Return to Transcripts main page


Bergdahl Freed from Taliban; Obama Plan to Cut Climate Change; Alice B. Davis Transformed TV; Rich Hiding Money For Others to Find.

Aired June 2, 2014 - 11:30   ET




ROY HALLUM, FORMER IRAQ WAR HOSTAGE: I was in a room under a farmhouse in Iraq and I heard a lot of noise in the room above me but I didn't know what it was for sure whether it was the gang trying to come in to kill me or whether it was someone trying to rescue me and then a soldier jumped down in the room where I was and pointed at me and said, "Are you Roy"? I said, "Yes." He said, "Come on. We're getting you out of here." That was the first instance I knew I was actually free.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That was Roy Hallum, who was a hostage during the Iraq conflict. He was talking about the moment he was rescued in 2005 after being held for almost a year. Today, we're talking about another freed prisoner. Special Operations forces picked up Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban on Saturday after he was held captive for almost five years. In exchange, five Taliban prisoners were released from Guantanamo.

We're joined to discuss this by retired Major General James "Spider" Marks.

You are the perfect person to be here. I have so many questions for you. I want to get through them in rapid succession here. Respond to the critics that say the United States does not negotiate with terrorists?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, we do, and we do, and it's important to bound our engagements with individuals like this and terrorist organizations that are absolutely focused on destroying the United States and what we stand for. But at the same time, you have to work within those boundaries and sometimes you need to cross over them.

In this particular case, the United States made a good call and was able to get this great young soldier back. We'll figure out about his circumstances as we go forward. The cost is five guys who are admittedly and understandably very bad actors and have blood of the United States on their hands.

So I think cutting to the chase on this, John, we have to make their lives in Qatar in support of the government as miserable as possible. We need to be on them, proverbially, like white on rice, so they understand that this is not a cakewalk and they're not going to be able to disappear over the horizon.

BERMAN: Is that going to be enough if they are treated harshly? Is that enough to silence the critics like House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers who says this simply sets a bad precedent. Let's listen to what he said on CNN's "State of the Union."


REP. MIKE ROGERS, (R-MI), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: The number one way al Qaeda raises money is by ransom -- kidnapping and ransom. We have now set a price. We have a changing footprint in Afghanistan, which would put our soldiers at risk for this notion that, if I can get one, I can get five Taliban released.


BERMAN: Spider, have we set a price?

MARKS: We have set a price. The issue again remains, the precedent can be broken and we can continue to work around -- there are other ways that we can stay inside their decision cycle to ensure that our greater interests are not lost here. It's an ongoing effort on our part. Our intelligence community understands this and will probably, in my mind, establish a very precise and robust operation to ensure that we can stay on top of these folks while they have their stay in Qatar.

BERMAN: Another very controversial part of this, spider, the circumstances surrounding how Bowe Bergdahl was captured. There were reports he walked off the base in Afghanistan. We don't know for sure but that notion is out there. Do you think these circumstances of how he came into Taliban hands, do you think that should factor in the decision to make the trade that the U.S. made?

MARKS: John, not at all. These are two entirely separate issues. Not co-joined at all. The nature of his capture, how that happened, the details, we'll figure that out. That's a separate issue. The United States Army will get to the bottom of that and figure that out. We want him back. We have him back and we'll figure this moving forward to our advantage. He needs to be debriefed. He's in possession of a lot of good intelligence. We need to extract that. The other side is what do we do with five Taliban leaders in Qatar? The conditions of Bergdahl's capture are not relevant to the greater issue, which is how do we handle the next 365 days with these folks in Qatar and how do they reintegrate back into the Taliban? Will we see them again down the road?

