tv Democracy Now LINKTV June 6, 2014 8:00am-9:01am PDT
06/06/14 06/06/14 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is democracy now! we had a prisoner of war ,hose health had deteriorated and we were deeply concerned about him and we saw an opportunity and we seized it. i may not apologies for that. >> is the white house faces more attacks over the american pow-taliban prisoner swap, we will speak with matthew farwell,
former idaho soldier who served in afghanistan and helped the late reporter michael hastings write his groundbreaking piece on bowe bergdahl, "america's last prisoner of war." farwell came to know bergdahl's parents after they attended the funeral of his brother who served and died in afghanistan. and we look at the five members of the taliban released from guantánamo. >> i would say these
five aren't the worst of the worst. it doesn't mean they're good guys. it's not my job to defend them. >> we will speak with frank goldsmith, the attorney for one of the freed men, and andy worthington, author of, "the guantanamo files: the stories of the 774 detainees in america's illegal prison." all of that and more coming up. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the political firestorm is continuing over the rescue of sergeant bowe bergdahl in exchange for five guantánamo
prisoners. the deal has come under partisan attack amidst reports bergdahl voluntarily left his base after growing opposed to the war in afghanistan. "the new york times" has revealed report found bergdahl most likely walked away from his army outpost in june 2009 on his own free will, but stopped short of concluding or solid evidence that
he intended to permanently desert. the report also revealed bergdahl had wandered away from assigned areas while in the army at least twice before his capture, including ones in afghanistan. on thursday, president obama defended the swap. byi'm never surprised controversies that are whipped up in washington. that is par for the course. but i will repeat what i said two days ago. we have a basic principle. we do not leave anybody wearing the american uniform behind. war whoserisoner of
health had deteriorated, and we were deeply concerned about it and we saw an opportunity and we seized it. i'm a no apologies for that. of the administration officials defended the decision not to give congress notice of the swap saying the taliban threatened to kill bergdahl affordability -- if word of the swap relieved. there are other reports bergdahl escaped from his captors at least on two occasions, once in the fall of 2011 and again in 2012. we will have more after the headlines. in northeastern nigeria, boca raton militants have slaughtered hundreds of people in three state.s in borno the gunmen reportedly posed as soldiers arriving to protect the villagers, before rounding them up and opening fire. more than 2000 people have been killed this year alone by boko haram, which kidnapped more than
200 schoolgirls in april. in canada, suspect has been arrested after a shooting rampage that left three police officers dead in new brunswick. police shot down swaths of the city and told residents to remain inside as they searched for justin bourque. roger brown, commanding officer of the royal canadian mounted police, spoke on thursday. >> perhaps the darkest day in the history of the rcmp. we have lost three of our colleagues and three of our friends, two officers are in hospital at present and are undergoing surgery. i met with the families this morning prior to coming here. as you can all imagine, they are hurting. there is actually no way to describe the level of hurt. >> in the united states, student opened fire at seattle pacific university, killing one person before a student monitor used pepper spray to subdue him.
three other people were wooded the shooting, one of them critically. in afghanistan, the front-runner in the presidential race has survived an assassination attempt in kabul. two explosions went off as a bill abdullah was leaving a campaign event. six people were killed, including a bodyguard and police officer. the european central bank has taken steps to boost the economy, including cutting its bank deposit rate to below zero. the move seeks to spur lending by effectively charging banks for storing money. inflation across the eurozone fell just .5% last month, far below the bank's target, and unemployed it remains over 25% in spain and greece. egyptian prosecutors have called for the maximum prison terms for three al jazeera journalists at their trial in cairo. prosecutors delivered their closing arguments, accusing the journalists of producing false reports and giving a platform to the muslim brotherhood. peter greste faces up to seven years and the other to face up
to 15. they been imprisoned since december. the obama administration has said it "looks forward to isi," theith al-s former army chief, who won the egyptians presidential election in a landslide. israel has announced 1500 and settlements in the occupied west bank and east jerusalem in retaliation for a new palestinian unity government backed by hamas. the settlements are consul consd illegal but said they were "just the beginning." general motors has dismissed 15 employees and vowed to start a compensation fund for victims of an ignition switch defect tied to at least 13 and potentially hundreds of deaths. a internal report cites "pattern of incompetence and neglect" but denies an intentional cover-up of the defect, which took gm more than a decade to address.
