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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Bergdahl Ready for Active Duty; Theme Parks Investigation; Teen Shooting Survivor Quotes Dumbledore at Memorial for Family; Israel and Hamas Continue Firing Rockets
Aired July 14, 2014 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: Some still see him as a deserter, but U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is returning to active duty after five years in Taliban captivity and just six weeks of therapy and counseling.
Also ahead, she survived the slaughter of her parents and four brothers and sisters and she may have saved many more lives. Fifteen- year-old Cassidy Stay (ph) speaks out for the first time.
And, parents beware. A six-month CNN investigation catches America's biggest, best-known theme parks hiring sexual predators. How could this be happening?
Hello, everyone, I'm Deborah Feyerick, in for Ashleigh Banfield. It is Monday, July 14th. Welcome to LEGAL VIEW.
Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl could return to active duty as early as today. The time line, it is just 44 days after being released by the Taliban and 32 days after returning to U.S. soil. This is following five years in Taliban captivity. But according to the Army, Bergdahl has finished undergoing therapy and counseling and is apparently ready to re-enter life in the military. A statement released by the Army this morning says Bergdahl will be assigned to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. The statement also confirms that the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl's disappearance from his outpost in Afghanistan and his capture, well that is still ongoing.
Joining me to talk about this seemingly quick transition from POW to active duty is CNN correspondent Ed Lavandera.
Ed, what does this mean in terms of the investigation?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the big question as to what exactly -- what kind of future Bowe Bergdahl will have in the U.S. military at this point. But Army officials have said all along that until Bowe Bergdahl completed this reintegration process, that any questioning of him surrounding the circumstances of his disappearance and his capture, he would not be interviewed or investigated or talked to directly about it until this reintegration process was over. So with this now being over, and we do know that the Army had appointed an investigating officer in mid-June, and that person has 60 days to complete his investigation of the situation.
We do know now that it's time for that process to continue more in earnest and more directly with Bowe Bergdahl. We were told by an Army official late Friday afternoon that Bowe Bergdahl does have an attorney but that he has not been given the equivalent in the military justice system, that he has not been read his Miranda rights, if you will. So all of that process, we suspect now that this reintegration process is now officially over, that that part of the investigation into his disappearance and his capture will take a more intense tone.
LAVANDERA: And it's really up in the air as to what just kind of - what kind of future Bowe Bergdahl, if any, will have with the U.S. military, or if this is like the beginning of the process of ending Bowe Bergdahl's military career.
FEYERICK: Right. And there's no question about that.
Also joining us is Lieutenant Colonel - Retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona.
And, colonel, let me ask, in terms of - we know one thing. We know that there are two soldiers who are with him and that are going to be accompanying him wherever he goes. First of all the question, is it safe to have him on that base surrounded by other soldiers, especially since the allegations are he simply walked off, he left his platoon?
RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes. Well, I think that's what those two soldiers are for. They're to make sure he's safe. They're also to make sure that he doesn't run away. They're also to make sure that he doesn't commit suicide or has any other mental problems. He's still in a fragile state. But the Army has to get him back into a unit. He's got to have a commanding officer. He's got to be back in the chain of command for the process to continue. I think Ed's got a good point there, the Army has to decide, now what are we going to do with him?
FEYERICK: Right. Could they question him? For example, he was in hospital, could they question him about his experience? Because in order to prove desertion, you've also got to prove intent.
FEYERICK: Have they -- will they now be able to question him now that he is effectively in general population?
FRANCONA: Right. Right. And that - and that's the next step. They're going to actually get his side of the story. Up until now, through his integration process, it was all handled by the medical people. Now we've got the U.S. Army, the regular line Army, talking to him. He's going to have to answer questions like the circumstances surrounding his departure, the circumstances around his capture.
FRANCONA: And then his conduct while in captivity. These are all going to be subject to this investigation. FEYERICK: And the interesting thing, of course, is when he disappeared
on the night of June 30th, he had made a pile of his armor, he had left his - left a farewell note.
FEYERICK: Left his weapon behind. So -
FRANCONA: And -
FEYERICK: And they initially found that, in fact, he did walk away.