BERMAN: Spider, you have served with a lot of good soldiers over the years. There are a lot who are ticked off this morning about this deal and about the alleged circumstances of how Bergdahl was captured. They say that people risk their lives to rescue this man who very well could have deserted. MARKS: The statement of the United States will not leave one of its fallen comrades behind is absolutely a fundamental value to our Army and our military. We get this in spades. The circumstances of this particular soldier and how he ended up in the enemy's hands we'll figure out. The argument certainly is he could have left his comrades behind when he walked off the operating base where he specifically was deployed in Afghanistan and ended up in the enemy's hands. So clearly we're on a very, very thin line, if you will, in terms of trying to establish the nature of his capture and what we're going to do with this young man going forward. We have to separate that right now. It's very difficult to. We have to separate it from the situation with the five Taliban.

BERMAN: There may be a lot to learn from his time in captivity that will be of value to the U.S. military going forward.

Great to have you with us. Really appreciate it.

MARKS: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: When we come back, we'll talk about the fight over President Obama's climate plan. It's certainly heating up on Capitol Hill. Republicans angry that the president is ordering power plants to cut emissions in a big way. We'll talk about that and what it means for the midterm elections next.

Then, hidden cash. Hidden cash. Rich people hiding money watching regular people go crazy searching for it. Is this charity or is this frankly unseemly and in a way gross? We'll talk about that coming up.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As president and as a parent, I refuse to condemn our children to a planet that is beyond fixing.


BERMAN: That was President Obama in a taped statement explaining his big climate change proposal using his executive authority to take the strongest action of his administration to try to slow climate change. He wants power plants to cut carbon emissions cut by 30 percent by 2030. This is a domestic policy that he could not get through Congress, so he's trying to do it now on his own.

Joining me to discuss this, CNN commentator, Margaret Hoover; and "Newsday" columnist, Ellis Henican.

Ellis, I want to start with you.

The president feels so strongly that he's not appearing in public to announce it and then he's leaving to Europe for four days. If you were a Democrat in Kentucky right now, Montana, West Virginia, not to mention Arkansas and North Carolina, what are you thinking? ELLIS HENICAN, COLUMNIST, NEWSDAY: You got to put distance between yourself and that decision. Didn't you just hear what he said about the children and the future of the earth and that was pretty powerful stuff, wasn't it?

BERMAN: It was a taped message on Friday. I wonder why he's not embracing this proposal today.

HENICAN: Here's the political reality of it. There are candidates in states where Barack Obama is not very popular who are running essentially local campaigns. If you're in Kentucky, that's a good example. There are others. If you run for office right now, you have to put distance between you. Obamacare is one issue. This is another one. Playbook is there. They know how to do it. It will have some impact but not a lot.

BERMAN: Margaret Hoover, speak for all Republicans right now. There's a lack of Republican cohesion on this issue. Some do not believe that humans are contributing to global warming. There are some who do. If you do, isn't there something like this? Aren't there proposals like this that need to take place to try to slow it down?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN COMMENTATOR: So I will speak for myself. The majority of Republicans, most Republicans actually do believe that there is such a thing as climate change. We Republicans have been caricatured as those who are anti-science and don't think humans can contribute to the earth's changing temperatures. But many of us do think that. The issue is what to do about it. And certainly, the U.S. can curtail greenhouse gas emissions, and they have actually gone down over the last several years.

BERMAN: Because?

HOOVER: For a couple of reasons. One, because the economy has slowed down but that's not the only reason.

BERMAN: A lot more natural gas.

HOOVER: Because of fracking.


BERMAN: A lot more natural gas and more coming. Couldn't they use more natural gas and less coal?

HOOVER: And nuclear. You can do tracking. You can do nuclear. No silver bullet. There are a lot of different ways. Republicans that run for president the last two cycles had alternative solutions for energy proposals. You can't eliminate coal immediately without putting a massive tax on the American people. Energy costs go up and who does that hurt? That hurts the middle class which is already struggling. So between healthcare costs and energy costs, the middle class in this country are in a crunch. We know that. This won't help that. This is a weird political ploy for the president's legacy that frankly nobody could be more excited about than Republicans running in coal states, like Mitch McConnell.