a former federal prosecutor hired by gm to conduct report found multiple groups within gm reviewed the problem, but failed to take action or acted too slowly. the gm ceo mary barra called the results troubling. >> i can tell you this report is extremely thorough, brutally tough, and deeply troubling. for those of us have dedicated our lives to this company, it is enormously painful to see our shortcomings laid out so vividly . as i read the report, i was deeply saddened and disturbed. democratictement, senator richard blumenthal of connecticut called for an independent inquiry into gm's failures, calling the internal review "the best report money can buy." the scandal over veterans health care is deepening.
the acting secretary of veterans affairs says 18 additional veterans who are kept off official waiting list have died while waiting for appointments in arizona. the depths there's another 17 deaths reportedly. a bill would allow veterans facing lengthy waits to see private medical care. the senate has confirmed the obama has picked sylvia mathews to lead the department of health and human services. she takes over for kathleen civilians, who stepped down in april following the rocky rollout of obamacare. in mexico, a journalist has been found murdered with his body bearing signs of torture four days after he was kidnapped i unknown gunmen. he was a spokesperson for the health department in the resort city of acapulco and wrote a political column for a weekly newspaper. one of his final reports described protests against
violence and extortion by local and federal authorities. reporters without borders ranked mexico 152 out of 180 in its .ost recent press freedom index protests are continuing in india after two cousins, ages 12 and 14, were raped and hanged from a tree last week. a state minister from the party a prime minister modi fueled the outrage with his comments about rape. rate is a social crime. it is sometimes right, sometimes wrong. it is difficult to stop rapes completely as the rapist is not reveal his intentions before committing the crime. >> the suspects in the double murder are from the same social police reportedly insulted and refused up the 12-year-old victim's father when he reported her disappearance. the victims are from a lower caste.
in the u.s., three star athletes have been arrested on charges of raping an 18-year-old girl at a post-prom party in role georgia. authorities say the three men, who were seniors at calhoun high school, used a foreign object to rape the young woman "causing tearing and severe trauma." a fugitive bank director who faked his own suicide and vanished before being discovered by authorities last year has pleaded guilty in a multi-million-dollar fraud scheme. aubrey lee price is accused of embezzling money from a georgia bank that later collapsed, and of lying to clients as he lost tens of millions of dollars in risky transactions. price disappeared after leaving suicide notes and was declared legally dead until he was arrested in a traffic stop. he faces up to 30 years in prison. probing thelators worst offshore oil spill in u.s. history are warning a failed safety device could pose a risk of future catastrophic spills.
a report by the chemical safety board cites improper testing and other key issues surrounding the blowout preventer, an emergency device that should have stanched the flow of oil during the 2010 bp oil spill. devices with the same design are currently in use on at least 30 other drill rigs around the world. plummeting ties the monarch butterfly population to the rise of genetically modified crops in the united states. research in the journal of animal ecology finds monarch populations are far more sensitive to the threat of declining milkweed in their u.s. breeding grounds than the loss of their winter habitat from deforestation in mexico. milkweed plants have declined more than 20% in u.s. corn belt, a key breeding area, largely because of the gmo crops, the study found. aw york state has adopted policy change allowing transgender people to change the gender specified on their birth certificate without undergoing sex reassignment surgery.
the shift follows a decade-long campaign of the silvia rivera law project and other groups, who say it will help transgender people access ids which accurately reflect their gender and overcome barriers to jobs, housing, and services. however, the change currently excludes prisoners, youth, and people born in new york city. six eight, along with washington, d.c., to lift the surgery requirement. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. president barack obama said thursday he would make "no apologies" for agreeing to a prisoner swap to free sergeant bowe bergdahl in exchange for five guantánamo detainees. >> i'm never surprised by controversy whipped up in washington. that is par for the course. but i will repeat what i said two days ago.
