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Face the Nation Transcripts June 1, 2014: Sanders, McCain, Hayden

(CBS News) -- A transcript from the June 1, 2014 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included John McCain, Bernie Sanders, Michael Hayden, David Ignatius, Leigh Gallagher, David Sanger, Nancy Cordes and David Martin.ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on Face the Nation, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is heading home after five years in Taliban captivity. But it stirred controversy back home. And the other big story, what's next at the Veteran's Administration? Then we're setting up for a homecoming in Bowe Bergdahl's hometown in Idaho after word came that he had been released by the Taliban.

VIDEO CLIP: It's like a hundred Christmases all rolled into one. there is no better news that this town could have received today.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But exchanging him for five terrorists is raising a lot of questions back in Washington. We'll ask Republican Senator John McCain, who spent over five years as a prisoner in Vietnam what he thinks of the deal. Then we'll turn to the scandal at the Veteran's Administration and V.A. Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation.

PRESIDENT OBAMA VIDEO CLIP: We don't have time for distractions. We need to fix the problem.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But what's the solution? We'll talk with the chairman of the Veteran's Affairs Committee, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former C.I.A. and N.S.A. director Michael Hayden will be here, along with an all-star panel of analysts. Sixty years of news, because this is Face the Nation. Good morning again. When the president came to the Rose Garden for yesterday's dramatic announcement, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's parents stood next to him.

BARACK OBAMA VIDEO CLIP: We're committed to winding down the war in Afghanistan. And we are committed to closing Gitmo. But we also made an ironclad commitment to bring our prisoners of war home.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Bergdahl is 28 years old; he was captured by the Taliban when he left his host in eastern Afghanistan. And he's been held captive for close to five years. Videos released by the Taliban recently show him in declining health. And it was for that reason Defense Secretary Hagel told reporters the administration moved quickly to exchange him for the Taliban terrorists. And why Congress was not notified.

CHUCK HAGEL VIDEO CLIP: We pursued this effort specifically to get Sergeant Bergdahl back. As to another part of your question, this emboldened terrorist, again, I remind you, this was a prisoner of war exchange. He was a prisoner.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And we begin this morning with CBS News National Security correspondent David Martin and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. And David Martin, tell us what you have been able to find out about how this came about.

DAVID MARTIN: Well, this five-for-one swap had been on the table I think since 2011. And it'd really gone nowhere. And then as Secretary Hagel said, concerns about Bergdahl's health, plus assurances from the government of Qatar that the five Afghans released from Guantanamo would not be allowed to leave Qatar for at least a year. I think those were the two ingredients that kicked this into high gear. And then of course it results in this traumatic moment on the border.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, do we have any information about how he was captured?

DAVID MARTIN: He went walkabout. He just walked off his base without his weapon, without telling anybody. I mean, he has a lot of explaining to do about how he was captured. He has some idea about being able to walk across the breadth of Afghanistan. And, you know, it was a bad mistake.

BOB SCHIEFFER: David Ignatius, there has been mixed reaction here so far. What do you make of this exchange? As the secretary says, "This was a prisoner of war exchange. We weren't negotiating with terrorists." Others are questioning that.

DAVID IGNATIUS: I think this is going to be politically controversial because the people who are being released, the five people being released from Guantanamo are very dangerous Taliban cadre. These are people in one case, the deputy military commander, in another case, the deputy chief of intelligence.

In two cases, the (UNINTEL), they're people who worked directly to facilitate Al Qaeda during Al Qaeda's time in Afghanistan. So for that reason, under, I'm told under Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and chairman of Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen, it was judged that these people were just too dangerous to let go.

And one thing that's changed that allowed this release is that the current secretary of Defense and chairman had decided that that's an acceptable risk. We'll have to see details about how they will be held. How we can make sure they're not back on the battlefield before this one-year period that's part of the deal is up. It remains to be seen.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, do we have any idea? Well, you think they're going back to Qatar, is that right David? Do we have any idea under what circumstances? Will they be released once they're there? What do we know?

DAVID MARTIN: Well, I think all we know for sure is that they won't be allowed to travel from Qatar. What their freedom is inside the country, I'm not so sure. Although the Taliban's press release on this exchange said they will be living with their families. So they got a "Get out of Jail Free" card, let's face it.


