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Kerry's First Public Comment On Taliban Swap; Sen. McCain Slams Prisoner Swap; Interview with John Kerry and John McCain; McCain: We Shouldn't Have Released These Five Taliban Fighters; General Who Knows The Bergdahl Family; Top Generals Disagree On Bergdahl Swap; Interview with James Mattis, Jerry Boykin and Paul Eaton; Will Five Freed Taliban Return To Battlefield?; Behind The Bergdahl's Backlash; Inside Hillary Clinton's "Hard Choices"; Kerry's French Connection

Aired June 8, 2014 - 12:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: Saving Sergeant Bergdahl, the fallout.


CROWLEY (voice over): Today, two exclusives. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks for the first time about the five Taliban prisoners released from Gitmo to Qatar.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Not telling you they don't have the ability at some point to go back and get involved. But they also have an ability to get killed doing that.

CROWLEY: And the response from Senator John McCain.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The exchange for five hard core -- hardest of the hard core al Qaeda/Taliban will pose a threat to the United States of America.

CROWLEY: Plus we are calling in the brass. Three former generals from the army and the Marine Corps weigh in on Bowe Bergdahl, his family, the accusations and that rock solid military ethos that leaves no soldier behind.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Period, full stop. We don't condition that.

CROWLEY: Then just in time for the beach, Hillary Clinton's new tone on policy and politics.


CROWLEY: We've got a copy and just the panel (INAUDIBLE). Donna Brazile, Ana Navarro and Jackie Calmes, joined me.

And finally, nostalgia amidst diplomacy. The secretary of state returns to Saint-Briac.


(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: Good morning from Washington, I'm Candy Crowley. Combat veteran, anti-Vietnam war protesters, politician and now the top U.S. diplomat John Kerry has not spoken publicly about the U.S.-Taliban deal until now.

CNN foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott caught up with the secretary of the state in France and asked him about the five Taliban leaders released in exchange for Sergeant Bergdahl.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: We're told these five can roam around the country. Pretty vague on what those restrictions and monitoring are. I mean, tell me about that. And on a scale of one to 10, 10 being the most confident, how confident are you that the Qataris are going to be able to keep a close eye on these guys?

KERRY: Well, they're not the only ones keeping an eye on them.

LABOTT: The U.S. is going to be monitoring them?

KERRY: I'm telling you they aren't the only ones keeping an eye on them. And we have confidence in those requirements. And if they're violated, then we have the ability to be able to do things. I'm not --

LABOTT: What kind of things?

KERRY: I am not -- Elise, I'm not telling you that they don't have some ability at some point to go back and get involved. But they also have an ability to get killed doing that. And I don't think anybody should doubt the capacity of the United States of America to protect Americans, nobody.

LABOTT: Meaning you would kill them?

KERRY: No one should doubt the capacity of America to protect Americans. And the president has always said he will do whatever is necessary in order to protect the United States of America. So, these guys pick a fight with us in the future or now or at any time at enormous risk. And we have proven what we're capable of doing with al Qaeda -- let me just finish - with al Qaeda, the core al Qaeda in West Pakistan, Afghanistan.

LABOTT: Some people say Bowe Bergdahl is being swift-boated. Do you agree with that? Did he serve with honor and distinction as secretary - as National Security Adviser Rice said?

KERRY: There's plenty of time -- Elise, there's plenty of time for people to sort through what happened, what didn't happen. I don't know all the facts.


LABOTT: It sounds like you're not sure he served with honor and distinction (ph).

KERRY: No, no, no. That's not what I'm saying. That's not what I'm saying, Elise. What I'm saying is there's plenty of time for people to sort through that. What I know today is what the president of the United States knows, that it would have been offensive and incomprehensible to consciously leave an American behind, no matter what, to leave an American behind in the hands of people who would torture him, cut off his head, do any number of things. And we would consciously choose to do that? That's the other side of this equation.

I don't think anybody would think that is the appropriate thing to do. And, you know, it seems to me we have an ability, we know we have the ability to be able to deal with people who want to threaten Americans or threaten the United States. And if that's what they go back on their word to do or the Qataris don't enforce (ph) what they've done, we have any number of avenues available to us to be able to deal with that.