we have a basic principle. we do not leave anybody wearing the american uniform behind. war whoserisoner of , and wead deteriorated were deeply concerned about it. we saw an opportunity and we seized it. timing apologies for it. >> the rescue of bergdahl has touched off a political firestorm. on thursday, administration officials said bergdahl's life could have been in danger if details of the prisoner swap had been leaked. her goal had been held captive by the haqqani network for five years. -- bergdahl had been held captive by haqqani network for five years. while some in the media have speculated that bergdahl again said that it to his captors, new reports reveal bergdahl actually escaped from his captors on at least two occasions. according to "the daily beast," in his first escape, afghan sources said he avoided capture
for three days and two nights of researchers finally found him. exhausted and hiding in a shallow trench, he had dug with his own hands and covered with leaves. >> in another development "the new york times" rebels a classified report concluded old bergdahl -- bowe bergdahl most likely walked away from his outpost on his own free will and 2009, but stopped short of concluding their solid evidence he intended to permanently desert. the report also revealed bergdahl and wondered away from assigned areas while in the army at least twice before prior to the day he was captured, including once in afghanistan. we're joined right now by matthew farwell, a journalist and veteran of the afghan war who has been following the bergdahl story for years. he helped the late reporter michael hastings write his 2012 "rolling stone" he's headline, "america's last prisoner of war." came to knowll bergdahl's parents after they attended the funeral of his brother, who served in iraq and
afghanistan and died in an accident in germany. matthew farwell, thank you so much for joining us. so why don't you talk about how you met bowe bergdahl's parents, bob and jani. >> i did not really need them. i was giving the eulogy for my brother and looked back in the back of the church and saw to the people i thought i recognized, and it was the bergdahl's. >> your from idaho. >> my parents are from idaho. >> what year was this? >> february 3, 2010. >> how did you then come to know them? >> after that i kept in touch with them a little bit because i thought that was a classy gesture. then michael and i did the story and i have stayed in touch. >> in terms of the story with michael, how did you decide to focus on the bergdahls story and
gather the information, which is really definitive work on the bergdahl saga? >> the fbi investigated how they came to be. i have to keep some trade secrets on it. >> explained for a moment. this is a side story, but michael died in a fiery car he had said at the time that he was being investigated by the fbi. yes, and in the freedom of information act request is done by a great journalist named jason schapiro. it came back and he sent it to me in us all of the redacted portions and said, holy cow, they're talking about me right here. i put through privacy act request, got it back and sure enough, they were looking into our "controversial" reporting on the story, which i think is a little unusual. but i give them credit.
>> hotel is about bowe bergdahl -- so tell us about bowe bergdahl and what you learn. >> bowe is an interesting guy. i'm very conflicted myself about how i feel about him and his case, but he was a young man, homeschooled, grew up in sun valley, idaho. from all accounts, very intelligent. he did a lot of traveling prior to joining the army -- >> his parents came from california? >> yes, ma'am. california to sun valley i think the year before his older sister was born. they stayed there ever since. the sun valley ups man for 30 years. >> in your story, it details early on he grew to satisfied with being at home, being homeschooled and decided he wanted to pursue a life of adventure. could you talk about that? >> right. it seems he went up and work as a commercial fisherman in
alaska, traveled around the state on motorcycle, you know, just these sorts of things that young man who are seeking something came to do. >> and the french foreign legion? >> his father said he tried to join the french foreign legion and was disqualified -- >> explain what that is, the french foreign legion. >> the french foreign legion is france's force of essentially foreign mercenaries who can come from any walk of life. many of them are hardened criminals or refugees currently from eastern europe. ace you join, you acquire fake name. >> bowe was known around town in hailey, idaho, worked at a coffee house. he took up ballet and many have seen his performances. >> yes, ma'am. >> how does he end up in u.s. military him and that in
afghanistan? >> he did not just and up in u.s. military, heated up any parachute infantry. about 90% of the military our support personnel, about 10% of the actual war fighters. so he was in that 10%. it seems he just came back one day and said, hey, dad, i'm thinking about joining the army. are youid in the story, thinking about joining the army or did you are ready sign up? bowe admitted, well, yeah, i already signed up. so it is a path a lot of young men take. i took it. i dropped out of the university of virginia to join the infantry. aside from that, i don't know. things a notle very picture -- paint a not very flattering portrait of one of the problems he had with the lack of discipline and lack of actual fighting capacity of the
