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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

9/11 Commission Releases Full Report; Interview With Jamie Gorelick, Slade Gorton

Aired July 22, 2004 - 18:00   ET

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


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight the September 11th Commission is calling for the most sweeping shake up of our intelligence agency in half a century. The commission said not a single government measure adopted before the September 11th attacks, disturbed or even delayed the al Qaeda terrorist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS KEAN (R), 9-11 COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: This was a failure of policy, management, capability, and above all a failure of imagination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Tonight, two members of the September 11th Commission, Democrat Jamie Gorelick, and Republican Slade Gorton, join us to tell me why the panel was unable to blame either the Bush administration or the Clinton administration for the September 11th attacks.

The chairman and vice chairman of Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Pat Roberts and Senator Jay Rockefeller, face the huge challenge of overhauling our intelligence community. They're my guest tonight.

Former senator, former presidential candidate Gary Hart proposes a new vision for American foreign policy in the 21st century. Gary Hart, author of "The Fourth Power" joins me.

And the border patrol is fighting a secret war, trying to stop human traffickers from smuggling thousands of illegal aliens into this country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are a lot more sophisticated than they used to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Tonight our special report, "Broken Borders."

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for Thursday, July 22. Here now for an hour of news, debate, and opinion is Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening. The September 11th Commission today called for a dramatic reorganization of America's intelligence agencies. The commission recommended a new national director of intelligence and a single counterterrorism center to coordinate all American intelligence. The panel did not blame either the Bush administration or the Clinton administration for failure to prevent those attacks. Instead, the commission said everyone who was a senior government position bears some responsibility.

Sean Callebs is in Washington with details of the commission's findings.

Joe Johns is on Capitol Hill, where there are calls tonight for immediate action on the commission's recommendations.

And Dana Bash is traveling with President Bush in Illinois, where the president tonight is promoting his homeland security agenda. We begin our coverage with Sean Callebs -- Sean.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the 9/11 Commission looked back at what went horribly wrong, but focused much energy on recommendations in an effort to ensure such attacks never again occur on U.S. Soil. It does not cast blame on the Clinton or Bush administrations noting, quoting here, "Any person in a senior position in our government bear some responsibility."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CALLEBS (voice-over): the commission says the United States became a nation transformed early on September 11th, concluding one of the keys that led to the attacks, the fact that no one in intelligence law enforcement, or government ever imagined it could happen.

KEAN: On that September day, we were unprepared. As we detail in our report, this was a failure of policy, management, capability, and above all a failure of imagination.

CALLEBS: The conclusions are blunt. A failure in intelligence gathering. A failure in sharing what intel had been picked up by the CIA and FBI. Recommendations are broad and sweeping. Retooling the way intelligence is gathered in the U.S., creating a unified command to run the agencies collecting information, beginning with a new high level White House post. A national intelligence chief over the CIA and parts of the FBI, reporting directly to the president. Commission members, however, know Washington is not a city keen on embracing dramatic change.

BOB KERREY (D), 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: I would call myself hopeful but not optimistic. That these changes will be enacted prior to another terrorist attack on the United States, regrettable though that may be.

CALLEBS: The panel makes it clear the danger from al Qaeda remains.

KEAN: We expect further attacks against such an enemy there can be no complacency. This is the challenge of our generation. CALLEBS: Commissioners pointed to at least 10 different opportunities to derail or detect the sinister 9/11 plot. Some involved two terrorists who helped hijack Flight 77 from Dulles Airport near Washington later slamming the plane into the Pentagon.

Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdar, both were seen at high level al Qaeda meetings, both were added to a terrorism watch list August 24th, just weeks before the attacks. And that was a full year and a half after the CIA learned that Alhazmi and Almihdar were at the terrorist summit in Malaysia. Yet both were able to walk through security checks at the airport and board the plane.

LEE HAMILTON (D), 9/11 COMMISSION CO-CHAIRMAN: The fact of the matter is we just didn't get it.

CALLEBS: A staggering blow to the nation, yet a loss intensely personal for loved ones of the more than 3,000 who perished in the attacks. Many family members give the commission high marks for keeping politics out of the mix. Yet find it hard to forget human error factored heavily into the tragedy.

BEVERLY ECKERI, LOST HER HUSBAND: That there were errors that people made, people who are incompetent, people who are irresponsible. People who are territorial, people who wanted power more than, you know, more than to do what's right.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CALLEBS: When it comes to territory and power, the commission agrees Congress needs change. It's recommending creation of a single joint Congressional committee to oversee homeland security -- Lou.

