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Debate Over Bergdahl Swap; New Book for Grads; The Sixties: The Cold War

Aired June 5, 2014 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHERI JACOBUS, PRESIDENT, CAPITOL STRATEGIES P.R.: The fact that the president didn't even deal with Congress on this is pretty much an indication that he didn't care what they thought, so they were not provided with all the information, and that's on the president.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: One of the - one of the concerns, one of the pieces of outrage, I guess you could say, that's coming out of this meeting last night, Paul, is not just the notification, it's not the background or what happened in the capture of Bowe Bergdahl, it's the fact that there is a national security risk now with these five Taliban detainees. We talked to Angus King earlier.

He said the officials that briefed them could not give them any guarantee that they won't go back into the fight. They said that it was likely that they would. Why then -- what is the White House banking on? You've got - that's a real concern on that side. What are they banking on to overshadow that?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, a couple of things. First off, there are some -- not strong enough for some people - but there are some protections. They're not being released to Afghanistan but instead to Qatar, a third country, where they're supposed to be monitored. Again, 520 (ph) -

BOLDUAN: Even if they really are monitored, Paul, they're only monitored for a year.

BEGALA: Oh, I -- look, I don't think it's tough enough. But we released 520 under similar circumstances and got nothing in return. And some of them did return to the battlefield. Now, are these five guys going to tip the balance? We're ending this war, thank God. When wars end, prisoners of war, and that's what these guys were, they were not - they were enemy combatants, right? They were subject to the law of war. When wars end, you've got to send the POWs back.

So they have no value as soon as we end this war, which, God willing, will be this year or next year. Then they had a shelf life. So they're valuable now. We can get our one American POW home. You know, that's the deal that they made. And that's the deal, as Chris pointed out, that John McCain on our air in February said he would have made, and now Senator McCain doesn't like to deal now that Barack Obama's made the deal that he called for a few months ago. So there's a lot of politics in this.

BOLDUAN: Cheri, really quick, one person who carries a lot of weight in his opinion of this would be, I think, any retired general, General Stanley McChrystal. And he said to Yahoo! News yesterday - Olivier Knox, a great reporter - he said, "we don't leave Americans behind. That is unequivocal," when asked if this deal should have been done.

JACOBUS: You find other ways besides trading off five dangerous men or at least you don't go around Congress, and that's what -- the problem with this. They don't -- nobody wants to leave anybody behind. I don't think any American would support that. But there are different circumstances. There's different circumstances, different situations --

BOLDUAN: How do you know though? How do you know that there was a (INAUDIBLE) -

JACOBUS: Well, we know that -- we even have John McCain, who's been a POW himself, and he's saying, yes, we want to bring everybody home, but not this way.

And here's the other thing. You talk about just this handful, these five - these five guys as if they're nothing. The American people know what just a small handful of five - you know, a small handful of guys who hate Americans and want to kill us can do.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But do they know that the men who are in Gitmo right now are going to be released? Do you think that's responsible to ignore that that's a reality, that the men who are there are going to be released?

JACOBUS: I think it's something that now the American people are going to be focused on. They weren't before. I think this could be a pretty big issue. But I --

CUOMO: It matters in terms of - in terms of evaluating this deal, though, doesn't it?

JACOBUS: I think it does. I think Americans will now start paying very close attention to this. I think it's a mistake to say that this is just partisan politics. The American people aren't going to buy that. Right now you've got, you know, Paul saying it a little bit. You've got Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Susan Rice and that's pretty much it. You do not have a lot of congressional Democrats out there defending the president on this.

Some of them are kind of backing up. Even Hillary Clinton is straddling this or triangulating or whatever it is the Clintons do when they, you know, want to put their finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing till they decide what they - you know, what position they want to take. But the president does not have a lot of support on this and it's not Republicans playing politics. It's a mistake that he made and it's a very serious one.

CUOMO: One clarification. I don't think John McCain ever said he wanted this deal. I think he said that he would be open to prisoners being exchanged -

BOLDUAN: Correct.

CUOMO: For Bowe Bergdahl, but not these prisoners.

JACOBUS: Not this deal.

