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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  June 4, 2014 2:00pm-3:31pm PDT

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follow me on twitter and check out our show page at, for video, blogs, extras. that's it for "the lead" oop i'm jake tapper. i'm turn you over to the able hands of wolf blitzer right next door. mr. blitzer. happening now, breaking news, we have new prisoner swap details, stunning images show armed taliban fighters handing over sergeant bowe bergdahl to u.s. troops. we are learning why the obama administration may have acted urgently to free him. lawmakers who first cheered bergdahl's release are slamming the exchange for hard core taliban figures. i'll ask republican senator possible 2016 hopeful, marco rubio what he may have done? video surfacing of an american woman and husband who disappeared while traveling in taliban territory. and president obama's
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workout, grimacing president caught on camera as he pumps iron in a polish hotel gym. i'm wochl blitzer, you're in e "the situation room." right to the breaking news. new details about the investigation into sergeant bowe bergdahl's disappearance. and those still-secret videos that may have led u.s. officials to urgently seek his release, coming as extraordinary, new images show a cautious moment tear troops between u.s. special ops troops and heavily armed taliban as he leaves five years of cap taft under a white flag and whisked away in a helicopter. growing controversy over exchange of taliban figures over a single american soldier. i'll speak with marco rubio. correspondents standing by with the coverage only cnn can deliver. gone with our pentagon
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correspondent, barbara starr. >> reporter: wolf, as you look at this extraordinary video, one of the questions swirling all day, bergdahl walked to the helicopter on his own. does that mean he is healthy? in contrast to the administration's position, it wanted to get him released because of his declining health. officials say, no, this video you see today does not tell the whole story. they say there are still two unreleased, classified videos, proof of life videos, that showed bergdahl to be in declining health. additionally, there was classified intelligence in last several weeks that also underscored his health situation. that intelligence briefed to defense secretary chuck hagel. we don't know the details, but officials insist that what they were so worried about was his health and his safety, concerns that the taliban were beginning to see him of less value to them because u.s. troops were getting out of afghanistan.
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the administration says it had no choice but to do what it could to get him out of taliban hands. >> i know you're learning more about the circumstances when he was captured back in june of 2009. what are you learning, barbara? >> reporter: you know the question is always, did he leave the base on his own? i've talked to officials now familiar with the original fact-finding investigation, they do underscore that that found that he did leave the base of his own free will. there was no indication that taliban got inside the wire, if you will. he walked out. but here's what's so interesting, wolf. troops that were interviewed for this fact-finding investigation say that there were previous instances when bergdahl left the base. previous occasions. what does that then say about the security of the unit? if someone was able to get outside the wire without being noticed, that means there was enough vulnerability that taliban could possibly get in.
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that is a significant issue. they also say that one of his commanders says, bergdahl was a good soldier in the begin, several of them talked about him being a good soldier. the troops, however, say that they believe that he simply walked away because he was so-called bored with the unit that he didn't feel the unit was doing a lot. so it all, again, the bottom line remains to be seen, they have to talk to bergdahl, they have to get his side of the story. >> i didn't know that, that apparently the initial report suggested he may have left that base on earlier occasions. i assume he may have left the base, but on his own he came back, that is what you're hearing, barbara? >> reporter: yeah. by all accounts he snuck outside the wire with no one noticing because no one in the unit reported it. but if you can sneak you side the wire in a small outpost with none of the other troops
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noticing what does that say about the vulnerability of the base? you know, it remains to be seen all of these accounts that we seem to be -- that seem to be swirling in public, you know there are reports that bergdahl left a note, saying he was leaving. officials i've talked to who have seen the fact-finding investigation say in that report there is no mention of a note. wolf? >> barbara starr reporting from the pentagon with new information. i know you're working your sources. you'll come back later. when the news of bowe bergdahl's release was announced the organizers of the annual bring back bowe event declared the event would be renamed bowe is back but the celebration has been effectively canceled with the town saying they can't handle the expected attendance an at the same time politicians who applauded the release of an american captive have quickly changed their tune. joe johns is on capitol hill, looking into this important part
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of the story. >> reporter: wolf, the full senate is invited to meetings scheduled to begin at the bottom of the hour. this is a rare closed door meeting on the swap that led to the release of sergeant bergdahl, a meeting to try to quiet the growing discontent over the swap and buffer the administration from what is effectively becoming a big political mine field. >> reporter: tonight, democrats are crying foul, saying some republican critic of the president are playing politics over the decision to free sergeant bergdahl. a decision that they once seemingly cheered. >> some of the senators are denouncing the very same efforts of security sergeant bergdahl's release. it's clear they're worried his release could be seen as a victory for president obama. >> reporter: republicans today rejected that accusation. >> these are the hardest of the hard core, they will be returning to the fight and they will endanger lives of americans some any allegation that i have changed my opinion is an absolute lie. >> reporter: then there are
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those republicans who appear to have erased their support for bergdahl's release. republican congressman lee terry of nebraska put out this statement saturday, applauding the release of the 28-year-old soldier. his office, later took it down telling reporters the congressman learned some, quote, extremely troubling things about the case. republican congressman mark amiday tweeted the release of bergdahl was best news i heard in a long time. that was deleted 15 hours later. joni ernst tweeted, thoughts and prayers to the bergdahl family, that tweet was deleted in 25 minutes. the administration is hoping this classified briefing scheduled to begin in just a few minutes will help answer some of the questions about why the president did not inform the congress and also cut off some of the criticism. >> joe, stand by outside that briefing, speak to some of the members afterwards, get the
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latest. the heated debate on capitol hill obviously showing at least at this point no signs of stopping in the immediate days ahead. joining us now, senator marco rubio, key member of the foreign relations and intelligence committees. senator rubio, the majority leader, harry reid, in the senate, he says a lot of the republicans, not necessarily you, but a lot of republicans are simply doing this criticism of the president and this swap for political reasons because they don't want the president to be seen as getting a political victory, to which you say? >> i'm not sure what kind of political victory he's talking about. i think across the country the issue's largely criticized because it makes no sense. you have just traded an american service member in exchange for five extremely dangerous individuals who, by in all likelihood, will rejoin the fight against the united states, sooner rather than later and he did so, by the way in complete violation of the law, including his own members, chairwoman of the senate untell against
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committee, someone well respected around here for her seriousness on these issues, wasn't even consulted or notified, as the law required. >> but the american soldier is on his way home after spending five years in captivity, aren't you happy about that? >> we are, of course. no one is lamenting the fact that an american will be reunited with his family in the united states but that's not what's being criticized. the process by which it was done has put in danger now countless american men and women in uniform across the globe. what the president has done here is sent a very clear message and incentive if you can get your hands on an american service man or woman, you can trade them for as many as five terrorists. >> so what would you have done if the secretary of defense says there's an open, the government of qatar says they can bring this guy home, sergeant bergdahl, in exchange for five taliban detainees. what would you have done if you had been president? >> i would have done everything short of endanger the national security of the united states which is what he has done.
