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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Michael Jackson Charged; Court Orders U.S. Government to Release Dirty Bomb Suspect; Sniper Suspect Found Guilty
Aired December 18, 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: Authorities charge Michael Jackson with child molestation, setting the stage for one of the biggest celebrity trials ever.
A legal setback tonight for the government in the global war on terror. A federal appellate court says the military must release Jose Padilla, the dirty bomb suspect, within 30 days.
In "Broken Borders," lawmakers want local police to help enforce immigration laws. Police chiefs say the federal government must first secure the country's borders.
In "Exporting America," American workers under siege. Unions have been unable to stop millions of jobs from being lost and union membership diminished. The man who leads the nation's largest labor organization, the AFL-CIO's John Sweeney, joins us.
And Halliburton's man in Washington joins us to defend Halliburton against charges it's overcharged the U.S. government in its Iraqi reconstruction contracts.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for Thursday, December 18. Here now, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening.
Tonight: Authorities formally charged the singer Michael Jackson with seven counts of child molestation. Jackson was also charged with two counts of administering an intoxicating agent to a minor. The singer's attorney, Mark Geragos, said Jackson is unequivocally and absolutely not guilty of any of the charges brought against him.
The charges come nearly a month after police raided Jackson's Neverland estate and arrested him on suspicion of child molestation.
Miguel Marquez reports from Santa Maria, California -- Miguel.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, also in these documents, it talks about substantial sexual conduct being engaged in between Mr. Jackson and that child under 14 years of age for all seven of those counts.
The DA coming out very strongly today, saying that he brought this case because this was the time when he needed to bring it, that he did not hold off hoping to find more information on this case, nine charges altogether, all of them occurring between February 7 and March 10 of this year. Those dates are important because there was a Department of Welfare Services in Los Angeles County that conducted an inquiry into some of these charges, it appears, during about the same time that these charges were brought.
That seems to exonerate Mr. Jackson. And Mr. Sneddon, the district attorney, today saying that that will have no bearing on his case. He was aware of it and the judge, when he signed a search warrant and the arrest warrant, was aware of it, and it has no bearing on his case. He feels he has a very good case.
But a dueling press conference today, with Mark Geragos, Michael Jackson's attorney, coming out. He says that he has been involved in this case since the beginning, presumably since February. CNN reported early on that Mr. Geragos was retained by Mr. Jackson as a consultant in February, right around the time that ABC aired that Martin Bashir documentary. And that Mr. -- in very, very uncertain terms, Mr. Geragos saying that this case is nothing more than the access -- or the intersection between a shakedown on behalf of the children's family and a prosecutor with an ax to grind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK GERAGOS, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL JACKSON: I'm telling you right now that there is absolutely no way that we will stand for this besmirching of this man, with these horrible, horrible allegations. And I will tell you right now that there is no way that the prosecution will prevail in this case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: And the case due to start now. Mr. Jackson may be in court on the 16th of January. He was due to be in court the 9th. That was pushed back, the prosecutor says, because it was a furlough day for the court.
The prosecutor also addressed why he allowed Mr. Jackson to have his passport back. That passport would allow Mr. Jackson now to go to England, to the United Kingdom for about 2 1/2 weeks, the prosecutor saying that Mr. Jackson had two previous engagements there, that, if he were to not attend them, he would suffer substantially in economic terms, so allowed Mr. Jackson to do that, and feels that he's no more of a flight risk with his passport than without it -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Miguel Marquez. Thank you.
I am joined now by our CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Jeffrey, good to see you.
And the first question is, what does Michael Jackson actually face should he be found guilty of these charges?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Because of the way the charges are phrased, mandatory prison. How long is really not clear at this stage in the case. But it if these charges move forward through the process, he faces no possibility of probation if he's convicted, got to go to prison.
DOBBS: We heard his attorney, Mark Geragos, in absolute, emphatic, emotional terms decry these charges and protest his client's innocence.
Has there been no contact between the defense attorney and the prosecution leading up to this that would have settled some of the discussion that would lead to those kind of remarks?
TOOBIN: There really is no possibility of compromise at this point, given the nature of these charges. A plea, some sort of resolution short of a trial, seems virtually out of the question.
One thing about Mark Geragos is, Michael Jackson had a bad day today. It could have been a lot worse. This is only one accuser. Remember, the prosecutor asked for other people to come forward. There's only one accuser. And the time period in which Michael Jackson is accused of committing these offenses is precisely the same time that the accuser and his mother went to the Los Angeles authorities and said nothing wrong happened.
