'This Week' Transcript: Gen. Martin Dempsey

ByABCNEWS (syndicate)
May 24, 2014, 4:54 PM
PHOTO: Roundtable on 'This Week'
ABC News Political Analyst and ABC News Special Correspondent Matthew Dowd. ABC News Contributor and Republican Strategist Ana Navarro, ABC News Contributor and Former Obama White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe, Daily Beast Contributor and Republican Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson on 'This Week'
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May 25, 2014— -- Below is the rush transcript of "This Week" on May 25, 2014. It may contain errors.

ANNOUNCER: ABC's This Week: deadly rampage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired, shots fired.

ANNOUNCER: Breaking details on the California shooting spree, the moments of terror, the urgent calls for action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have to live like this.

ANNOUNCER: And the chilling video and manifesto left behind.

Then, the pope's pilgrimage. His surprising message. We're live with Francis in the Holy Land.

Stunning scandal.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is dishonorable, disgraceful and I will not tolerate it.

ANNOUNCER: The president demanding answers. Will the VA secretary keep his job? The chairman of the joint chiefs weighs in.

Band of Brothers -- on this Memorial Day weekend, the memories that never fade.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does it mean to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's huge. This is what I needed.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, This Week with George Stephanopoulos begins now.

MARTHA RADDATZ, HOST: Good morning. I'm Martha Raddatz.

As we come on the air this morning, new details emerging about the deadly rampage near a California college. Ten minutes of terror when 22-year-old suspect Elliot Roger opened fire triggering a deadly chase with police. In this disturbing video, Roger called it a day of retribution.

Here's the latest, police say there are at least 10 crimes scene, seven people dead including Rodger, son of a Hollywood director. Investigators also confirming three interactions with police months before the shooting spree.

So were warning signs missed? Our experts weigh in shorts, but first let's go to ABC's Clayton Sandell outside one of the crime scenes -- Clayton.

CLAYDON SANDELL, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Martha, normally I would say good morning, but right now it is not a good morning here.

Isla Vista is a community in deep sorrow.

Behind me, the apartment complex where Elliot Rodger lived and where police say he murdered his first three victims.


SANDELL: As shocked residents of this Santa Barbara community grieve, a clearer picture is starting to form of 22-year-old Elliot Rodger's twisted plan, a plan he'd apparently been working on for months.

ELLIOT RODGER, SHOOTER: Tomorrow, is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my revenge against humanity.

SANDELL: In this YouTube video posted the day before his rampage, Rodger reveals one motive, his rejection by women.

RODGER: Girls gave their affection and sex and love to other men, but never to me.

SANDELL: He lays out his plan to exact revenge in a rambling 141 page manifesto. He writes, "I found out that the sorority with the most beautiful girls is Alpha Phi sorority. I know exactly where their house is, and I've sat outside it in my car to stalk them many times."

According to authorities, Rodger drove to that sorority house and started banging on the door.

Fortunately, no one opened the door. And shortly afterwards, witnesses reported seeing three young women who were standing outside in the vicinity shot by the suspect.

One of 10 terrifying crime scenes. On this video, people diving for cover when the shooting began.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He fired two shots in. It stopped for about two seconds before they just started raining through.

SANDELL: Rodger's family says that in the weeks before the shooting, they reached out to authorities. They also say he'd been receiving mental health treatment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very, very apparent that he was severely mentally disturbed when you review that document.

SANDELL: Still, so many unanswered questions and a heartfelt plea from one victim's father.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, not one more.


SANDELL: Now of the 13 people who were injured in this attack, this morning six of them remain in the hospital -- Martha.

RADDATZ: Our thanks to Clayton.

Here now ABC contributor and former FBI special agent Brad Garrett and senior Justice Department correspondent Pierre Thomas. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

And Brad I want to start with you, we talked about these three interactions with police where deputies actually saw him, talked to him, the last was April 30. They went over there because his mother apparently had concerns about his safety, whether he was suicidal, had seen some videos -- not the one we just saw -- had seen some videos prior. Should deputies be determining the mental health of someone like that?

They basically said he was a polite kid and left.

BRAD GARRETT, FRM. FBI SPECIAL AGENT: At an alarming rate, law enforcement are being asked to be law enforcers and psychiatric social workers. And so when they are given a set of facts, they take them. And they look at the individual. They did an assessment by interviewing him apparently at his apartment. He was articulate, bright, lucid, not typically what they deal with day in and day out with people who have mental health issues.

And so it would appear that they sort of put it to rest at that point and felt like what else can we really do? He's acting normal. He's written some inappropriate things, but he didn't I guess withdrew them from the internet.

RADDATZ: Pierre, let me go to you, so what could law enforcement have done? Let me read from the manifesto that Rodger wrote, "as soon as I saw those cops, the biggest fear I had ever felt in my life overcame me. I had the striking and devastating fear that someone had somehow discovered what I was planning to do. If they had demanded to search my room, that would have ended everything." He said he had guns in his room. What could law enforcement have done? They didn't have a search warrant at that point.

PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Clearly they didn't have the predicate to search his room.

