ben. The president and this administration believe they are standing on full legal ground because of what the president signed. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel agrees that we have to have that kind of flexibility if we're going to be able to do this safely and bring home our men and women that are around the world.

BLACKWELL: Ben, you respond and then we have to wrap it up.

FERGUSON: This has been going on for five years. And the reason why Barack Obama did not go to Congress on this is because we knew that there were going to be people on both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrats, that are going to say, Mr. President, you don't just change policy all of a sudden and trade five terrorists who have blood of American soldiers on their hands for one guy this quickly, especially with the timing of this that a lot of people haven't wanted to deal with. The timing of this everyone should be looking at and scratching their head.

You've got the V.A. --

CARDONA: If this had been going on for five years --


FERGUSON: -- a resignation, for five years, and they're all of sudden randomly 24 hours later?

CARDONA: Clearly, members of Congress knew this was happening. You said it yourself. We've been trying to negotiate --

FERGUSON: No, they didn't. That's the whole point.

PAUL: Sorry. You know what? You all can keep talking if you want because I know you have things you want to say. We'll get into again later. We've run out of time. I'm sorry.

Ben Ferguson and Maria Cardona, good to have you both here.

CARDONA: You, too. Thanks.

BLACKWELL: Professional golfer Phil Mickelson is in the news, being investigated by the FBI.

PAUL: Yes, but he's not alone.


PAUL: We want to let you know that police have arrested the man suspected of killing three people at a Jewish museum in Brussels last week. Officials say the shooter who was arrested in France used an AK-47 assault rifle to gun down the victims.

BLACKWELL: These surveillance images show the gunman approaching the museum, opening fire and then leaving the scene running away.

The victims of the attack included a couple in their 50s and a French woman.

Also professional golfer Phil Michelson being investigated over allegations of insider trading. The FBI is looking into trades Mickelson made that may have been made based on information that was not public at the time. Mickelson said he's done nothing wrong. Investor Carl Icahn and sports bettor Billy Walters are questioned as well in that same investigation.

PAUL: And the San Antonio spurs just earned them spot of redemption last night. They knocked off the Thunder in over time, setting up an NBA finals rematch with LeBron James and the two-time defending champs Miami Heat. The big fundamental Tim Duncan helped led the way with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Thursday, San Antonio is going to host game one of the finals. We know you will be watching.

But we are glad that you shared sometime with us this morning. Make some great memories today.

BLACKWELL: Jake Tapper is in for John King for "INSIDE POLITICS." That starts right now.