FRANCONA: Yes. And I think that this is going to be a key factor -
FRANCONA: In proving that intent. As you know, as you said, desertion has to be, "I don't plan to come back." Being absent without leave is, "I plan to return." He's got a lawyer. I'm sure that will be part of his defense.
FEYERICK: Ed, have you been told specifically what his responsibilities are going to be there on the base in terms of how he will spend his day to day?
LAVANDERA: You know we're trying to figure out the detail of that. But it's interesting, remember, when he deployed for Afghanistan, he was connected to a unit out of Alaska. His family, as we've told you for the last month, lives in Idaho. So it is interesting that Bowe Bergdahl is not even going back to that region of the country where he's from originally and that he's being kept there in the San Antonio area. And part of that is also to keep him close to these medical experts and this medical team that has been helping him for the last few weeks there in San Antonio.
So, you know, as we've mentioned, this is part of that process to get him back into - you know, he is active duty. He has to be assigned somewhere. But, obviously, this investigation surrounding his disappearance and his capture is the most pressing issue. And so I imagine that a lot of what he does day in and day out will be focused on that end and having to comply with the things that are asked of him here in the days and weeks ahead.
FEYERICK: No question about that.
And, two things, colonel, in terms of medication, look, this is a man who was held in captivity. One would assume that he is probably on some pretty strong medication, whether it be anxiety, whether it be to normalize. We're never going to know whether he is. But how is that going to effectively impact the questioning?
FRANCONA: Well, he has to be able to answer it the questions. He's got a lawyer, he's got an attorney that's going to make sure that everything is done according to not only U.S. law but, of course, we've got the uniform code of military justice, which puts a little more restriction on what can be done. FEYERICK: Right. And let's -- in terms of -- in terms of possible
penalties, could he effectively be court-martialed and then just -
FEYERICK: Not imprisoned, for example?
FRANCONA: Right. Yes. This is - this is my opinion. I think that he's going to have to answer for what happened out there that night. And if they go to a court-martial, they'll have a court-martial. But there is no way the Army is going to incarcerate this guy.
FRANCONA: He's already paid a huge price for the -- you know, the consequences of his actions. I think the absolute max they'll ever do to him is just kick him out of the Army with some sort of a less than honorable discharge.
FRANCONA: But we don't know that. And we'll have to see what the exact circumstances were.
FEYERICK: And final question to you, colonel. In terms of - look, he's going to be walking around this base. Does -- is he going to have access to weapons? Because the first thing I think about is the Ft. Hood shooter.
FEYERICK: And if you're not mentally stable -
FEYERICK: There certainly is the risk of that.
FRANCONA: There's a misconception about the military bases, that there are weapons everywhere. Actually, weapons are kind of hard to come by on the military installation. The only people that really carry weapons are those that need them in the performance of their duties -
FEYERICK: Or those that want to get them.
FRANCONA: Primarily, the military police. Getting a weapon out of the armory, you have to sign for it.
FRANCONA: It's a real process. So he won't have -
FEYERICK: And he will have caretakers --
FRANCONA: He won't have access to the weapons.
FEYERICK: OK. All right. And thanks so much. We thank you, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, and also Ed Lavandera. Thanks for bringing us the latest on that. Thanks, Ed.
Well, coming up on LEGAL VIEW, a CNN investigation reveals sexual predators are getting hired at some of America's top theme parks.
FEYERICK: A six-month CNN investigation finds sexual predators are getting hired at some of America's best-known theme parks. Parks you may have visited. It is a story airing tonight on "AC 360." CNN investigative correspondent Kyra Phillips joins us now for more.
And, Kyra, it's so interesting because predators go where they know they're going to meet people. What did you discover?
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Of course. I mean they want to go where the children are, right?
PHILLIPS: And I discovered that employees at these famous theme parks are around our children and you have no idea how perverse they are. And we're talking about men who work the rides, they operate as security guards, even performers. And they're all being arrested for sex crimes against children. And you're actually going to hear from some of them in our story also.
Now, to be clear, none of these cases involve guests, teenagers, children visiting the parks. However, child advocates tell us this is still a threat. Poke County Sheriff Grady Judd is known nationally for these aggressive sex stings and that's how we actually discovered a pattern of theme park arrests. Here's just a small taste of his passion to take down these child sex predators.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: I talked to a number of these men and they said, it's entrapment. I was totally set up.