We talk about in covering terrorism connecting the dots. I think these things are happening so often now that police are going to have to be more proactive. The one thing that could have set this in motion, or stopped it, would have been to find out he had purchased weapons. You couple that with the fact that his parents are concerned about him being suicidal and you find out the man has actually purchased weapons. That might give them the predicate to do a search.

RADDATZ: Brad, Pierre talked about the parents. The parents were clearly concerned. They had social workers involved, therapists. What more could really a parent do. He was a 22-year-old?

GARRETT: Very little, Martha.

And the problem is that when you take an individual has no criminal history, has some mental health challenges along the way, has sort of found his way out of college, moving on, you know as a parent he's got problems. What am I going to do about it? And I think they were doing the best they could.

Once he becomes an adult, his ability to acquire firearms, to have all of these very, very dark thoughts. Until he takes some action and law enforcement knows in advance that he's about to take this action, there's very little they can do. And the parents are unfortunately sort of stuck.

RADDATZ: Pierre, quickly I know we've seen since 1996, there have been nine instances of deadly gunfire on or near a college campus, officials you talk to say there really is a spike nationwide.

THOMAS: Martha, the problem is it's even bigger than that. Between 2008 and 2000 -- 2000 roughly, they were averaging about five mass shootings a year. We're now averaging 15. So that's a three-fold increase. Law enforcement is deeply concerned, the FBI...

RADDATZ: Copy cat -- is it copy cat?

THOMAS: It could be some copy cats, the FBI is now training police around the country in terms of how to respond, one of the things they've decided is that if you get word of a shooting, you have to go in and take out the suspect, because there's no time, the killing will continue.

The other thing they're trying to do is make their counselors available to police at the FBI, behavioral scientists, to consult with them about cases with them about cases just like this.

RADDATZ: Thank you both very much.

Now to Pope Francis, and his historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he's just arrived in Bethlehem after a stop in Jordan. It's his first trip to the Mideast as pontiff. And ABC's chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran is traveling with him -- Terry.


What a day it's been here, part spiritual, pilgrimage, part national celebration and some political controversy as well.

Pope Francis has said he wanted this trip to be strictly religious, but he pointedly said he was in the state of Palestine, a term Israel rejects and the U.S. does no recognize.


MORAN: In Bethlehem today, a profound moment of prayer, Pope Francis is the grotto where Christians believe Jesus was born.

And in Manger Square earlier, Francis spoke of the Christ Child and of the children in the world today -- exploited, maltreated, enslaved, trafficked.

In acknowledging this, he said, we feel shame before god who became a child.

As he makes his journey here this morning traveling in an open care through the Palestinian West Bank, Francis smiled his winning smile, enjoys himself. But this morning, a sorrowful and striking scene, the pope prays that the grim separation barrier dividing Israelis and Palestinians.

And there is anger in this pope. We saw it yesterday in Jordan when he went off script, shook his fists and railed at those who are selling weapons to fuel the war in Syria.

"Criminals," he called them. "God change the hearts of those who plan wars."

But can a pope, any pope, make change happen? Francis is the fourth pope to visit the holy land. This trip marks the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's groundbreaking journey, a historic moment. Five decades later, still no peace.

In the old city of Jerusalem, we spoke with Addan Dacar (ph) a Palestinian shopkeeper.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have three popes coming before. I didn't think it brought any difference. I hope this one will bring, but to be honest with you, I doubt it.

MORAN: So a bit of a pessimist?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, at the age of 50, you know, living under occupation for so many years, I don't think anything has changed.

MORAN: Maybe it frustrates Francis. He comes and hugs the children and meets the political leaders and prays on the banks of the Jordan River. And the wars grind on and the refugees despair. And the children suffer.


MORAN: Still, Pope Francis is determined to bear witness and to keep trying in an extraordinary gesture, he's invited the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, to join him in the Vatican to pray for peace. And they've accepted -- Martha.


Now to the growing scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs, outrage over delays in life-saving care. This weekend, President Obama is demanding answers; ABC's Jim Avila has the latest.

JIM AVILA , ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House scrambling to contain a spreading scandal at the V.A., sending a Mr. Fix-it, deputy chief of staff, Rob Nabors to the Phoenix V.A., where it all began, the president calling his Veterans Affairs secretary to the Oval Office and promising veterans anyone cooking the books to hide long delays to see a V.A. doctor will be punished.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want every veteran to know we are going to fix whatever is wrong. I'm going to keep on fighting to deliver the care and the benefits and the opportunities that your families deserve.

AVILA (voice-over): It's a scandal that has traction across political parties and TV channels.

Whistleblowers coming forward to expose secret lists that hid long waits to see a doctor.

AVILA: People actually died because of the delay?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because of the delay in getting care.

AVILA (voice-over): Troy Bermish (ph) was a scheduler in Phoenix, ordered by hospital supervisors, he says, to hide the real wait times, months long, on handwritten, untraceable lists.

AVILA: The bosses in Washington couldn't tell?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, no. There's no way.

AVILA: They were looking at a computer screen, which told them what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Less than two weeks, which is not even close.

AVILA (voice-over): Veterans like Thomas Breen, dying of painful cancer while waiting nearly a year to see a doctor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was delayed care completely and on that secret list because I have proof.

