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Debate Over Bergdahl Swap; Was Bergdahl Drugged?; 911 Call Released in Wisconsin Stabbing; Stabbing Victim Appears to Be Out of Danger

Aired June 5, 2014 - 08:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome once again to NEW DAY. Good morning, everyone. It's Thursday, June 5th, 8:00 in the East.

This morning, new details about the deals of freed Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Last night, the Obama administration officials held a closed door briefing with senators, showing them a proof-of-life video that the administration says justifies the prisoner swap that sparked so much controversy.

Senator Angus King, he was on the show a short time ago, he told us he described what happened in that briefing. When I asked him if officials assured them whether the Taliban detainees would re-enter the fight, he said this.


SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: There was no such guarantee. In fact, explicitly, the intelligence people explicitly said that is a risk. And I think it is a risk. They had intelligence that had even the fact of these discussions leaked out, there was a reasonable chance Bowe Bergdahl would have been killed. And that was one of the pieces of information that we learned yesterday that gave it some credence in terms of why it had to be kept quiet so long.


BOLDUAN: That was part of our discussion with Senator Angus King.

Let's bring in Joe Johns. He's live from Washington.

Also, Joe, the senator described that proof-of-life video saying that Bergdahl in it, he looked terrible, that he could barely talk. He couldn't focus his eyes. He was downcast and he was very thin.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. It's pretty clear the administration didn't really change any minds with this top secret briefing at the capital.

On the issue of that video which still has not been released, it's not clear to many senators whether he was sick or whether he was drugged. There's also the fact that that video came out months ago around apparently the time of the death of South African President Nelson Mandela.

On the issue of leaks coming out of Capitol Hill, we do know it's a constant concern for any administration. It wasn't the first thing the White House mentioned when asked if it was concerned that Congress would blow up this deal at the White House briefing on Monday. I asked about that, and Jay Carney cited foremost about Bergdahl's health as being the thing in their mind, as the reason why they wanted to move quickly.

But I don't think there's any doubt in anybody's mind that the wrong leak at the wrong time would have caused serious problems and might have spoiled the chances to secure Bergdahl's release, Kate.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Joe, I'll take it.

You know, there's so much outrage and backlash going on now. It seems that the White House has been caught by surprise. But we're learning the White House prepared for blowback after the Bergdahl release. The administration knew questions about the capture would be raised but was, in fact, surprised by the degree of criticism thrown at the soldier and his family and at them.

CNN's Jim Acosta is in Brussels traveling with the president.

Jim, what's your take?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. A White House official tells me despite that feel-good moment in the White House Rose Garden with Bowe Bergdahl's parents last Saturday, they were expecting some criticism, some controversy over the deal that resulted in Bergdahl being freed.

What they were not prepared for were some of the harsh comments being made about not only Bergdahl but also his family. They're pointing to Republican lawmakers who are accusing Bergdahl of being a deserter and even some comments made by conservative pundits that Bergdahl's father looked Muslim because of his long beard he was wearing next to the president in the Rose Garden over the weekend.

Now, one thing I should point out is administration officials are cautioning it's way too early to draw any conclusions about the events that led to Bowe Bergdahl's capture. As for that video, that proof of life video that prompted administration concerns about Bergdahl's well-being, I'm told by a senior administration officials that they're reviewing whether to make that video public after it was shown to lawmakers, so the rest of the country can see it.

Keep in mind, all of this is happening, Chris, as the president is here in Brussels for the G-7 Summit designed to keep the pressure on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. It's the g-7 summit because Russia was booted out of the g8 over its actions in Ukraine. The president will be asked very likely at this conference coming up in about an hour about Bergdahl. I've been told by administration officials expect the president once again to say the U.S. doesn't leave soldiers behind -- Chris.

CUOMO: The plate is full for sure. But the president must deal with what's in front of him.

Jim, thank you very much.

Let's bring in Bob Baer, CNN national security analyst and former CIA operative, as well as Philip Mudd, senior fellow at the New America Foundation and former CIA counterterrorism official.