DOBBS: Sean, thank you.

On the subject of Congress, a September 11th Commission said Congress must act quickly to implement the recommendations in the report, but lawmakers say it's unlikely Congress will have time to take any action until next year.

Congressional correspondent Joe Johns reports -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESP.: Lou, that's certainly true. The commission did call on Congress to act very quickly, as quickly as possible, and as you said, there is very little time. Right now the Congressional calendar is winding down in anticipation of the November elections. So some here on Capitol Hill are already talking about the idea of a special session. If necessary, a lame duck session of Congress in order to start working on the commission's recommendations. Today Senator Joe Lieberman talked about that at a news conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: This report is only the end of the beginning. It's not the beginning of the end. That they've given us a charter, a course, a series of recommendations, and now it's up to us to carry it forward. And these recommendations demand change. In institutions, in the executive branch, in Congress resist change, even if it's necessary to protect national security. The status quo failed us on September 11th, and it will fail us again unless we reform and change it in some of the ways that this commission recommended.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: It sounds like he's gearing up for a battle, and he very well could be. These are potentially controversial recommendations, some internal to the Congress, some that could set off turf wars among people who have been battling for years to try to get the very best committee assignments. The speaker of the house is suggesting that he wants to see all of this move in regular order.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We'll have hearings, as I said in my statement. We will look at the ramifications of all those things. Anything that we're going to do is going to be deliberate and not rushed. We're going to make sure it really solves problems.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: So it's one of those situations here on Capitol Hill, some people are saying let's move fast, others are saying let's move slow. The question, of course, is what the Congress could really accomplish before the end of the legislative year and what to do if they have to extend that year.

Back to you, Lou.

DOBBS: Joe Johns, thank you.

President Bush called the commission's report solid and sound. Tonight President Bush is in Illinois pushing his homeland security agenda.

White House correspondent Dana Bash joins us tonight from Glenview, Illinois -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, as you know, this is a commission that the Bush White House resisted even creating at first and has had some rough times with over the past 20 months on issues like whether or not his daily briefing would be given to them, whether or not his national security adviser would testify publicly before their hearings. But today, Lou, it was all praise. It certainly was not lost on this White House that the commission did not assign blame to them for what happened on 9/11.

The president today seemed to play that up, saying he agreed with the conclusion that terrorists exploited the U.S. for over a decade. And he also made the case that, in general, the commission, what they are recommending is essentially some of the things that he is already doing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The commission has suggested a number of reforms to improve our intelligence capabilities so we can better anticipate emerging threats. We will carefully study all their proposals, of course. We agree that better coordination between the various intelligence agencies is needed. We agree that more human intelligence is needed. Because we know the best way to figure out what the enemy is thinking is to get to know the enemy firsthand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, the president stopped short of embracing or endorsing any of the major recommendations, like for example, the creation of a new national intelligence director, but privately the Bush aides say they understand there is going to be public pressure. Also, you're of course hearing pressure from Congress to at least embrace this or come up with a compromise very, very soon. Now, Mr. Bush came here to Illinois to deal with and have as a backdrop first responders. That is sort of the imagery this White House wanted to have because what their strategy is to play up some of the things that they have done over the past three years to address some of the problems in the government since 9/11. Mr. Bush ticked through a laundry list of what he has done talking about the fact that they are going aggressively after suspected terrorists, that they've created the Department of Homeland Security, for example.

But Democrats, Lou, were quick to look at this event and remind reporters that the Department of Homeland Security, just like the 9/11 commission, was something that Mr. Bush resisted at first and now he is embracing and playing up -- Lou.

DOBBS: Dana Bash, thank you.

Senator John Kerry as well, praised the work of the 9/11 commission today. He said reforms of U.S. intelligence gathering are long overdue. Senator Kerry also said he's prepared to take action on the commission's recommendations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I am elected president and there still has not been sufficient progress rapidly in these next months on these issues, then I will lead. I will lead immediately by convening an emergency security summit that brings together leading Democratic and Republican members of Congress as well as the leaders of the agencies that play a vital role. And we will put together the rapid agenda necessary, the administrative and legislative changes necessary to protect this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Senator Kerry also called on Democrats and Republicans to work together for bipartisan solutions to protect this country against terrorism. Coming up next here, will Congress take quick action to overhaul our intelligence services? I'll be joined by the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Pat Roberts, and the ranking Democrat on that committee, Senator Jay Rockefeller.

