Face the Nation Transcripts June 8, 2014: Feinstein, Chambliss, Rohde

The latest on the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap and the 2016 presidential speculation with Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and others
The latest on the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap... 47:16

(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--


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.


SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: And he wanted to say it to everybody.