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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Obama Defends Taliban Prisoner Swap; An American Dream Slipping Away?; California Chrome Hopes to Win Triple Crown; Clinton to Release New Book; Two 12-year-olds Charged as Adults
Aired June 7, 2014 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for spending part of your morning with us.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
PAUL: Saturday morning, 7:00 a.m., we are so glad to have your company. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. This is NEW DAY SATURDAY. And we're following breaking news out of New Jersey this morning where "30 Rock" actor and "SNL" alum, Tracy Morgan, was involved in a major accident there, an auto accident.
PAUL: And we're getting word this hour that the star is in critical condition. He was struck apparently in a six-car pileup along the New Jersey turnpike.
CNN national reporter Nick Valencia working the latest developments for us.
We have heard, Nick, that there was one fatality. Does that still hold?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That still holds and this is all preliminary investigation. We don't know too many details. The story is still unfolding. We got a lot of detail earlier last hour from local police. What we do know is actor Tracy Morgan from "SNL" fame was involved in a six-car accident on the New Jersey turnpike at about 1:00 a.m. It happened, you know -- it involved, I should say, two tractor trailers and an SUV. As Christi was mentioning, one person confirmed killed, four others in critical condition taken to the hospital.
Morgan was performing last night at the Dover Downs Casino in Delaware. We're scouring social media, so many people tweeting their prayers for Tracy Morgan, hoping that this situation materializes into him being released from the hospital but right now we do know that comedian Tracy Morgan is in critical condition after being involved in a six-car accident at about 1:00 a.m. on the New Jersey turnpike -- guys.
BLACKWELL: But we also -- we have one of the officials, is that from the -- OK.
BLACKWELL: Let's listen to one of the officials who can give us a little more about the crash.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SGT. GREGORY WILLIAMS, NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE: Six-vehicle accident, two tractor trailers involved. Comedian/actor Tracy Morgan was involved. He is in intensive care at Robert Woods Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick. Looks like two tractor trailers, a limo bus, SUV. The limo bus overturned. Tracy Morgan was in the limo bus, but he is alive, he is in intensive care at Robert Woods Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick. Preliminary right now, possibly just one fatality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALENCIA: If you look at video and pictures from the scene, they're being put on social media from a local reporter who is there, it looks very ominous, guys.
VALENCIA: It's an angled wreckage. An overturned limo bus. Several passengers in that car. Look at that video just there, just very, very upsetting video for the fans of Tracy Morgan. He was on "Saturday Night Live," a funny man there, also on "30 Rock." He made a lot of people laugh. He's a very famous comedian, of course.
BLACKWELL: He has an inspiring story.
VALENCIA: Yes. Very inspiring story.
BLACKWELL: And he uses it as part of his stand up, which is hilarious. We'll continue to follow the story.
Nick, I know you're all on top of this.
VALENCIA: I'll go dig for more information.
PAUL: Thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: And what we get, we'll bring it to you.
We're also learning some new details, pretty startling details actually about Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's nearly five years in captivity.
PAUL: Yes. A senior U.S. officials tells CNN that the soldier was kept in a cage after he tried to escape his Taliban captors. Now President Obama meanwhile is firmly defending his release of five high-level Taliban detainees for Bergdahl, in exchange for him. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, though, say they want more answers from the White House about this.
BLACKWELL: CNN's Erin McPike has the latest now on President Obama's defense of this controversial prisoner swap.
ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama returns to Washington from a whirlwind European tour, facing a growing storm over last week's dramatic release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
A key question in this NBC News interview, why didn't he tell Congress beforehand?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We saw an opportunity and we took it, and I make no apologies for it. The main concern was that we had to act fast in a delicate situation that required no publicity.
MCPIKE: Sources say the Taliban didn't threaten to kill Bergdahl as administration officials suggested to senators, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are skeptical, including Democrat Dianne Feinstein who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. She told Bloomberg News.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I don't think there was a credible threat, but I don't know. I have no information that there was.
MCPIKE: What's more, lawmakers from both parties don't buy the administration's initial explanation that Bergdahl's health was urgently deteriorating. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is under pressure to release the proof of life video of Bergdahl from last December that the White House showed senators to make that case.