SHERIFF GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA: What else are they going to say? Are they going to get on national news and say, I'm a pervert, I'm a child predator, I seek sex with little boys? No, they're not going to say that. When they tell you that, look them in the eye and say, you're a liar. What you really are is a pervert, a sexual pervert and a child predator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: He doesn't hold back.
FEYERICK: He definitely does not hold back.
PHILLIPS: Yes, he's got a lot of heart into this.
FEYERICK: He's very passionate about this. But the one thing is, is, these aren't just allegations. There is video of some of these individuals acknowledging that they reached out to under aged kids. PHILLIPS: You will see the interrogations that take place once these
stings happen and the detectives go in and they sit -- they arrest them. They sit down. And one individual actually confesses to molesting a young boy just three and a half weeks before the sting that he was caught in.
FEYERICK: Right. So some deny it, but there's clearly evidence as well.
How do the parks -- the parks clearly must be doing due diligence on these individuals, on everyone they hire?
PHILLIPS: Oh -- oh, sure. I mean they made it clear to us, look, we're doing everything possible. We're doing background checks. We're doing ongoing background checks. We're doing everything in our power to keep these guys out of our parks. But they are -- they're still getting hired. And there can be more -- there can be more done. And that's what the experts tell us.
PHILLIPS: So our piece is actually triggered action on Capitol Hill and you'll see more about that tonight in "AC 360."
FEYERICK: Well, really exciting. And we're looking forward to seeing this because, clearly, every single parent, especially those --
PHILLIPS: Hey, you're a mom. I'm a mom. We're not just journalists, but we're moms.
FEYERICK: Right. Absolutely.
PHILLIPS: And your number one fear is someone like this getting close to your child.
FEYERICK: And your number one responsibility is to protect your child.
FEYERICK: Kyra Phillips, thanks so much. Always a pleasure. And Kyra's full investigation will air tonight, 8:00 Eastern, on "AC 360," only here on CNN.
Well, a teenager who was the sole survivor of a massacre that killed her parents and siblings shows incredible strength.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Turn on the light. I know that my mom, dad, Brian, Emily, Becka (ph) and Zach are in a much better place and that I'll be able to see them again one day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEYERICK: Just ahead, you will hear the inspiring story of a young woman who played dead to save the lives of others. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
FEYERICK: She's only 15, but Cassidy Stay has witnessed the unspeakable. She's the sole survivor of the grisly shooting, the targeted shooting, that killed her parents and four siblings.
At a memorial in Spring, Texas, this weekend., she found the power, through her faith in God, to speak publicly for the first time and honor her family.
Poppy Harlow looks at her incredible strength and perseverance.
CASSIDY STAY, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I'm really thankful for all of the people that have been praying for me and keeping me and my family in their thoughts.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An unbelievable show of resilience and strength from 15-year-old Cassidy Stay, the only survivor of the mass shooting last week that killed her whole family, Stay speaking at a public memorial for her parents and four siblings, ages 4 to 13, who were brutally murdered in their Texas home.
The teen witnessed the whole ordeal. She herself was shot and critically wounded, surviving by playing dead.
STAY: I would like to thank all of the first responders, nurses and doctors that have taken care of me. I'm feeling a lot better. I'm on a very straight-forward path to a full recovery.
HARLOW: Authorities say Ronald Lee Haskell barged into the family's home, demanding to know the whereabouts of his estranged wife, Melanie, who is related to the victims.
She wasn't there but Haskell allegedly proceeded to shoot and kill them all, except Cassidy, who called 911 after Haskell left to warn police the suspected shooter was on his way to her grandparent's home.
Stay's grandfather credited the teen for saving lives.
ROGER LYONS, CASSIDY STAY'S GRANDFATHER: She has learned God has the power to send angels to protect his children in times of great need.
She said it felt as though those angels were there with her, putting their hands over her mouth, whispering to her to be quiet.
As soon as it was safe, despite the terrible things she must have seen, at that moment, she called police and told them we were in danger.
Without her courage and quick thinking, we might be mourning the deaths of 20 -- yes, I said 20 -- people today, including myself, and nearly all of our children and grandchildren.
