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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Car Bomb Strikes Iraqi Mosque; Tony Blair's Battle

Aired August 29, 2003 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: massacre in Iraq, dozens killed today after a car bomb explodes outside a crowded mosque in Najaf. Ben Wedeman has the report.
And our weekly look at heroes, the story tonight of one Marine who returned from Iraq to face challenges every bit as daunting as any he faced in combat.

"Making the Grade": teachers, the most important part of your child's education. But can schools keep the good ones?

And the faces of Mars -- tonight, a very different look at the red planet by Jeanne Moos.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT tonight for Friday, August 29. Here now, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening.

Tonight, the situation in Iraq appears to be out of control. A car bomb triggered a massive explosion at one of Iraq's most sacred mosques, located in Najaf. That attack occurred as hundreds of people were leaving the mosque after Friday prayers. At least 124 people are dead, including a prominent Shiite cleric, dozens severely injured in the explosion, the blast so powerful, it damaged buildings 100 yards away.

Ben Wedeman is in Najaf and has the live report -- Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Lou, that bomb went off at about 2:00 in the afternoon, as hundreds of people were streaming out of the Imam Ali mosque. That is one of the most sacred sites for Shiite Muslims, and causing an incredible amount of destruction, a death toll that is still rising as I speak.

And the most prominent victim of all from that blast was Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim. He was the head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, one of the main Shiite leaders in the post-Saddam era. Now, as a result of this blast, the local hospitals are completely overwhelmed. We were at the Najaf teaching hospital, where we saw the morgues are full of bodies. They are lined up throughout the morgue itself.

The refrigerators are all full. They've had to put the bodies outside in a courtyard, waiting for people to come and identify them. Now, this evening, we saw a list posted in one of the hospitals -- and I say one of the hospitals because there are several here -- of 124 people. But, clearly, the death toll is going to go up. As a matter of fact, among the dead are many Iranian pilgrims.

They crossed the border from Iran to do pilgrimages in Najaf, which is, of course, the most holy Shiite city.

Now, at the hospital itself, it is a scene of pandemonium. Hundreds of people brought in for treatment. The staff there simply unable to cope. They've had to send some of the wounded to cities elsewhere for further treatment.

In the hospital itself, a horrific scene. People being operated upon in the hallways, and -- to operate under the most unsanitary conditions. There's blood all over the floor, clothing taken from the wounded, covered in blood.

A really horrific scene that has sent shockwaves throughout this city and raised fears that Iraq, already a very unstable place, is about to become even more unstable -- Lou.

DOBBS: Ben, any indication in these early hours after that explosion as to who is responsible?

WEDEMAN: Well, everybody's pointing fingers in almost every possible direction.

Now, as you may know, there is a -- something of a power struggle among the main clerical families or -- families basically in Najaf, but that would seem not probably to be the reason behind the bomb because this was a bomb that indiscriminately killed more than a hundred people, and that would be very hard for any faction to defend.

We've heard from the -- one Najaf police officer, an Iraqi police officer, that they have arrested several Sunni Arabs in the city that they meet -- may -- they believe may have been involved in the bombing.

We've heard people here in the street blame the Americans, blame the Israelis. We've heard Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, blame remnants of the old regime. But, at this point, there's a lot of blame but no evidence pointing in any direction -- Lou.

DOBBS: And what role are U.S. forces taking here in the aftermath of that explosion in trying to provide medical help for the -- for the victims, for the injured?

WEDEMAN: Well, at the hospital, they were basically, Lou, providing security for the hospital because there was a huge mob outside of people trying to get information about loved ones.

But, by and large, it appears that -- and we did speak with the director general of the hospital. He says that they were coping in the sense that they have enough to deal with what they've got on their hands and to send some of them out. As far as we know, there's been no direct American intervention in the attempt to treat the wounded. Really, what they're doing is providing security. In Najaf itself, they're keeping a very low profile. Normally, American forces stay away from the Imam Ali Mosque in order not to arouse religious sensibilities. They basically stay on the edges of the city because this is a very, very sensitive place, certainly at this time -- Lou.

DOBBS: Ben Wedemen live in Najaf.

Thank you, Ben.

The bombing in Najaf less than 48 hours after the White House had said it would consider allowing a U.N.-sponsored multi-national force to be sent to Iraq. Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre is at the Pentagon now and has the latest for us -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, U.S. commanders admit they do need more troops in Iraq. It's just that they want them to come from other countries and perhaps, more importantly, from the Iraqis themselves.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LT. GEN. RICARDO SANCHEZ, COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES IN IRAQ: We need these Iraqi forces who we're working so hard to stand up right now in the form of the civil-defense corps, in the form of the police forces and the border-control forces, to be able to establish the linkages to the Iraqi people that can then give us the intelligence that we need.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCINTYRE: The U.S. hopes that Iraqis will see this attack on the moderate cleric as an attack on their future, and Pentagon officials as well as outside experts underscore that this attack also shows how the United States military and the coalition provisional authority needs to gain credibility and legitimacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAWAZ GERGES, SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE: We don't need more troops, no. We don't need more intelligence. We need to legitimize the American military presence in the eyes of the Iraqis.

