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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Recent Video of Bin Laden Airs; Iraq Missing Explosives Still an Issue
Aired October 29, 2004 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, Osama bin Laden is back. The Arab television network Al Jazeera airs a videotape of bin Laden and the message he obviously attends for the American people, four days before our presidential election. We've assembled a panel of three of the country's leading terrorism experts to assess the tape and bin Laden's message.
Tonight, a new twist in the missing explosives controversy. It's still topic number one on the campaign trail. The military is still unable to answer many key questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJ. AUSTIN PEARSON, U.S. ARMY: I did not see any IAEA seals at the locations that we went into. I was not looking for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Get ready for all of the cliches to describe this election. It's neck and neck, a statistical dead heat, tighter than a tick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The voters have a clear choice between two very different candidates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN K. KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you go into that voting booth, you're going to face a fundamental choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Four days to go and the latest opinion polls show President Bush and Senator Kerry at 47 percent to 47 percent.
And three million illegal aliens are invading the country this year. Guess who isn't saying a word about it? Both men who want to lead our nation. Tonight, our special report on Broken Borders, with two experts on the issue of illegal immigration.
This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for Friday, October 29. Here now for an hour of news, debate and opinion, from Washington, Lou Dobbs. LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening.
Tonight, a new videotape message from Osama bin Laden, just four days before our presidential election. Bin Laden declared that the United States will face more attacks on the scale of the September 11 attacks on that videotape.
And a short time ago, both President Bush and Senator Kerry responded, President Bush saying Americans will not be intimidated by bin Laden. And, earlier, the White House said the tape appears to be authentic and appears to have been made recently.
Our Justice Department Correspondent Kelli Arena has the report -- Kelli.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, this is the first time that we've seen Osama bin Laden on videotape since September of 2003, and this is the second time that he's directly addressed the American people.
Terrorism experts commenting that this message is the most plain- spoken that they've ever heard. U.S. officials say that they have no reason to believe that the tape is not authentic and are analyzing and evaluating it as we speak.
For the first time, bin Laden takes direct responsibility for coming up with the idea for the September 11 attacks, saying that it occurred to him as he watched towers fall in Lebanon after the attack by Israel in 1982. Bin Laden also takes direct aim at President Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSAMA BIN LADEN, TERRORIST (through interpreter): It never occurred to us that he, the commander in chief of the country, would leave 50,000 citizens in the two towers to face those horrors alone, because he thought listening to a child discussing her goats was more important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ARENA: Bin Laden makes reference to entering the fourth year since the 9/11 attacks and Senator Kerry as a candidate, both signs the tape was made recently. He looks fairly healthy and seems fully mobile, all things the intelligence community will be very interested in.
Now he did not call his followers to arms in this tape. Instead, he said that he was telling the American people how to avoid tragedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIN LADEN (through translator): Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ARENA: U.S. officials are currently analyzing the tape to see if there are any hidden messages or clues about a possible attack against the United States. Of course, it's too early to know that yet.
Senior law-enforcement officials tell us that this message combined with a tape that was recently obtained by ABC News on which the United States is threatened by a man claiming to be a follower of bin Laden has set off what he says are "alarm bells among top officials."
Still, Lou, we have been told that there is no plan at this time to raise the nation's threat level.
DOBBS: But, obviously, officials in this city and around the country are taking this very seriously, and, basically, what you're saying here is -- by inference at least on my part -- that they're very concerned about the possibility of an attack now?
ARENA: They are. They always are, whenever a bin Laden tape comes out, Lou. It's always viewed as a possible signal. They try to compare that to electronic intercepts to see if there are any key phrases or words that are used in that message that could be a signal.
DOBBS: Parallels between this videotape message, the first in which bin Laden speaks on a videotape in more than two years now, and other terrorist attacks combining that with so-called chatter and other signals that are our intelligence community looks for.
ARENA: Well, I'll tell you that right now, the stance of the intelligence community is one of a lot of concern, only because the intelligence continues to suggest that al Qaeda is planning what they call a spectacular attack on U.S. soil.
