(CBS News) -- A transcript from the June 8, 2014 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., plus panels featuring David Rohde, Peggy Noonan, David Gergen, Michael Gerson, and Thomas Friedman.
ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, FACE THE NATION with Bob Schieffer.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, new reports that Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was tortured in captivity but the firestorm over his release continues.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We saw an opportunity and we seized it and I make no apologies for that.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Maybe not. But Congress wants more answers, including why they were not notified he was being exchanged for five hardcore Taliban terrorists. We'll talk to Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, ranking committee Republican Saxby Chambliss, and writer David Rohde who was a prisoner of the Taliban for seven months. To discuss that Hillary Clinton's new book and the other news on all-star panel, the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, the Washington Post Michael Garson and Harvard University's David Gergen. Sixty years of news because this is FACE THE NATION.
And, good morning again. Well, there is an overnight report that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is still undergoing tests and treatment at the U.S. medical center in Landstuhl, Germany. The New York Times reports this morning that his health at least physically is improving. He is up and about and wearing his uniform. The newspaper also reports that he says he was tortured and kept in a cage for long periods of time after he tried to escape and that he is not yet ready to meet with his parents and others. Senator Dianne Feinstein who, of course, is the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee is here at the table this morning. Senator, let me ask you. Do you have any information about these latest reports that he tried to escape while in captivity and that as result was put in a cage and tortured by the Taliban?
SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN (Intelligence Committee Chair/D-California): With respect to escape, no information but rumors. With respect to being tortured, this is the first I've heard of that.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, would any-- would anyone at the White House should have briefed you on this latest information? And I say that because our national security correspondent, David Martin, was checking this at the Pentagon this morning and they were not confirming it but they also were not waving him off reporting that story. I find it interesting that the administration knew you'd be coming out on FACE THE NATION this morning, that somebody didn't give you a tip that there's some new information here.
SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, you think so if there were new information. I-- I just can't say but I-- I think this whole sort of "deal" has been one that the-- the administration has kept very close. And in the eyes of many of us, too close, because it has a long history going back to 2011 when it was part of a major reconciliation effort with the Taliban and we were consulted and the concern there was that the confidence-building measure was upfront and that measure was the release of these five Taliban detainees. And there was feeling that if you release them upfront, there would be no reconciliation. If you release them after progress or at the end and have the agreement to to do so that you might get a reconciliation agreement and that subsequently apparently fell apart. So there are concerns over-- and-- and I heard John Kerry this morning say, you know, don't worry about them in Doha. Yeah, you can't help but worry about them in Doha. And we have no information on how the United States is actually going to see that they remain in Doha, that they make no comments, that they do no agitation. And another rumor is one that-- one Taliban has apparently said that he would return to the battlefield. So it's-- it's a mixed bag at best. Now let me just say this: Do we-- should we see that our GIs who were taken hostage are returned? Absolutely. And one of the things that the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Sandy Winde-- Winnefeld made very clear, Bob, was that the army will look at this very carefully. They will make judgments. They will evaluate it. And if he needs to be tried in a military court, he will be. So I think that's the way it should be. What's unfortunate is that I see no sign of the Taliban relenting. I have deep concern now that they have tried to kill the almost new elected president of Afghanistan, Doctor Abdullah Abdullah--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mm-Hm.
SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: --whom I happen to know. Yet to me is a sign when the Karzai appointed a peace commission and Burhanuddin Rabbani headed it. He was killed. I have met with his son who has just taken up the cause and it's extraordinarily difficult. And so some of us worry very much that when we pull out, the Taliban finds its way back into power and that would be tragic.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, do you worry, Senator, if I take what you're saying here, that the deal may have put other American lives in danger?
SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, I can't certainly say that. I don't know. But I-- I can say that the way it started out in 2011 these five were to be held in house arrest in Doha, now there is no house arrest. They have the country which is very small to be about in, Secretary Kerry made a very strong statement this morning, saying, "Oh, we have ways and we will see that they do not defect, move, speak, whatever. And we'll see."
BOB SCHIEFFER: You-- you're not as comfortable with that though apparently as he is?
SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, it's hard to be comfortable when you really haven't been briefed on the intricacies of carrying out this agreement.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Did it-- did it bother you that the administration did not brief you on this, because they're saying as late as yesterday I was told by administration people, look, we never brief Congress on an ongoing operation. And that there had been briefings before all this got away.
SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, that isn't necessarily true. We have been briefed; the chairman and the ranking member. Senator Chambliss and I have been briefed on operations underway. We understand the security of that. We have never violated that. But at least you have some knowledge and you can make some comment. That's never been the case with this particular situation. So it hits us as a real surprise.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Were you surprised when this happened that the President chose to have a Rose Garden Ceremony? I mean I-- I tend to agree with you. I think we have to get our people. We have to go after our people. But-- well, what did you think of that?
SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, I assume that he knew all the facts and, perhaps, he does. I don't know, but, I mean, the freeing of a soldier who has been in custody of the Taliban for five years, that's a long time. I think is news. And I think the family is important. Now how this all went down and how people interpreted, I can't comment. But I don't think there was anything out of-- I think the President was just justifiably proud of this.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay.
SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: And he wanted to say it to everybody.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Senator, thank you so much for joining us.
SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Thank you.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Always a pleasure. Senator Feinstein's counterpart on the Senate Intelligence Committee is the ranking Republican on that committee, Saxby Chambliss. He joins us now from Moultrie, Georgia. Senator, did you get any information this morning? Did anybody brief you about this new information that he was kept in a cage and that he, you know, tried to escape from his Taliban captors. This all comes as what I would think is big news. I would think this might change the views that people have, if they had known about this.
SENATOR SAXBY CHAMBLISS (Intelligence Committee/R-Georgia): Well, just like Diane, I've heard rumors about the escape as far as keeping him in a cage and whatnot, I read about it in the press this morning. Nobody has made any effort to contact me from the administration but then, you know, I learned about this after the fact. Diane and I were both called on Monday night after Bergdahl was released on Saturday. And told that it had happened, so this administration has acted very strangely about this, Bob, and it's kind of puzzling as to why they did not let us know in advance that this was going to happen.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, this latest information that we were told by officials at the Pentagon today, there was no confirmation of what Bergdahl is apparently telling people in the hospital there. But they-- they said we wouldn't wave you off from that story, in other words, nobody was saying, hey, this is dead wrong, this never happened. Does that suggest to you that-- well, I don't know what it suggests, a couple of things, I would think, maybe they're trying to check this out, maybe they're not quite sure of what they've been told. What-- what would be your assessment?
SENATOR SAXBY CHAMBLISS: Well, I think there're going to be a lot of things that Bergdahl tells the-- the army and the medical folks that he's talking to now that, Bob, it's going to be very difficult to validate but that's not to say they're not absolutely true. But we weren't there. We have nobody who was on the inside. So we don't know exactly what happened in his life over the last several years except we do know he was captured and he's been in the Taliban's hands for these number of years. So I-- I just suspect that you're going to have, number one, rumors coming out about what he may be saying but then other actual statements that he may make that are going to be very difficult to validate. And again that's not to say they're not true.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think the administration was right in withholding information about this, Senator. At one point, I was told yesterday, well, we don't ever brief the Congress when there's an operation underway. And so then there was another report that he was in bad health and they had to-- to do this quickly because of his health. Reports this morning are: he's making a very good recovery, at least, physically. They say he's now wearing his uniform up and around, walking around the hospital, talking to people there. But the report, at least in the Times is, but he's not ready, I guess you would say emotionally, he has not talked to his parents, yet, as far as we know.
SENATOR SAXBY CHAMBLISS: Well, two things I would say. Number one, I can't imagine anybody in the administration being able to look the American public in the eye and saying we never briefed members of Congress on ongoing operations. The classic example of that is the bin Laden operation. Diane and I knew for months and months what was suspected relative to the location of bin Laden. We had a pretty good idea of what they were going to do and I'll never forget the phone call I got from an excited Leon Panetta, telling me that bin Laden had been taken down. Those types of things are briefed to us on a regular basis. Not a day goes by, Bob, that I don't get briefed on some classified aspect of our intelligence community, a lot of which is ongoing operations. Secondly, when Bergdahl was let go, what we were told and what the public was told is that because of a video that was made apparently in December of last year and viewed by the Department of Defense in January of this year that Bergdahl looked like he had lost ten to fifteen pounds. He was in poor health, and they were concerned that if they did not make this exchange that his life would be in danger as a result of bad health. Well, no intelligence supported that. And now they come back, and because he is in decent health considering where he's been, they've-- they've changed their story. They've said, well, we suspect his life may be in danger if word got out of this pending possible trade that his life may be in danger. Again, I can just tell you there's no intelligence to support that and Director Clapper has-- has already made that same statement. So the whole scenario surrounding this is very, very strange.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Senator, we are going to leave it there. Thank you for being with us this morning. We're going to talk to Tom Friedman--
SENATOR SAXBY CHAMBLISS: Sure.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --and Peggy Noonan; and David Rohde, who himself, while a reporter, was captured and was in captivity for some time at the-- by-- in Tali-- in the Tali-- by the Taliban. So we'll be back with all that in just a minute.
