FNC’s James Rosen was my guest in hour two today.
HH: Joined now by James Rosen, national security correspondent for the Fox News network. James, I began the show today with your colleague, Bret Baier. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read his wonderful new book, Special Heart, but it’s extraordinary.
JR: Yeah, and I know he put a lot of work into it, and I hope it touches many lives, Hugh.
HH: It does, but he’s ruining Roger Ailes’ reputation. Ailes comes off as a kind-hearted, very wonderful to work for guy, and we all know he’s the prince of darkness.
JR: And where reputations are concerned, I was taught in TV school never ever, unless it’s totally unavoidable, correct the anchor who is talking to you.
JR: But I will endeavor to correct you where Roger’s reputation is concerned, and also where my title is concerned, simply because I don’t want to seem to be appropriating somebody else’s glory. I am not our national security correspondent, although I often cover national security subjects. I am the chief Washington correspondent, and I believe Jennifer Griffin is our national security correspondent.
HH: Okay, I love that rule, because if that rule had anything to do with radio, I would never have had a producer for as long as I’ve had, since he corrects me every five minutes. James Rosen, I am spending most of the program when I’m not talking with Bret talking about the Bowe Bergdahl thing, and this story has erupted on the White House in a way that has taken them totally unawares. How do you calculate the damage they’ve done to their reputation?
JR: Well, I think this is a story that’s very much in flux right now, and so measuring the damage done to the President, politically, won’t be possible fully for some time, but it is an election cycle, and that might be one metric in November that might be readily available. If the President and his advisors are truly surprised at the reaction to this set of events, that itself would be surprising to many, I think, because this subject of Bowe Bergdahl is not new. The emails that Sgt. Bergdahl sent prior to, or shall we say during his last stretch of active duty in Afghanistan, were published in Rolling Stone magazine by the late Michael Hastings in 2012. And the complexities associated with the Bergdahl case would be readily apparent to any astute observer. So I think that the White House had to know that at least the communications team, they were making something of a calculated risk in having the President appear cheek by jowl alongside Sgt. Bergdahl’s father, who has a history of statements and posts, and whose immediate physical appearance, I think, is redolent of these complexities.
HH: Yeah, I do not know if…
JR: It seems to be the White House was simply trying to place this, one last point, Hugh, in the grand lineage of POW homecomings, and thought that the American people, despite those complexities, would accept that, at least based on the emotion displayed by the mother. But I think they have been…
HH: But that has clearly not happened, right?
JR: Yeah, correct.
HH: They swung and they missed. The guest immediately preceding you, Alex Berenson, I don’t know if you know him…
HH: …or read his novels, Alex ended his interview by saying President Obama has actually handled Afghanistan worse than President Bush did. And for a liberal novelist to say that is one measure of the ineptitude on display here. And I wouldn’t be surprise, would you, James Rosen, to see that Rose Garden picture surface in the elections of November, 2014, in some places?
JR: I wouldn’t be surprised, particularly if the trend of disclosure in the case follows its present trajectory. Now I reported for Fox News on Monday for our website, www.foxnews.com, that there is a major classified file associated with Sgt. Bergdahl that has been compiled by the intelligence community, and that many in that community harbor ongoing, outstanding and serious concern that Sgt. Bergdahl may not have just been a deserter, but that he may have been an active collaborator with the enemy. Now of course, we must state that all Americans, including Sgt. Bergdahl, are entitled to a presumption of innocence. But I can report accurately, as I have, that there are many in the intelligence community who harbor that concern. I am speaking presently with a number of people in and out of the military, in and out of the government, in and out of the national security apparatus, if you will, who are detailing further allegations to me, and which I’m trying to run to ground, but this has been a major area of focus for some time now. The Daily Mail reported in 2010 on the strength of an interview with a named Taliban commander in their article that Sgt. Bergdahl, as of that time, had already begun teaching the Taliban who were ostensibly holding him captive ambush skills and bomb making devices. So there is already some anecdotal evidence of active collaboration. But again, Sgt. Bergdahl is entitled to his day in court, if these charges are formally lodged.
HH: James Rosen, I have been told by the people I have been discussing this story with off the record that there is a stack of what are known as 15-6’s. These are incident reports that follow every patrol, every incident in Afghanistan that make it very, very clear that he is at best a deserter. And is that a fair assessment in your view, at best a deserter?
JR: I have not read the 15-6. The 15-6 is kind of the equivalent of a police report, if you will. It was filed in 2010 in the Bergdahl case by the Army, by the Department of the Army. My sources are telling me that an addendum to the 15-6 was filed by, and that it was, that the investigation at that point was overtaken from the Army by the Department of Defense proper, more broadly, which is indicative of a larger, a state of concern at a higher echelon. I’m also told that the intelligence community has contributed to this major file, specifically CIA, and DIA have played a role in this. So I am not in a position to say exactly what was in the 15-6, but if you listen to the evidence as compiled by, in interviews just over the last few days from those who were serving with Sgt. Bergdahl, a case for desertion would appear on prima facia to be a strong one.
HH: The other thing, but what I’m getting, when I say a stack of 15-6’s, that refers to the, every one that was filed when another soldier was killed in the search for the sergeant, and that therefore, they’re related documents that would prove conclusively his going AWOL, if in fact that’s what he did, led to the deaths of these six soldiers that were talked about.
JR: Well, if a soldier was killed in a search for a soldier who hypothetically went AWOL, it’s not clear to me that the mission, the search mission, would further establish how the soldier went missing necessarily. But I would understand that further 15-6’s would be filed in connection to that.
HH: It would be a consequence, because he’s going to do a book deal. And James Rosen, this is my last question for you. Has anyone begun to talk about the proceeds of any money he makes coming back from book deals, television series, reality shows, whatever, because we’ve got six dead soldiers.
JR: Well, given his status, it would seem to me, even if he were never prosecuted, or doesn’t face any kind of code of military justice or any administrative proceeding of any kind, he just steps back into Hailey, Idaho and resumes his life, given his status, any attempt by him to publish a book would probably have to be vetted by the sort of professional boards that vet the memoirs of people who have had access to classified information of some kind. So I don’t think it would be so easy for him to publish a book. I think that he’s going to have more serious problems than what to do with the proceeds of a book, however, before that time comes. We heard the comments of the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff yesterday, General Martin Dempsey, saying in essence, first we needed to get our hands on him. Now that we have that, we need to restore his health. And then a process will unfold, but he did aver to a process unfolding, Hugh.
HH: James Rosen, it is always a great pleasure to talk to you. Thank you, James.
End of interview.