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tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  May 31, 2014 12:00pm-1:31pm PDT

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-- captions by vitac -- welcome back to viewers in the united states and around the world, america's only known current prisoner of war is now in u.s. custody. army sergeant bowe bergdahl was taken into afghanistan in 2009, and now we've learned this -- special forces picked up bergdahl at 10:30 a.m. eastern from his captors in afghanistan and in exchange for his release the u.s. handed over five
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detainees from guantanamo bay. bergdahl is now in a forwarding operating base in afghanistan. his family just hours ago learned he was free. the local qatari government brokered the deal. the pentagon correspondent barbara starr has been all over the story. we'll get to her. first to somebody who actually knows bowe bergdahl very, very well. sheri horton of idaho. sheri, thank you for joining us. this is obviously an incredible day, ow viewers should know you know him incredibly well because you were his roommate three years. >> i was. it's a very exciting day near idaho. everybody is celebrating. all restaurants are putting signs'sit's very xrit iexciting >> tell us about the efforts that have been under way, my understanding, you and his parents working hand in glove with the rest of his friends to try to make sure that the idea of his captivity is not forgotten?
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>> well, his parents have been in the forefront the whole time, even if they are very private people and not necessarily the ones giving the interviews, they've been very, very active in making sure there are rallies and they're in washington making sure that everyone is still aware that bowe has still been in captivity this long and making sure he wasn't forgotten, and the account itself, we actual will had the girl scouts and boy scouts in the community just redid all the yellow ribbons. doing it about three time as year, and they just got redone this past week. so kind of nice timing. >> yes, certainly is. and you spoke to his parents, to bowe bergdahl's parents this morning, after they learned their son is finally, after nearly five years, going to be released. what did they tell you? >> they -- not a lot, as you can imagine, they were over the top. his mother was crying when she answered the phone. and just very excited, and they are just waiting to hear, and they're just -- they just can't wait, big hugs and arms around him. >> you know, we obviously, what
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we know about him is based on the fact that he's been a prisoner of war. you know him in a different way. you were his roommate. he was your student in ballet class. tell us a little bit about who bowe bergdahl is. >> he is a very interesting individual. he has so many different interests that go from martial arts to poetry, to foreign languages. i mean, every day he was learning something new and trying to expand his mind and just always looking to push himself physically, mentally, everything. and he's just always that intellectual person just trying to reach one more leg up the ladder. >> well, congratulations on this. it certainly is remarkable. i'm sure that this is surreal for you and for everybody who has been working so hard and praying for so many years. >> we are. actually, we have a restaurant full of people opening up champagne bottles and in celebration. we all found a meeting spot and
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are very excited we finally get to do this. we've a been waiting to do this for five years. >> good for you. i can't even imagine. said it before. you can't listen to stories like yours without getting the chills knowing he's finally on his way back home. >> we're all still kind of walking around on clouds, and all just waiting to get eyes on him. that's going to be the topper. >> i bet it is. thank you so much for joining us. and drink one on us. okay? >> i will. thank you very much. >> okay. thank you. now, we want to go back to just how this happened, and the work that has been going on behind the scenes to secure bowe bergdahl's release. going to our global affairs correspondent, working her sources. what are you learning? >> reporter: well, dana, senior administration officials telling me these indirect talks with the taliban started about a week ago. they were intense negotiations, but you know, these officials that were involved in the discussions, when they went, they didn't know if these talks would actually produce the
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release of bowe bergdahl. they've been going in fits and starts for years and say, listen, you don't know every single opportunity that you get, if this is going to lead to that release. but they've been very intense live involved. secretary of state john kerry issued a statement, a short time ago. i'll read a bit of it saying, the responsibility to make sure all of our men and women in uniform are return from battle, and held during year is as oner- personal to me as someone who has worn the uniform of my country and someone deeply involved in those efforts for the respect of the unfinished business of the war's in which i fought. the nation has a solemn duty to ensure every single american who signs up to our country comes home. the cost of liberty, and it is immeasurable. we are heartened sergeant bergdahl will be reunited with
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friends and family, for whom he's been apart from for too lo long. secretary of state kerry, a veteran himself. since that office of the taliban opened in qatar and tall ban officials had been there, it had ban very useful tool, the qatari involvement and these media talks. >> we've talked to colleagues nic robertson and barbara starr and those really following this closely and involved knew this was a possibility. the idea of doing this prisoner swap is not new. but the thought was maybe it wasn't going to happen, and then suddenly it did. you've been cover aing the stor as well. talk about that. the fact it's been going on for a while, these ideas? >> and these five names. we've written about these five individuals in the past. these taliban prisoners up for
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consideration, either five individuals of the taliban really wanted relief. very controversial figures that had a lot of hand in terrorist activity, the u.s. believes and work against u.s. forces. so every opportunity to make these discussions and sometimes the discussions you think they're going very well and they don't. so, again, when they sat down with the taliban during these talks they didn't know if it would lead anywhere, but officials say we have to seize every opportunity as if we would be able to get them released, and they just kept having the faith that eventually had will lead to this. certainly over the years these talks started's in 2010 with the taliban, they'd broken down several times for several different reasons. whether it's trust between the taliban and the united states. whether it's the afghan government in itself feeling that it kind of was left out of those talks. the u.s. always trying to make it known that these were a
