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tv   Talk to Al Jazeera  Al Jazeera  June 1, 2014 3:00pm-3:31pm EDT

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hello and welcome to al jazeera america. i am thomas drayden in new york. this is special coverage of army sergeants bowebeyberg release. we will take you to boise, idaho. you see the podium on your screen as soon as family members begin to talk, they will be talking with reporters in boise. we will bring that event to you live. you may remember yesterday, bowe's parents were at the whitehouse hours after receiving a call from president obama who told them bowe will be returning home safely. right now, sergeant bergdahl is at a u.s. army hospital in
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southwestern germany. in a statement, the hospital said it will evaluate his condition, begin any necessary medical care and assist in his recovery process. officials say they are sensitive to what sergeant bergdahl has been through and will proceed with his reintegration at a pace with which he is comfortable. the hospital says there is no pre-determined amount of time for what it calls the reintegration process. this morning, the 5 taliban detainees released in exchange for his freedom arrived in doha, qatar. they included a founding member of the taliban, a deputy intelligence official. the deal was brokered by the qatari government which has assured that u.s. national security is not at risk. a report from doha. >> the taliban leaders are now in doha. they will release -- they were released in a prison swap mediated by qatar. foreign minister bin hamman said
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it was humanitarian but stopped short of elaborating on what role played. >> i with respect to the detail, excuse me for not disclosing any, however, when qatar takes the role of intermediatiary, it plays this role on a humanitarian basis. >> the release of the taliban leaders who spent 12 years in guantanamo was in exchange for a u.s. sold, bowe bergdahl who spent five years in activity in afghanistan. u.s. president barack obama said national security would be safe guarded. >> we have worked for several years to achieve this goal. earlier this week, i was able to personally think the emir of qatar for his leadership in helping us get it done. as part of this effort, the united states is transferring five detainees from the prison in guantanamo bay to qatar. the qatari government has given us assurance that it will put in
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place measures to protect our national security. >> but some congressmen have denounced the release of the guantanamo detainees. >> first u.s. defense secretary chuck hagel said the pentagon acted quickly to save bergdahl. >> whether that could lead to possible new breakthroughs with the taliban, i don't know. hopefully, it might. but we pursued this effort specifically to get sergeant bergdahl back. >>. >> the deal could signal a softening in the taliban's hard line position and pay for the way for talks on the future of afghanistan. >> we don't know at this tape whether the five taliban leaders will be placed under any restrictions or if they will be allowed to play a future political role, but the prisoner
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swap has been a crucial demand for the taliban doha. >> once again, sergeants bergdahl's family members are expected to speak with reporters in boysee, idaho in any moment. when it happens, we will bring it to you live. we want to point out the release of the last prisoner of war is receiving praise and criticism in the nation's capitol. there is criticism coming in from afghanistan. randall pinkston from washington. good afternoon to you, randall. what was the afghan reaction? >> reporter: well, hello, thomas. in afghanistan, of course, president obama hamid karzai was very critical of the administration's decision to make that prisoner swap without informing his government in advance. previously, however, interestingly enough, karzi had been in favor of negotiations with the taliban but he wanted toes n negotiations, certainly
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not qatar to be the intermediatiary. >> it is disturbing these individuals would have the ability to re-enter fight and they are big, high-level people possibly responsible for the deaths of thousands. >> that's u.s. senator john mccain who has some concerns about the release of the detainees. >> sound byte referencing the fact that as far as mccain is concerned, those detainees still represent a very serious threat to u.s. security and he wants to know as much information as he can get about exactly how their movements will be limited as we are told that they will be by the qatari government and what steps and what measures the u.s. will be able to take or enforce to make sure that those five--level leaders of the taliban do not pose a threat to the u.s. >> randall, as you know, president obama has said repeatedly that america does not negotiate with terrorists.