outpost,as in, in an really, in afghanistan. could you describe some of those problems? >> it seems from the video that sean smith at "the guardian" shot after embedding with them for about a month, it seemed to me as a former infantryman who served in that exact area and knows that ground very, very well, that the unit was operating at the same level of professionalism that is required to stay on your game there and keep your men alive and your men from walking off, apparently. >> i want to turn to sean "ith's first film, a clip, guardian" reporter and was embedded with bowe's unit. had come toause he notice unit, the bergdahl's said he could come to idaho and he did a 12 minute piece about bob
bergdahl. so let me go to that he's right now, just a -- let me go to that piece right now, just a clip. sean smith is talking not to bowe, but other soldiers who are talking here. >> these people just want to be left alone. thehey got dicked with from russians for 17 years, and now we are here. these people just want to be left alone. stuff like that.t tha >> a few weeks later, bowe bergdahl disappeared. the circumstances are unclear. >> that, report from "the guardian" from sean smith, embedded with bowe bergdahl's unit. according to your piece that you wrote with michael hastings in
where he was, not happy with the people he was serving with. and, you know, that area is a bad, bad area he walked off from. it is just difficult for me to comprehend what must have been going through his mind when he made that decision, because i have been through there and i was scared out of my mind walking through that town and some of the guys that were with, you know, intelligence units, always told us, hey, watch were self when you are there. >> and let's be clear, he had packed up his stuff, send it to his parents, and left his gun, body armor -- everything was left at the outpost come and then he went and left. >> from what we have heard, he only took a couple bottles of , and i'm from a
think what else, a knife and his camera. and some of the reports they came through the wikileaks disclosures indicate that is what the afghan villagers saw when they saw him walking by himself. the afghan villagers thought that was crazy. area of in the same afghanistan. what is your sense of the level of the disillusionment that bowe bergdahl expressed here? how prevalent was that or is it an isolated situation or a shop degree of disconnect the soldiers thinking what they were going to do versus what they ended up doing? >> like i've said, the area was a very difficult area to operate in. it is crushing poverty, zero percent female literacy -- literally, no toilets in the entire providence except for
american toilets. so a lot of them into my platoon -- i was there two years prior to bowe being there. a lot of the men in my platoon, myself included, came back with fromndous cases of ptsd what we were doing there because it was simply a difficult lace to fight a war in. i think everyone from alexander the great to the soviets to us has learned that fact the hard way. >> we're going to take a break and then come back to this discussion. we are talking with matthew for "rollinger stone" magazine, and afghan war veteran. he helped the late michael hastings write the 2012 article on sergeant bowe bergdahl titled , "america's last prisoner of war." stay with us. ♪ [music break]
>> this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. our guest is matthew farwell. he served in the military in afghanistan two years before bowe. he met the bergdahls when they came to his brother's funeral, who had served in iraq and afghanistan and died in service in germany. we are going to turn now to the media's focus on the bergdahl family from a particularly, his father bob. i want to turn to comments made by msnbc host joe scarborough on his show on thursday, responding to the e-mail exchange the twin bowe bergdahl and his father, published in michael hastings and matthew farwell's peace in "rolling stone." >> i've got a 26-year-old son and if my son is out on the wire and he is out there with fellow
troops and he writes me up and says he hates america and he is thinking about deserting and he is thinking about leaving his post, i can tell you as a father that 26-year-old or 23 old son i would say, joey, you state the hell right there. i would call his commander and say, get my son, he is not well, get to the military base in germany. i would not say, follow your conscience, son. i would not reach out to the voice of jihad. >> can you respond to this, matthew farwell, if you could understand it? it is just scarborough shouting at the msnbc reporter chuck todd. am stunned by that. that is the first time i've seen that with. doing a lot of press yesterday about this. i'm just astounded that all of these people that did not know a thing about this case for the past five years have all of a
sudden become experts. no one cares until there's something to politicize and a soundbite to be made. >> i want to ask you about the whole issue of the criticism that has been leveled against bowe bergdahl by his former soldiers. -- former fellow soldiers. for years, it was insisted that no one say anything public about this case. suddenly, you're getting this enormous outpouring of comments. a lot of it orchestrated by republican operative who has been producing some of the soldiers for the media. >> that was one of the biggest things that disturbed me so much about this whole story, and that really got me thinking it must be something, is it is unprecedented to have an entire brigade -- 3500 people have to sign a nondisclosure agreement about putting much their entire tour in afghanistan when they come back home.
