Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Army Sergeant Released by Taliban; Prisoner Swap Triggers Controversy; Look at Wall Street

Aired June 2, 2014 - 05:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Controversy this morning after an American soldier held for five years is freed, traded for five Taliban terrorists detained for years at Guantanamo Bay. Right now, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl recovers at a hospital, his family ecstatic that he is finally free but saying his fight is far from over. This as the Taliban declares victory for the return of their men, but who are these terrorists and why were they chosen for this prisoner swap? We have live team coverage ahead.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It is 30 minutes after the hour. It is Monday morning. Great to see you. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: All right, you've made it, you are free. That was the heartfelt message from Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's mother to her son as he recovers this morning after five years in captivity in a hospital in Germany.

Bergdahl's newfound freedom touching off a firestorm this morning on Capitol Hill, critics saying the president crossed a line by negotiating with terrorists. This as new questions are raised about the circumstances involving Bergdahl's capture way back five years ago. Many soldiers who served with him consider him a deserter.

Let's bring in senior international correspondent Nic Robertson live from Landstuhl in Germany today where Bergdahl is being treated.

Nic, what's the latest this morning?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, 26 1/2 hours ago, these doors that you can see, emergency room behind me here, this is the facility that Bowe Bergdahl walked into 26 1/2 hours ago. His course of treatment, we're told here, the time is indeterminate. It's up to him. We're told by the medical staff here that they are sympathetic to everything that he has been through, that they're going to try and improve his medical condition, his psychological condition.

The aim is that this is the first step of the reintegration. They're beginning to get him ready back for the rest of his life. For example, simple things that you and I take for granted, like being able to sort of predict what will happen this afternoon, all that have been taken away from him. Five years in captivity. He couldn't determine anything about his life. Now he needs to learn all that again.

His family, of course, ecstatic. They haven't been in touch with him yet. His mother has a very, very simple message for him. She just wants to throw her arms around him.


JANI BERGDAHL, MOTHER OF SGT. BOWE BERGDAHL: I'm so looking forward to seeing your face after these last 5 1/2 years, long, long years, and to giving you a great big bear hug and holding you in my arms again, never wanting to let you go.

Our family, your family is strong in faith and hope. You are from a strong tribe. You are even stronger now. Five years is a seemingly endless, long time, but you've made it.


ROBERTSON: Yes, and what has happened during those five years, nobody really knows. Only Sergeant Bergdahl knows those experiences. How long it will take to recover, that is in the hands of the doctors and, of course, Sergeant Bergdahl's hands, too. But what is very important, part of this reintegration process, we're told, is the military side, what useful military intelligence can he offer the army now that he's free? What has he seen? What has he heard? What actionable information is there in what he knows?

And also, of course, precisely what happened to him when he was captured and what happened to him during that captivity. Are there lessons that can be learned there and that can be useful for other troops in the future -- John.

BERMAN: Well, connected to this, Nic, are the somewhat controversial circumstances, you know, involving his capture. There are some people who suggest he simply walked off the base and fell into the Taliban's hands. How much will the military, the U.S. military, be focused on that?

ROBERTSON: We're told that the priority while he's here is his health and his mental well-being, but it is stressed as well that the reintegration process is part and parcel. Medical, psychological, but also providing that military awareness, military information of precisely what happened at the time of his capture, what happened in the intervening five years.

Overall for the military, if you stand back and walk back from this one soldier's experience and precisely what happened to him and how he came to fall in the hands of the Taliban, regardless of that, he has an absolute trove of information, even though he may not know it, over the past five years, that could be useful for other soldiers that could be captured -- how to endure the situation, what to expect at the hands of the Taliban, what also he may have learned about their tactics and procedures.

All those sorts of things. So that is going to be for sure part of what -- part of what his debrief and his discussions here will be about. But of course, it will be a very important point to figure out precisely why and how he came to fall into enemy hands. Soldiers' lives were put on the line in the search for him, and that is very, very important for many of those who did just that, who went out and looked for him. They want to know how this all began.

BERMAN: Very much a part of the discussion this morning.

Nic Robertson live for us in Landstuhl, thanks so much.