DAVID IGNATIUS: Well, I was just going to say, a lot depends here on the behavior of the Qatari government, whether they are a responsible counterterrorism partner. The administration was eager to credit them for their role. The negotiations that led to this exchange were conducted indirectly through Qatar, a top Taliban leader close to Mullah Omar was there, a negotiator. But it was done through a third party.

So will the Qataris make sure that these people, you know, are confined essentially to their homes, that they don't have an operational role. The larger question, what happens after a year? I mean, we have a deal here to keep them in Qatar for a year. That'll take us into the middle of 2015 when the war's still going on.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And David, he's in a military hospital now, or at least en route there in Germany. But is he coming back here?

DAVID MARTIN: Well, he'll eventually come back here. He's in Landstuhl, Germany right now. The protocol is that you don't even talk to your family for 72 hours after you're released. And then you could be in Landstuhl up to two weeks before you come back to the United States.

I think as a practical matter, it all depends on his mental and physical condition. And I think it will probably be, I've been told, it will probably be middle of this week before any decisions are made. When he comes back to the United States, he will go to the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, well, thank you all both. And I want to go now to Arizona Senator John McCain who's on the other side of the table. Senator, thank you for meeting with us in the studio this morning. Just give me your reaction to this.

JOHN MCCAIN: I understand the great story and happiness of the Bergdahl family and friends. And we're all grateful that he has returned. I think there are legitimate questions about these individuals who have been released. And the conditions understand which they will be released. These are the hardest of the hard core.

These are the highest high-risk people.

And others that we have released have gone back into the fight. That's been documented. 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 more information about the conditions of where they're going to be and how. But it is disturbing that these individuals would have the ability to reenter the fight. And they are big, high-level people, possibly responsible for the deaths of thousands.

BOB SCHIEFFER: The deaths of thousands?

JOHN MCCAIN: Absolutely. One of them was a chief intelligence person who had killed a lot of Shiite Muslims. These are really the toughest of the tough.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Secretary Hagel was saying that Congress could not be notified ahead of time due to the top-secret nature of this nation. And the fact that Bergdahl was not in good health.

JOHN MCCAIN: Well, I understand that. And so, but the big issue here is what you and I just discussed. Finally, it's a little coincidence that on the day that Bergdahl is released is the day after we found out that the first American suicide bomber as part of Muslim extremist, Al Qaeda, blew himself up in Syria. Because we got out of Iraq, which we, when we could've left forces behind and now the Iraq/Syria border is a haven for these people.

And the fact is that Al Qaeda is reconstituted. The bloodiest battle, the Iraq war, was the second battle of Fallujah, the black flags of Al Qaeda now fly over Fallujah. This total evacuation, withdrawal from Afghanistan pretends to be another replay of the Iraq debacle, which is now a direct threat to the United States of America.

And I do not understand why the president didn't learn the lesson of Iraq, where we could've left forces behind.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What do you make of what David Ignatius just said? He said it is his understanding that Secretary Panetta said, "No way, no how for these kind of people to be released." But Secretary Hagel has signed off on it.

JOHN MCCAIN: Well, there was discussions that I heard way back as far back as two years ago to release these people. There was a bipartisan opposition to that. But obviously, what's done is done.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, do you think it's a precedent being set here? Hagel says, "It's not negotiating with terrorists, it's a prisoner exchange."

JOHN MCCAIN: I think the big issue here is what's going to happen to these five individuals. If they reenter the fight, then it is going to put American lives at risk. And none of us want that to happen, not Secretary Hagel, or anybody. But if they're able other have after a year in Qatar, to do whatever they want to do, there's no doubt they'll reenter the fight. Other ones have been released from Guantanamo have reentered the fight.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let's talk about the Veteran's Administration and the scandal over there, which was what we had planned for this broadcast this morning until this big story happened yesterday. So Secretary Shinseki has resigned. But it seems to me there's still a lot of problems to be solved there.

JOHN MCCAIN: General Shinseki is a great man, a fine patriot who served his country and left part of himself on the field of battle. And I was reluctant to call for his resignation. But it's the fact that they've lost the confidence of the veterans. That's the key to this. And it's unbelievable that for three weeks, the president of the United States never said a word about it.