And how do we do that? We do that by bringing in the international community, including the European Union, Arab and Muslim states, by giving the United Nations sharing power in the reconstruction of Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCINTYRE: The U.S. is hopeful that at least two Muslim countries will commit significant troops to Iraq in the coming months even without a stronger U.N. mandate.

Turkey, for example, has signaled its willingness, but any deployment would need approval by Turkey's parliament which doesn't meet until October and which, by the way, blocked the U.S. access to Turkish bases before the war.

And Pakistan, while not insisting on U.N. approval, does insist on some kind of international endorsement before it sends troops.

But administration critics, including many Democrats in Congress, argue that the real problem is the unwillingness of the United States to swallow its pride and share the responsibility for rebuilding Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STENY HOYER (D), HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: This president went for 10 months prior to 9/11 thinking that we could go it alone, and this administration was perceived as an administration that simply wants to go it alone. So we're having trouble getting people to help us, and it's in their interests to do so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCINTYRE: Now Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld issued a defiant statement this evening saying that the opponents of success in a free Iraq are continuing, quote, "desperate acts," and he said the outcome is not in doubt. He vowed those who permitted this act and support violence in Iraq, he said, will fail -- Lou.

DOBBS: We have heard similar statements from Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld previously. The fact is that General Sanchez said rather clearly that U.S. forces in Iraq need better intelligence, not necessarily more forces.

What is the sense that better intelligence going to be provided? Is there any widening of the role of the CIA and other intelligence agencies in Iraq to provide that intelligence that General Sanchez says he now needs.

MCINTYRE: Well, General Sanchez is -- firmly believes that that intelligence has got to come from Iraqis on the ground. They're the ones who know where these -- where the people -- the opponents of the administration are hiding and where they're hiding out.

And what he believes is that they need to have better links with the Iraqi people and that the Iraqi people need to have a better feeling about the American forces. That's where he believes that getting other countries involved and more Iraqis involved could make a difference in -- in getting better linkage with the Iraqi people. That's where he thinks the future is.

He said if you sent him more American troops right now, they'd just be doing the same things the troops he has there now are doing, and that wouldn't help the situation necessarily.

DOBBS: Is -- is the general then effectively saying that the United States doesn't have the capacity to create those intelligence -- those intelligence connections that are necessary to carry out the intelligence functions that are so important to ending military role in Iraq. MCINTYRE: Well, in this case, the intelligence really gets down to a sort of human-to-human level, a personal relationship that the occupation force has with the Iraqi people, and what he's saying is that relationship can best be improved by putting a multi-national face on the force and an Iraqi face on the force, however they can do that.

If they can accelerate the training of an Iraqi military, maybe they should do that. Anything they can do to show the Iraqi people that this really is not going to be a long-term occupation and it's in their interest to cooperate and to help end the violence.

DOBBS: Wasn't it the secretary of defense you just quoted who said the United States will be there as long as it takes?

MCINTYRE: As long as it takes but not one day longer. And, of course, what -- the point they're trying to make to the Iraqi people is -- to the Iraqi people who don't want the Americans there as an occupying force, the American answer to that is we don't want to be here as an occupying force, we have the same goal, and if we work together, we can accomplish it.

DOBBS: Jamie McIntyre, senior Pentagon correspondent.

Thank you.

The White House today strongly condemned the bombing of the mosque saying the United States is, quote, "resolved to fight terror and bring a better life to the Iraqi people," end quote. The bombing comes on the final day of the president's month-long working vacation in Texas.

Senior White House Correspondent John King is near there president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, and has the latest for us -- John.

JOHN KING, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And, Lou, the bombing comes -- and a tragic bombing it is -- it comes, as you noted, as the president prepares to go back to Washington and prepares to face some very tough questions -- you and Jamie were just discussing some of them -- from the United States Congress.

The president will be asking Congress for more money for the Iraqi reconstruction effort down the road, more money for the military effort. Many members of Congress say they have tough questions for this president, and one of them is did he grossly underestimate the security challenge in post-war Iraq. This tragic bombing today sure to become a leading exhibit in that debate.

We were told Mr. Bush was told of the bombing this morning on his ranch here in Crawford during his daily intelligence briefing. He has received some updates since, and we also are told by administration officials in Washington the president himself will issue a statement of condemnation sometime this afternoon.

That has not happened as yet, though, but the deputy press secretary, Claire Buchan, did say that the White House condemns this terrorist attack, offers its condolences to the loved ones of those killed, and continues its resolve, as you said, to fight terror and to try to help the Iraqi people.

The timing, Lou, could not be worse for the president. He is preparing to head home. Many members of Congress say send in more troops. Some members of Congress say the president has failed to build an international coalition, so this a bloody reminder for the White House that, as the president goes back to Washington, the Iraq debate is growing much more loud -- Lou.

DOBBS: That debate, John, as you've reported a number of times, incipiently between the State Department and the Pentagon.

Now Paul Bremer, the administrator, has said that there was no role for the United Nations in Iraq, and now it appears the administration is changing that, seeking to win a U.N. resolution that would give the United Nations a role in Iraq.

Is this administration on policy issues -- is it fragmented?

KING: Well, the administration would say it is adapting to the changed circumstances. Outsiders would say that there is a tug of war underway.