So, neither one of those are complete impediments to a successful prosecution, but they're problems that the prosecution is going to have deal with.
DOBBS: How soon do you expect trial to begin?
TOOBIN: Don't hold your breath. California moves glacially. And I would by the end of 2004, at the earliest.
DOBBS: Is that right?
TOOBIN: Oh, absolutely.
DOBBS: That's extraordinary.
Well, Jeffrey, if you would, stay here with us. As you know, it's been an extraordinary day in our court system. And Jeffrey will be remaining with us. And we'll be joined in a moment as well by former prosecutor and CNN analyst Christopher Darden.
I want to turn now to another high-profile case. A jury in Virginia found sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo guilty on all counts. Malvo was convicted of capital murder, terrorism, and a firearm violation in the string of sniper shootings that killed 10 people in the Washington area last year. The jury will now decide whether he should be sentenced to death or spend the rest of his life in prison.
A stunning setback tonight for the Bush administration's war on terror from a federal appellate court. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals said the Bush administration does not have power to detain terror suspect Jose Padilla, the so-called dirty bomber. The court's ruling centered on just who has authority to detain U.S. citizens. Deborah Feyerick joins me now with the story -- Deborah.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ... President Bush overstepped his authority by holding American citizen Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant in a military prison without formally charging him with any crime and without giving him access to the lawyer.
In the 2-1 decision, the justices found that the president does not have the constitutional power, in their words, to detain, as an enemy combatant, an American citizen seized on American soil outside a zone of combat. Only Congress can do that. Now, the White House argued that the president should be able to detain enemy combatants anywhere to wage their war on terrorism. They are seeking a stay on the court's ruling; 18 months ago, Brooklyn-born Padilla was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Airport returning from Pakistan.
The attorney general accused him of trying to build and detonate a radioactive dirty bomb somewhere in the United States. The ruling has nothing to do with whether Padilla is guilty or innocent. His lawyer says this is the Constitution working the way it should be. The Justice Department has 30 days to release Padilla. What it does mean is that they can, if they want, try him in a civilian court, but then they would have to put the evidence on the table to establish probable cause -- Lou.
DOBBS: Deborah, thank you -- Deborah Feyerick reporting.
Turning now to a second rebuke to the Bush administration's hard line on terrorism from another federal court today, the 9th Circuit Court of Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba should have access to legal representation and to U.S. courts.
The Bush administration had contended that the 660 suspected terrorists are on foreign soil; therefore, they could be held without charges indefinitely. The court ruled, the judicial branch has the obligation to -- quote -- "prevent the executive branch from running roughshod over the rights of citizens and aliens alike" -- end quote.
I'm joined again by CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Also joining us tonight from Los Angeles, Christopher Darden, one of the prosecutors in the O.J. Simpson trial.
Good to have you with us, Christopher.
DOBBS: Let me turn, first, to you, Jeffrey. The Malvo case, open and shut?
TOOBIN: Slam dunk. This was an absolutely open-and-shut case in the guilt phase.
Malvo does have, I think, a fighting chance in the penalty phase because of his youth. But given the amount of evidence, given his confession, I didn't think any possibility of an acquittal in the guilt phase.
DOBBS: You agree, Chris?
CHRISTOPHER DARDEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, absolutely. I think the only reason he won't get the death penalty will be because of his age.
DOBBS: And let's turn to Padilla very quickly. This had to stun the U.S. Justice Department. They've held Padilla for, what, a year and a half without charges.
TOOBIN: An extraordinary double rebuke today. And the Padilla case is especially important, because it comes from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, known as a fairly pro-law enforcement court.
The 9th Circuit, the sometimes notorious 9th Circuit, often reversed by the Supreme Court, said the Guantanamo people need lawyers. But Padilla getting lawyers is, I think, an easier case for the defense, a better case. And that's one that the government lost. And both of them, I think, are likely to wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court.
DOBBS: Chris Darden, in Padilla, no matter how heinous the charges, if true, the fact is, the man is a U.S. citizen. And I think most people would be astonished to find that he could be held, again, no matter how heinous the charges, as an American citizen, without representation.
DARDEN: Absolutely. And I think most people ought to be offended that an American citizen can be detained for a year and a half without access to counsel. That's outrageous.
DOBBS: And the idea that will be just as unsettling to many, that those suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, most of them detained in combat against U.S. forces, should enjoy the same rights as an American citizen, is perhaps as equally offensive.
Chris, your thoughts.
DARDEN: Well I can certainly see a distinction in terms of those that are being held at Guantanamo Bay.