ROMANS: He started as a Private 1st Class and was promoted while he was gone, so he is now Sergeant Bergdahl, which is a title that he'll -- they'll have to tell him, you're a sergeant, sir.

BERMAN: Among the things he's no doubt learning this morning.

ROMANS: That's right, a lot of things.

The five Taliban terror suspects who were swapped for Sergeant Bergdahl are in Qatar this morning. These pictures released by the Taliban, reportedly showing their arrival. Under the terms of the prisoner exchange, they'll have to spend the next year living there with their movement and their activities restricted.

This morning we're getting a clearer picture of who these former detainees are and the threat they may pose.

Let's go back two years here. I want you to listen to the National Intelligence director, James Clapper. Here he's warning Congress, these five men were too dangerous to ever release.


JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I don't think anyone harbors any illusions about these five Taliban members and what they might do if they were transferred.


ROMANS: Becky Anderson joins us live from Qatar this morning, the country that brokered their controversial, high-stakes swap.

And what can you tell us about these five men and what awaits them now in Qatar?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we believe that they are mid to high-ranking Taliban officials, but where they are and how they will be accommodated, what conditions under which they will be accommodated so that they can satisfy, the Qataris here, can satisfy the U.S. and assure the U.S. they will not be a threat to U.S. interests is very unclear at this point.

Where are they? Well, they could be, for example, at the Taliban embassy. That's where we went earlier on to see if we could find anything out about their whereabouts. Have a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDERSON: This is the Taliban's political office in Doha, a sign, if you will, of the group's legitimacy here in Qatar. Now it's not clear whether this is actually open at present, nor whether the prisoners who were brought to Qatar on Saturday are actually being hosted here. We've just asked one of these security guards outside whether there is anybody here, and he's just going to find out for us.

This is a fairly innocuous spot, it's got to be said. If you just pan out here, you'll see a U.S. staff compound just yards away. We're only moments away from the Foreign Ministry here, and indeed, Qatar's financial district.

Let's just find out whether there is anybody here. Is this a bell?


ANDERSON: Yes, guys, I pressed the bell. We hung around for about 20, 25 minutes. I spoke to the security guard there. He said that he hadn't seen any activity in 24 to 48 hours.

What I've heard people talking about here but can't confirm myself is that these five men's family members have been flown in from Afghanistan to join them. But as I say, at this point, unclear where they are or what sort of conditions they're being held under to assure the United States they will not be a threat to U.S. citizens while they are here -- John.

ROMANS: All right, Becky Anderson, thanks for that.

BERMAN: That really is one of the controversial issues there, the prisoner exchange that led to Sergeant Bergdahl's release is triggering a debate on Capitol Hill. This debate is pitting America's commitment to leave no soldier behind against the policy to not negotiate with terrorists.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel insists the security risk posed by the prisoner swap is being overstated. But Arizona Senator John McCain, a former prisoner of war himself, doesn't see it that way.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I certainly believe that the administration broke the spirit, if not the letter of the law. But again, my major concern is not what the administration did as far as the law is concerned. My concern is what these individuals will be able to do in terms of this release, and it's a great concern to all of us.

CHUCK HAGEL, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I don't think what we did in getting our prisoner of war released in any way would somehow encourage terrorists to take our American servicemen prisoner or hostage.


BERMAN: Critics of this exchange believe it will give terrorists a strong incentive to capture more Americans in an attempt to negotiate the release of other detainees.

ROMANS: The president set to unveil a plan that sets new limits on carbon emissions for the nation's power plants. This measure calls for a 30 percent reduction by the year 2030. States have a wide range of options to meet that goal.

The new initiative takes effect next year. It's part of a larger climate action plan that also promotes renewable energy sources like solar and wind.

BERMAN: It's a big announcement today and it also could be a big election issue coming up as well.

Meanwhile, the Senate expected to introduce a bill later this week to end long delays for veterans at VA hospitals. This would allow vets to seek care outside the VA at private doctors' offices, military bases or community health centers. It also calls for emergency funding to hire new doctors and nurses. So many needed. It would forgive college loans for health care professionals who agree to work at VA medical centers.

