every week day in "the situation room." you can certainly watch us live, you can dvr the show so you won't miss a moment. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." now let's step into the "crossfire" with van jones and s.e. cupp. >> good to see you, wolf. look, president obama made a decision to get this soldier home and it's turned the republicans nuts. they have the attack machine going overtime. >> i don't know, since when did asking legitimate questions become an attack machine? the debate starts right now. tonight on "crossfire" -- president obama answers tough questions about his trade with the taliban. >> we still get an american soldier back if he's held in captivity, period, full stop. >> is bowe bergdahl a hero or a desserter? >> he walked away, he walked away. >> on the left, van jones. on the right, s.e. cupp. in the "crossfire," larry corp., who supports the deal, and cliff may, who's against it.
is the prisoner swap legal, will it put our troops at risk? tonight on "crossfire." >> welcome to "crossfire." i'm s.e. cupp on the right. >> and i'm van jones on the left. we have guests that disagree on the deal that freed sergeant bergdahl. remember the feeling you got when you got word we'd gotten our last captive soldier home from afghanistan? remember that feeling? i do, too. unfortunately, the republicans want us to forget about it. i admit, there are important answers we have to answer here, but sergeant bergdahl isn't even out of the hospital yet and already the air waves are being filled with former soldiers just trashing the guy. what is going on here? well, it turns out that there are republican operatives who are working behind the scenes to get some of those guys on television. this is an orchestrated smear campaign. the implication is that
president obama should have left a u.s. soldier to die, but if he had done that, the same republicans would be attacking him for doing that, so the whole thing is completely outrageous, s.e.? >> i didn't have to call gop operatives, i called soldier friends and they have deep, deep concerns. first, we have breaking news from the pentagon, let's go to cnn's barbara starr. >> hey, s.e. i just talked to a military official who was actually briefed on the findings of the initial investigation report when bergdahl disappeared back in 2009, when they took a look at it and tried to figure out what happened. in fact, we now know that that report determined bergdahl did leave the post of his own free will, and the big piece of evidence that they came to this conclusion by was that his bullet-proof vest, his night vision goggles, and his weapon were left behind deliberately. now this does not mean that they ever came to a finding of desertion, because in the military, to make finding of
desertion, you have to be able to determine intent. you have to know that that military person intended to desert the u.s. military. and because, of course, they couldn't talk to bergdahl, the investigation couldn't wrap that point up. now a new investigation will begin when he is able to talk. they will talk to him and they will try and get the facts, get his version of events about what really happened. s.e.? >> good reporting, thanks, barbara. in the "crossfire" tonight, former assistant defense secretary and cliff may, president of the foundation for the defense of democracy. larry, let me start with you. i know van wants this to be a cabal of some kind, but these were not republican inventions. here's what bowe bergdahl said in one of his e-mails to his parents. he says, the system is wrong, i'm ashamed to be an american, and the title of u.s. soldier is just the lie of fools. the horror that is america is disgusting. and here's what his own team leader told cnn's jake tapper
today about the attacks on his team after bergdahl disappeared. take a listen. >> they are getting perfect hits every time. their ambushes were very calculated, very methodical, they knew what we were going to do. obviously, there's no way to prove bergdahl was feeding them that information, at least i cannot do that, and it is -- but it's very suspicious that he did know how many trucks go on patrol, who's driving in each truck, how many members are in each vehicle. >> so larry, why is it political or partisan to ask these serious questions about bowe bergdahl's disappearance that day? >> well, general dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff put it well, let's get this young man well, then we'll find out and have an investigation, but these are accusations that may or may not be proved, and the real question is, he was a person who
volunteered to fight for this country, and we don't leave people who do that on the battlefield. >> right, but should these accusations against him, should they matter? >> no, they should not matter, because they aren't proved. they are accusations. i was in the service, lots of things happen in chaos, you have one person's version against another. >> i think what we should be able to agree on at this table is the american people deserve the truth and shouldn't be told untruths by the u.s. government. we had susan rice go on the sunday shows and say bergdahl served with honor and distinction. i think we know that's at least in question. she said he was taken on the battlefield, that's not true if he walked off his base, which we do know he did, and it's important for us to be able to debate whether this was a good deal or a bad deal. five taliban commanders have been let go. >> we'll get to susan rice, believe me. >> nobody's saying we shouldn't be able to have the debate, but a couple things here, first of
all, we do have a policy, a longstanding policy that says, leave no man behind. leave no soldier behind. do you think that now that we should change the policy, should it be leave nobody behind, but there's terms and conditions and we're going to have a whole checklist of stuff to figure if you're worthy. what the republicans are doing now -- do you think this guy's not worthy of being saved? >> i've never said he's not worthy, i think we should bring soldiers home, even though there will be questions, but we also have a policy we don't negotiate with terrorists, al qaeda, and the taliban. in this case, we did using the qataris as intermediaries. we don't know what the deal was struck, these five guys who are now in qatar are evidently free to walk around, free to raise funds for terrorists. the point is this, the point is this, very few people are saying, no, don't bring him home. what they are saying is this may be a bad deal and congress