In the case of Mr. Padilla, he is an American citizen. He's covered by the United States Constitution, which typically guarantees detainees a right to counsel and a right to due process.
DOBBS: Your thoughts, Jeffrey?
TOOBIN: I think the government has a much stronger case about Guantanamo than it does with Padilla. It is foreign soil. They are non-Americans. They are involved in the Afghanistan terrorism conflict. I think the Supreme Court will likely give the government a lot more leeway with those 660 than they will with the single American citizen, Padilla, held in the United States.
DOBBS: Gentlemen, I thank you very much. Jeffrey Toobin, Chris Darden, I know it's been a long day for both of you, and I thank you.
Coming up next, "Broken Borders" tonight, our series special reports on our border security, a call for local law enforcement agencies to crack down on the illegal aliens in this country. Casey Wian will report on what's happened to the federal agencies.
And the air we breath, what is being done to protect air travelers this holiday season in the year of deadly flu viruses, SARS and more. Kitty Pilgrim will report.
And "Exporting America." Tonight: Manufacturing jobs have been disappearing, high-value technology jobs and other jobs, and unions diminished along with their flight. Bill Tucker will report. And John Sweeney, the president of the country's largest labor organization, the AFL-CIO, will be our guest.
Stay with us.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Joseph Polisar is president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
CHIEF JOSEPH POLISAR, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE: Our membership is all over the map on this. There are some chiefs who feel very strongly that we should do everything that we can to assist the federal government in enforcing immigration laws in this country. And then there are chiefs who will argue, we've spent decades trying to develop a spirit of trust and cooperation with certain immigrant communities in our jurisdictions.
WIAN: The fear: If cops start acting as immigration agents, immigrants will stop cooperating in criminal investigations. The proposed CLEAR Act would deny federal money to local law enforcement agencies who, in the course of their normal duties, fail to enforce immigration laws.
It calls for $1 billion a year in aid to local departments complying with the law and allows them to keep half the assets seized from illegal aliens. It also provides money to deport criminal aliens in local jails, like Orange County's, where illegal aliens are 14 percent of the jail population.
MIKE CORONA, ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF: I think the CLEAR Act, while it has a number of great ideas, like going after those individuals who are here illegally and have committed crimes, and putting them into a database, so that we can go after them, or cross-training local law enforcement, it doesn't take into consideration the fact that this is a federal issue and now trying to make it a local problem.
WIAN: And then there's local politics. In Los Angeles, an overwhelming majority of the city council favors keeping the LAPD's 20-year-old policy of not asking about the immigration status of criminal suspects. (on camera): One opinion held by several police chiefs is, there's not much they can do about illegal aliens until the federal government secures the border. As one chief put it, they can arrest and deport every illegal alien in his city and most of them would be back within a week.
Casey Wian, CNN, Garden Grove, California.
DOBBS: Federal health authorities say more than half of this country is now suffering from widespread flu activity. As many as 36 children have died from the flu.
Although there is some level of flu activity in all 50 states, 36 states now report the flu is widespread. Despite those figures that increased from 24 just last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the outbreak has not yet reached epidemic proportions. Still, flu sufferers are crowding emergency rooms all across the country. And doctors warn that this may only be spreading the virus.
Spreading germs is a major concern to all of us, especially as the holiday season begins. More than eight million of us will be flying on holiday vacations this year. And we're heading for vacations and visiting with family, but, also, we may encounter viruses.
Kitty Pilgrim has the report.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Holiday travel, packed flights, flu season. Will getting on a plane make you sick? People worry most about air quality.
Half of the air on modern planes is recycled. But a study by the National Academy of Sciences found, well-filtered recycled air is not a problem. The FAA agrees, telling us -- quote -- "There is no data to indicate quality of cabin air poses a health risk to passengers or crew" -- unquote. Experts say that, on most planes, air is filtered and changes every three to four minutes.
IRA TAGER, U.C. BERKELEY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: I think people worry about being in confined spaces for long periods of time with other people. And I think perhaps the flying public doesn't realize the extent to which ventilation systems in planes are designed to keep air moving. And I think, if they understood that, they might feel a little bit more comfortable.
PILGRIM: Most experts say the real health risk of flying is sitting so close to other people who may be sick. The recent SARS epidemic brought that into focus.
Even before SARS, studies, such as the one done by the National Research Council in 2001, warned of the close confines of an aircraft cabin, the high density of passengers seated elbow to elbow for hours at a stretch.
DR. DONALD LOW, MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL: There is an increased risk because so many people are sitting together for so long. And if somebody's sick there, they are going to transmit. But when that does occur, it's more a result of the -- that somebody really close to you has -- is sick, either in the next seat or a row or two in front or behind you, as opposed to, it's not the air within the cabin. It's the person who's closest to you that is sick.