LABOTT: Now, one of the members of the Taliban, these detainees from Guantanamo, has already vowed to return to Afghanistan, return to the fight and kill Americans. And the head of the Haqqani Network who was holding him said, look, we have a pretty good idea here now, let's kidnap more Americans.

I mean, what do you say to the families of American soldiers that perhaps these guys could go back and kill Americans again?

KERRY: Well, first of all, propaganda is propaganda. They'll say whatever they want to stir the waters. So people should not be lured in by their propaganda, number one.

Number two, we are ending our combat role. Our combat role in Afghanistan is over. We're going to have very few, you know, people in that kind of position on occasion where - but I honestly, I just think that's a lot of boloney, to be truthful with you -- and to whatever degree it might be true, they will wind up putting themselves at the mercy of those people who are very effective, who are there, who will deal with those matters.


CROWLEY: Joining me now from Sofia, Bulgaria is Republican Senator John McCain.

Senator, I want to get your response to the secretary of state. But in light of the conversation this week, I wanted to start off with this. First of all, I think all of our audience and most of America understands the courage and the valor and the honor that you served for America in Vietnam as a prisoner of war in part for more than five years.

So in the spirit of that, I want to ask you this question. Let's assume that everything that's been put out there about Bowe Bergdahl this week is true. And we can't assume that because we don't know, that he went AWOL, that he may have wanted to defect, that perhaps he wanted -- I'm sorry -- he may have wanted to desert, that perhaps he converted to Islam while in captivity.

If you look at all those things and say, you know, maybe they're true, does that make this young man less worthy of rescuing from his circumstances than the young John McCain as a POW?

MCCAIN: No, it does not, Candy. We have the obligation to do whatever we can to bring any of our captured servicemen and women back. But the question is at what cost. Whether it would put the lives of other American men and women who are serving in danger, and in my view, clearly this would.

And by the way, the president and John Kerry are confident that if these guys re-enter the fight, one of them has already announced that he will re-enter the fight -- 30 percent of those who have been released from Guantanamo have re-entered the fight. And we certainly haven't been able to kill all of them. So what we're doing here is reconstituting the Taliban government, the same guys that are mass murderers. One killed thousands of Shiite Muslims. These are the people that used to take women into the soccer stadium in Kabul and hang them from will goalposts.

CROWLEY: But the question here is are you - are you looking at it saying that the restrictions that John Kerry is talking about are not enough? Because they talk about additional restrictions. You are privy to this sort of information.

The secretary said, look, you know, the Qataris are not the only ones that are watching this man, and we'll get them if they choose to return to the battlefield.

At some level you can't guarantee they'll never do that. Why is that not enough of a guarantee?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, I mean, Qatar is not renowned for its ability to keep things in security. We know that 30 percent of those who were released from Guantanamo before have re-entered the fight. These people are in the leadership. They are the ones who are dedicated, the hardest of hard core. And by the way, they became a lot harder after their years in Guantanamo.

You have to weigh the risk to the lives of our fellow servicemen and women who are serving. That's why Leon Panetta, that's why so many other members of Congress oppose this deal because --

CROWLEY: What kind of restrictions would you want on these men that are not on these men?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, I wouldn't release these men.


MCCAIN: Second of all, I would - I would release people who are -- not these men. They were judged time after time during their confinement in Guantanamo, they were evaluated and judged as too great a risk to release. That was the judgment made about them, not by me, but by the people who are -- evaluate these people. So, they were judged too great a risk, they're committed to returning to the fight. They're in Qatar for only one year. Then the leadership - Mullah Omar just got his cabinet back. So, I'm saying again, I think we should do everything we can in our power to release -- win the release of any American being held, but not at the expense of the lives and well-being of their fellow servicemen and women. We owe that obligation to them. And when we join the military, when we join the military, we know we take certain risks. Among those risks are wounding, death, imprisonment. And that's why we cherish and love all those men and women who have serve so much.

CROWLEY: Senator, there have been several rounds this week between a statement you made four months ago and what you're saying now. I just want to remind quickly our viewers of something that you told our Anderson Cooper in February and then ask you something.


MCCAIN: Now this idea is for an exchange of prisoners for our American fighting man. I would be inclined to support such a thing depending on a lot of the details.