ROMANS: We're learning new details this morning about the NSA's Global Surveillance Program. Citing documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, "The New York Times" reports the agency is building a comprehensive facial recognition database by intercepting millions of electronic images, often from e-mail, text messages, social media.

The report says NSA officials believe this new technology will revolutionize how they find intelligence targets around the world.

Feels like "Minority Report," almost.

BERMAN: President Obama embarks on a four-day visit to Europe today. The goal is to strengthen ties with U.S. allies over the situation in Ukraine. The president will meet with Ukraine's new president-elect in Poland. He will also stop in Belgium and France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landing.

ROMANS: Time for an EARLY START to your money. Markets in Hong Kong and Shanghai closed today for a holiday there. Here in the U.S., could it be more records? Futures are trading slightly higher right now. Record highs for the Dow and the S&P 500 on Friday to close out the old month. Investors proving the old mantra sell in May and go away, it just isn't true this year. The NASDAQ rose more than 3 percent last month, the S&P 2 percent.

One stock we'll watch today, Apple. Those shares are up 7 percent in May, trading around $633 a share. Still below the record high of $702 hit a couple of years ago, but shares, they could be headed back in that direction. And today is the company's worldwide developers conference. Apple watchers predict iHome will be unveiled, where users could control household items with their iPhone or iPad. And we could see a new iPhone.

BERMAN: Interesting. Like to see that. All right, bounce house disaster. So many parents paying attention to this. Children sent flying when the inflatable toy house goes airborne. We'll tell you how these kids are doing this morning, that's just ahead.


BERMAN: Terrifying scene in Colorado as a bouncy house with children trapped inside tumbles out of control. Take a look at this.

This morning two children are recovering. They were playing inside when this inflatable house, when high winds suddenly swept them into the air.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are on the sidelines with the parents watching the game.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Me and one of the others looked over and we saw the wind pick up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then all of a sudden, it picks up and there's a girl going down the slide. She flies out about eight feet in the air.


BERMAN: Officials said the little girl suffered only minor injuries. The boy was taken to a nearby hospital. He is expected to make a full recovery. Wind gusts of up to 30 miles an hour were reported in that area.

ROMANS: All right. Storms in the forecast for a good part of the country today.

BERMAN: And they will be packing dangerous winds again.

Indra Petersons with a look at the forecast -- Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's really going to be the story. I mean, it's summertime, got spring going in toward summer. We're seeing system after system kind of rolling across the country. Same story for today.

We're really going to be noticing the bulk of the showers into the southeast, but eventually, all of that warm, moist air is going to be filling into the northeast as well, enough so that in the Midwest tomorrow, we're going to be looking for that threat of severe weather, eventually spreading into the Ohio valley. And you're starting to see those showers kind of picking up in the northeast by Tuesday night in through Wednesday.

All eyes will be on this, though. This is a moderate risk. Where you see the red is a heightened risk for severe weather, including tornadoes. So really watching places like Omaha, Kansas City, even out towards North Platte, Chicago even. Not the heightened risk, but still a slight risk for severe weather.

And then by Wednesday, that's only going to spread farther off into the Ohio Valley. Big reason why, looking at that strong jet stream, those winds way up high lining up now with the warm, moist air and the cold air behind it. So there's two separate air masses. On top of it, you have a frontal system going right through that same region, it's kind of that perfect storm. With all those ingredients coming together to not only give severe weather, but also heavy rain.

So flooding is going to be a concern as well. Two to four inches in the region. Again, once it does spread to the northeast, it weakens a little bit, only about one to two inches expected there. Temperature- wise, above normal, kind of hot and muggy. You'll see the same story in the southeast as well. Looking at those temperatures generally kind of where they should be for this time of year.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Indra.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Indra.

ROMANS: Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY" this morning.

BERMAN: Kate Bolduan with us.

Hey, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Good morning, guys. We're following two big political stories to start us off this week. The White House taking heat on two fronts. Today, the EPA is unveiling a huge proposal, calling for deep cuts to carbon emissions from power plants, but the president is going around Congress to do this. Will it help save the environment? And if so, at what cost to American jobs?

You know when it comes to the environment, there's a whole lot of debate, and we're going to be following that.

