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Reaction to Prisoner Swap; What Shaped The Soldier: Bergdahl's Unconventional Upbringing; Obama's Workout Caught On Video

Aired June 4, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, thanks for joining us. There is breaking news tonight on the Bowe Bergdahl controversy, including revelations from a closed-door White House briefing tonight on Capitol Hill, which we just learn included a video, apparently showing Sergeant Bergdahl's declining health. It didn't however, put out the political firestorm and we'll discuss that, to mention shortly tonight. As always, though, our focus first is on the facts and there are plenty of new facts that we have learned tonight. New information about the kind of soldier Bowe Bergdahl was before he vanished. There is also this, for the first time tonight we have a view to the rarest of battlefield moments: two bitter enemies meeting under temporary truce. American Special Forces and Taliban fighters face to face. Their steps carefully choreographed, tension, obviously, high as Sergeant Bergdahl is delivered after five years in captivity back into American hands. You should know that the video was shot by the Taliban who are now using this as propaganda throughout the region.

That said, there is much more to it than that. So, we'll take a closer look at the video in a moment. But first, though, the breaking news, what we're learning about the Army's initial investigation into then Private Bergdahl's disappearance and the intelligence that led the deal for his return. Barbara Starr has that. She joins us now from the Pentagon. So, over the past few days, Barbara, there's been a lot said about Bergdahl's time as a soldier, people who served with him call him a deserter. You're finding out the commanders painted a different picture of him, correct?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is right. Anderson, good evening. There was an initial fact-finding investigation when Bergdahl first disappeared. I've spoken to a source who's been briefed on those findings and knows them in detail. This source telling me that Bergdahl's own commanders said he was a good soldier, that he did what he was supposed to do. At some point the other troops in the unit reported that Bergdahl appeared bored and started saying things about wanting the unit to do more. That he thought the unit was too passive. But here is something else that is quite interesting. The troops also reported that Bergdahl had left, indeed, the unit once before, that he had gotten outside the wire. Well, how did that happen? And what does that say about unit security? Because if Bergdahl could slip past the concertino wire that also means the Taliban might have been able to find a way to get in. What kind of security, what kind of oversight, what kind of command was in this unit? These questions are likely to start being raised, Anderson.

COOPER: Yeah, I mean the bottom line is that there is still a lot we don't know exactly about the circumstances that led up to this and also about his actual departure. You are also learning more about why there may have been growing concern about his health and safety in the videos.

STARR: That is right, there's now been two recent videos not released to the public, as you mentioned, one played for Congress earlier today. Sources who are familiar with the content tell us those videos do in fact show him in declining health. That, plus there was additional intelligence, we're not being told what it was, but it was briefed to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in the last several days. It led to a great deal of concern, we're told about his declining health and his safety. Officials saying that as the U.S. was beginning to draw down troops in Afghanistan, they were becoming very concerned that Bergdahl would be seen by the Taliban as being not such a valuable hostage anymore.

COOPER: What are you hearing about the Taliban video showing the handoff of Bergdahl to Special Forces? I imagine it is obviously a topic of interest, certainly, within the Pentagon where you are.

STARR: It has, of course, been topic number one around the Pentagon always today. Look, people are looking at Bergdahl and there is a lot of humanitarian concern about this man's situation. But they are looking at those Special Operations forces coming off the helicopter. These guys are the real deal. They were either SEAL Team 6, Army Delta Force, maybe some CIA. Those are the guys that usually work together on this kind of operations. They got off the plane, weapons hidden, and walked straight towards the Taliban. They were in control, they knew what they were doing, it was choreographed. Like I said, those guys that you see there getting of the helicopter, they are viewed around the Pentagon as the real deal, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, it's also interesting because you see one of the assuming officer, walking backwards, not turning his back on the Taliban, and also another guy sort of patting down Bergdahl's back, before escorting him to the chapter, then they actually give him a more thorough search before actually letting him on the chopper, in case of any sort - any sort of devices. You see one of the officers there on the left starting to work backward, there just quick pat down Bergdahl, they walk him toward the chopper, we'll get him to a little bit more. Barbara Starr, I appreciate the update, there is more footage now of Bergdahl's return as seen and narrated by his captors. It took place in eastern Afghanistan Khost province. We have added the sub titles, this is being seen around the entire region, let's take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (speaking foreign language)