CROWLEY: So, Senator, at the time that you made that statement, you talked about - you say depending on the details. And we know you don't like the details of this. The names of these particular prisoners were already out there, had been out there in print, apparently had been talked about. In relationship to the exchange, not just this confidence building (ph), but in relationship to this exchange, are you saying now that there are others at Guantanamo that you would have released instead? And what happens if no one but these five are acceptable to the folks holding Sergeant -- that were holding Sergeant Bergdahl?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, as to who the individuals were, I never signed off on those individuals. But -- that's why I said, the details. The details, of course, that they're able to re-enter the fight, the details as to who they are and what they've done. The details of there (ph) were -- I believe there are other prisoners, some of whom we have already released, that we could have released that -- in exchange.

These five are the top five picked by the Taliban, not by us, but by the Taliban. So all I can say is, you can have a certain price, but it's exacerbated by the president's decision to take everybody out of Afghanistan, and these people will be going back as the Taliban leadership and that will of course in my view cause another replay of Iraq which I thought he should have paid attention to.

CROWLEY: Well, precisely, Senator. And that's my next question. U.S. combat troops are supposed to be withdrawn by the end of this year, by 2016, end of 2016. We're told the U.S. will be out. You cannot hold on to these Guantanamo -- at least the view is that, if the war is over, if combat is done, you cannot hold on to these Guantanamo Bay prisoners. So, if you let them loose now and say, we're going to supervise them for a year, isn't that a better deal than just saying, OK, the war is over and we've got to send everybody home?

MCCAIN: First of all, we're not sending everybody home. We're going to send them to -- even if we close Guantanamo, we're going to send them to facilities in the United States of America. That's been the plan all along. If you think that we were going to release everybody like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others, I'm afraid you've been misinformed. So, we were not going to release everybody.

Second of all, I believe that we should keep these people because they're hard core jihadists who were responsible for 9/11. Of course nobody wants to release people who were responsible for 9/11. And these people that are released that were Taliban governing work hand in glove with al Qaeda.

CROWLEY: But without trial, you would keep them forever, correct?

MCCAIN: I wanted to try them, too. There are trials going on and I wanted to try them. But they were judged by the people who evaluated them, if they were released, they would pose a risk to the lives of Americans and they would re-enter the fight.

And I am sad to tell you I'm afraid they're going to re-enter the fight. One of them has already announced that he will do so. 30 percent of those we have released have already done so. That puts the lives of young American men and women at risk.

I am grateful that Sergeant Bergdahl is home and I pray for his family and obviously we will find out in the future any aspects of his record. But I worry only about the future and the safety of the men and women who are serving in the military, and that is my first obligation and that was the first obligation of those of us who were imprisoned in North Vietnam, which is why our motto was, home with honor.

CROWLEY: Senator John McCain, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

CROWLEY: CNN has learned the FBI is investigating threats against Bowe Bergdahl's parents.

Next, the retired general who has kept in touch with them throughout their son's captivity, General James "Mad Dog" Mattis is part of our panel.


CROWLEY: An FBI special agent tells CNN, investigators are looking into threats against Bowe Bergdahl's parents after a week of harsh criticism directed at Bergdahl and his family.

With me now, retired Major General Paul Eaton, and retired Lieutenant Jerry Boykin. They both served in the Army. Also with us, U.S. Marine Corps retired General James Mattis.

I want to start with you General Mattis because you have been in touch with the Bergdahl family throughout this ordeal. Now we're hearing about these death threats. How are they handling it and what can you tell us about it?

GEN. JAMES MATTIS (RET.), FORMER COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: Well, they're handling it OK, Candy. I mean, how does anyone handle a death threat against them? They're keeping their balance, but it's an unfortunate aspect of this whole situation I think.

CROWLEY: It is, general. What is the nature of these threats? Are they coming by e-mail? Are they -- can you tell the seriousness of them? What do you know about them?

MATTIS: I don't want to discuss that aspect other than to say the FBI and the police are taking the threats seriously, Candy.

CROWLEY: Of course.

So much has been said this week about the sergeant and about his parents. There's criticism that his father's beard made him look like a Taliban, that he has been sympathetic to terrorists and sympathy with his son's captors. There are those who object to the fact that he spoke Pashto to his son in the rose garden. You know these people personally. Tell me about the parents?