And it's not just a scheduling problem in the V.A. It is as in the words of the inspector general, a "systemic problem." And one of the keys to solving this problem, as I campaigned, if I might say, is to give the veteran the flexibility to get the care that he or she needs at the closest and most available place.

There are V.A. facilities that are unique and wonderful, traumatic brain injury, P.T.S.D., prosthesis, war wounds, and they're the best at it. But why should a veteran have to get into a van and ride three hours to get to Phoenix in order to have routine medical care taken care of? Why doesn't that veteran have a card and go to the caregiver that he or she needs and wants?

And that's the solution to this problem, this flexibility to the veteran to choose their healthcare, just like other people under other healthcare plans are able to do. And this is a situation that the president needs to call together the best people he can find. Ask General Petraeus. I'd ask Tom Coburn.

If there's anybody in Congress that knows more about healthcare, then Tom Coburn should be the next secretary of the Veteran's Administration in my view. Call them together and say, "In two weeks, I want you to tell the American people what we need to do to fix this." We can do that. Instead, the president seems to be blaming it on a scheduling problem.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, it seems to me that another thing that needs to be dealt with is these people who were gaming the system. Because there were actually people in this bureaucracy who were covering up the scheduling in order to qualify for performance bonuses. They were doing it to make money out of it. And should they be prosecuted?

JOHN MCCAIN: This scandal qualifies for a Justice Department investigation and it should've started some time ago. Because clearly, there are some serious allegations that laws were broken.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And you think that Senator Coburn might be a good person?

JOHN MCCAIN: I think he'd be the best, and he's going to kill me for saying that.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator, thank you so much for joining us today.

JOHN MCCAIN: Thank you.

BOB SCHIEFFER: We want to go next to the chairman of the Senate Veteran's Affairs Committee, Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders. Senator, thank you for joining us this morning. Why has all of this come as such a surprise to everybody? It's hard for me to believe that these people who were not getting their appointments and all that, surely some of them must have written to their congressman complaining about this. And yet it just comes out of the blue that all this is going on. What happened here?

BERNIE SANDERS: Well, it's not only people writing to their congressman. There have been reports that have been written for a number of years by the inspector general, the G.A.O. I believe that the hope had been is that the V.A. had listened to those reports had acted.

In fact, well, one of the interesting problems that we have is that the V.A. in recent years said, "We want to expedite the ability of veterans to get into the V.A. We want to get them in in 14 days." And 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, the system was then gamed, which is absolutely reprehensible, which must be dealt with through criminal prosecution and bureaucratic reshuffling. But we need to make sure that that never happens again.

The other point that I would make, Bob, is that if you ask the veteran's organization today, the American Region, the V.A.V., and the others, and you look at independent surveys, the truth is that when people get into the V.A., the quality of care is good. The problem that we have to address is access to the system and waiting lines.

We are going to introduce legislation either tomorrow or Tuesday, which addresses I think the short-term needs to make sure that any veteran who is on a long waiting line will be able to get the care that he or she needs either at a private facility or a community health center, or Department of Defense. But longer term, what we have to do within the V.A. is to make sure that they have the primary care physicians, the nurses, and the staffing they need to provide the quality of care that our veterans deserve in a timely manner.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you, as a chairman of an oversight committee, do you feel any responsibility for this? Is Congress is responsible for this situation as the administration is?

BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I think everybody can bear some of the responsibility. We have had a number of hearings. We have met with all of the veterans organizations. I think the point right now Bob is to make sure we address the very real problems that are facing six and a half million veterans who utilize the V.A. system. And what we have got to do is to understand, you know, that the cost of war is very, very significant.

And that means that when you send men and women off to war, when they come home, we have a moral responsibility to make sure that all of them get the healthcare and the benefits that they deserve. And that is the responsibility of the United States--


BOB SCHIEFFER: I was just going to say, I agree with you that I think the first priority is to make sure that these people who need this treatment get this treatment immediately. But whose fault was this? Was this General Shinseki's fault? Is it systemic? Is it just a bunch of people who were trying to make money? What's the main problem here?

BERNIE SANDERS: Well, here's what I think. I have a lot of respect for General Shinseki. And Senator McCain just indicated he is an American hero. And in fact, in a very difficult bureaucracy, he has done a lot of good things. You know, Bob, not a lot of people know this. When Shinseki came in, after the Bush administration, they were processing a million claims a year in paper.