COOPER: It is fascinating to hear their vantage point on this. The entire video runs considerably longer. Again, that is being used by the Taliban as propaganda. It is also the only window we have into Bowe Bergdahl's first minutes of freedom. Chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto walks us through it.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The riveting eight-minute Taliban propaganda video contains intriguing clues about Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, his Taliban captors and his American rescues. A thin, aging Bergdahl blinks repeatedly, while seated in the pickup truck. And again, as he stands looking at the approaching American helicopter, signs his eyes were unused to natural light or signs of emotion. At one point, Bergdahl manages a brief, awkward smile, evidence of happiness or nervousness, one captor then taps him three times on the shoulder and says to him, don't come back to Afghanistan, next time you won't make it out alive. An ominous threat and sign of fear between captor and captive. A Taliban narrator sets the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We waited in the area for around ten minutes before the helicopters arrived. And there were 18 Mujahideen fighters with me in the area, and we had armed Mujahideen on the peaks of the hills around the area.

SCIUTTO: And he is carrying a white plastic bag, the contents unknown. Then, the unprecedented face to face meeting between U.S. Special Forces and the Taliban fighters. Handshakes, an American places his left arm across his chest, an Afghan sign of respect. Another quickly frisks Bergdahl. The Taliban narrator recounts what he claims they said to each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They first asked us about the health condition of the captive, and told us to tell them the truth if he was not well. But we saw that he was fine and told them that.

SCIUTTO: The soldiers waved, one keeping his eyes locked on the Taliban even as he walks backwards. Bergdahl keeps his eyes focused straight ahead. He is stumbling, the legs of a man repeatedly shackled or just a nervous walk across rocky terrain. At the helo, Bergdahl is patted down once again, this time much more thoroughly. A precaution against a bomb or booby trap. The black hawk helicopter disappears into the sky.

SCIUTTO: U.S. officials say don't read too much into Bergdahl's physical appearance in this video. They say that two previous proof of live videos they obtained in the month before his release showed several signs of his declining health and that was enough to accelerate efforts for this prisoner exchange. Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, between the video, new details about Sergeant Bergdahl's time in captivity, and continuing outcry surrounding the deal to free him. There's certainly a lot to talk about. Joining us is Dan O'Shea, former Navy SEAL commander and former coordinator of the hostage working group, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Also, national security Analyst Peter Bergen and investigative reporter David Rohde who endured seven months in Taliban captivity before managing to escape and he was with "The New York Times," he's now with Reuters. David, obviously, you didn't go through a swap like this. But what do you see in that video when you see Bergdahl blinking in the light?

DAVID ROHDE, REUTERS: The blinking the way he acts seems completely natural to me, when they show him, and he's sort of sitting up in the back of a truck, that is exactly how they moved me around. They always had a turban or some kind of cloth or a bag over my head whenever they moved me. And I think he was lying down in the back of the truck, they sat him up. They took the bag off. And that's why he's blinking. So, it doesn't - you know, surprise me. I thought, you know, his walk looked good.

COOPER: And dressed the way you were dressed?

ROHDE: I think they bought him new clothes. I mean so, what people are right about is that I think the Taliban knew this deal was in the works. And so there is a period between when there is - his declining health, and they might have been treating him better in the last few weeks or months. And they were definitely, I think, they let him - maybe it was his choice to shave whatever beard he had, or shave his hair and they gave him new clothes to make him look better. And he smiles because this is the moment he has been waiting for, for five years. I mean the Taliban there themselves says that Bowe Bergdahl was thrilled to see an American helicopter.

COOPER: Yeah, Dan, the American personnel in the video, it's interesting, the men who walked up to retrieve Bergdahl certainly not wearing uniforms. It's there is a very important reason for that, you said. Dan.


COOPER: That's OK.

O'SHEA: I thought you were directing that back to David.

COOPER: No, that is OK.