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did that type of negotiation happen here? could this deal set some sort of precedent? >> well, that is a charge that critics are making. some republicans are charging that the administration has opened the door that will allow the future negotiations for prisoner exchanges to be premised on our enemies grabbing an american soldier and demanding the release of their combatants. thomas? >> this was an operation, i think, as everyone recognizes that had to be very closely held. only very, very few people knew about this operation. we did not want to jeopardize any leaks. we couldn't afford any leaks anywhere. >> okay. that was secretary of defense chuck hagel explaining why it was that the administration did
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not comply with a provision in the defense authorization act that says the secretary had to notify congress 30 days in advance before anyone was moved out of guantanamo. hagle saying that the circumstances of releasing bowe bergdahl required immediate action and a great deal of secrecy. thomas? >> some republicans calling this deal illegal. how is the obama administration reacting to the criticism? >> the obama administration is defending its actions. national security advisors, susan rice explained the rationale. >> we felt as the war was winding down, it was you our sacred obligation to get him back, that we do so. we did so in a way that has brought him back safely into american hands. we did so in a way that resulted in the taliban prisoners being monitored and kept in a secure
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way. >> rice says that the focus of the obama administration is on the health, safety, and wellbeing of sergeant bergdahl . randall stand by for just a moment as we wait for sergeant bergdahl's family to speak. you are looking live at the podium. >> that's going to happen here in just a matter of moments. i want to go to alan shaufller. >> that's his home state. you were there yesterday, in his hometown. can you set the scene for us and the mood in his hometown of h l hailey? >> reporter: well, the scene is he can static there. yellow ribbons lining main street, signs saying bowe is free plastering store windows. people extremely giddy about the fact that this young man is coming back to america, possibly coming home to haley at some point and is free after five years of captivity, being held likely by the periods of the
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hatani network likely in pakistan, now coming home. so they are delighted that bowe bergdahl is on his way back. it's a community that never forg forgot. they have kept up the pressure on this administration to pursue efforts to bring bowe bergdahl home. hailey is a town of 7900, 8,000 or so, so virtually everybody knows this family because they have been there for many decades now. people there are delighted. all of the controversy we have been hearing about, they are someway that. at this point, most people are saying let's put that behind us and be glad that this young man is coming home. the colonel briefing reporters before this press conference has told us that the bergdahls, bon and janie bergdahl have not had a chance to speak directly to their son, bo. we we. >> will likely be later when he has been moved to a facility in san antonio and the military has decided his medical needs have been met and he has been debriefed to the point that he
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can connecticut with his parents. we don't have a timeline on that at all. we do have a timeline now, thomas for the press press conference to happen in seven or eight minutes. we will go inside this building right here and get that to you when bob bergdahl and janie bergdahl step to the podium. >> he had as a supportive community, very supportive parents. in fact, we saw yesterday, his father, bob, really stood with his son in solidarity. >>. >> absolutely, as did the whole town. you saw bob bergdahl with a shaggy beard he had grown in support of his son. he also learned some of pashto, some local language when bowe bergdahl had been studying before and while he was in afghanistan. his family has order stood four-square behind him and most of the family about a 3 hour drive that way from the capitol, boise, have stood with him. he has a lot of support in the
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gen state. >> alan shaufller, stand by for just a moment as we await that press conference with bowe bergdahl's family. >> that's expected to happen. as alan mentioned in about five to six minutes. we will take y we will take you there live. we will hear from a military official who will update us on sergeant bowe bergdahl's condition. we want to go to juan cole standing by. we will take a quick break and we will speak with juan cole right after the break. stay with us. r
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welcome back. after five years being held by the taliban, sergeant bowe bergdahl is a freeman being e recall waited right now at a hospital in germany. what you are looking at is a live press conference that is about to happen in boise, idaho, with military officials and family members of sergeant bowe bergdahl. as soon as that happens.