They didn't have a electronic system. That takes a lot of work. I know it's hard to believe, but it's true. Furthermore, we have to reduce homelessness very significantly, something that has been a long-term problem. So in my view, what we have got to do now is to focus on the very real issues, and I intend to be active in that process.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Who do you see as the ideal person to head this? Senator McCain says Senator Coburn, who is also a medical doctor. But I guess I would ask you a broader question. Should this be a healthcare professional that takes this over? Or should it be, you know someone with military experience like General Shinseki? Who would be your choice at this point? If you don't want to give a name, just at least tell me what kind of a person this ought to be.

BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I think, look, we have six and a half million people who are using V.A. healthcare. There's a huge system. 230,000 people a day. So number one, you do need to have somebody who understands healthcare administration, how you utilize your resources in the most effective and cost-effective manner. Second of all, you need somebody who obviously knows a lot about healthcare.

And let me repeat. The V.A. today in many parts of this country is providing excellent healthcare, in some cases, cutting-edge healthcare. I want to strengthen that. The issue right now is to make sure that we have the management capabilities that we get rid of as quickly as we can people who are incompetent and that we keep the promises that we made to our veterans.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me, before you go, we're about out of time, I need to get your reaction as well, Senator, to the release of Sergeant Bernie Bergdahl. Was this a wise thing for the president to do?

BERNIE SANDERS: Look, I think it's a very sensitive and delicate issue. I suspect that if you ask Senator Bergdahl's feelings about what happened, they will feel very, very good. I think we need to have more information about the long-term consequences, and do everything that we can to make sure that these terrorists do not get back onto the battlefield.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator, thank you so much. And we'll be back in one minute.


Bob Schieffer: Last week the poet Maya Angelou died at the age of 86, after a life in which she made the most of every moment. She left as remarkable legacy as a poet, a philosopher and a role model for us all.

I interviewed her for the first time last year on Mother's Day. In a reporting life that has stretched over more than fifty years, and thousands of interviews with presidents and kings and even a crook or two, that interview with her was my favorite. When I asked her some of her favorite things, I discovered she could charm the bark off a tree.

MAYA ANGELOU VIDEO CLIP: And you know, I have done a lot of things. I have conducted the Boston pops and translated several poems in Yugoslavia and lots of things and I'm grateful. I'm the first black female director in Hollywood, at 20th century FOX. Many things And Vivian Baxter, my mother, told me that with determination, preparation, intelligence, you can do anything. Anything good. And so I'm still doing, listen to me; I'm sitting here talking to Bob Schieffer. I'm doing anything.


BOB SCHIEFFER VIDEO CLIP: Well may I just say that I think I've fallen in love with you and that hasn't happened to me on this broadcast very often. I want to wish you the happiest of Mother's Days and I know what you have said today means a lot to Moms out there and also to daughters. I want to wish you the very best.

BOB SCHIEFFER: It made a wonderful Mother's Day for me because it reminded me how much my Mom would have liked and admired Maya Angelou. And we'll be right back.


BOB SCHIEFFER: I'm just back from ten days in Israel. I talked to both Israeli and Palestinian officials and I've been to the region many times. But what stays with me this time, are the words of a young Israeli farmer and his wife who live a stone's throw from the wall that separates their village from the Gaza Strip where more than a million Palestinians live.

The farmer tells me how he used to hire hardworking Palestinians from Gaza to tend his tomatoes. But since the escalation of terrorist attacks in recent years, the Palestinians cannot leave Gaza. So now, even though unemployment in Gaza is 41 percent, he imports workers from Thailand halfway around the world.

In his village, no one is more than 15 seconds from a concrete bunker.

The farmer's wife tells me the kids know what the bunkers are for and how bombs and sniper fire have come from across the wall.

"They know to run to the playground bunker when they hear the sirens," she tells me. "But what do I tell the four year old when he asks 'why do they want to kill us?' "

In the Palestinian areas, the children are also asking hard questions.