Now, even though there was a report that there was information, a stream of intelligence that was deemed to be not credible, one which said that there would be an attack to coincide with the U.S. elections -- that was deemed not credible -- other intelligence has suggested that there will be an attack, Lou.
DOBBS: Level of chatter at this point?
ARENA: Low. Lower than it's been. Now it does ebb and flow, but it's interesting to note that before the September 11 attacks, the chatter level fell. No one is saying that that means anything. It is what it is, but the chatter level has fallen over recent weeks.
DOBBS: Kelli Arena, our justice correspondent.
Thank you, Kelli.
DOBBS: As we've reported now, President Bush has just said Americans will not be intimidated by al Qaeda. Earlier, before the Osama bin Laden videotape was released, President Bush declared that America will not be held captive by fear of terrorism.
President Bush is in Toledo, Ohio, now on his way to a campaign event in Columbus, and our Senior White House Correspondent John King is there with him -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And, Lou, that political schedule, four days now from the presidential election, making the statement from Osama bin Laden all the more dramatic.
Backing up what Kelli Arena just said, White House officials say they believe this tape is authentic. They believe it was recorded quite recently.
President Bush made his first comments on the tape, a very short statement, a while ago before leaving Toledo, Ohio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Let me make this very clear. Americans will not be intimidated or influenced by an enemy of our country. I'm sure Senator Kerry agrees with this. I also want to say to the American people that we are at war with these terrorists, and I am confident that we will prevail.
Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now the White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan telling reporters Mr. Bush was told of this tape sometime around noontime today aboard Air Force One by his National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
His had his first event in the day before he knew about the tape, had several family members of 9/11 victims on hand for a speech in New Hampshire where he talked about his view of the lessons and the legacy of the terrorist attacks of September 11.
And Lou, White House officials now say the president will continue to campaign as the White House analyzes this tape to see if there is any actionable intelligence on it.
And it is quite remarkable: As the president was preparing to deliver his statement -- he delivered a speech before that in Toledo. He is on his way here to Columbus, Ohio -- in the speech, the president continued his scathing criticism of Senator Kerry and his view that Senator Kerry is not the person to take command of the war on terrorism at this juncture.
As the government analyzes this tape, it certainly will also, Lou, have potential political ramifications because, again, we are four days away from the election -- Lou.
DOBBS: John, thank you.
And we will, of course, be assessing that very possibility with a panel of the leading experts on terrorism and a number of others on the issue here on this broadcast.
John King, our senior White House correspondent reporting from Columbus, Ohio.
Senator Kerry today said that he will, if elected president, hunt down and destroy bin Laden. Senator Kerry speaking in West Palm Beach, Florida, said all Americans are united against al Qaeda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: My reaction is that all of us in this country are completely united. Democrat, Republican -- there's no such thing. There's just Americans, and we are all united in hunting down and capturing or killing those who conducted that raid. We always knew it was Osama bin Laden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Senator Kerry speaking with one of our affiliates on this issue. Those are his remarks, and we will be, of course, following that up with other statements, should Senator Kerry or President Bush address the issue later in this hour.
Joining me now is CNN's military intelligence analyst tonight in New York, Ken Robinson.
Ken, this approach, this message, a direct statement to the American people, it looks for all the world to me if I may say -- you're the expert, but it looks to me like classical PSYCHOPS, psychological operations. What is your assessment?
KEN ROBINSON, CNN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, Lou, I don't feel I'm an expert, but I feel I'm informed on this subject, and absolutely bin Laden just said to the world I'm tanned, rested and ready, your actions have consequences, you have to deal with me.
DOBBS: And in dealing with him, the leader of al Qaeda seems to be saying that there is some -- apparently at least some way in which conflict could be avoided, which is the first time at least I have ever heard Osama bin Laden either say that or be quoted as saying that.
ROBINSON: It was very interesting. You know, in the Koran, there are terms in Islam to make deals with infidels, and it talks about 10-year treaties, and those treaties -- if they are broken by the infidel, then you can get your way out of them.