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he has returned five dangerous terrorists to the battlefield. this american will go home to his family, these five members of the taliban will go back to the battlefield and including a couple of them serious members of the taliban senior members of the taliban, commanders of the taliban are going to return back to the battlefield and proceed to continue to attack and plot to kill americans. >> you would have rejected the deal. would you have come up with a counterproposal? there i would have explored any option available within the national security of the united states. by the way, it not just me that would have rejected this. this deal was widely criticized when he first brought it before members of congress in both parties, primarily for the reasons outlined here, and that is you do not free five dangerous criminals, murderers, members of the taliban, and return them to the battlefield as they have done. >> what about the notion that he was gravely ill? >> they've provided no evidence of that. we'll have a meeting where i hope they provide evidence of that fact.
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if that's the case, that's something that may be involved in our future calculus. as of now, they've provided zero evidence of that being a fact. and beyond that, i would say to you that that's not a justification that they have made beyond some pronouncemented in the media. they have largely said this is an effort to further wre reconciliation between the taliban and afghanistan. i don't believe that is ledge gate and that's what this will lead to. what this will lead to is five terrorist members of the battlefield returning to the battlefield to kill americans. >> do you believe the five detainees detained at gitmo for the last 12 or 13 years had american blood on their hands? >> absolutely. i believe they did. unfortunately they may again in the future. these are five of the most dangerous individuals we had as enemy combatants and the fact they're going to be soon rejoining the fight against america, most of them, will be, is something that we should be very concerned about. what we should be more concerned about is this has sent a
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powerful message to enemies of america across the globe, from iran, north korea, nonstate actors in north africa and the middle east, that there's great value in capturing an american because if you do you can get some of your own prisoners released. >> do you believe you know the detail of his disappearance from the base, sergeant bergdahl? >>ee they have not shared that and i have not commented on it because it's a matter of the criminal justice system within the military. there's a process to review and reasons to charge him and court-martial, what have you, i leave that up to them. i'm not sheer to criticize sergeant bergdahl. we're al happy he's back with his family. what i criticize the process the president has followed because it's endangered americans and in the future. >> i heard senator graham say, lindsey graham of south carolina, it's impossible for them to flow prisoners out of gitmo without a huge backlash. there will be people on our
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side, meaning the republican side, calling for his impeachment if he did that. are you with senator graham on that? >> well, i'll not at this point calling for impeachment. this president has two years left in his term, we hope they pass quickly, that we can somehow have a majority here in the senate to limit the amount of damage he's doing to our economy and national security. i'm not sure that's the right approach. and to be honest with you, i'm not sure there's people here focused on that now. >> i read the letter you wrote secretary hagel and you ask a bunch of questions. one of the questions, is the u.s. government providing qatar additional money, monitoring technology or personnel support to track the released detainees? do you have inside information to share with us on what promises may have been provided to qatar in exchange for their working out this deal? >> the notification they made to congress is classified and i don't want to violate that. i'm am concerned about the ability or willingness of the qatari government to monitor
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these individuals even for the limited period of time they're obligated to do so. i -- that's why i continue to say that i fully anticipate that most, if not all, of the five men will soon return to the battlefield and plot to kill americans and our allies in that region, potentially around the world. >> as far as you know, senator, we know that in exchange for these five detainees, bergdahl is now free, but was there anything else in this deal, did the qataris do anything to try to sweeten the pot, specifically provide money to the taliban or the haqqani network? >> again, that's not anything we've been made aware of. unfortunately, part of the notification provided to congress is still classified at this point. i remain concerned about the willingness and capability of monitoring these individuals. if you understand anything about this region of the world, once these individuals are released, it's going to be very difficult, even if they wanted to, to monitor them and their communications. >> thanks very much for coming in. >> thank you, wolf.
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>> up next, tense and brief truce, we're going it break down the extraordinary video showing u.s. troops taking sergeant bowe bergdahl away from his taliban captors. what can investigators learn from it? video surfacing of an american woman and her husband who vanished in the taliban-controlled corner of afghanistan. are they being held hostage?