I came away from this visit reminded that of all the questions about the Middle East, the hardest to answer are still the ones the children ask. We'll be right back.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Some of our stations are leaving us now, but for most of you we'll be right back with a lot more Face the Nation.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, welcome back to Face the Nation. The former N.S.A. computer technician turned leaker Edward Snowden gave his first major television U.S. interview last week to NBC News. And we want to welcome Michael Hayden who's a former head of the C.I.A. and the N.S.A.

Now works for the Chertoff Group for some reaction to that and a reality check on some of Snowden's new allegations. General, but first, I need to ask you, or I'd like to ask you about this release of this young American and the exchange. There apparently is going to be some controversy about that.

MICHAEL HAYDEN: There will be. And the reason for that, Bob, is that looking at this through a humanitarian lens, the answer's obvious. Looking at it through the lens I had to look through it when I was back in government, the answer is equally obvious. And it's not the same answer. And so I think you get to square that circle on the conditions of confinement, or whatever it is you want to call it in Qatar. And right now, that's very vague. I would frankly be uncomfortable with those folks being able to communicate, those folks being able to take visitors, and those folks being able to leave after a year.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know them?

MICHAEL HAYDEN: I do. And they're very dangerous people. 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. I don't know that I would've fallen on my sword on this one. But I would've made very sure that decision makers understood the risk they were embracing.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And you think it was a risk?

MICHAEL HAYDEN: Oh no, there's a definite risk.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let's talk a little bit about Snowden. You obviously were the head of the National Security Agency on this broadcast earlier this year. You said, when I asked you, "Was he a traitor?" You said, "Well, he's a defector."


BOB SCHIEFFER: That was the term that you used. He now tells us in this interview that he was trained as a spy. Should we believe that?

MICHAEL HAYDEN: Well, the first impression I got from the interview is young Mr. Snowden is a far better spokesman for himself than Glenn Greenwald is. He's a very impressive, well-controlled, well-prepared performance. That said, if that had been a job interview, if that young man had been in front of me and saying those kinds of things about his experience, I would've been all over his references trying to confirm that which he had claimed. Because frankly, it didn't have the ring of total truth in his describing the roles that he'd had over the past seven or eight years.

BOB SCHIEFFER: He says that he has not met with President Putin of Russia, he isn't working with the Russians, he had no connection to them, said he didn't even bring anything with him that they could use. Do you believe that?

MICHAEL HAYDEN: Well, he said he didn't bring anything with him to Russia. I have a legitimate question. 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. And finally, with regard to President Putin, he appeared on TV with Putin in a Russian Federation Infomercial that Putin runs on a reaching basis. He asked Putin a question. Now I've got a follow-on question for Brian Williams there. Whose idea was that? Who arranged that? Why did you do that? What were you thinking when you agree to do that kind of thing for Putin?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think that Edward Snowden has done irreparable harm, as some say, to the national security, and if so, in what way General?

MICHAEL HAYDEN: Unquestionable irreparable, irreversible harm. Now his first story out of the gate was the 215 program, the metadata program that actually does impinge upon American privacy. And there is a Fourth Amendment question there that we should answer as an adult nation. But why did he reveal that N.S.A. intercepted the satellite phone of Dmity Medvedev?

Why did he tell the Chinese, and he did this in person, this was not through one of his intermediaries. Why did he tell the Chinese that N.S.A. was hacking into Chinese computers? Why did he reveal that Norway and Sweden cooperated with the United States of America in covering the Russian federation? He claimed that no one has been able to show any harm that has been done.

If he lives up to half of that resume he claimed to have, that he was actually a spy and an intelligence officer, Bob. He would understand that there is no way the United States can reveal, without creating far greater harm, what it is we have lost. What is it that he wants us to do? To go out publicly with a list of all the terrorist targets now that we're no longer covering because of the information that he's revealed?

BOB SCHIEFFER: He says that he gave this information to journalists, and it was up to them to make sure that their security wasn't damaged.

MICHAEL HAYDEN: That, in what way, relieves him of responsibility?

BOB SCHIEFFER: What do you think happens now with him? Do you think there's any chance that he'll be brought back? Some people are saying, you know, he ought to be brought back, somehow pardoned or given some sort of, do you see anything?