Despite the shifting stories and growing political backlash, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended the president, telling ABC News.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: If you look at what the factors were going into the decision, of course, there are competing interests and values. I mean, one of our values is we bring everybody home off the battle field, the best we can. It doesn't matter how they ended up in a prisoner of war situation.
MCPIKE: But even General Jim Jones, one of President Obama's former national security advisers, has questioned the deal, telling CNN.
GEN. JIM JONES (RET.), FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I come down on the side that you don't negotiate with terrorists. I think that's a rock solid principle and I think once you show that there's weakness there, that you open the door for possibly other bad things to happen.
PAUL: CNN's Erin McPike joining us now live from Washington. Good morning to you, Erin. We know that President Obama says he'd do
this swap over again for Bergdahl despite the political firestorm it's causing on Capitol Hill. What are you hearing? What are the rumblings there?
MCPIKE: Well, Christi, that's right. And the White House was expecting a controversy over the decision to make this exchange. What they didn't expect were these attacks on Bergdahl. And so now finding that they have to fight back a lot harder than they expected to.
BLACKWELL: So senators got a classified briefing last week on the Bergdahl case. They say that they are -- many of them are not satisfied with the answers coming out of the White House. But what can they expect as we go into next week?
MCPIKE: Well, actually Victor, this is going to move to the House. And five administration officials will be briefing House members on Monday afternoon and then on Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee is going to be holding a meeting and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will be testifying there.
BLACKWELL: All right. Erin McPike, at the White House for us. Erin, thank you so much.
PAUL: So ahead, some fellow soldiers say that Bowe Bergdahl is a deserter, that his comrades died looking for him. Others say look, this is a rush to judgment and Bergdahl should have the opportunity to defend himself.
We're going to look at whether he could face some charges and that full conversation, that's ahead right here on CNN NEW DAY. So stay close.
BLACKWELL: Republicans are lashing out at the Obama administration for swapping five Gitmo detainees for Sgt. Bergdahl. But some of them were not so angry when Bergdahl was released by the Taliban last weekend.
PAUL: So on Sunday, National Security adviser Susan Rice praised Bergdahl in the hours after he was released. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: He's going to be safely reunited with his family. He served the United States with honor and distinction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Yesterday, though, you heard a different stance from her. She kind of twisted it up a little bit when she spoke to CNN's Jim Acosta. Here's this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Let me ask you about some comments you made last Sunday on one of the Sunday talk shows. You said that Bergdahl served with honor and distinction. It's come out since then that some of fellow soldiers say he was a deserter, he may have wandered off post there in Afghanistan.
Did you misspeak? Did you get that wrong?
RICE: Jim, I realize there's been a lot of discussion and controversy around this. But what I was referring to was the fact that this was a young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That is itself a very honorable thing. And --
ACOSTA: But honor and distinction?
RICE: Jim, really, I mean, this is a young man whose circumstances we are still going to learn about. He is, as all Americans, innocent until proven guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: A little later we're talking to a political analyst who says this is all, you know, in his opinion, he's seeing a lot of hypocrisy.
PAUL: So we're going to continue to discuss this.
BLACKWELL: Especially with the tweets that were deleted. You know, there were several members of Congress who were praising the work done to bring him home, and then a day or two or three later, they deleted those tweets.
PAUL: But you wonder, is that really hypocrisy or is that the evolution of new knowledge that comes about?
BLACKWELL: We'll have that.
PAUL: We'll have that conversation.
BLACKWELL: In a conversation.
PAUL: And tweet us or, you know, get to us on Facebook and let us know what you think if there's anything specific you want to know about it.
Now let's talk about the economy because the government says hey, we are in a recovery. For a lot of people, the American dream, though, feels like it's just slipping out of their grasp. We are going to look at what does that mean now, the American dream, and can it really be achieved?
BLACKWELL: Plus the longest drought in Racing Glory could end today, in just a few hours. We're going to look ahead to the Belmont Stakes and the horse that is looking to make history with a rare Triple Crown win.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAUL: Well, guess what? The economy hit a key milestone this week. We have, apparently, erased the number of recession era job losses and added even more on top of it.