The commission recommends a new strategy for covert operations against al Qaeda. What does that mean for the CIA and the military? We'll have a special report from the Pentagon.

And in an exclusive behind the scenes look at undercover agents fighting a secret war in this country. They're fighting against smugglers of thousands of illegal aliens pouring across our broken borders.

All of that and more coming right up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: My next guests are two members of the 9/11 commission who have worked over the past several months on the report released today, for longer than that, in point of fact. Republican Slade Gorton served the state of Washington in the U.S. Senate for 18 years. Jamie Gorelick served as deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration. Both join us tonight from Washington D.C.

First, congratulations on the completion of the commission's report. report.

Let's begin, if I may. Why did the commission decide not to point specific blame, to insist on accountability with both the Clinton and the bush administration for intelligence failures, for the failures to protect American lives and soil on September 11?

JAMIE GORELICK, (D) 9/11 COMMISSION: Lou, let me start off. Our charge was to find the facts and to make recommendations to help us be safer. And we found the facts. And we lay out lots of them with relation to individual responsibility. And you can see that for yourself.

We did not take the next step and say certain persons should be blamed for such and such an act or failure to act, because it would have been a diversion from what should be the next step, which is looking at how to make us safer.

SLADE GORTON, (R) 9/11 COMMISSION: This is a report that we want to be a handiwork for people 50 or a 100 years from now. We've attempted to find every relevant fact that led up to 9/11, every relevant action.

People can reach whatever conclusions with respect to it they wish, but from our point of view, the conclusion was we need to do better in the future. And our recommendations flow directly from the facts we have found. And we want all of the attention, the great bulk of the attention to be on those recommendations, because they need to be adopted if America is to be safer. DOBBS: You call for the creation of a national counterterrorism center, the creation of a post, the national intelligence director. How will those two specific recommendations make Americans any safer?

GORTON: Let me take the counterterrorism center. One of the great failings that you'll see when you read this report is that intelligence was treasured. It was closely held within individual agencies. As a matter of fact, often one part of the FBI didn't know what another part of the FBI was doing. Certainly, that was true with the CIA and 12 or 15 other intelligence agencies.

The National Counterterrorism Center will have one head. He'll be a presidential appointee. He will be empowered to get all intelligence with respect to terrorism from all of these various sources. And he'll have an additional power to that, he'll be able to task those agencies to find out things that they've omitted. Find out things that they don't know that we need to know from the point of view of the future.

So we won't -- in the future, we hope, have intelligence that no one can use.

GORELICK: And let me answer the second part of the question, the national intelligence director. That position is absolutely necessary to make the center work. It is absolutely necessary to make the changes that we think need to be made in the FBI so that we have a good intelligence function within it.

You have to have someone who controls the purse strings. You don't need a big bureaucracy, but you have to have someone who controls the purse strings for all the different intelligence agencies, for all the different pieces of our government that have to work together, who can allocate the money, who can make personnel policies, who can make technology policies, who can make information sharing policies so that the government works together as one. Unity of purpose, unity of effort.

DOBBS: Is there a model in government, Jamie Gorelick, in which that has ever been achieved?

GORELICK: Not in exactly the same way. I mean, this is not a czar like the drug czar or the energy czar, neither of them had any power. And the reason you're hearing resistance from places like the CIA, is that they feel that creating this czar, as they see it, is equivalent to that. It is not.

There are precedents, however. We have a cabinet level individuals working in the executive office of the president. We have a community management staff now within the director of central intelligence purview, but not with enough power.

We don't intend to create a big bureaucracy. We don't intend to move boxes around the way the Department of Homeland Security has done. This is a clean, neat, feasible process.

GORTON: The closest parallel, probably is Goldwater-Nichols and the department of defense, where you had entirely separate Army, Navy, Air Force, and where now, to make a really successful career, you have to know at the higher levels what the other defense agencies are doing.

We want to create that kind of comradeship, that kind of understanding, that kind of cross-current in careers in our intelligence agencies that does now successfully exist in the Department of Defense.