BERMAN: Look, he's talked about this since he was running for president. So when you say it's a political ploy, he's following up on something he promised a long time ago. In fact, a lot of Democrats thing he should have followed through on a long time ago.

But, Ellis, Margaret makes the point that a lot of economist say this will cost U.S. jobs. Now, is it worth U.S. jobs if China, if India aren't going to do a thing about this, and they're the ones polluting more than us? Why should the U.S. do this unilaterally at a cost to our own jobs?

HENICAN: Hold on about dooms-day numbers. We understand industry, they always complain about regulation when laws say you can't dump chemicals in the river, they complain. Smokestacks can't put poison in air, they complain. But we have to find a reasonable balance between a roaring economy -- boy, that market is looking good, isn't it --


HENICAN: -- and some responsible environmental regulation. Yes, it's time. It should have been done four years ago.

BERMAN: In spite of your efforts --


HOOVER: He hasn't answered the fundamental question. Look, we can scale back our greenhouse gas emissions and we have and we should lead but should we also compromise our economy while the rest of the world does nothing and the global -- we do live in a globe. This affects everyone. What we do may not affect our children's future as the president said.

BERMAN: You'll hear that fight every day from now until November. And, you guys, we'll have you back on to fight it on more here.

Ellis Henican, Margaret Hoover, thank you so much.

We have something really important to both of you coming up next. She was the glue that kept "The Brady Bunch" together.


EVE PLUMB, ACTRESS: The manual says that in case of double compound fracture in both arms, the victim must be completely immobilized.

ANN B. DAVIS, ACTRESS: Will you do me a favor? The next time you ask me to volunteer for something? Immobilize my big mouth before I can answer.


BERMAN: She was so good. Coming up, how Alice helped transform TV comedy with the one liners. We'll have a look at the actress, Ann B. Davis, next.




FLORENCE HENDERSON, ACTRESS: Alice, the washing machine's gone crazy.


DAVIS: Mrs. Brady, the suds are calling you.



BERMAN: See, that, my friends, is comic genius. One of the many, many times that Alice saved the day for the Bradys. The woman who turned that character into an icon, Ann B. Davis, has died at the age of 88. Davis reportedly fell and hit her head in her bathroom Saturday morning. She never regained consciousness.

Our Nischelle Turner is here.

Nischelle has heard us talking about Alice all morning. And no joke, I loved that character. She was a supporting role, but literally and metaphorically, she was the center square.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, the heart of the family. If you think about it, too, she was kind of the first of those real scene stealers that we saw. She was nondescript but she came in, gave those one liners, walked in and out of the scene. I love this picture here because you see the steam. Her hair never moves. She was that character America fell in love with because she was that woman that all wanted in our home that kind of made everything OK at the end of the day.

BERMAN: She's such a good actress and comedian. She didn't write her own stuff. She always credited the writers for those amazing performances.

TURNER: To think about it, too, that role that made her in Hollywood. It was that role that made -- that we never forgot, but it really was only one, you know, of very few role, she had. She had one early in the '50s on the "Bob Cummings Show." After "The Brady Bunch," you really didn't see her. She left quietly and started doing things that involved the church and helping the homeless in San Antonio, things that she really loved to do that was in her heart.

BERMAN: The re-run era on UHF channels. It was just always on.

TURNER: Absolutely. The emergence of TV Land and the reruns really kind of let everybody know Alice, every generation knows Alice. It just wasn't the folks that grew up in the '70s or could see it then. Everybody now, the younger kids know "The Brady Bunch." They have fallen in love with her. She has become legendary for that role and that character.

BERMAN: Thank goodness the young kids are learning about the Bradys.

Apologies to the Bradys, I have to make a segue now to Justin Bieber. Some new stuff has come out about some silly stuff he said.

TURNER: Yeah, and this happened apparently five years ago, four years ago, where he told a racist joke on camera. Knew that the camera was rolling, told the joke. Thought it was funny at the time. Now today the video has surfaced and he is issuing an apology. I will have to say, this was five years ago. In the apology, I want to read a little bit of what he said. He said today, "As a young man I didn't understand the power of certain words and how they could hurt. I thought it was OK to repeat hurtful words and jokes but didn't realize at the time that it wasn't funny and that, in fact, my actions were continuing the ignorance."