BOLDUAN: He says the details were (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: I don't think he - yes, I think it's unfair to say that he flip-flopped, but plenty have.

JACOBUS: He doesn't support this.

BEGALA: No, no, that's -- Chris, since I said it, let me defend myself.

CUOMO: Yes, go ahead.

BEGALA: That's correct. McCain did not have a crystal ball to see the exact parameters of this deal and he is free -- and he's an expert on these things, actually - he is free now to criticize that. But it is true that he called for a prisoner swap -

CUOMO: Right.

BOLDUAN: Right.

BEGALA: In public (ph), on our air with Anderson.

BOLDUAN: He's not -- he's not qualifying that.

CUOMO: I'm with you. I'm with you.

BEGALA: Right (ph).

CUOMO: Paul, thank you so much. Cheri, thank you.

BEGALA: Thanks.

JACOBUS: Thank you.

CUOMO: Appreciate it.

And let's take a little break here on NEW DAY. Katherine Schwarzenegger. You know the name, of course, but she is more than just her name to be sure. Look, she likes to read. No, it's her own book, that's why she's reading it.

BOLDUAN: Don't take it (ph).

CUOMO: She's an accomplished author. She's helping her generation with a big, pressing concern for all of us, what do people do with life after graduation? She's going to bring you valuable advice. She's got it right there in her hands with her new book we're going to talk about. A little bit of the sixties we've got also coming up, right? BOLDUAN: Uh-huh. That's absolutely right. Looking back at the sixties. The Cold War heats up when the U.S. and Soviet Union faced off during the Cuban Missile Crisis. How real was the threat of nuclear war? We're taking a look.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

This year, millions of college seniors are donning their caps and gowns for graduation. A moment that they have been waiting and working toward all their life. But then, of course, what comes next? That's not the easy part. Katherine Schwarzenegger got some advice from the best and the brightest detailed in her new book, "I Just Graduated, Now What?" She's also - she's joining us now. Also the daughter of Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Two people you could take some good advice from.

So you are graduating college and you were asked probably the hardest question to answer, what are you going to do now? If it's such an impossible question to answer, why did you try to take it on in this book?

KATHERINE SCHWARZENEGGER, AUTHOR, "I JUST GRADUATED, NOW WHAT?": Because I was so frustrated that I didn't have an answer to give when people would ask me that question. So I felt a book like this would have been really helpful for me at the time when I graduated.

BOLDUAN: Did you find the answer, though, do you think?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I found that there is no specific answer and there is no right answer or no wrong answer, there's only your - your way and your path.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Ah, your path.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes.

PEREIRA: What I found really an interesting notion is that when we think of successful people, we think of that. We don't think of going back to their beginning -

SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes.

PEREIRA: Which is what you did with them.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes.

PEREIRA: What did you find most surprising about these people? What was the thing that most intrigued you?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I think just knowing that all the people in the book, which is over 30 people that I interviewed, all had times of feeling like they were failures or times where they didn't really know what they were going to do next and then questioned -

PEREIRA: How interesting (ph).

SCHWARZENEGGER: Questioned themselves and what their path was in life. So just knowing that, you know, that when you graduate college, if you feel that way, you can relate to people in this book and see how successful they've become.

PEREIRA: (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: Is there a legitimate basis for suggesting that maybe college isn't the way to go, the way it was for my generation?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes. I mean, I did - I wanted to kind of put people in the book who dropped out of college as well, so I have half that went all the way through college and half that dropped out because you see so many people, especially in my generation, who are, you know, doing startups or creating apps that are hugely successful. So you kind of have the question, why go to college if you can do that? I think at the end of the day there is nothing better than having an amazing education, obviously. But I think if you have a passion and you're able to kind of have a clear vision for what you want to do in life at a young age, then go for it.

BOLDUAN: But now that you have been forced to become the expert on what are you going to do after graduation, what -- do you have the five year -

PEREIRA: Oh, no, you're not going to ask her, what are you going to do now?

BOLDUAN: Katherine, what's your five-year, ten-year plan? Did you find one in all of this?

SCHWARZENEGGER: No. I think that I -- what I found was a sense of comfort and also excitement about my future and less worry and anxiety about what I was going to do next.