PILGRIM: Now, airlines and regulators realize that the public worries about the health risks of flying. And the FAA says they are currently working on a new technology to regularly monitor air quality on flights. But what they can't do is screen people for colds -- Lou.
DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much.
Well, coming up next, General David Grange on point -- that relying on reservists, the tremendous strain we're putting on this country's reserves and National Guard. General Grange on point.
And Halliburton under fire for allegedly overcharging the U.S. government tens of millions of dollars in its Iraq reconstruct contract. Retired General Charles Dominy will be here. He is Halliburton's man in Washington.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: In Iraq today, insurgents killed an American soldier when they ambushed a patrol in Baghdad, the soldier the first to be killed in action since the capture of Saddam Hussein.
Tonight, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld signed a deployment order that could send up to 3,500 additional troops from the 82nd Airborne Division to Iraq at the beginning of the year. One Army official said the paratroopers are may have to go to Iraq because a National Guard unit may not be ready to deploy in January, as had been planned.
In "Grange On Point" tonight, more on the troop rotation planed in Iraq early next year. The military will be sending three combat divisions to Iraq to replace the four divisions there now. While the overall number of troops in Iraq will actually decline, the proportion of reservists and National Guardsmen will double to 40 percent.
I'm joined now by General David Grange.
This is a remarkable strain, is it not, to put on our Reserve and National Guard? It's not a mission that was originally conceived for them.
RETIRED BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, the way they're used, it's not really the vision of how the reserve forces would be used. Many of the reservists going over there right now haven't been deployed in, let's say, maybe five years. So they're fresh troops. But a lot of them are actually taking the place of active-force units. They're not augmenting the active force for a war, as they were envisioned when this was all developed years and years ago. So they can do the job if they're trained properly, but they are being used a little bit differently.
DOBBS: Used differently, and, at the same time, we have a situation where we don't have enough boots on the ground, in the minds of many. What is the ultimate solution here, General?
GRANGE: Well, you want to maintain the unit rotations. You don't want to go back to the individual replacement system that we remember from Vietnam and you and I have talked about in the past.
But what that does cause is that you have to bring units together early on, back in the states, as an example, or other bases around the world, train them up for a month, several months, and then deploy them, in this case, for the Army, a year, seven months for the Marines. And then, when they get back together, they stay together when they come back and then they have a phase-down period, as they're demobilized. So they go back as if they're active to other training requirements.
GRANGE: Go ahead.
DOBBS: I'm sorry, General.
How long do we expect these reservists and Guards men and women who are rotating in the new year to Iraq, how long do you expect their tour of duty to be?
GRANGE: About 18 months. It's a year tour boots on the ground.
And because they don't have the opportunity to train extensively, like the active forces do, they'll have to go through a very intense training regimen. And so that may take probably up to three months to mobilize, train and get ready and integrate into the units they're going to deploy with, and then the same when they come back.
DOBBS: As you know, in Congress, there is a rising, building momentum to add more personnel to the U.S. military, significantly more, in point of fact. At the same time, we have divisions in Europe and in South Korea. Why not move those people into the rotation for the needs in Iraq and Afghanistan?
GRANGE: Well, right now, the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea is fixed in place on the demilitarized zone. That may be adjusted, which I believe it will be.
But keep in mind, one brigade from that division is already in Iraq. It's the one that is stationed in Fort Lewis that is a part of the 2nd Division in Korea. We also -- in Germany, the 1st Infantry Division has a brigade out of Fort Riley that is already in Iraq. And they have an element that's attached up north in Iraq to the 173rd Airborne Brigade. So parts of those units are already there.
DOBBS: General David Grange, thank you, sir.
GRANGE: My pleasure.
DOBBS: Coming up next: free trade and what it's really costing American workers and Americans. The United States is expanding trade agreements, free trade agreements to Central America. John Sweeney is the president of the AFL-CIO, the country's largest labor organization. He says the deal will destroy jobs, undermine workers' rights here and around the world. He's our guest next.
ANNOUNCER: LOU DOBBS TONIGHT continues. Now, "Exporting America."
DOBBS: Now a look at the companies that our staff here has confirmed to be "Exporting America." There are more than 100 companies already that we've confirmed to be shipping American jobs overseas to cheap labor markets or choosing to employ foreign labor, instead of American workers.