MATTIS: Well, these are two salt-of-the-earth people. They're regular old (ph) Americans. I think most of us got over judging people by the length of their hair by about 1975 in this country. They have been through an extremely coercive experience.

Just think where you and I have been, Candy, for the last four or five years. And thinking of every day in their position wondering if they're going to get that knock on the door saying that this enemy has killed their son. So you can imagine what it's like to have gone through something like this for them, and I think a certain amount of compassion is appropriate for a family that's been through this.

CROWLEY: And we are now beginning to learn some details, at least details through apparently who have been with the sergeant, who say, you know, that he was held in a cage, that he was, in fact, in the dark, that he tried twice to escape, some talk about his condition now. Are they privy to these assessments? How are they taking it?

MATTIS: They have been kept posted on the intelligence we received, and they have been concerned, obviously, that their son - that their son was in the hands of a group like this. This is a murderous group. This is a group that is considered it good tactics to kill innocent people, Afghans, to attack our forces. So, clearly, they've been very concerned all along, Candy. It's understandable.

CROWLEY: And finally, because I want to bring in my other generals - but finally, how would you describe their mood? Because what a week. They've learned that their son is in U.S. hands and then this sort of firestorm about who they are and who he was and the circumstances surrounding his capture. What's their mood right now?

MATTIS: Well, you know, Candy (ph), this is not a soldier, this is a U.S. soldier and we bring our people home. And they have known all along that we were committed to getting their son home. And I think that has been an anchor for them through all of this, that the military stands by them.

Now, we've obviously got to look into the circumstances of his disappearance. The U.S. Army has proven quite capable of maintaining good order and discipline if in that investigation they find there was a point where Bowe let us down. But at the same time, they are so happy to have him out of the enemy's hands and relieved that he's getting good care right now in Germany and they're looking forward to a reunion obviously with their son.

CROWLEY: General Boykin, General Eaton, let me bring the two of you in and kind of turn the corner saying -- first to you General Boykin, from all that you know of Sergeant Bergdahl and all that you know about this swap for his release, what do you think of the swap?

LT. GEN. JERRY BOYKIN (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, I think the swap has to be put in perspective. First of all, I have a high regard for my esteemed colleagues, but I disagree with them, because I think that he is a deserter. I think that all the evidence is there. I've never seen people line up against an individual in their platoon the way they have in this situation.

And I would -- I am not dismissing what I believe is truthful testimony by some honorable men that served. And I believe he was a deserter. Desertion in time of war is punishable by death. So what we did is we traded --

CROWLEY: I'm sorry. Are you suggesting that if it's found to be that he deserted when the army does its investigation, that's --

BOYKIN: No, that's not my point. My point is that we have traded for a guy that is guilty of a crime that is actually punishable by death. We traded him for five of the worst Taliban leaders in Guantanamo, two of which are mass murders, all of which will be back on the battlefield and all of which will be threats not only to Americans there, but to the Afghan people because before we got there, they were killing Afghans in brutal ways. So I don't think that we came out ahead on this thing, and I question the -- just really the very ethics of this kind of trade.

CROWLEY: Let me get your take on this because those are very different takes.

MAJ. GEN. PAUL EATON (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Candy, the whole fabric of the U.S. military is based upon the fact that we do not leave a fallen comrade. We teach it to every soldier, to every ranger, every special operator. We teach it to armies that we train. My army training program in Iraq, we taught it to every Iraqi soldier, and it worked. They don't leave their fallen comrade, and we had to bring Bergdahl back. CROWLEY: Next -- I've got to take a quick break here, but I want to

ask you to weigh in on the threat or maybe not a threat that you believe is posed by the release of these five Taliban leaders right after the break.


CROWLEY: We're back with our generals.

Gentlemen (ph), I think we have established that you have some difference of opinion about Bergdahl and the release. I want to look at the other side of the equation and ask you how concerned you are that these particular five Taliban leaders are on the ground in Qatar.

We heard Senator McCain say earlier he doesn't really trust Qatar can do this, even has the capability of monitoring these guys. Can you tell me -- let's start with General Eaton. What kind of threat do you think they pose?