AVILA (voice-over): V.A. Secretary General Eric Shinseki ending the week visiting Capitol Hill to say he won't quit despite a wave of calls for him to resign, finally issuing this statement, saying, "The scandal is of great personal concern to me. And if true, we will act."

For THIS WEEK, Jim Avila, ABC News, Phoenix.

RADDATZ: We'll talk more about that on the roundtable.

Now the crisis in Ukraine, where they're voting for a new president this morning. In the midst of what Vladimir Putin calls a civil war, Russian troops are still on the border and there are real fears about what happens next.

ABC's Alex Marquardt is on the ground with the latest -- Alex.


This is a momentous vote for Ukraine, one full of hope for these long lines of voters who want to elect someone who can end the chaos and reunite this country. There has been a strong turnout here in the capital, Kiev, but in the violent eastern part of the country, where the Ukrainian military is trying to put down a pro-Russian insurgency, the vast majority of polling stations have been shut down; election officials scared and threatened by pro-Russian separatists. This is the first round of this election, which is expected to be won by pro-Western billionaire Petro Poroshenko, also known as the chocolate king, for the candy empire that he runs.

And of course looming large over this vote is Russian President Vladimir Putin, who says that a civil war is already raging in Ukraine, but is showing signs of possibly softening his stance, easing tensions by saying he will work with Ukraine's next president -- Martha.

RADDATZ: Our thanks to Alex in Ukraine.

Now new warnings over cyber security and the growing cyber war between the U.S. and China, U.S. officials charging members of a shadowy unit in the Chinese military accusing its agents of stealing trade secrets from American companies.

Pierre Thomas is back with the dramatic details.

PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS SR. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The FBI claims the scale of China's theft of U.S. company research, design and marketing strategy had reached a point where something had to be done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The amount of theft that's going on is simply staggering.

THOMAS (voice-over): So for the first time ever, Justice Department prosecutors charged the Chinese military with hacking into U.S. companies, stealing extraordinary amounts of trade secrets, of state-sponsored economic espionage, costing American jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to make a big difference in the competitive landscape. American companies won't exist anymore in some fields.

THOMAS (voice-over): Richard Beklud (ph) was part of the security for Mandiant (ph), that helped uncover the alleged Chinese hacking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last year alone, 3,000 U.S. companies received notification that they had had a significant breach. Most of those could be attributed to the Chinese.

THOMAS: So in other words, we spend billions and billions of dollars developing products for sale, and then they take those secrets and therefore they don't have to spend the money?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's exactly right. We're a really deplorable (ph) point here.

THOMAS (voice-over): Case in point: five Chinese military officials allegedly part of a specialized army unit known as 61398 were charged this week with targeting U.S. companies. The Chinese government called the charges bogus, fabricated.

THOMAS: Do you have the goods?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of 12 who would agree unanimously that this conduct was done by these five guys.

THOMAS (voice-over): It's a delicate line for the U.S., after Edward Snowden revealed the U.S. engaged in its own spying against our own allies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some critics of what the U.S. government did on Monday in charging these military officials would say look at what the NSA is doing. We're spying all the time.

Isn't this hypocrisy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not targeting private companies in order to take their trade secrets and then pass them to American companies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are aware of no nation in the world that publicly states that theft of information for commercial gain is acceptable.

THOMAS (voice-over): The stakes could not be higher. And with these charges, the U.S. entered a new frontier, the geopolitical fight with China for economic supremacy. For THIS WEEK, Pierre Thomas, ABC News, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)RADDATZ: And joining us now, former ambassador to China and GOP presidential candidate, Governor John Huntsman, and our ABC News contributor Steve Ganyard, who is just back from Asia.

Welcome, gentlemen.

Governor Huntsman, I want to start with you. You were also the co-chair of the commission on the theft of American intellectual property, one of the things the commission found was, quote, "The American response to date of hectoring governments and prosecuting individuals has been utterly inadequate to deal with the problem. So what good does this indictment do?"

Is the Obama administration doing enough?

JON HUNTSMAN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it has been a problem for probably 40 years, which is to say the whole length of the U.S.-China relationship formally, and it ratcheted up about, I'd say, eight years ago, with the creation of this PLA unit --


HUNTSMAN: -- and the systemic development of indigenous innovation, which is to say picking winners locally in the Chinese economy.

So we have a real problem today. And we assessed theft of intellectual property as costing the United States roughly $300 billion per year. So that's everybody combined; I'd say China's probably 70 percent of that number.

But what it does, Martha, it gets to the heart and soul of innovation and trade secrets and the creation of new industries in America that we do better than anybody else. And it's really hard to put a price tag on innovation.


RADDATZ: Well, let me ask you again, are we doing enough? Will this do any good?

HUNTSMAN: This is symbolic. You put five PLA members in a most wanted poster; we're not going to make any headway on this until such time as we really target market access in this country and to say what is it that China wants more than anything else. They want access to our market; they want to go public on our stock exchange. They want access to our banks and our financial services. And at some point, we have to start getting serious about how we respond beyond just the symbolic measures.

And while this will ratchet up the level of discussion, I don't think it's going to do much to really stop the activity that's going on.

Steve, you heard in Pierre's piece and you know this well, the Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S., of course, was spying on China and cyber spying.

So what's the difference between what the U.S. is doing and what China's doing?

