Face in the News: John McCain speaks out after POW's release; Bernie Sanders on the VA scandal

(CBS News) -- This Sunday on Face the Nation, the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs took center stage. The broadcast hosted a trio of newsmakers to tackle the issues: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former CIA and NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden.

McCain was sharply critical of the Obama administration's decision to release five senior Taliban leaders from theGuantanamo Bay prison in exchange for the release Bergdahl, who had been held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan for five years.

"These are the highest high-risk people," McCain said. "Others that we have released have gone back into the fight... And it's disturbing to me that the Taliban are the ones that named the people to be released. So all I can say is that we need to have more information about the conditions of where they're going to be and how."

McCain also weighed in on the continuing turmoil at Veterans Affairs. Gen. Eric Shinseki led the organization until Friday, when he stepped down amid revelations that officials failed to address systemic problems with patient care and possibly broke the law by covering up delays in treatment.

"This scandal qualifies for a Justice Department investigation, and it should have started some time ago," McCain said.

McCain's comments were picked up by The Huffington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, CNN, Reuters, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, National Review, The Daily Caller, The Washington Times, Salon, Politico, The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, Breitbart, MSNBC.com, and The Washington Examiner.

Hayden joined McCain in his criticism of the president's decision to strike a deal with the Taliban and the government of Qatar, which will harbor the former detainees for one year and bar them from leaving the country. He also gave his reaction to an interview with former NSA employee Edward Snowden that was broadcast last week on NBC News.

The prisoners now headed to Qatar, Hayden said, pose a serious threat to U.S. national security. "They're very dangerous people," Hayden said. " There's a reason they were still at Guantanamo. I would've been a strong voice of caution at the table if I were still in government during this discussion."

Snowden, whose decision to leak a massive collection of classified NSA documents revealed a wide-ranging domestic telecommunications surveillance program, defended his actions to NBC's Brian Williams last week. Responding to criticism that he has been overly co-operative with Russia, where he has taken asylum, Snowden maintained that he had never met President Vladimir Putin and that he brought no relevant NSA documents to the country.

Hayden was highly skeptical. "I have a legitimate question," he said. "Did he bring anything with him to Hong Kong? And what happened to the stuff that he had in Hong Kong, with regards to his contact with the Russian government. Of course he had contact with the Russian government. He may not have known he has had contact with the Russian government, but any responsible security service is going to be all over this guy."

Sanders, the head of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, joined the broadcast to address the organization's entrenched problems. He acknowledged that the inefficiencies remain, and he supported the idea of a federal investigation into possible breaches of the law.

"What is very clear to everybody right now is that in many parts of the country, the V.A. simply did not have the doctors and the staff to make sure the veterans got timely care," Sanders said. "The system was then gamed, which is absolutely reprehensible, which must be dealt with through criminal prosecution and bureaucratic reshuffling... We need to make sure that that never happens again." In his interview with Bob Schieffer, Sanders also unveiled legislation that he is introducing this week to reform the VA.

Sanders and Hayden's comments were picked up by The Washington Post, Reuters, Roll Call, The Huffington Post, The Washington Examiner, The Hill, and Bloomberg News.

  • Peter Fulham

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Face on Twitter