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Possible Motive for Pre-Teen Stab Suspects; New Video of Bergdahl's Release; Pentagon Will Review Taliban Video

Aired June 4, 2014 - 06:30   ET


PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we'll certainly know that when the docs check Sergeant Bergdahl out. But this is not a Republican/Democratic problem. This is a separation of powers problem, because Congress passed a law that said we want to know 30 days in advance. The White House did brief them about these talks for years, that they were ongoing.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: But they're still unhappy they didn't know the details of this, this specific deal that was going to go through. They said they needed it.

BEGALA: Right. And that's the problem, having both on the Hill and in the White House, as soon as you tell Hill anything, it winds up on CNN.

BOLDUAN: Even the intel?

BEGALA: But it doesn't mean you can violate the law. That's the problem. They should have vetoed the law --

BOLDUAN: Not necessarily when you tell Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss. You know that.

BEGALA: Dianne Feinstein, I don't know Saxby. Feinstein is a former client. She would never reveal.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But that said, it was always these five guys, six men died. So, there's a little bit of head in the sand here.

But, Kevin, how does it help you -- in all words of irony, that Hillary Clinton now is suggesting, I wasn't crazy about the deal, I had real doubts about this deal. How does that help your cause?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't know if it helps the cause. I mean, I think it's, if anything, it's a window into Hillary Clinton. I mean, 48 hours before she was sort of touting the administration line about this and now she is the ever conventional, ever calculating politician trying to drive a contrast with one of the most unpopular political leaders in the country right now in President Barack Obama, whose approval ratings are in the 40s.

If she believes that if she's going to ever break away from this idea that a Hillary Clinton presidency is going to be a Barack Obama third term, she has to start drawing this contrast in criticizing the White House and finding her own space.

If anything, it's a window into Hillary Clinton.

BOLDUAN: Quick button, Paul, because you're close -- you worked for the Clintons for years.

BEGALA: This is the sort of thing I'm sure she would have said in private had she still been within the administration. Now she's a free actor. She should be saying what she really thinks instead of only touting the party.

I will point out, as Kevin knows very well, she was a senator of New York when this city was attacked. And it does make your blood boil. No matter how happy I am to see Sergeant Bergdahl liberated, it makes your blood boil to see five guys, some of them connected to that attack, walk free.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Paul Begala, Kevin Madden, thank you both. Great to see you.

MADDEN: Great to be with you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Kevin.

CUOMO: Let's take a break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, you know the case about these 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin, allegedly stabbing one of their own friends 19 times, leaving her for dead. There's now word of a motive. Someone on the Internet they were trying to impress. We're going to look into it.



Disturbing new details in the near fatal stabbing of a 12-year-old Wisconsin girl. Police say two 12-year-old girls lured their friend into the woods. They stabbed her some 19 times and then left her for dead. All to impress a fictional online demon known as "Slenderman".

Who is exactly is he?

CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Waukesha, Wisconsin, with more so many disturbing aspects of this.

But this fictional character, we don't know anything about him.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he has been around for a while. We do know a fair amount about him. He is all over the Internet and a lot of kids around the world are attracted to him.

But this one went clearly too far. These two young women being charged as adult, 12-year-olds keep in mind, overnight. A little memorial popped up to the victim here. We do understand that she is doing better, able to sit up for the first time and talking to investigators.


RUSSELL JACK, WAUKESHA, WISCONSIN CHIEF OF POLICE: I've been here for over 24 years as a cop in the city of Waukesha and I have not seen a crime of this nature, especially when you take into account 12-year- old girls.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Twelve-year-old Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier are accused of the attempted murder of their 12-year-old friend when police say they lured her into the woods and stabbed her 19 times, leaving her for dead.

(on camera): These are the woods where the stabbing actually happen, several blocks away from the park where all this began. The victim was able to get to this area here where the bicyclist found her nearly dead.

JACK: She was within a millimeter of her life. A millimeter with one of the stab wounds striking a major artery along with the 18 other stab wounds.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Police say Geyser and Weier plotted for months for the best way to kill her friend. According to authorities, they first plotted to duct tape her mouth and stab her in the neck and then changed their plans to lure her into the woods while playing a game of hide and seek.