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compliment to the, really, afghan-led negotiations on reconciliation and in his statement, secretary kefry says the u.s. will continue to help this afghan-led reconciliation. this is a complement to those talks. >> one last question. if you would tell me, because you have been covering these issues to are so long, you have such tremendous sources. what do you make of the timing of this? the fact the president was in afghanistan and the surprise visit last week? he made the sort of final announcement about everybody, except for essential personnel, officially leaving afghanistan, and now this? >> reporter: well, certainly the administration knew that this was going on, and certainly when the president went to afghanistan he knew that this was, could be almost at hand, and with the announcement of all the troops this week, withdrawing all the troops by the end of this term, i think all the pieces came together. i can't say that those talks and
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the president's visit -- i don't know. i think that's the president's visit timed to memorial day but make it rs it all the more real for the president to say, i'm bringing bowe bergdahl home. i'm bringing all of our troops home, i am, as i promised when i ran for president, ending the war in afghanistan, and for the president, this is a very powerful moment for the u.s. military and a powerful moment that when it is bringing its troops home over the next two years, bowe bergdahl will be among those troops and the u.s. hopefully, and with this remaining time going on, will not be leaving anybody behind, dana. >> that's the motto and nice to report good news when reporting breaking news. isn't it? >> reporter: absolutely. >> more on the breaking news, right after this break. captain: this is a tip. bellman: thanks, captain obvious. captain: and here's a tip. when you save money on hotel rooms, it's just like saving money on anything else that costs money.
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i've been using these bounce bursts. they bring outdoor freshness inside, so i guess i forgot i wasn't outside. [ sniffs ] behold. [ birds chirping ] [ shaking ] i love being outdoors. [ male announcer ] new bounce bursts for more outdoor freshness. welcome back, and we are following the breaking news on the release of sergeant, army sergeant bowe bergdahl in afghanistan, now in u.s. custody receiving medical care. i'm joined by phone by cnn military analyst major general james a e spider" marks. thanks so much for joining me. the first question i want to ask you is about, you know, what happens now to him? not so much with regard to the obvious. his humanitarian aspect and making sure he's physically
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okay, but put your intelligence hat on and tell us what it's like to get a prisoner of war and try to get information from him. ? >> dana, a great question. this great yun soldier has been with the enemy the last almost five years. he's eaten their food, slept on think mats. probably been roughed up a bit. he's had an opportunity to get to know some of the personalities. most likely moved around, and so all of that very valuable information will start to be material through a series of debriefs. he'll be interrogated, interrogated by our folks in a comfortable setting and in a way that will allow him to reminisce and recall, so we can start to fill in the gaps that we always had in terms of better understanding our enemies. he is a delicate and important source. >> how is that?
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you mean gently so, to get information? >> sure. >> interview. that's right. probably a better word. but the idea is that he does need presumably some time to get his bearings. you know? the fact that the dramatic story that barbara starr has been reporting on that he, on a paper plate, scribbled s.f., just to make sure what he was really experiencing was happening. that special forces were resc rescuing. what's the process of getting from recovery meantry and physically to getting information before he forget? >> very true. this is a medical process. there will be intelligence as well as medical folks involved to make sure these not traumatized. he's been with very bad people for five years. in many cases it's come to say soup he's come to like some of his captors. this will be a difficult process to go through and recall his five years of captivity, which he will have to do, and we will support that effort, but he's a
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very valuable piece of information for the united states, and we have to make sure that we examine that. we can't let this atrophy. >> no question about it. the fact that you talked about the fact he might actually have liked some of his captors. some people might blanch at that, but people are human. another thing to keep in mind. talk about the ex-tachange of prisoners. the fact five were released, left by plane. we now understand at 2:00 p.m. eastern from guantanamo bay, and the concern about the fact that, yes, the qatari government is promising he won't be returned to the battlefield, but how can you be sure? >> well, the united states and qatar government have a close relationship. we've dealt with each other clearly while at war in their back yard and have strong relationships with them. we do intelligence exchanges.
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we share information quite readily. we know them, and they know us. so anything that happens with these release tall pann fighters in qatar, we will be apprised what's going on. clearly we have to have the invitation of the qatari government to do that. we do up front and i'm sure this was one of the conditions to be released from guantanamo. >> and former prisoner of war himself, john mccain, is raising questions about the idea, if in a imen -- more specifically allowing five people to leave guantanamo bay, raising questions about making sure that they are not going to return, as he says, to the fight against the united states. does he raise some legitimate questions? >> oh, absolutely, dana. these are absolutely the spot on questions. according to senate mccain, credibility. he understands the emotional
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trauma, emotional and physical, he's been through. and nobody understand more than senator mccain. his voice comes forward, i'm honoring sergeant bergdahl and let's not blow it, america. make sure we have eyes on and understand what they're doing in qatar. they're not out on the street slipping away so they can re-appear. he's absolutely correct, and i guarantee you, our intelligence community, state department, is, would go has in hand. >> and so viewers know, we're talking about john mccain. i want to actually read the statement that was released from his office just a short while ago. he said, these particular individuals are hardened terrorists who have the blood of americans and countless afghans on their hands. i'm eeg are to learn what steps are taken to ensure these vicious and violent taliban never return against the united states and are partners or -- or
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engage in activities that can talent the prospects for peace and security in afghanistan, the american people and afghan partiers sdv nothing less. it is a very, very powerful thing, general marks from somebody who was a prisoner of war himself for about five years in vietnam. he knows what he speaks of, for sure. i should say we've reached out to see if we can speak to senator mccain, but he's traveling. hopefully we'll hear from him in a little while. thank you for joining us with your valuable insight. we'll be back with our news, right after this break. hey. i'm ted and this is rudy.