MICHAEL HAYDEN: I don't think so. And I hope that's not hope on my part. I hope that's a rational judgment. Look, there's a young man in prison right now named John Kiriakou. He's in prison for 30 months because he revealed the name of one C.I.A. officer to one journalist who did not further publicize that information.

By the way, that piece of information he revealed is graded confidential in our classification system. Confidential, secret, top secret, top secret code word. One fact, confidential, 30 months in jail. Snowden has revealed hundreds of thousands of data points up here at the top secret, covert level. And we're supposed to give him amnesty?

BOB SCHIEFFER: How would you label him now?

MICHAEL HAYDEN: I'll still go with defector. He certainly betrayed the workforce of which he was a part. He betrayed his oath. And in some ways, betrayed his country. I'll hold back on the treason thing, because that's a narrow, legal definition.

BOB SCHIEFFER: General Hayden, always good to have you.

MICHAEL HAYDEN: Thank you, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And we'll be right back with our panel, so stay with us.


BOB SCHIEFFER: And we are back now for a little analysis with Leigh Gallagher, the assistant managing editor of Fortune, David Ignatius, who we heard from earlier, of course columnist for The Washington Post, national security correspondent for The New York Times David Sanger, and our own CBS News congressional correspondent, Nancy Cordes.

Nancy, let's just start with this prisoner released this morning. We're hearing from Republicans who seem to be very, very concerned. You heard Bernie Sanders, who is actually an independent saying he wants more information about this. Are we going to hear from any Democrats who were upset by this? Or is this going to break along partisan lines?

NANCY CORDES: Right now, it's breaking along partisan lines. So far, all of the Democrats we've heard from, and it's still early, are saying, "Look, what options did the White House have? In the old days, when we used to negotiate with other countries, when we had prisoners of war, they would do a swap. Now when we go to war, we're at war with terrorists. So what are the administration officials supposed to do?"

Republicans, however, I'm told, are already gearing up for possibly multiple investigations and hearings in several different House committees. You heard from the House Armed Services Chair Buck McKeon, who put out this very strongly worded statement saying he thinks the president broke the law by failing to inform Congress that he was going to be moving Guantanamo Bay prisoners. And I'm told that the speaker of the House, John Boehner, essentially agrees with him.

BOB SCHIEFFER: David, where do you see this going on Capitol Hill? Is this going to go on for a while, or?

DAVID IGNATIUS: It's already a political fight and you can see the lines being drawn. I thought Senator McCain was quite cautious. He wasn't talking at breaking the law or any of that. It know there'll be other questions as well. One is these very dangerous Taliban people being now in Qatar.

Another is was this release still available four years ago? I'm told basically it was. These same names, five names, were circulated four years ago. We could've saved a lot of time and money and suffering for both Bowe Bergdahl if this was the deal that we were going to make.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But, as you pointed out earlier in the broadcast, back then, Panetta.

DAVID IGNATIUS: Back then, Secretary Panetta said--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Said, "No way, no how."


BOB SCHIEFFER: I wonder, what do you think it was, David Sanger, that changed the mind of the current secretary of Defense?

DAVID SANGER: Oh, I think two things have changed since then. The first was that four years ago, there was a thought that this would be a confidence-building measure that would be on the way to a more comprehensive deal with the Taliban. Something that would enable some kind of a settlement. The hope of that is now pretty well gone. And at this point, it was a question of trying to get Bergdahl out of there before American troops all left the region, or if the president gets his way, or keep 10,000 there.

But this was a question more of closure than of political settlement. It is interesting that four years ago, it was not only Republicans who had concerns at that time about releasing these five members of the Taliban. There were some prominent Democrats along the way who similarly had concerns. So it'll be interesting to see if they come back now and issue their same words.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, Leigh, it's going to be interesting to see what Hillary Clinton is going to have to say about this. Her book, Big Deal coming out here, she'll start giving interviews (UNINTEL) as being one chapter, giving to Politico about Benghazi. Where do you see her coming down? I know you've been tracking her activities lately.

LEIGH GALLAGHER: Well, it's interesting, yes. And this book launch will be interesting to see, basically the biggest book launch I think since Lean In came out last year, I think that's safe to say. And you're already seeing the very strategic way this is happening, the deliberate leak, video this week coming out on actually where she addressed inequality a little bit.