The motive, say police, to win the favor of a fictional Internet horror character, who the girls found on the horror fantasy website

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, "Slenderman" was a fictional character created as part of a joke in 2009. Most of his representations "Slenderman" is this thin, tall, faceless character. The creepy part about the character is in most stories, he kills children.

MARQUEZ (on camera): "Slenderman" character, as I started looking into it, he's every everywhere.

JACK: Yes.

MARQUEZ: Is there a sense they were reading about him and studying him in various forms online, not just Creepy Pasta?

JACK: As far as all their Internet sites, we're going the computer forensic evidence of their computers and such. I would assume it will turn out to be more than just Creepy Pasta, but all sites have to be of concern to parents.


MARQUEZ: Now, this is one thing that police is saying is that they are looking at their computer hard drives. All of the children involved in this and figure out everything they had been looking at. The entire sort of global experience of what they were seeing. They are also trying to recreate everything that was going on in these young women's lives up until the time that this thing happened. Trying to truly understand what is happening here. Also the word to parents, be aware of what their kids are watching and looking at online and talk to them about it. Very, very disturbing story.

Chris, Kate, back to you.

BOLDUAN: Horrible story. Absolutely re-enforcing that point. Why oh why do they happen?

Miguel, thank you very much. Amazing.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, powerful new video of the Taliban setting Bowe Bergdahl free. We're going to show those dramatic moments leading up to his release. What can we learn from the video?


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Breaking overnight: stunning new video released by the Taliban showing the moment that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was freed. The video revealing a dazed looking Bergdahl handed over to U.S. forces and flown away.

So, what can we learn from these dramatic new images? Let's go to Washington and bring in chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto for much more.

I mean, you can almost go frame by frame and try to analyze this, Jim. It truly is extraordinary. But what do you gather, what's most striking to you, especially in seeing Special Forces in action. I know you know firsthand, you have first-hand experience with the Special Forces.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Listen, we don't normally see them at work. We very rarely see them at work like this.

You see from that video that they do things differently. The men who walked up there, one of them wearing jeans. They're wearing a keffiyeh, the Middle Eastern scarf. They have beards. So they're not in uniform. That's standard for them. They have much more relaxed rules as to how they can operate. That's one thing.

You know, this is likely to have been -- I haven't been told this but a SEAL Team 6 or Delta Force for this level of sensitivity. You just don't see those guys on camera. As we're looking now seeing Bowe Bergdahl there himself, what was his health, what was his state of mind at that point?

We knew from January when we broke the story that there had been a proof of life video that came from the Taliban and one thing that concerned U.S. officials at that point was it appeared in that video that he was in declining health. And that is one thing that increased the urgency from the administration's point of view in terms of getting him out. So that's another thing, is we zero in on him there --

BOLDUAN: And that's been -- and that's been a core -- a core question in this story, the status of his health because that was one of the reasons, as you say, that the White House says they needed to move so quickly because his health was rapidly deteriorating.

What do you make -- at one point in the video when he's sitting in that pick-up truck still, you see him blinking rapidly. It could be dust. It could be a number of things, but it almost makes you wonder, if he's -- his eyes are trying to adjust to natural light.

SCIUTTO: Right. Is it that he's been confined away from sunlight? Is it that there's dust churned up by the helicopter? I mean, is he crying? You know, it's an emotional moment. These are questions -- this is a big question. And you even had a moment right there that we just saw; it looked like he cracked a smile. Was that a smile or was he wincing?

You know, these are things that experts will look at this tape and make a judgment, particularly now as they have him with military doctors to assess his health and his mental state.

You know, just back on this special forces, as well. You know, I had an experience in eastern Afghanistan a few years ago when I caught some special forces on camera. We just happened to see them operating. We got them on camera. I remember one of them turned around, and he was riding an ATV, came up to our camera, ripped the disk out of our camera and destroyed it in front of us and drove away. You know, they don't like to be caught on camera unless it's arranged that way.

So this is -- this is a rare glimpse of seeing them do what they do. And they do things differently. They dress differently. They have their own helicopters, you know, special helicopters, stealth helicopters, this kind of thing. It really is remarkable. It's revealing.