DOBBS: Let me ask you, not necessarily directly on point, but certainly related. Sandy Berger, the former head of the national security -- national security adviser under the Clinton administration, accused of, and admitting taking classified documents from the National Archives, those notes, whether copies or originals still unclear. Did the commission review that material, to what -- can you shed any light on what happened there? Slade Gorton, first.

GORTON: Well, we can't shed any light on exactly what happened there and on Sandy Berger's troubles with the Justice Department and the Archives. What we can say unequivocally is we had all of that information. We have every one of those documents. All of them have -- are infused in and are a part of our report.

DOBBS: So the commission was denied no information as a result of whatever Sandy Berger did or did not do at the National Archives?

GORTON: That's precisely correct.

GORELICK: And we have been so assured by the Justice Department.

DOBBS: Jamie Gorelick, Slade Gorton, we thank you both. And again, our congratulations, and thanks for your service to the country.

GORELICK: Thank you.

DOBBS: That brings us to the subject of tonight's poll. Do you believe Congress should act immediately on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission? Please cast your vote at cnn.com/lou. We'll have the results coming up shortly here.

Still ahead, how will Congress react to those recommendations? I'll be joined by the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Pat Roberts, and the ranking Democrat on the committee, Senator Jay Rockefeller.

And the commission recommends a new strategy for hunting terrorists that could change the relationship between the CIA and the Pentagon. We'll have that special report.

And General David Grange joins us tonight in "Grange on Point."

And thousands of illegal aliens cross the border from Mexico each day. Many of them are using technology more sophisticated than the equipment used by the Border Patrol agents assigned to catch them. Our special report, "Broken Borders," is coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The September 11th Commission today called upon Congress to take quick action to overhaul our intelligence agencies. The commission also said Congress failed to exercise proper oversight of the intelligence community before the September 11 attacks. Joining me now are the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Pat Roberts, and the vice chairman, Senator Jay Rockefeller. We thank you both for being here.

SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D-WV), VICE CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Mr. Chairman, let me begin by asking you straightforwardly, do you agree with the assessment of the commission and its recommendations?

SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R-KS), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes, for the most part. I think most members of Congress after reading the report, after getting the briefings, thanks it's very laudatory. They were bipartisan. I think the thing that really strikes me is that they didn't look in the rearview mirror and 20/20 hindsight and affix blame. They are looking ahead and saying this is what we must do, both in terms of the National Counterterrorism Center, as reported by Slade Gorton, also a national intelligence director. Many congressmen -- pardon me, many congressmen and senators have that bill.

And then the real problem in the Congress is the fractured way we look at intelligence. Both Senator Rockefeller and I feel very strongly that the Intelligence Committee should be empowered. I know that gets into a possible turf fight. That would be our worst nightmare. And in September, we are going to have the September 11th Commission meet with the Intelligence Committee, go over the details, see where we are -- and we already started those hearings last Tuesday in regards to advice, in regards to reform.

DOBBS: Senator Rockefeller, the recommendation of a national intelligence director, the creation of a National Counterterrorism Center, neither of those things obviously can happen before the elections in November. How -- your best assessment, how quickly can the most important recommendations either be voted up or down and decided upon by Congress?

ROCKEFELLER: Two things to be said. Number one, we have never lived in a more dangerous, immediately dangerous era. And therefore, that calls upon speedy action.

The second thing to be said is that, if somebody lays down a set of ideas about how to create a silver bullet, so to speak, to solve all the problems, it doesn't necessarily mean it's the best idea. So you have this terrible conflict of where we need to act expeditiously, quickly in the interests of the American people, but we also need to do it right. We need to get it right, Lou. Pat and I have agreed on that for a couple years now. And that's a conflict.

DOBBS: That conflict, the conflict that exists within Congress itself, as we pointed out and as you've acknowledged, criticism of Congress for its failure in oversight, the fact that appropriations holds the principal power, or the purse string over intelligence and every other basic issue in Congress, Chairman Roberts, what can be done to change that, to improve the situation?

ROBERTS: Well, that's been a longstanding point of discussion. We've had a lot of what I would refer to as meaningful dialogue by any authorizer I've ever known. Anybody in charge of a committee who authorizes a program and then finds the program substantially changed by the appropriators. Now, I'm not trying to pick on the appropriators. I love appropriators.