EATON: Candy, these are not super villains. These are five guys we chose to capture instead of kill in order to get information from them. We've kept them a long time without any due process because we had them as prisoners. We have exchanged them which has been going on since the beginning of time, for one of our guys. So we're releasing five Joes out there who are not super villains. They can be captured or killed in the future. So I'm not so sure why we're afraid of these guys.

CROWLEY: General Mattis, do you want to chime in on that? Do you think they're not super villains? We're hearing they're mass murders. They are wanted for war crimes at the U.N., et cetera. How do you view the danger of their release to Qatar?

GENERAL JAMES MATTIS (RET.), U.S. MARINE CORPS: Candy, when you get into these situations, you always have to take the least bad of the bad options. It's not like if this was simple we would have had some simple solution and everybody would have cheered it. The moral and the foreign policy implications are difficult to balance. It will take time to determine if the very heavy price, the very high price that we paid to get Bowe released was in the long term the right thing to do.

But at the same time, we are quite capable of taking the fight back at these guys. A point I would make here is that when General McChrystal or General Petraeus, General Allen, now General Dunford, our field commanders went after the Haqqanis, a deadly group, every time we did so, we were concerned that Bowe Bergdahl could end up dead. They put out a DVD showing that they were killing him.

We lived with that. I supported the field commanders every time. We no longer have that concern that they have this pawn that they have this pawn that they can then play against us. So there's also a military vulnerability that the Haqqanis now face, that Taliban now faces because they no longer hold one of our U.S. soldiers in captivity. So there's also a freedom to operate against them that perhaps we didn't fully enjoy so long as they held Bowe as a prisoner. CROWLEY: General Boykin, I already know that you think these men do pose a threat. Will you take on the other question about this, which is do you think the U.S. military now are more at risk for being kidnapped or taken hostage, taken prisoner, however you want to phrase it, because it's clear that the U.S. will make deals obviously to get back their folks?

LT. GEN. WILLIAM BOYKIN (RET.), U.S. ARMY: No, Candy. There's been a lot of discussion about that. I don't see that. I think these military people have been at risk ever since they got into Afghanistan. I think they have taken the right measures. I think the people that are more at risk are the Afghans. I think there are actually maybe some NGOs, but also the Afghans themselves with these people coming back in.

You need to look at the Intel reports on these guys, they are bad actors. These are really bad actors, they were the senior commanders in the Taliban that had been captured and taken to Guantanamo. These are bad actors and the Qataris can't do anything to hold these guys in Qatar. They even said they're not going to monitor them. They'll be back on the battlefield and they're dangerous people.

CROWLEY: General Mattis, you wanted in on that I think?

MATTIS: Well, the point I would make is, Candy, that number one, Qatar is going to monitor them. They have some of their own prestige at stake here if they want to continue to play a role like this. Number two, we are quite capable of ensuring these guys don't collect their 401(k)s if they want to go back into the fight. Number three, the Taliban are enemies that have always tried to capture in the last 12 years of war an American serviceman.

We've intercepted their communications. We know they wanted to do this. It's not like all of a sudden they have a new impulse here. They may think they have more advantage if they capture one of our troops, but remember, these guys were captured in the first place. If they were real men, they would have gone down fighting.

So they're not that tough of guys. We're quite capable, the ferocity and the skill of our troops when we close in on an enemy, these guys will not be that difficult to take out.

CROWLEY: General Eaton, in the minute I have left, I wonder if you would speak to the issue of these Guantanamo Bay prisoners if combat troops are pulled out at the end of this year, if the U.S. is gone by 2016, what happens to the untried, uncharged, such as they are, that are still prisoners in Guantanamo Bay?

EATON: Candy, we've got to close Guantanamo Bay prison. I think it's counterproductive for U.S. foreign policy right now. All of those prisoners need to be either tried, and if convicted imprisoned in U.S. prisons or released. When combat operations cease in Afghanistan. When U.S. combat forces are withdrawn, it's over and we've got to release those prisoners.

CROWLEY: Major General Paul Eaton, Lieutenant General William Boykin, General James Mattis, first of all, thank you all for your considerable service. I would hate to have to add up the years you gave to your country. I thank you so much for your expertise this morning.

BOYKIN: Thank you.

EATON: Our pleasure, Candy.

