CB: "He's much more valuable to them alive than dead."

Length: 7:28

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Michael is back in New York, and joins a discussion about the Army private being held by the Taliban. John Roberts hosts, Chris Lawrence (via video from DC) and Seth Jones are the other panelists.

Michael gives some good info about the background of the Afghanistan warlord who now holds the private (almost certainly now in Pakistan) and points out how valuable he is to the Taliban as a means of getting the US to the negotiating table -- which bodes well for the continued health of the young man.

JOHN ROBERTS: To Afghanistan now and the search for captured Army Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl. The Taliban released a video of him, drawing a quick condemnation from U.S. officials.


PFC. BOWE R. BERGDAHL, U.S. ARMY: I have my girlfriend who I was hoping to marry. I have my grandma and grandpas. I have a very, very good family that I love back home in America. And I miss them every day that I'm gone. I miss them and I'm afraid that I might never see them again.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: My personal reaction was one of disgust at the exploitation of this young man.

ADM. MICHAEL MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Having been with the forces, in fact, who are conducting the operations to recover him or to find him is they are extensive, vast. They're on it 24/7, and we're doing absolutely everything we can to get him back.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: What does that mean? Air drones flying overhead, passing out fliers on the ground, collecting intelligence, seeing if they can eavesdrop, if you will, on any conversations that they might be able to hear.


ROBERTS: CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence joins us now from Washington. And with me here in New York are Michael Ware, who's actually spent considerable time with the Taliban leaders now holding Bergdahl. And Seth Jones, he's just back from Afghanistan and he is the author of "In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan."

Chris, let's start with you. The Taliban, the U.S. military, and Bowe Bergdahl all giving different reasons for why he was captured by the Taliban or how he came to be, what he was doing at the time. What's the best assessment that we have of exactly how he was captured?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, right now, there are three versions of what happened to him. The Taliban says that Private Bergdahl visited another military outpost, got drunk and was ambushed on his way back to his car. But a military source, an American military source says the Taliban is lying about him being drunk but that he did leave his small outpost on his own and he went without his weapons.

And on the videotape that you just saw, the soldier, himself says that he was on patrol but that he was lagging behind when he was captured. The one thing that they all can probably agree on is that he has been moved several times since his capture.

ROBERTS: Seth Jones, when the Taliban says that he was drinking, is there any reason to believe them?

SETH JONES, AUTHOR, "IN THE GRAVEYARD OF EMPIRES": No, for several reasons. One is that no military base in Afghanistan is allowed to have alcohol at all. U.S. military soldiers are actually removed from Afghanistan if they're drinking at all, so you can't find alcohol at a U.S. military base. Second of all, it really --

MICHAEL WARE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm not sure about that, Seth. I've had a few drinks on a few bases in Afghanistan.

JONES: Well, but in general, I mean, the penalty for a soldier to drink --

WARE: General Standing Order Number One is a war crime in itself. Preventing alcohol.

JONES: But the second issue this is just great propaganda, to be able to show the infidel drinking in a country where they don't drink alcohol I think is a useful propaganda tool.


So, Michael, as we said, you have spent considerable time. You are familiar with the people who are holding Bergdahl.

WARE: Very much so.

ROBERTS: Tell us what you know.

WARE: These -- this is the Haqqani network. It's led by Jalaluddin Haqqani. He used to be the CIA's greatest ally in the 1980s. Indeed, he was the man who took then-Congressman Charlie Wilson into Afghanistan and brought him back out.

Now, while the Pakistani intelligence service, who was filtering all the money, had all its little patrons, the CIA developed its own independent channel and Haqqani was very important to that. Now, Haqqani became very aggrieved when America abandoned him and Afghan --

ROBERTS: As many of the Mujahideen did.

WARE: As they did. And I know that in the months after 9/11, there were conversations with Haqqani trying to bring him back in from the fold. And as far as he was concerned, he was simply fighting another foreign occupation. But this all now fits into a much greater picture. This private first class is now going to be a key joker card that the Taliban can play in negotiations to end this war. As we know, the Pakistani intelligence organization has always been the conduit to the Taliban. They've now finally admitted in public that they've talking to Mullah Omar, Haqqani and all the rest. It's almost like this private was a target of opportunity, and he's now going to be well-used in any forthcoming negotiations.

ROBERTS: Chris Lawrence, pick that up for us. What's the Pentagon saying about the potential that he could be used as some sort of a bargaining chip? You know, I don't think that he goes through this Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training that many flyers do or Special Operations Forces. Are they worried about his state of mind there? Are they worried about how he's surviving his captivity?

LAWRENCE: They are. You know, there is that intense Resistance and Escape training that involves food and sleep deprivation. But again, like you said, that's only given to pilots, special ops, people at very high risk of being captured.

Private Bergdahl would have gone through a very basic version of that. He would have been instructed to follow his captors' directions, not make enemies of his captors. But he would have been told to always look for a chance to escape. It's the difference between being a prisoner of war and a prisoner at war.

ROBERTS: Go ahead, Michael.

WARE: That's one thing. Right now, at this junction in the war, he is more valuable to the Taliban alive than dead. If he was with Al Qaeda, he'd be dead by now.

JONES: Yes. And one of the interesting components of this, too, is David Rohde, "The New York Times" correspondent was captured by the Taliban in Logar province and transferred to the Haqqani network and was kept alive.

WARE: Right.

JONES: He was actually brought across the border into Pakistan, in the north of Waziristan --

WARE: Well, that's where he is now. The soldier, he's in Waziristan.

ROBERTS: Do you think he's in Pakistan?

WARE: I have no doubt he's in Pakistan. That's where Haqqani is. That's where his bases are, that's where he trains, equips. And it's from there that he launches his attacks. And it's all with the tolerance, not the support but the tolerance of the Pakistani intelligence agency.

ROBERTS: So do you expect, Seth and Michael, that there is any way that the U.S. could launch a rescue mission?

WARE: No, no chance.

JONES: Well, we would have to have very, very specific information on his whereabouts. Very good information about the security detail around him.

WARE: But you have to get Pakistan's permission. And they are not going to give that. They are not going to give that.

JONES: And you have to get --

ROBERTS: Bottom line, because his parents may be watching as well -- from what you know of the Haqqani network, do you believe his life is in danger?

WARE: I think, I firmly believe they're going to keep him alive. Haqqani is an old-school warrior. He's one of the greatest battle commanders that Afghanistan's ever produced. He is well-aware of this soldier's political value.

And as I said, he is much more valuable to them alive than dead. It might not be pleasant. It's going to be very, very basic. But it's not in their interest to kill him right now.

There's nothing to be gained from it. Even the propaganda value would be minimal because he's far more valuable in forcing America to the table and to give concessions.

ROBERTS: Let's hope you're right. Michael Ware, Seth Jones and Chris Lawrence, thanks so much.