But what I'm saying -- what I'm saying is that in this particular case, it is so dysfunctional for the Intelligence Committee to be that strong, independent voice and conduct oversight the way that it is structured now. If something happens in the Intelligence Committee, where we have 37 staffers, 17 dedicated members, spend a lot of time on it, then it is referred to the Armed Services Committee, then it goes to the Appropriation Committees, then it goes to OMB -- or to be more accurate, OMB started it off with the intelligence community, and then we have to rely on supplemental funding.

There has to be a better way to do this. This issue is paramount. We're at war. We're under threat in regards to a possible attack. If there's any issue where we can achieve a breakthrough, work with our counterparts, and come up with a compromise that makes sense, hopefully this is the time to do it.

DOBBS: Senator Rockefeller, the recommendation that the House and the Senate combine their intelligence committees, to give more heft to your work, is that, to you, a good idea?

ROCKEFELLER: It could very well be. I want to look at it very carefully. I've only had the report for a day. But I think all of their ideas were based on careful thought. They all are experienced. Lee Hamilton, who was chairman of intelligence, Bob Kerrey was chairman of intelligence, Tom Kean has extraordinary insight into all of these things.

But you can't sort of just pick out one little piece and say, is this going to work? It has to -- it all has to fit together. Sometimes, Lou, just to be -- sort of complicate it, I think we spend so much time on the solutions that we don't look at the problem. And I think what Pat and I want to do is to make sure that in a rush to getting the solution in this extremely dangerous time, where something could happen tonight or tomorrow, that we don't make solutions that in fact don't solve the problems. Because this is going to be our only shot, and thanks to the work that Chairman Roberts did on the Senate Intelligence Committee and the 9/11 Commission, we now have that window. But it's not going to stay open forever.

DOBBS: The hearings that you are now conducting in your committee, along with the 9/11 Commission recommendations, as well as your own assessment on prewar intelligence, is there any likelihood, in your judgment -- and I'm going to ask you first Senator -- I'd like you both to respond to this, but you first, Senator Roberts. Is there any likelihood that you're going to achieve a balance between the caution and the concern for getting it right that Senator Rockefeller is approaching and the immediate peril in which this nation finds itself from radical Islamist terrorism?

ROBERTS: Yes, I think we can work this out. We have to work it out. That's our obligation and that's our responsibility. We held hearings on Tuesday, what we call the wise men and women hearings. If, in fact, knowing what you do now with regards to the 511-page report that we reported out on a 17-0 vote on the prewar intelligence on Iraq, those conclusions begged for reform.

Now we have the 9/11 Commission. And now we're going to hold hearings with other people coming in who are experts. The first hearing we have in September is going to be with the 9/11 Commission, asking those detailed questions that Jay talked about -- how does this work? Do you have a joint master? In other words, if you're an analyst and you're working for the State Department, is your master the secretary of state or is your master the national intelligence director? That has to be worked out.

It doesn't mean that we can't get it done. We just want to do it right and we want to do no harm and we also want to be careful of the law of unintended effects, all under the rubric, is exactly what Jay said, we are under threat and we have an obligation and a responsibility to move as fast as we can.

DOBBS: Senator Rockefeller?

ROCKEFELLER: I agree with what he said and I also want to say that both, I think, Pat Roberts' and my worst nightmare is that we will do the right thing by the executive branch of government but that turf battles here in the Congress are so deeply ingrained, are already beginning to show themselves, that we will, in effect, immobilize our ability to give the oversight to the intelligence community which, frankly, up till 9/11, it never sufficiently had or wanted.

DOBBS: Senator Rockefeller, Senator Roberts, we thank you very much for being with us here tonight.

ROCKEFELLER: Thank you.

ROBERTS: OK, thank you.

DOBBS: A reminder now to vote in our poll. Tonight, the question -- do you believe Congress should act immediately on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission? Please cast your vote at cnn.com/lou. We'll have the results coming up just a little later.

A key question for the September 11 Commission was how to use covert operations to kill or to capture terrorists. The Commission today recommended that the Pentagon should take control of all covert military operations and missions, including those conducted by the CIA.

Senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the U.S. went into Afghanistan less than a month after the September 11 attacks, it was the CIA that put the first fighters on the ground. In fact, it was a CIA officer, Johnny Michael Spann, who was the first American to die in combat -- killed in a battle with Taliban forces during a prison uprising.