I do think that is a big statement for him to make. Yes, it was wrong. He used the "N" word in the joke over and over again. You and I were talking earlier, do we think Justin Bieber's a racist? No. Do we think that was really stupid and dumb of him to do, yes. I do thing it says something that he's owning it today. I think he's in serious damage control mode here because usually his team never says a word about anything. It's always no comment, no comment, no comment.

BERMAN: I have to say, I'm no fan, but that was a very eloquent statement. I do not think he's a racist.

Nischelle Turner, thanks. We have a lot more to talk about.

We want to talk about hidden cash. Some people hiding envelopes full of money, post clues on twitter so other people lose their dignity, scamper around and try to find it. Is this some kind of twisted social experiment? We'll discuss straight ahead.


BERMAN: A scavenger hunt to find envelopes stuffed with cash is spreading worldwide. It all started with an anonymous man in San Francisco calling it "a social experiment for good." Remember those words. He's hidden envelopes everywhere. He tweets under the handle "hidden cash." The game has spread to Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Dallas and also the U.K. So is this an act of kindness or a little bit gross?

Nischelle Turner is here, along with clinical psychologist, Jeff Gardere.

Nischelle, social experiment for good?

TURNER: You asked is it an act of kindness or a little bit gross? Can it be both?

BERMAN: I suppose.

TURNER: Maybe so. This anonymous wealthy millionaire says I wanted to do something because I've made millions and what I've seen is my contemporaries and also my colleagues and friends are being squeezed out of, like, the American dream. Can't buy homes. Don't have enough to get through the day. What he wanted to do is leave little nuggets of cash around and tell people when they find it, he wants them to pay it forward. Do something good with it. Give it to someone who's homeless. Something like that. I think that's what he meant by a social experiment for good. Seeing how much good people would actually do when they find this anonymous cash.

BERMAN: If he wants to do good, why not just give it to charity? I guess this guy does give to charity as well. By setting up this game, isn't he setting himself up as some kind of, you know, social dungeon master, you know, to give a dungeons-and-dragons analogy?

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I'm hoping this is altruistic on his or her part, but the issue becomes for me, it is very narcissistic. You're running this social experiment. And you're using that term "social experiment." I've done experiments as a social psychologist. We have controls built in, so there's not a frenzy, so that people don't hurt one another, so the competition or whatever we're trying to look for doesn't go out of control. And I think the potential is always there for this sort of a situation. And in this society we're living in, with all of the financial issues, I'm not sure I like the message of, OK, a lot of us are broke, so let's go look for free money, versus, hey, why don't I give you some nuggets of employment in my company if you want to find that.

BERMAN: Who's playing, Nischelle?

TURNER: A lot of people. There was cash hidden in Los Angeles. A lot of my friends, a lot of people I knew, were scurrying all over the city of Los Angeles looking for this. It caused traffic backups. That's what I find weird. I don't like that kind of fervor of people scrounging, trying to get what's left of money.

GARDERE: What happens if two or three or four, five people find an envelope at the same time? Is it --


TURNER: Well, in the Hollen Beck area of Los Angeles yesterday, which is an area that is not affluent, they did have to call police to make sure nothing more was going to happen when people found this money.

For now, it looks like a fun game but I don't feel like I don't know if we're on the verge of something weird here.


Last word?

GARDERE: It definitely does sound weird to me. I think there are better ways to get the message across of being altruistic and doing more for your brothers and sisters. I don't think this social experiment is the way to go.

BERMAN: A lot of food banks out there.

Jeff Gardere, Nischelle Turner, great to have you here @THISHOUR. Really appreciate it.


GARDERE: Pleasure.

BERMAN: That's it for us, guys. Michaela will be back tomorrow. The team will reunite.

"LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.