And you also get a sense from the Taliban, how do they operate? You had 12 guys there standing. They had a security perimeter of their own. You see someone with an RPG standing up on the hill. You see them carrying a white flag there to show that they were weren't going to fire. Of course, they're, you know, concerned about their own safety in this. But also picture, why does the Taliban release a video like this?

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

SCIUTTO: Because it's a propaganda victory, right? This is a victory. We stood up with Americans with all of their hardware, all of their money, all of their weapons. We held this guy for five years, and we got five of our own back. They're advertising this as a win for them.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, and to -- to that point, almost exactly, that this is seen as a win for the Taliban, Matthew Farwell, he served in that region before Bergdahl had gone over there. He was a guest earlier on the show. In talking to Chris, he said that what Bergdahl was wearing, it actually seemed more formal dress for that region, which actually speaks to the fact that they see this as a propaganda video for themselves.

SCIUTTO: I think so. They want to show that they -- that they took care of him, returned him in health, right, in decent health. But under their control, right? On their terms. They returned him to the Americans on their terms. They got what they wanted. And that's -- you know, that's something that they're going to advertise. Of course, the second part of the tape, as we saw later, showed the handoff in Qatar of the five Taliban prisoners released from Guantanamo.

BOLDUAN: And hopefully we'll get back to it in the video as we're kind of showing it on the loop. At one point right when the special forces walk up, they shake hands with the Taliban that are bringing Bergdahl forward. You see the hand go right to the back of Bowe Bergdahl, clearly trying to check if there's anything back there. As they approach the helicopter he gets a more extensive pat down. No one should be -- I guess we shouldn't be surprised at that at all.

SCIUTTO: No because the concern could be, you know, not necessarily Bergdahl's intentions but was he used by the Taliban, you know, as -- as a weapon? Look at them there. You see him right now getting a full pat down.

And there was also a -- a remarkable moment at the -- at the handoff there as you see -- you saw one of the special forces soldiers bring his hand up to his right -- his right hand up to his heart, which is -- which is a gesture of respect. You'll see it there in a moment, a gesture of respect in Afghan culture to say, you know, we -- thank you very much. We've completed our deal. They even wave as they walk away. You know, two sides in this brutal 13-year war meeting in a rare, peaceful circumstance, really a remarkable -- a remarkable moment to see there.

BOLDUAN: And you can imagine the tension in that moment. Special forces really not knowing what they are about to walk up to, despite the assurances. As Barbara Starr was saying, there was a lot of fire power in the area if they needed it.

But for that critical moment when they walk up to come face to face with the Taliban to pull off this transfer, there clearly must be a moment of great tension.

Do you -- everyone's gonna -- I'm trying to gauge if it appears as if Bergdahl is walking with some difficulty as they're heading towards the helicopter. Do you -- can you -- can you gauge that at all?

SCIUTTO: I saw that as well. As he walked away, particularly, you know, towards the helicopter. I don't know. It's rough ground. We don't know what he has on his feet. Is he wearing sandals? Is it rocky ground? It's hard to say.

But we do know that his health was a question here, that he was physically compromised. That's what experts, when -- when this tape came out in January, military health experts looked at that proof of life video and they saw signs in the video of health problems, including him being emaciated. So we're talking about a guy who's not -- certainly not as physically fit as when he -- when he left -- when he left the military. So that's an indication -- that's possibly an indication right there.

BOLDUAN: And at the very least, Jim, as we -- it's impossible to get into the mind of Bowe Bergdahl after five years in captivity and many maybe kind of misfires that they said he was going to be released and then he wasn't going to be released, that this finally was the day that he was getting on this helicopter and he was going to be going to freedom. We can't underestimate what he was going through at that moment.

SCIUTTO: No, imagine, I mean, what an emotional moment for him. You know, during those five years, many times when he might have questioned whether he would ever leave, whether he would survive this. And I think that that -- you can sense that there. And this is remarkable for us to see.

I was trying to figure out have we ever seen an exchange like this before on video?

BOLDUAN: Good question.