In this case, what they truly want is they want us out of all of the lands that they currently feel we occupy, and they want our invasive culture to go away.
DOBBS: Is there any reading in that tape that suggests Osama bin Laden understands that this war is not going to end well for him?
ROBINSON: I think he recognizes, Lou, that he wins either way. If, because of issuing this tape, he dies tomorrow, we have to deal with bin Laden the myth and bin Laden the legend; because, if he's gone tomorrow, it means nothing in terms of the group of distributed terrorists that are around the world now that he's fostered and motivated.
DOBBS: When you talk about the distributed network and talk about him being a legend -- he may be a legend, of course, amongst the radical Islamists who support him and his terrorism, but the fact is that he is hardly a legend in the West and, in fact, is as notorious as anyone could possibly be.
The idea that Osama bin Laden will benefit -- what you're really saying, is it not, Ken, that because it is so easy because of the ubiquity of modern media throughout civilized nations, our country in particular, he can speak with far greater facility and ease to millions of Americans than the United States government can speak to the so-called Arab street throughout the Middle East?
ROBINSON: Lou, you're absolutely correct. We are not even in the game, as they call it, in terms of information operations. The Arab street does not hear our messages. All they see is -- they feel that we are illegitimate in our interventionist activities, and we don't have a means to communicate with them. We've got to get into that game, and we've got to talk to the next generation of bin Ladens.
DOBBS: Ken Robinson, thank you very much.
ROBINSON: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: That brings us to the subject of tonight's poll. Quite specifically, do you believe Osama bin Laden and radical Islamists are trying to influence the outcome of the U.S. election? Yes or no. Cast your vote at cnn.com/lou. We'll have the results, of course, coming up here later.
Still ahead, more on the bin Laden videotape and its messages and its motivations. Three of this country's top experts on radical Islamist terrorism will be joining me to assess those issues and new details on another issue that remains a topic of conversation on the campaign trail, a firsthand account of what happened to the missing explosives in Iraq.
Many questions, however, remain unanswered, but we're beginning at least to answer some of them. We'll have a special report.
And why this presidential election could once again be decided in court. Both parties have well-funded legal teams standing at the ready. We'll have that report and a great deal more still ahead here tonight.
DOBBS: The Pentagon today tried to answer some of the many questions about the escalating controversy over missing explosives in Iraq. A U.S. Army major today said his unit went to the Iraqi storage facility in question and removed 250 tons of explosives, but the major did not say that he saw any International Atomic Energy Agency seals.
Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre has our report.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Now that these pictures taking by Minneapolis television station KSTP seem to show that at least some of the missing HMX explosives still under IAEA seal were at the al Qa Qaa facility on April 18, 2003, the Pentagon is shifting gears.
A day after releasing a satellite photograph meant to lend credence to the theory Saddam Hussein might have trucked away the more than 300 tons of explosives days before the war, the Pentagon brought out an Army demolition expert who described how he blew up an estimated 250 tons of munitions at the site. But he couldn't say if any of it was the missing explosives.
PEARSON: Can you tell us that that was the same material? Are we talking about the same material?
LAWRENCE DI RITA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS: If you don't know...
PEARSON: I don't know. I don't have that information.
MCINTYRE: Pearson was there a week before the Minneapolis television crew and did not see any IAEA wire seal that experts say is the telltale sign the missing HMX was there on April 18. And Pearson made it clear he really couldn't tell what specific kind of explosives he destroyed.
PEARSON: Off the top of my head, I'm sure there was at least 80 or 90 different type, and, whether it's HMX, I couldn't verify.
MCINTYRE: The Pentagon argues even though Major Pearson could shed no light on the missing stockpile, he does show that U.S. troops were busy destroying as much of Saddam's arsenal as possible.
DI RITA: We've been able to demonstrate, I think, that that planning was well conceived, and it's extraordinarily well executed by the forces that are over there.
MCINTYRE: Critics scoff at that, arguing it's increasingly clear the first troops on the scene of sensitive sites had no idea what they were dealing with.