BOLDUAN: You know people are going to that and say, you of all people were worried and anxious about your future?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I know. Yes.

BOLDUAN: You had everything going for you.

PEREIRA: Well, think about it, she's got overachievers in her family.

CUOMO: That's true.

BOLDUAN: Good point. A high bar. A high bar to meet.

PEREIRA: No pressure in this group.

BOLDUAN: But what did your parents say? They're like, what are you - how can you not have a plan?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I mean - well, I mean, my mom talked to me a lot about it and she talked in the book as well about not having a plan herself when she graduated. So we were - I mean she was totally fine with me not knowing what I was going to do next. But I think just taking a minute and really trying to figure out what my passion was and what I really wanted to do with my life and -- turned out to be this.

PEREIRA: Can I say the thing that I found so intriguing was this notion of pausing.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes.

PEREIRA: Just, for a minute, just sort of pressing reset and saying, let's just be for a second.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes.

PEREIRA: We don't always have that opportunity, but it could, even just mentally allowing yourself to pause, right?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes. I mean, yes, even if it's for an hour and just kind of really recognizing that you just have this huge accomplishment in life in graduating college and then getting on that, you know, fast pace track (ph) that you're about --

PEREIRA: The treadmill.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Exactly.

CUOMO: And you do a good job of outlining an issue here, which we talked about on the show, which goes to why it's hard to pause, student debt.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes.

CUOMO: It is the elephant in the room.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Exactly.

CUOMO: Everybody talks about the future and children and our new workers. You can't pay for it anymore. It's too expensive. And just about everyone you talk to in there, no matter how much money they have now, they were all worried about debt and had to deal with the debt.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes.

PEREIRA: They struggled with it.

CUOMO: And they led their decision process.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I mean, yes, and we have - I have two interviews in the book about - from people who are experts in college loan debt. So I - that was important to put in there. Even someone like John Legend, you don't think of him as having to pay his way through college and graduating and had to get to work right away in order to pay back those loans.

CUOMO: What did he do with his first check that he got when he signed a deal?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Put it right into his student loan.

PEREIRA: Good for him.

BOLDUAN: What's next for you?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I'm doing this right now.

BOLDUAN: Come on.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I know.

PEREIRA: She's pausing.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I am doing this.

BOLDUAN: (INAUDIBLE) pausing.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I know. I have a lifestyle website that I love doing and I'm also about to start shooting a show with Pop Sugar (ph), a web series. It's based off this book, actually.

PEREIRA: Sometimes doing something creative can sort of -

BOLDUAN: Spark many things.

PEREIRA: It can spark many things.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes.

PEREIRA: I love it. Thanks for being here and telling us about it.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Great to meet you.

PEREIRA: We all felt the same anxiety I feel.

CUOMO: We still feel it. I still don't know what I'm going to do.

SCHWARZENEGGER: It's OK.

BOLDUAN: Because you are such an underachiever.

CUOMO: It's true.

BOLDUAN: Yes, this is true.

PEREIRA: One day you'll be a big boy.

BOLDUAN: Katherine, thank you for coming in.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: Again the book is, "I Just Graduated, Now What?" If you can answer that, let us know.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, an in-depth look at the start of the Cold War and the fear that gripped our nation and the world at that time. We're going to look at just how close the U.S. really was to nuclear war.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: I love it. Welcome back.

We know the 60s certainly left a lasting mark on the history of the United States, perhaps most notably during the beginning of the Cold War when America risked nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Tonight's episode of CNN's new original series "THE SIXTIES" explores just how tremendous anxiety and fear was that gripped the nation and how it shaped who we are today.

Joining us now, a friend of the show, Douglas Brinkley is back, a historian at Rice University. Really a delight to have you here looking back on a tremendous decade in America's history. We were looking at that clip that just aired, children on a school bus having to duck, under school desks ducking. It was such an anxiety-ridden time.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, HISTORIAN, RICE UNIVERSITY: Well, absolutely because of nuclear weapons and particularly in the United States starting in 1957 with Sputnik. Once the Soviets had Sputnik in the air, we were in catch-up mode, ended up giving some of the dynamism of the 60s. You know, Alan Shepherd going into space and then John Glenn and then John F. Kennedy saying we will go to the moon by the end of the decade.