O'SHEA: Yeah, of course. Yeah, of course, they're going to be dressed -- they're not going to be dressed in uniform. They are - you have got to understand this situation is very tenuous, one of the most dangerous parts of the personal recovery is that moment when the U.S. Forces are trying to recover that downed pilot or this missing American, i.e. Bergdahl. So, they want to present as non-threatening, you know, overture, to the turnover piece. So, you know, there is a flip side to it, too. These guys obviously they don't look like they're threatening, but you can guarantee these guys are armed to the teeth and are ready to respond. And you can see that in the demeanor in the way they approach the Taliban and so on, so forth. So, they were ready for everything as were all the other helicopters and the overhead support, probably an AC-130 gunship on stand, but it - that if the situation turned for the worse they would have been ready to respond immediately.

COOPER: And Dan, you really get a sense of how tense this moment is, this exchange, by the searching - the kind of the quick bag search of Bergdahl's bag and then the much more kind of involved, full body search as he's being - stepped into the helicopter. They had no idea if he could have been wired with an explosive device.

O'SHEA: Yeah, of course. That has got to be a fear that they were going to be walking into an ambush. We had cases of that in Iraq. We'd get a report that there was hostage held in a certain house, we would send forces into the room, and they would be come at detonated IEDs or improvised explosive devices imbedding in the walls. So, of course, they are very cautious walking up, they gave first a cursory search to ensure he was not wearing a vest and then a more thorough search when he got to the helicopter to make sure there was not any type of bomb and or a weapon that could have been used and they just - They do this in all situations, it's not just with Bergdahl, but this is part of the protocol in the first recovery mission, that they have to treat all hostages and secure them and make sure there's nothing that can harm the hostage and - or the rescuers themselves.

COOPER: Peter, you know, we've talked a lot on this program with you about the possible deal with the Taliban, negotiations with the Taliban. It is fascinating to see, actually, the Taliban and the U.S. military coming face to face as a result of this more limited deal.

PETER BERGEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yeah, and you know, combat troops, as you know, Anderson, are going to be pulled out of Afghanistan at the end of December 2014. And traditionally, at the end of hostilities, there is a prisoner of war exchange, there are 18 other Afghans who are still in Guantanamo. If we're not in a state of war with the Taliban, as a legal or military matter you can imagine that there will be other releases and probably less controversial. Because the other 18 that are still in did are not the five that we've seen who, you know, did play leadership roles in the Taliban.

COOPER: David, I know you wanted to come in, and sort of the - the kind of the homeland comparisons that some are making, and kind of the undercurrent - do you feel there is an undercurrent of I don't know if it is anti-Muslim sentiment, or how do you see the reaction to what's going on?

ROHDE: It is strange, because this scene today, reminded me exactly like my captivity, and it's very odd to see everyone dissecting why is he blinking? And what does it mean that he is smiling, someone questioned did he had Stockholm syndrome, because he's smiling. I think that is unfair to Bowe Bergdahl. He has to answer these questions about why I left this base, but people have dissected his father's beard. You know, the father grew that beard in solidarity with his son. The family is Christian, they are not Muslims, there is a rumor that the Bergdahls are Muslim. That is totally false. And it is just - it's just disturbing. I mean the problem is not Islam, it's not some mysterious force that brainwashes people, you know, it is violent extremists.

COOPER: Peter, you like David have also been in contact with Bergdahl family, I know, over the years. Do you think the - of some of these theories is premature. I mean it does seem like we don't know the full details of exactly what happened to this young soldier? ROHDE: Yeah, well, I mean you know one thing that was very interesting. In the WikiLeaks cables that talk about what happened. It's - there is very conflicting information. I mean there is some suggesting that he was taken while he was on the latrine, there are some suggestions that he wandered off. And it is not at all clear. These are contemporaneous accounts, not relying on people's memories five years later. So, I mean that is still a very much an open questions, but, you know, Bowe Bergdahl's dad - a very smart guy, and he reached out to people like David who obviously knew better than anybody else what was happening to his son. And he also reached now to people who are experts in al Qaeda and the Taliban, he wanted to find out what was the mindset of these people who were holding his son in a way to kind of understand them. And as the negotiation went forward he felt that that was useful information to know.