DAVID ALBRIGHT, ISIS: There were lists of sites prepared and the kinds of things you needed to worry about located at those sites, but what I found in May, particularly, in May of 2003, the people in the field often didn't know about those lists.
MCINTYRE: Comparing the IAEA's map of bunkers containing HMX with commercial satellite images of al Qa Qaa shows that by November 2003 many of the bunkers had been destroyed, but the Pentagon can't say when that happened or if the HMX was destroyed or lost.
Pentagon officials are reviewing images like these, sent in by a U.S. Marine who believes he may have destroyed some of the missing explosives, but, so far, that cannot be verified. (END VIDEOTAPE)
MCINTYRE: Pentagon officials say it's unlikely they're going to be able to put together a clear picture of what happened until after the U.S. presidential elections, and they wonder that absent the heat of a presidential campaign, if by that time anyone is still going to care -- Lou.
DOBBS: Yes. And that may be the essential point here, after all, Jamie, that you just raised. We know this now. We know that the first statement of 377 tons was vastly overstated and that adjustments were made.
We know now also that those bunkers, many of them that were supposedly over IAEA seal, were in point of fact open bunkers, and David Albright, the U.N. weapons inspector with whom you have spoken on this issue, told me point blank that effectively means they're not sealed.
It seems almost every day's reporting on our part and every day's extensive efforts to learn more about the facts by the Pentagon and other government agencies just results in more questions. Do you think that we're going to move toward any definitive answer in all of this?
MCINTYRE: Well, it does appear that in some number of weeks -- and the Pentagon has a number of people working on this -- they'll probably be able to piece together some credible account of what they think happened to it and how much really is unaccounted for.
But whatever that number is, whether it's a large number or small number, Pentagon officials argue that even if they had gotten all of this and a lot more, there would still be plenty of explosives available to people in Iraq who want to hurt the United States.
Even if they had gotten all of this, they don't think they would have been able to stop any of the attacks that have happened so far.
DOBBS: The Pentagon spokesman today, as you were covering his remarks, referring to -- to these missing high explosives, referring to them as 1/1000 of the number that the Pentagon -- the U.S. military has had to deal with.
Jamie McIntyre, senior Pentagon correspondent.
Thank you, Jamie.
DOBBS: And politics abound in this issue. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei today rejected accusations that he is making this controversy over Iraqi explosives an election issue in the United States. ElBaradei said suggestions he wants to influence the outcome of the election are simply, as he put it, total junk.
Kitty Pilgrim reports now from New York.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency triggered the firestorm over the missing explosives by releasing sensitive information at the beginning of October, mere weeks before the U.S. elections.
Despite the number of unknowns in the story, press reports picked it up and ran with it. Within 24 hours, it turned into a campaign issue.
Today at the U.N., Muhammad ElBaradei took no responsibility for the politicization of the issue. Instead he blamed the media.
MOHAMED ELBARADEI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IAEA: It's unfortunate that the whole issue, you know, has been hyped in the media. We have a job to do, and that's to keep the Security Council informed of all our responsibilities in Iraq.
PILGRIM: Analysts say he knew it was clear from the start such information would be a political challenge for President Bush.
NILE GARDINER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: And the information, the allegations are definitely explosive, and the release of the information was timed in order to have maximum impact ahead of the presidential election on Tuesday. It does strongly suggest a dirty tricks campaign within the United Nations.
PILGRIM: ElBaradei has long been at loggerheads with the Bush administration and is seeking a third term at the United Nations, which the U.S. opposes.
Many of the news reports have had more questions than answers, and the Pentagon, after a week of photos, videos, charts and press conferences, said despite the desire of some to jump to rapid conclusions, it is not at all clear that the explosives were lost because of U.S. negligence.
DI RITA: We have tried to uncover facts over the last week at a point after which many people thought they had the definitive answer, and we simply do not.
PILGRIM: Because the details were so sketchy and the charges so explosive, some political analysts say the whole discussion was extraordinarily diversionary in the last week of the campaign and did nothing to better inform the voting public -- Lou.
DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much.
Still ahead here tonight, a new videotape from Osama bin Laden just before our presidential elections. We'll be hearing from three of this country's leading experts on the war against radical Islamist terrorists. And tonight, who will decide the outcome of Election 2004 -- the voters or the courts? We'll have a special report for you.
And an immigration crisis gripping the country, and neither presidential candidate with an immigration policy that at least he wants to talk about. I'll be joined by Jim Steele of "TIME" magazine and Victor Davis Hanson, author of "Mexifornia" on our immigration crisis next.
DOBBS: And this just in to CNN. We have learned that the U.S. ambassador to Qatar had tried to block Al Jazeera, the Arab television network, from airing this new videotape of Osama bin Laden.
Andrea Koppel at the State Department with the latest for us -- Andrea.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Lou, CNN has spoken with a senior State Department official here in Washington who tells us that the U.S. was contacted by the Qatari government. That is where Al Jazeera, the satellite TV network which aired the bin Laden tape and received the bin Laden tape, is located. And the Qatari government gave the U.S. a copy of the bin Laden tape.
The ambassador urged the Qatari government not to air this tape. The basis for this rationale was that Osama bin Laden is the head of a terrorist network and that Al Jazeera shouldn't be giving a platform to bin Laden or anyone else from al Qaeda.
The Qatari government didn't listen, didn't use its influence with Al Jazeera, and, as we all know now, the tape was broadcast to Al Jazeera's viewers throughout the Middle East.
Now, the fact is, Lou, this is not something that the U.S. government is doing now, simply because they're in an election season. The Bush administration for the last several years, ever since Al Jazeera came into being and since 9/11, has been urging the Qatari government -- in fact, this has been an irritant in the U.S.-Qatari relationship in the last several years -- not to give a platform not only to al Qaeda, but to other terrorist organizations which have broadcast videos from hostages in Iraq and from other so-called militant organizations.
So this has been a long-standing irritant in the U.S.-Qatari relationship -- Lou.
DOBBS: Andrea, thank you very much.
Andrea Koppel reporting from the State Department.
Coming up next here, we'll have more on this new videotape from Osama bin Laden, four days before our presidential election, as Osama bin Laden tries to speak directly to the American people. We'll be talking with three of the leading experts on the international war against radical Islamist terrorism. And a growing crisis gripping this country as millions of illegal aliens this year invade the country. The candidates for the presidency saying almost nothing about the issue. We'll hear from two leading experts on illegal immigration.
All of that and a great deal more still ahead here.
DOBBS: The Republican and Democratic parties are each prepared for this election to stretch well beyond November 2. Legal disputes over voting irregularities have already begun as we've documented here. And all of this is raising concerns that the presidential election once again could be decided in our courts instead of the voting booths. Lisa Sylvester has the report.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision on the Florida recount in 2000 resulted in a victory for President Bush. This year's race could be right back in the hands of the high court over such issues as provisional ballots. A Colorado constitutional amendment or claims of fraud or disenfranchisement.
PAUL DEGREGORIO, ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION: Could we have another Florida? Yes. Certainly if the margin in the states is, you know, several thousand, a few thousand votes, 1,000 votes or less, any mistake that's going to be made could be magnified.
PILGRIM: Democrats and Republicans have already hired an army of lawyers for possible recounts from Florida to Ohio. So far, the Bush recount committee has raised nearly $9 million. The Kerry campaign, more than $3 million. The Federal Election Commission has not set limits on the amount an individual can contribute to the post-election funds, despite the McCain-Feingold ban on soft money. So that means a free-for-all.
LARRY NOBLE, CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS: This was a gift to the campaigns. Because it allows them to go out now and go to those soft money donors who could not give directly to the campaigns anymore, could not give to the political parties and hit them up for the $100,000, $1 million checks for these recount battles.
PILGRIM: Law professor Jonathan Siegel says courts referee battles between partisan elected officials, but the judges may be swayed by their own political connections.