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welcome back, and we're following a breaking news. the release of sergeant bowe bergdahl in afghanistan. now in u.s. custody and receiving medical care. we're getting reaction from his parents, bob and jani bergdahl who released this statement saying, we were so joyful and relieved when president obama called to give us the news bowe is finally coming home. we cannot wait to wrap our arms around our only son. we want to thank bowe's. supporters in idaho, around the nation and around the world and thank the emir of qatar for his
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efforts. in 2011, bowe's father said he could remain silent no longer when he upload add youtube video asking his son's captors to release bowe. robert bergdahl thanked them for keeping him alive. here's a portion of that video. >> -- no family in the united states understands the detainee issue like ours. our son's safe return will only heighten public awareness of this. that said, our son is being exploited. it's past time for bowe and the others to come home. i pray this video may be shown to our only son. [ speaking in foreign language ] god bless you. we love you. we've been quiet in public, but we haven't been quiet behind the scenes.
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continue to be patient, and kind to those around you. [ speaking in foreign language ] you're not forgotten. you are not forgotten. >> hmm. absolutely chilling. i want to bring? ed lavin darrow, following the story for years, especially this story of the family trying to keep the idea of the captivity of bowe bergdahl alive and ed, saw there, viewers saw there, the beard that his father grew, the fact that he learned at least some words in a language that his captors could understand to try to connect with them. i mean, what lengths that father went to try to get his son home. >> reporter: it really does speak to the love and the bond of a father and a son. parents and their child. there's nothing more raw, more personal, and as he mentioned in that video, dana, very quiet
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publicly, but doing so much behind the scenes, and, you know, the story that may or may not be told here in the months and years ahead about what went on during these last five years will be, know, incredibly fascinating to hear about. but today, dana, i'm struck. i remember a story bob bergdahl told of bowe giving him a letter in the days before he was deployed to afghanistan, and he had told his father that he had had this premonition and belief he wasn't going to come back alive from afghanistan, and this deployment, he thought he was going to be killed, and it's a story when bob bergdahl talks about it, it's incredibly chilling. and it's something that for the longest time he kept from bowe's mother, and then he would kind of start sharing that, but, you know, after nearly five years, bowe's parents know that he has made it through this incredibly painful ordeal, and it's hard to
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think about, but a young man in this 20s, who's been nearly five years in captivity, spent most of his 20s in captivity living a life that not every average 20-something in this country will ever know or understand rchltsz for sure. absolutely impossible to understand, and you, ed, you spent a lot of time with them. quickly, barbara starr was talking earlier about the fact she saw the bergdahls walking through the halls of the pentagon. they did have a quiet campaign and to pret the pentagon, to press u.s. government agency officials to make sure they tried as hard as they could to bring their son home. >> reporter: it's a deliberate choice they made. they have always been very nervous that any misstep publicly, any, saying the wrong thing publicly would cost their son his life. and they made a decision, at times it was very difficult, as the years and years drug on, you know, being quiet. they only gave a handful of on-the-record interviews with a
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couple of organizations, but by and large, they sat quiet, put their faith and trust in the people that they were talking to, dehind the scenes, and i know at times, you know, that patience and that -- it was tempted many times, but clearly it's finally paid off today. >> no question. i know, ed, you spent a considerable amount of time in hailey, idaho, as people sat vigil waiting for this day. i assume you might head back soon under different circumstances? >> reporter: i'm at the airport. several people are close to the bergdahl family, funny, as you cover a story, rarely to you cover a story this length of time and have gotten to know various people in that community rather well, and privately i would tell them i couldn't wait to come back to cover a homeum canni inhomecoming parade. it's powerful to think i'm on my
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way there. >> sure is. listen, this is something, you know, we all try to be objective. this is something that is objectively -- true. which is, that you can have an opinion on this. it is an amazing thing, to be able especially for someone like you, ed, to cover this for so long and to be able to go back and cover such a good news story. have a safe flight and thank you so much, ed, for everything. we'll be right back. ♪ (woman) this place has got really good chocolate shakes. (growls) (man) that's a good look for you. (woman) that was fun. (man) yeah. (man) let me help you out with the.. (woman)...oh no, i got it. (man) you sure? (woman) just pop the trunk. (man vo) i may not know where the road will lead, but... i'm sure my subaru will get me there. (announcer) love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. little things, anyone can do. it steals your memories. your independence.