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flag of truce, u.s. troops face to face with taliban fighters, retreevg an american soldier held captive for five years in afghanistan, captured in a stunning taliban video, complete with commentary. our chief national security correspondent, jim sciutto's
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here in "the situation room." walk us through, step by step, what we see. >> a massive propaganda exercise for the taliban here, sold by a media savvy insurgency as a victory over the united states. and there are signs it is working. so many downloads today it crashed the taliban website, they claim. more broadly, this was the first prisoner exchange between the u.s. and taliban in the 13 years of the nation's longest war caught on camera. in these images we get a rare view of both the taliban and u.s. special forces in action. >> reporter: the riveting eight-minute taliban propaganda video contains intriguing clues about sergeant bowe bergdahl, his taliban captors, and his american rescuers. a thin, aging bergdahl blinks repeatedly while seated in the pickup truck, and again as he stands looking at the approaching american helicopter. signs his eyes were unused to
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natural light or signs of emotion. one point bergdahl manages a brief awkward smile, evidence of happiness or nervousness. one captor taps him three times on the shoulder and says to him, don't come back to afghanistan, next time you won't make it out alive. ominous threat, and sign of fear between captor and captive. a taliban narrator sets the scene. >> translator: we waited in the area for around ten minutes before the helicopters arrived and there were 18 fighters with me in the area and we had armed mujahadin on the peaks of the hills around the area. >> reporter: he's carrying a white plastic bag, contents unknown. then, the unprecedented face-to-face meeting between u.s. special forces and the taliban fighters. handshakes, an american places his left arm across his chest, an afghan sign of respect. another quickly frisks bergdahl.
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the taliban narrator recounts what he claims they said to eacher. >> translator: they first asked us about the health condition of the captive and told us to tell them the truth if he was not well. but we saw that he was fine and told them that. >> reporter: the soldiers wave, one keeping his leyes locked on the taliban. bergdahl keeps his eyes focused straight ahead, stumbling, the legs of a man repeatedly shackled or a nervous walk. bergdahl is patted down once again, much more thoroughly, a precaution against a bomb or booby trap. for the black hawk helicopter disappears into the sky. so what did u.s. military officials see in those two proof of life videos they attained helping to spark the exchange? u.s. official tells me there are several signs from the video release in december that led the
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u.s. government to be greatly concerned about bergdahl's health, including the fact that he looked frail and regardless of what we saw in the video today, evidence was strong enough to accelerate efforts, wolf, for his return home. >> jim, stand by for a moment. i want to dig deeper with body language expert chris ullrich here in the situation and "the washington post" editor, david ignatius, author of "the director," a novel, spy thriller and former u.s. navy s.e.a.l., brandon webb, joining us from new york. chris, let's talk about the video. you've had a chance to study it. it's a long video, 16, 17 minutes. the smile what do you make of that? he does seem as we're showing viewers right now to get a little smile going there. >> yeah, oftentimes, wolf, sometimes it's not what it seems. we see the smile with him, we laugh for three reasons, we laugh because we're happy, in a duping delight mode, we're evil and trying to get over on somebody and we're anxious.
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we see a nervous laugh, almost relieving stress. he's surrounded by taliban gunships overhim, there's a lot of stress around him. we also see it in his blink rate. >> david, you've written a lot of books on this stuff. the interaction he seems to have with his taliban captors, what do you make of that? >> well, the thing we're most curious about whether he in some sense felt part of his captives' -- captors' world, whether there was a stockholm syndrome kind of experience for him. i don't mean to sound glib but there's a way in this amazing video look like a tease for an episode of "homeland" in which this person held captive for so long under brutal conditions comes home and you wonder looking at him, who is he in how has this experience changed him? >> jim, jyou've been speaking t experts. it seems the soldier and the respect that is shown, i don't know, by both sides, if you
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will, what do wow make of that? mr. i want to show you a moment in the film here. the point when they have the exchange. you first see him here, he gives a sign of respect, his left hand over his arm, something you know traditional in afghan society, do it all the time, sign of respect that's come in. notice the video continues, then they shake hands. he uses his left hand here, and he uses his left hand here. this is, you can tell, this soldier, he's in a rush, shook with one hand, one with his left hand. this soldier has something in his right hand here. but what's interesting, the taliban made a big deal in their commentary, why do they shake with the left hand in they were in arush, they were nervous. it's an insult in taliban society, they say look at these guys, in such a rush, they were so nervous they didn't have time too shake our right hand. it's reminder this is a propaganda moment for the taliban. they'll take advantaging of everything that happened during the minute-long interaction to
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their rang. >> brandon you were a navy s.e.a.l. what did you make of the frisking of the sergeant, once quickly when they got out of the vehicle, and just before he boarded the helicopter? that is standard operating procedure? i assume they're looking for explosives. >> they're taking precautions for any explosives, that was another reason why they took that plastic bag bergdahl was holding and dumped it on the ground. but another interesting point on the propaganda piece that no one has mentioned up until now is they have a saying that boys are for pleasure, women are for babies and the way bergdahl presented, clean-shaven and feminist, a purposeful insult to america in the hand-off. >> what do you mean in? they shaved him? explain that. i'm not following what you're suggesting. >> in the afghan culture, to grow facial hair and hair in general is to be very manly. it's very feminist to present
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bergdahl as clean-shaven, head shaven, face is shaven as well, and this is a very feminite look, to present this way is an insult and part of the propaganda in the hanover. >> let me follow-up, it's possible, just tell me what you think, they were cleaning him up if you will to make him look healthier, better, yeah we had him for five years but we kept him in good shape, we'll shave him, these taliban guys might be more sophisticated? >> i don't think so. my experience in afghanistan, having that facial hair is a very big sign of manliness and to shave bergdahl and present him how they did, to me, in my experience, serving in afghanistan, it's a direct, very clear message. >> david, you spent a lot of time in afghanistan, pakistan, what do you make of that? >> you know, i can't comment on