JONATHAN SIEGEL, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIV. LAW SCHOOL: 2000 demonstrated that when the presidential election turns on a judicial ruling, it is difficult for judges, even if they're doing their job with the best will they can, to be completely impartial.
PILGRIM: So who will decide this election? The voters may cast their ballots, but the courts may have the final say.
(on camera): The Federal Election Commission may be challenged to reverse its position on unlimited donations to fund the recounts. If that's the case, we may be looking at a legal battle over the legal battles -- Lou.
DOBBS: Let's hope that the polls are not accurate, and that this is decided by voters on November 2. Lisa, thanks. Lisa Sylvester.
Three million illegal aliens will invade the country this year alone, according to a recent "TIME" magazine cover story's special investigation. Yet astonishing the immigration crisis in this country has been conspicuously ignored by the candidates in this campaign. Joining me tonight from New York Jim Steele, editor-at-large, "TIME" magazine, and from Fresno, California, Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Gentlemen, good to have you with us. Let me turn to you first, Jim, and the reporting that you and your colleagues at "TIME" magazine did. Did you expect at this point that both candidates would effectively ignore all of the great facts that you revealed in your report?
JIM STEELE, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, Lou, it's part of the whole process that you see with illegal immigration. There's a huge disconnect in this country. I mean, we have been flooded with hundreds of letters, almost all of them saying, thank you for writing this story, thank you for giving it visibility. But in official Washington while homeland security was quite upset, nothing at the top levels in terms of ways to deal with this, but that fits. Because there remains this tremendous disconnect between folks in Washington at the very top and the vast bulk of the American population, which is quite upset by this, sees the consequences of it and would like policymakers to do something about it.
DOBBS: Remarkable in this is that there is widespread agreement among American citizens about the issue of border security and illegal immigration. Yet as you point out, a vast wide disconnect for both Democrats and Republicans holding office. Victor, let me ask you this -- is it your sense with issues, ballot issues like Proposition 200 in Arizona, that we are on the cusp perhaps of a change in direction on illegal immigration?
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, SR. FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTION: I think so. I think we have the strange Orwellian unholy alliance between the right who thinks the employers in the hotel industry, agriculture, construction represent the consensus of the American people on the left and journalism, the media, the university that are radical Hispanics activists and in between is the average voter who's just waiting for a candidate to appeal to their sense of parity, equality and fairness.
They're really tired of the idea that people who play by the rules from countries like Korea or Philippines or India whose countries are much friendlier to us than Mexico don't get in here for four or five years and are punished. Or people who go to the DMV with IDs for their kids' birth certificates are now going to stand by while people who illegally come in without birth certificates. Or people who were citizens will pay three times the amount of state tuition at universities just because somebody's here illegal who's a resident. So there's all these issues of parity, equality, and even morality that neither party is addressing.
DOBBS: Jim, let me return to you on the issue of Proposition 200, the Arizona ballot initiative. The critics suggesting that it is unconstitutional, that it will be negative. Yet as we have just tested the support for it in Arizona, we find a large, a sizable majority of Arizonans reporting it. How much of a metaphor for this issue is Proposition 200? How important is it in your judgment to focus the attention of our national representatives and leaders?
STEELE: It's a perfect metaphor, Lou. Because it illustrates how the people, the vast bulk of them, would like something done about this issue, and policymakers really from both parties consistently don't want to deal with this. One of the fascinating things about so many of the public opinion polls is that you see that this is not a political issue with the vast bulk of the American people. You see Democrats and Republicans sort of at the grassroots level, what we might call the rank and file level, overwhelmingly would like to see something done to curb illegal immigration. Or at least cut back a lot of the benefits that many illegal immigrants do receive, which they feel unfairly, and which end up taxing them more.
But there's a disconnect between that and the folks in Washington, the folks at the top of the party. We suspect that probably an election like this, which everybody agrees is so close, you're not going to have either presidential campaign saying much about this because they don't in any way want to tip that balance with the Hispanic vote and others, that might in some way or another might affect the election against them.