BLACKWELL: Yes. We learned on Friday that 217,000 jobs were added last month and the unemployment rate held steady at 6.3 percent.
PAUL: Here is the thing. Despite those numbers, the state of the economy for a lot of Americans say it just doesn't feel solid, like it's on solid ground yet.
BLACKWELL: A new CNN poll found that for Americans who do not think the economy is in recovery yet, nearly a third of them think it will take more than five years to get there.
PAUL: Yes, and sadly, that goes to show just how out of reach the American dream feels for so many families.
CNN's Alexandra Field has a look at that.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Los Angeles.
ANN MARIE CHAPMAN, LOS ANGELES RESIDENT: My name is Ann Marie Chapman. I am 20 years old. I am a full-time mom and part-time student.
FIELD: To Phoenix --
KAVE VALERIE, PHOENIX RESIDENT: My name is Kave Valerie. I am 13 years old and I'm in eighth grade.
FIELD: To Atlanta.
ANDY SHELLY, ATLANTA RESIDENT: My name is Andy Shelly. I'm 50 years old. I work for United Parcel Service.
FIELD: Wherever you live, whoever you are, it's what meant to define us, however, we define it. The American dream.
VALERIE: The American dream? It means that we go towards a better life and we'll be able to achieve more than other countries.
CLAY TURNER, ATLANTA RESIDENT: I guess the American dream is, if there's something that you really want, you're able to go get it.
SHELLY: Successfully raise a family. No debt. So yes. I've reached the American dream. Am I rich? No. But I have peace of mind.
FIELD: Peace of mind that more Americans today can't seem to find.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guns and violence.
SHELLY: Job security, crime, becoming a statistic.
FIELD: Some reasons are growing numbers that say the dream is slipping away.
A CNN Money American dream poll finds about six out of 10 Americans believe it's out of reach. The numbers are more alarming among Millennials. They were badly battered by the economic downturn. More than half say the dream can't be attained. And if the next generation was always meant to be better than the last, 63 percent of people surveyed don't buy it. They now believe children will be worse off than their parents.
JAKE AHLQUIST, NEW YORK RESIDENT: It's not something that people can always achieve. It's not something most people can achieve, I don't think, in their life. It's too hard. It's crazy.
CHAPMAN: I am most definitely afraid for this next generation because money is already tight with the government at my age, for me. That the population is only growing. You know?
FIELD: Uncertainty fueling fear that the dream might not be reality.
VALERIE: For right now, I believe that I could be able to achieve better than my parents. But then for the time being, we don't know.
AHLQUIST: In the future, with the circumstances that we're in currently, it doesn't look like that's a thing achievable for most.
FIELD: Alexandra Field, CNN, New York.
BLACKWELL: You know, I am -- I want to know from you. And we were talking about it.
PAUL: We were just talking about this.
BLACKWELL: What, for you, is the definition of the American dream?
PAUL: Does it have to be financial?
BLACKWELL: Yes. Is it an economic dream always?
PAUL: I don't know. I mean, maybe it's just living in freedom. I don't know. But we want to hear from you. Tweet us and let us know what the American dream is and if you think it's slipping away.
You can catch, by the way, the debut of Christine Romans' new show today at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. She's going to be talking about this. "CNN MONEY", taking a look at the American dream and why so many people feel that it's just not obtainable. That's today, 2:00 p.m. right here on CNN.
BLACKWELL: Here is a dream. A Triple Crown winner.
PAUL: Isn't it the truth?
BLACKWELL: California Chrome makes a run at the history books today. Will this horse be the one that finally breaks this 36-year dry spell? PAUL: Plus Hillary Clinton putting some distance between herself and
the president apparently. Could a 2014 book release hold answers for a possible 2016 presidential run and then some?
PAUL: We have your mortgage update. Raise some upswing a little bit this week. Take a look.
BLACKWELL: Post time. Hey, everybody is watching California Chrome. This horse is of course looking to make history in just a few hours.