so these guys have bottled up this emotion. >> explain that. signing a confidentiality agreement to protect -- what was the reason given? >> officially, it was said that if they said anything about bowe bergdahl, it could hurt him or possibly causing to be further mistreated -- causing to be further mistreated by the taliban or the haqqani network. to me, having served in the army both as a trigger pull her and then as a dust rocky before star general headquarters, it seemed like it was an exercise in butt andthe army's try not to make themselves and this war look as bad as it was. >> you talk about that soldiers being told not to say anything and signing a confidentiality agreement. what about the media? >> that is the other funny thing, how complicit the media was with this.
i have spoken with the white house official that was in charge of coordinating the media response and kind of ensuring that no one in the media spoke out or wrote about this. frankly, he managed to snow a lot of people in the media, and that is why i have to give so many props to michael hastings, who i wish were sitting in the and tonstead of me, "rolling stone" have the guts for going after the story and really tell it like it needed to be told. >> i want to go back to your media appearances. .ou are on cnn yesterday i want to go to this clip. this is when you are being interviewed by one of the hosts. >> why did he is growing his beard out? >> so he would have some sympathy with the people that were holding his kid hostage. >> and this was not really an
attempt to become a member of the taliban, it was more to convince them that, hey, maybe i can see things your way so my son will be released, but he did not really mean it? is that the sort of thing were talking about? >> know, so his son would be treated decently. you're talking about a family that every night goes to sleep thinking their son might be tortured every day. can you imagine what that must be like? i can't, and i've lost a brother in the war and i have fought in the war. >> that is our guest today, matthew farwell, yesterday on cnn. former soldier from idaho who served in afghanistan. at the end of the clip, the text on the screen read "bergdahl's father accused of looking muslim ." bergdahl's father accused of looking muslim. >> which i'm not sure when it
became a crime in this country. >> in any of these cases, you just replace it for your own religion. for bell's father accused of looking jewish. bergdahl's father accused of looking catholic. >> it seems pretty racist to me. >> let's talk about the deleted e-mail of bob bergdahl a few days before his son was released. of media has made something this. just to say what that deleted tweet was that he said -- i think it was a day or two before his son was released. saidbelieve the tweet something about still working to free all the prisoners in guantánamo bay or something to
that effect. he has really taken a lot of criticism for it. havend jani bergdahl lived every day of the past five years thinking it might be their only son's last day. i think we as americans can probably cut him a little bit of slack. >> the tweet said, "i'm still working to free all quantum a prisoners. god will repay for every death of afghan child." subsequently deleted. at that point, their son was still in captivity. and bob was doing everything he could think of to try and get his kid back. my own father, who is the most staunchly conservative person you'll ever meet and is a
wonderful guy, said he would shave his head and go skinny dip in and kissed the president's rear to get me back if i ever went missing. that is a father's love for a son. i think it is unfair to judge someone too harshly for that. >> i would like to turn to some of the comments by some of the there wereiers station in afghanistan with bergdahl. i think we have the comment of whoteam leader evan buetow was interviewed and said that the intercepted communication days after his disappearance showed that bergdahl actively sought to communicate with the taliban. american is looking for someone who speaks english so he can talk to the taliban.
i heard it straight from the interpreter's lips as he heard it over the radio. at that point, it was like, this is kind of stonewalling out-of-control a little bit. there's a lot more to the story than just a soldier walking away. >> we also have reports from "the daily beast" he tried to escape twice from the taliban when he was in captivity. to some of the statements now by his fellow soldiers? >> first of all, the comments his team leader said, i can't verify or confirm or deny them. i can say they were not reflected in the documents i reviewed that were released by wikileaks that said, and i read some of the same ones that seemed to have the same thing, that there is an american who is looking for someone who speaks english, but there are still mentioned he was looking to join the taliban.
there is no mention he was looking to join the taliban. these guys have been under enormous strain for the past five years because they haven't been able to talk about what is probably one of the most of finding moments of their lives. going to war as a young person. the man i have spoken with from this unit, i mean, they took the fact that bergdahl left and the fact they had to spend the rest of their deployment, they felt, looking for him -- they took it really hard. and that is entirely understandable. i'm not sure how i would have taken it if someone in my unit had walked off. at this point they're just unleashing as much of this pent-up frustration any motion as they have. and they have earned every right to do it. i applaud it for them finally being able to come out and talk. >> there was suggestion of mismanagement of the team leader evan buetow.