Gentlemen, thank you for being here.

Bob, start with you. The exigency of having to get him, it was immediate and urgent. It was why they didn't need to follow the letter of the law with the 30-day warning. What would you have to see in that proof-of-life video? What would you take that might impress senators?

BOB BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, they would have shown it to doctors, would tell you what was the matter, whether he was drugged or suffering some illness. I think he was clearly not doing well.

On top of it, there was some intelligence, there are parts of the Taliban that wanted to execute him. This has been out there a while the last couple years. There was fears that he would be grabbed by another part and executed publicly. And I think the administration was right. They had to move now or never.

CUOMO: That is an angle or an aspect that I am surprised hasn't been pursued more, Philip. I want to bring you in on that.

The idea of what shape he was in, what they knew about it, that doesn't seem to be bearing much fruit. But this other angle that Bob just brought up, that this was a fragile negotiation, that they couldn't trust the Taliban, they didn't know what was going to happen, we don't know much about this negotiating process and how deals like this work.

Help us understand what goes in metaphorically to that room and that environment.

PHILIP MUDD, SENIOR FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Look, the problem with the debate we're having today is we're looking at one scenario, the scenario we've seen roll out over in the past week. Somebody is released on the battlefield. If you're in the decision-making chair, you've got to look at multiple scenarios. Let me give you one.

We pull out negotiations and a month later, there's a beheading video of Bergdahl. Can you imagine the debate of why we didn't pursue negotiations if that happens? So, if you're in a decision making chair, you're not looking at this in a linear fashion. You've got to look at multiple scenarios and not all of them are good.

CUOMO: And (AUDIO GAP) many of these same lawmakers complaining about this deal were pressuring the White House to get Bowe Bergdahl, saying he's a hero, saying you're not doing enough. Now, they're deleting their tweets and, you know, and trying to correct the record to harness the political nature of this. But that's part of the reality, Bob. They have to deal with that in making this determination, no?

BAER: There's a bit of hypocrisy. Back to Iran Contra when Bill Buckley had been taken there and we got a proof-of-life video. He was doing bad, had been beat up. President Reagan said we have to get this guy out.

The pressure on the White House and the pressure to keep it secret, Iran contra could not be briefed to the committees because it would have been leaked -- the same with Bowe Bergdahl. The dynamics in the White House are pretty much the same, Republican, Democrat. I think we should give the president a little room on this.

CUOMO: The president and the entire team and really all of the lawmakers. Philip, give us more about this, about how you have to strategize this out. We know where they came out. We know the conclusion. But what do you think the different sets of variables were other than this horrible aspect of a beheading video that were on the table and were equal possibilities until they pulled the trigger?

MUDD: Look, there's one aspect of this that's subtle, but I think is really critical. The president has recently announced as you know that the United States is withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. So, let's fast forward a year and a half. Let's say we're not at war with the Taliban anymore and few troops are there.

What kind of negotiations are we going to have at that point? The Taliban is going to be sitting around saying they're going to release these guys anyway out of Guantanamo, the Taliban prisoners, why would we cut a deal with the Americans if we're going to get our guys home anyway?

So, I suspect there's an aspect where the American side is saying whether or not this guy is sick, we have a window that goes until U.S. troops withdraw and we better cut a deal now.

CUOMO: And something that has been ignored and we're trying not to do that here, but is relevant and needs the perspective of men like you two, five for one? The starting five, the worst five for this one guy -- what is the reality, Bob?

Forget about how bad they are or not. We're never going to impress people that they have an answer or conclusion on this. But this point Philip is making, Gitmo is going to close. Guys have been sent back. We're leaving them with governments that we don't necessarily trust, that we know what's going on or certainly can't monitor.

What's the reality about what's going to happen with the men at Gitmo?

BAER: They'll be released. I mean, they didn't kill Americans that we know about. They were not part of 9/11. They were not the worst of the worst.