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i'm dana bash. welcome to viewers in the u.s. and around the world. we are following breaking news. america's only known current prisoner of war is now in u.s. custody. army sergeant bowe bergdahl was taken in afghanistan in 2009 and now we've learned this -- special forcesiced up bergdahl at 10:30 a.m. eastern from his captors in afghanistan in exchange for his release the u.s. handed over five detainees from guantanamo bay. bergdahl is now in a forwarding operating base in afghanistan and his family just hours ago learned he was free. the local qatari government brokered the deal. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr is now joining us from the pentagon, and barbara, you have been all over this, giving us all the details as the day has gone on and you have new information now. >> reporter: dana, we are beginning to learn some of the, what to call them, exquisite security details in place by the
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u.s. military when this risky transfer took place on the afghanistan border earlier today. it all did go 134507b8g smoothl peaceful, not a shot fired, but plenty of security measures in place behind the scenes. what we know now, u.s. officials confirming they had aircraft, assets in the air, watching the transfer point just to make sure. they're not telling us whether they were fixed wing aircraft or drones flying overhead. suffice it to say there were eyeballs, plenty of them, on the transfer point as it was happening in case any kind of trouble was to break out. the taliban, we are further told, set the transfer point several days ago making it clear to the u.s. where they should come to pick up bowe bergdahl. that is the point at which the u.s. command oh commandos on helicopters flew to.
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we were told sergeant bergdahl was able to walk to the helicopter. that is a good sign. his health was frail according to the photos and videos we've seen. he was able to walk to the helicopter. whether he had somebody with their arm around him or helping him at this point we don't know. further on the security measures. this is very tricky business to discuss. but it would be standard military procedure for everyone at that site, the taliban, but especially bergdahl, before he got on the helicopter, standard procedure. they would have checked to make sure he wasn't wired up with explosives against his will, that he didn't have any weapons with him. that nothing had been strapped to him. the miller thitary has been cau short on situations where they think they're dealing with friendly forces and they are not. so standard procedure would have been to search him. we're told additionally that a number of procedures had been worked out ahead of time.
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that the taliban through the qataris, the people getting those five detainees back, had worked out with the u.s. how everybody would signal each other so all the terms would be met. so that when bergdahl was turned over to the u.s., the taliban felt certain their detainees were also going to be released. there were secret procedures worked out. we don't know what those were, but we are told there were signals and procedures. so both sides felt comfortable that the terms would be lived up to, and now looking at the clock, those five detainees have been in the air from guantanamo bay for about an hour and a half. it will be several hours before they land. before they land back in qatar. >> absolutely fascinating. the obvious question is, how does this work? you just gave so many details about it, about, you know -- you read about these things in novels, watch it in movies and tv shows, but this is real life, and just the idea of making this
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kind of recovery, rescue, and then doing it as part of a swap and -- and having faith that the people you're dealing with are doing so in good faith. the way you describe it, it's absolutely fascinating. i want to go back to what you said about the taliban, or the people who have been at guantanamo, being in the air since you said 2:00 p.m. eastern. can you shed a little more light on that leap of faith? maybe that the taliban took? because it's clear that -- that the army sergeant was released before those at guantanamo were. >> yeah. maybe only a little bit, dana. what we know is that these five detainees were turned over to -- or we are told these five detainees were turned over to qatari custody on the ground at guantanamo bay. so the qataris had custody of them, legal custody if you will, physical custody of them, at
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guantanamo bay, at the detention facility. at some point prior to them being loaded on to a u.s. c-17 aircraft for that flight to the middle east. who knows. maybe once the qataris had them in hand they somehow had a way of communicating to the taliban, okay, we've got them. you know, at the end of the day, these situations are, to some extent, in the last moments before it all happened, a leap of faith that it's all going to go well. i think it is very safe to say that the u.s. military, that small group of commandos on the ground knew if it did not go well, they had plenty of backup, not too far away, that was going to come and help them out. >> another leap of faith is that the u.s. military is trusting that these five prisoners, now released from guantanamo bay, being flown out of that prison
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camp, are not going to return to the battlefield and the vernacular we've ladder frheardn mccain. this situation, what do you make of the questions that john mccain, for example, himself, a former prisoner of war, is raising, about the idea that these five prisoners are being returned to the qataris? >> reporter: well, look, over the years -- i think well over 200, perhaps, detainees have been released from guantanamo bay. sent back to their home country, sent to third countries, and it's had a mixed rate of success. there are a good number of them that indeed have returned to the so-called battlefields of afghanistan, or in their home countries. we have seen that in yemen. that is why the u.s. has not agreed to send some yemeni detainees back to yemen.
