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

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.