COOPER: Peter Bergen, it is good to have you on. Dan O'Shea, David Rohde as well. A quick reminder, make sure you set your DVRs, so you can watch "360" whenever you like. Next, the political follow up for President Obama including what was said inside that classified briefing tonight on Capitol Hill. We're getting some reports. Later, Bowe Bergdahl's unconventional upbringing, what if anything it says about the soldier that he became.


COOPER: Well, there is more breaking news in the Bergdahl story, as we said at the top. Administration officials just a short time ago wrapped up a closed door briefing for U.S. senators. They were shown a video, bolstering the case for a quick deal to get Bergdahl back. A proof of life video is yet to be made public. They were also told more about the administration's take on the five Guantanamo detainees who were released in exchange for Bergdahl. The question is, did it tamp down the criticism? Hardly.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R) ARIZONA: I learned nothing in this briefing nor did I expect to learn anything in this briefing except that I continue to maintain that this individual who we are glad that Sergeant Bergdahl is home, but the exchange of five hardcore, hardest of the hard core al-Qaeda/Taliban will pose a threat to the United States of America and the men and women who are serving.


COOPER: West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin also expressed deep concern about freeing those five men. So, Joe Johns is on the hill. He's got more of what senators were told about them and just how dangerous the administration admits that they are. So the proof of life video that has not been made public we're told it's one of the reasons that the administration felt it needed to act urgently. Do we know what it shows?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, that proof of life video was apparently recorded around the time of the death of South African President Nelson Mandela as a time reference. Bergdahl was described as gaunt, he apparently had a difficult time speaking. And the administration officials used that video as evidence to support the idea that they thought Bergdahl might have been in failing health, even though some of the Republicans and even one Democratic Senator Joe Manchin emerging from that meeting said they actually looked at it and concluded that he might well have actually been drugged at the time the video was recorded, Anderson.

COOPER: And after the hearing, a lot of Republicans went to the cameras. We just heard John McCain, based on what they had just heard they blasted the administration. It seems like no Democrats came out to defend the administration. Is it - I mean is the whole party on its heels?

JOHNS: Well, no Democrats came out to defend the administration on camera. There were some Democrats who talked about it a bit. Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois emerged from that meeting more supportive, of course, of the administration than some others. But a lot of Democrats didn't speak for the camera. As you might expect, more Republicans were critical. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he was offended by an attempt, by administration officials to try to make the case that releasing those five Taliban leaders might seem - be seen in some way as a gesture of good will or reconciliation in post-war Afghanistan. Listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: That the theory was that if we traded these guys that would show the moderate Taliban have clout. They have got our guys home. You don't need to resort to violence to meet your goal. Well, what is the goal of the Taliban? To lay down their arms and pledge allegiance to the constitution of Afghanistan? This is a complete disconnect. I found that to be the most offensive theory of all.


JOHNS: So, Anderson, I don't think you can say any minds were changed. People went into that meeting with the certain preconceived notion and it appears the administration didn't move the ball much.

COOPER: All right, Joe, I appreciate the update. Thanks for giving those revelations, giving the increasingly toxic cloud surrounding this episode, and the fact that this is an election year, you can see how this becoming a big political headache for the White House. To talk about that angle analyst David Gergen and Maggie Haberman who's also a senior political writer for

David, the fact these senators in the briefing tonight were told that four of these five guys are extremely dangerous, what do you make of that?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it certainly deepened the sense of outrage among the critics of the president, Anderson. Because there is also a sense that is - is spreading through Washington, I heard it from other sources that this arrangement of putting them in Qatar is a very flimsy arrangement, and the expectation is that it is really a dangerous ones. And now we're hearing four out of five will be back in the fight very quickly. And that means trouble in Afghanistan. But there was good news, I thought from the reaction of senators tonight for the White House. Politically good news. And that is that the reaction seemed to break along party lines. Yesterday as you know, Democrat Dianne Feinstein complained about the fact that they were not notified properly. Today, Democrats were pretty much lining up saying, well, we saw the video and we think he looked sick and we think basically the administration did the right thing. That is very consistent with what Maggie's publication in Politico is reporting tonight, and that is that the White House is switching strategies, P.R. strategies, and they are now going to basically claim the Republicans will never be satisfied with anything, they're just hypocrites. They said earlier they might support something like this. This is just - Let's turn it into a partisan battle. That may help the White House in terms of the political fallout from all of this.