BOB SCHIEFFER: To talk more about this handling of a prisoner swap, we're joined in New York by David Rohde. He is a Reuters' columnist. He's the author of the, A Rope and a Prayer; in studio, our New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal. But David, I want to talk to you. Back when you were working for the Times, you were actually captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan and held for six months. What do you make of this new information we're hearing this morning that the sergeant actually was tortured while he was in captivity, telling people that he tried to escape. And that after he escaped from the Taliban they put him in a metal cage and kept him there for long periods of time.
DAVID ROHDE (Reuters/The Atlantic): I mean it sounds very credible to me. I was kidnapped by the exact same Taliban faction. This the Haqqani Network. They work very closely with the Pakistani military. I was able to escape. I had an Afghan help me take me to a Pakistani military base. Bowe Bergdahl didn't have that. So the reports are credible. And I also think that Bowe Bergdahl needs to answer why he walked off that base. But I would really caution Americans, this is, you know, there's all these rumors that came out during my case and many of them were not true. And it's really important to sort of wait and get the facts here. A lot of the reporting on this story has been way off and we need to sort of hear from Bowe Bergdahl about, you know, what happened that night. And just on another note, I still today five years later, feel tremendous regret for going to an interview with the Taliban, getting kidnapped, and what I put my family through. Whatever caused Bowe Bergdahl to walk off that base, you know, did he desert, did he have a mental breakdown. He will regret this for the rest of his life. I guarantee you.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Have you-- I know you kept in very close contact with his parents and with some other people whose relatives have been taken captive. Have you talked to his parents recently?
DAVID ROHDE: I have. And there's-- this is public, it's been reported, they are getting death threats at this point. They are heartbroken by what's been happening. And I guess they are also asking for time. And if there was any loss of life, if any American soldiers did die in the-- in the search for Bowe, you know, they-- they-- that would break their hearts as well; and it's-- they're just again asking for time and sort of a due process.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You wrote the other day the focus of our anger should be on the kidnappers. They are the problem not the hostages, their families or a government that meets a demand. Talk a little about that.
DAVID ROHDE: Well, the reality is that-- that taking prisoners is actually working for, you know, militant groups. And it didn't start with Bowe Bergdahl. Israel exchanged a thousand prisoners several years ago for Gilad Shalit, one Israeli prisoner. European governments have paid over a hundred million dollars in ransom to al Qaeda affiliates in the last three years. So you know militants were already looking to kidnap American soldiers and-- and kidnap American civilians. What we need to do and there has been success in this area in countries like Colombia, in the Philippines, and in Somalia, is try to get control of these ungoverned spaces where terrorists have safe havens. Pakistan is the problem here. People have been talking about it for years. Bin Laden was sheltered there. The reason this deal happened was because there was no pressure from the Pakistani government to get Bowe Bergdahl free. U.S. officials have said that there was no pressure on the Haqqani Network. Again, the Taliban faction that had Bergdahl has worked closely with the Pakistani military. They didn't pressure them to release Bergdahl. And there was, apparently, no effort by the Pakistani military to find him.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. All right. Well, David, thank you so much. And, of course, we're glad your home here to report and analyze this story.
DAVID ROHDE: Thank you.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Tom Friedman, you've been reporting on this story for a long, long time. What is your-- just give me your view on what happened here and what we should make of it?
THOMAS FRIEDMAN (New York Times/Years of Living Dangerously): Well, for me, big headline, Bob, is fog of war. I mean these things are inherently messy, every aspect of this story. I think the administration did the right thing in bringing him home. I think we have that commitment to our soldiers. That was important. When you listen to Senator Diane Feinstein and Senator Chambliss, you know, when you want people, you know, to be around for the-- for the landing you should have them on the take off. It seems to me that was a mistake not fully briefing them. I think it was a mistake to have this White House press conference to elevate it with the family. That I think could have been done in a lower key way--
BOB SCHIEFFER: At the-- at the-- at the the Rose Garden.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Right. I think it should be handled in a lower key way. And now I totally agree with what David said let's just wait till the facts are out. You know my old boss Howell Raines taught me, you know, any time you go back over a story one week, one day, you know, one month later, you always discover a new thing. So I am withholding judgment on everything else until then.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Peg?
PEGGY NOONAN (Wall Street Journal): I think the-- the nature of the changing information they say this and then they say that. This dripping out of information that is then refuted is a very strange part of the story. The stiff arming of Congress is an amazing part of this story. As Senator Feinstein I think between lines was more or less saying that. There is one way it seems to me that immediately you might clear up some of the facts. That would be Bowe Bergdahl himself in a hospital in Germany for eight days now, meet with the press, with some reporters or one reporter. It is odd that he appears to be being kept in isolation. I spoke last night to a Vietnam prisoner of war, he was there almost seven years, abused, beaten, all the terrible things. When those guys were finally sprung they were taken out, put in a hospital for a day or two, put in Clark Air Force Base for a day or two and then they were sent home. They had been treated terribly. They were all wounded one way or another but they were allowed to speak freely to the press, immediately called their family, the Army set it up. It seems to me strange that this man, Mister Bergdahl, is being kept away from clearing up all of the questions about who he is, what he did, and what happened to him while he was there.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And as I understand it, Tom, he's not been allowed to call his family yet?