should have been consulted when you're going to negotiate with terrorists and release terrorists. >> across the board, attacking this man, trying to bring his credibility down. to me this seems to be a part of a deliberate strategy. let me ask you a question, why are republican operatives, though, coordinating a press conference to get this -- >> not coordinating, van. >> republican operatives. >> the military has questions. >> but the military's not coordinating -- >> military leadership doesn't have questions, some soldiers who were -- >> who served with him. >> served alongside him, including his commander. >> general dempsey is the highest ranking military officer. he said this was a good deal and we should find out what happened. >> larry, let me ask you this, the policy isn't leave no man behind at any cost. let's talk about the potential cost, because of the 614 gitmo prisoners that we've already released, we know that nearly
30% have returned to terrorism and terrorist activities, so what assurances do we have that these five terrorists aren't going to go back on to the battlefield and do the same thing? >> well, wait a second, they have been in prison on average of 13 years. they are pretty old to be going back and fighting -- >> wait, whoa, whoa, whoa, that's your rationale? >> i didn't say that. what i'm saying, and they are going to be under lock and key in qatar. >> we don't know that. >> yes, they are, that's the agreement. >> last we heard is they are walking around freely in qatar. do you know, larry -- >> have you ever been to qatar, i have been to qatar. >> let me ask you -- >> let me get to this -- let me get to this point -- >> what happens after that? >> well, after that, we'll be out of afghanistan. >> well, what if no one tells them that the war is over? >> wait, the president's already made the decision. and by the way, do not negotiate
with terrorists, what about the sons of iraq that the bush administration made the deal with? they had killed more americans than these people had, and we negotiated with them so we could get out of iraq. and we're back there fighting now. >> the reason we got into afghanistan is because the taliban and al qaeda planned a dreadful attack against americans. these guys are likely to do that again. does that not disturb you a little bit? >> what do you mean? bin laden is dead. the taliban -- al qaeda has morphed into a different part of the world. >> al qaeda -- you're right, al qaeda is in more countries now than ever, al qaeda is not defeated. al qaeda is stronger. >> they have no longer have a global reach. >> how much global reach does it take to plan the 9/11 attacks? they did it because people like you were saying they didn't have -- >> the attacks were planned in germany. >> we should have been fighting in germany, not afghanistan. >> okay, well in just a moment,
i want to talk about the other cost of this terrible deal. it isn't a five for one exchange we've all been hearing about. i'm going to tell you about the six for one you haven't. first, how many u.s. troops are in afghanistan right now? is it approximately 33,000, 57,000, or 102,000? we'll have the answer when we get back. (mother vo) when i was pregnant
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sergeant bowe bergdahl. the president and his people keep quoting the u.s. policy "leave no man behind," but that's exactly what bowe bergdahl did when he abandoned his unit. take a look at these faces. it's believed these six soldiers died while pursuing bergdahl's recovery. in fact, his own former team leader said this to cnn's jake tapper today. >> my goal here is i don't want to get in the political side of anything. my goal is to show that bergdahl is a deserter and he's not a hero and that he needs to answer for what he did. >> our own soldiers have serious questions about bowe bergdahl's service, which brings us to the answer to today's "crossfire" quiz. approximately 33,000 troops are still in afghanistan. in the "crossfire" tonight, larry corb and cliff may. you heard what bergdahl's team leader said. let me play what susan rice had
to say about it. >> he's going to be safely reunited with his family. he served the united states with honor and distinction. >> it's like deja vu, talk about politicizing this. >> she's not politicizing it. he has not been accused of anything. he has been there for five years, no formal charges, so look, let me tell you how the military works. if what they are saying is true, it would have already been done. i was in the service, that's what we do. your saying this, this is nonsense. >> larry, even the white house is walking that back today. that's an inaccurate statement. >> no, no, no, no. >> yes, yes, yes, yes. >> he has been promoted twice. >> while in captivity. >> yes, but if he had done these things you're accusing him of -- you can't get promoted unless your supervisors -- >> i don't know he's a deserter, you don't know he's a hero. >> he had people in his unit -- let me tell you -- when were you
in the service? when were you in the service? >> that has nothing to do with it. >> he was a private -- >> you're the only one that gets to speak. >> okay, you spoke longer the first time. he was a private. he got promoted twice. he could not get promoted unless his commanders under whom he served, gave him a satisfactory report. that's the truth. >> now here's what we know. we know pretty much based on a pentagon report, associated press has talked about it today, he walked off his base without his -- without any arms in 2009. the pentagon reports in 2010, now he could have deserted or he could have gone awol or could have gone for a beer, but he should not have walked off his base, which is how he got captured, not on a battlefield. that much we know. >> no, we don't know that. >> according to the pentagon, we don't. tell me what you know that's different than the pentagon. >> all we know is he's captured.
