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The McLaughlin Group

Host: John McLaughlin

Panel:
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast;
David Rennie, The Economist;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report

Taped: Friday, June 6, 2014
Broadcast: Weekend of June 7-8, 2014

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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Bergdahl Brouhaha.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) The United States has always had a pretty sacred rule. And that is, we don't leave our men or women in uniform behind. And that dates back to the earliest days of our revolution.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama is defending his decision that led to the release of U.S. Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, captured by the Taliban, in exchange for five Taliban detainees that the U.S. had been holding at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba prison facility.

The president announced the swap on Saturday, one week ago, flanked by Bergdahl's parents. But this week the exultant tone of that ceremony changed abruptly to a defensive tone on the part of the White House.

According to the New York Times account this week, five years ago, in June 2009, Bergdahl walked away from his unit, which was stationed at a remote military outposts in Paktika Province in Afghanistan. Again, according to The New York Times, Bergdahl left behind a note saying that he had become disillusioned with the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, in hostile territory and without weapons. Bergdahl was then seized by the Taliban. Reportedly, search missions were mobilized to find the missing soldier.
This week, members of Bergdahl's former platoon are voicing bitterness over the high-level swap. They see Bergdahl as a traitor.

SERGEANT JOSH KORDER (ret.): (From videotape.) It's straight-up desertion. It's walking away from the bond of brotherhood that is sacred on the battlefield.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some of Bergdahl's platoon members claim that as many as eight soldiers were killed in various Bergdahl search missions over the years since 2009. But Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel cautioned against leaping to any such conclusion.

DEFENSE SECRETARY CHUCK HAGEL: (From videotape.) I do not know of specific circumstances or details of U.S. soldiers dying as a result of efforts to find and rescue Sergeant Bergdahl.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, President Obama stated and emphasized his responsibility as commander in chief.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) You have a couple of parents whose kid volunteered to fight in a distant land, who they hadn't seen in five years and weren't sure whether they'd ever see again. And as commander in chief of the United States armed forces, I am responsible for those kids. I make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents and that the American people understand that this is somebody's child and that we don't condition whether or not we make the effort to try to get them back.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why is there such an uproar over exchanging five senior Taliban commanders for Sergeant Bergdahl? Pat Buchanan.

PAT BUCHANAN: John, look, we have to get back our people who have been left behind and lost. But you do not trade five Nazi generals for Private Eddie Slovak (sic/means Slovik), who deserted. And this is the problem. It's the trade. It's first that the White House and the president either were unaware they were dealing here with an individual credibly alleged to have been a deserter; secondly, they gave away these topnotch Taliban people; third, that the White House was utterly unaware that they would cause a firestorm which would cripple the president's trip to Europe. It would divide the country. It would split the military, and it would hound him for one week from a prepared, preplanned Rose Garden ceremony.

John, I think the decision is indefensible. And if the president had to do it over again, I do not think he would do what he did.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, I disagree. The sacred trust between the government and the people who go to war on behalf of the government and its people is that we do bring back our people. That ethos is not only reserved for heroes. It's reserved for everybody.

Now, if, in fact, he did plan to desert, that could be litigated later. The Pentagon already did one investigation, and they concluded that he had wandered off-base twice, once in California, once in Afghanistan. This was the third time. The suggestion is he didn't plan to come back. He did tell some people he wanted to walk to India. That has not been proven. But maybe he will be court-martialed. That needs to be judged.

Trades in order to bring back American POWs have been done going back to the Revolutionary War. These five Taliban figures apparently do not have American blood on their hands, so to speak. And eventually all those people in Guantanamo are going to have to come out, one way or another.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: These are the five -- the four factors that I've enlisted as to why this occurred: The lopsided nature of the swap and likelihood the Taliban will return to the fight; the reversal -- this is the reason for the controversy -- two, the reversal of a longstanding no-negotiation policy with terrorists and the risk that more Americans will now be taken hostage; three, the institutional battle between the executive and the legislative branch -- you can explain that to me in a moment, please, David; and four, doubts about Bengal (sic) -- Bergdahl and his possible dereliction of duty, or worse, whether it was desertion.

Do you want to enlarge on this?

DAVID RENNIE: (Two ?), I think, is really going on. I mean, clearly there are big questions about Sergeant Bergdahl. They'll have to be answered. There are big questions about how he did an end run around Congress, didn't consult them.
But what I think is really going on here is the American public are very conflicted about the ending of this war. All wars are hard to end. But the American public, they want two things. They want this war to end as soon as possible.