Which I think will be interesting to watch. But, you know, I mean, it'll be interesting to see where she comes down on this. I think that she will probably defend the administration's decision as she has been, you know, doing for a while now.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But that raises the point, obviously she must've known about this. I mean, back then, if what David Ignatius is saying, if this was on the table some years ago, it'll be interesting to see how she weighed in on that back then.

DAVID IGNATIUS: Well, in fact, the idea of having open conversations with the Taliban, subject to certain limits, in which they would've agreed to future limits on what they do, began under Secretary Clinton in February, 2011. So this began on her watch. Her appointment is Richard Holbrooke's successor; special mediator Marc Grossman had at least three or four meetings with the Taliban in secret to discuss this very issue of trading (UNINTEL).

The idea that these five people had just suddenly sprung up, no, the names have been circulated for a long time. And Secretary Clinton knew about it. I'm sure it's an issue that will come up during her campaign. In terms of her book, you know, we're all waiting to see. That's the case she wants to make. That, "I'd be a good president because I was a good secretary of State." So I want to read the book and see how she makes that case.

Now when the secretary's book comes out, I think people are going to be looking at it for the obvious Benghazi and so forth. And I think she was very smart to get that part out early. But they're also going to be looking at it for a range of other decisions that she made. She was the more hawkish member of the cabinet.

And whether or not she signs on completely to the negotiations now underway with Iran will be, and the kind of terms that are being discussed, in which Iran would retain some kind of ability to make nuclear fuel, that'll be an interesting one. She'll be examined pretty closely for all of the things that she says about the ultimate decision to leave Afghanistan with just a tiny number of troops there.

NANCY CORDES: And it's no accident that that Benghazi chapter was the first substantive chapter to really be released. Here aides tell me they've come to the conclusion Benghazi is not going to go away. It's the main issue that is going to hound her if she decides to run for president. It's catnip to the Republican base. They wanted to get it out here, show her position, have her be able to make her case in 34 pages, and it's no accident that they make with Democratic groups this week to lay out her case so that everyone is on the same page.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Before we get to Hillary Clinton's presidency, let's talk about the current one. The president made a speech about foreign policy at West Point this week. I don't remember this ever happening. The Washington Post, The New York Times, andThe Wall Street Journal all, in various stages, have been critical of that speech. What did you think, Leigh?

LEIGH GALLAGHER: Well, you know, being in the middle isn't sexy. You know, we like strong narratives, we like big, brawny success stories, shows of might. And what the president has been trying to say is that this policy of not isolationism, not interventionism, somewhere in between, it's really hard to sell that, I think.

But the fact is, I do think we're in a new era of fighting our fights across the world. Sometimes unilateral intervention is called for. Sometimes sanctions can be quite powerful. I think we've seen that in Iran and to some degree in Russia. And we have a new challenge in front of us (UNINTEL) I think, which is cyber terrorism and cyber warfare.

And so there's all these different sides, not to mention the incredibly now splintered diaspora of all the terrorist networks that have really multiplied and kind of calcified and gotten more threatening and more ruthless. So we are in, you know, a phase now that I think calls for a menu of choices. But that doesn't really play well.

BOB SCHIEFFER: The president says, "We're not withdrawing anywhere in the world. We're not pulling back." But I must say, I was in Israel for ten days last week, and I see stories in the papers there, and they say, "Since the president's withdrawal from the Middle East, since the American pullback from the Middle East." There is a perception, at least among some, that we are pulling back, David.

DAVID IGNATIUS: I hear that wherever I travel. And in a sense, the president is saying, this decade in which we were, you know, interventionists and got ourselves into real trouble, I think most Americans would agree the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were costly and difficult, he's saying, "That parade is ending."

What he hasn't been as effective at is explaining how we're going to projectile in the future. And there's an expression in Economist Magazine that famous cover, "What would America fight for?" And that's the question people are wondering about.

There are parts of that speech, to be honest, that I liked a lot. I thought, you know, he was talking about how without good military options, we were able to put pressure on Vladimir Putin so he didn't disrupt the election. In the end, it went forward and I think he's right to say that's a modest success for his policy.

DAVID SANGER: You know, retrenchment's hard to sell. And so the president had a difficult task here. I thought the best part of the speech was the reinstatement of the Obama doctrine, which was that the U.S. would come in to fight when its own direct interests are affected. But that it will insist that allies and other partners come in when there's just a general good.