The companies that we've confirmed today to be "Exporting America" are: BMC Software, Continental Airlines, Convergys, EarthLink, Fluor Corporation, one of the world's largest engineering and construction management companies, Health Access, Juniper Networks, Keen (ph). Keen is an information technology consulting firm that is helping other companies outsource. And KLA-Tencor, one of the world's largest makers of semiconductor production equipment, Lowe's, SAIC, which says it provides information technology support to commercial and government customers, and State Farm Insurance.
Keep sending those names in for those companies you know to be "Exporting America."
In a series of special reports that we've aired on this broadcast for most of the year entitled "Exporting America," we focus on how the outsourcing of those American jobs to cheap overseas labor markets has cost hundreds of thousands of Americans their livelihoods. Free trade agreements and corporate America's exportation of plans and equipment overseas has devastated manufacturing workers in this country.
At the same time, the once powerful labor unions in this country have lost a considerable number of their members and much of their influence.
Bill Tucker reports.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Perhaps no sector of the economy has suffered so badly in the last two years as manufacturing. In March of 2001, the manufacturing sector employed 13 percent of working Americans. As of last month, it employed 11 percent.
And as the manufacturing sector has declined, American workers across the board have seen real wages decline. The average hourly wage of $8.85 in 1973 fell to an average hourly wage of $8.30 this year, adjusted for inflation. The wage drop would have been greater, but it was offset somewhat by women entering the job market.
DAN BLACK, ECONOMICS PROFESSOR, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: June Cleaver is now in the work force, if that's -- she's not going to be staying home taking care of the Beave. She's going to be out and working and earning a living. And there's a cost to that, obviously.
TUCKER: The cost, we've become a country of two-income wage earners. And as wagers were declining, union membership was plunging, falling nearly by half from 1983 through 2002. The only area that unions have been able to maintain or expand their membership roles has been government.
JARED BERNSTEIN, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: There are really two factors that have exacerbated the decline of unions. The first is the loss of jobs in heavily unionized industries, particularly manufacturing. The second is the difficulty that unions have had in organizing some of our newer industries, industries in the lower-wage sectors, as well as white-collar industries.
TUCKER: Unions have failed to communicate or demonstrate the need for union membership.
TUCKER: And that's the real challenge for unions today, Lou, to prove they have any relevance.
DOBBS: Well, we're going to find out how that fight is going. Bill Tucker, thank you.
My guest now is the head of this country's largest labor organization, the AFL-CIO. Its president, John Sweeney, joins us tonight from Washington, D.C.
Mr. Sweeney, good to have you with us.
JOHN SWEENEY, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO: Thanks, Lou. Nice to be with you.
DOBBS: We have been reporting here on a number of pressures, the real pressure against the working middle class of this country. Why has your organization, for example, not been able to do more to stop some of the exportation of those jobs, to encourage and to work with manufacturers and other companies to preserve those jobs?
SWEENEY: Well, the fact of the matter is that, over the past 2.5 years, we've organized more than a million new members into the labor movement.
But we've lost 2.5 million jobs. And that's a reflection on our trade policies and what's happening in the manufacturing industries. And there is a jobs crisis in this country. And while we see our economy recovering slowly, it's a jobless recovery. And more attention...
DOBBS: Bill Tucker just pointed out, before we moved to the issue of jobs, job creation and the obvious loss of jobs, over the past 30 years, while this country has been listening to people talk, economists, CEOs, whomever, talk about productivity, we've actually seen earnings decline for workers in this country. How in the world can that be permitted to happen?
SWEENEY: But, as a result of our trade policies, we've seen good jobs with good wages and benefits, health care and retirement security the victims of all of what's going on in terms of the changes.
The growth in employment has been in the service sector, where there is organizing of members. But these are basically -- they start out as low-wage jobs with no benefits. And that's a major factor of what's happening now in our recovery. And trade is so important to our country. But we have to be paying attention to workers and the impact on them as well.
DOBBS: Well, John, I'm watching a current account deficit that's rising above a half-trillion dollars. We're watching millions of jobs already lost in manufacturing. It looks as though we're seeing more than a million over the course of the past year or two years in this country, high-value jobs being outsourced abroad, exported to cheap labor markets. What can the AFL-CIO do to help stop these trends?
SWEENEY: Well, we need an administration that's willing to address job development, economic development, and the creation of jobs. And we also need a -- we need public policy that provides health care for American workers. We need trade policies that really are good for workers, as well as good for the economy.
DOBBS: My gosh, John, this president and this Congress have put through $1.5 trillion in tax cuts. The economy is, in any way you want to look at it, in the most objective, neutral way, it is smoking. Economic growth is booming in this country.