PAUL: Yes. I mean people have been waiting 36 years for this. I know all you racing fans are hoping the thoroughbred can achieve glory and finally win that Triple Crown.
BLACKWELL: Yes. But, you know, it's not just for the record books here. The total prize money from this could be millions and millions of dollars.
CNN's Richard Roth has more -- Richard.
RICHARD ROTH CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, Victor, it's horse racing's biggest prize and it's on the line here today at Belmont Park. California Chrome will run for horse racing glory before more than 100,000 people.
ROTH (voice-over): California Chrome has been training fast for the Triple Crown. Even at 6:30 in the morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd love to see it. It's history in the making.
ROTH: California Chrome was quickly installed as the heavy early betting favorite for the third leg in the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. He has already won the first two pieces of the crown including America's most famous race.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: California Chrome shines bright in the Kentucky Derby.
ROTH: In the Belmont, he will start from post position number two. The same gate that racing Immortal Secretariat shot out of en route to a Triple Crown romp in 1973.
(On camera): Are you expecting to win Saturday?
STEVE COBURN, CO-OWNER CALIFORNIA CHROME: Yes, I do. Yes, I expect him to win Saturday, I really do.
ROTH (voice-over): California Chrome and his connections are not Kentucky blue bloods. The horse was bred for a poll tree $2500 in California. The owners of California Chrome reportedly rejected a $6 million offer for the horse. The 77-year-old trainer grew up in Brooklyn.
ART SHERMAN, TRAINER, CALIFORNIA CHROME: We can win the Triple Crown, it'd be a dream come true for me.
ROTH: Dreams of a Triple Crown have been crushed in the home stretch at Belmont many times before. Seven times in just the last 17 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be very close. Here's the winner. It's too close to call.
ROTH: It's been 36 years since the Firm won the last Triple Crown in 1978 making this the longest drought for racing glory ever.
JERRY BAILEY, BELMONT WINNING JOCKEY: You have to have speed to win the derby in the previous and stamina. And usually it's very rare to have that packaged in one horse.
ROTH: California Chrome also loves cookies and media attention. But there are competitors who will try to spoil the party.
BILLY GOWAN, TRAINER, RIDE ON CURLIN: We tried to spoil the last two races.
ROTH: California Chrome will earn much more than the $600,000 share of the Belmont if he finishes first. A jackpot of future breeding rights for his offspring, which will make his small business owners California blue bloods.
ROTH: The horse racing industry has seen crowds disappear over the decades. Supporters hope that a California Chrome Triple Crown will provide a badly needed shot in the arm -- Victor, Christi.
PAUL: All right, Richard Roth, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: And we also continue to keep an eye on the breaking news, the condition of actor and comedian Tracy Morgan. He's in critical condition now at Robert Woods Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, after being involved in a deadly six-vehicle crash involving two tractor trailers. One of the person is dead. This happened along the New Jersey turnpike.
PAUL: Also President Obama is defending his decision to swap five high-level Taliban detainees for a captive American soldier. Did he do the right thing? What do you think? We have a panel discussion on that.
BLACKWELL: But first if you're a big Elvis fan and I was just in Memphis a couple of days ago, you probably already know that this month marks the 32nd anniversary of Graceland's opening as a tourist attraction. So if you're vacationing near Memphis, here is a preview of what to expect in this week's "Travel Insider."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WILLIAM STILES, ELVIS TRIBUTE ARTIST: Hi. I'm William Stiles. I'm an Elvis tribute artist from Memphis, Tennessee, and I want to show you my city.
When you think of Memphis, you think of Beale Street and you think of barbecue or you think of blues. Most of all you think about Elvis.
This is where it all began -- Sun Studios.
MARLA STONE, SUN STUDIO: Elvis Presley started recording here in 1953. Other than Elvis, artists like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis.
STILES: Where did the king stand?
STONE: He stood right about here. This is one of the original microphones that we used back in the '50s to record.
STILES: This is the exact microphone.
STONE: The acoustics, the ceiling tiles are all original, the floor tiles are all original, it's very special because it does have that same quality sound that they would have back in the '50s.
STILES: Sun Studio has really cool old style malts. Want some of this?