And the president is also being criticized this morning for a deal to free an American held prisoner by the Taliban. Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was released in exchange for five Taliban Guantanamo detainees. Was it the right call or could the deal put Americans overseas at greater risk?

We're going to talk to the Pentagon and also we're going to talk to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on both of these stories, important stories we're talking about this Monday, guys.

BERMAN: Lame-duck Jay Carney, on his way out of the White House. So we'll take --


BOLDUAN: Not lame, though, but yes, he is in his lame-duck term.

ROMANS: He still has a lot of work to do. BERMAN: Thanks so much, Kate. We'll see you in a little bit.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Breaking news to tell you about overnight. The woman who recorded Donald Sterling's racist remarks attacked on the streets, just days after V. Stiviano's views on race were leaked online. That's just ahead.


ROMANS: Welcome back.

V. Stiviano, the woman at the center of the Donald Sterling scandal, reportedly attacked by two men last night as she left a restaurant in New York City. Stiviano's attorney said the attackers shouted racial slurs, including the N word, and then left her with bruises on the right side of her face.

The incident taking place just days after Stiviano was caught on tape making derogatory remarks about African-Americans. She's scheduled to sit down for an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper for a segment airing tonight. Her attorney says she plans to go through with that interview.

This morning, the FBI is on the hunt for a San Francisco man wanted on explosives charges. Law enforcement raided the apartment of 42-year- old Ryan Kelly Chamberlain this weekend, reportedly recovering explosives at the scene. Chamberlain was last seen Saturday. Officials say he has not made any known threats, but he is still considered armed and dangerous. They're asking for the public's help in finding him.

Two grief-stricken fathers coming together Sunday. Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher was gunned down in that California rampage just over a week ago, came face to face with Peter Rodger, whose son, Elliot, killed six people and wounded 13 others before taking his own life.

Martinez has spoken out against the nation's gun laws. He requested the meeting, which took place in private.

Coming up, the millennial generation, they're experts in social media, they invented the selfie. They're not so great when it comes to home ownership. Are younger Americans getting squeezed out of the housing market? Details ahead.


ROMANS: Welcome back. Let's get an EARLY START to your money this morning. Futures on Wall Street higher on the first trading day of June after a record finish for May. The Dow and S&P posted record highs Friday. For the month, the NASDAQ rose more than 3 percent, the S&P 500 up more than 2 percent.

But younger Americans are having a harder time buying a home. Just 36 percent of the millennial generation -- those are Americans under the age of 35 -- owns a home. That's the lowest level since 1982, and it's not because younger Americans don't want houses. Ninety percent of them say they prefer buying over renting, but student loan debt, tight lending standards and high down payments are keeping many of them out of the market.

It has officially been five years since the great recession ended in June of 2009. The middle class still having a hard time of it, but now a new study shows that it's not the 1 percent that's winning big over everyone else, it's the 1 percent of the 1 percent. According to economists at the University of California, in the 1980s, the ultra- rich, people with a net worth of more than $100 million, they owned 4 percent of the country's wealth.

Today, their slice of the pie has jumped to 11 percent. The rest of the rich people in this country with net worth between $4 million and $100 million control another 28 percent of the wealth.

All right, "NEW DAY" starts right now.


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


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: New details inside the secret trade that brought Bowe Bergdahl home. What he did the moment Special Forces grabbed him. And now criticism for the deal is growing. Did the president negotiate with terrorists?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Power struggle. The White House skirts Congress, announcing today massive cuts to carbon emissions, but Republicans and businesses are fighting back. Will it curb climate change significantly at what expense to American jobs?

CUOMO: Caught on tape, a bounce house picked up by the wind, tumbling repeatedly with children trapped inside. It's just the latest bounce house accident. Remember this one, floating high in the air just last month? What's going on?

Your NEW DAY starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Good morning, welcome to NEW DAY. It is Monday, June 2nd, 6:00 in case you're checking.

BOLDUAN: Wow. June.

CUOMO: President Obama facing huge political challenges on two fronts this morning. His administration announcing today a potentially historic environmental policy change that is sure to upset Republicans. But we're going to start with another big story this morning. The prisoner swap that freed an American soldier after five years in captivity. But there is criticism.