STEVE GANYARD, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Right. So what the administration tried to do this week is make a moral and legal distinction between what we do in terms of spying for national security and what the Chinese do, which is spy for national security and for profit.

So there's a big difference here between stealing intellectual property and protecting your country. But we're about the only country in the world that feels that way. You saw Secretary Gates this week confirm the open secret that the French government has been stealing directly from U.S. industry for decades.

So this is really a view that's held only by the U.S., but as the governor said, it costs us hundreds of thousands of jobs per year.

RADDATZ: How does -- how do the Chinese retaliate? Or will they retaliate? And when do we call this an act of war?

HUNTSMAN: Well, the laws of physics apply and the U.S.-China relationship -- for every action, there's a reaction. And I fully expect that there will be a reaction by the Chinese to what we have done. It probably will cost us a whole lot more than it's costing them, is what is sad about this whole thing, the symbolic gesture.

We need to be very fastidious in differentiating espionage, country-to-country espionage and spying from the theft of intellectual property rights and innovation. We don't do a very good job in differentiating those two.

But we've got to keep them in different silos. We take the espionage part and put it over here and say we'll figure out the red lines between our countries and if you cross them, you have a certain penalty to pay.

But in the meantime, let's work on this serious economic issue, which is theft of intellectual property rights and begin to determine the price that people will pay.

RADDATZ: The government can really only do so much to protect private industry. So we get cyber mercenaries, Steve? What happens now for these companies to actually try to protect themselves?

GANYARD: That's right. There are real limits to what the U.S. government can do. You know, some of this responsibility needs to go back on U.S. private industry. They've parked the Ferrari in a bad neighborhood overnight and left the keys in the car, and they're shocked to find the Ferrari's gone in the morning.

So the real -- the real fight here is between private industry, those who would steal, whether it's transnational groups, whether it's countries that would steal from them, but there's no Marine Corps in cyberspace. And so there's going to have to be a deliberate effort.

And what are you -- whatever you want to call it, act of defense, do you want to call it hacking back? I think we're only about to hit the cusp of where private companies are going to have to hack back.

RADDATZ: Thanks to both of you; something we have to keep our eye on.

Up next, the NFL under fire, accused of secretly dishing out powerful painkillers to keep players on the field. What does it mean for football's future?

Then the Tea Party's tumble. Is the GOP civil war over?

And later, is this the newest Democratic power player in 2016? Back in just two minutes.


RADDATZ: Now our closer look, a shocking lawsuit against the NFL. Former players alleging a stunning deception by the league, team doctors prescribing powerful painkillers without disclosing the consequences, all to keep injured players out on the field.

Our experts here to weigh in, USA Today columnist Christine Brennan and former NFL player, ESPN's Mark Schlereth.

Mark, I want to start with you. You played 12 seasons in the NFL, 29 surgeries.

What was your experience with how the team handled painkillers?

MARK SCHLERETH, ESPN NFL ANALYST: Well, first and foremost, I take personal responsibility for everything that I put into my body. And the teams that I played for, both in Washington and Denver, I had a great relationship with my athletic trainers and also with my doctors.

And I knew the consequences of what I was putting into my body. They made those things aware to me. And there was also restrictions. Could you give pain pills? Could you get, if you were injured? Certainly. Could you have a Toradol shot, certainly.

But the consequences of those drugs were made very apparent to me. And there was -- there was a gatekeeper aspect to those doctors to say you could only have this if you're injured and you can only have this for a certain amount of time.

And so we're going to limit your access to those things.

So I will tell you this: from a player's standpoint, I've never been around a player that didn't put more pressure on himself to play injured than the team did. And certainly there's a ton of pressure because --

RADDATZ: Mark, that's certainly the culture of the team and players do know the risks.

But you yourself have seen examples. You talk about the vicious hit that Matt Shaw (ph) of the Houston, Texas, took -- the Houston Texans took. Doctor says he did a concussion test and he's back in the next series.

You've seen this again and again, this kind of thing.

SCHLERETH: Certainly. And there is a conflict of interest. And I don't think it's a mandate from the NFL for doctors, team doctors and teams to deceive their players.

But I certainly think that that's a team-by-team basis. And in that particular hit, from the doctors that I have spoken to, is absolutely impossible to conduct a thorough investigation or a thorough concussion test while a guy's face down on a football field.

So --


RADDATZ: Christine --

SCHLERETH: -- those things are league issues. And they need to be -- they need to be addressed so there is a certain conflict of interest that goes on to, are you protecting players? Are you protecting the team's best interest?

RADDATZ: -- which is exactly what I wanted to ask Christine.

What do you think there?

What do you make of these allegations?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, USA TODAY: Lots of these allegations ring true. I think what we're hearing from Mark is an exemplary story. Mark had a great experience in the NFL. Obviously what we're hearing from these -- the plaintiffs is that they did not. And as I said, it rings true. I've covered the NFL since the '80s. I don't know anything per se. I don't know for sure.

But I do know this, that the team would keep in Washington, especially, would keep injury information from the reporters. I would have to call a player in a hospital room in one case to find out what was wrong with them.

Is that wrong? We don't know. But Mark is telling us a good story of his personal experience, and that's wonderful.