Let's be frank. There are some in the administration who would prefer never to mention the words United Nations. They are deeply skeptical of that body. They do not trust it. They do not want its bureaucracy to have anything to do with or anything to say with the post-war policy in Iraq.

Yet that same administration is now asking the United Nations to endorse some sort of a multi-national force with no strings on the Pentagon, leaving the force in charge of the Pentagon. If they can get that language, Lou, most would consider it a victory, but there's difficult diplomacy ahead on that front.

There is no question that there are tensions within the administration over how all this should play out, but the bottom line, senior White House officials tell us, is the White House now sees the reality.

It is going to take months, if not years. It is going to take tens and tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild Iraq and that this administration faces a very stark conclusion, and it needs helps.

It need bodies from other nations, and it needs money from other nations, and it might have to ask the United Nations to be up front in helping it get that help -- Lou.

DOBBS: John, thank you very much.

John King, our senior White House correspondent with the president -- near the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas. An American soldier today was killed, several others were wounded in two separate guerrilla attacks in Iraq. A soldier in the 4th Infantry Division was killed north of Baghdad after a U.S. convoy was hit by three rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire. Three others were wounded.

Another attack injured two people west of Baghad and, in Afghanistan, a U.S. special forces soldier was killed in a fall during a nighttime raid against Taliban fighters.

Coming up next, more on the deadly massacre of scores of innocent Iraqis. We'll be joined by CNN Analyst Ken Pollack.

And a teenager behind the so-called blaster computer virus has been arrested. Jan Hopkins will report on one of the men behind the most damaging and widespread Internet viruses.

And our series of special reports on the state of American education. Tonight, we focus on the teachers who are charged with educating our children under what can be called less than ideal conditions. Bill Tucker will report.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: There are new developments tonight in the case of the government against Zacarias Moussaoui, said to be the 20th hijacker in the September 11 attacks.

Kelli Arena now joins us from Washington, D.C., with the details -- Kelli.

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, sources familiar with the latest ruling in the case against Moussaoui tell CNN that Moussaoui has won a court ruling allowing him access to two al Qaeda captives, including one of the alleged masterminds of the September 11 attacks.

Now, the ruling remains under seal. But sources who have seen it tells CNN that U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema granted Moussaoui's request for testimony from al Qaeda leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Mustafa Hawsawi, an alleged al Qaeda financier. Now, this is not the first time that Moussaoui has won access to an al Qaeda detainee. Judge Brinkema previously ruled to allow him access to Ramzi Binalshibh, arguing that Moussaoui should have access to witnesses with possible exculpatory evidence.

Now, the government had argued that Binalshibh was outside the court's purview because he's being held overseas as a military combatant during a war. And both Mohammed and Hawsawi are also being held overseas by the U.S. and undergoing interrogation. Now, the government has previously told the court that it opposed any access to these two detainees and is expected to appeal this ruling as well, Lou.

DOBBS: Zacarias Moussaoui is doing very well with the U.S. court system, is he not?

ARENA: Well, it would seem that way, Lou.

DOBBS: Kelli, thank you very much -- Kelli Arena reporting from Washington.

The Air Force tonight is struggling with a crisis. The new Pentagon report finds, almost 20 percent of female cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy say they have been sexually assaulted. More than 11 percent of senior female cadets say they were raped or the victim of attempted rape.

Kitty Pilgrim now reports on what the military is doing to combat this unbecoming conduct.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 4,000 Air Force cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado are being read the riot act by the new commander, who admits he's seen the numbers and there is a problem.

BRIG. GEN. JOHNNY WEIDA, COMMANDANT OF CADETS, AIR FORCE ACADEMY: If you think we don't have a sexual assault or a sexual harassment problem at the Air Force Academy, your head is in the sand.

PILGRIM: He told the cadets they have to be held to a higher moral standard than a civilian university. A look at the numbers suggests the situation is worse than on a civilian campus.

The National Institute of Justice found in one survey about 3 percent of women attending college or university were victims of rape or attempted rape. Scandals have plagued the military over the last decade. One survey in 1999 found, nearly 9 percent of women in the military said they were sexually assaulted during their time in service. There was the infamous "Tailhook" incident in the early '90s, in which dozens of women were assaulted during a convention, and the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in the late 1990s, when young female trainees were assaulted.

Dr. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie is a psychiatrist who has worked with the military on the issues for nearly two decades. She says the culture of the military tends to play into fears of reporting rape, but that has been improving.

DR. ELSPETH CAMERON RITCHIE, LTC: Often, military women worry about their career. Now, by and large, their career is OK. That worry's unfounded, but they still may worry about it. They'll worry about, what will people in the unit think about them? So we're trying to create an atmosphere where women feel comfortable going forward and reporting sexual assault.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: And it's clear from today's response on this report that no one in the military is interested in sweeping it under the rug. The Air Force Academy officials readily confirm the statistics. Surveys are going out to the Naval Academy and the U.S. Military Academy -- Lou.

DOBBS: They didn't want to sweep it under the rug? They spent months denying this.

PILGRIM: They did change the management at the Air Force Academy. They have addressed the issues as of now, not to apologize for...

DOBBS: Their conduct was, in this, I think by any standard, reprehensible.