COOPER: And Meg, that is their strategy now?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, POLITICAL ANALYST: That's exactly right. They are switching from what was initially assuming that people were going to overwhelmingly see the good here. To realizing that a couple of steps, including, really, the Rose Garden meeting with the reporters was probably ill-advised. They thought this was going to be a good way to deflect some of the criticism about the prisoner swap. But that is not at all how it played out.

COOPER: So, that was part of the reasoning they had the Rose Garden, the Bergdahls into the Rose Garden that they knew there would be some criticism but they thought kind of humanizing it?

HABERMAN: They thought it was going to put a human face on what this all meant. Here are his parents, we're talking about a soldier, we are talking about a real person. It underestimated how - the volume of the reaction, the breadth of the reaction that seems to have caught the White House by surprise. This happens repeatedly with the White House where they underestimate the scope of the animosity toward the president and it happened again here.

COOPER: David, it is interesting, and you worked in the administration Republican then, and Democratic once in the White House, that campaigning is one thing, ruling is something very different.

GERGEN: It is -- this is an organization, the Obama team has been much better in campaigning than in governing. Much more successfully communicating. It is striking to me, Anderson, going back today to read that "Rolling Stone" piece, about Bergdahl. It appeared back in 2012 ...

COOPER: Michael Hastings.

GERGEN: About Michael Hastings. And he quoted a senior administration official as saying if we get Bergdahl back it's going to be a great victory for the president. So they have long anticipated. I think, Anderson, their governing problem in part is here that they didn't understand -- the sharp reaction has not come from the military side from you know, from soldiers about the release of the five. It has come more because they feel so insulted. They feel it was so offensive to treat this as a homecoming of a hero. And that just belittled them, you know, because they do see him as a deserter. And in the same Hastings article, what is now coming, you know, we are hearing more and more of as an e-mail that he apparently sent to his parents just before he left the outposts. In which he said quote, "the horror of that is America is disgusting." Those kinds of comments just rankled deeply within the military. And there are not a lot of military people who have served around the president. You know, it is a younger team and, of course, in the younger generation not a lot of people have served. So I'm not sure they quite got the mentality of how this would strike soldiers who has spent time and lost buddies over in Afghanistan.

COOPER: And it is interesting, Maggie, because politicians say the criticism of the deal has nothing to do with Bergdahl's specific conditions, why he may have left, or anything. But a lot of the criticism, I mean, it is hard to believe that the criticism would be the same if he was a well decorated soldier who there were no questionable circumstances.

HABERMAN: It has certainly fuelled fire to the criticism. But David made an important point. It has struck the military a certain way. People who serve in the military in a certain way. That doesn't necessarily mean they are critical of the deal. They're critical about how this has been treated and that is not the same thing. A lot of the critics of the deal have seized on that as evidence of a bad trade. These are not necessarily the same things.

COOPER: Interesting. Maggie, it's good to have you on. Maggie Haberman. David Gergen as well. Thanks.

GERGEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Retired General Stanley McChrystal was commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan the time that Bowe Bergdahl vanished and broke his silence on the issue in the interview with Yahoo! news today. He was asked if he thought it was the right call to swap five Taliban commanders for the safe return of Bergdahl, would he have done the same thing. Here's what he said.


STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, U.S. ARMY (RET.): We don't leave Americans behind, that is unequivocal. Now there'll be a lot of discussion on whether the mechanisms for getting Sergeant Bergdahl back was right. I'll leave it to people to argue that. But what I will say is it raises the great issue that we should talk about, and that's responsibility and service. First, anyone who serves has a responsibility to the people they serve with. But it also, we as a nation have responsibility to those who serve. So I think if we raise this discussion up and we say we have got a service member for whom we are responsible the answer is pretty clear. And we also should look at Sergeant Bergdahl and he had responsibilities, as well. And I think they should review that and see whether we're meeting those responsibilities on both end.


COOPER: And McChrystal urged Bergdahl's critics not to judge him until all the facts are in. He also defended the extensive search efforts to find Bergdahl, as always, you can find more on the story at And just ahead, what shaped Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier, we'll dig deep on his childhood and the places and people who influenced him growing up.