But I think what we've seen this week, with the reaction to the Taliban commanders being released, is that the American public is in denial about how bad it's going to feel when this war ends, how like a defeat it's going to feel, because the truth is, as Eleanor says, in 2016, when combat operations cease and the last American troops leave, there's actually no legal basis to hang on to most of the Taliban in Guantanamo Bay.

There are going to be Taliban guys in control of great chunks of Afghanistan after 2016 because that's the logical consequence of walking away. And the American public, they want us to walk away from Afghanistan. They don't want any soldiers left there. But they're not ready for how it's going to feel to see the Taliban back in charge of chunks of Afghanistan. I think that's sort of the deeper meaning of the row we're seeing this week.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Mort.

OK, what happened after Bergdahl's release? On Wednesday of this week, the Taliban put out a 17-minute video showing Bowe Bergdahl's first minutes of freedom. Here he is in this vehicle, looking pale and blinking in the sunlight at the designated transfer drop-off spot.

American helicopters arrive as armed Taliban fighters keep watch from the surrounding hills. A man holds a white flag aloft and escorts Bergdahl to the American soldiers. Bergdahl is patted down before climbing into the helicopter. The video closes with the helicopter flying away, and this superimposed message from the Taliban, "Don't come back to Afghanistan."

Question: In this video, does it appear to you that Sergeant Bergdahl is in such poor shape that there was no time to notify Congress about the Taliban prisoner swap? Mort.

MORT ZUCKERMAN: Well, it's hard, really, to tell from this kind of visual presentation what was going on. That, of course, is what was being said in order to justify the fact that he had to be released and they had to do whatever they had to in order to make sure that that (was it ?). They saw some kind of film in which the administration argues that he looked so well -- so ill -- that they felt they had to move quickly on it. And that was a part of their rationale for going ahead with this transaction.

MS. CLIFT: Well, the White House actually aired that film in a -- video -- in a classified briefing with members of Congress. And congressmen came out and said, yeah, he looked kind of catatonic; he looked strange.

But that aside, the administration is going to lose leverage in Afghanistan, pulling the troops out. I think they were afraid if they left Bergdahl there, the Taliban would up the price for him, might threaten to behead him. I think they thought that this was the best opportunity to retrieve him rather than leaving it to chance to see how this would spin out.

MR. BUCHANAN: But the real --

MS. CLIFT: And it's unlikely they would get a better deal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible) -- John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- because of Susan Rice.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama asserts the justification that the U.S. does not leave its soldiers behind. Is he conveniently omitting that while leaning on historic tradition, he omits the unprecedented nature of this prisoner exchange?
Specifically, Obama is omitting that longstanding U.S. policy under Democratic and GOP presidents that it has been not to negotiate with terrorists over hostages.

MR. BUCHANAN: No --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Until Obama, no president has done that.

MS. CLIFT: Taliban is not terrorist.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hold it. It's -- look, I don't give
validation to the argument we don't negotiate with Taliban or anybody else. We certainly do. The problem here is with Bergdahl himself, when Susan Rice goes out the next morning and says he served this country with distinction and honor. That set off an incredible firestorm, because it was known this guy had deserted. And people out there in middle America, who don't care about the Taliban or Afghanistan, say what are you doing, trading five terrorists for a guy who deserted, and then declaring him a hero?

MR. RENNIE: I don't wholly disagree with you. But on that video that we just saw, surely he also looked like a young kid who was absolutely terrified. And I was briefly in Afghanistan covering the war a decade ago. There was a discussion among a group of us -- (inaudible) -- as reporters.

Someone made a good point. The reason -- a good reason why he may have looked so terrified is he'd just been clean-shaven. His head had been shaven. And there were guys with video cameras from the Taliban. That often means you're about to have your head cut off.

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. RENNIE: So this is --

MS. CLIFT: They were afraid of a beheading. You're exactly right about that.

MR. RENNIE: It looks like a young guy who looks absolutely terrified.

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. RENNIE: So I think that for the Republicans to demonize him before we know the truth is quite a risky strategy.

MS. CLIFT: And the Taliban has not been considered a terrorist organization. It is an insurgent army, which is why he was considered a POW. If the Taliban were terrorists, he would have been considered a hostage.

MR. BUCHANAN: But Eleanor --

MS. CLIFT: It may seem like a fine point --

MR. BUCHANAN: The problem is not bringing him home. The
problem is holding a Rose Garden ceremony for somebody who is widely believed to be a deserter, maybe a defector, and maybe a collaborator, and declaring him the next day someone who served with honor.

MS. CLIFT: I call that a political mistake.

MR. RENNIE: (Can't this ?) wait a few weeks -- (inaudible) -- to learn more about --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, sure. But the Pentagon knew all about it. If you bring him home, bring him home and send him to Idaho.