But the 9/11 Commission thinks it's a mistake for the CIA to have its own paramilitary commandos hunting terrorists and it recommends that in the future the Pentagon carry out all secret military missions -- with CIA help.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has already elevated the U.S. special operations command and given it the lead in the global war on terror. And the Commission believes special operations troops such as Delta Force, not CIA forces, should be responsible for "directing and executing paramilitary operations, whether clandestine or covert."

The Pentagon insists it has no problem working with the CIA.

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: I can only speak for the time that I've been here. But the teamwork is pretty darned good, actually.

MCINTYRE: But the report concludes: ..".the United States cannot afford to build two separate capabilities for carrying out secret military operations. Secretly operating stand-off missions and secretly training foreign military or paramilitary forces."

Part of the idea is to make sure the U.S. doesn't miss a future opportunity to take out Osama bin Laden or someone like him.

The report also cites a culture clash between the departments, noting the CIA has a reputation for agility in operations, while the military has a reputation for being "methodical and cumbersome."

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It seems to me that it isn't perfect, but life isn't perfect. There are always going to be seams no matter how you organize or how you arrange yourself.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: The report also finds that before September 11, neither the CIA nor the Pentagon had much enthusiasm for covert operations. The CIA was sensitive to criticism that it might be plotting assassinations, while the military seemed to be overly concerned with the possibility of failure in high risk operations -- Lou.

DOBBS: Politics and bureaucrats extending even to those agencies on the front line of protecting national security.

Jamie McIntyre, our senior Pentagon correspondent, thank you.

Joining me now to further examine the Commission's recommendation that the Pentagon take over covert operations is Gen. David Grange, joining us tonight in Grange On Point.

General, Good to have you here.

GEN. DAVID GRANGE, U.S. ARMY (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: With your experience, your distinguished record in combat and other service in the U.S. military, how do you feel about the Pentagon taking over all covert military operations?

GRANGE: Well, Lou, I don't think that the military should take over all the covert operations. There's times where the Department of Defense supports the CIA. There's times when the CIA supports the military. But when you do covert operations, one, you have to take into consideration that you put people in a situation in uniform that are not covered by certain conventions recognized internationally.

The other is that it's no -- it's not that the military is cumbersome. It's not that the military cannot do this. There are people trained that are -- that would be very good at these type of operations. But, again, I think it's still an agency responsibility and should remain so because of presidential findings and other issues with the intelligence oversight commission.

DOBBS: Despite the findings of the Commission, you would not surrender agility to the CIA and nor would you accept cumbersome and methodical on the part of the military, is that correct?

GRANGE: That is correct.

DOBBS: General, let me turn to another report today that the Army is planning to call up recruits earlier than expected, that the poll of recruits is declining. We have been told by this Pentagon now for two years that there are plenty of people in uniform, that there are plenty of people ready to volunteer in the time -- in time of war for combat.

Is it -- is this Pentagon facing reality?

GRANGE: Well, I still maintain my old assertion that the military is too small for the tasks at hand today. It's not a spike, it's a plateau. We need a bigger military for decades to come. There's no doubt in my mind.

Now, calling up recruits early, that's a technique that solves part of the problem. What happens is you defer enlistments and sometimes people will enlist in the military because there's something else they want to do for a little while before they go in. Now they're told, the recruiters are saying no, you have to go in now. And that solves part of the problem.

But long-term, the military is too small.

DOBBS: Too small and the Army's top general, General Peters Goodmaker (ph), says he's against the idea of a bigger military. He said, in fact, general, that spending money on a permanent increase in troops would hinder modernization.

What in the world does that mean?

GRANGE: Well, I agree that it will hinder modernization because when Congress says we want 20,000 more or 30,000 more, the money does not go behind that law that may go into effect. So the military is stuck with taking money out of other programs, like modernization, to pay for the troop increase.

I do disagree that the military can do it within. Some -- you can find some stuff within numbers, but you cannot solve the long-term problem. But Congress has to come forward with the money to support the numbers of troops.

DOBBS: The bottom line, we need a bigger military for a much larger mission than anyone had anticipated several years ago.

GRANGE: Correct.

DOBBS: Gen. David Grange, as always, thanks for being here.

GRANGE: My pleasure.

DOBBS: Still ahead, our exclusive report on the work of undercover Border Patrol agents trying to stop thousands of illegal aliens from entering this country, specifically from Mexico.