When I'm in town, Beale Street is where I want to be. Here I am with my all-time favorite place to eat, Blue City Cafe. It's a hunk of barbecue. Man, that was awesome.
The best place to party that I like is at BB King's. This is BB's first bar. A lot of musicians have rolled through here.
Look man, don't be a fool. You want good music, come to Memphis, Tennessee. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Twenty-nine minutes past the hour right now. I hope that Saturday morning has been good to you so far, though it is early. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Here are five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.
PAUL: Yes, number one, we're just learning actor and comedian Tracy Morgan this morning is in critical condition after authorities say his limo bus overturned on the northbound side of the New Jersey turnpike.
These are some of the latest pictures we're getting in here. This happened in Mercer County. It was about 1:00 this morning, involves six vehicles including two tractor trailers. State Police say there is at least one person who had died. Investigators tell CNN it appears one of the tractor trailers may have rear-ended Morgan's limo bus.
BLACKWELL: Number two, the man accused of shooting at Seattle Pacific University had an obsession with school shootings. That's what a police source tells our affiliate tells KIRO. Twenty-six-year-old Aaron Ybarra is accused of shooting three people, killing one of them. And his attorney says that he has significant and long-standing mental health issues and he intended to die during his rampage. Charges are pending against him.
PAUL: Number three, Wisconsin joins the list of states where same-sex marriage bans had been ruled unconstitutional. A federal judge struck down the ban yesterday but didn't say when the ruling takes effect. Now Wisconsin's attorney general says he will appeal the ruling and state law restricting marriage to one man and one woman remains in force. That's a quote.
BLACKWELL: Number four, one of the world's richest men is now president of Ukraine. Candy tycoon, Petro Poroshenko, was sworn in earlier today. Now his agenda is already packed. He's trying to stop violent attacks by pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine and he wants to hold talks with Moscow. Those talks begin tomorrow.
PAUL: Number five, President Obama and other world leaders marked yesterday's 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion honoring all the soldiers who landed in Normandy, France. On that day that really marked a turning point in World War II. The French president expressed his gratitude to the men who came to, quote, "liberate people they've never met."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I think this was a very hard choice, which is why I think my book is so aptly named. If you look at what the factors were going into the decision, of course there are competing interests and values. I mean, one of our values is, we bring everybody home off the battlefield the best we can. It doesn't matter how they ended up in a prison of war situation.
DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: It doesn't matter?
CLINTON: It does not matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: That was Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state, defending the president's decision to bring home Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban members who had been in prison at Guantanamo Bay.
PAUL: Yes. Clinton is on media tour right now, of course, because she's having a new book, "Hard Choices." It comes out this Tuesday. And while she supports the president's decision in this instance, she has distanced herself from him in others. And that's a sign, some believe, that could signal a run for the Oval Office in 2016.
BLACKWELL: Senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar joins us with more now.
Brianna, good morning.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christi, for Hillary Clinton, this is about driving the sale of books and keeping herself well positioned should she decide to run for president. If she throws her hat into the ring, she needs to distance herself from some of President Obama's decisions. And her book may provide the world map to her message.
KEILAR (voice-over): In her much anticipated memoir, first obtained by CBS News, Hillary Clinton details her role in negotiations to secure Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: That's not how war works.
KEILAR: The controversy surrounding his release and exchange for five top Taliban leaders likely does not surprise her. She writes, "I acknowledged, as I had many times before, that opening the door to negotiations with the Taliban would be hard to swallow for many Americans after so many years of war."
Clinton's starkest difference of opinion with President Obama is on Syria's civil war. She says she pushed him to arm moderate rebels, but he disagreed. "No one likes to lose a debate, including me," she says, "but this was the president's call and I respected his deliberations and decision."
Clinton offers her strongest mea culpa yet for voting in 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq -- a vote that cost her liberal support in 2008. "I wasn't alone in getting it wrong but I still got it wrong. Plain and simple," she writes.
She speaks warmly of her relationship with Obama, which grew out of a bitter primary battle.
BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're likable enough, Hillary.
CLINTON: Thank you so much.