we don't know the circumstances. >> do we know he walked off his base? >> we don't know that. >> there's a pentagon report from 2010 -- >> no, no, no, the pentagon didn't say that. he got promoted. if he did that, the pentagon -- >> pentagon investigation concluded in 2010 that the evidence was incontrovertible that bergdahl walked away from his unit. this is from the associated press today. >> associated press, that's a press statement. why would they promote him? >> another of the questions we need to answer -- >> the military promotes, it's not done politically. >> let me remind you in the beginning of the show we played a clip from barbara starr, one of our reporters, talking about the pentagon report saying that bowe bergdahl walked off his base of his own will. we at least know that. >> first of all, this whole thing started when you were trying to put susan rice in the toilet, and -- hold on a second, in her defense, if i could say something in her defense, when you're talking about the battlefield, she means afghanistan as a battlefield,
doesn't mean -- not even a front in afghanistan. the whole place is a battlefield, number one, when she talks about honor and distinction, she is talking to the fact he was promoted twice. let's not try to politicize against susan rice. let me ask you a question, if we were dealing with a different headline today, if the headline were that bergdahl had died in afghanistan and we were sitting here talking about that today, you would be attacking the president for having done nothing, am i right or wrong? >> i think you're wrong. >> no. >> we should agree at least the president should have consulted with congress about this, because congress -- congress was aware for at least two years that bergdahl was in captivity and there were talks going on and they were trying to strike a deal. shouldn't dianne feinstein, who is the democratic chairwoman of the -- >> let me tell you, give you this one, senator feinstein herself already agrees with you. >> i know she does. >> and the white house apologized today. >> they didn't apologize, they
didn't. do you think the republicans would be praising the president for not having gotten him out of there? do you think he would be a hero to you if he died over there? >> i never, ever want to see an american soldier die. i would never want to see an american soldier left behind. that doesn't mean this was a good deal. i'm afraid it wasn't. it doesn't mean that americans are not going to die because five hardened terrorists are going to be let loose on the battlefield. >> come on, come on. the israelis gave over a thousand palestinian to get one soldier. that's what democracies do. five for one is a good deal. they gave 1,027 palestinian terrorists back to get private. that's what democracies do. that's what we do. if i were in the service, i expected them to do that for me,
okay? that's what i expected. five for one is not bad deal. >> these five terrorists return to the battlefield and kill innocent americans, will it be a bad deal then? >> look, there are pool there that are going to try to kill americans. >> that wasn't an answer. >> wait a minute, wait a minute. >> your crystal ball. >> mullah omar, the head of the taliban, he is celebrating this as a great victory over the west. i'm not sure he is wrong. and i think these men will be his national security council going forward for the next few years. >> they've been out of it for 12 years. >> what we know is that those released from gitmo come back tanned, rested, and ready for the fight because they've been fed so well and treated so well at gitmo compared to probably the way bergdahl has been treated. very differently. >> first of all, everybody needs to be concerned. these are dangerous people. >> true. >> these are enemies of the country. this president made a decision that it was worth it to send them back. let me ask you a question,
though. under our laws as this war comes to an end, a lot of these people are about to be sent back anyway. give me that. isn't it better if you're going send the people back anyway to get something for it and save an american life? yes or no. >> i think you have a point. but the point i do think you're missing is while the battle in afghanistan is coming to an end, you are wrong, and the president is wrong to think that this war is coming to an end. this is a long war. it's going to go on for years on other battlefields. we have to understand this enemy and understand the fight that we're in. >> we're going to be back. i want you guys at home to get in on today's debate. you at home, when bowe bergdahl, i want you to answer this question, should the army investigate whether or not he deserted? tweet yes or no using #crossfire. we also have l have the toyfnlgs day. now believe 80 not, i'm outraged about something not in politics, it's in pop culture. it involves one of the most ludicrous families in reality television, when we get back.
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