And then, the United States is searching for a defining mission in space. China appears to have such a defining mission. Our special report on space and the future of the American space program is next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: In Broken Borders tonight, our exclusive behind-the- scenes look at our nation's Border Patrol at work. Every day, agents are putting their lives at risk, trying to stop human smuggling across our borders. Nowhere is this fight more intense, more dangerous, than along the Mexican border near Tucson, Arizona.

That's where we spent the day with a Border Patrol agent, who often works undercover.

Peter Viles has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Patrolling the Mexican border on a dirt road in Nogales, Arizona.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Activity crossing this road, on a daily basis it would be approximately 50 to 150 people a day.

VILES: That is up to 5,000 illegal aliens a year who must first cross this rugged border in the hills and then they must sneak across this dirt road. Which is why Border Patrol drags the road again and again. Cross it, you will leave footprints behind. But the smugglers are thinking one step ahead. To avoid leaving footprints, they use planks or carpet scraps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what they'll do is they'll walk right on top of it and have several of these pieces so each time they take a step, it's -- they can cross the road without leaving any sign. Another way is to wrap this around the shoe.

VILES: In the mountains above this road, Border Patrol has a favorite lookout spot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From this vantage point, we are able to see about a third of our area of operation.

VILES: But so, too, are scouts for smuggling kingpins. Border Patrol scans down for smugglers, smugglers scan for Border Patrol agents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They place scouts in this same area to do the same thing that we're doing.

VILES: The goal here isn't just to apprehend illegals who leave behind a trail of water bottles and litter. It's to break up the smuggling rings that control much of illegal immigration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are a lot more sophisticated than they used to be. They actually now have kingpins that operate, you know, all of Nogales. And I can count them on this hand. And they're very -- they're responsible for 90 percent of the aliens that are smuggled through this corridor.

VILES: Smuggling is a violent business. Illegal aliens are kidnapped, raped, held hostage, sometimes left in the desert to die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just like they're dirt. They slap them around, they kick them, they make them, you know, they slam them down to the ground to hide them, you know, from view. And taking them and leaving them in the desert is like you can't, you shouldn't have come if you can't make it. It's not my fault.

VILES: To move human cargo across this border, smugglers now use cell phones, walkie-talkies, even GPS devices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can call on a cell phone and say I'm at this GPS coordinate and there comes the ride.

VILES: Border Patrol uses electronic sensors, now unmanned planes and always old-fashioned leg work.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VILES: Border Patrol has been awfully busy in this area. The numbers are staggering. In the Tucson sector alone in the past 10 months, Border Patrol has apprehended 406,000 illegal aliens -- Lou.

DOBBS: Approaching half a million in less than a year in just one sector. Amazing.

Peter Viles, thank you.

When we continue, mission critical -- is China a new rival in the race to space? We'll have that special report coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Now, Mission Critical. Tonight, we focus on China's efforts to catch up with the United States in the space race.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A great moment for China -- Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei launched into space. Premier Wen Jiabao talked with him from mission control. Yang returns triumphant. That mission was so secretive, the Chinese government wouldn't even confirm the astronaut's name until he was safely on his way into orbit.

China has started its space race and says it will be on the moon six years from now.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KNOWS), CHAIRMAN, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND SPACE SUBCOMMITTEE: I think we do have a space race and we have not awakened to it yet. I believe that they have. So I think we've really got to adjust our systems pretty rapidly and move forward or else we could get passed up by other countries.

PILGRIM: Even though the Chinese managed a successful manned flight, the Chinese space program lags far behind those of Russia and the United States. China has launched a total of 84 satellites, compared with nearly 1,800 by the United States. China spends an estimated $2 billion a year on its space program, a small fraction of NASA's $15 billion budget.

China's goal is to develop beyond its manufacturing economy and improve its technological know how.

ADAM SEGAL, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: China wants to be able to say, along with the Russians and the United States, that it's a technological global superpower, that it is one of the three big players.

PILGRIM: But China is not yet one of the club. The U.S. did not invite China to joint the international space station. U.S. technology transfers to China are restricted because of military application of space technology. All for good reason -- China's space program is run by the military.

Some military analysts say China may not need to outspend the United States to be effective.

JOAN JOHNSON-FREESE, U.S. NAVAL WAR COLLEGE: Whereas the United States is spending a great deal of money in developing a missile defense, the Chinese subsequently developed very low tech, minimal cost counter-measures, which needn't be any more elaborate than throwing, basically, debris into space to throw off the targeting system for a missile defense.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: While the U.S. worries about Chinese strategy, the Europeans are already doing business with them. China is a major investor in the Galileo Project, the European satellite system designed to compete with the American GPS network -- Lou.