Phil is absolutely right. They would go back. And in any case, why not get something out of them? And again, as Phil said, we're moving to the end game in Afghanistan. There's going to be some sort of negotiation either directly or indirectly with the Taliban, so let's move on. Don't forget the drone attacks are tapering off completely. We're at pieces on one way.

CUOMO: Now, Philip, is there a fair pushback on this issue of saying, no, no, no, we may keep them there, we may put guys like this in our own prisons, no, it's not over yet, we don't know we're going to release them. Is that fair pushback or is there a high B.S. factor and the reality is they're going to be sent back to their country?

MUDD: Come on. I didn't fall off the turn truck yesterday. Let's be clear here -- the president got out of Iraq, he's going to get out of Afghanistan. We have a bunch of guys at Guantanamo who are not al Qaeda members.

So, you mean to tell me years down the road, we're going to keep a bunch of Taliban guys when we're not on the battlefield in Afghanistan? Let's cut to chase here. When you're in the chair in Washington, you've got to take a complex decision and make it simple. The simple decision is, are you going to make a trade or not?

When I was the chair at CIA, we had black sites. Those black sites held CIA detainees, al Qaeda detainees. We knew what would happen when what we did to those prisoners would come out in the public. Our answer was quite simple, when it hits the fan, so be it.

The decision was put them in prisons, get the information out of them and when people get excited about it, we know what our answer is. We were dealt a hand of deuces and we did the best we could. In this case, the White House had a hand of deuces, give the five over or don't get the guy back? Simple decision.

CUOMO: Bob, agree?

BAER: I 100 percent agree.

CUOMO: You guys have both been in the business of conducting these kinds of situations. So, your perspective has got to matter.

That said, Mick, the political fallout continues. The outrage whether real or feigned is circulating all around us and the discussion will continue as well. Our thanks to these two gentlemen. Over to you.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: It certainly will, Chris. Thanks so much, and we'll be watching. Let's give you more of your headlines at this hour.

An intense manhunt is underway right now in New Brunswick, Canada, a 24-year-old suspect who police say fatally shot three RCIPM officers. Police released this picture of the suspect, Justin Bork (ph). You can see his dressed a military fatigue and appearing to be carrying two rifles.

Also, take a look at this video posted on Facebook capturing the first terrifying moments of that shoot-out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)







UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He shot the cop.




PEREIRA: Residents in the area are being urged and warned to stay indoors. Two other officers were injured in that shooting. But they are listed in stable condition.

Quite a terrifying scene playing out in Imperial, California. A military plane crashed into several homes and set them ablaze. At least three houses were destroyed. Eight others had to be evacuated.

What's amazing, the pilot was able to eject and is said to be okay, and luckily, no injuries on the ground. The harrier jet was from the air station in Yuma, Arizona. Investigators now looking into what caused that crash.

CNN has learned that more than a dozen GM employees are on their way out after an internal investigation into the company's massive ignition switch recall. The full report is due out in less than an hour. It is expected to address why it took the company more than a decade to recall millions of unsafe vehicles. The recall has been linked to at least 13 deaths.

We'll be watching that news right here on CNN for sure.

CUOMO: There's a solid basis of proof that there are more people injured and maybe even killed by those. This is the company investigating itself you have to remember. Hopefully it continues and they get to the bottom of it so those families can be helped.

Let's take a little break on NEW DAY: the "Slenderman" stabbings. A 911 call who saved a young girl after she was allegedly stabbed by two pre teen girls in Wisconsin. We'll play the call for you as we try to learn more about why this happened and what happens next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BOLDUAN: This morning, we're hearing the chilling 911 call in the so- called "Slenderman" stabbing. Police say a 12-year-old girl was stabbed nearly to death by two 12-year-old girls. Hospital officials now say the victim's condition is improving, thankfully. This as we're learning more about the accused attackers and their strange fascination with the dark, online character as "Slenderman".