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they don't feel they can control them. has it been in perp tuperpetuit? probably not. the president making it clear himself to undertake this in order to get an american soldier back home, back to his family. we've talked about it. you and me, earlier today, and with peter bergen. the israelis engaged in these kind of prisoner transfers for years with the palestinians. it does become a leap of faith. it become as risk. it has to be a risk you're willing to take. clearly, the president of the united states wanted to do everything to get this american soldier home, just as u.s. troops are wirndi iwinding down in afghanistan, there wouldn't be anybody left to go get him. >> exactly. my next question, military credo, american credo, you don't leave anybody behind, and the timing of this is such that, you know, the president has, was in
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afghanistan last week. he made clear, reiterated or formalize d the poles thaicy th troops like the sergeant would not be there anymore. the timing definitely has to be part of that calculation, right? >> reporter: absolutely no question about it, i think. this has been in the backs of the minds of military commanders, of the secretary of defense, of chuck hagel, who served himself in vietnam. in the back of their mind for the last several months. everybody knows very clear the war is winding down. u.s.' troo troops are coming h. this soldier wa held in pakistan most of the time. we in fact don't know when he was brought back across the border into afghanistan. may have been just to facilitate this transfer. u.s. troops couldn't go into pakistan to get him. i can say that they had a fair idea of where he was at times, but they also knew he was
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constantly being moved around. he was under heavy guard. he was in remote areas. it was going to be very difficult to ever get back in there and rescue this soldier. especially once u.s. troops had gone. and what happens to him now? i know it there's a lot of questions about that. they are going to talk to him. they're going to get his details about what led him to leave the base that night when he was taken. if, in fact, that story is accurate. if, in fact, that is what happened to him. we are going to have to find out for the first time in five years, in bowe bergdahl's own words, what happened to this young soldier and then for the pentagon and the president to decide what the next course of action is. i think it's very safe to say they want to get him all the medical attention they can and get him back to his parnds. >> absolutely. barbara starr, thank you for keeping us so well informed on
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this absolutely and chilling and dramatic rescue and drama that went on all long today. thank you for your reporting. we'll be right back with more on the breaking news, right after this break. it starts with little things. tiny changes in the brain. little things, anyone can do. it steals your memories. your independence. insures support. a breakthrough. and sooner than you'd like... ...sooner than you think. die from alzheimer's disease. ...we cure alzheimer's disease. every little click, call, or donation adds up to something big. alzheimer's association. the brains behind saving yours. crestor lowered bad cholesterol in it's a fact. high-risk patients more than lipitor. bad cholesterol... you're going down! yeah! lowering cholesterol is a big deal, especially if you have high cholesterol plus any of these
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following the breaking news, the release of sergeant bowe bergdahl in afghanistan. he's now in u.s. custody and receiving medical care. i'm joined by phone with former war correspondent cnn reporter and now documentary filmmaker mike boettcher. mike was embedded with u.s. special forces during the iraq war and reported extensively from there and made a film called "the hornet's nest."
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thanks for calling in. >> reporter: good news. during his disappearance i was embedded along with my son carlos in that area several times, and it is a tough, tough area. you know i can remember one small common outpost in the general vicinity where bowe bergdahl was taken. combat outpost speara right on the pakistan border, which was attacked constantly, and it's a mountainous region. it is the area where he was taken that was a main smuggling route of men and supplies and weapons for the taliban into afghanistan. a very, very tough region. >> now, i want to get back to your experience there in a second, but i also want to get to your personal experience. you were kidnapped and threatened with execution in the '80s in el salvador. you know what it's like to be
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captive. talk about how he might be feeling right now? >> reporter: he's going to have many mixed emotions. he's going to be confused, frankly. i know i was. when i was taken in el salvador and, immediately, as a matter of survival, you start to calculate very quickly that if you're going to survive, you've got to try to make friends. and then, as it goes on, it's called the stockholm syndrome, you start to identify with your captors, and this is just part of the survival instinct that humans have. after i was released, it was confusing, and i was so close to death, i actually had a weapon held to my head, and thought that was it, and this was way back in 1985. when they didn't pull that trigger, they asked me to get on
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my knees and i wouldn't get on my knees, and i think that actually saved me. but they didn't ask me. they ordered me to and i wouldn't do it, but after i was released, those things, those episodes, are so seared in your mind. how close you came and how dependent you were on another human being to survive. that it takes a lot of time and it takes -- frankly, it takes therapy. it takes talking to people who are experts in bringing you back from that other side. that dark side. >> i know obviously every situation is quite different, but the one thing we've been talking about as we've been reporting on this breaking news, and it's been developing is, what kind of information u.s. intelligence officials can get from him about his captors, based on your experience, again, understanding every situation is quite different. do you think there is information to be mined there from him about the taliban captors? >> reporter: i think so.
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especially where he was suspected of being hidden, which was in haqqani network territory bases. if you go back to say a website that tracks all of this and you look at the drone campaign in pakistan that the u.s. launched most of that was in the area and this was the area where bergdahl was suspected of being kept, and it is -- it was also suspected that al qaeda took refuge there, and some top al qaeda leadership did. so he had his eyes open. he probably saw a lot of things. the drone campaign actually forced the haqqani network to
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kind of dismantle the training bases there in northe north. it was killing a lot of their leadership, so he was probably able to see the effectiveness of that to some extent. we don't know where he was kept, how he was kept, but i would imagine he was moved quite a bit and would have a lot of knowledge about this area that is still a no-go zone. >> fascinating. well, thank you so much for your insight, mike boettcher, a former colleague of cnn and now documentary filc maker of "the hornet's nest." thanks so much for joining us. we'll be right back. so we made purina one true instinct. learn more at
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news, the release of sergeant bowe bergdahl in afghanistan.
