Skip to main content

tv   State of the Union With Candy Crowley  CNN  June 1, 2014 9:00am-10:01am PDT

9:00 am is among the victims of a private jet crash outside boston last night. six others died and there were no survivors, according to the faa. the plane apparently caught fire shortly after taking off. a park official on mt. ranier thinks there's little chance of finding six missing climbers alive. the group went missing several days ago. it's believed they probably died in some sort of fall. i'm erin mcpike. "state of the union" with candy crowley starts right now. the u.s. soldier they did not leave behind and the guantanamo bay detainees they let go. today the u.s. and the taliban agree to a prisoner swap. five taliban terrorists for the release of the only american p.o.w. in the afghan war. >> he wasn't forgotten by his country because the united states of america does not ever leave our men and women in uniform behind.
9:01 am
>> bringing home sergeant bergdahl, with president obama's national security adviser, susan rice. then, reaction from a panel of seasoned experts, retired marine corps general and former national security adviser, jim jones, intelligence committee chairman mike rogers, and former ambassador and undersecretary of state, nick burns. and that other headline. shinseki out. the mess at the va still there. >> i'm here to help if they want some advice. former senator and secretary of the navy, jim webb, joins us. plus updates from our reporters covering the angles of the bergdahl story. this is "state of the union." good morning from washington. i'm candy crowley. u.s. army sergeant bowe bergdahl arrived at a medical center in germany while the taliban prisoners exchanged for his release are reportedly on the ground in qatar. these wikileak photos match the names released by the department of defense. but the department would neither confirm or deny the accuracy of
9:02 am
the photos. joining me is national security adviser susan rice. it's great to see you again. >> good to be with you. >> walk me through when you first knew you had a deal. >> well, candy, this evolved over a period of time. going back some years, we have had intermittent conversations through the government of qatar about trying to obtain the release of sergeant bowe bergdahl. it's an extraordinary day yesterday and an extraordinary day for america because a member of our armed forces who had been in captivity almost five years will now be reunited with his mother and father, whom we had the opportunity to see yesterday and who are over the moon. so, it began over a period of months. this latest round began back in the end of last year when we had the opportunity -- >> the negotiations did. when did they say it's a deal, go get him?
9:03 am
>> well, over the last several days, during the course of this week, we saw it coming together. but it wasn't done until it was done. an it wasn't until a little before 10:30 in the morning yesterday that we had confirmation that he was safely in u.s. custody. >> when the u.s. special forces went in to get him. >> yes. >> point-blank, did the u.s. negotiate with terrorists for his release? >> candy, what we did, we ensured, as always, the united states doesn't leave a man or woman on the battlefield. it's very important for folks to understand, if we got into a situation where we said because of who has captured an american soldier on the battlefield, we will leave that person behind, we would be in a whole new era for the safety of our personnel and for the nature of our commitment to our men and women in uniform. because it was the taliban that had him did not mean that we had any less of an obligation to bring him back. >> in fact, it was the haqqani network. this is not a judgment question, but just a question. you had to negotiate with
9:04 am
terrorists to secure the release of the sergeant. >> we actually negotiated with the government of qatar. the point is, he was being held by the taliban. we had the opportunity to bring him back. he's back safely in the hands of the united states and that's a great thing. >> i don't think anyone argues that. i think the question now is, and you point to the kinds of warfare we're having now, that no longer can it be said that the u.s. doesn't negotiate with terrorists? >> i wouldn't put it that way, candy. >> how would you put it? >> when we are in battles with terrorists and terrorists take an american prisoner, that prisoner still is a u.s. serviceman or woman. we still have a sacred obligation to bring that person back. we did so, and that's what's to be celebrated. >> was there a particular reason why now? is it simply because you got the deal, as secretary hagel alluded to, health problems, his life was in jeopardy? was there some heightened feeling about this? why now?