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the specific intent in shaving him in the way that they did. it is true, this is a war-like virile culture. my previous novel before "the director" how wars end in this part of the world, and i'm struck by the way in which something that was originally intended as a confidence building measure -- that's why this prisoner exchange was first devised, as a bridge to future negotiations to end the conflict -- instead has become a confidence destroying moment. whether it was the taliban's intention or not, that's what the product is, and it's unfortunate. >> what did you make of that, the point that brandon was just making? >> looking aat sergeant bergdahl's body language, he goes into an imploded posture, subservient, to your point about captives, not trying to aggravate captives in any way. when the body's in this contracted position through research at harvard university,
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our cortisol levels shoot up, that's congruent in his stress on his face, increased blink rate. >> could we tell his health based on the video that we just see when he was sitting in the vehicle, walks across the field, boards the u.s. military helicopter? could you get a sense watching that frame by frame? is the guy healthy, not so healthy? >> hard to dictate whether or not he's healthy. a state of almost shock, his blink rate, average blink rate of an individual 15 to 25 times a minute, but what we see with him in that one clip where he's smiling, eight second his blinks 18 times. that's heightened stress. so he is kind of almost like a rag doll, as those walk him out there probably not best of health but it's hard to say he's healthy. >> what are you hearing about his health from your sources? >> this is what you'll hear frequently from officials today, don't conclude to too much from what you see from the 60 seconds of video of him here, they have
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a lot of evidence that made them confident his health was compromised, two proof of life videos, one in december, plus other intelligence which made them very concerned, for instance, his frailness in videos based on comparing them to previous videos. and they have experts like you who look at these things to make those conclusions. they say whatever you can see in the video today, remember we have more information leading up to this to back up our decision. >> you know what? we just are connecting right now with matthew chance, senior international correspondent, at the u.s. hospital, military hospital in landstuhl where bergdahl is being treated he arrived there sunday, pickeded up in that helicopter on saturday. what are the official there's in landstuhl saying about his health? >> reporter: well, since that arrival, we are seeing no sign of sergeant bergdahl but we have had a number of statements released about the landstuhl
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regional medical facility. he's in a stable condition. they're not going into any great detail about the medical issues he's confronting but part of his treatment is to address some diet and nutritional issues as a result of him being in captivity for nearly five years. the sense you get is there's nothing life threatening. it's not like an imminent threat to his life or in a poor situation, describing his situation as stable. no indication as to when he might be going home. one is the psychological damage, of course, in captivity for so long that would have had a traumatic effect, that will be part of the reintegration process they're focusing on. >> they're not saying when he's going to be flown to san antonio to a u.s. military hospital there, for treatment. in the meantime, niece germany. brandon webb, you're a former navy s.e.a.l. that kind of mission, to send special operations forces in a
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helicopter, i assume other helicopters are hovering overhead, fighter jets hovering overhead, you've got to be worried this could be a trap and these guys lives' could be in danger. how do you mitigate that? >> it's tough. traditionally, special operations operate exclusively in the nighttime environment where you can leverage technology, the night vision and thermal imagery. to do a daytime pickup like this is extremely risky. the ac-130 gunship will not fly as standard operating procedure in daylight. you have an overcast which makes it extremely to put a predator drone overhead to monitor the situation. so daylight pick up like this is extremely risky. what's interesting, too our sources, in a story we wrote, said they had for through months joint special operations command had eyes on bergdahl. it makes me question this whole sense of urgency around this
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exchange, when they had eyes on him for three months leading up to this. >> i assume they were thinking at least of sending in a mission to rescue him without the kind of exchange but in the end they probably concluded that would be too risky, too dangerous, is that right? >> potentially. still, it begs the question, you know, why guys weren't sent in, we practice hostage rescue missions like this all the time. but to me, it's a clear sign of an attempt at diplomacy with the taliban. you know, the same organization in 2001, the u.s. sent over to stamp out, and now we're essentially looks like we're, you know, having these diplomatic relations with the taliban and it really makes you wonder what the u.s. has accomplished in afghanistan over a decade of war. >> that's a good question. you think the qataris, the government of qatar, which arranged the deal, there's more than meets the eye? you're suggesting maybe this is part of a broader effort to got some peaceful arrangement there?
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>> originally conceived that way, wolf. these discussions in secret go back to november 2010. this is not new. in february, 2011, secretary of state clinton said publicly it was the dire of the u.s. to have a political diplomatic settlement of the conflict and the secret negotiations came out of that opening that she made. she sent her emissary to meet secretly with the taliban. there are extensive conversations with the idea of stabilizing the country when u.s. forces left. i don't think anybody imagined it would backfire in the way it clearly has in terms of american public opinion in the last several days. >> david ignacious, author of "the director" and i recommend. chris ullrich, thanks to you, jim sciutto. brandon webb, thanks for joining us. a separate video showing a couple that went missing in
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built for business. there's video surfacing in the wake of sergeant bowe bergdahl's release suggesting an american woman and her husband are being held captive in afghanistan right now. our foreign affairs correspondent is working the story. she's got details. what are you learning? >> well, wolf, when you look at the celebrations of bowe bergdahl coming home, the family of this american woman and canadian man are disappointed they weren't part of the deal and want to know what the u.s. government is doing for them. >> reporter: the family of american caitlan coleman gave the videos to the associated press, hoping the publicity surrounding bowe bergdahl's release could bring their daughter home. in the videos posted online by the telegraph newspaper,
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then-nine-month pregnant coleman makes a direct plea to president obama, freeing her and her husband from taliban captors. his last contact with his family, boyle said the couple were in an internet cafe in an unsafe part of afghanistan. >> i'm jim coleman and this is my wife lynn. >> reporter: two months after the disappearance, caitlan's family appeared on youtube for her safe rern, concerned about her health and fearful for the unborn child. >> as parents and soon-to-be grandparents we appeal to whomever is caring for her to show compassion and allow katie, josh, our unborn grandbaby to come home. >> reporter: boyle's former wife was the sister of a guantanamo detainee who allegedly received training from al qaeda. their father, a senior al qaeda leader, with connections to osama bin laden.