CNN's Miguel Marquez is has more.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The mug shots of 12- year-old Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, pictures of innocence. But their actions say authorities beyond belief.

OPERATOR: 911. What's the address of your emergency.

MARQUEZ; 911 tapes reveal the horror of their actions, luring their 12-year-old friends into the woods, police say, stabbing her 19 times, leaving her for dead.

CALLER: She says she's having trouble breathing. She says she was stabbed multiple times.

OPERATOR: Is she awake?

CALLER: She's awake.

OPERATOR: Is she breathing?

CALLER: She's breathing. She says she can take shallow breaths. She's alert.

MARQUEZ: The plan, the attack, the motive all to please slender man, created in 2009 in an online contest, the character who preys on children has taken on a life of its own with thousands of pictures, videos and stories posted online.

The older brother of suspect Anissa Weier telling "The Daily Mail" news site that "She loved the Slender man stories, just anything a bit creepy. I don't see why it changed from dream to reality."

(on camera): What affect does this have on students in general there?

TODD GRAY, SUPERINTENDENT, WAUKESHA SCHOOL DISTRICT: I think students and parents, there is a certain amount of fear. Are things going to be OK? Are students safe? And I can tell you, we do have a very safe school.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Todd Gray, who oversees the school the victim and her alleged perpetrators attend, says some parents have kept their kids home. Other children have sought counseling in at the school.

Samantha Rodriguez was in the same gym class as Morgan Geyser.

SAMANTHA RODRIGUEZ: I was scared, too, because you don't know who to trust anymore.

MARQUEZ: The school has now for now banned the Creepy Pasta Web site, home to the majority of all the Slenderman stories, from all its computers and iPads pending a review and websites pending review. It's also urging parents to monitor what their kids are accessing online and to talk about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a parent, I just hold my kids a little closer. But for the grace of God.

MARQUEZ: The good news, if there's any to be had, is the victim's condition has been upgraded to fair. She is walking a bit and talking. She appears to be out of danger.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Waukesha, Wisconsin.


CUOMO: The more you learn about that story, the more sad it is. Where these kids are getting these ideas and who is in control of them?

Coming up on NEW DAY, senators are getting a first look at the proof- of-life video of Bowe Bergdahl. Should the White House have notified Congress before? That's why they're showing the tape, to say it was such an urgent circumstance. We're going to take you through it.


PEREIRA: All right. Here we go with the five things you need to know for your new day.

At number one, senators are skeptical after being shown a proof of life video of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in captivity. The White House claiming it proves his health was declining and that he had to be rescued.

President Obama will sit down with British Prime Minister David Cameron, part of his meetings with the G-7 group of nations. He'll head from Brussels to Paris later for more meetings and tomorrow's D- Day commemoration.

At least 12 employees are leaving General Motors because of the results of an internal investigation of the company's failed response to an ignition switch defect. GM is set to release full details of the report in about half an hour's time.

Quite a terrifying scene in California after a military jet crashed into a residential area. It destroyed three homes. The pilot was able to eject safely, luckily no one on the ground was injured.

Donald Sterling's attorney says he has agreed to the sale of his L.A. Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. He'll drop his lawsuit against the NBA. The saga continues.

We're always updating the five things you need to know, go to for the latest -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Michaela, thank you.

New insight this morning into why the Obama administration ordered the prisoner exchange that traded Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees. As we mentioned, senators were in a closed door briefing last night, given a closer look at the video that officials say is part of their reasoning behind why they needed to move so fast to get him out. Should the White House have taken the time to notify Congress or any key lawmakers before making the deal?

Joining us now is Paul Begala, CNN's political commentator, Democratic strategist and senior adviser to Priorities USA Action.

And Cheri Jacobus, president of Capital Strategies Consulting and Public Affairs and a Republican strategist.

Good morning to both of you.


BOLDUAN: Good morning.

So, Cheri, one of the interesting things, do you -- do you think it was a fair point that was coming from the administration and Democrats now that Republicans, they are only criticizing this because it is President Obama who pulled it off, it would be very different if a Republican president had made the same deal?