The second part of this is to hear a psychiatrist talking about the ability of a woman to report rape. We're talking about the elite of this country in these academies.

PILGRIM: I agree.

DOBBS: What in the world is going on when the finest young men in the world would conduct themselves in such a way? That's what the military needs to be addressing.

PILGRIM: Yes.

One of the big issues we discussed today with our interviewee, who said that she's been studying this for two decades in the military -- she said it's a tough culture to change. It's very hard for women to come forward on this.

DOBBS: Coming forward, I understand the issues. It is the conduct of the male -- these male cadets that is extraordinary. That is...

PILGRIM: No. Yes, I agree with you.

DOBBS: ... the first question to me that needs to be answered.

PILGRIM: They're also disconnecting alcohol and cadet behavior. They're trying to separate that out, because it is very much linked.

DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much -- Kitty Pilgrim.

Federal authorities today arrested an 18-year-old man who admitted to creating one of the most damaging computer viruses in recent memory, the Blaster computer virus. It crippled thousands of computers all across the country over recent weeks.

Jan Hopkins joins us now and has more on the story -- Jan.

JAN HOPKINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, this is the first arrest in a series of computer viruses and worms that were launched this summer.

And law officials think that this is a key player; 18-year-old Jeffrey Lee Parson of Hopkins, a suburb of Minneapolis, was arrested this morning by the FBI. He is charged with creating the Blaster.B worm, which some experts say infected more than a half million computers around the world.

Law enforcement officials and an official from Microsoft appeared before the press late this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCKAY, U.S. ATTORNEY: We want to deliver a message to cyberhackers here and around the world. As the attorney general of the United States has said, the Department of Justice takes these crimes very seriously. We will devote all available resources to tracking down those who attack our technological infrastructure.

BRAD SMITH, MICROSOFT: The damage done to Microsoft in this instance is a small tip of the large iceberg of damage that was done to computer users around the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOPKINS: Court papers obtained by CNN today showed that the FBI agents searched Parson's home in August, on the 19th, in fact, and seized seven computers. According to those court papers, Parson admitted to changing the original Blaster worm and creating the Blaster.B version. Parson is now under house arrest, banned from using the Internet. And, if convicted, his maximum penalty is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

DOBBS: An 18-year-old certainly did extraordinary damage.

HOPKINS: That's right.

DOBBS: Jan, thank you -- Jan Hopkins.

Coming up next: British Prime Minister Tony Blair struggling to keep his job in the face of scathing criticism over the war in Iraq and the conduct of his government. Senior political correspondent Bill Schneider joins us live from London.

And our feature series each Friday on heroes. Tonight, one U.S. Marine shares his experience in returning from battle to more challenges on the home front. Casey Wian will have his story.

And the faces of Mars, are they signs of life on the red planet or simply the stuff that makes it interesting for overactive imaginations? Our Jeanne Moos will report.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Alistair Campbell has often been called the second most powerful man in Britain. Now he is resigning as Prime Minister Tony Blair's communications chief. Campbell says he's leaving for family reasons. But over the past three months, he's been the central figure in an intense battle with the BBC and its claims that the government sexed up its dossier on Saddam Hussein's weapons.

As Bill Schneider now reports, the battle has been politically costly on both sides of the Atlantic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Tony Blair has lost his spin doctor. President George Bush also had a great deal at stake when Blair was called to testify before a judicial inquiry this week on the apparent suicide of former U.N. weapons inspector David Kelly.

ADAM RAPHAEL, "THE ECONOMIST": On the main charge that leveled against this government that they inserted intelligence information in this dossier, or against the wishes of the intelligence community, on that charge he was able to show that there's absolutely no truth in it whatsoever.

SCHNEIDER: Blair's testimony was good news for President Bush. Bush had relied on British intelligence and gotten into trouble for it.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

SCHNEIDER: The White House later acknowledged that the intelligence was unsubstantiated and should not have been included in the president's speech. That seemed to end the controversy.

But Blair's political troubles are far from over. He staked his case for war on the charge that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction presented an immediate threat.

SEAN O'GRADY, "THE INDEPENDENT": The main reason why this country went to war was because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. He was in danger of giving them to al Qaeda, and just down the road here at Buckingham Palace or House of Parliament or Downing Street, there would be a huge bomb.

SCHNEIDER: President Bush's case for war was more complex.

RAPHAEL: I do think the Americans -- actually in the American administration was more honest. Their state said there was a threat, but they also said there was a bad man, we want regime change. Now those were dirty words here in Britain. That was never the way the war was sold to people here.

SCHNEIDER: As a result, the failure to find weapons of mass destruction has done far more political damage to Blair than to Bush. Barely more than one-quarter of the British believe Blair is a leader who can be trusted.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Some commentators here in Britain are comparing this inquiry to President Clinton's impeachment in the United States. Like Clinton, Blair may survive, but he's lost credibility -- Lou.

DOBBS: And let's go back to that BBC report that started this all. Where is the BBC now? There are tremendous threats to its license. Where is the BBC now, all of this controversy?

SCHNEIDER: Well, the bottom line here is that the BBC's report has not been substantiated.