lindsey graham of south carolina on wednesday questioned the motive and timing of bowe bergdahl's release. >> you have to understand what is going on. they had a rose garden ceremony with the man's parents. i think the white house was looking at a two-fer 20 an ounce in one week we're going to withdraw from afghanistan, ending the longest war in u.s. history, and, by the way, as commander-in-chief, i secured the last captive of that war, the only captive of that war. i think in their mind that was thought to be pretty good political story for that week but blew up in their face. the question is, was this release designed to enhance the announcement, the withdrawal from afghanistan, getting the one guy back, or was it based on a circumstance that was so compelling that this was the moment and only this moment? that is what we need to investigate. >> that was senator lindsey graham. your response?
>> i have a couple of things to say. the first thing is, they could have gotten him back two years ago for the exact same terms, the exact same deal. dithered, the senate foreign relations committee dithered. we wrote about that in the article. second, i think it is pretty clear the white house blundered this. i mean, they got bowe back, which is an american soldier, regardless of anything else, he is our guy. we bring him back and then we deal with them as appropriate after that. we don't just leave him in the hands of the taliban as the many people on capitol hill seem willing to do for political expediency. >> why did they not follow through with this two years ago? secretary of state was heather clinton at the time. >> secretary of state was hillary clinton and secretary of defense was robert ates. both of feeling that
them who would legally have to sign off on the deal, did not want to do it. mrs.ieve -- i don't know clinton's motivations for that and i don't know robert gates motivations for that, but i do know they also faced pressure from really hard-line chicken hawks in congress like senator saxby chambliss that they encountered quite a bit of pushback. >> and of course the atmosphere in congress, to the congress and the white house has only become more poison and more combative in the period since then. i think in the editorial today in "the new york times" essentially said president obama will face criticism from congress for whatever he does. you would have faced criticism if he did not succeed in bringing -- he would have faced criticism if he did not succeed in bringing bergdahl back and now facing criticism for bringing him back.
>> it interesting and disgusting in the same way how a lot of the same people that were loudly whenring for his release it appeared to be to their political benefit to do this are now loudly condemning -- >> because then it was proposing president obama -- >> then it was something to sign the white house with and now it is something, again, this time the white house with. >> senator mccain has been most astounding because he has been on videotape, been on shows to manning bowe bergdahl's release and saying he would agree to a prisoner swap, and this is the same prisoner swap that was offered two years ago. and now criticizing that very thing. how did you get the e-mails? >> that is part of the sources and methods of being an investigative journalist, and i would rather not talk about it. >> but you stand by those e-mails that both sent to his family? >> absolutely. >> what was his family's
response? in this piece by sean smith, the video piece following bob it is a, bowe's dad, stunning piece as he follows him into the woods where he makes a fire and says bowe spent a lot of time here and listening to dr. king gave his speech against the war in vietnam. you hear some of the call to prayer in the background. and his father was learning pashto, as he showed in boise, idaho, when he addressed his son and what was called a news conference. he said, " bowe, i am your father." >> the family's response has been really interesting and compelling for me to follow thatse here are two people are in one of the most beautiful places on earth, sun valley, idaho, where the billionaires go to ski and hang out, living a pretty idyllic life.
and then overnight, it all changes. they find out their son is a prisoner. we wrote in the story that jani bergdahl heard her dog barking outside and saw two men, wearing army uniforms. my own parents know what that is like. her heart just sank. they said, well, it is not the worst news, but we can't tell you alone yet. let's get you with your husband. they have been living that same sense of just heart wrenching anxiety ever since. i can't imagine the hell they've gone through. >> have you had a chance to talk with them since the news of the exchange broke? >> i haven't, no. i reached out to them, but i am respecting the privacy for now and i imagine that a lot more important things to deal with than talking to me. >> matthew farwell, thank you
for being with us. it is an astounding piece you did with michael hastings. i don't even know if you is being called to be o w by the us government at the time that you wrote this -- if you is being called a pow by the u.s. government at the time that you wrote this. >> anyone listed as missing/captured nowadays, so the designation pow is somewhat you're chronically obsolete. >> well, matthew farlow is also a writer for "rolling stone" magazine and an afghan war veteran. his family is from idaho. he helped michael hastings write the 2012 article on sergeant bowe bergdahl headline, "america's last prisoner of war." we will link to it at democracynow.org. when we come back, we deal with the second controversy around bowe bergdahl's release, and that is the controversy of the prisoner swap. we will speak with one of the lawyers for one of the five men who were just released and speak with a reporter who has been
>> this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. the obama administration is defending its controversial prisoner swap that saw five taliban militants released from the guantanamo bay prison in exchange for the release of by thet bowe bergdahl taliban. on thursday, state department equity spokesperson marie harf disputed claims the five released men were "the worst of the worst." >> i would say they aren't the worst of the worst.