But I think we have to listen to this. And with the concussion story and the concussion lawsuit, Martha, and now this, this is bad news for the National Football League.

RADDATZ: I want to switch gears just quickly if I could and move to the Redskins, 50 senators signed onto a letter, calling on the Washington Redskins to change the name of the team.

Let me get a quick reaction from both of you.

Christine, I think I know what you're going to say.

Does this make a difference --


BRENNAN: (INAUDIBLE) news. It sure does. It's big news; this -- the news is continuing. There is kind of a cumulative effect here. And I think this is a name that will change in the next few years. It's going to have to because public opinion is continuing to grow against the Washington NFL team name.

RADDATZ: And Mark, quickly, from you?

Is it time to change the name?

SCHLERETH: Yes. It is time to change the name. There's no question, if you research the history of that name, it's a pejorative term. And it needs to change. I mean, you would never go into a conference of Native American people and walk up in front of them and refer to them as redskins. It is a derogatory term; it -- that's its origins and it is time to be a leader from the standpoint of the NFL.

High schools across America have changed their names; the NCAA has implemented policy to change those names.

Why has the NFL shuffled its feet on this? I don't know. But it's time to change.

RADDATZ: Thank you very much. Thanks for all your insight on all of this.

Up next, the president talking tough on the V.A. scandal.

But is there enough action?

Plus Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey weighs in.

But first, the powerhouse roundtable's big winners of the week.


OBAMA: No veteran should have to fill out a 23 page claim to get care, or wait months, even years, to get an appointment at the VA.

Any misconduct, whether it's allegations of VA staff covering up long wait times, or cooking the books, I will not stand for it.


RADDATZ: President Obama then and now talking about problems at the VA.

Let's bring in the roundtable. Former senior White House adviser David Plouffe, Republican strategist Ana Navarro, GOP pollster and Daily Beast contributor Kristen Soltis Anderson and ABC's Matthew Dowd.

Welcome to everybody.

Matt, I want to start with you, I know this is personal for you, your two brothers and your son are veterans. Did the president handle this correctly?

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I thought throughout this that there's a quote by Dostoyevsky that says "the degree to civilization in our society can be judged by entering our prisons." And I think I'd like to update that, and I think the degree of compassion in civilization in our society should be judged by how we deal with veterans and of the folks that come back with injuries and from war in all of this.

I think the president, I think he has good intentions. I think his intentions have been good. And I think he's done some improvements in all of this, but the way veterans are treated today in this country is unconscionable. If you think about it, the unemployment rate is higher than the national average among veterans, that we have a health care problem, obviously, in the course of this -- in the course of this investigation -- and now we also have homeless -- the number of veterans, the thousands of veterans that are homeless in this country.

I think if you look at this and take a broad perspective on this, you take a look at this first. The number one thing is, is we've got to quit fighting long wars that seem without end. That's what's driving a huge part of this problem that we have here.

We've now been in a war longer than 10 years that's driving this problem.

The other thing is, is there are some things that government doesn't do well and efficiently. And one of those I think as we've learned over the last 30 or 40 years, the VA system has never been efficient and never been fully effective.

RADDATZ: And that goes back a very long way. But let's talk about how the president has handled this. It took him almost four weeks to come out and say anything really about this. Why? And was that the wrong thing to do?

DAVID PLOUFFE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No, I don't think so. I think members of the administration have spoken to this.

I want to pick up on something Matt said, there have been a lot of improvements. I mean, the president talked a lot about this in '08. I was on the campaign trail with him. And if you look at the effort with the private sector to hire...

RADDATZ: And they keep talking about those improvements, but this is -- this is the...

PLOUFFE: But that's the whole story.

RADDATZ: It's not the whole story, there's 40 people who allegedly died during -- waiting for care.

Now, the president the other day said he didn't know whether there was a link between that, the IG said maybe not.

But shouldn't the president have been out there sooner?

PLOUFFE: No, I don't think so. And I think what's important now -- because, no, Martha the whole story is important, if you look at satisfaction, by the way, veterans of the VA it's high, ranked in most...

RADDATZ: Once they get in there.


But in a lot of places they are. So we have to look at what happened in Phoenix, that there's other places where this is happening. There's going to be thorough investigation.

I think the question really is do you have confidence in the leadership, not just in terms of what happened previously, but the fixes going forward.

But I think Matthew raises other broad points about how we treat veterans. One of the great things to see our private sector companies step up working with the president and the first lady, they've hired almost a million veterans. This is what we need to do in this country.

RADDATZ: Ana, should Shinseki resign?

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think Shinseki should resign or he should be fired.

I think one of the problems that President Obama has of this is that there doesn't seem to be any urgency and any action that's being immediately taken and people are frustrated.

This is not a scandal that involves political conspiracy, this is a scandal that touches all of us. You've seen Democrats come out and call for Shinseki's resignation. You've seen Democrats come out and be critical.

That's a very difficult political problem for the president, because he was a member of the Veteran Affairs committee in the Senate, because he made it a big focus of the 2008 campaign. He knew there were problems.

And when you take a look at it, it's a problem of incompetence, it's a problem of being asleep at the wheel. It's a problem of lack of leadership and governance. So, yes, it's a big problem that falls right on...