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less than two weeks after qatar was freed from guantanamo and sent back to canada, boyle and coleman went missing. videos offer the only clue as to what might have happened to the couple, but provide little proof they were indeed kidnapped, and no demands for ransom have been made. but after the u.s. and taliban traded five guantanamo detainees for bowe bergdahl's release, republican congressman duncan hunter wrote president obama asking why three other americans held by taliban-linked militants were not part of the deal. wolf, the state department and the fbi have seen the video, the family gave it to them. they're not saying much about what they think happened. the canadian government tell me they believe the couple was kidnapped and everybody's working together and with afghan authorities to try to get their release. >> keep us up to speed. up next, hear what some researchers say is actual sound
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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. now nearly three months since malaysia airlines flight 370 disappear, there could be new audio evidence of the plane actually crashing into the ocean. cnn aviation correspondent rene marsh reports. >> reporter: the sound intriguing scientists hunting for flight 370 finally released
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after weeks of analysis. listen to that rumbling sound. underwater microphones off the coast of australia captured it after the plane is believed to have crashed scientists at curtain university in australia enhance the sound to make it audible. they say it could be the plane striking the water, or imploding as it sank. but the chances are slim. >> because it's inconsistent with the other data which i consider to be more reliable, i have to say that i think it's unlikely. >> reporter: more probable, a natural event such as a small earthquake. the university's listening station and its separate united nations device used to detect nuclear explosions, both picked up the mysterious sound about an hour after the plane likely went down. but that does not rule it out since sound travels slowly in water. but there is still doubt.
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the signals appear to have originated somewhere in this zone, far from this arc where the plane made its final connection with an inmarsat satellite. that still considered the best evidence. >> we remain very confident as to all experts that the arc associated with seventh ping is going to be close to where the aircraft will be found. >> reporter: authorities have now isolated the 1600-mile section of the southern arc. the plane could be up to 23 miles west or 35 miles east. one quarter of this will soon be picked as a search area. australians officially called for private contractors wednesday. the deadline, they'll have 300 days to complete the search. and a british woman sailing from india to thailand says she may have seen flight 370 the night it disappeared. she describes what she saw as an outline of a plane with orange lights and what appeared to be a
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trail of black smoke coming from behind. now cnn has confirmed that she reported this to the australian authorities heading up the search and we got a response from those authorities. they say they are reviewing this woman's claims at this point. >> rene marsh, thanks very much. up next -- president obama caught on camera as he pumps iron in a hotel gym. all of the latest details on the release of sergeant bowe bergdahl. new information, stunning new video, our special report, that will start right at the top of hour. the eyes may be the windows to the soul. but in the case of the lexus ls...
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we're getting some compelling new video of something you don't often see. the president of the united
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states working out. white house correspondent michelle kosinski is traveling with president in europe, joining us from busrusselbrusse. tell us about this video, michelle? >> reporter: it made its way on to a polish tabloids website and not the kind of leak we expect to see during a presidential trip. there's no indication the nsa or wikileaks had anything to do with it. maybe we should call this gym-gate. it seemed mysterious in the beginning. who would do such a thing? the white house still will not comment on it. the hotel just told us they are not to speak of it. at this point it doesn't seem like it's anything sinister, just a polish guy in the gym of a very nice hotel where the president was staying in warsaw. pretty stunning for people to see this video with obviously a very private moment for the president making its way now around the internet set to a soundtrack, no less. luckily it's nothing embarrassing. he's not shirtless. vladimir putin style or anything like that. you see the president let out a
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big yawn in the beginning of his 30-minute workout and goes to the free weights, does skaquats and lunges on the elliptical machine there. we heard one guy comment and say, you know, i've been in hotel gyms before where the security cleared the place out because isceline dion was showi up. the secret service says they don't do that. they insist this is not a security breach because everybody coming into the hotel would have been cleared through security anyway. they say they don't clear out the gym. they let people take photographs. one agent even said it was apparent that people were taking pictures of the president during this, wolf. >> good to see him working out. good inspiration for all of us. thanks very much, michelle kosinski traveling with the president. coming up, our special report. stunning new video. new details of the prisoner swap that freed sergeant bowe bergdahl and five hardcore taliban fig wrurefigures. we're going live to
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bergdahl's hometown where the controversy leads to the cancelation of a celebration.
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happening now, breaking news. a hand-over. dramatic new details of sergeant bowe bergdahl as the taliban issues new video of his release. what does the pentagon initial investigation into his disappearance reveal? secret briefing. top administration officials are meeting with senators right now behind closed doors up on capitol hill. will it satisfy lawmakers angry at being left in the dark? and prisoner swap uproar. outrage that high-level taliban officials were released from guantanamo bay in exchange for bergdahl. does it compromise national security? i'll ask a former bush state department legal adviser.