it doesn't mean they're good guys. it is not my job to get up here and defend them. look, they were mid to high level officials and and clutter billy -- incredibly repressive violent regime. some of them may have had ties to al qaeda, but because of the role in the taliban early on in the role. that does not mean they directly threatened united states national security. >> the prisoner swap deal has come under harsh criticism from republicans like senator john mccain of arizona. on wednesday, he suggested the releasing of the five guantánamo prisoners puts the us military at risk. >> these people have dedicated their lives to destroying as. these people have dedicated their very existence. why do you think the judgment was made that if they released them, it would pose great risk to the united states of america for more we are joined by the root attorney for one of the recently released prisoners.
frank goldsmith represents khairullah khairkhwa and joins us by video stream in london where we're joined by journalist andy worthington who recently wrote a piece called, "missing the point on the guantanamo taliban prisoner swap and the release of bowe bergdahl." of, "thehe author guantanamo files: the stories of the 774 detainees in america's illegal prison." he is cofounder of the close guantánamo campaign. we welcome you both to democracy now! frank goldsmith, tell us about your plan at guantánamo who has just been released to qatar. official a political in the taliban administration when it was governing administration of this country. who served in several roles. he was a press spokesman, acting minister of the interior, and later was governor of the province to northwestern afghanistan. that is what i can tell you about his official role. that is what is public knowledge
about him. >> how long has he been held at guantánamo? >> he has been held there for over a dozen years. and asved in early 2002, you know, has just been released. >> how was he originally captured by the u.s. military? >> he wasn't captured by the u.s. military. as is the case with most of the 779 men that have passed through guantánamo, he was captured by forces other than u.s. forces. in this case, pakistani forces. they rated the home of another man. mr. khairullah khairkhwa happened to be a guest in the home and he was arrested, i think probably because of the prominence of his role in the government of afghanistan. >> in this case, and it unfortunately happens often among the american media here, there is no distinction virtually made between al qaeda fighters, taliban officials, or even taliban military people.
you're essentially saying his role was largely political role within the taliban government. >> that is correct. a political role. the other thing to know about mr. khairullah khairkhwa, is this. is return was sought by the government of afghanistan because he was viewed as a very moderate person, although he was a member of the taliban. yet skills as a mediator, a person able to resolve disputes between opposing factions. from the hypeer use council of the government of in februarydated 2011 that we turned over to the u.s. government in which that council called for his return to afghanistan to aid in a peace process. that was also endorsed by president karzai. we also presented testimony from a another man who had investigated mr. khairullah khairkhwa and about his role as a peacemaker and as a moderate person and presented that as
well in the litigation to try to secure his release. >> i want to go to colonel morris davis who spoke to on democracy now! would you call these men prisoners of war as well? disappointing hearing not just senator cruz, there been many like john mccain and others, that have tried to use this as political capital to make president obama look weak and i think that is a false narrative and unfortunately, too many of the public eye into it. >> that was colonel morris davis, the former chief military prosecutor at guantánamo bay. i want to bring in andy worthington to comment on this, the british-based analyst who wrote the piece that is headlined, "missing the point on the guantanamo taliban prisoner swap and the release of bowe bergdahl."