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: He either hasn't been allowed or hasn't wanted to. The doctors haven't recommended. I don't know enough about the psychological state of these things. I just want to say one other thing about the Taliban, which is an important point for me, which is we've release these five guys. They've been off the battlefield for thirteen years. We need to stop treating these people as if they're some combination of Paul Bunyan and John Wayne. They-- they aren't, you know, fifteen feet tall, they're five guys, they're important in the Taliban. Believe it or not, the country will survive, you know, if they are, you know, released and-- and even if they return to the battlefield.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. We're going to get to--
PEGGY NOONAN: But, Tom, they are major big serious operatives and players and there's no particular reason to think they will not be going back to the show.
BOB SCHIEFFER: We are going to hold this thought at the roundtable--
PEGGY NOONAN: All right. Sorry, I beg your pardon.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --which will be coming up. But I'll be back in just a minute with some personal thoughts of my own about some other things.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Speaking of the seventieth anniversary of D-day as we've been doing all week reminds me that all the advanced hoopla for Hillary Clinton's new book is not the first time a memoir has stirred up a lot of interest. It was much the same when the hero of D-day, Dwight Eisenhower released his book. One of his first stops on his book tour was FACE THE NATION.
WALTER CRONKITE: Mister President, the title of your book is--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Walter Cronkite and a panel of reporters got right to the news but as it is today they also asked about the gossip. Did Ike like his vice president?
WALTER CRONKITE: Some of the reviewers on your book suggested that they find in the book what they interpret as coolness toward Mister Nixon. That particular note that you referred to him throughout as Mister Nixon or the vice president never seems to get very warm in the relationship and if you can clarify your personal relationship with the vice president.
DWIGHT EISENHOWER: Well, (INDISTINCT) strangely enough, that impression has just persisted throughout these years and I've never known why. It's like the one that people said in-- back about 1955 or '6 when they were thinking that he might become then the candidate. They said, "Well, I don't like Nixon," and you'd say, "Why?" "Don't know-- I don't like him. Well, now, in this same way, people have said, "Well, you don't like Nixon." Well, nothing could be further from the truth.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Truth to tell among those who thought Ike didn't like Nixon was Nixon himself who fretted about it throughout his eight years as vice president. Back in a minute.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, some of our stations are leaving us now. But for most of you out there, we'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, so stay with us.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We got a lot to talk about and we got some good talkers this morning. Some of the best in the benit-- business and also they are pretty good writers. Tom Friedman of the New York Times still with us as is Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan. She's a former aide to President Ronald Reagan, of course. Joining them here David Gergen, who worked for both Presidents Reagan and Clinton, now at Harvard. And the former Bush White House speechwriter and aide Michael Gerson, who's now a columnist from the Washington Post. Well, we better pick up here. Tom Friedman says these people in the Taliban are not ten feet tall and-- and Peggy Noonan said, well, wait a minute here.
TOM FRIEDMAN: Let me just elaborate on-- on that point, Bob, having covered the Arab-Israeli conflict my entire adult life. I've watched the Israelis arrest, detain, or assassinate one senior Hamas official after another. We got the senior guy. And sure enough, there's another one that springs up right after him.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mm-Hm.
TOM FRIEDMAN: That's-- that's number one. Number two, I mean this whole business with Guantanamo Bay, we can't move these people into our country, into a super max prison. They might fly off the roof. I mean, we have built these people up, I'm sorry, you know, into giants. And I'm not saying it's not important to release them that the-- that the, you know, the details of this case aren't irrelevant but, come on, let's have a little perspective on here. You know what, I'm going to sleep okay tonight whether these guys are in Qatar, whether they're in the Ritz there, or whether they're around the block. It's-- it's a much bigger problem. The real problem is get the heck out of Afghanistan.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I see some raised eyebrows over here.
PEGGY NOONAN: Yeah. I would be sleeping better if I had a sense that the administration had a real plan as opposed to a desperate dumping. If the administration had said to Congress this is how we're going to make sure these five serious operatives and strategists for the Taliban are going to be controlled in the future they won't be in the game. There seems to be no plan. There seems to have been a dumping and a hope that it will all turn out okay and a trust that if it doesn't turn out okay and these guys turn bad and do bad in the future, that's okay because we all have been-- we all will have forgotten by the time that story blows.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You know I must say that I-- I do agree with Tom when he says, you know, we always have to go and get our people. We can never leave our people behind. But what happened after that is the part that I-- I kind of have a problem with is this Rose Garden ceremony and all that. Michael, you were at the White House--
MICHAEL GERSON (Washington Post): Sure.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --how did that strike you?