9:05 am
>> certainly, after five years in captivity, our concerns were increasing with every passing day. we also had indications that indeed his health was growing more fragile. he had lost a good bit of weight. and we were very concerned that time was not something we could play with, that we needed to act when we had the opportunity. and that's what we did. >> why didn't you notify congress? >> for that very reason -- >> which, under the law, it says you should. >> this opportunity is one that has been briefed to congress when we had past potential to have this kind of arrangement. it wasn't unknown to congress. the department of defense consulted with the department of justice. and given the acute urgency of the health condition of sergeant bergdahl, and given the president's constitutional responsibilities, it was determined that it was necessary and appropriate not to adhere to the 30-day notification requirement because it would have potentially meant that the opportunity to get sergeant bergdahl would have been lost,
9:06 am
and, therefore -- >> well, why not -- is there no one in congress you can trust with the information, call the chairman on the intelligence committee or on the senate side and say, i want you to know this is happening. we have to act now? >> we did do that. we had briefed congress in the past. >> but when you knew you were going. >> when the deal was done and sergeant bergdahl was in u.s. custody is when we began making notifications to congress. >> the deal had already been made and the prisoners in guantanamo bay were already en route to a plane? >> no. congress began to be notified when sergeant bergdahl was in american hands, which was before the prisoners left guantanamo bay. >> but not telling a couple of folks on capitol hill, might that, in hindsight, not have been a good idea? >> candy, what we put the highest premium on was the safety of sergeant bergdahl. this was held very closely within the administration. we could not take the risk of losing the opportunity to bring him back safely. >> so there was a conscious
9:07 am
decision to break the law, as you know it, dealing with the detainees and the release of them? >> candy, no. as i said earlier, the department of defense consults with the department of justice. and it is our view it was appropriate and necessary and that's what we had to do this to bring him back safely. >> talk to me about the detainees. a couple of them very high-level interest from the u.s. senator mccain said these particular individuals are hardened terrorists who have the blood of americans and countless afghans on their hands. under what conditions did you release them to the government of qatar? are they currently being detained in a place? are they free to walk around qatar? in what conditions are they over there? >> well, candy, we had a series of very specific assurances given to the united states by the government of qatar. president obama spoke to the amir of qatar on tuesday when this looked like it was a real possibility and those assurances were repeated directly and personally by the amir to the
9:08 am
president. they enabled us to have confidence that the taliban -- that these prisoners will be carefully watched, that their ability to move will be constrained. and we believe that this is in the national security interest of the united states. >> so beyond not being able to leave qatar for a year, one of the conditions we know about, are they free to be in the country, free to communicate with whoever they want? or are they in detention in qatar? >> there are restriction opinions their movement and behavior. i'm not at liberty to get into the nature of those restrictions. suffice it to say we're satisfied that that substantially mitigates the risk to the united states and to our national security, and we feel confident that the assurances given to us will be upheld. >> and in the end, when you were having these discussions amongst yourselves, did you worry that
9:09 am
this deal would encourage other terrorist organizations, like the haqqani network, to seize these americans, be they military, or other americans in order to get more folks released from guantanamo bay? >> no, candy. the fact of the matter is sergeant bergdahl is the last of the americans being held in afghanistan. we felt as the war is winding down, it was our sacred obligation, given the opportunity, 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 way in qatar. >> the question is -- >> i understand the question. you asked did we worry. i'm telling you that we prioritize, as we always have, bringing back our men and women from the battlefield to the greatest extent we can. this was the right thing to do and we feel that it will, in
9:10 am
fact, enhance not only sergeant bergdahl's life, but, in fact, our larger security. >> and to any terrorist group or terrorist out there who says, you know what, we've got x, y and z sitting in guantanamo bay. we have u.s. troops in many, many places. if we grab one of them, we can work a deal with the u.s. government. what's your message to that? >> i think the terrorists are intent to do what they want to do. we have a promise to close guantanamo bay. the president has been very clear about that. the existence of guantanamo bay is a detriment to our country. >> i have to ask you before you leave, as you know, a new committee that will look into benghazi. i know you said my interest in benghazi is making sure that everywhere is more safe for our diplomats. looking back to those talking points on the sunday talk shows that have been so much discussed, were you ever angry that you were not given full
9:11 am
information or that someone didn't check back? did you ever feel like you were put out there with bad information? >> candy, no, we've been through all of this. and i've had the opportunity to discuss this at great length. the fact of the matter is i'm now serving as the president's national security adviser. i have all of the issues that you can imagine on the world stage on our plate. my primary responsibility and sole interest of that and that of the president, to ensure americans serving around the world in dangerous places are safe. we have embassies, diplomats, we have servicemen and women, as we've just been discussing, who are doing the business of the united states at great risk. my hope is that congress will focus on how we can assure we have the resources and ability to keep them safe. >> if asked, will you to testify? >> i'm not going to speculate on something that hasn't happened or what congress might do or don't do. i'm focused every day on doing my job on behalf of the american people and trying to keep our people safe. >> the president's national
9:12 am
security adviser, susan rice, good to see you. >> good to be with you. >> congratulations for bringing home a u.s. soldier. >> thank you very much. up next, coming home, but in what condition? >> we look forward to continuing the recovery of our son, which is going to be a considerable task for our family. >> cnn's ed lavandera joins us from boise, idaho, near bowe bergdahl's hometown. of complete darkness.