SWEENEY: Yes, but those tax cuts are going to the wealthiest people and to the corporations. The workers are not receiving the benefit of those tax cuts, except some modest tax refund.
DOBBS: Well, the average family of four, John, as you know, is going to -- is enjoying the benefit of about $1,400 a year.
But the point I'm making is, in terms of job creation, I don't suppose you want to wait until another administration, which may be in a year or it may be five years. What in the world can your union do to stop this trend to help this country, both in terms of trade policies and the outsourcing of jobs? SWEENEY: Lou, we don't want to wait.
We want to see some action sooner, rather than later. And to talk just about an economic recovery that's a jobless recovery is an insult to American workers. And there are so many different ways of which we can work together with business and government and labor and the challenges before us. And shame on us if we can't put that together.
DOBBS: Well, it's shame on us, because we sure aren't getting it together. When we look at a 30-year trend of declining manufacturing jobs, declining hourly wages for working men and women in this country, the shame on us is already here.
Let me turn to something that your
SWEENEY: But let me just say, in terms of the steel industry, look how the administration has reneged on the steel companies and the steel workers in terms of their trade policy.
DOBBS: Yes, but, John, then we look at the Clinton administration and we say, look what they did to the steel industry, for crying out loud. NAFTA has cost us 700,000 jobs lost in the last decade. The idea of doing this ideologically isn't working in this country.
DOBBS: I'm sorry?
SWEENEY: We can talk about the past. But let's talk about the current and the future, in terms of how we address the situation that we're faced with now.
This is not a political issue. This is a basic American issue, in terms of how we address workers.
DOBBS: Well, let's talk about one of the policies that you're follow following that I don't comprehend at all. Your organization is trying to organize illegal aliens in this country. You're trying to change immigration laws that would effectively open our borders and create amnesty for illegal aliens.
And your organization knows as well as any other economist or anyone else in this think country who has studied that that is putting great, tremendous downside pressure for U.S. citizens. And I understand your desire to grow your union. I don't understand your desire to grow your union by supporting those elements that are driving down wages.
SWEENEY: Lou, this is not about growing our union. This is about how we address the issues of human beings. Our nation has been built by immigrant workers.
DOBBS: Oh, John, it hasn't been built by illegal aliens. I mean, I'm as pro-immigrant as any person in this country.
SWEENEY: Well, then let's...
DOBBS: It's not a statement of fact to say we've been built by illegal aliens. We are a country of immigrants.
SWEENEY: I didn't say were built by illegal aliens. I said we were built by immigrant workers to our country.
Let's treat the immigrant workers as human beings. Let's address the sense of fairness and justice, in terms of how our labor laws apply to these workers.
DOBBS: John, I will bond with you on humanity. What I'm trying to understand is the economics and the politics of the AFL-CIO, who would, at one point, open their arms to illegal aliens, knowing full well that keeps -- because those corporations, those businesses, want to keep labor costs low, they're turning a blind eye to a border that is as porous as one could imagine in their worst nightmare. And the unions are working side by side with them on that issue.
SWEENEY: What about the corporations that are exploiting these immigrant workers? And what about the...
DOBBS: That's what I just said.
SWEENEY: But let's place the blame where the blame is to be, in terms of how do we protect these workers, how do we give them the same enforcement and the same kinds of protection.
DOBBS: My gosh, John. John, I want to protect them. I want them treated humanely. But I want American workers' jobs protected. And I want their wages to be decent and to be rising, not declining, like they have for the last 30 years. Doesn't anybody get the fact this isn't working?
SWEENEY: I think we agree in terms of protecting the workers who are here in our country. But let's protect all the workers. And let's provide for the same legislative protections that every worker should be entitled to in our country.
DOBBS: Well, John, I really appreciate you being here. I would hope you would accept my invitation right now to come back within the next few weeks and let's continue the discussion, because it's really important for us all to understand what the AFL-CIO, the world's -- the country's largest organization, labor organization, is doing. If I could ask you to do that, I hope you would accept.
SWEENEY: I would certainly accept. And I want to thank you for all of the great work you're doing.
DOBBS: Thank you, John Sweeney, the president of the AFL-CIO. That brings us to the subject of tonight's poll: Are labor unions, in your opinion, still effective organizations to represent American workers, yes or no? Please your vote at CNN.com/Lou.
Coming up next here: Halliburton trying to defend itself against charges that it overcharged the U.S. government millions of dollars for reconstruction contracts in Iraq. Halliburton's head of government affairs, retired General Charles Dominy, Halliburton's man in Washington, joins me to explain it all.
Please stay with us.