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, I think part of the problem here is the President told a simple moral story, the return of a hero when, in fact, it was a very complex moral story, ethical story, geostrategic story. So he gave a tragic choice, the trappings of victory and then he alienated a lot of people in the process, alienated members of Congress, who didn't feel consulted. But alienated members of the unit that the man came from.
PEGGY NOONAN: Yeah.
MICHAEL GERSON: By declaring him as having honorable service, they felt compelled to object because they know the meaning of honor. And it's different from what the administration was talking about. So I think the-- the President now is talking about this is a political football. I think they provoked these reactions that have undermined their own fairly reasonable choice.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And-- and Susan Rice, the national security advisor, says that he had performed honorable and-- and served--
DAVID GERGEN (Harvard University): With distinction.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --with distinction. Do you think maybe she wasn't briefed or how did--
DAVID GERGEN: I--
PEGGY NOONAN: No, we're back to back.
TOM FRIEDMAN: They're asking that question to everybody they love.
DAVID GERGEN: She's clearly briefed, Bob. I think she over-spoke. I-- I don't think she meant to leave the impression she did and she's trying to correct it. I think she would have been far better off to come out in the last few days and say, look, I've made a mistake. This was not I was talking about, I-- I-- I wish I had expressed it in a better way. But the fact is the way it came out I think plays directly into what Michael was saying. What the administration has done is won the argument that they did the right thing in going and getting this guy, getting Bergdahl out was the right thing to do. I think most of us here at the table, I think probably all of us at the table, would agree that that's right.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mm-Hm.
DAVID GERGEN: But the way they then presented it ignited this firestorm because it showed so little understanding of how people in the military, in the active duty militaries saw him and saw what he had done. And I-- I think it-- in some degree reflects the Gulf that is between the one percent who served today and the rest of the civilian population. Most of the people who work in the White House have never been in the military.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mm-Hm.
DAVID GERGEN: And I think that that-- they just didn't get how angry, how offensive people in the military would find it that someone who had been found in the original army report they said, there are report concluded he deliberately walked off. Now to the military guys, that's basically about desertion, and a lot of those guys and they went into tens, if not hundreds of operations to try to find him and to try to save him, which was the right thing to do, but people were killed in that process. Now you can't say Bergdahl is responsible, personally responsible for those deaths. But in the minds of people in those operations had it not been for those-- that search-- those people might still be alive today.
PEGGY NOONAN: Mm.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I find it also just, I guess for want of a better word, interesting, that we have this report coming out in your newspaper this morning, Tom, where Bergdahl is apparently telling people in the hospital that he was captured. I mean, that-- that he tried to escape, while he was in captivity. After he was caught and brought back, they put him in a metal cage, they tortured him. I mean this was a horrendous thing. If that story is out, why wouldn't the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee had been briefed on that? I mean I would think that would be something she might want to know before she came on FACE THE NATION.
PEGGY NOONAN: And it would be something that it would be helpful for the administration to-- to have their allies understand what happened and be able to talk about what happened. Instead, everybody is-- is taken aback. It's-- it's weird. This administration has always been love them, not love them, pretty savvy about the PR of things and I-- the dread word, the optics of things. On this one, they messed all that up in a way that is almost startling. And I would say could I just back up David's point, it seems to me this White House thought desertion on the field of battle was like not handing in your homework or dropping out of Yale Law after one year. Do you know what I mean, they have no idea what that means.
MICHAEL GERSON: But they have gone even further where there are anonymous White House aides, have talked about swift voting, accused the--
PEGGY NOONAN: Yes.
MICHAEL GERSON: --opponents of swift voting. They now have called, you know, the person in question honorable and questioned the motives of people in the unit. Who are calling into question a wrong narrative? It's probably a good thing that these-- these aides remain anonymous because they should be fired under those circumstances. This is badly handled.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Obviously, on the information side it was fire ready in, you know, I mean, they had one thing in mind, the announcement and obviously, didn't do the backs door. But I am struck that every day I pick up the paper, including this morning, there are actually two stories in this morning's paper, I found it really interesting. One was that he was kept in the cage. And, obviously, that would have affected his mental state. But the other was just this was a forlorn unit out in the middle of nowhere, in incredibly dangerous environment, had trouble with its commanding officer, you're just finding out more stuff every day and this is an onion I'd keep peeling before I drew my final conclusion.
DAVID GERGEN: I agree with that up to a point.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Mm-Hm.
DAVID GERGEN: And-- and that is learning that he may have been in a cage, certainly, humanizes him and makes you more sympathetic toward him. I think we have been. And the death threats against his parents were just outrageous.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Mm-Hm.
