All-Star Panel: Questions continue to mount over Bergdahl release

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 4, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, it wasn't just National Security Adviser Susan Rice, also outgoing Press Secretary Jay Carney saying that Bowe Bergdahl served with honor and distinction. This came on a day when White House decided to clarify Rice's comments, saying this, quote, "She was referring to the fact that he was over there as a U.S. soldier, volunteered for service, and remember, he has just endured five years of brutal captivity. She wasn't necessarily trying to characterize the circumstances of his capture, which she said we'd have to learn more about. And let's not forget of the facts that we don't know yet. We haven't heard his side of the story yet."

This also comes on a day when two senior defense officials, not soldiers in the field, two senior defense officials confirmed that Bergdahl walk off before in 2010, and there's an army report about that. We're back with our panel in D.C. George, what about this?

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, Winston Churchill once said that U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was a bull who carried his china show around with him. Susan Rice is like that. Trouble seems to follow here around.

Leave aside the statement of hers that you just talked about. She has also said that Bergdahl was captured on the battlefield. Now, no one seems to believe that except Susan Rice.

What really is alarming and what we want to find out is did she as National Security Adviser allow the president to wrap his arms around this little episode as a mellow moment of national sentiment without telling him some of the many, to put it politely – ambiguities -- about Sergeant Bergdahl's service in Afghanistan. Did she tell the president, is she advising him? Because, if she is not, if she is not giving him the facts, then we have a really serious problem 16 blocks from here.

BAIER: Chuck, Senator McCain said yesterday that Susan Rice should stay off Sunday shows.

CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, she didn't have a good one this last week. And, you know, the statement by Jay Carney about how he put the uniform on voluntarily, went to war voluntarily is not going to work because what military people, and I have heard from them myself, are saying is the important point here is that he took the uniform off voluntarily and went away from the war voluntarily. They have to find a way to address that problem in a way that's convincing to their critics.

Instead what I hear them doing is like digging the hole that they are already in even deeper. The signaling, the messaging, the symbolism that has accompanied this entire thing has been clueless in depicting Bergdahl as some kind of hero. I wouldn't say for a minute that I think that's been a one-sided problem. I think there are a lot of people throughout demonizing Bergdahl excessively, talking about how is he a traitor and collaborator. And I think that's over-the-top, too. But unfortunately for the administration, they opened themselves up. They created the opportunity for their critics to play that game by attempting to create this sort of myth about him for their own advantage when they didn't -- they obviously had not done their homework about his actual record.

This should are been handled in a much more kind of mundane, business-like way, if at all, to say like OK, we have made our trade here and this is kind of one of the things that you have to do to wrap up the war in Afghanistan. But when they try to convert it, as George said, in sort of this mellow, feel-good moment, they obviously went too far.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: But that's not a messaging problem. That's a conceptual problem. They have no idea what they actually did. Even those of us who might grudgingly accept the cost of that swap would understand that this is a defeat for the United States. This is a moment of solemn -- solemnity and sorrow that we had to make this endangering our country as a result, but in the name of saving someone. But the president thought of it as a victory lap, shows up in the Rose Garden, he has his acolytes speaking about this being a happy day, Harry Reid, it's a day we ought to celebrate. This is insane. This is a defeat for the United States and, if anything, you regretfully announce it solemnly and you move on.

BAIER: Panel, thank you. That's it for the panel from D.C., and thanks for the intro by the way, Charles. But stay tuned for some interesting facts about NSA leaker Edward Snowden. 

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