9:13 am
i am totally blind. i've been blind since birth. i lost my sight to eye disease. i lost my sight in afghanistan. and it doesn't hold me back. but my blindness can affect my sleep patterns. i go through periods where it's hard to sleep at night, and stay awake during the day. but i learned that my struggle was with non-24. non-24 is a circadian rhythm disorder that affects up to 70% of people who are totally blind and can't perceive light. talk to your doctor about your symptoms, and learn about non-24 by calling 844-844-2424. that's 844-844-2424. or visit now i know that non-24 is real.
9:14 am
and i'm not alone. it's time for a new day. because you can't beat zero heartburn. woo hoo! [ male announcer ] prilosec otc is the number one doctor recommended frequent heartburn medicine for 8 straight years. one pill each morning. 24 hours. zero heartburn.
9:15 am
9:16 am
i'm joined now by cnn pentagon correspondent, barbara starr. barbara, the other part of this equation, that is, these five ex-detainees from the guantanamo bay prison, what do you know about them? >> well, here'is what the u.s. is telling reporters about these men who they are and what they have done. let me walk through it with everybody here. first up, there is a former afghan minister of interior during the taliban rule. he was a governor, a military commander. he is alleged to have ties to osama bin laden. that's one of them. next up, a deputy minister of
9:17 am
defense under the taliban, a senior military commander. he was wanted -- is wanted by the united nations in connection with the killing of hundreds, if not thousands, of afghan shiites during the taliban times. all of these guys taliban members. another one, a third senior taliban commander during hostilities in those initial months with the u.s. and the allies back in late 2001, especially operating in northern afghanistan. another one, former deputy director of taliban intelligence with possible links to al qaeda. finally, we have a member of the taliban who was associated -- said to be associated with al qaeda and was their chief of communications. you can see all these men were senior operatives in al qaeda and had quite a breadth of responsibility during those early days. >> one of the complaints, barbara, that we're hearing now from -- not so much critics of
9:18 am
the deal but real skeptics about these guys being contained, they say, look, these are folks with american blood and afghan blood on their hands. is that true? >> that is absolutely the contention. that is the belief. the administration's case, as you heard susan rice say, that this was an exchange, that these guys were given back to the qataris in exchange with the objective of getting bowe bergdahl free. i wan to go now to cnn's ed lavandera with me in boise, idaho, about 2 1/2 hours from bergdahl's hometown of haley. as i understand it, the bergdahls are headed your way? >> reporter: that's right, candy. a great bit of anticipation when
9:19 am
the berg dal parents will be wry united with their son. bowe bergdahl is in germany now and expected to be taken to a medical center in san antonio, texas, trying to figure out when exactly mr. and mrs. berg dal will be reunited with their son officially. but they wanted to come back here to the state of idaho where so many people have supported them for the last five years as they have gone through this ordeal. their hometown of haley is a 2 1/2-hour drive from boise, idaho. their hometown street is lined with ribbons much the emotion of finally seeing this day come to fruition has really taken over bowe bergdahl's small town. they were getting ready to hold another memorial and a vigil for bowe bergdahl since we were approaching the five-year anniversary of his capture and every year, they have planted a tree in his hon terror in the park where his parents ud to take him to play. but now, folks in the town of
9:20 am
haley say it will be a welcome home celebration for bowe bergdahl. but now the family is very concerned about bringing bowe home and what will need to take place to make sure he gets the care and the attention that he needs and the transition back into civilian and normal life, if you will. so, there's a great deal of concern about that. bob berg dal spoke yesterday during the white house ceremony with president obama, that he understood that his son was struggling to speak english. and on top of that with all the medical concerns that u.s. officials say they have about bowe's condition, that this will be something they top to monitor closely in the months ahead. candy? >> ed lavandera, thanks so much. up next, a general, an intelligence chairman and a peacemaker on the dilemma between getting u.s. men home and negotiating with terrorists to do it. and now you're at it again. we're concerned.