DAVID GERGEN: And-- but they're-- if-- if what we see over the next few days, a series of stories that explain, well, he was in this unruly unit, nobody was disciplined and, he was a romantic. He just sort of wandered off. He was sort of in a daze. He was a young kid. All that may be true, but the fundamental fact is this: We have a tacit code in this country that if you serve in the military, our obligation to you is, that if you-- if you get lost, you get captured, we're going to come get you. But you'll have an obligation to us and that is when you're in uniform you stay on your post, you do not leave your post, you do not leave your buddies, and you know this from your Air Force days, I was in the navy and there were just certain things you did not do. And I think we cannot lose sight of that even as we understand there are mitigating circumstances, even as we understand that he was treated very, very badly. It is still fundamentally true you have to get-- we need his side of the story. But if he deliberately walked away, that's a serious matter and it did leave his buddies, his-- his com-- his comrades in danger.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: That's what I'm saying we need his side of the story.
DAVID GERGEN: Yeah.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let's hope we get it. Let's hope we get it
PEGGY NOONAN: Well, what I'm saying is let him tell the stories, stop making him dummy up.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let's-- somebody else is prepared to tell her story because her big book is coming out this week and that is Hillary Clinton's memoir. This is the book that has gotten a roll out, I-- I don't know, I can't recall, a bigger publicity push that's going on. First, reports are there's not a lot of information we didn't know about in this book. And, of course, the question that everybody wanted to know, are you going to run for President and she said, well, I'll let you know. But she said, I have some other things I want to do in the meantime, this is what she said on ABC.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (ABC News Exclusive): Travel around the country, sign books, help in the mid-term elections in the fall, and then take a deep breath, and kind of go through my pluses and minuses about what I will and-- and will not be thinking about.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So she says that she'll probably kind of get it in her mind toward the end of the year, and probably won't announce what she's going to do until sometime next year. Let me just come right out on the record and say, I think she's going to run. Tom.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: It certainly feels that way and I don't see any other Democratic figure right now other than Joe Biden who could even--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: --remotely challenge her.
PEGGY NOONAN: Sure.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I don't know who the challenger would be if she decides not to run. Martin O'Malley says--
PEGGY NOONAN: Martin O'Malley.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --he's going to run, the governor of Maryland. Does anybody know anybody else?
PEGGY NOONAN: Maybe Andrew Cuomo.
DAVID GERGEN: Andrew Cuomo would be-- would be a good choice. I think she's-- she's already running. And the real question is and it's sort of quiet campaign. But I think the real question is whether she calls it off or not. And what she-- I mean this is-- put this book--
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: What might get her to do that, David?
DAVID GERGEN: What-- what-- what--
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: What might get her to do that, David?
DAVID GERGEN: Her level of energy. You know, how she-- how she's feeling about it. How much she thinks she can get done. Can she make a difference if she's elected? You know could she change things with Congress? I think if she felt she can really--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Could she win? If she thinks she could win.
DAVID GERGEN: Could she-- what's going-- well, if she's running, she's-- she's ahead by double digits right now. We're against all Republicans You see it's clear.
BOB SCHIEFFER: That's the person we're talking right now.
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, I think Republicans need to take very seriously how strong a candidate this is. I mean she is the one that raised the 3:00 AM question. Do you trust someone at 3:00 AM? I am pretty convinced. I would trust Hillary Clinton. Many others would. She meets the basic tests. She's a compelling candidate. I think one of the questions here is whether she gets a challenge from the left in the Democratic primaries because she's very tied to Wall Street, she's a hawk. Could be Brian Schweitzer or somebody, you know, the former Montana Governor or somebody that tries a semi serious candidate from the left in the-- in this circumstance. But she's going to have to like--
PEGGY NOONAN: She'd love that.
MICHAEL GERSON: But--
PEGGY NOONAN: Then she'd have someone to beat. That would be fabulous.
MICHAEL GERSON: Right. Exactly. But she's going to have to run on more than nostalgia and entitlement. Every--
PEGGY NOONAN: Yes.
MICHAEL GERSON: --candidate eventually has to have a stronger message than that and she needs a vision.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. So let's say-- let's just put her aside for a minute. Michael, who is the Republican nominee going to be? Who's going to run? Is Jeb Bush going to run? That seems to be the big question right now.
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, people often say this every-- maybe they say it every time but it is a really open field. There is no Republican frontrunner. No guy who is next in line. Many of the-- of the possible frontrunners, establishment frontrunners have flaws, whether it's-- it's Christie or Jeb or others. So I've never seen a more open field than-- than this one.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Do you think Christie is still alive in it?