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he's now in u.s. custody and receiving medical care. our senior correspondent nic robertson joins us live from london. nic, as we uncover this drama, how he was recovered, the swap with prisoners, what's your take on what we know right now? >> one of the questions in my mind is what does this mean going forward? i think barbara talked about this, the time he was picked up, put on a helicopter, he was in safe hands when the five taliban figures were released from guantanamo bay. has this now built a tiny, tiny element of trust. can that be built into other parts of the battlefield theater where the taliban are a clear and present danger all the time for u.s. forces? can that be exploited equally for the afghan government? >> and you know the region. you know the people that we're talking about, at least know of them in the way that most
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impeachment don't. what people don't. what do you think? >> i think this is a specific case. mike boettcher was talking about the drone campaign, forcing the network onto the back'. we had a local journalist who went into one of those camps last year. they're tiny, small walled compounds and it's likely one of those small compounds is where bowe bergdahl would have been held. taliban camps had al qaeda passing through. he might have useful information. it's very hard to say. moving forward can this be something bigger? i would be very cautious about that right now. >> nic, thank you so much. we appreciate your insight into that region that few of us have. that's all for me. i'm dana bash. "newsroom" continues at the top of the hour with randi kaye in
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-- captions by vitac -- you are in the cnn news room. i'm randi kaye in for don lemon. we'd like to welcome in and around international. breaking news usually means tragedy. not today. a u.s. soldier captured five years ago by the taliban is free and coming home. the taliban snatched him on deployment in east afghanistan in 2009. today he's safe in u.s. hands. today we'll tell you how he's been freed. that's not all. here's what his parents said a short time ago. we were so joyful and relieve when president obama called us to give us the news that bowe is finally coming home. we cannot wait to wrap our arms
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around our only son. barbara starr is live with us. let's start with you first. surprises all around today at the news that sergeant bowe bergdahl no longer being held by the taliban. how did this incredible rescue come to be? >> randy, -- randi, we're gettg continuous information. dangerous mission fraught with concerns to get bowe bergdahl on the ride to freedom. the negotiations to get bergdahl in exchange for five back to qatar, all of those negotiations have been going on for the last several days but separately there had been the secret discussions, the procedures for precisely how bergdahl would be handed back over to american commandos right on the front lines right along the afghanistan/pakistan order under extremely dangerous conditions.
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what we know is the taliban set the meeting point. they told the u.s. where to come to pick up bergdahl. it was very close to the border, we're told. u.s. commandos in helicopters flew to that meeting point this morning. the military is not saying who exactly the commandos were, but what we have learns is they were one of the u.s. military's most elite commandoess special operations forces uses. delta force, s.e.a.l. team 6, the task force. we don't know the precise makeup but it was commandcommandos. they fly there. the 18 taliban, they're armed. the u.s. military certainly is armed. there are aircraft flying ov overhead keeping watch so if trouble breaks out, they can
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move in. we're told the transaction happened very quickly, that sergeant bergdahl walked to where the command os were and walked to the helicopter right away. the standard procedure is to make sure he's not wired up with explosives and things against his will. we have every reason to believe that did happen. but how did the fwanl know that once they turned bergdahl over they were still going to get those detainees released from guantanamo bay? apparently there were a number of secret procedures worked out that we don't know twha they are, but these procedures, i am told by sources, basically involved -- there were qatarrys at guantanamo bay. the five detainees were turned over to them on the ground at guantanamo bay, and we can presume in some fashion the qatarys then communicated to the
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taliban, okay, we have the guy. those taliban guys had been in the air for about two hours on the way back to qatar, the taliban promising to keep them under secure conditions. sergeant bergdahl is now back at bagram air base, the largest in afghanistan. he's under medical attention. the expectation is if he -- if they get the all clear on his condition, that he will move very quickly to langstuhl regional medical center in germany. and the plan is if he's well enough to get him out of langstuhl and back to the united states and the plan is to have him land and go to the medical center and be ryu yeunited with family. let me ask one perhaps most dramatic detail.
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you just don't get to tell good news from the pentagon very often. on the helicopter sergeant bergdahl wrote down the letters s.f. with the question mark. special forces. the guys on the helicopter said, yes, we are special forces. we've been looking for your a long time and we're told at that time sergeant bergdahl broke down, randi. >> highly, highly emotional. such an emotional endeavor for the troops involved. er erin. what is the white house saying about today's developments now. >> reporter: well, randi, they're speaking through administration officials to clarify some of the details that went down. barbara, of course, referred to the release of the five detainees from began tan moe. i want to make this clear though that this is a little bit of a
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political issue. we've been seeing some traffic from conservatives who while they are thrilled that bowe bergdahl is now safe and in u.s. military hands, they're concerned about the precedent that it's setting. and as you know, senator john mccain was a prisoner of war himself in vietnam for roughly the same period, for about five years. this was an issue that he discussed when he was running for president in 2008 and we got a statement from him a little bit ago and i want to read part of that to you because he expresses concern about this very thing. he said, these particular individuals are hardened terrorists who have the blood of americans and countless afghanss on their hands. i am eager to learn what precise steps are being taken to ensure that these vicious and violent taliban extremists never return to the fight against the united states and our partners are engaged in any tivtss that can threaten the prospects for peace and security in afghanistan, the american people and our afghan partners deserve nothing less.