HARLOW: And she explained her outlook for a hopeful future as only a teen could do.
STAY: In "The Prisoner of Azkaban," Dumbledore says, "Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."
I know that my mom, dad, Brian, Emily, Becca and Zach are in a much better place, and that I'll be able to see them again one day.
HARLOW: Poppy Harlow, CNN, reporting.
FEYERICKS: Well, attacks, counterattacks, Israel and Hamas attacking each other, civilians get caught in the crossfire, thousands of people fleeing their homes, the latest just ahead.
HARLOW: Neither Hamas nor Israel is showing any sign of letting up on the barrage of rockets firing in both directions. The Palestinian death toll in Gaza has now reached 176 according to Palestinian health authorities, the number of wounded, so far, much greater at 1,200 people.
And that's the sound that people are hearing so frequently along the Israel/Gaza border. Doctors Without Borders say about 10 bombings are hitting Gaza per hour, so many, the organization is finding it hard to get people the medical help they need.
And the civilians in harm's way are getting mixed messages. Over the weekend, Israel dropped leaflets just like this written in Arabic, warning residents to leave northern areas of Gaza so they won't get hurt. But Hamas is telling people they should stay in Gaza.
Israeli attacks have killed some militants and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is stressing that Israel has a right to defend itself, but 70 percent of the fatalities so far have been civilians, according to the U.N. And of the dead, more than 30 of them are children.
Separately, in Israel, when the sirens go off, they have anywhere, the people, from 15 seconds to a minute to run for cover. You're about to see our CNN crew, including Wolf Blitzer, experience it's not just the rockets but the shrapnel people have to worry about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": No, no, no pictures. Don't shoot. Just shoot me.
We don't know what's going on, but there's some -- did we get the all- clear? I know. I know. I'm sorry.
OK. We're here on the border between Israel and Gaza. You can see there was a rocket that just landed. It came in from Gaza. We heard it not that long ago. It was a real moment because all of a sudden we were at this area that had been sealed off and the Israeli military was not letting us go any further. They said it was sealed off.
We were waiting for permission to go through this checkpoint. We hadn't received the permission yet. We heard all of a sudden the rocket explode and then we saw something really unusual. We saw some Israeli soldiers ducking for cover. We ducked for cover as well.
A young Israeli woman soldier clearly was traumatized. She fell to the ground and started to cry. You don't often see that. So later she told me it's been really hard especially on these young 18-, 19-year-old soldiers who come here on the border and hear these rockets going off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEYERICK: And Diana Magnay is live at the Israeli/Gaza border, and, Diana, you think of all these rockets going back and forth, but Israel has said that the rockets are really a game changer because they've got such a greater range.
Are you -- have you seen any rockets from where you're standing, just going overhead?
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, just in the last hour and a half that we've been here, we've seen about four go overhead, and especially around about this time of night.
So early in the morning, generally, when you wake up, you're woken up here on the Israeli side to sirens, and when the dusk starts to fall and the rockets really start to come over, and that is presumably because Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza like to try to time their rocket volleys for times when civilians are out on the street.
The thing is, though, Iron Dome, this missile-defensive shield, seems to be very, very effective, and although more than a thousand rockets have come out over the course of Operation Protective Edge and 1,500 Israeli air strikes going down the other way, none have actually fallen in civilian areas where they've actually killed anyone on the Israeli side, so Iron Dome, really protecting people.
Also, these shelters that are pretty much close to everybody in built- up areas on this side, whereas of course in Gaza, there are no safe houses, and there is no shield to protect them from Israeli air strikes.
And the Israeli defense forces also charging that Hamas hides behind these civilians, burying its weapons and its command and control centers are basically the homes of Hamas operatives.
But of course it is an incredibly densely populated area, one of the most heavily populated areas on earth, so it's difficult to know where Hamas could really operate except from within built-up civilian areas.
FEYERICK: And it's interesting because some of the Palestinian rockets --
MAGNAY: I think we're just seeing --
FEYERICK: Let's take a look.
MAGNAY: I'm just pointing the camera down to a blast. You can see that is clearly an Israeli air strike that has just gone down in the distance.