And, in fact, the BBC Board of Governors has expressed a lack of confidence in its own reporter, Andrew Gilligan, who will most likely be leaving the BBC. The fact is, the argument, the charge that the government sexed up, as they say, the intelligence dossier, there's just no evidence to corroborate that charge. And, of course, the source of the charge, Dr. David Kelly, tragically, apparently, committed suicide.

So the BBC is embarrassed. And it's likely to be revisited when the BBC charter is reviewed. But I think there's a rule here in Britain that they don't like to involve political entanglements with the BBC. Even if the BBC may have crossed the political line, the idea of holding it to account politically for what it reports is still considered beyond the bounds.

DOBBS: A bad form and misrepresenting sources...

SCHNEIDER: Bad form.

DOBBS: ...is what, would you say, Bill Schneider?

SCHNEIDER: It is a very bad thing, and the BBC, I think, in some way I think has to indicate that this is not the BBC's policy.

The interesting thing is this is exactly what Alastair Campbell charged. The minute the BBC report came out in May, he said this is all false and I'm out to prove it. He was so eager and zealous to prove it that it seems to have cost a victim, David Kelly, his life, and that's why Alastair Campbell felt he had to resign.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider in London. Come home soon. Thank you.

Turning to politics in this country and the upcoming presidential race, in tonight's poll question, we ask, "How committed are you to your favorite Democratic presidential contender? Very, somewhat, not at all, or still looking? " Now, we'll ask a somewhat similar questions for the Republicans among you in a week or so. We'll bring you the results of this poll question later in the show.

The final results of yesterday's poll, who is your preference for the Democratic presidential nomination? Fifty-four percent of you said Dean, 7 percent Gephardt, 15 percent said Kerry, 23 percent said Lieberman and a few of you complained that we didn't poll more than the top four contenders at this point for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. But four it is. And as your candidate moves up, they'll be moving into our poll, I assure you.

Coming up next, a deadly bombing kills scores in Iraq's holiest city. CNN analyst Ken Pollack joins us.

And in our series on American education this week --- tonight, teachers are very important to say the least, but they are not always valued. Bill Tucker will report.

And the recall race in California. A major policy shift on Iraq. The domestic economy, hope for a recovery that includes jobs. I'll be joined by the editors of the nation's leading business magazines, next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: My next guest says today's bombing in Iraq could exacerbate criticism of the United States.

Ken Pollack, an expert on Iraq, a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution -- he joins us from Washington, D.C.

Ken, good to have you here.

KEN POLLACK, CNN ANALYST, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Thanks, Lou. Good to be here.

DOBBS: It goes from bad to worse. I'm going to speak just straightforwardly. The Department of Defense, I don't care who, talking about how there is no chaos in Iraq, does not seem to be grasping what is an obvious reality.

What in the world is going on?

POLLACK: Well, I think you're getting exactly the point, Lou, is that we've created a situation where we don't have enough forces, whether they're U.S. or international or Iraqi, to keep security over the entire country. Now, a point can be made that this kind of a terrorist attack might have succeeded under almost any circumstances. You know, remember, terrorist attacks happen even in police states.

DOBBS: Sure.

POLLACK: But by the same token, it is clear that there isn't enough of a security presence in Iraq. There has never been one. And that's where I think that some of the criticism of the United States is going to come from.

In fact, we've already seen it today, where you've had a number of Iraqis who are saying that the United States is at least indirectly to blame because they've created a situation of lawlessness in the country. They're not creating enough of a security environment, and that environment is what allowed this group, whoever it may have been, to kill Ayatollah Baqir al-Hakim and 75 to 125 other people.

DOBBS: A Shia cleric, amongst the most prominent in Iraq, who, in point of fact, has been cooperating with the United States. Ben Wedeman reported just moments ago from Najaf that there was circulating the idea that Sunni Arabs actually were responsible for this bombing amidst a host of other possible explanations.

What do you think is that likelihood?

POLLACK: I think that there is a pretty good likelihood that Sunnis were responsible for it. You can point to at least three Sunni groups that may have wanted to do this. First, there is Saddam and his loyalists. Baqir al-Hakim is an old foe of Saddam Hussein, someone who they've been looking to get for a long time. And Baqir al-Hakim's people had been working very hard against Saddam and the former regime loyalists who are still out there. So that's one group.

Another group is al Qaeda. Al Qaeda doesn't much care for the Shia. And it is conceivable that they went after Baqir al-Hakim as a major Shia figure.

The third group are Sunni tribesmen, who recognize that the progress of the U.S. reconstruction effort will lead ultimately to a democratic Iraq, which would put the Shia majority in control over Iraq, something that they have not had for 80 years, when the country was ruled by the Sunni minority. And so you may have had Sunni tribesmen who did this purposefully to try to incite additional Shia violence to try to stir up some kind of a civil war to prevent the reconstruction from moving forward.

All of those groups are possible. And we also shouldn't rule out the possibility that this was some other Shia group. We have seen internecine fighting among the different Shia groups as they jockey for position.

DOBBS: Ken, as we look at the devastation wrought by this bomb explosion outside the mosque, I think of all of the care that the United States has undertaken to avoid religious symbols, to avoid damaging mosques, and then to see what appears to be at this early stage intersectarian violence, what in the world is going on?