CROWLEY: When we return, what made Hillary Clinton give Sarah Palin a pass? That with our power panel, Donna Brazile, Jackie Calmes and Ana Navarro.


CROWLEY: Joining me around the table, on the wing CNN political commentators, Donna Brazile and Ana Navarro. In the middle, "New York Times" national correspondent, Jackie Calmes. Thank you, Ladies.

Let's talk optics in just a moment. Was it a big mistake for the White House? The Bergdahls happened to be in town when they got this news, but then they do this sort of Rose Garden thing. It seems to have backfired. The president says it's important to know parents that have been missing their child for five years. Which is it?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The criticism of the Rose Garden, the optics has something to do with the facts. It's just attacks, attacks, attacks. It's a part of the partisan power play in Washington, D.C. The truth is, just a few weeks before, I'm on Twitter all the time, you have members of the Senate saying get him home, bring him home, Mr. President. You know, those tweets are deleted. The sentiment was the same. He's an American soldier and we have this principle that we bring our soldiers home. We may have to question him, but we bring him home.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do think it was a mistake. I think we all have to ratchet down the rhetoric on both sides because it's gotten a little crazy this last week, and we need to be more careful and mature about the things we say, but, yes, the Rose Garden ceremony was a mistake, and sending Susan Rice out there to sell him to the American public as a hero, somebody who served with honor and distinction when she knew or should have known that there were serious questions about his service was frankly, disingenuous at best, stretching the truth at worst.

CROWLEY: I find it hard to believe that they sent her out to sell him as a hero. I think they saw it as a victory and they wanted to change the conversation from the VA, but did it help or hurt them in the end? Step away from this week's back and forth. Who wins on this? The Bergdahls have their son home so they win big.

JACKIE CALMES, "NEW YORK TIMES," NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are no winners in this. The White House will tell you they underestimated the furore. That met this. In part, because of a lot of us weren't paying attention to this. Most Americans probably couldn't have identified Bowe Bergdahl. This was being written about four months ago and it was going to be a one-for-five exchange and the Taliban had wanted 21 prisoners and a million dollars. So it shouldn't have been a surprise to people that it was one to five except that we weren't paying attention. Then boy did --

NAVARRO: The circumstances surrounding Bergdahl's disappearance have been written about now for years. Michael Hastings, the late Michael Hastings of "Rolling Stone" had a huge piece on it in 2012.

CALMES: Long time ago.

CROWLEY: There are things we don't know that isn't exactly out there. Having his rightfully outraged unit members, we get that. It's when the politicians --

NAVARRO: I think that's what made the optician just so bad when you had unit member after unit member after unit member come out with a very consistent story and come out outraged --

BRAZILE: Ana, this is a PR campaign by Republican professionals.

NAVARRO: No, it wasn't, Donna.

BRAZILE: Yes, it was.

NAVARRO: Let's not discredit them by saying they're political.

BRAZILE: I will never discredit a soldier as long as I'm a daughter of a Korean veteran. That's not the issue.

NAVARRO: Let's not call it a PR campaign. I wish Republicans were that good.

BRAZILE: It was a PR campaign who sought to muddy the waters because that's all they do, Candy. All they do is focus their vitriol, their rage against this president. The president woke up this morning, had scrambled eggs and bacon. They would say that's an unhealthy breakfast. If he had cereal and fruit, they'd say that's an unhealthy breakfast.

CROWLEY: I want to talk about this. You're not saying that there are not legitimate concerns about putting these five Taliban members out there. Forget Bergdahl and however it happened, but there's genuine concern from Democrats, by the way, as well as Republicans --

BRAZILE: Whenever you release detainees of prisons, whether it's the swap we see sometimes that happened in Israel or this swap, and the swap that happened under President Bush, you always have to have concern that these individuals will return to battle.

CROWLEY: It's a legitimate policy debate.

NAVARRO: When you've got Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democrat who is in charge of the Intel Committee make very serious questions about this deal, question the process that was used, you cannot call that a Republican PR campaign.

CROWLEY: Jackie, Hillary Clinton's book, a particular passage fascinated me. The scene is that Barack Obama has won the Democratic nomination and John McCain has picked Sarah Palin, and she says that she was asked by the Obama campaign to go out and attack Sarah Palin.