MICHAEL GERSON: I do, because he is the greatest raw political talent in the Republican Party. If you were just to analyze the candidate since this guy could-- could win the office-- this is the guy who could win the office. Jeb Bush is a wonk, a serious policy guy. He would position the party well for the-- for the Republican nomination. The question is whether on immigration and Common Core and some other issues. Are these disqualifying in a Republican primary? We-- we don't know the answer to that now. I hope he tests it.
PEGGY NOONAN: And there's somebody--
BOB SCHIEFFER: My sense of it is and you probably know more about this than I do, but my sense of it is that even those within the Bush family don't know if he's going to run or not.
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, his mother has an opinion on that.
BOB SCHIEFFER: She does have. What-- what's your sense of it?
PEGGY NOONAN: I just see so many guys, exactly as Michael says, a full field of people you've fully-- you haven't fully met, yet, including some intriguing guys like-- like Rand Paul, who is doing things like showing up at Berkeley and getting young people who are not Republicans to come in and he talks to them about national security and his feelings about foreign policy and he is getting quite a reaction. Somebody told me, a Republican talker, that he's the only-- Rand Paul is the only guy he's seeing, who is actually growing the base a bit. I don't know if that's true, but it sounds sort of anecdotally correct. So the-- well, all of the Republicans are going to have a great war. I must say I agree with Michael that if the Republicans in debate are ten guys, maybe some women up there, plus Chris Christie, Chris Christie is going to make sure you enjoy that debate. It's going to be good. It's going to be tough.
DAVID GERGEN: Yeah.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah. You know one interesting thing happened down in Texas. The Republican State Convention was in Fort Worth yesterday.
PEGGY NOONAN: Yeah.
BOB SCHIEFFER: They had straw poll. Ted Cruz won going away. But you know who finished fourth in that poll? Rick Perry, the outgoing governor. And I'm wondering is this kind of the beginning of the end of the Rick Perry if he's going to try to run again the campaign?
DAVID GERGEN: I don't think it's very, very likely. Sorry, he's-- I don't think he has an opening on the national stage at this point. I think he hurt himself so much the last around. But what is-- I just think it's-- what I can't believe is how much of a juggernaut Hillary Clinton has compared to everything else.
PEGGY NOONAN: Yes.
DAVID GERGEN: I mean there are two million people who signed up already for Hillary. Fifty-five thousand people who've sent in money. And that-- she has more money on hand than all the rest of the candidates combined. And she's ahead by ten points or more against every Republican.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Ands you know-- let me ask you about this, Peg, because one thing I keep hearing on the Republican side is that if Jeb Bush decides not to run that Mitt Romney may actually try to do it again. I'm-- I'm hearing that. I don't know how strong that is.
PEGGY NOONAN: You are? Okay. I am not, but-- but I just may not be-- I've heard it now. Look would that be possible? I think he and his wife made it so clear after their second run-- their second try last time that they're not interested in it again. And I think there are so many serious people in this thing. And I'll tell you, I think Rick Perry is making a better impression on people when he goes to small groups than you would guess. And I think he probably will be in the mix, too, and-- and maybe surprising.
MICHAEL GERSON: I think people usually get momentum from the previous candidate-- candidacy when they do a good job than the previous candidacy.
PEGGY NOONAN: Yes, there is so.
MICHAEL GERSON: And I think there's a perception that Mitt Romney did not do a great job and there's a perception that Rick Perry did not do a great job. These guys don't have a slingshot of momentum in this process. They may be a final choice so.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: You know, I would just say one thing which is-- I don't know much about the politics here, but all I know is, if you look at Obama right now and you look at what we're dealing with as a country, we're dealing with an incredible technological shift that is really changing the nature of work in the workplace and education. Abroad we're dealing with a world where countries have sort of half integrated, China and Russia, half not integrated. How do you manage them? And I would like to see whether it's Hillary's book or in the Republican, you know, run off, who's actually got answers for the problems that the next President is actually going to face.
DAVID GERGEN: And also I think it's-- it's disturbing-- distressing that we have a President two and a half years left in office and we're already focusing--
PEGGY NOONAN: Yes.
DAVID GERGEN: --I mean Times just has this really interesting column today about your conversation with the President Obama on climate change. He wants to use next two and a half years to push that issue. Will people listen to him? Will he get a forum, I am not sure.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I think that-- I think that's a very good point because I mean, look what's happened this year. I mean, the Congress announces, when was it back in February, they weren't going to do anything.
DAVID GERGEN: Right.
BOB SCHIEFFER:--you know, no tax reform, no immigration reform, no entitlement reform, we'll be back after the election. I mean, they're wasting an entire year--
DAVID GERGEN: Right.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --as I'd like to remember, you know, they passed that 1964 Civil Rights Bill that was an election year and it was deep into an election year before they passed it.