MS. CLIFT: I call that --

MR. RENNIE: (Inaudible.)

MS. CLIFT: I would call that a political mistake in the sense that the administration -- the White House has a gift for taking something that should have been an easy victory and turning it into something that's far more problematic.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look what happened with -- this followed the president all across Europe. It was a devastating debacle --

MS. CLIFT: The verdict of this --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- caused by the White House staff.

MS. CLIFT: The verdict of this is not going to turn on whether there was a Rose Garden appearance or not. It's going to turn --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MS. CLIFT: -- turn out on eventually how the facts are sorted out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is one possible explanation for Obama's desire to secure his release that Obama views Bergdahl as a kindred spirit? Just as Obama has been an unwilling participant in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and eager to end them as quickly as possible, Bergdahl has become an unwilling participant. Obama may therefore view him as a kindred spirit.

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That is not a cause for laughter.

MS. CLIFT: Whose fanciful language is that? The president is the commander in chief. He's responsible for an American soldier that is held by the enemy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's described the Iraq war as a dumb war.

MR. RENNIE: (Inaudible.)

MS. CLIFT: Well, so have a lot of Americans too.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is that?

MR. RENNIE: He surged huge numbers of troops into Afghanistan. And so, you know, he's certainly a man who doesn't like to use military force, and he's unusually skeptical of -- (inaudible).

MR. BUCHANAN: He announced --

MR. RENNIE: But he did pour huge numbers of troops into Afghanistan.

MR. BUCHANAN: He announced he's coming home from Afghanistan, and this was to be a bookend to it. The last prisoner was coming home. And the problem -- I blame Obama less than I do his staff for not alerting him to what the response would be to a preplanned ceremony in the Rose Garden. What is the matter with these people?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, this week's presidential travel, plus a G-7 meeting and a prospective meeting with Russian President Putin, led Obama to the nearest gym to erase and ease and work on his pecs.

Question: Does this video show President Obama to be an everyman? Mort, you can speak while you see the president, your president, your leader, exercising.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I mean, I know this is quite an unusual thing for someone to have some exercise. And if that is your version of an everyman, good luck. I mean, this seems to be something fairly normal. And if I were he, I would have been doing a lot more exercise before I did this --

MS. CLIFT: He's an --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- release of --

MS. CLIFT: He's an everyman in the sense that the Secret Service didn't clear out the hotel gym. I guess he was just mixing with the guests, which is how they got that video. Some guest must have had his or her iPhone. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'd like to know what the weight was on those weights.

MR. BUCHANAN: They look about two or three pounds -- the ones I use, John. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Still using them?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You got all the equipment?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I don't have all the equipment. I have small stuff that I work with. It works the arms.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about you?

MR. RENNIE: I bicycle. I'm a European. What can I say? (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You bicycle?

MR. RENNIE: I bicycle, yeah, to work and back. I'm a European. That's what we do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How edifying --

MR. RENNIE: Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- but a little dangerous in Washington, where the worst drivers in the country are located, according to the statisticians.

Issue Two: EU Kaput?

NIGEL FARAGE (United Kingdom Independent Party): (From videotape.) If I was on their side of the fence and was thinking intelligently about how I can hold the European Union together, I would say that, in fact, we should start again. And the next commission president should be somebody who recognizes the level of opposition to the project and actually would hand some powers back to the member states as a means of buying off the increasing Euroskeptic base. But they're not thinking like that. They're going to carry on, regardless.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Nigel Farage's United Kingdom Independent Party -- the UKIP -- wants Great Britain out of the European Union. The UKIP was one of the big winners in last week's European parliamentary voting. Some 20 million voters in 28 member countries cast ballots across the EU in elections that France's prime minister terms a, quote-unquote, "political earthquake."

In France, the National Front bested both major parties with 26 percent of the vote. In England, the UKIP beat both Labour and the Conservatives with 28 percent of the vote. The UKIP win broke 100 years of dominance by the two major parties.

In Spain, an upstart party, Nos Podemos -- "We Can" -- defeated both major parties. The Euroskeptic (party's ?) right-wing and left- wing parties were the clear winners in nations spread from Greece to Great Britain. When the next European parliament is seated in Brussels, one third of the representatives will be anti-establishment or anti-European Union.

The losers: Europe's elites, Brussels bureaucrats and professional politicians. Quite possibly, the election outcome is the most momentous event in European political history since the anti- monarchical Europe-wide revolution of 1848. Even the vaunted Economist Magazine, that bastion of establishmentarianism, is now calling into question whether or not the European Union will be able to survive.

Question: How do you account for the surge in anti-establishment parties across Europe? David Rennie.