Plus, when President Obama hit the hotel gym in Poland, a video camera was lurking. Question is, was it a security breach or just a lapse in etiquette for someone to do this.


COOPER: Well, the U.S. military has not said one way or the other if they think Bowe Bergdahl is a deserter. Shortly before he left the base, he wrote to his parents about his dislodgement with the military in its mission to Afghanistan. Bergdahl is the only one who can say what was in his heart and head at the time.

That said, his past, his upbringing is the obvious to place to look for clues, what shape the soldier who left his post in a combat zone in the middle of the night. His childhood wasn't what you might call conventional. Certainly his path to the military was not exactly direct.

George Howell has been looking into Bergdahl's upbringing and joins me now from his hometown where a celebration in his honor was apparently cancelled -- George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, cancelled simply as a matter of public safety. Officials say they're worried that they won't be able to handle the number of people that could converge on this town simply because of the national media attention and there are so many opinions out there. Still, when you examine the fabric of this place where Bowe Bergdahl grew up, you understand for folks here it is all very personal.


HOWELL (voice-over): To try to better understand Bowe Bergdahl you have to start here, the rugged terrain of Idaho back country. The backdrop he calls home. His father explains it best in a recent interview with "The Guardian" before his son was released.

BOB BERGDAHL, FATHER OF BOWE BERGDAHL: This was the aspen, Bowe played through here when he was growing up as a kid. He and his friends were all over these trees. It is nice to come up here and reminisce. I wake up each morning and my first thought is my son is still a prisoner of war in Afghanistan. And I need to do something about that.

HOWELL: Born March 28th, 1986 in a small town here in the Wood River Valley, friends say Bergdahl grew up loving the outdoors. (on camera): He lived a simple, some may even say unconventional life. Bergdahl was home schooled in this area, just outside of Hailey, Idaho. People close to the family tell me that they had a lot of books and that Bergdahl loved to read and was fascinated with learning about the world beyond these mountains.

SUE MARTIN, BERGDAHL FAMILY FRIEND: I guess you could call him a seeker. He loved meeting people that were doing the same things. He would go on fishing boats in Alaska and meet people who finished their travels around the world. He rode his bicycle from here to California and back.

HOWELL (voice-over): Bergdahl accomplished a lot before the age of 23. You see him here on a high seas adventure right there in the green jacket. He spent three months on that boat with his hometown buddy, Dylan Fulmer.

DYLAN FULMER, FRIEND OF BOWE BERGDAHL: He was a good kid, strong as an ox.

HOWELL: Bergdahl was even interested in joining the French Foreign Legion, friends say. And according to one report in the "Rolling Stone," he talked to a missionary friend in Uganda about going to Africa to teach self defense techniques to villages targeted by militia groups. Bergdahl also took interest in learning ballet while he lived in Hailey. Sheri Corton was his teacher.

SHERRY NORTON, BOWE BERGDAHL'S FORMER BALLET TEACHER: Bowe was always trying to expand his knowledge. He really wanted to learn about new and different things like ballet. You know, he went from martial arts and sword fighting and ballet.

HOWELL: In 2008, Bergdahl decided to enlist in the army, a move that reportedly surprised his parents although they were ultimately supportive. According to "Rolling Stone" Bergdahl was sold on the idea of going to Afghanistan to help the locals rebuild their lives at communities.

But later, Bob Bergdahl would tell the magazine, quote, "We were given a fictitious picture, an artificially created picture of what we were doing in Afghanistan." It was believed that Bergdahl appeared to hold two. As reports suggest he literally walked away from the Army in a remote region of Afghanistan.


COOPER: And George, the town of Hailey as we talked about was very much supporting Bergdahl since well before his release. Has that changed since more information came to light?

HOWELL: You know, Anderson, since the day we got here you really do get the sense that people are staying out of the politics of all this. They are staying out of those opinions. They are just waiting for Bowe Bergdahl to return here to Hailey, Idaho and hear that story from him directly -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, appreciate the update. Thanks.

My next guest bring rare experience and perspectives to Bowe Bergdahl story. Until last week, David Sedney was deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia. He dealt with the strategic issues, but also the deeply personal having the duty of briefing Sergeant Bergdahl's family on the fate of their son. He joins us tonight.