JACOBUS: No. I think it's actually politically dangerous for them to go down that line. First of all, you have many, many Democrats who are out there saying this was wrong, it was a bad decision. First of all, the president broke the law by not going to Congress. Secondly, they're not buying the video.

BOLDUAN: Some of them aren't buying the video.

JACOBUS: Right. The bipartisan to try to make it partisan, I think the American people are smarter than this. They understand you have colleagues --

BOLDUAN: The White House is saying Republicans are making this harder.

JACOBUS: The White House is saying that, but they can't get away with it because Democrats are criticizing as well. Initially there were Democrats and Republicans both putting out tweets saying this is a great thing. Before the facts were in, all they knew is we had an American back and didn't really understand it.

You had both Democrats and Republicans pulling back those tweets. You had Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, who went out defending the administration and she pulled back. Now to say this is a Republican thing I think is politically dangerous for the administration. They have a couple people that might go with it, but by and large, I think they're taking a big chance trying to exploit it in that regard. CUOMO: Paul, what's the other side on this issue as to whether or not this is a group of both sides coming after the White House? Or is it just political football being run by the Republicans?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Look, there are legitimate important questions about this. As you know, we talked about this yesterday, Chris. I certainly thought the president should have informed the Congress. Now he's starting to make the case as to why he wasn't able to, both that intelligence of the two former CIA officials you interviewed gave us that perhaps there were threats to his life if this leaked, also the question of exigent circumstances. Maybe he was sick.

CUOMO: So, there's a legitimate there. Then off to the side, to the far right side there's the politics. Everything Barack Obama does he will be attacked for. President Bush released 520 detainees -- released or transferred 520 detainees from Guantanamo. Not a peep from the right. If Barack Obama cured cancer, the Republicans would attack him for putting oncologists out of work. So, it goes with the territory, being Barack Obama.


JACOBUS: Yes, I think in this case, I think that's very, very unfair, because the support initially was bipartisan or non-partisan as the criticism now. I think everybody at first -- the president was hoping they could get a bump from this. I think the American people, Republicans and Democrats would have cheered had this all been on the up and up. It appears it's not. Susan Rice has been put out there a second time telling the same things that aren't quite accurate.

She should stay off TV, they should keep her off TV. So, this is something that --

BOLDUAN: What's not accurate about what Susan Rice said?

JACOBUS: Well, she goes out with the talking points and saying this was all on the up and up. This is a case where this guy served honorably when there was enough evidence to the contrary.

CUOMO: Does it matter?

JACOBUS: You know, there's a couple of different issues here. There's an issue of should Congress have been notified, did the president break the law? That's the one I think a lot of -- you know, Dianne Feinstein, Democratic senator from California --

CUOMO: Does it matter to you if it deserted?

JACOBUS: It does matter to me. For the American people, that's what they will focus on. When we have so many men and women who did serve honorably.

CUOMO: Would you have left him there?

JACOBUS: I'm not the president. CUOMO: You have an opinion.

JACOBUS: As a layperson, I would say you don't hand over five terrorists, two of whom named war criminals by the U.N., in exchange --

CUOMO: So you would have left him there?

JACOBUS: I would have explored a different way and at least gone to Congress. That's where the president has a problem. He did not go to Congress to consult.

He doesn't deal with Congress. He's tried to circumvent, if looks like he knew he wouldn't get the support. He doesn't want to deal with Congress, he's made that clear, that they tried to --

CUOMO: There was actually six and one of them died. The detainees have always been on the table as to what was on the offing. Do you remember any lawmaker Democrat or Republican saying, leave Bergdahl there, I don't like this deal?

JACOBUS: I don't think they were given a chance to look at all the facts. So, I don't think you can make a fair assessment whether they would have been right or wrong. The fact that the president didn't deal with Congress is pretty much an indication he didn't care what they thought. So, they were not provided with all the information, and that's on the president.