9:21 am
scott: (chuckles) thanks neighbors, but summer's on its way. and while the grass may look bonnie green and lovely now, it still needs a late-spring feeding to keep it that way. another feeding now with scotts strengthens and helps defend your lawn from the brutal heat and heavy use to come. nbr: we knew that, right guys? oh yeah... let's go feed! scott: get scotts turf builder lawn food. feed your lawn. feed it!
9:22 am
9:23 am
9:24 am
trwith secure wifie for your business. it also comes with public wifi for your customers. not so with internet from the phone company. i would email the phone company to inquire as to why they have shortchanged these customers. but that would require wifi. switch to comcast business internet and get two wifi networks included. comcast business built for business.
9:25 am
the u.s. doesn't negotiate with terrorists, leave no man behind. >> obviously, we should be happy for the family. they have gotten their loved one back. that's very, very important. the methodology and what we used is very troublesome. remember, al qaeda -- >> by the methodology, you mean -- >> negotiating with terrorists. >> okay. >> remember, this was an individual who was held by a terrorist group in another country, pakistan. we know that to be true. across northern africa, the number one way that al qaeda raises money is by ransom, kidnapping and ransom. we have now set a price. so we have a changing footprint in afghanistan which would put our soldiers at risk for this notion that, if i can get one, i can get five taliban released. and the problem is the way we're changing our footprint means we
9:26 am
get less intelligence. that's already starting to happen. we'll get more degradation of the ability to collect intelligence to even stop forced protection efforts for our soldiers. that's why so many of us are so concerned about what really is a break with u.s. policy of not negotiating with terrorists. >> i think some people would argue ronald reagan did negotiate with terrorists when he negotiated with iran and the whole iran-contra thing. nonetheless, in this current state, general, is this troublesome to you in the sense of, do you believe it puts u.s. military folks at risk or americans, in general? >> i think, first of all, i identify with the congressman's feelings about the family. this is something to be celebrated, and we're really happy for them. but we will have to talk about what this means in terms of risk. >> so talk about it. >> we are. it is -- people will judge this
9:27 am
in different ways. but in my lifetime, the americans are always at risk. we're more at risk than any other country. if they think that the value of taking action against americans and holding americans is going to somehow help them achieve their goals, then they're going to do that. so i think qatar plays an important role here. these are bad people and they do have blood, american blood, on their hands. >> the guantanamo bay detainees that the u.s. -- >> it's absolutely important that now we're embarked on this path, that we make sure these people -- that qatar helps us make sure these people do not return to the battlefield. >> look at this from the point of view of diplomats, because it's not just u.s. soldiers out there. as we all know, being a diplomat can be a dangerous position. so when you look at it from that point of view, do you think that this makes being an american
9:28 am
riskier in this day and time? >> well, it could. first of all, we rejoice in the freedom of bowe bergdahl to go back to haley, idaho. that's a great thing. i was told as a young diplomat we were going to the middle east 30 years ago, if you're taken hostage, we're not going to negotiate for your release. all of my contemporaries have. it's been u.s. policy for decades. we don't want to reward or encourage terrorism. the problem we've got, we're still in afghanistan. the president has announced our troops will be there for at least two more years. we've seen that the al qaeda core has metastasized in north and west africa, more virulent, if it's possible, than osama bin laden terrorist groups. we don't want to see our diplomats or soldiers put in that situation. >> general, there is also leave no soldier behind, leave no man or woman behind.