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randi, i know i've been reading a lot, but the white house did make mention of this very thing in a statement from a senior administration official today that they were trying to explain what happened, and i want to read part of that to you as well. as the administration has repeatedly affirmed, we will not transfer any tee tan yes unless the threat the detainee posed to the united states can be sufficiently mitigated and only when consistent with our humane treatment policy by conducting successful indirect talks with the taliban political commission. this transmission was part of a broader military framework. we expect to get more clarity from the white house over the next few days. we have not heard directly from president obama except for that written statement but we certainly will hear more from him in the next tay or so, randi. >> all right. erin mcpike, thank you very much. we appreciate that.
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on the phone with me now, peter bergen. this is certainly an important day for the troops and for sergeant bergdahl's family. not every taliban hostage end this well, right? not every hostage taking goes this way. do you think the fact that he's military made him a different caliber of captive? >> reporter: no doubt. there are numerous cases where the u.s. government has not negotiated with groups that it deems to be terrorists where the captive is, you know, just an ordinary civilian. an example of this is al qaeda a few years back took hostage of an american aid worker in pakistan stan. his name is weinstein. we've seen video of him. he looks in very bad shachlt he's in his 70s now. he's negotiating with president obama for peace but the likelihood of that is low unfortunately for him. so in the case where there's a
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military hostage, it's a different kind of set of concerns. not only that, combat troops are out of afghanistan at the end of december 2014. so be it there's some presence going on after that but not a combat presence once an agreement is signed with the fwachb government. you know, traditionally at the end of war there's an exchange of prisoners of war and this is an example of that. you know, the taliban detainees at guantanamo are prisoners of war. if it's ceasing, there's an interesting question. is this the beginning of other releases of the taliban at guantanamo because when the war is other prisoners are traditionally swapped by both sides. >> getting back, though, to the policy, the american tradition on negotiating with terrorists has always been a very firm no. dwlou think the deal was made to
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exchange these detainees from guantanamo? >> reporter: i mean the deal has been a long time in the making, randi. you know, it's not a law that -- you know, the u.s. government is not constrained by law that says, hey, you can't negotiate with terrorists. it's a policy and policies can change depending on the circumstances. it's not like -- we've seen the reagannegotiated indirectly with the americans that were taken hostage in lebanon in the mid-'80s and that led to the iran-contra scandal. if this is something that happened before and my guess is it will happen again because the situation here is not a typical situation. >> yeah. certainly not. it's just fascinating to think what was going on behind the scenes. peter bergen. thank you. ahead, new information on a suicide attack in syria.
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an american with al qaeda ties being blamed for the bombing. plus, anti-government protests in turkey take a surprising turn. police detain a cnn correspondent reporting live on television. hi, i'm jay farner, president of quicken loans. and we're here in detroit michigan helping folks refinance their homes and save money. does it make sense to refinance right now? a lot of times we can lower the monthly payment, we can consolidate debt. we just want to make sure that you know your options, and we're here for you. we're not just number crunchers.
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mexican jail cell says he's been beaten and held without water. tahmooressi is in jail for accidentally crossing the border with guns. he said he was beaten and sometimes left cold and naked but his case has been improved since his case was highlighted. cnn's nick valencia spoke to tahmooressi and you'll hear that interview in our next hour. we now know it was an american who launched a suicide attack last sunday. the state department confirms it's first time a u.s. citizen has been linked to an al
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qaeda-backed bombing in civil war. mohammed jamjoom reports. >> reporter: this is a man who grew up and studied in florida. they have not divulged when exactly this man actually went to syria, but it is believed to be the first american suicide bomber in the syrian civil war. now, this was a huge attack. as you can tell by the video you're seeing on the screen, it was a truck packed with allegedly 17 tons of explosives. that's according to jihadists who posted this online. they're saying this is a real propaganda coup for them. you see artillery shells being loaded into the back of a truck which was also used. we're still trying to get more details about the american who went to syria and when exactly he went to syria. but one of the reasons u.s.