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i'm wolf blitzer. this is "the situation room" special report. "the return of sergeant bergdahl." we're following the breaking news. new information about the disappearance of former p.o.w. sergeant bowe bergdahl. sources now revealing details of the pentagon's initial investigation and the intelligence that prompted the obama administration to agree to a prisoner exchange to free him. there are multiple new angles we're following with our correspondent and our guests. let's begin with our pentagon correspondent, barbara starr. what's the latest you're picking up there, barbara? >> well, wolf, we've now been told that defense secretary chuck hagel telephoned sergeant bergdahl's parents in idaho earlier today to reassure them the department of defense would continue to support bergdahl and his medical recovery. the question of sergeant bergdahl's health is one that keeps swirling around.
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the first images of the actual bowe bergdahl swap emerging on the taliban's website. bergdahl dressed all in white. he appears to be nervous. blinking. shaking. then suddenly like a scene out of the movies the special forces blackhawk helicopter descends. two taliban militants immediately take bergdahl toward the chopper. waving a white flag. three u.s. special operations commandos approach shaking hands with the taliban. they pat down bergdahl's back and immediately begin escorting him to the helicopter. bergdahl walked to the helicopter on his own, but u.s. officials say it does not tell the whole story. in recent months, there had been two so-called proof of life videos of bergdahl that led to worry his health was declining. the videos remain classified. but it was recent classified intelligence not just the videos
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that led to growing alarm about bergdahl's medical condition and safety, a senior u.s. official tells cnn. defense secretary chuck hagel is aware of the details in that classified file. >> let's get the facts but let's first focus on getting sergeant bergdahl well. >> reporter: hagel is saying little else. >> the army will conduct a comprehensive review of all the circumstances regarding sergeant bergdahl's disappearance. and i think i would leave it there. >> reporter: cnn has learned that an initial fact-finding investigation at the time of bergdahl's disappearance included statements from other troops that he had left the base on other occasions. according to a u.s. official briefed on the findings. in that fact-finding report officials say bergdahl's commanders called him a good
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soldier. the report also notes he mailed his computer and other items home but there's no indication he meant that to be part of a planned disappearance. now, just another example of the rumor, the gossip, the innuendo, and some facts that are out there. there have been a lot of press reports that bergdahl might have left a note behind when he disappeared. some soldiers were reporting that, but the sources i am talking to say in that initial fact-finding report when he first disappeared, there was no discussion of them finding a note left behind. wolf? >> barbara starr, thanks very much. right now, high-level administration officials are giving senators a secret briefing on bergdahl. trying to placate those lawmakers who are deeply angered that they weren't notified of the prisoner exchange as required by u.s. law. and those who call it a bad deal. our senior washington correspondent joe johns is up on capitol hill. so, what do we know about this briefing, joe? >> reporter: wolf, the full senate is invited to this briefing. people started milling in just
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about a half an hour ago. the expectation is they're going to get more information in this classified briefing about the circumstances surrounding the release of sergeant bergdahl. there is not a lot of optimism, i can tell you being expressed, especially from republicans who are on their way into the meeting. senator lindsey graham of south carolina saying he's more likely to get information from reporters about the situation than from the administration. senator john cornyn of texas comparing this to closing the door of the barn after the horse has left. privately some senators have told me they would like to know a lot more about the administration's justification for going forward with this release and prisoner swap without the law, as it stood, 30 days quocongress was supposed t get some type of prewarning, wolf. >> they didn't get that. a lot of republicans are deeply complaining even the chair of
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the senate intelligence, dianne feinstein says she deeply reg t regrets the president did not notify her and the ranking members of the various committees. all right, joe, thanks very much. let's dig a little deeper. joining us, john bellinger, former state department and official over at the george w. bush administration. you were the legal adviser. john, thanks very much for coming in. during the bush administration at the state department. you caused an uproar, i guess, a buzz out there. you're saying this is not necessarily a bad deal. >> well, it seems to me, wolf, that it's defensible. this is one of those tough national security choices that presidents have to make. where all the options are bad and i've not been involved in this. i've not been briefed by the administration on the details but it just strikes me that the president has an opportunity here to bring back a soldier who's been held for five years apparently in failing health in exchange for some taliban leaders, who here's the key point, we were going to have to
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return at some point in the next few years and perhaps within the next year, anyway. so seems like a reasonable opportunity. now, i think the white house has mishandled. this the reason this has gotten so politicized is the white house started it by announcing this from the rose garden. so, you know, they politicized it on their end. it's not surprising that we've got a big political reaction from the congress on the other side. >> the president made the announcement with bowe bergdahl's parents in the rose garden with him. you worked for president bush, george w. bush for eight years, right? >> that's right, i was present at the creation of guantanamo. >> what would he have done if they would have told him, mr. president, secretary of defense, we can get this american p.o.w. out of afghanistan, pakistan, wherever he was being held but have to release these five taliban detainees from gitmo. what do you think president bush would have done? >> well, that's hard to say. you know, i don't think eight years ago we would have made this deal, but here we are now with the end of combat operations, potentially the end
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of the conflict in afghanistan coming up pretty soon. the bush administration did return more than 100 afghan detainees, taliban, during our time, admittedly those were low-level foot soldiers. these are much more senior people and i don't mean to limit that. but we're getting to the end of the conflict her. unlike the al qaeda detainees in guantanamo, i think they're not going anywhere soon, these taliban leaders i think were likely to have to be returned sometime soon. >> i spoke the last hour with senator marco rubio, the republican from florida. he said these five, he has no doubt -- he didn't two into specifics -- these five taliban detainees have american blood on their hands. here's the question. because you were there at the creation of gitmo when these detainees were brought there. these enemy combatants. why haven't they been tried in these military tribunals, these five for example? why couldn't they be tried? >> i don't know enough about their personal backgrounds. it's not clear they committed
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out war crimes that could be tried by military commission. certainly couldn't have been tried in federal court. this is where, you know, i think the obama administration is a little bit hypocritical about this thing, oh, guantanamo could have been avoided, we would have tried all these people in federal court in new york. we were not going to be able to try the leader of the afghan army in the southern district of new york. and this is really the conundrum for both administrations of guantanamo. we're holding a lot of people, taliban and al qaeda, who indisputably have done bad things but couldn't be prosecuted. >> john bellinger, thanks for coming in. classified information about bergdahl. does it show whether he was dezerted or abducted? how involved was hillary clinton in the bergdahl exchange when she was secretary of state? we're learning new details. our fraud resolution department. ugh, we don't have that. what should i tell him?