SCIUTTO: In the Vietnam war, World War II? I mean, it brought back to me pictures of 1981 when those hostages came back from Iran. Those I remember. As a kid, we saw that on cameras as they returned to the states. But it's remarkable to see this out in the field, an exchange like this happen and see it from, you know, in a Hollywood moment.

BOLDUAN: Almost, and -- and to that exact point, are there any questions that you have that linger, I mean, many questions regarding exactly the circumstances of his health, of course, but do you have any questions, new questions, that you see coming from this video? What do you think the Pentagon, when they released a statement saying that they don't question the authenticity of the video, but they are reviewing it? What do you think they're reviewing it for?

SCIUTTO: I think they'll look at a couple of things. I mean, they're going to look at his health, but obviously they have -- they have him now. They can see him in person. They're going to look at the forces there, what were their capabilities? What weapons did they have? They're going to look at the faces of the Taliban involved. Some of them are covered, but I -- but I saw -- there was one earlier where you can see the face of at least one of them. In fact, there he is right in the back there to the right. They're going to be looking at that. Is this someone we can identify? They will glean a lot of intelligence from this, the best that they can.

And even Taliban operating procedures, right? How do they do it? How do they line up their security here? This kind of thing. They'll take every opportunity. And there's another one where you can see his face. They'll take every opportunity here to glean valuable intelligence.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Jim Sciutto, thanks so much, Jim. Great to get your insights.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: See you soon.

CUOMO: And as Jim knows all too well, you know, while the president may be trying to wrap up the amount of presence that's in Afghanistan, the hostilities between the two sides are far from over. So every bit of information they can get, checking faces is important.

Also important to mention, in looking at the video ourselves, we don't believe the special ops guys' faces are distinguishable and visible, and that's why they're not further blurred than they are. We believe that you can't reveal their identity, obviously, for security reasons.

So we're going to take a quick break now on NEW DAY. We have a lot more on this Bergdahl video when we return.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like the scene out of the movies, the actual Bowe Bergdahl swap.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You do not have the luxury in a situation like this. It was absolutely the right thing to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is more to this story than just a soldier walking away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh. (inaudible)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Baseball size hail pelting parts of the Midwest. Heavy rain and torrential rain wreaking havoc.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police say they lured her into the woods and stabbed her 19 times.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: She was within a millimeter of her life.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY.

We do have breaking news. This dramatic video released by the Taliban overnight. It is something you've probably never seen before, not just that it's Bowe Bergdahl being handed over. Of course we haven't seen that before. But this is special ops at work for the United States in an exchange that of course has everybody talking.

You're seeing members of the Taliban handing the sergeant back over to the Americans. And what do we see in the sergeant there? He looks dazed. It's dusty, of course. How is he moving? He's patted down. He's put into a chopper. And then he, of course, get this flight to freedom. BOLDUAN: And here at home, the United States, the U.S. Army has announced a comprehensive new review to determine the motivation for Bergdahl. Is Bergdahl a deserter, something that -- that soldiers in his own platoon have suggested.

We have complete coverage this morning. We have Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon. We have chief national security corespondent Jim Sciutto live in Washington and senior international correspondent Matthew Chance live in Germany where Bergdahl is being treated. Let's start with Barbara. Barbara?


This video is so extraordinary. You are going to want to look at it frame by frame.


STARR (voice-over): Breaking overnight: the first images of the actual Bowe Bergdahl swap emerging on the Taliban's website. Chanting praise for their leader, 18 armed Taliban militants seen standing in wait, perched on grassy hills in the valley, guns and rocket launchers at the ready. The narration says this meeting took place at 4:00 in the afternoon in Khost province, eastern Afghanistan.

At the center of the action, a silver pickup truck. Bowe Bergdahl seen inside, sitting in the backseat. Bergdahl dressed all in white. He appears to be nervous, blinking, shaky. Bergdahl seen talking with one of his alleged captors.

At one point the Army sergeant even cracks what looks to be a smile while talking and then wipes his eyes. Seen flying overhead, a twin- engine plane approaching the meeting point. And then suddenly, like the scene out of the movies, the special forces Blackhawk helicopter descends. Two Taliban militants immediately escort Bergdahl towards the chopper, waving a white flag.

Three U.S. special operations commandos approach, shaking hands with the Taliban militant.