David, let's just start by when you look at this deal, I mean, what do you focus on? What to you jumps out?

DAVID SEDNEY, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, the first thing that jumps out to me this is a guy who spent almost five years in captivity, he suffered a lot. His family suffered a lot. In many ways he was a pawn of the forces larger than him. I think it is great that he is back. I met the family and the father and Sergeant Bergdahl's mother. And they clearly love him a lot. They have suffered and it is great to see him back.

COOPER: Do you think the deal should have been done as it was? I mean, the trade of five for one?

SEDNEY: Well, the issue of numbers and all, is something that is going to be thrashed out. I do think it is concerning, the whole concept of trading somebody who has been held by a group like the Taliban and the message it may send to others. The impact on them is hard to predict. But the chance of being negative are pretty high.

So I think there is the down side risk. But on the other hand, as I mentioned before he was in many ways a pawn beyond his control. Really almost from the day he ended up in Pakistan and the role of Pakistan is something that people are not going to pay much attention to, but really has been vital.

The Pakistani intelligence and the military, the people who really rule the country had a very long and close relationship with the Haqqanis, the group that we know were holding him for almost the last five years. And to the best of my knowledge, they never used any bit of their influence to get him released nor passed us any intelligence on where he was.

COOPER: Last year when you were still in the Pentagon I understand you were tasked with the meeting with the Bergdahl family. And I'm told you were armed with sort of talking points that had been given to you. Can you talk about that? What were the talking points?

SEDNEY: Sure, I was -- I along with others was asked to meet with the Bergdahls, Mr. and Mrs. Bergdahl and had a chance to meet them and I was very impressed by their commitment to their son, their love for their son and their efforts to try to get him freed. As part of that we had a set of standard talking points for things that included a statement that we were doing all we could to release him.

And from my own personal integrity, I wanted to make sure that was a statement that I could say with certainty. So I along with a number of colleagues looked into the history of the previous five years and as a result, I told my superiors that I could not make that statement. That I could not really say I thought we had done all we could.

We've done a lot. Many people had dedicated themselves during that period of time. So it was not that we didn't do anything. But we did all we could because there were competing strategies. You mentioned Osama Bin Laden and the relationship with Pakistan and the efforts to try to find some kind of peace deal with Taliban.

All of those rested with Sergeant Bergdahl's fate. So he had been a pawn, as a result he suffered and his family suffered and I'm glad they're finally together.

COOPER: There has been a lot of talk about Sergeant Bergdahl's dad, why he grew a beard and spoke Arabic. He sent that tweet later to the Taliban, a tweet later deleted. Saying I will work to free all the Guantanamo prisoners. Who do you make of that, that if he sent the tweet that he would send something like that? How do you see that?

SEDNEY: As I said I met Mr. Bergdahl, and I'm a father also. His son had been held captive in very difficult circumstances and he was being told that people were doing everything they could to get him released, but he saw no progress or evidence of that. And so did he become frustrated with what he was being told officially? And did he try to take matters into his own hands? I think every father can understand that. I would not criticize him in any way. He impressed me with his love for his son and his desire to have his son freed.

COOPER: David Sedney, I really appreciate your expertise, thank you so much.

SEDNEY: Thank you.

COOPER: We're going to have more on the Bowe Bergdahl story in our next hour of 360 starting at 9:00. I hope you join us then.

Up next, how would you like it if your morning workout was caught on video and then plastered on line for the world to see? President Obama, what was the Secret Service doing when the camera was running, details ahead.


COOPER: Tonight, another reminder that you give up a lot of privacy when you're president of the United States. Check out the video showing President Obama working out at a hotel gym in Poland. The person shooting the video showed him yawning and looks just like anyone else. The Secret Service though says it wasn't a security breach and Mr. Obama was never in any danger.

By the way, he is in Poland marking the 25th anniversary of the solidary movement and meeting with Ukraine's newly elected president. Michelle Kosinski is traveling with the president. She joins me tonight.