MR. RENNIE: It's very different in a country like Britain, where what people want is much, much less Europe. And that's kind of what they've always wanted. And the guy you saw there, Nigel Farage, his big success, frankly, was making Europe all about immigration. So he's managed to make people -- all the anger, the populist anger, that people in lots of countries feel about immigration, that's being focused on Europe. But in other countries, people want Europe to be a kind of fortress Europe protectionism, and they blame Europe for globalization.

What's absolutely clear is that an elite-level top-down project, which has a lot of stuff that, frankly, The Economist supports in terms of economic openness, is being scapegoated and blamed by voters in a very dangerous way.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The real --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the EU --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The real problem here, if I may say, is how weak the European economy is.

MR. RENNIE: Mmm hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Everybody thought once you got together, you had this larger economic sort of unit in which to work, OK, that things would get better. They haven't gotten better. In fact, they've gotten worse. And so that's what accounts for the decline in the support of the common market.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's partly economics --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It has not worked as most of the people on the street expected it to work.

MR. BUCHANAN: Economics is only part of it. What you've got here, John, is transnationalism, which was the real move in the last 20 years, I would say, has given way to nationalism and localism and even tribalism -- the desire of the French to be French, the Hungarians to be Hungarians, the Scots to be Scots, the Catalans to break away from Spain. This is a move -- I think it is worldwide. It's the most powerful move going. It's why Putin's got the Crimea. The Crimea said we are Russians. And so they want to connect with Russia.

MS. CLIFT: These are bad times. And in bad times, people tend to turn to right-wing populism. I wish the left would learn how to exploit these grievances a little better.

MR. BUCHANAN: Take a look at Greece. (They did it ?) in Greece.

MS. CLIFT: There are some left-wing parties in this skepticism group as well. But I still think the EU stays together because Germany is the banker, and it's chiefly a forum to funnel money from Germany to the other countries.

MR. BUCHANAN: But the Germans are getting tired of it. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: They'd be fools to walk away. Well, I don't --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Merkel --

MS. CLIFT: But the Germans also benefit from it too, because --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, here's one explanation for the upheaval -- the economy. Quote: "This is the consequence of years of crazy austerity policies that have destroyed the lives of several million people. People became disenchanted with the European Union. Their reaction has been to turn to those leaders at a national level who are proposing a national way out of the EU's confused way of thinking," unquote. So says Paolo Raffone, founder of the CIPI Foundation policy think tank.

Question: What is the root cause of Europe's economic malaise? I ask you, David.

MR. RENNIE: Europe is an expensive place to do business. People are paid reasonably well. People have very generous social benefits. In some countries, if you lose your job, you can have unemployment payments forever, for life. There's no cutoff. It's not like America, where they run out. They last forever. And, you know, like a lot of -- like the Rust Belt in the middle of America, you know, competition from China, competition from the East, has knocked a lot of jobs -- (inaudible) -- has taken away those old blue-collar jobs. It's the same story.
But Europe's problem is people are losing faith in what Europe could offer by way as a resolution to globalization. And if Europe can get it right -- the hope was that Europe -- (inaudible) -- fortress, Europe could use all of its competitive advantages and create a kind of big single market which would allow Europe to survive as a rich, well-paid, comfortable place to live against this cheap competition. But people are losing faith in that project.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The EU is in deep doo-doo. Can we agree on that?

MR. BUCHANAN: I agree.

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this the beginning of the end of the EU? We'll get to that in a moment. But will Prime Minister
Cameron stick with his planned referendum on Britain's EU membership, now scheduled for 2017? You didn't bring that up.

MR. BUCHANAN: That depends on whether he wins the election before then. But certainly he will have to now. And there's a real question of whether he might have to move earlier than that, John. Look, the centrifugal forces have become dominant over the forces pulling things together in Europe.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's have a round --

MR. BUCHANAN: They're falling apart.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's have a round-robin. Let's tie this up. Is this the beginning of the end for the EU? Yes or no?

MR. BUCHANAN: Demise.

MS. CLIFT: No. (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.

MR. RENNIE: I hope not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me a yes or a no.

MR. RENNIE: No. (Laughter.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I said no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes.

Issue Three: Putin's Eurasia Pivot.

DAVID CAMERON (United Kingdom prime minister): (From videotape.) From the outset of this crisis, the G-7 nations have stood united, clear in our support for the Ukrainian people and their right to choose their own future, and firm in our message to President Putin that Russia's actions are completely unacceptable and totally at odds with the values of this group of democracies. That is why Russia no longer has a seat at the table here with us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The G-7, formerly the G-8, composed of the U.S., Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Russia, met in Brussels this week without Russian President Vladimir Putin. The G-7 issued a blunt ultimatum to Putin: Embrace Ukraine's newly elected government within one month or face further economic sanctions.