9:29 am
can one make a distinction and say, as i think we heard susan rice try to do earlier, which is we were in the middle of a war. they had one of our soldiers. she didn't ever say we're negotiating with terrorists, but obviously, even if you put qatar in the middle, the u.s. was negotiating with the haqqani network, with the taliban. it kind of seems to me there's a difference that they're trying to make between diplomats and a soldier in the performance of duty in a war. >> well, afghanistan is going through a major transition right now. and how afghanistan turns out is extremely important. and at some point, most conflicts do resolve themselves in an exchange of prisoners at the end of the conflict. we are not there yet, although we're going to be substantially reduced. but we'll still have 10,000 or so americans exposed.
9:30 am
and, you know, people will -- this will have to play itself out to see exactly how it happens, how it happens in terms of the security of those people. >> but the truth is, we weren't really ever at war in afghanistan against afghanistan or pakistan or any country. we were at war with a group, groups, but nonetheless in the world of asymmetric warfare, where we are fighting groups and not nations, we used to do prisoner exchanges with nations all the time when we were at war with them. why not now? >> the haqqani network is a terrorist nation, not a nation state. it's a terrorist network. they don't control government services -- >> but we were at war with them. >> we're with war with anyone that declares war against the united states, which is al qaeda and its affiliates and those who provided resources. >> therefore, if you're at war
9:31 am
with this group as you would be with a state, you know, with germany in the past, don't you, of necessity, have to negotiate a prisoner exchange? >> no. here is where i disagree completely. we have other means to use. and remember, they came to congress about a year ago and we're thinking about doing these negotiations. by the way, they didn't get a very warm reception from either party in the national security committees. they said this is fraught with trouble. well -- so this all of a sudden comes a year later. they didn't notify congress. i think they violated the law in two different places here. why is because this is a -- this is morphing into different places. so an al qaeda affiliate in now africa looks a lot and functions a lot like the al qaeda affiliates operating out of the tribal areas in pakistan. you can't -- if you negotiate here, you've sent a message to every al qaeda group in the
9:32 am
world that says -- by the way, some holding u.s. hostages today, that there is some value now in that hostage in a way they didn't have before. that is dangerous. our argument is, listen, we don't fight this like we would fight a nation state war. you can't. and you shouldn't negotiate with terrorists for this very reason. >> i want to get back to something you said. i want to get nick before we close out this first segment. i want to ask you, so much depends on whether qatar can deliver in the corralling of these five men. do they have the wherewithal? you know, they won't tell us what the restrictions are, other than they can't leave qatar for a year. but it's unclear to me -- susan rice talked about certain restrictions, et cetera, et cetera. do they have -- is this a country equipped with the kind of surveillance or watchfulness that could handle five folks that have some blood on their hands? >> well, this is a key question. because the deal -- if you favor this, you're going to have to understand that qatar is going
9:33 am
to be able to keep these people under wraps, essentially house arrest. they won't be able to contribute, either by phone or in person to the battlefield, because our soldiers are there. it's a very small state, qatar, a tiny state. i'm not sure they have the apparatus to be able to contain five people like this. i think it would be helpful to know from the administration what are the conditions that they understand -- >> i tried. apparently, those are part of the secret of their containment and they wouldn't tell us. we do want to continue our conversation. i want to wrap up about this. i've also got a couple of questions about the va that i think you all can chime in on. we'll be right back. hey, buddy? oh, hey, flo. you want to see something cool? snapshot, from progressive. my insurance company told me not to talk to people like you. you always do what they tell you? no... try it, and see what your good driving can save you. you don't even have to switch. unless you're scared. i'm not scared, it's...
9:34 am
you know we can still see you. no, you can't. pretty sure we can... try snapshot today -- no pressure.
9:35 am
they're the days to take care of business.. when possibilities become reality. with centurylink as your trusted partner, our visionary cloud infrastructure and global broadband network free you to focus on what matters. with custom communications solutions and responsive, dedicated support, we constantly evolve to meet your needs. every day of the week. centurylink® your link to what's next.