That was the optimism that we were going to beat the Soviet Union. We had $260 billion bipartisan money being spent to get to the moon. But the downside of all that, the Cuban missile crisis -- the duck and cover, Bob Dylan's "Hard Rain is Going to Fall" when he wrote it during the Cuban missile crisis, you know. There was a palatable fear in the country.

BOLDUAN: In the documentary -- this episode does a really good job of describing that palpable fear felt throughout the country. Do you think that that sense collectively has been felt since? Do we have anything like that?

BRINKELY: Well, I don't think we've had quite the nuclear fear with the Cuban missile crisis that those missiles could blow up like all of the lower 48, maybe if Washington would have been spared, meaning total annihilation. So I think there has never been a nuclear showdowns, two scorpions in a bottle is the metaphor of the United States and the Soviet Union, about who is going to sting first.

And the quote of Dean Rusk, secretary of state was they blinked, not us. That the ships turned around in Cuba and Kennedy got this big, big plus in history that he resolved the Cuban crisis. But it was a damn near thing.

CUOMO: With the current -- with the benefit of hindsight, how much of the Russian threat was a straw horse.

BRINKLEY: Much of it in the sense that there was supposed to be a missile gap with the Soviet Union. Well, they didn't -- the gap was we have a lot more than they did.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that didn't exist.

BRINKLEY: But in the Cold War context, you have stuff done by having this bogeyman, enemy of the Soviet Union and we're going to break them. And so you know -- but any time you have a country with nuclear weapons, it's considered a threat to us. And so you don't want to minimize that.

But Khrushchev was on a roll until he met John F. Kennedy in the Cuban missile crisis. After that you see his stock go down but also John F. Kennedy gets shot in Dallas.

PEREIRA: So interesting to think about this episode airing tonight especially when you see what's going on -- Crimea, Ukraine, Russia, Putin flexing his muscles, and even in his comments about Hillary Clinton, it's so interesting. Especially when you think of the people in America that were alive then and what they must be thinking when they watch this news emerge now.

BRINKLEY: And it's also -- that's why George Herbert Walker Bush didn't really celebrate when the Soviet Union broke up in '91. History plays weird games on you. You're starting to see Putin want to kind of reconstruct the Soviet Union.

But also George Kennan the great analyst of this period of your documentary talking about containing of the Soviet Union; he called it traditional Russian expansionism. We were calling it the Communist Red Blob of the Soviet Union. Kennan said, no, Russia is always expansionistic. We have to contain Russian expansionism. You're seeing that going on now with Putin.

CUOMO: Have control of --

BRINKLEY: Yes, exactly.

BOLDUAN: One provocative question that's raised in this episode that will have a lot of people thinking is when touching on the Vietnam War would history have played out differently if JFK had not been assassinated. If it wasn't Lyndon Johnson in the seat at the time -- what do you think?

BRINKELY: We have to watch the what-ifs as a historian. With that said, there is some compelling evidence that Kennedy would have not gotten immersed in Vietnam including a famous interview he did with Walter Cronkite shortly before his death. Also some other (inaudible) -- he didn't want to get baited into going into Vietnam. Dwight Eisenhower shrewdly did not get drawn into the Vietnam War.

So I am of the school that Kennedy probably would not have put the amount of ground troops that Lyndon Johnson did after his death. Kennedy was -- seemed to be knowing that that was a loser's hand in Vietnam.

CUOMO: I've noticed that when we talk about the series, a lot of the writing is a little qualified, like this could have been one of the -- do you think there's any question that the 60s in America, that was the most influential cultural development period we've had?

BRINKLEY: Endlessly fascinating on so many different levels. I mean the show tonight is going to be more about the Cold War context of the Soviet Union. But just think about the birth of folk music and then rock 'n' roll.

PEREIRA: Sure.

BRINKLEY: You know folk rock and then rock 'n' roll. Think about counter culture and drugs. Think about civil rights --

PEREIRA: Civil rights -- right?