But Putin may have moved beyond the Ukraine crisis already. Last month, Putin launched an Asian pivot when his summitry with Chinese leader Xi Jinping yielded a prodigious economic breakthrough. Get this: After 10 years of negotiations, Russia and China agreed to a 30-year natural gas contract unofficially valued at $400 billion.
Russia and China will build a pipeline across the border to feed China's voracious energy appetite. The deal will make China second only to Germany as a major customer of Russian natural gas. The deal will not reduce Russian exports to the European Union, however, which flow from different oil and gas fields in western Russia.

At $90 billion of two-way commerce in 2013, China is already Russia's largest trade partner.

Question: What is the strategic impact of Russian President Vladimir Putin's Eurasian pivot? I ask you, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, Putin is looking for allies and he's looking for new markets. And he struck a deal with China. China really got a good deal. He's selling the gas much less to them than he could get in Europe.

So I think it's wrong to look at Putin as the big winner here. I think he's taken on Ukraine and Crimea. They're basket cases. He's edged himself out of the world community. He's selling a finite resource. He doesn't have a diversified economy. So I don't think we have reason to be worried about Putin suddenly ruling the world because he's formed this alliance with China.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You disagree with that, don't you?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I certainly do. I think it's a great coup for Putin and for Russia.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the $400 billion deal with the Chinese?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right, because this is going to give him another alternative in terms of what he can do with his natural resource. This is a major natural resource. Where else is he going to be able to get this? They're also going to be paying -- China's also going to be paying for a big part of their pipeline. That's going to be -- that's going to be a huge asset over decades, not just over the 10-year contract that they have already signed. So it's a major plus for the Soviet economy, for the Russian economy, which is exactly what Putin needs.

MR. BUCHANAN: But John, geostrategically, look, the great achievement of our boss, Richard Nixon, was spreading these two rivals apart and giving us access to the Chinese and pulling Russia from China. Now, this move back together -- I don't know how enduring it's going to be, but it is strategically important.

In my view, quite frankly, Russia belongs in Europe. So in this case, I commend some of the Europeans who are trying to make sure Putin doesn't drift out there too far, where all he has left is to turn to China. You know, and I --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: (Inaudible) -- when Nixon was president, right, who had the breakthrough to China and, in a sense, put in -- established an alliance between China and the United States in some kind of fairly serious way.

MR. RENNIE: But that legacy -- that legacy endures, because if you look at the degree to which China is bound into western supply chains and its manufacturing, Eleanor is right that Russia is a crude producer of oil and gas rather than a sophisticated kind of partner of China's.
China and Russia, they do not trust each other. I used to live in China as a journalist. The Chinese do not trust the Russians. The Russians are paranoid about their large empty territory next to this highly crowded, populous China. This is a hedge, as Mort says --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way --

MR. RENNIE: -- (inaudible).

MS. CLIFT: This is a deal --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me.

MS. CLIFT: -- that was in the works for a long time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: French President Hollande is poised to go through with a $1.6 billion sale of offensive weapon systems this fall. Some 400 Russian sailors will arrive in France on June 22 to train to use the ships. Hollande is ignoring Obama's squawking about this sale.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama doesn't like the sale. He doesn't want anything good to happen to Putin.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But Putin is cleaning up in China and he's selling all of this stuff to --

MR. BUCHANAN: But the French have a real stake in those two --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the French.

What?

MR. BUCHANAN: -- those two amphibious ships. They've got a real stake in that; the French do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Scotland will vote to secede from England this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Scotland will not vote to secede from England this year. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MS. CLIFT: We'll settle up on the money afterwards, Pat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what's Scotland going to do?

MR. RENNIE: I think Scotland will very narrowly vote (to stay in ?). If they don't, I'll wear my kilt on the set.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that your prediction, Scotland?

MR. RENNIE: I think Scotland will just about --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What was your original prediction before we got into this Scottish preoccupation?

MR. RENNIE: It was less interesting than Scotland.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK.
Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: If he wears his kilt on the set, I promise to do whatever it takes to get Scotland to do whatever it takes to get (out of the kilt ?). (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama's plan to close Guantanamo before the end of his second term will suffer a fatal setback because of his unilateral action in releasing the Taliban prisoners without congressional consent.

This week, President Obama and other allied members paid tribute to the soldiers who took part in the invasion of Normandy that began the liberation of Europe 70 years ago. We on the Group join in that salute to those valiant armies.

Bye-bye.

(C) 2014 Federal News Service

END