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it's expected to happen here in a couple of minutes. we will take you back there live. joining us right now is juan cole, al jazeera's international affairs contributor, joining us from ann harbor, michigan good to see you, juan. >> high, thomas. >> what do you make of the political divide on bergdahl with some top republicans fearing the u.s. negotiated with terrorists? >> i think it's shameful. i think we should all just be celebrating that sergeant bergdahl is free. the u.s. has negotiated with guerilla groups like the taliban all through its history. in 1973, it negotiated with the vet kong to get u.s. prisoners out of vet kong hands. we were not a government. we will now days call them terrorists. the reagan administration negotiated with the homeini government in iran to get hostages out of lebanon at a time when komeini was listed on the state department terrorism
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list. >> some are defining his status. how do you define it? as a hostage or p.o w.? >> it's an unconventional war so there aren't clear lines like th that, but, you know, there is a difference between a small terrorist group that blows up a building someplace and a fighting force on the ground. this is a guerilla war. so they are a kind of p o w. >> should there be an investigation surrounding the circumstances of his capture? >> i think the congress has already said that they will hold hearings on this on the circumstances of his capture, i am sure that will be investigated. but, you know, i think that the big issues before us are more important, which is going forward: was this an opening, as secretary hagle suggested,
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towards a negotiated soft landing in afghanistan. >> once again, we are waiting for a live press conference. bowe bergdahl's family is expected to speak. i want to go back to this prisoner exchange. why were these five detainees chosen? >> obviously, they were important to the hatani group, the group that was holding sergeant bergdahl. these were members of the taliban government that was there in afghanistan in the 1990s. they were high officials of that government. their former associates want them out. >> staying on the criticism because critics like representative mike rogers, republican from michigan, he is also chairman of the house intelligence committee said this fundamental shift signals to terrorists around the world a greater incentive to take u.s. hostages. is there any credence to this? >> well, no. i mean as i said, the u.s. has negotiated with
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guerilla groups of this sort all through its history as for taking u.s. citizens hostage, the radical shiites in lebdon did that in the early 1980s at a time when the u.s. had an announced policy of not negotiating. it negotiated with the iranians to get them out and nothing bad happened in the aftermath. as for afghanistan, obviously, the taliban have a constant issue to try to take u.s. troops hostage if thing. that hasn't changed. the reason that they only had one solid in captivity is it's not easy for a guerilla group to get at hardeped targets like u.s. military personnel. >> do you think, juan, in any way this will soften the hard line of the taliban? >> i think it may be a signal of a softening in the sense that the particular group we are talking about lid sirage hafani.
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in the old days, they were allies of the united states back in the '80s. they were on the cia payroll, fighting with the u.s. against the soviet occupation of afghanistan and after 2001, did they announced an objection to u.s. more than troops and allied with the taliban. if they switched once, maybe they can be pursuaded to switch again. their main objection was the presence of u.s. troops. now that those troops won't be there in 2017, maybe there is an opportunity here. >> once again, you are looking at a live press conference said to begin here those are the parents. we saw them yesterday speak at the whitehouse. in a matter of moment here, i would estimate in about 30 to maybe 45 seconds, they are going to take the podium along with a military official. one last question here as we wait for this press conference
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to begin, juan. what do you make of the he felt mir of qatar acting sort of as a middleman for the united states? >> the qatari government has tried to mediate discussions between the afghan government and the taliban for some time. there was a plan to set up a taliban office in qatar and doha. all of that fell through in the end. you have a new emir who seems to have tappy up this mediating role with more vigor. and has had an enormous success. i think, also, the u.s. public 0s a debt of gratitude to shake hamin in freeing bergdahl. >> you see bob bergdahl, the son, showing solidarity, he grew his beard out. do you think, juan, i think it's too early to sigh sect this deal and its impact but will this change the administration's handling of foreign policy moving forward?