DOBBS: So that would be a transfer of European technology and knowledge base to the Chinese, rather than American.

PILGRIM: It certainly appears so.

DOBBS: Kitty Pilgrim, thank you very much.

Turning now to the debate on gay marriage. How about gay divorce? Just one year after a Canadian court approved same-sex marriage, a lesbian couple is now seeking a divorce. The couple, together for five years before their marriage last June. But they called it quits just five days later. Critics say the couple is trying to challenge Canadian divorce laws. But one of the women's lawyers tonight says that denying them a divorce would be worse than stopping them from getting married in the first place. It seems same- sex marriage may not be so different from different sex marriage.

Still ahead, illegal aliens may soon win the right to vote in school board elections in San Francisco. That has many of you outraged. We'll share some of your thoughts next.

And Jobless In America -- more job losses in the Midwest. It's a critical campaign issue. We'll have that story coming right up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Well, there wasn't much action on Wall Street. There hasn't been much action for some time on Wall Street. The Dow up 4 today. The Nasdaq up almost 15. The S&P added 3.

July so far has been simply brutal for investors.

Christine Romans is here to tell us all about the brutality, and I hope some brighter things, as well -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, stocks are having their worst month in a year and a half.

DOBBS: Oh, that's happy stuff.

ROMANS: Yes. And oil prices, for the seventh day, above $40 a barrel. S&P so concerned about the mood, it recommends adding cash and cutting back on stocks. And more job cuts today. Washington Mutual laid off 2,500. Mitsubishi axing 1,200 in Illinois. At the same time, 167,000 people left the rolls of the long-term unemployed. That was the best improvement in three years. That doesn't mean they found jobs, though. In many cases, economists say their benefits simply expired.

At the same time, new state figures show 14 of 17 battleground states had jobs growth in June. But, look, job losses continue in the industrial Midwest. And elsewhere, the jobs growth barely dents jobs lost over the past three and a half years.

Look at all these swing states with higher unemployment rates today than when the recession began in March 2001. In fact, the only states to have a lower jobless rate today -- Nevada, Colorado, Hawaii -- it looks like there Louisiana, the same.

DOBBS: We barely got Hawaii in there.

ROMANS: barely.

DOBBS: That's an amazing statistic.

ROMANS: A lot of red on there.

DOBBS: A lot of red and not necessarily helpful in terms of the red and blue states of 2000.

ROMANS: Exactly.

DOBBS: Thank you very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

DOBBS: And maybe we can get that employment number improving a little sooner.

A new poll out tonight shows the race for the White House is closer than ever. The CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll finds that 49 percent of those surveyed say they will likely vote for Senator Kerry. Forty-seven percent say they plan to vote for President Bush. Most of those surveyed say they won't change their mind between now and November. That number 83 percent. Could change their mind is 17 percent. We should point out that is not undecided, it is just simply perhaps mitigated determination to vote for one candidate or the other.

Taking a look now at some of your thoughts, many of you have written in about whether non-citizens should be allowed to vote.

Maureen in Bellevue, Washington: "The privilege of voting is something sacred. Those who do not care enough to go through the process of becoming a citizen should not be entitled to those rights and privileges."

And Jeanne Lemke of Shoreview, Minnesota: "It amazes me to think that anyone who is not a legal citizen of this country would expect to have the privilege to vote. If I were to sneak across the border to either Mexico or Canada, my first expectation would be to land in jail."

Carlos Britos of Palm Bay, Florida: "It took me nine years of hard work, paying taxes and correctly learning how the system works before I earned my right to vote. People who don't love our country enough to become a citizen shouldn't v."

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts at loudobbs@cnn.com.

Still ahead here, we'll have the results of tonight's poll.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Gary Hart, the author of the new book on U.S. foreign policy, "The Fourth Power," was supposed to be with us tonight. Unfortunately, because of some transportation problems, he wasn't able to make it. We hope he joins us on another occasion.

The results of our poll tonight, 89 percent of you say Congress should act immediately on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Eleven percent say you do not.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please be with us tomorrow. Steven Flynn, author of "America The Vulnerable" will be here to explain why this country, in his opinion, is still dangerously unprepared for another terrorist attack.

For all of us here, thanks for being with us.

Good night from New York.

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