And this was his effort to explain why he didn't go into Syria, or why he left Libya so quickly. I thought that the weakest parts of his speech were first an inability to explain who we were going to use new elements of our power. We mentioned one, in the cyber power. The president has never explained publicly how the United States would use its new arsenal of cyber weapons.

And the second was a (UNINTEL) to really grapple in the speech, was a big change of tone from China and Russia. You've got the Chinese now in a conflict with the Vietnamese over terrorist, and with the Japanese. You've got the Russians obviously taking a much more assertive, aggressive new view. And the president I think needed to explain whether or not the U.S. was going to choose these as moments where he did view our central national interests at stake.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Nancy, what is Congress doing these days? You know, they pretty much announced in February they weren't going to do any major things. They pretty much said, "Check with us after the election."

NANCY CORDES: They're sticking to that.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Here you have a world just in turmoil. And what is going on up there? Are they focused on anything besides raising money and their own reelections?

NANCY CORDES: Well, this week they're making a lot of hay about the V.A. and the situation there. Which frankly, is a little bit disingenuous because as the inspector general at the V.A. pointed out, they've been doing reports since 2005 showing that wait times at the V.A. are being manipulated.

So for the V.A. secretary, for the president, for anyone who's in the administration, or for Congress to say, "This is such a shock, I've been lied to, I'm completely surprised by this," is again, it's disingenuous. Now if some real genuine legislation comes out of this like Senator Sanders was talking about, that could be a good thing.

Over in the House, in the V.A. committee, there was now legislation that would enable veterans who are waiting longer than a certain amount of time, say 30 days for an appointment, to be able to go outside of the system and get care from a private facility.

That's legislation, depending on how it's crafted, that could be bipartisan. So if Congress doesn't just drop the ball like it often does in this situations, and say, "Well, Secretary Shinseki is gone, that takes care of that, let's move onto something new," it (UNINTEL) look at it could do some good.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Leigh, what do you think is going to happen now? I mean?

LEIGH GALLAGHER: I think that this is a leadership crisis of the highest order, a management crisis, let me rephrase that, of the highest order. The problems, yes, they were there. Shinseki inherited them. But they are massive. And it's everything, it's the scale, it's sprawling, and the problem is systemic.

The performance management, the bonus structure, is just completely out of line. And setting unattainable goals and encouraging people to try to meet them however means possible. And then the issue of the doctor shortage is incredibly large. I mean, the irony of all this is that the care is quite good.

The V.A. has innovated when it comes to care. But the short is, by the way, also, is our entire medical system is facing that. There are limits placed on the number of physicians that come out of residency each year. And that's a cap (?) that hasn't changed since 1984. So there's a number of problems.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, thank you very much, Leigh. And thank you for joining us this morning. We'll be seeing you on CBS This Morning tomorrow, where you will reveal this year's big 500 Companies list that Fortune always puts out. So we'll be back in a moment with our Face the Nation flashback.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Friday marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy. On June 6, 1944, 156,000 troops stormed Normandy's beaches..and that is our Face the Nation flashback.


BOB SCHIEFFER: D-Day was the beginning of the end of World War 2. On its 20th anniversary, some 50 years ago, Eisenhower shared his reflections with CBS newsman Walter Cronkite...



BOB SCHIEFFER: It was a 90-minute special that aired in 22 different countries. Eisenhower told the story of D-Day from where it happened. The secret war room where top military brass had debated strategy...


BOB SCHIEFFER: the beaches where 73,000 American troops landed.... even the view from enemy lines.


BOB SCHIEFFER: But his most powerful recollection came after a walk through the American military cemetery at St. Laurent.



BOB SCHIEFFER: As those young people--the people of my parents' generation-- stormed those beaches that day, they risked their lives and many lost their lives because the world was on the brink of a new dark age and it fell to them to prevent that and they did. We must never forget them or what they did.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, that's all the time we have today. But before we go, one last thing. We want to congratulate our senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, who celebrates 50 years on the job here at CBS News today. Way to go, Bill. We'll see you back here next week. Thanks for watching.



Jackie Berkowitz,

(202) 600-6407

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