So Michelle, this video, I just feel bad for the president of the United States that he is being videotaped in the tiny hotel gym working out and nobody seemed to stop it. I mean, do we know the circumstances -- who took this video?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I know, I think a lot of people felt that way. One guy commented saying, I've been in hotel gyms before where security cleared the place out because Celine Dion was going to show up. Who would do such a thing? The White House has not commented on it. The hotel where he was said they would not speak on it. But this was just a Polish guy there in the gym in Warsaw.

It stuns a lot of people to see this vide, the president of the United States, in obvious some private moments. You see him starting his 30- minute workout with a big yawn, doing huffing and puffing with squats. That was making its way around the internet set to a cheesy sound track no less -- Anderson.

COOPER: A, it gives you a sense of how he is in a complete bubble and watched at all times. But A, it surprised me that he didn't know he was being videotaped and that B, there was a Secret Service agent there knowing he was being taped. Do they allow people in this situation to just videotape the president? I have never seen this type of video before.

KOSINSKI: Right, we have never seen anything like this before. This is not the kind of leak we expect to see on a trip like this. It doesn't look like Wikileaks has anything to do with this. But how is it allowed to happen? It seems like the Secret Service did say that they don't clear out the gym. The president likes to get the workout in. They don't make people leave or put away their cameras. One Secret Service agent said it was apparent that people were taking pictures. So I guess they don't mind.

COOPER: Well, no doubt, I -- it made me just feel bad for the president to be constantly under the microscope and not being able to get a workout in. I have had people videotaping me working out at the gym. But it was look, this whole thing is so cheesy, videotaping. I'm amazed to see this video so much.

A lot more happening tonight, Susan Hendricks has a 360 Bulletin -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a huge reversal from Donald Sterling according to Sterling's attorney, his client has agreed to the sale of the L.A. Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. And he will drop his lawsuit against the NBA that accused the league of violating his constitutional rights by forcing him to sell the team. Big turnaround there.

Also, accepting bids from private contractors interested in running the next phase of the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Whoever gets the job will have 300 days to search 23,000 square miles in the Indian Ocean.

And baseball sized hail wreaked havoc on a car dealership outside of Omaha, Nebraska, last night. More than 4,000 vehicles were hit by this hail with an estimated $162 million in damage.

COOPER: That's incredible.

HENDRICKS: I know, massive.

COOPER: Imagine see that, yikes. Susan, thank you very much. We have another edition of 360 coming up at the top of the hour. But ahead, "The Ridiculist," stick around.


COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." And tonight we have the story of the most laid back bear in all of Daytona Beach. He is chilling some guy's hammock, apparently stayed there for about 20 minutes, just lounging away, that is a real bear. The home owner/hammock owner had this to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laying back like he was a tourist or something. Something spooked him and he ran right through there fast. And half an hour later, he came back and there he was in the hammock again.


COOPER: My guess is the bear went to Daytona Beach on spring break a few months ago and was there when the neighbor got close enough to snap photo.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is all there, I never saw it before.


COOPER: That was in Florida where the bears are pretty chill apparently, but in Utah, they are not just helping themselves to people's hammocks, they are also helping themselves to people's hummingbird feeders. There made herself very much at home and decided to see what else was going on.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bear went and took the handle, I saw it moving inside. And the bear came right in the house and stood and looked around. He went up here to these stairs and I was looking at the bear hopefully from a safe distance.


COOPER: That is like out of a horror movie, the bears are now opening the door. They can operate door handles? What is happening? The home owner barricaded himself upstairs while the bear helped himself to peanuts. Now, this is a bear breaking into a cabin.

"The Great Outdoors," some of John Candy's finest work. But you know, a bear doesn't even have to come inside your house to be kind of scary, Southern California was on bear watch a few years ago, the local news was doing a play-by-play of a 400-pound bear in the neighborhood.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He came down that drive, down on Mayfield. We'll maneuver around to see if we can get a shot of him. We got another shot of him.


COOPER: One person walking in Los Angeles who run into a bear. That's why you should not walk and text at the same time. Not in Los Angeles, Daytona Beach or New York City. You have to be alert and be on the lookout for bears at all times at least on our "Ridiculist." Stay tuned for another live hour of 360, an all-new edition coming up right after the break. For our international viewers, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is after the break.