POLLACK: Well, Lou, I think that that's a really important question. And also, it gets back to your first question about the fact that this is potentially something different, because if this was Sunni-Shia violence, if this was an attack perpetrated by a Sunni group against a Shia cleric, that is the kind of thing that could stir something that we haven't seen so far, which is Sunni-Shia violence.

That was something that people were very afraid of going into this war, the potential for the two religious communities to go after each other. So far that hasn't happened, largely because the Shia population has seen itself being rewarded by the U.S. reconstruction effort. They believe that ultimately if the reconstruction goes forward and real democracy is created in Iraq, that they will benefit. If this attack is seen by the Shia community as an attack by the Sunnis, you could for the first time see real Sunni-Shia violence.

DOBBS: Ken Pollack, we thank you for being with us.

POLLACK: Thank you, Lou. DOBBS: Coming up next, we'll be taking a look at heroes, servicemen and women returning from the war in Iraq. Tonight, one of those heroes facing a new set of challenges here at home. Casey Wian has the story of one Marine's remarkable challenges.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Each Friday on this broadcast we feature heroes, the men and women returning from Iraq, many of them to overcome wounds and to overcome challenges.

Tonight, Casey Wian has the story of Marine Corps First Sergeant Russell Acosta, who's overcoming challenges like any that he faced in combat that will require, however, every bit as much courage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNNfn CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After 20 years in the Marine Corps, First Sergeant Russell Acosta saw his first combat during the war in Iraq.

1ST SGT. RUSSEL ACOSTA, UNITED STATES MARINES: As far as flying bullets, this was the first real one.

WIAN: His experience was typical, weeks of waiting and training in kuwait, followed by the order to move. Acosta oversaw a battalion of 200 combat engineers entering Iraq eight hours after the first assault wave.

R. ACOSTA: The night we crossed the Euphrates was probably the longest -- it was about 18 hours of straight driving for five miles an hour, trying to get that whole -- you know, the whole division basically across that river. It was tough.

WIAN: But perhaps not as tough as what he's faced since returning home July 13. During the trip home, Acosta learned his sister Lorraine was losing her battle with cancer.

R. ACOSTA: My wife sent me a pretty urgent message that she wa sgoing to pass away.

WIAN: Acosta was sent home 10 days early to say goodbye.

R. ACOSTA: The last year and a half we really didn't get along too good, even though she was my oldest sister. And that made it even more important to me to get back and hug her and tell her I love her. And I did.

WIAN: She died July 23. But there was little time for grieving.

R. ACOSTA: My son was born on August 11, 3:45 in the morning. Just the greatest feeling for a parent.

WIAN: Acosta's wife, Jackie, spent his deployment pregnant. R. ACOSTA: You try and concentrate on the job at hand. You have stray bullets all over the country looking for you.

JACQUIE ACOSTA, RUSSEL ACOSTA'S WIFE: I think we're closer. I think that has changed. I think that definitely makes you appreciate everything you have, knowing that we could have lost him. But he came home.

WIAN: Thrilled to have a son to complement two daughters, the emotional tide turned again as baby Joshua was diagnosed with Downs Syndrome.

R. ACOSTA: I cried. I fell to my knees and cried for about 20 minutes. Then I realized I had a 10-year-old and a 4-year-old who I teach, and we're going to continue to teach that there's nothing in this life we cannot overcome. And we will. And I feel like the luckiest parent on the face of this Earth right now. I really do, that God picked us to raise this boy.

WIAN: After facing combat, his sister's death, his son's birth and Downs Syndrome diagnosis all within a few short weeks, Acosta says faith and Marine Corps training have pulled him through.

R. ACOSTA: Major General Connelly (ph) told us before we crossed -- about a week before we crossed the border, you know, that courage is not the lack of fear. Courage is acknowledging that fear, controlling it, and overcoming it. And that's what we've been doing, and that's what we're going to do.

WIAN: Casey Wian, CNN, Murietta, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: Tonight's thought, "valor is a gift those having it never know for sure whether they have it till the test comes. And those having it in one test never know for sure if they will have it when the next test comes." That from poet Carl Sandberg. And first Sergeant Acosta, obviously blessed with valor.

When we continue the editors of this country's top business magazines join us. We'll be talking about a world of developments this week. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: I'm joined now by Jim Ellis, who is the chief of correspondents at "Businessweek." Bill Powell, he's the senior international editor at "Fortune." And Tim Ferguson, executive editor at "Forbes." Good to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you, Lou.

DOBBS: This has been a remarkable week. Let's begin with tonight's developments, the violence again in Iraq. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld saying we don't need more troops as are his top generals in Iraq. What is the truth? Let me turn to you, Bill, first. BILL POWELL, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL EDITOR "FORTUNE": Lou, I think what needs to be done is that they need to Iraqify the troop presence, which is to say, we don't need necessarily more American troops there. They need Iraqi policemen, they need Iraqi paramilitary, and they need Iraqi military people, and they need them soon.

Now, General Abizaid said that yesterday in an interview, newspaper interview. The question that I have is two months prior to the war an INC representative, the Iraqi national Congress representative, told me that there were going to be 10,000 to 15,000 Iraqis training in Hungary to go in with U.S. troops. What happened to those -- what happened to that plan? Why is it taking two...