DOBBS: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today announced a dramatic shift in policy by his government toward the Palestinians in a speech that also challenges U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Prime Minister Sharon said Israel will unilaterally disengage from the Palestinians unless Palestinian leaders implement the U.S.- backed road map for peace. That disengagement could mean that hundreds, possibly thousands, of Israeli settlers will be required to move to more defensible areas.
Let's take a look now at some of your thoughts.
From Osteen, Florida: "The only good news about our exporting of jobs is that our overpaid CEOs, who don't look past the end of the quarter or their stock options, will be the next ones to go. Thanks for looking out for the average Joe on the production line. You're the only one doing so. I've always watched the fair-and-balanced network, but they think that exporting jobs is good for America" -- Gib Sloan.
From Roy, Utah: "Mr. Dobbs, I'm neither a liberal, nor a conservative -- labels are too easy -- and really enjoy your show. It is balanced. It is fair, unlike some who say their shows are. Thanks to your series, we're doing our damndest to buy American. And it is no longer easy" -- Jackie McCowen-Rose.
From Lydia, Louisiana: "Lou, shouldn't management people be under the same outsourcing punishment that they dictate to their workers? Let's go to India, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe, find managers to work for 85 percent less than our great management 'free-traitors.' When they bitch, we could say, well, the world is going towards a global economy. Things will be better in four to 10 years. Bad cooks can't stand to eat their own cooking" -- Al Trautman.
From Mesa, Arizona -- "You think NAFTA and CATFA are bad for American workers, just wait until the next trade agreement called SHAFTA is passed by the U.S. Congress. With friends like our current congressional representatives, who needs enemies?" -- Larry Stephenson.
We love hearing from you. Please send us your thoughts at LouDobbs@CNN.com. A reminder to vote in our poll tonight. Are labor unions still effective organizations to represent American workers, yes or no? Please your vote at CNN.com/Lou. We'll have the results for you later in the broadcast.
Congressman up next: The governor of Connecticut and his wife have each turned to a higher power in the midst of a political and personal crisis. And who have they chosen? Who did they turn to? God and Santa Claus, respectively. Peter Viles will have the story.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: A bizarre political story in Connecticut tonight.
Governor John Rowland is on the defensive, after he admitted he lied about who paid for work performed at his summer cottage. And yet the governor's wife is on the attack. And she is publicly ridiculing the reporters who broke and covered the story.
Peter Viles has the report.
PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight's Christmas story is about the governor, his wife, their cottage by the lake, and what Santa Claus thinks of a political scandal in Connecticut.
First the governor, John Rowland. He shocked the state by admitting last week he had lied when he claim head paid for all the work on that lakeside cottage. Fighting for his political life, the governor said he's now listening to God.
GOV. JOHN ROWLAND (R), CONNECTICUT: In our leisure, God whispers to us. In our labor, he speaks to us. In our adversity, he shouts at us. Needless to say, I am hearing him loud and clear.
VILES: Moments later, his wife, Patty, said she's listening to Santa Claus and he's mad at the reporters who broke the story.
PATRICIA ROWLAND, CONNECTICUT FIRST LADY: They used to be good girls and boys, Santa said, but the poison pen's power has gone to their head. I have the same problem at the media stations. They've just simply forgotten human relations. Their thirst and their hunger for the day's biggest story has earned them black coal for their ill- gotten glory.
VILES: Her poem was published in "The New York Times." It drew applause from a surprised audience, but now threatens to overshadow her husband's speech.
COLIN MCENROE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Last Friday, he apologized to the press. He apologized to the people of Connecticut and then apologized to the press for having lied. So it seems kind of contradictory, once again, for her to do a poem attacking the press. ROY OCCHIOGROSSO, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: There are times to make jokes and there are times not make to jokes. When the public has lost complete faith in you, when there are federal investigators crawling into every nook and cranny of Connecticut, that's not the time to make jokes.
VILES: Those investigators have already found some strange stuff in those nooks and crannies. Reportedly, they dug up buried gold in the backyard of one of the governor's top aides. That aide pled guilty this year to accepting corrupt payments, payments made in cash and gold. Gold buried in the backyard almost sounds look a scandal from 100 years ago, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, maybe there's a poem in all of that.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Peter Viles.
DOBBS: Appreciate it.
Well, we're going to continue here in just one moment.
Please stay with us.
DOBBS: Tonight, the investigation continues into whether Halliburton overcharged the United States $61 million for gasoline that's involved in a contract in Iraq. Halliburton, which was once run, of course, by Vice President Cheney, denies any wrongdoing.