RADDATZ: Let me go to you.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, DAILY BEAST: Yeah, I think that this can't just be where the president has words. I think there needs to be actions. And in this case, this isn't just some -- you know, it's a favorite Washington game -- something goes wrong, somebody's -- you know, heads have to roll in order to make it all right. And this is a sort of a structural problem within the VA that is ensuring that incentives are misaligned so people believe it's making secret wait lists is OK and is the right thing to do.

I mean, structurally, what reforms can you make to the VA to ensure that this happens again. And I think that goes far beyond just sort of a musical chairs of personnel in Washington.

RADDATZ: John, John Boehner floated the idea of privatizing the VA. Is that an option, do you think?

DOWD: Well, I think -- well, I think what they have to do is they have to have some better hybrid thing. Obviously veterans, there a specific injuries that -- and the reason why the VA was created, because there are specific injuries that can only be dealt with specifically by certain types of health care.

But there should be some hybrid system where veterans don't have to wait in line -- and my brother, my older brother who was in the Coast Guard for 22 years, he actually -- he likes the service he gets when he goes to the VA. The problem...

RADDATZ: ...what I was saying to David...

DOWD: The problem is, he has to wait too long to get in.

NAVARRO: There was a very interesting piece in the New York Times yesterday by the whistleblower in this case, Sam Foote, a doctor who worked at the VA for 24 years. And that's precisely what he's recommending, a hybrid type of system.

And that's who I would like, by the way, to be involved in an investigation at the VA, the guy who has been writing letters...


RADDATZ: Very quickly...

PLOUFFE: First of all, think, and the DA is using data and technology, they clearly can use more. There ought to be a dashboard here so you can see at a moments notice everything that's happening through the whole system.

But, listen, I think there's no -- I think most people would agree the VA needs more funding given all the people coming out of these wars.

This Republican congress won't fund that. They'll fund tax breaks for oil companies, they won't fund...

RADDATZ: This also seems a problem...

NAVARRO: David, you know it's a political problem when you've lost Charlie Crist. That guy doesn't read anything other than polls.

RADDATZ: OK, thanks to you all.

But before we go to our break, our Powerhouse Puzzler. Check out one of our favorite moments George's GMA interview this week with Angelina Jolie.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR; Back in 2005 you spent a day in Washington, I asked you then if you would ever think about going into politics. You said, no, no I have way too many skeletons.

ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS: I wonder if by now my skeletons are out. They're probably all out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, it's almost ten years later, can you reconsider now?

JOLIE: You know, if I thought I would be effective I would. But I'm not sure if I would ever be taken seriously in that way and be able to be effective.


RADDATZ: So, we don't know if Angelina will run, but we do know that her father Jon Voight played a senator in a 2004 movie? So, name that film. Back in two minutes to see if the roundtable, and you, can guess the answer.


RADDATZ: What was the name of the film where Jon Voight played a senator? Let's see what you gave up with.

PLOUFFE: One of the Batman movies.

RADDATZ: Oh, sure, yeah, yeah.

NAVARRO: He played Patrick...


DOWD: I put FDR in "Pearl Harbor." It has nothing to with this question.

RADDATZ: In other words, they don't know.

The answer, the remake of "The Manchurian Candidate."

Back in two minutes.



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY: For five-and-a-half years the powers that be in Washington have treated the people of this state with contempt. And tonight, I have a simple message for all of them -- those days are numbered.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, COLBERT REPORT: Yeah, oh, you're going to get Washington powers that be. I feel sorry for whatever jerk has represented Kentucky for these past 30 years. If Mitch McConnell catches sight of that guy in, say, a mirror, it's on.


RADDATZ: Stephen Colbert having a little fun with the Mitch McConnell victory this week.

And we are back with the roundtable.

And Ana, I want to start with you and read you one of your fellow roundtablers what he tweeted this week. After Tuesday's primary results, Matt Dowd tweeted, "the Oakland A's lost the World Series but changed the game with Moneyball. Tea Party might have lost some elections, but have changed the GOP."

Would you agree with that? Did they change the gop?

NAVARRO: Of course, you know you lose me completely with baseball metaphors.

I think it has been a painful growing process. But I think this has been a very good week for the Republican Party, because we are bringing candidates out of the primaries that are actually electable. The Democrats are going to have to have a much tougher time beating folks who are not Todd Aiken, who are not Murdoch, who are actually seasoned veteran candidates who can put on very able general campaigns.

RADDATZ: OK, Matt, explain your tweet, the baseball metaphor for maybe some people.

DOWD: Well, sure, the metaphor is is that, basically, you can win by losing. And the Oakland A's ended up losing the championship series, but actually ended up winning because most people in baseball adopted it.

And I think the Republican Party because of the Tea Party, the GOP in general, has moved more to the right and has adopted the principles.

There's really not much difference anymore between Tea Party people and the establishment people. They have almost become one. I think...

NAVARRO: Oh, Matt, tell that to the Tea Party.

Listen, this has been...

DOWD: The Tea Party that's sitting in this city in the halls of power?

NAVARRO: This has been two very different factions going...

DOWD: Who are now one faction. Who are now one faction.

NAVARRO: ...for a long time, the mainstream Republicans just sat there and took the pummeling.

What we saw this week was that they woke up finally. They fought back. And when they fought back, they won.