DOBBS: Well, let...

POWELL: ...two years to get this done?

DOBBS: Let me ask Tim, do they have a plan, this administration?

TIM FERGUSON, "FORBES": They'd better have a plan, Lou. As Bill knows, this is a fragmented, angry place, and I don't think the U.S. public is going to have too much patience for this.

DOBBS: Jim, this administration, this Department of Defense carries out a brilliant execution in combat.

JIM ELLIS, "NEWSWEEK": Right.

DOBBS: And has made a mess of everything it's touched since. It has been absolutely astonishing to watch...

ELLIS: It is a little difficult to see, you know, supremacy on the battlefield basically sort of squandered by a poor sort of end game. I think that perhaps they underestimated the sort of resolve that, you know, sort of the entrenched forces there would have.

And also they, I think, are underestimating the American public because the American public is really not going to put up for years of an occupation like this. They just don't have the stomach for it. They don't think that there's that kind of security reason that we should put up with it.

DOBBS: And Bill?

FERGUSON: I would agree with Jim. I think that the critical thing is what the American people would put up with is the -- they put up with it if things were getting better day by day slowly, if there was a sense that that's happening. The problem is I think the sense is quite the opposite. Rightly or wrongly, the sense is the opposite.

DOBBS: Well, let's turn domestically where things are getting better day by day in terms of this economy, The growth, 3.1 percent in the most recent revised estimate on GDP. August turns out we had a 4 percent improvement in the Nasdaq, 2 percent in the S&P, the Dow. Good times are here, right, Jim? ELLIS: Well, it depends on which way you look at it. I mean, I think from a growth standpoint you have to say that the economy's on the upswing and we're going to see even faster growth later this year. So that's a good thing.

The troubling thing that's coming out of it, though, is that we still haven't seen that pickup in employment. I mean, normally you get -- you start seeing a turnaround in employment or a pickup in employment about three months after the end of a recession.

In this case if you believe the scorekeepers, the recession ended at the end of 2001. We're now in the 20th month of -- without a rebound in employment. That's very troubling. It could be that we have become so productive in this new economy that maybe we don't need these workers.

DOBBS: Or perhaps we have CEOs who are so lacking in imagination and fiery competitive spirit they've forgotten how to put a bet on the table.

ELLIS: No.

DOBBS: Bill?

POWELL: I think that -- the good news in particular recently is the -- are the manufacturing numbers. And that I think leads one to believe that we're likely to see at least some increase in employment in the manufacturing sector. It's not going to be like the '90s, though. But I think you're going to start to see some improvement in the manufacturing employment picture.

DOBBS: Tim?

FERGUSON: If these macro numbers are to be believed and the productivity numbers as well, we're going to have to see a profits explosion later this year and I think that could trigger the kind of hiring that everyone is waiting for.

DOBBS: Yes, that projection right now standing for the 4th -- what 21% growth, I mean that's -- that's pretty robust by any standard.

What does the portend for the president, for various races next year? For at least 9 -- on my count 10 contenders for the Democratic nomination?

ELLIS: From a timing standpoint, I think that the president still has a problem, which is that he needs for businesses to start hiring in the next quarter. He needs that so that there's a real sort of, you know, sustained explosion of employment and good times by the time we get into campaign season. I think he doesn't want things to sort of trail into the first quarter of next year. It's just not good politically for him.

DOBBS: Anybody disagree? FERGUSON: If the economy's getting better I think the winner among the Democrats actually is Howard Dean because his constituency is the most advice viscerally anti-Bush. The others are depending on a sort of discontent in the economy.

DOBBS: How would you describe their contempt for George W. Bush? If Dean's is visceral, what would be the others?

FERGUSON: Opportunistic.

DOBBS: Fair enough. Let's -- we can't do this without talking about California, an economy larger than France's by most measures. What's the outcome? Is there going to be a recall? is it important? Will it have an influence on the economy of California and the nation?

ELLIS: I think there has -- I would assume that there's probably going to be a recall. I think that in some ways it's sort of sad because it should not happen for these reasons. I'm not going to say that it shouldn't happen. But it shouldn't certainly happen in these circumstances. It sort of seems in some ways that one good idea has sort of run amuck and that almost anybody with a couple million dollars can make anything happen.

DOBBS: Well, you've got to love America. And you get the last word, Jim. We thank you much. Bill, Tim, thank you very much.

Turning now to our special reports this week, "Making The Grade." Recent studies show teachers, the most important part of our children's success in the classroom. But keeping good teachers on the job, very tough indeed.

Bill Tucker reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHILDREN: One, two, eyes on you.

BILL TUCKER, CNNfn CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to the classroom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's read the two sentences.

TUCKER: While the debate over the success or the failure of public schools continues, teachers still must teach and be held accountable for what their students learn.

CINDY WOODFIELD, FIRST GRADE TEACHER: We have very definite standards now, and it's my job to make sure that my students can achieve that. I really think that it is a good thing. As a teacher I know where my kids have to be. And it may be very difficult, and it's a challenge to get them there, but I think it's important.