My guest tonight is Halliburton's man in Washington, if you will, the vice president of government affairs, retired General Charles Dominy, who joins us tonight from Houston, Texas.
General, good to have you here.
RETIRED LT. GEN. CHARLES DOMINY, V.P. OF GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS, HALLIBURTON: Glad to be with you, Lou.
DOBBS: The issue framed at least in these terms, and that's the price of a gallon of gasoline. For some, $1.09, for KBR, your subsidiary in Iraq, Kellogg, Brown, Root, over $2.30. Why that wide a difference?
DOMINY: Lou, what you alluded to was a draft number in a Defense audit report, when you mentioned $61 million.
DOMINY: We'll have an opportunity to respond to that. We did. We submitted our paperwork yesterday.
I'm strongly persuaded that, when the Defense Contract Audit Agency reviews our input, that this matter will be over. The key is, based on a Halliburton initiative, we've actually saved the government about $130 million by opening up a second source of fuel in Turkey. The task to do it in Kuwait was a direct order from the Corps of Engineers to us. We did that. We got the low bid and we put that in motion to solve the crisis in Baghdad.
So, the whole process has been done by the book. And I think the audit will reflect that, when they review our input.
DOBBS: Well, it's unusual for the Defense Contract Audit folks to come out swinging. It sounds like Halliburton has been negotiating with the Pentagon and the Pentagon wasn't getting quite what it wanted to hear, and they mean business here.
And it's a simple -- if I may put it in these terms, General, it's a simple frame. They come out saying it's $61 million. And whatever else you've done in behalf of the country, the contract, the Pentagon, the idea that there would be that kind of difference in the gasoline that was being moved into Baghdad, how do you explain it?
DOMINY: Well, you can look at it very straightforwardly. When we did our work in Kuwait, we got the low bid. We had four different vendors. And we got the low bid. The extra costs came with the distribution, the trucks that had to go from Kuwait to Baghdad. There was a premium associated with that.
And if you look at what has happened in those convoys, they take eight days, often, to go to Baghdad. They get shot at. They've lost 60 trucks. They've lost three drivers killed. They've had several wounded in action. So there's been a premium associated with that. We're able to get great competition in Turkey. And so, consequently, two-thirds of the fuel now comes in from Turkey, one-third...
DOBBS: Well, we want to apologize. We've lost the line to Houston, Texas, General Charles Dominy of Halliburton. We'll certainly make an attempt to get him back. He is certainly -- well, as I say it, there he is.
General, can you hear me now?
DOMINY: I can hear you fine, Lou.
DOBBS: The line dropped out between here and Houston. So if you'd like to finish your thoughts, because we're going to be just about out of time.
DOMINY: Well, I wanted to represent that it is a straightforward process. We got the low bids. The government approved those low bids from Kuwait. There is an incremental difference between two. And it's primarily due to the dangerous route from Kuwait to Baghdad.
DOBBS: You know, General, you're as sensitive and political savvy a fellow as there is in corporate America. You've got a vice president sitting in Washington who ran your company. As you know, the Democrats are making much of that relationship with your company. Cronyism is the cry from nearly every quarter here.
Why in the world isn't your company being just rigorous to the nth degree to make certain there is no claim of any kind possible?
DOMINY: Well, the fact of the matter is, those assertions are wrong, dead wrong. But we're very proud of the contracts we have. And we put our focus on doing the job, support soldiers, get oil pumping again in Iraq. We are staying on the high road. Facts support where we are.
DOBBS: Lieutenant Charles Dominy, vice president of government affairs for Halliburton, we thank you for being here.
And we apologize to you and to our viewers for those technical problems that interrupted the line between here and Houston.
Now for the results of our poll tonight. Are labor unions still effective organizations to represent American workers? Forty-four percent of you say yes; 56 percent of you say no.
Finally tonight, the new P.C. Christmas. Earlier this week, we touched on the political correctness that seems, in some quarters, to be overwhelming this Christmas season. It seems the very reference to the holiday is a cause for concern amongst a few.
In that spirit, we have discovered a Web site that has some suggestions for those who want to celebrate the holidays and stay perfectly politically correct.
For example, you can now say: "Frosty the Snowperson of indistinguishable gender"; "We wish you a merry December"; "Little drummer person" -- those from the Web site entitled Insomnomaniac.com. And we thank them for sharing.
That's our show for tonight. Thank you for being with us. Tomorrow night, we report on illegal aliens costing our hospitals millions of dollars in unpaid bills. We'll have a report on how one Arizona hospital is fighting back.
For all of us here, good night from New York.
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