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. this just coming in to "the situation room." stanley mcchrystal who commanded u.s. forces in afghanistan when bowe bergdahl disappeared is commenting on the release. he spoke in an interview with yahoo! news. watch this. >> after sergeant bergdahl, then-private bergdahl came up missing, we did a huge number of operations to try to stop the taliban from being able to move him across the border into afghanistan. we made a great effort and put people at risk in doing that. that's what you should do. that's what soldiers do for each other. it wasn't the wrong thing to do. i think we're going to have to wait and talk to sergeant bergdahl now and get his side of the story. >> thanks to an unlikely source we have new details of sergeant bowe bergdahl's disappearance that the pentagon doesn't want you to know at least not yet. wikileaks obtained a classified report. brian todd has been combing through that report. what are you finding out? >> wolf, these documents show
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the taliban very early on know they've gotten a gold mine with bowe bergdahl and tried to bargain with him. top-secret reports also show how confusing the situation was on the morning bergdahl vanished. a dramatic message in the early morning hours. june 30th, 2009. soldier is missing. it's apparently the first report of sergeant bowe bergdahl's disappearance. that report is classified, but we know what it says because it's among thousands of leaked military documents posted by wikileaks. chronicling the hours and days after bergdahl vanished in afghanistan. the reports offer two contrasting pictures of what might have happened that day. about 5 1/2 hours after he disappeared u.s. soldiers intercept a radio communication presumably by the taliban. the translation, "an american soldier is talking and is looking for someone who speaks english. indicates american soldier has camera." but a day later, another communication from the taliban indicating they picked up bergdahl in a latrine. "we were attacking the post. he was sitting taking expletive.
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he had no gun with him." the army's initial conclusion is bergdahl left of his own free will. >> the taliban knew that they had somebody very valuable. i mean, they kidnapped other westerners but haven't kidnapped other western soldiers. >> reporter: july 1st, a day after bergdahl's capture, according to a u.s. radio intercept, one taliban fighter says "i think he is big shot. that's why they are looking for him." another says "can you guys make a video of him and announce it all over afghanistan that we have one of the americans?" early on, the taliban wanted to trade bergdahl for 15 taliban fighters in u.s. custody and some money. at the same time, u.s. forces were using drones, surveillance aircraft, every asset they could deploy in a furious search for bergdahl. >> during the seven to nine days probably no one slept at any headquarters. this was the constant focus. at the end of those days you're physically and mentally
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exhausted. >> reporter: ironically, wikileaks is a key source of classified information on the other side of this case. top secret dossiers of all five guantanamo detainees who bergdahl was traded for. the five men are senior taliban commanders. one had close fties to osama bi laden. two wanted for the murder of thousands of shiite muslims which has complicated the story of bergdahl's capture and muddled the administration's contention that the detainees were safe to release. we cannot independently verify the authenticity of the wikileaks documented. contacted by cnn the u.s. army would give in comment on what the documents say about bowe bergdahl's disappearance. >> thanks very much. let's get more. josh rogen is here, senior national security correspondent for "the daily beast," also chief national security correspondent jim sciutto. jim, what do you make of these wikile wikileaks, a lot of information about bergdahl we wouldn't know if it weren't for wikileaks. >> wikileaks is the source of the story surrounding bergdahl
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before his release. there was talk about him having walked off the base. many things weren't spoken about publicly because the military is sensitive to it and didn't want this out there. as they were trying to get this guy home. now, though, you have compounding those stories his fellow soldiers who are giving even more detail about his behavior while he was at that outpost and more accounts of him having walked off the base. in fact, having talked about walking off the base. wikileaks was the first and we have many more accounts to buttress that claim. >> hillary clinton when she was secretary of state, before she left the state department, and her involvement in earlier efforts to get bowe bergdahl back to the united states. and there were talk of releasing taliban detainees. >> in 2011 and 2012, the state department led an extensive effort and negotiated directly with the taliban in a serious of meetings in germany and doha. >> directly, without the qataris involved? >> they were not in the room. the qataris had a lesser role in
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the process. the american officials were meeting directly with the fall b taliban officials. >> what was her role? >> she was intimately involved, extremely skeptical of the deal. she didn't trust the taliban and wasn't sure if she could trust the qataris. she had reservations about the deal. her vision is different than the vision struck by president obama next week in two major ways. she saw it as only being relevant in a context of a larger push to make peace with the taliban. hillary clinton wanted to offer the taliban a road toward reentering afghan. now we can say the taliban, afghan war is going to end, anyway. maybe that's not relevant. the other thing is she had a lot of strict assurances from the qataris they would keep these guys under wraps until that peace was achieved. now we don't know exactly what the assurances are but know there's only a one-year travel ban. it seems that hillary's deal was much stricter than the deal obama was able to negotiate. >> we also know, you remember