KEILAR: She describes their first meeting after she dropped out of the race. "We stared at each other like two teenagers on an awkward first date," she says, "taking a few sips of chardonnay. Both Barack and I and our staffs had a long list of grievances. It was time to clean the air."
But she didn't go to bat for Obama right away.
MCCAIN: Governor Sarah Palin.
KEILAR: Describing a request from his campaign to knock Sarah Palin when Republican candidate John McCain picked her as his running mate. "I was not going to attack Palin just for being a woman appealing for support from other women. I didn't think it made political sense and it didn't feel right. So I said no."
Perhaps an appeal to women voters, who will be extremely important to Clinton should she run for president. On a lighter note, Clinton reveals how she maintained her exhausting travel schedule that often left her jet lag. "I drank copious cups of coffee and sometimes dug the fingernails of one hand into the palm of the other", she says.
And she gets personal about her daughter's 2010 wedding, calling it "one of the happiest and proudest moments of my life. So many thoughts went through my head," she writes. "Our family had been through so many things together. Good times and hard times. And now, here we were celebrating the best of times."
KEILAR: Clinton's book officially releases on Tuesday. And it's already sold a million copies. Another million are on order according to her publisher -- Victor and Christi.
PAUL: All right, Brianna. Thank you so much.
And we want to give you a programming note here. Former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama will be attending the memorial of famed author and poet Dr. Maya Angelou. That service begins at 10:00 a.m. We will have live coverage for you at that time.
BLACKWELL: Well, now to the big story we have been following this hour. The deal for Bowe Bergdahl's freedom. It's sparked a storm of outrage in Washington. The process as well. And Republicans and also some Democrats are lashing out at the Obama administration.
PAUL: Yes. Basically, they say the president gave away too much by sending back five Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo Bay. And that he broke the law by not consulting members of Congress on the issue.
So let's bring in CNN national security analyst Bob Baer and former Navy JAG Officer Michael Detzky.
Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.
Michael, I want to start with you and get that first question out there. Did the president break the law?
MICHAEL DETZKY, FORMER NAVY JAG OFFICER: I think it's rather clear that he did. The National Defense Authorization Act passed last December specifically required that Congress be notified 30 days in advance by the secretary of defense so that Congress could be assured that adequate provisions were made that these baddest of the bad would not go out and engage in terrorism or other acts of violence against United States personnel and citizens worldwide.
So I think there's no debate on that, the law was, in fact, violated. Now whether or not exigent circumstances, as the president said, justify deviation, I would equate this to the Iran contra affair where President Reagan violated law and he was criticized for that, but he said, and it was said by his supporters that the ends justified the means.
BLACKWELL: So what do you think, Bob? Does this meet the level of Iran contra?
ROBERT BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's very similar. I was part of Iran contra and that I was in the CIA at the time. And a colleague of mine had been kidnapped in Beirut and was being tortured and would eventually die of pneumonia. And that's what drove the Reagan administration to secretly trade arms for hostages. So there are similarities. Absolutely. And as we know, there were some indictments following Iran contra.
BLACKWELL: Yes. Let me stay with you, Bob, about the detainees there at Gitmo. The president has said, essentially, day, what, two of his administration back in 2009 that his goal was to close Guantanamo Bay? To close the facility there. The war in Afghanistan is winding down.
Would these men have been released any way? Is there any way to keep them beyond that or is this a way to -- if you have to release them at the end of the conflict, get something in return?
BAER: That's a good question, you know, the idea of trading hostages for a prisoner of war is one thing. But these five were senior political leaders. They probably would have been released at the end of the war. There's no evidence that I have seen that they committed crimes against Americans, namely 9/11. You know, certainly, they were in Afghanistan at the time, but there's no evidence that they participated in that attack.
So it would be hard to take them to trial unless there's a secret intelligence file which hasn't been made public. I just don't know.
PAUL: Michael --
DETZKY: Well, they were --
PAUL: Go ahead.