There is no doubt...

PLOUFFE: Well, let me say this, I mean, I don't get the celebration. I mean, OK, maybe it's a low bar -- no, they're not witches and...

NAVARRO: It just got harder for you.

PLOUFFE: So, they're not witches and defenders of rape. OK, so maybe they don't pledge allegiance to all the crazy, let's look at these candidates.

And let's look at 2016. Different electorate, battleground states, all against immigration reform, all denying climate change, all against gay marriage, all against funding things like education and transportation and jobs. this is not people that are going to win, you know, the middle of the electorate or the emerging parts of the electorate.

So I think Matt makes a very good point. The entire...


ANDERSON: ...leading candidates coming out of the last primary...

NAVARRO: Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio are not all against immigration reform.

PLOUFFE: Well, they've run away from their past positions.

ANDERSON: I think what's been most exciting about these last few elections is that I think a lot of lessons were clearly learned. You have to earn it, that you have to show up. And if you want to win the U.S. Senate, if you want to pick up enough seats to take that majority, which I think is what Republicans are laser focused on this year, you can't just take for granted that you're going to win seats.

So in states where the seat is winnable in potentially in say, Oregon, we put up a really strong candidate that's going to make for an exciting race come November.

In a state like Nebraska, that's kind of safe Republican seat, you have got an exciting sort of Tea Party candidate who came out who well may become a rising star within the party in Ben Fast.

So whether it's the Tea Party or the establishment candidates, I think a lot of good has come out of the last...

RADDATZ: Let's go to the House race everyone was watching this week and it was Pennsylvania's 13th district, where Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law Marjorie Margolies ran and lost despite the help of Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton even held a fundraiser on her behalf, Margolies' behalf.

What happened there? And what does this tell us?

PLOUFFE: Well, I think they helped out of, you know, a family obligation. You have to help the mother in law.

I think that -- you know, she represented that district 20 years ago. So, lots has changed. And this was a very strong Democratic candidate, a young candidate who won the race. I don't think it says anything about Clinton coattails at all. I just think it was the dynamics in that district.

RADDATZ: Matt, I want you very quickly -- because we have to move along here -- to talk about President Obama tapping Julian Castro to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. What does that say for 2016?

DOWD: Well, first of all, I think what...

RADDATZ: No, first of alls.

DOWD: OK, I don't understand why Julian Castro would do it. It's like when you go to become a cabinet member in the second half of a second term, usually nothing good happens out of it. I don't think he's going to be benefited by it. And I also don't think -- if you want -- if look at the VA and we want a manager, I don't necessarily think you pick Julian Castro to manage an agency when he doesn't even manage the city of San Antonio.

NAVARRO: He did it because he's at the end of the road in Texas. I mean, let's -- you know, I like Julian Castro a lot.

DOWD: When you go into a cabinet position, it's not the end of the road, it's over the cliff.

NAVARRO: But he's got nowhere to go in Texas. He could go blue in the face waiting for it to turn blue for him to win statewide.

RADDATZ: Ana, I'm just going to have to throw my pen at you at some point.

Thanks all of you for joining us.

Up next, joint chiefs chairman General Martin Dempsey. Plus, on this Memorial Day weekend, an emotional reunion of one incredible band of brothers in our Sunday Spotlight.


RADDATZ: And now, a personal story this Memorial Day weekend. In the spring of 2004 I met an extraordinary group of soldiers in Iraq involved in one of the most ferocious battles of the war. A platoon was ambushed, eight soldiers killed in a matter of hours and more than 60 wounded.

At the time it was the largest loss of life for the 1st Cavalry Division since Vietnam.

I have stayed in touch with many of those soldiers and their families through multiple deployments on multiple battle fields. But a few weeks ago, it was a different kind of meeting, a ten-year reunion at Ft. Hood, Texas, a powerful and emotional weekend about brotherhood, bonds an unbreakable spirit.


RADDATZ: It was the day that would define them as a unit, as soldiers, as men.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was almost undescribable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was probably the loudest thing I have ever heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire came from the right-hand side of the street and the left and from the front and the rear.

RADDATZ: Soldiers who had never been in battle, 19 pinned down in an alley, the rest of the battalion racing to rescue them -- unprotected, exposed, facing masses of armed insurgents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we see the Charlie company truck, just like the one we were riding in, rode down the road to us, four flat tires, engine on fire, wounded.

RADDATZ: So many wounded, so many dead, piles of bloody boots and body armor stacked outside the aide station. Inside, a young army doctor, David Mathias, who until that day, had treated only the children of soldiers back home in Texas.

DAVID MATHIAS, ARMY DOCTOR: I'm a pediatrician. It was shocking at first to see these battle wounds. The best word I can come up with is it was just like a tidal wave.

RADDATZ: A tidal wave that would continue for 15 months. By the end of their deployment, the 1st Calvary Division had lost 169 soldiers.

LTC GARY VOLESKY, COMMANDER, 2/5 CAV: Some guys have seen some things that no one ever wants to see. I understand now what it means when you go to a veterans' ceremony and you see the old veterans get together and hug and cry and you never really understood it. I understand it now.

RADDATZ: And ten years later, Gary Volesky understands it even better.