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officials are so concerned isn't just because there are american fighters on the ground in syria, but analysts were told there are at least 100 there now and more possibly on the way. american officials also very worried about americans who might come back to the u.s. after having learned terrorism techniques and bomb-making techniques from hardline al qaeda insurgents in syria and then might plot attacks against the u.s. here from within the u.s. this is something that's really becoming a nightmare scenario for u.s. officials. they say there are networks that they're trying to shut down of recruiters of like mooinlded jihadists from the united states to syria and then go back to the states to launch the homeland from within. so very, very worrying dedevelopments this week with this story, randi. >> in terms of this particular case, they have no idea who trained him or where he got h
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training? >> no, but they say it's very easy to get into syria, once they're there, very easy to get the kind of training that could one day cause a devastating attack inside the homeland. that's really the grave concern here and they're trying as hard as they can to shut this down. but they say the problem is -- we heard from an fbi official yesterday. one of the things is they look like yoordinary average america. it would be hard to detect when they come back. >> certainly would. officers fought with activists attempting to commemorate last year's protest against the country's current leadership. police also detained cnn correspondent ivan watson while he was reporting live on the air. >> reporter: police cracked down and used force and then often you get clashes erupting, demonstrators throwing rocks,
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bottles, and police cracking down with their support as well. so -- excuse me. i think i'm getting -- i think we're -- i'm being. >> just a minute. may i see your passport? >> cnn. cnn. >> okay. can i see your passport? >> we're now being checked. >> journalist cut. >> this is my press card. >> where is your passport. >> it allows me to work in turkey. >> let me see your passport. will it me see your passport. >> incredibly he continued to report. ivan and his crew are fine. were released after the zinlts and afterward he said the police apologized for kneeing him while he was being detained. it was a devastating blow announced by the australian government. pings detected in the southern indian ocean did not come from
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malaysian air flight 370. so was the entire search so far a waste? and nearly three months later, are we any closer to solving the mystery of the missing plane? i'll ask an expert coming up next. are we any closer to solving the
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back to square one. that is the devastating news this week on malaysian air flight 370. officials now say they don't believe the missing plane is in the southern indian ocean area where underwater pings were picked up last month. so has the entire search, the last 11 weeks, been a complete waste. joining me now "the daily beast" dale irving. here we are again. >> three months. >> three months. let's talk about the latest
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news. without any debris, say, in your article and with this huge area to cover, do you think the fact is they just didn't want to admit that -- how difficult this was going to be? >> i think they were under enormous emotional pressure to raise hopes that they would find the wreckage pretty soon, and, of course, that hasn't happened. one is that politicians should keep out of situations like this. when they said they were close to finding the black boxes, he should not have spoken because he spoke with no real information on that. we ended phase 2. phase 1 was too few hopes and sources. it's natural to feed people's hopes that they will find something but it's not realistic. i hope we can call phase 2 the new realism about the gigantic task that lies ahead to find this. really there are four phases to this. one is to map it.
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you've got to map the ocean floor over this vast area before you can do anything else. you have to map this. there were no maps on this. the second is you have to scan it. the next is you have to find it. and when you found it, you have to lift it up. in the case of air france 447, that was well targeted. it took a little over two years and in this case, i was surprised how few resources were devoted to it in the beginning. one ship and one pinger. >> with air france, isn't it a fair comparison? they did have some debris right at the surface even though it took years to find everything and this, they have nothing. >> think that shows, in fact, how hard it's going to be. they had wreckage within a few days. they found floating wreckage with that advantage. it was two years before they found a debris field at the bottom of the ocean. also, this is a very remote part of the world. it's the worst place on earth for a plane to disappear with no
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maps. at least the area is getting mapped. >> the question is for phase 2 going forward, who's going to do the searching and who's going to pay for it? >> think money's a real factor here and i think the way do it properly and economically is to not -- they can't throw a lot of resources at it. all that can do is throw the right sources at it, which means once the mapping is finished, then one specific kind of understood water vehicle is then used to scan it. that will take months to do that in an area this large. so i think what we've got to do is clamp down on the expectations. i think it's only realistic now to thing this is going to take years, not months. >> absolutely. clive, thank you very much. see you again soon. >> you're welcome. this is just the beginning of the conversation. tonight at 7:00 eastern time we'll devote a half hour to the latest developments in the search and ask the experts what's next and what really happened to flight 370. that's 7:00 tonight on cnn. coming up, a celebration that has nothing do with
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touchdowns and everything to do with compassion. nfl quarterback robert griffin iii wasn't directing a team but he was part of a big, big win. hey. i'm ted and this is rudy. say "hi" rudy. [ barks ] [ chuckles ] i'd do anything to keep this guy happy and healthy. that's why i'm so excited about these new milk-bone brushing chews. whoa, i'm not the only one. it's a brilliant new way to take care of his teeth. clinically proven as effective as brushing. ok, here you go. have you ever seen a dog brush his own teeth? the twist and nub design cleans all the way down to the gum line, even reaching the back teeth. they taste like a treat, but they clean like a toothbrush. nothing says you care like a milk-bone brushing chew. [ barks ] ♪ hooking up the country likwhelping business run ♪chew. ♪ trains! they haul everything, safely and on time.
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with our base auto policy. and if you switch, you could save up to $423. liberty mutual insurance -- responsibility. what's your policy? . robert griffin iii is a star on the football feechld he was a star off it as well this week. well, here's the story. the young lady helping griffin hold the sign is a student at centreville high school in virginia. she wanted to ask her friend who battles cerebral palsy to the centreville prom. his favorite player is rg3. she asked the quarterback if he would help her pop the big question. he did and he said yes, a very happy yes. look that little selfie right there. check that out. what a great moment that is. how nice to help them out. cnn newsroom continues.
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army sergeant bowe bergdahl has been released. we'll have team coverage on that for you. right now keep it here finance sanj "sanjay gupta, m.d." i'll see you here at 5:00. >> hi, everyone. thanks for joining us. i'm brooke baldwin in for sanjay gupta. ahead of us, kidding ourselves. why lying to yourself may actually not be such a bad idea after awe. but first the rapidly spreading heroin epidemic. the biggest police force, new york city, just this week said all officers would start to carry this drug and this medication can actually reverse a heroin overdose with virtually no side effects. first let's take a quick look at how powerful this medicine can be. here is dr. gupta. >> what you're watching is shocking. a wrn