DETZKY: They were prisoners of war. And the Geneva Convention which is what mandates that prisoners be repatriated after the end of hostilities really doesn't apply in this case. But as Bob so correctly pointed out, we don't know what the evidence is against these detainees. We only -- we do know, however, that they were not yet charged and they were certainly not in the -- in the course of a trial as some of them are at this time like Sheik Mohammed.
There are no charges brought against them. But I think that it is beyond conjecture that these were top level detainees, the chief of staff of the Taliban. The chief of intelligence of the Taliban. And they have vowed, they have made public statements already, while in Qatar, that they intend to get back into the fray. They intend to get back into the fight.
And whether or not the friendly government of Qatar, and I mean friendly to them, not necessarily to us, whether or not their promises that they can keep tabs on these gentlemen is a -- is going to be achieved is yet to be seen.
PAUL: All righty. Mike -- Bob, I want to ask you one more quick question. We only have a minute here but, you know, you mentioned earlier this week that you think it's hypocrisy of some, you know, politicians who were deleting the celebratory tweets about Bergdahl being released. And now of course they're lashing out at the White House. Is it really hypocrisy do you think or is that the evolution of this knowledge that's now I think being out there much more than it was before about whether or not and again we do not know whether or not he was a deserter?
BAER: Well, yes, exactly. This has become politicized way too fast and the elections are coming up. We're even looking at 2016.
Why did he leave his post? Did he leave it a lot? Was he mentally unstable? I have no idea. But looking at him and listening to all these stories, the anecdotal ones, he was suffering problems. I mean, you know, he's not strictly a deserter if he was mentally disturbed at the time. And I think we need to get those facts out first before we judge him.
BLACKWELL: All right. Bob Baer --
DETZKY: Very important point about desertion.
DETZKY: It requires the intent to remain away permanently. And if he made two escape attempts, I think his defense council, if he ever is brought to court martial, is going to make a hay day out of that, whether or not he had the intent to remain away permanently.
BLACKWELL: All right. Michael Detzky, Bob Baer, thank you both. We'll continue, of course, to have this conversation throughout the morning and throughout the week as Sergeant Bergdahl continues to recover at a military facility.
Police say this Internet character called Slenderman, the faceless man you see here, is the inspiration behind a brutal stabbing attack on a 12-year-old by her two friends. We'll talk about the legal and the psychological ramifications of this disturbing incident.
BLACKWELL: The 12-year-old Wisconsin girl who was stabbed 19 times is out of the hospital this morning. Her family released a statement calling her a strong, brave girl. Now they also expressed gratitude for all the support their daughter has received at home and around the world.
PAUL: But here's the thing. Two other 12-year-old girls are accused of attacking her. A criminal complaints says it was all to impress a fictitious boogie man on the Internet called Slenderman. The suspects, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier are charged as adults with attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
Let's talk to CNN legal analyst Paul Callan and psychiatrist Gail Saltz to talk about all of this.
Thank you both so much for being with us.
Paul, I've got to ask you, I mean, charged as adults, what are these two girls facing, first of all, if they're convicted?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, good morning, Christi. They're facing as much as 65 years in prison on these charges. And believe it or not, about 28 American states now let children as young as age of 10 to be charged as adults, particularly when there's a brutal, brutal exact pattern like this one. So this is not unusual. There's been sort of a trend in the criminal justice system in recent years to push the age of criminal responsibility back and it's 10 in Wisconsin.
BLACKWELL: Do you think, Paul, that there is a possibility of an insanity defense here considering that this is a fictional character?
CALLAN: Well, it's interesting you asked that question because Wisconsin, as harsh as they are in terms of criminal responsibility age of age 10, they have sort of an easy insanity law. It's called the Model Penal Code Law and it says if you have a mental disease and that affects and creates an inability really to tell the difference between right and wrong you could be found insane.
But I think that's an uphill battle in this case for a couple of reasons. First, you got two kids.
CALLAN: Can they both be insane at the same time? And secondly, there was a lot of planning involved in this stabbing and a lot of focus on this Slenderman. So I kind of think they're going to have a problem with the insanity defense. But I'm sure Gail will have a more solid grip on that than me. I can only tell you about the legal standard.