VOLESKY: And that's what this is all about, it's about a family -- not a unit, not a battle in a city, about a family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't really seem like 10 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems like a lifetime ago. And then you walk in here and it seems like yesterday.

RADDATZ: What do you remember most of that day?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe in everything happens for a reason, right? There's nobody standing out here that's alone. You will never be alone. And that's just the way it is. It's a brothership.

RADDATZ: A brothership, a family that has grown and struggled but survived.

On this hot Texas night, they are, again, one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our god, we come together as people who have been through the unthinkable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God, I just pray that our hearts always turn to those whoaren't here.

I pray for their families that this would be a time of healing. In your name, I pray. Amen.

RADDATZ: How old is he?


RADDATZ: Angel's younger brother, Robert Arsiaga was killed trying to rescue the platoon. Arsiaga's name, like the others, now etched on a granite memorial. It was where the soldiers gathered the second day.




ANGEL MUNOZ, SISTER OF SPC ROBERT ARSIAGA: Ten years ago today, our hearts and lives changed forever, not only for those who lost someone, but for those who returned home with memories they never asked for.

RADDATZ: Never asked for, and for some -- almost too much to bear.

What has it meant to you?

ROBERT MITCHELL, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: It's huge. This is what I needed. I needed this to kind of turn the next page, if you will.

RADDATZ: It's been hard doing that?

MITCHELL: Yeah. Yeah, it's been hard.

RADDATZ: Eric Bourquin and Justin Bellamy(ph) know the pain as well. They were in that alley together under withering fire. Today, they are both fathers and students.

Is it hard seeing the guys who aren't doing so well?

JEREMY BELLAMY, U.S. ARMY (RET.): It does hurt, because they're like our brothers.

RADDATZ: What would you say to them about how to get through it?

ERIC BOURQUIN, FORMER SGT. 2/5 CREW: Get help. You can lie to everybody else, but that guy you're looking at in the mirror, he knows you're hurting. After Afghanistan, that's was the first time I went and got help. I didn't want to be a mean dad or a mean husband. I still wanted to, you know, enjoy my family.

RADDATZ: And young doctor Mathias, he practices medicine in Wisconsin. He and his wife just adopted a child from China to add to the five they already have.

But the pediatrician still thinks about that first night of trauma, a decade ago.

You were broken up last night during your beautiful prayer. What was going through your mind right then? What happened to you?

MATHIAS: Desperately wishing we could have brought everybody back.

RADDATZ: Troy, you lost the first soldier on April 4. Eddy Chin (ph) was your guy.

LTC TROY DENOMY, U.S. ARMY: I paid many respects to him and begged for forgiveness.

RADDATZ: Why do you say beg for forgiveness?

DENOMY: Well, I mean, it's -- so it's family, right? You lose part of your family. Like I know in my head there's not anything I could have done to prevent that. It doesn't make it any less easy.

RADDATZ: And Gary Volesky, the wise and courageous young colonel, he is now a two-star general and headed off to command the famed 101st Airborne Division.

But no other division, no soldiers will ever take the place of these heroes, that bond is forever.


RADDATZ: And those families are heroic as well. The officer who was a division commander that night ten years ago and knows well the horrors of that battle was then-two-star General Martin Dempsey, now a four star and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.

On this Memorial Day weekend, as we prepare to wind down the war in Afghanistan, we went to the place he visits almost every weekend, Arlington National Cemetery.


GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, U.S. ARMY: So there is a Yeats poem, called Easter 1916. There's a couple of lines in the poem that always haunt me. "All has changed, changed utterly, a terrible beauty is born."

This is a place of terrible beauty, isn't it? You know the sacrifices that was made, the suffering that still goes on with families. And that's just terrible. But there is something extraordinarily beautiful about this place. And that's what I think about.

RADDATZ: There certainly is.

What does this Memorial Day mean to you?

DEMPSEY: You know, in a couple of weeks we'll celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Normandy landing -- 25,000 lost in one day. But what it reminds me of is that history will repeat itself on the issue of conflict.

The issues that are beginning to be resolved are not ending. We're going to have a challenge with extremism in the unsettled and ungoverned spaces that run from Afghanistan to Nigeria for a very long time.

RADDATZ: I would be remiss if I did not ask you about the current problems in the Veterans Administration.

DEMPSEY: Well, it is outrageous if the allegations actually are documented and proven. And I suspect some of them will be. They've got to be held accountable. I think that Eric Shinseki has made it very clear that they will be held accountable.

And then...

RADDATZ: Including him?

DEMPSEY: Yeah, of course. I mean, you know, at some point the chief executive, the chairman, whoever it is, has to take responsibility for the entire organization and his performance.

RADDATZ: Tell me what you would like Americans to think about this Memorial Day?

DEMPSEY: These are all Americans. You walk around, you're going to find people from every state in the union and every ethnicity. You know, we're incredibly diverse men and women. We're celebrating the sacrifices of them, but them are us. And we got to remember that.


RADDATZ: And now, we honor, again, our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. This week, the Pentagon released the name of one soldier killed in supporting operations in Afghanistan.

That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out World News with David Muir tonight.

And on this Memorial Day weekend, we leave you back at Arlington National Cemetery. Please remember and reflect. We'll see you next week.


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