9:36 am
i began losing my sight to an eye disease when i was 10. but i learned to live with my blindness a long time ago. so i don't let my blindness get in the way of doing the things i love. but sometimes it feels like my body doesn't know the difference between day and night. i struggle to sleep at night, and stay awake during the day. i found out this is called non-24, a circadian rhythm disorder that affects up to 70 percent of people
9:37 am
who are totally blind. talk to your doctor about your symptoms, and learn about the link between non-24 and blindness by calling 844-824-2424. that's 844-824-2424 or visit today. don't let non-24 get in the way of your pursuit of happiness. jack ba when jim jones, mike rogers and thing burns. i want to play you a quick sound bite from susan rice earlier in this show. the question was why did -- why didn't you go to congress? there's something you brought up. why didn't you go to members of congress and tell them that this
9:38 am
deal was in the making. here is what she said. >> is there no one in congress you can trust to call the chairman of the intelligence committee or the chairwoman on the other side and say i want you to know this is happening. >> we did do that. we briefed congress in the past about this potential. >> in the past. but when you knew you were going. >> when the deal was done and sergeant bergdahl was in u.s. custody is when we began making notifications to congress. >> but the deal had already been made and the prisoners in guantanamo bay were already en route to a plane to go to qatar? >> no. actually, congress began to be note need when sergeant bergdahl was in american hands which was before the prisoners left guantanamo. >> she said, look, the dod, the pentagon went to the justice department, asked if it was okay given the laws surrounding who needs to be consulted about the release of these gitmo prisoners and the justice department said fine. >> there's a reason congress is involved by law, by statute, by congressional authority in these decisions prior to. the notification has to be to keep congress currently informed, number one. the reason is you don't want to talk to each other about something as sensitive as this. that's why congress is involved
9:39 am
in these issues. and it happens frequently on some very sensitive issues, everything from the osama bin laden raid months and months in advance and followed up to the day of the raid. some notion that this is so secretive and so sensitive that it couldn't happen, it's wrong. she said they were notified. i'm mystified by that. they didn't notify congress appropriately. here's why. other places that we have let the gitmo prisoners go to these particular countries, by the way, which we paid them to take them, has been a disaster. it hasn't worked, which is one of the things that last year we brought up to them. it's not working. so, if we're ever going to continue this, you need to change it. well, they didn't like the advice and counsel they got from congress, i always think that's dangerous, just like the secret
9:40 am
negotiations with iran caused huge consequences with our allies, this will cause huge consequences as well. i don't understand why you wouldn't engage with people who have done this for a long time and could have alleviated some of the problems they'll get into in the next days and months ahead, including the risk to our u.s. soldiers. >> i think part of the pressure here is the u.s. is getting out of afghanistan. the president made a speech at west point this week and said our combat troops will be out. we still don't know exactly how many troops will stay in there, if any. and the feeling that perhaps the u.s. felt, a, he seems to be getting sicker and b, we're losing leverage here. would you agree with that? >> you're leaving 9,000 to 10,000 troops in afghanistan through 2016, you do reduce your
9:41 am
leverage. we've made a lot of sacrifices, soldiers and civilians since 2001 in afghanistan. the new government that's coming in, they will need our help. we still have to fight al qaeda on the afghan-pakistan border. i think we need to leave the forces in and not signal to the taliban and others that we're leaving on this day. that robs you of leverage you need in situations just like this. >> general, a quick question on this subject. how worried are you that these five men now in qatar will end up either on the battlefield or influencing the battlefield wherever that battlefield may be? >> well, we know the previous detainees who have been released have returned to the battlefield. >> some of them. >> some of them have. as i said earlier, i think it's very, very important for the government of qatar to make sure these people are kept under control and do not return to the battlefield. >> let me turn you all to the va quickly, the other big story this week. all of you understand bureaucracies in washington, the military bureaucracy, the
9:42 am
diplomatic bureaucracy, the congressional bureaucracy. do you feel in the end the resignation of general shinseki was a political necessity or was it absolutely something that had to be done for policy purposes? >> it seemed to be political, so many members of congress calling for his ouster. here is a very capable, effective, honorable gentleman who served his country all the way back to being wounded in vietnam. i think what happened at the va over the last decade or so, you have a tremendous infusion of people from the iraq and afghan wars. the va is simply stretched. i don't know if it has the budget it needs or the personnel it needs, i was sorry to see secretary shinseki go. >> he was there for five years. his service to his country is unparalleled, and no one should question that. but the management of the va in the last five years has not been good. 8% increase in veterans, 34% increase in funding. someone has to be held accountable. i didn't call for his resignation. i thought he should come to
9:43 am
congress and lay out a plan to fix it. that never really happened and he becomes a distraction. this is as serious a problem as i have ever seen and the culture is rotten to the core that would allow double lists and veterans to actually die sitting on those lists. something is rotten at the va, and we need to get to the bottom of it. i would bring somebody from the outside to get a handle on this thing. and it should be quick. it should be severe. this notion that nobody gets fired in this town and everybody is a wonderful human being in the way they manage is just simply not the way the world works. if we want to get to the bottom of it, people, i think, need to be held accountable yesterday and at the same time, a plan of implementation to get it fixed. >> general jones, you probably knew general shinseki and know him well. do you think this was about politics or about his service at the va?