BRINKLEY: Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers and Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez, the great Latino leader and then Bobby Kennedy killed.

PEREIRA: Right. Iconic moments, iconic images. You know, I was thinking -- you're mentioning all this I was even thinking of the Berlin wall. All of these things that just hearken to a time of just -- there was such -- it was such a pivotal time.

BRINKLEY: And a lot of women that are important. Rachel Carson writes Silent Spring Revolution and the word "conservation" kind of gets erased and becomes environmentalism and ecology. We're living with that today.

CUOMO: The questions you were asked in the 60s, you know, we're still answering today.

PEREIRA: It's funny because sometimes we think -- I worry, you know, we are born much later but I think do we look back and just sort of look at rose-colored glasses? I did for an era but I really think --

BOLDUAN: I think good and bad we're still feeling the effects of that era and you can either argue we're still feeling the effects of the Cold War.

BRINKLEY: Well 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War. Those are real people.

PEREIRA: Those are real lives.

BRINKLEY: Then you're dealing with veterans today that aren't getting proper medical attention and then you're dealing with the damage that did to families of losing somebody. Vietnam is the bogeyman in the middle of the 60s, San Francisco, Haight Ashbury Party.

PEREIRA: There's some stuff that you have to check out in this episode. If you haven't seen it, tune in now -- it's not too late, trust us. "THE SIXTIES: THE WORLD ON THE BRINK" airing tonight right here on CNN, East Coast and West Coast -- we're all united on this, 9:00 p.m. together, OK. We can all watch it all simulcast -- well not really. But at 9:00 at any rate.

Douglas, really a pleasure to see you.

BRINKLEY: Thank you

PEREIRA: Thanks so much for being here and great conversation.

CUOMO: Right. It's a great look, not just at what was, but what still is. You'd be surprised by that. Appreciate it Professor.

Coming up, what would you do -- be honest -- $125,000 just dropped right in front of your lap? It sound like that only happens in movies. It happened in real life. What would you do with that money if you were on hard times, $125,000 falls in your lap? Wait until you hear what makes this man "The Good Stuff.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: It's the right song and for interesting reasons. Time for "The Good Stuff".

Today's edition Joe Cornell -- let me tell you about Joe Cornell. He's down on his luck. He's a recovering addict. He's trying to get clean. He's at the Salvation Army Rehab Center in Fresno.

So listen to this. It's like out of a movie, he's just sitting there. A Brinks truck goes by and a bag with $125,000 hops out.

PEREIRA: You're kidding me.

CUOMO: Yes. And nobody saw it. Joe could have kept it free and clear. So he did, right? Wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE CORNELL, RETURNED LARGE SUM OF MONEY: I just did it because it was the right thing to do. I wasn't sure if anything was going to come from it. That's not what I was thinking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Something did come from it. Brinks was so impressed that Joe returned the money -- by the way, giving credibility to this entire situation, they gave him and his wife a debit card worth $5,000.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm proud of him and we're going to start all over. This is like a new start for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: Bless your heart.

CUOMO: Of course, the story isn't over for Joe. He's set to come out of the program in a few weeks. Hopefully he'll be clean and sober and ready to go. You know what he's going to need, a job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, anybody that needs an honest man to hire -- we know he's an honest man. He just gave back $125,000.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: That's a part of your resume.

BOLDUAN: That's your resume.

CUOMO: How many of your employees can you say that about, that if they were given $125,000 and nobody knew, they would give it back? Integrity is what you do when nobody else is looking. He proved it in spades.

PEREIRA: Somebody's going to step up and give him the right job.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Giving back money that was the easy part. The recovery, that was the hard part.

PEREIRA: Yes, that's a good point.

BOLDUAN: That will be the long battle -- right?

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And that will certainly continue.

A lot of news this morning for you. The latest on what happened with the Bergdahl swap? What happened with the GM recall? They're investigating themselves. Do you think they're getting the right answers?

The "NEWSROOM" has it all with Ms. Carol Costello.

(CROSSTALK)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We do have it all. Have a great day. "NEWSROOM" starts now.

Happening now in the "NEWSROOM", not sold.