TUCKER: And we as a society seem to think it's important as well. We hold teachers in high regard, up there with scientists, doctors and military officers. But respect is apparently not enough. According to the National Commission on Reaching and America's Future, one half of all new teachers will leave the profession before they have taught five years. The turnover rate is even higher in urban schools and poor schools.

Salary is part of the problem. The average teacher pay is $43,000. And a study by the Milken Family Foundation found that in many school districts the lowest-paid administrators earn more than many of the highest-paid teachers.

The impact of the turnover is a need for teachers, which has invited a number of solutions, including opening up the classroom to people from other professions, particularly those with careers in math or computer science.

LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN, CEO, EDUCATION LEADERS COUNCIL: We have an urgent crisis in this country in that we can predict by race and by wealth who will make it in America, and that is criminal. And anything we can do to take what we know about teaching and get those bright people in a classroom now for our kids is something that we are morally compelled to do.

TUCKER: But such programs are controversial and resisted by the country's largest teachers union.

REG WEAVER, PRES., NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSN.: It is not acceptable for anybody to feel as though they can come into my profession just because they think they want to teach. That's just like saying that anybody can become a doctor as long as they know how to cut.

TUCKER: The NEA wants anyone entering a classroom to be rigorously trained as a teacher -- first.

What is not controversial and a point that everyone agrees on is that a good teacher is key to a student's academic success. And that's what keeps many teachers in the classroom.

AMY THOMPSON, FIFTH GRADE TEACHER: I love seeing a child grow, seeing a child learn. I love to see a child coming in maybe with a little bit -- struggling in some area and to see that child get it like a lightbulb go off.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER: And teachers will often go to extraordinary lengths to make sure that that lightbulb does go off. On average teachers across the country spend $443 of their own money to buy supplies that their students can't afford -- Lou.

DOBBS: The teachers in this country doing an amazing job under less than perfect circumstances, to say the very least.

TUCKER: They are.

DOBBS: I think we can safely say our hats are off to the teachers of America.

TUCKER: We can.

DOBBS: Bill, thanks. Bill Tucker.

When we continue, men on Mars? Jeanne Moos reports on the many faces of the Red Planet.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Before I give you the results of tonight's poll, I want to apologize for an error in one of our reports last night. This report on Harley-Davidson's 100th year. In enthusiasm for the Harley, one of our colleagues inadvertently put Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando aboard Harley-Davidsons in "The Great Escape" and "The Wild One." It turns out that they were on Triumphs, and we want to apologize to you for that and to assure you that our colleague is now, even though a rather sizable fellow, being wrestled into a flogging room, where he will be appropriately punished.

The results of tonight's poll. "How committed are you to your favorite Democratic presidential contender?" Just over half of you said very.

Finally, tonight, we've been telling you about Mars. For a very different look at the Red Planet, Jeanne Moos has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Now that Mars is ready for its close-ups, some folks are looking for face time.

MICHAEL LUCKMAN, DIRECTOR, NEW YORK CENTER FOR UFO RESEARCH: This is the newest face on Mars.

MOOS: But first, let us introduce some of the older ones. The most famous face was first noticed on NASA photos more than 20 years ago. This was the next picture touted by believers.

LUCKMAN: I call it the Martian princess.

MOOS: And now those convinced that ancient civilizations created these faces are focusing on one nicknamed Easter Island Man, after the Stoneheads found on Easter Island in Chile. If you ask us, it looks a little like a Picasso in his cubist period.

Mainstream scientists tend to be...

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, DIRECTOR, HAYDEN PLANETARIUM: Unimpressed and unswayed. We've all laid out on a sandy beach and looked up at cumulus clouds and taken turns describing what we see -- Abe Lincoln, George Washington.

MOOS: Actually, we thought this one looks a little lie Sponge Bob Square Pants. But believers like former U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomer Tom Van Flandern don't care if people call them names.

TOM VAN FLANDERN, PRES., META RESEARCH INC.: Phrases like face loonies.

MOOS: Most debate has centered on the original face. It even starred in the movie "Mission To Mars."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "MISSION TO MARS")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you trying to tell us? Are you trying to tell us that that's a face?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the face.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: But when NASA took better photos in the late '90s, there seemed to be no saving this face. Undaunted, the believers took a negative of the image, improved the lighting and the angle.

LUCKMAN: That's a pretty good idea of what the object looks like with normal lighting from an overhead view.

MOOS: The closet thing on Earth, they say, Mount Rushmore. They claim the new photos show more details.

LUCKMAN: Two nostrils at the end of the nose.

MOOS: And did we mention the so-called tubes running all over Mars?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They go in and out of the ground.

MOOS: But NASA scientists think the tubes are really sand or frost, features of an exotic landscape that defies what we Earthlings know. By the way, this just in...

(on camera): Did you know they discontinued the Mars bar?

VAN FLANDERN: No.

MOOS (voice-over): It's true. Discontinued only in the U.S. Face proponents held their press conference at a theme restaurant called Mars 2112, where you take a ride to the dining room. The costumed empress of Mars looked suspiciously like one of the photos.

"EMPRESS OF MARS": Oh, but that's only got the two eyes and I obviously have that third up there. Oh goodness.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: And that's our show for tonight. Thanks for being with us. For all of us here, good night from New York. Have a great weekend. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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