9:44 am
>> i think frankly ric shinseki, who i do know well, he was chief of staff at the army when i was coming out of marine corps, there's no finer soldier that i know. what's happened at the va is something i know he is deeply troubled by and was surprised by. it really suggests a systemic problem of enormous proportions. and, you know, we have a saying in the military that a leader is responsible for all that his unit does and fails to do. and no one has lived up to that more than ric shinseki. and i think that's why probably today, in retrospect, he really feels that he should have known, and he regrets he didn't. but i think there's a lot of problems in the chain of command that kept him from knowing what he should have known. >> got a chain of command. general jim jones, congressman mike rogers, former ambassador nick burns, you have added immensely to our discussion today. i really appreciate you coming. >> thank you very much. and when we return,
9:45 am
president obama says fixing a dysfunctional va is not rocket science. >> it requires execution. it requires discipline, it requires focus. >> vietnam war veteran and former senator jim webb on improving care for america's warriors, plus his new memoir. that's next. she keeps you on your toes. you wouldn't have it any other way. but your erectile dysfunction - it could be a question of blood flow. cialis tadalafil for daily use helps you be ready anytime the moment's right.
9:46 am
you can be more confident in your ability to be ready. and the same cialis is the only daily ed tablet approved to treat ed and symptoms of bph, like needing to go frequently or urgently. tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and medicines, and ask if your heart is healthy enough for sex. do not take cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain, as it may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. do not drink alcohol in excess. side effects may include headache, upset stomach, delayed backache or muscle ache. to avoid long-term injury, get medical help right away for an erection lasting more than four hours. if you have any sudden decrease or loss in hearing or vision, or any allergic reactions like rash, hives, swelling of the lips, tongue or throat, or difficulty breathing or swallowing, stop taking cialis and get medical help right away. ask your doctor about experiencing cialis for daily use and a free 30-tablet trial.
9:47 am
♪ (train horn) vo: wherever our trains go, the economy comes to life. norfolk southern. one line, infinite possibilities.
9:48 am
9:49 am
he is a decorated marine combat veteran, a former democratic senator from virginia and an author of a new memoir. jim webb joins me. thank you for being here.
9:50 am
>> good morning. >> busy day for us. i know you know the news of a u.s. soldier after five years being held by the taliban, specifically the haqqani network, now free in an exchange for five prisoners from guantanamo bay. what do you think of it? >> i've been following the conversation on your show. i think obviously everyone should be happy that our soldier is out of harm's way. and i think there have been very good points that have been made about the exercise of presidential authority. and they actually apply region-wide and the concerns that i have had over our foreign policy in that part of the world. you go back particularly to libya. you know, we're going to see we'll see these hearings on benghazi and what happened in benghazi. but i was saying for many months before we actually saw the use this was beyond the extremes of presidential automatic lal lateral exercise of power to begin with. you were going to have problems when -- >> we helped in kind of an
9:51 am
international effort. >> the'on his own initiative, no treaties, not under a attack, not under imnent threaten of attacks weren't rescuing any americans, under this vague notion of intervention which has come out of this. we saw i don't know how many weapons from gadhafi's storage areas now out through the region. we've seen a lot of -- >> bad consequences. you see the release of berg dal a good thing. >> in terms of foreign policy at large, there should be a better debate on that and an agreement that they are talking about signing in afghanistan for the size of our troops in the past that should be something the congress should examine. >> quickly on this i want to move on to the va.