your response? >> the main thing i think about it isrisoner release is what jack goldsmith said, who was the legal advisor to the bush administration who said all that president obama has done with his prisoner swap is to deal a few months in advance with something that is coming very soon. the drawdown of u.s. troops is going to make it untenable, legally untenable to carry on holding taliban prisoners. we have seen -- we're seeing a lot of hysteria about nothing. very opportunistic political maneuvering. i just don't see it. i think clearly these are people who had a role within the taliban and. people may not like was some of them did. we so have allegations against a couple of these men as being involved in military --possibly military atrocities in afghanistan, but not in connection with the united states. what we're not hearing from all
of these things is a genuine understanding and honest appreciation of what happens when you're winding down a war. when negotiations and discussions are going to take place between the parties. that is exactly what has been happening with the exchange of the prisoner -- the prisoner exchange or. it has got the results are back, as he was always has a wants to do, and is also dealing with the process of winding down the conflict in afghanistan. want this to go on forever, the war and guantánamo. >> about the specific issue of the winding down, "the washington post," had an interesting background story were talked about debate within the administration have been going on now for two years on this prisoner swap. basically, the administration was also saying that as the war winds down, their ability to be able to get her doll free was also diminishing -- bergdahl free was also defens
diminishing. the differences years ago, it was six taliban they were requesting, but essentially this has been the swap that has been talked about now for quite some time and yet now congress is acting as its it is a total surprise. >> absolutely. it is certainly not surprising. it is fundamentally dishonest. i honestly can't sceneries and why people should be disputing the statements made by the administration that they've seen the videos of bowe bergdahl. they were extremely concerned about his health. and that is why they moved on the so swiftly and also why they did not bring congress into the loop when the legislation supposedly requires 30 days notice to be given. i fundamentally think it is dishonest of lawmakers and media pundits to be saying the president broke the law when it is very clear why he did it and a did that for sound practical reasons. >> wednesday, journalist asked deputy spokesperson marie harf
who qualifies as a prisoner of war. >> you consistently referred to mr. bergdahl as a prisoner of war. who decides who is a prisoner of war and two is not a prisoner of war? >> what do you mean? he was an american serviceman taken by the enemy and armed conflict. it's right, i get that. the people who are imprisoned at , although they could buy some people be construed to be prisoners of war and some of them were indeed taken on the battlefield in the course of a military conflict, they were deemed by the united states government not to be prisoners of war. they were very carefully defined to the enemy combatants. i think the historical record
shows, so as to strip them of the right -- >> well -- >> that me finish. the right that would have been granted to were afforded prisoners of war. sayguys can call -- you sergeant bergdahl was a prisoner of war, but a be from the taliban's point of view, he was not a prisoner of war. commentsn a make a few -- >> can i make a few comments? the criteria, i think it has to be between states. a prisoner of war term i believe in the geneva convention refers to conflicts between states. the taliban is not a state. >> that was marie harf. andy worthington, i would like to ask you to respond and then frankel spent, tell us what is happening with your client who is now in qatar. >> the taliban was the government of afghanistan, ridiculous thing to say.
it is absolutely fudging the issue of the fact the united states has been holding soldiers at guantánamo, the majority of the men who have been held there i think would fit that category, and refused from the beginning to give them rights under the geneva conflict as prisoners of war. they were enemy combatants intended to have no rights whatsoever under the bush administration. and all this happen under obama is they drop the term enemy combatant. but they never explained exactly what they were replacing it with. these men are still being held in this dangerous limbo ever since. what we are seeing with the drawdown in afghanistan coming seen thatoing to be actually the majority of these people held their were involved with the taliban and therefore, they actually were soldiers and should have been prisoners of war. what i'm interested in is how the administration is going to look at a lot of the prisoners
held in guantánamo who were with the taliban in some way. they were either fighting with them or supporting them in other ways in afghanistan -- fighting for them or supporting them in other ways in afghanistan. to insistey're going because there were cases where they were at camps were osama bin laden can give them a talk every now and again, that made them al qaeda? it has always been a lie that the majority of the prisoners were involved in terrorism in any way. i'm hoping what this is going to do and i'm hoping the hysteria will die down. we are going to address that and say, hey, we've been holding soldiers were all this time and we did not give them the rights we should. the conflict is coming to an end, they have to go home. >> we have to leave it there but will the compass conversation next week. andy worthington, british journalist who recently wrote, "missing the point on the guantanamo taliban prisoner swap and the release of bowe bergdahl." his book is called, "the guantanamo files: the stories of the 774 detainees in america's illegal prison." we will have a link at democracynow.org. frank goldsmith, thanks for
joining us, representing one of the prisoners, khairullah khairkhwa, who is now in qatar. that does it for the broadcast. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to email@example.com or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013.