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covering this, panetta, leon panetta, defense secretary, former cia director. he didn't like this -- general clapper, head of intelligence, he didn't like this deal. hillary clinton wasn't the only one who didn't like it. now everyone in the administration, the new secretary of defense, the new cia director, all seem to have come on board. >> they did. like josh made the point, david ignatius made the point earlier, originally this was part of a bigger negotiation. i was in afghanistan two, three years ago about reconciliation. how do you get the taliban to the table not just to get bergdahl back but to end the fighting? bergdahl was going to be a sign of trust as opposed to the end result. it's a different time now. the president has announced forces are going to be out in a couple years' time and added to the urgency of this administration saying, you know, as our troops pull out, we have less leverage plus his value drops, right, for the taliban which incloses the risk to his life. >> you think the qataris are
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going to deliver these assurances that the emir of qatar has given the president of the united states that these individuals over the next year, one year will be watched, won't be able to cause damage to u.s. national security? >> we'll have to wait and see but the early evidence is these guys are roaming around doha with little to no supervision. we don't know what intelligence assets are following them. we can see their movement is not restricted. that was one of the key details of the deal hillary clinton was negotiating two years ago. as for the rest of the conditions, if we don't know what they are, we can't know if they're being enforced. there will be continued calls for this administration to be transparent about what those conditions are so we can reliably check to see if the qataris are filling their end of the deal. >> sure u.s. intelligence is monitoring what's going on as best as they can in and around doha, qatar, itself. do you think the white house sort of was taken by surprise as a result of this uproar that has developed over the past few days? because on saturday when the president was in the rose garden with the parents of bowe bergdahl, it looked like one of those great moments, an american soldier after five years of
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captivity is finally coming home. >> i mean, they do look like they were surprised because the depth of criticism that you've heard, particularly from his fellow soldiers. you know, you should have known that really because if the stories are true that they were forced to sign nondisclosure agreements, you knew the troops had given accounts where they said he did this voluntarily, so you should have predicted this was going to happen. you know, on the other hand, it is good news and there is politics involved. you know, there are politicians who when this first happened were tweeting congratulations and this is great. now they're removing the tweets as it became a political issue as a way to stick it to the administration. so, you know, both sides are playing something of a political game here. >> i would agree with everything that jim said. i would just add one thing. in 2012, when i spoke to senator dianne feinstein, she was vehemently against this deal. she actually confirmed a lot of the details of what were then classified negotiations. the administrations was very angry at her both for revealing
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details and for being so publicly against the deal. this time around it's not surprising that they might not want it to have clearer -- >> senator feinstein was against it, hillary clinton was against it, panetta was against it. they were all against it at the time. times change. jim sciutto, josh rogen. a celebration in bergdahl's hometown suddenly canceled. why? new information coming into "the situation room" right now. get more clean water to everyone. who's going to take the leap? who's going to write the code? who's going to do it? engineers. that's who. that's what i want to do. be an engineer. ♪ energy lives here. ♪
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we're learning a celebration in sergeant bowe bergdahl's hometown marking his release has been canceled. cnn's george howell is joining us from hailey, idaho. george, what are folks saying out there? >> reporter: it was to be called the bowe is back event. excitement about it. ribbons and balloons on many of the streets in hailey, idaho. now we know the city has canceled that event. the city of some 8,000 people basically saying this town is not big enough to deal with the number of people that could be coming to town given the national media attention on this case. basically they don't have the infrastructure to support it and as a matter of public safety have canceled that event. we know the bergdahl family, they are not talking about this point, not speaking out about what's happening. we did go through that neighborhood. at this point they're not commenting. they did get that call, though, from defense secretary chuck hagel, a ten-minute call
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basically reassuring them bergdahl will receive the support of the military when it comes to his reintegration and when it comes to his health. so they're not talking, wolf, but you know, the community is. i want to read these headlines from the town newspaper. the first headline, it's an op-ped here, it says "bring our soldier home and let him heal." another says "it's time to focus on a soldier's freedom." those really are the headlines coming out of hailey, idaho. this community staying out of the politics. just ready to welcome home a son, a hometown son. >> is there anger that he's now being depicted by some, someone who deserted his own base? >> reporter: you know, people know about the questions that are out there. people know that there's a lot of animosity and there are members of his platoon who are saying he was a deserter. they're staying away from that, simply focusing on the person that they know. wolf, it's really very personal here. people who knew bowe bergdahl, they're basically saying they want him to come back home, they want to hear what he has to say about it. >> all right, george.
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we'll stay in close touch with you and see what happens in haliey, idaho. be sure to swroin us tomorrow here in "the situation room." certainly watch us live or dvr so you won't miss a moment. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." now let's step into the "crossfire" with stephanie cutter and newt gingrich. wolf, an astonishing new video from the taliban shows just how dramatically the obama administration has failed. >> or at least how dramatically republicans want to pretty size a prisoner exchange. the debate starts right now. tonight on "crossfire." beau bergdahl's hand-over and walk to freedom. was it worth the price? >> this is clearly a terrible idea. >> would hillary clinton have held out for a better deal? >> we have a long way to go before we really know how this is going to play out. >> on the left, stephanie cutter. on the right, newt gingrich. in the