PAUL: Well, Gail, I mean, let's get to that because I think a lot of us are sitting here thinking, you know, from the medical perspective, help us understand. Could 12-year-olds have a problem making that distinction between what's real and what's not?
DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST AND PSYCHOANALYST: It's possible not just because they're 12 but because basically they're -- well, let's put it this way -- their ability to really use judgment, good judgment, is not the same as an adult, certainly. Because the Internet has really changed things so much I think in some ways the law has not caught up with the possibility that, yes, a 12-year-old could believe something they're reading and watching over and over again and that's displayed in a pictorial way could be real.
And actually to the point that two people, two children could plot such a thing, in my field there's a term fully abdu. It means basically a delusion of two. And it's possible for two people to actually join in something that's not real, that's not a real thought. But that they believe basically the same delusional idea and that they feed off of each other. That is actually something that can occur. But I don't know obviously whether it's occurred with these two girls.
BLACKWELL: Gail, I don't want to break any hearts or give anything away, but every year there are lots of people who try to convince children of fictional characters being real. Is there any way that you can see the signs in your child that maybe they are seeing things in a way that probably they shouldn't?
SALTZ: You know, we're never going to catch everything, but this is what I would say. If you're going to take a, sadly, learning point away from this horrible, horrible story, it's that parents are not aware enough of what their children -- and 12 is young -- are looking at and the contents they're pursuing.
You know, kids have computers in their room, et cetera. You need to know what your kid is involved with on the computer when they are this kind of age, and you need to talk with your child about the fact that many of the things that they see are not going to be real and that we underestimate the impact of violent content on children, so I will say this. For a 12-year-old, seeing a lot of and reading a lot and watching a lot of violent content, we know that for boys and girls it influences the number of aggressive thoughts they have and the number of aggressive behaviors they have.
And I think, you know, there are many, let's say, money making companies involved in producing this stuff that really want to suppress this information.
SALTZ: But the information is out there. It's a reality. Kids who play recurrent violent video games, who watch recurrent violent material, it changes their thinking about this, and they think it more and they are desensitized to it, and they are more likely to act in an aggressive way.
PAUL: Boy. OK. Definitely food for thought today.
Paul Callan and Gail Saltz, thank you both so much.
CALLAN: Thank you.
PAUL: I want to let you know that later in our 10:00 hour we're going to have more on exactly who Slenderman is. We're going to talk to A.J. Meadows. He's the director of the movie "X" which is all about fictitious bogey men.
BLACKWELL: Tell the truth. What would you do if you found $125,000 cash, but it wasn't yours?
PAUL: That's the kicker. It wasn't yours. Wait until you see what one man did. We're going to make you feel good this morning.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLACKWELL: Time for "Good Stuff." The part of the show where we tell you about some good news happening out there. This hour, Joe Cornell. You see, Joe's been down on his luck, he's a recovering addict, he's trying to get clean at the Salvation Army Rehab Center in Fresno, California.
PAUL: You would think things would maybe start looking up when a brinks truck goes by and a bag of $125,000 falls out. That happened. Nobody saw it. So Joe could have kept it free and clear. But you know he returned it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE CORNELL, HONEST MAN: I just did it because it was the right thing to do. I wasn't sure anything was going to come from it. That's not what I was thinking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: But something did come of it. Brinks was so impressed that Joe returned the money, they gave him and his wife a debit card for $5,000.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIRGINIA CORNELL, WIFE: I'm proud of him and we're going to start all over. This is like a new start for us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: The story isn't over for Joe. He is set to come out of the rehab program in a few weeks clean, ready to go, and then he's going to need a job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
V. CORNELL: 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)
PAUL: Good luck. Best of luck to them. Hopefully we'll hear how things work out for him.
And best of luck to you as well. If you're just kind of opened your eyes and thinking oh, is it morning already?
BLACKWELL: It is. And the next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Just edging toward the 8:00 hour officially. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Victor Blackwell. This is NEW DAY SATURDAY.
PAUL: And some breaking news that we've been following this morning just in the last couple of hours. Comedian and former "30 Rock" star Tracy Morgan we know is in intensive care in a unit there at a New Jersey hospital right now.