MICHAEL GERSON: Right.
DAVID GERGEN: Right.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But now that seems to be kind of out of bow.
DAVID GERGEN: It relates back to the Bergdahl story. Once you stick a-- put another stick in the eyes of Congress, it's just much harder to get anything done over the next two and a half years. If you treat them dismissively they will not go along with you on these--
MICHAEL GERSON: It's even more complex on climate, though--
DAVID GERGEN: Yeah.
MICHAEL GERSON: --because the President has done something with the EPA rule, announcing the rule and complicated his job with Congress by undermining Democratic candidates in Kentucky and West Virginia in coal states because this is not just a left-- left-right issue, its a regional issue. It shows how hard it is sometimes to do your legacy, at the same time you're trying to win a mid-term election and give some themes to candidates.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Bob, there's so much off the table now we can't discuss. It's like they've piled on there so big, you know, for Congress and-- and our national politics. Everything is off the table.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, everybody is worried that-- you know, the thing now is just (INDISTINCT) getting a primary opponent. The founders, you know, when they signed the Declaration of Independence, I don't remember any of them saying, I don't know if I want to sign this. I might get a primary opponent here. I mean they were worried about getting hanged. And we seem to have lost that kind of in American politics. It's-- it's very, very strange. I tell you what I think about who's running and who's not running. I hope both parties nominate the very best person, people who will be qualified to be President. I never say who I vote for. But, you know, if the guy I vote for loses, I want the country to be in good hands.
DAVID GERGEN: I agree with that.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And I think--
DAVID GERGEN: I'd like to see the loser genuinely congratulate the winner and-- and pledge to help. It would really make a difference.
MICHAEL GERSON: And I really agree with Tom. We need idea-oriented candidates right now.
DAVID GERGEN: Yeah.
MICHAEL GERSON: We have a huge challenge particularly you're in with failed education systems, putting-- and then the transition from education to-- to jobs, which is not made by a lot of people in America. And, you know, republic-- we need a virtuous competition on these ideas instead of a sterile ideological debate between more government or less government.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. We're going to take a break. Thanks to all of you.
And when we come back, Tom is going to talk to us about an interview he had with the President on the very thing we've been talking about--climate change.
DAVID GERGEN: Good.
BOB SCHIEFFER: In a minute.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Tom Friedman is maybe the hardest working reporter I know. He is just back from Kurdistan where he delivered among other things a commencement address in addition to doing -- in addition to doing some reporting there. He also interviewed President Obama recently on this issue of climate change for the ShowTime series Years of Living Dangerously. I want to play just a part of that interview that will air later on ShowTime.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (ShowTime): At least once a day you'll see something on the national security side or domestic policy side that is impacted in some fashion by the possibilities of climate change. The area where we are most concerned is how climate change could end up having profound national security implications in poorer countries. We're obviously concerned about drought in California or hurricanes and floods along our coastlines. All those things are bread and butter issues that touch on American families. But when you start seeing how these shifts can displace people, entire countries can be finding themselves unable to feed themselves. And the-- the potential incidents of conflict that arises out of that, that gets your attention. There's a reason why Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff identified climate change as one of our most significant national security problems. It's not just the actual disasters that might arise. It is the-- the accumulating stresses that are placed on a lot of different countries and the possibility of war, conflict, refugees, displacement that-- that arise from changing climate.
BOB SCHIEFFER: That interview airs Monday night--right, Tom--on ShowTime. What else did the President tell you?
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, I think the importance of-- of the interview that he did, Bob, is that President really has never done a full-length interview on this subject.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mm-Hm.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: It's always been a little bit of a hot potato. They have been worried, you know, about taking any attention away from jobs. And so I think the importance of this is-- is threefold. First of all, you know, there's no one who can change the conversation of the country, as you know, more than the President. And I'm a big believer to name something is to own it. If you can name an issue you can own the issue. You know, for so long green, you know, was really named by the people who hated it, and they named it liberal, sissy, girly man, unpatriotic, vaguely-- vaguely French. What Obama is doing in this interview and I think with his EPA regulations is renaming green. He's naming it geostrategic, geo-economic, innovative, patriotic. And one of the-- he made two big points in the interview that I think will-- I think began a whole different discussion. One is the International Energy Agency in 2012 came out with the study that said we basically have to keep roughly two-thirds of proven oil reserves, oil and gas in the ground because we can't exploit them otherwise we're going to burn up the planet. President talked about that, he agrees with that assessment. Over time we got to make that transition. And the other he said, I'm for a price on carbon.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Tom, we'll look forward to that interview. And thank you for being with us this morning.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: My pleasure.
BOB SCHIEFFER: We'll be back.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, that's it for us today. And we'll be right here next Sunday. So thanks for watching.
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