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>> i think the obama administration wants together in on or aboutiated settlement where it can get them. as it leaves afghanistan t will want to negotiate a settlement. >> we will take you to boise, idaho where the parents, after five years in cagliari captivity is speaking. >> thank you so much. please forgive me if i do end up reading this. i am going to try not to, but i probably will. today, i am going to address my son. i love you, bowe. i am so very proud of you. and, of course, all of your very large family would also like me to tell you that they love you, also also and are also very proud of you. we have been working very, very hard for your release these last five years along with the whole of our government, even other governments and most especially,
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of course, qatar. never losing hope in you or for you. right now, so many people are in place to assist you in all of the aspects of your recovery to full health. trust them. it's okay. and give yourself all of the time you need to recover and decompress. there is no hurry. you have your life ahead of you. we could not in our minute-by minute prayers for you as you go through this healing process, and we praise god for your freedom. i think you may be very surprised at the number of people who have gathered you into their hearts at home in the valley, here, over idaho, across the country and around the world. you have very amazing support system among all of these people. i am so looking forward to seeing your face after these last five and a half years. long, long years and to giving you a great big bear hug and holding you in my arms again,
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never wanting to let you go. our family, your family, is strong in faith and hope. you are from a strong tribe. you are even stronger now. five years is a seemingly endless long time. but you have made it: i imagine you are more patient and compassionate than ever. you are free. freedom is yours. i will see you soon, my beloved son. i love you, bowe. [applause.] i would like to start on the back row and go name by name by name of all of the people who have supported us from the beginning of this. and then we could go across the country and then across the world and that would be appropriate. so unfortunately, we don't have the time or the neor music will
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playing and we will have to leave. we are talking like this because we haven't talked to bowe yet. we haven't called him on the phone although you all know we have -- we have the capability to do that. with satellite technology. there is a reason for that. >> that's because bowe has been gone so long at that it's going to be very difficult to come back. it's like a diver going deep on a dive and has to stage back up to recompression to get the nitrogen bubbles out of his system. if he comes up too fast, it could kill him. we are pretty resilient. jani pointed out bowe is resilient. he has passed through all of the checkpoints with flying colors. but this is very well organized. as you can see by the gentleman
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on the end of the row there doc popin, he is our seer psychologist, one of the men running this recovery and reintegration, and we have known doc for how long? four or five -- the first year, the first summer, i think. so, going all of the way back there, we have had this kind of support behind us. and we are proud of that. we were always content with that. and it's so big and includes so many people that there is no way we can thank them all. so, if we did, we would miss people, and then we would feel guilty and we don't want to do that. so, bowe let me say to you. let me start over again now that i have explained the context of this. bowe, i love you. i am your father.
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[speaking pashtu ] >> can you speak english still? i would write him. but now, i hope when you hear this and when you are ready to hear this, and when you see this, i hope your english is coming back. and i want you to know that i love you. i am proud of you. i am so proud of your character. i am so proud of your patience. and your perseverance. i am so proud of your cultural abilities to adapt, your language skills, your desire and your action to serve this country in a very difficult, long war. but most of all, i am proud of
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how much you wanted to help the afghan people and what you were willing to do to go to that length. i will say it again. i am so proud of how far you were willing to go to help the afghan people. and i think you have succeeded. your ability to adapt in the harsh conditions for five years is an amazing testimony of human endurance and is hope for the loved ones of people who still have captives, loved gunk all over the world. syria, nigeria, egypt, pakistan.
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so, we as a family well, now we feel guilty because bowe is safe and he is am coming home and you are still suffering. but we haven't forgotten you. this is going to be the slowest press conference in history because i am going to pick through these notes that i just wrote coming in on the airplane. the ethos here, no one left behind, and general dempsey, thank you for your comment the other day because typically, he nailed it, the ethos is true. bowe, you are not left behind. i told you, you wouldn't be left behind. but that wasn't easy. you will never know how complicated this was in such a complicated area of
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responsibility. we will never meet most of the people that were involved in this. the ones we have met, we are extremely thankful and we are even more thankful for the people that we will never meet. and they like it that way. >> that's what they do. like the guys in the helicopters the other day. bowe, when you hear this, and eventually, you will hear this, you have a very devoted team around you. right now, in germany, listen to their instructions. we sent them. these are hand-pinned people. we are on first-name basis with these people.
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they are true. they know what they are doing. they are here to help you. and they have our great gratitude gratitude. he specially to the recovery, the recovery community and the seer community, we just thank every single one of you. we are so proud of the way this was carried out. again, too many of the people to thank you. bowe's supporters, starting with the back row or the middle row there, you guys, the biker dudes and dudettes around america. [applause.].
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>> we do know some of you don't ride bikes, and it's okay. >> aka, the biker dudes and dudettes. when you rod wrote into hailey -- rode in to hailey and con vayed that we were not alone, that was really good for our souls. and we will never be able to thank you enough. just amazing. and your day will come when we can do that for bowe as well. we are just all going to have to be patient. so begin with that group that day, the people in hailey, the wood river alley, you know, the little town in idaho that was suddenly on the map and then expanding from that in the magic valley and the treasureral