Here is what she writes in her new book, "I was not going to attack Palin for just being a woman, appealing support from other women. I didn't think it made political sense and it didn't feel right, so I said no."

It just clarified again for me that it is so different to be a woman. It's kind of like, how are we going to attack Sarah Palin? We'll have a women do it. Let's call the girl. It says to me that this still exists and will exist for Hillary Clinton.

CALMES: The Democrats just as Republicans were in a bind because there's always -- when you're running against a woman candidate, there's always -- it's always tricky to criticize them. Men find it particularly tricky. They say, whoa, we're lucky because we have this woman to speak out against. Hillary Clinton, given her status, she's shown, she showed in her 2008 presidential campaign, she does not want to be put in that box. So she wouldn't be.

NAVARRO: She didn't want to be put in that box, the woman box in 2008, and it was one of the criticisms that she received, that she tiptoed around it so much. I almost feel like now in 2012, she's overcompensated. There seems to be so much focus on this woman thing that we're losing focus on some of the policy issues and this book she's written, let me just tell you, this is fifty shades of boring.

CROWLEY: Which makes it -- exactly. Isn't that just what you want? You want a write a book -- if Hillary Clinton could freeze the electorate and everything happening until a couple months before the election, she'd do that right now.

BRAZILE: Let me just say, I remember that moment in 2008. For many women this was a historic occasion, similar to what happened in 1984 when Geraldine Ferraro was selected. It's part of the equation, let's celebrate for a day or two the moment because this is a historic moment, beyond that, I will never forget, I had to defend Sarah Palin -- I didn't know Sarah Palin -- because there were attacks on her because she was a mother.

And the fact she had young children. Get back to the future. There's no question that this is a history book. History books are often a little boring. This book will not just feed the appetite, but I think it will be very newsworthy for those who will look at it.

NAVARRO: Great line from "Slate" political reporter on Hillary Clinton's book. Clinton's account is the low salt, low fat, low calorie, offering with vanilla pudding as a dessert.


CROWLEY: It's selling like hotcakes.

When we return, more from Secretary of State John Kerry, this time, a rare personal glimpse at the people and places that shaped his life. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: My grandfather decided to rebuild, and it became a place where the whole family has through the years come and gathered. It's a very close family as a result.


CROWLEY: Secretary of State John Kerry was in Normandy Friday for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, but he also has a personal connection to France. CNN foreign affairs reporter, Elise Labott was with him as he returned to his ancestral roots.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER (voice-over): This quaint usually quiet French village is preparing to receive the American secretary of state. While he calls the U.S. home, today John Kerry is being welcomed as a local.

KERRY: My grandfather, who was an American businessman but working abroad, discovered this coast and the simplicity and beauty of this part of the world so in 1922 or '23, somewhere around there, he started coming here and he bought a house. He had 11 children. My mother is one of 11.

LABOTT: After the war, Kerry's mother took her 4-year-old son back to her childhood home, which had been destroyed by the Nazis. He says it's one of his earliest memories.

KERRY: She walked through the house that had been destroyed and I remember the glass, broken glass, crunching under my feet and I saw a chimney in the sky and I saw stairs and that was the whole house. It was very upsetting to my mother. My grandfather decided to rebuild and it became a place where the whole family has kind of through the years come and gathered and it's a very close family as a result.

LABOTT: The residence saved the family's belongings and helped them start anew and John Kerry is back to thank them. It was America's 83rd Infantry Division, which liberated the village from the Nazis. Kerry paid tribute at a monument for the three fallen U.S. Soldiers.

(on camera): This war took a real toll on your family. You recently discovered in the last several years that you have Jewish roots that some of your family members were killed in the holocaust, the Nazis burned down your family home. I mean, this war was not kind to your family.

KERRY: It deeply underscores the meaning of war.

LABOTT (voice-over): A son of two nations sharing a common history. Elise Labott, CNN, France.


CROWLEY: When we return, an update on the crash that critically injured comedian, Tracy Morgan and then Fareed Zakaria takes us to an island nation that may vanish from the face of the earth.


CROWLEY: Thanks for watching. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. If you set your DVR to STATE OF THE UNION, you will never miss one of our episodes. If you miss any part of today's show, find us on iTunes. Search STATE OF THE UNION. "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" is next after a check of the headlines.