9:52 am
do you think u.s. military folks or civilians worldwide become more at risk now as a result of indirect or otherwise negotiations with terrorist s? >> that's always been the concern, the way you have seen the discussion, i think general jones made a very good point in that respect. and i think, again, we are going to have to see much more vigorous discussion from the congress on presidential authority. what we have seen in the past is that the republicans don't want this discussion, they are more, aggressive in terms of use of force in that part of the world. the democrats don't want it, because they don't want to be disloyal to the presidency. we have of that discussion, a piece of the reason why we need to move forward.
9:53 am
>> let me talk to you now about the va. what do they need most there? do they need an outside civilian corporate tough guy to go in there and just say, okay, this whole department, you're fired, or do they need someone who is more prone toward here's what these veterans need, let's get it to them? >> well, i've been working in veterans law since 1977. when i left the marine corps and went to law school, i was on the house veterans for four years, was on the veterans committee in the senate, i've been involved in these issues all my adult life. the biggest problem in the va while i was in the senate was backlog. the medical issue you're seeing now is a part of that. but when i got to the senate, just in terms of getting their cases resolved, the backlog was 600,000. when i left it was 900,000. >> how do you stop it? do you just need somebody who is going to crack heads? >> you need someone who knows how to run institutions and who understands the nature of government bureaucracies. when i was in the pentagon years ago, we saw a lot of people come from the corporate world thinking that they were going to
9:54 am
apply the corporate standard involving weapons systems, for instance. you need to have both. you need to have someone who knows how to get to the heart of these problems. the facts are there. the demographics are coming from the post-9/11 group and the vietnam group. >> not to mention korea. i want to get you to name names here in a second, but i have to take a quick break. and when we return, i'm also going to talk a little bit about politics that may be in the senator's future. ♪ norfolk southern what's your function? ♪ ♪ hooking up the country helping business run ♪ ♪ build! we're investing big to keep our country in the lead. ♪ load! we keep moving to deliver what you need. and that means growth, lots of cargo going all around the globe. cars and parts, fuel and steel, peas and rice, hey that's nice! ♪ norfolk southern what's your function? ♪ ♪ helping this big country move ahead as one ♪ ♪ norfolk southern how's that function? ♪
9:55 am
9:56 am
9:57 am
that corporate trial by fire when every slacker gets his due. and yet, there's someone around the office who hasn't had a performance review in a while. someone whose poor performance is slowing down the entire organization. i'm looking at you phone company dsl. check your speed. see how fast your internet can be. switch now and add voice and tv for $34.90. comcast business built for business.
9:58 am
back now with former senator and former navy secretary, jim webb. the author of a new book "i heard my nation calling," sort of a personal memoir to your time in service to the country.
9:59 am
>> this is not a political book. this has been my profession for many years. to me, this is a piece of literature, and i hope that people will still be reading this book 35, 40 years from now, as they have been with "fields of fire," my first novel. >> if you heard your country calling again and the voice at the other end of the phone said, i really need someone to run the va, could you say no? i know you're not asking for it -- >> i'm always happy to give advice, but i'm really not interested in being in the administration right now. >> but you have answered your country's call, which i think is sort of why i'm asking. >> well, as i say, i'm happy to give advice on it, but not looking for that commitment. >> would you rather be president? >> well, i think i'm better when i can have my own voice. i think that's the reason i stepped away from the senate. it's the fourth time in my career i've done a period of public service and gone away and written journalism and kind of
10:00 am
cleared my head. mostly where i'm at now, we're back in the discussion. i spent an entire year of not doing any interviews or op-eds and there's a lot of things to talk about. >> one of those long runs for the presidency doesn't intrigue you at all? >> we're taking this one day at a time. i'm very happy to be back in the discussion. >> so maybe, maybe not. we'll talk to you again closer to 2016. it's very nice to see you again. >> thank you. >> thank you all for watching. i'm candy crowley in washington. ing sure to set your dvr to "state of the union" if you can't be here live. fareed zakaria "gps" starts right now. this is "gps," the global public square. welcome to all of you around the united states and around the world. i'm fareed zakaria.