DOBBS: Victor, very quickly, we've got just a few seconds here. Your reading of it, do you think Proposition 200 passes in Arizona?
HANSON: I do. I think it is. I think people, even on the left have worries about environmental issues, with unchecked immigration. And people on the right have questions about national security in a war where enemies have no conventional power, but rely on just such things as an open border. So there's a consensus there that represents the majority of regular guys and folks.
DOBBS: Victor Davis Hanson, we thank you. And we thank you, Jim Steele, always, gentlemen.
Still ahead here tonight, we'll be talking about some of those national security issues, in particular radical Islamist terrorism. I'll be talking with three of the world's leading experts to discuss the new Osama bin Laden videotape and his message. Please stay with us.
DOBBS: This new Osama bin Laden videotape is a dramatic reminder that the war on terror will be one of the most critical challenges facing whomever is elected on November 2. Bin Laden warned in that videotape that Americans face al Qaeda, that al Qaeda may launch more attacks against the United States on the scale of September 11.
Joining me now, 3 of this country's leading terrorism experts. Jim Walsh, an international expert at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Fouad Ajami, Professor of Middle Eastern studies at Johns Hopkins University. And Lee Wolosky, former director for transnational threats at the National Security Council.
Gentlemen, good to have you with us.
Let me begin with you, Jim Walsh. This videotape coming more than 2 years after the last time that Osama bin Laden spoke directly on a videotape, 4 days before the election, what is your assessment of his motivation?
JIM WALSH, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, Lou, I think there are at least three possibilities here. One obviously is bin Laden could be trying to influence the election. That's what we've been talking about. It's also possible, although I doubt this, that this is somehow a communication intended to set off an operation. Some people speculated about it. I'm skeptical.
There's also a third possibility here. And that is bin Laden is using us. He's hijacking the election, using the election as a vehicle for propagandizing. And so that is also a possibility, I think.
DOBBS: Fouad, the same question, basically, your assessment of what he is thinking and what he hopes to accomplish with this latest message?
FOUAD AJAMI, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Look, Lou, I heard your earlier concerns. And we should remember that Osama bin Laden is a child of the media age. And I send a video, therefore, I am. I mean, he has a choice, he could either send a hit squad, he could either send us some death pilots or he can send us a tape. He knows this is the eve of our election. And it's a reminder to President Bush, he is taunting the president, and it's just a reminder that this war continues and that he has escaped all attempts to capture or kill him.
DOBBS: Lee, is it your judgment as well, that this is a -- whether clever or clumsy attempt to influence our election?
LEE WOLOSKY, FORMER NSC OFFICIAL: I think that mostly bin Laden is saying, look, I'm alive, I'm well, I'm healthy, I'm even standing behind a podium like your presidential candidates. I'm not on the run 3 years into the war on terror.
He sounded his familiar themes. But I think, principally, he is saying, you haven't caught me. In fact, you've been chasing shadows in Iraq, and I am alive and well, notwithstanding your efforts, George W. Bush.
DOBBS: Is there a bit of a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) element to this as well, Jim, in your judgment? Osama bin Laden taking a tone that we've not heard, at least in my opinion, certainly before, in which he talks about the ways in which to avoid conflict, moving to the abstract on something so brutal and nefarious as terrorism? Your thoughts?
WALSH: I think you're right on point there, Lou. Compare this tape to the tape that came out right after 9/11. It is consistent, though, with an audiotape that came out a little while ago in which he spoke to the European capitals. And he tried to act -- and I can't believe I'm saying this -- he tried to act statesman-like, in trying to appeal to European capitals saying, we don't a war with you, if you don't fight us, we won't fight you. And now we have a similar thing that he's saying to the Americans.
So, I think it marks a real departure in his communications, the content of his communications, that he's saying a similar thing now to an American audience as well.
DOBBS: Fouad, within the Middle East itself, and we were just discussing this earlier in this broadcast, the fact is that , Osama bin Laden, because this is a nation, and as you suggested, of media, it is so easy for Osama bin Laden, the most ruthless terrorist in history, to speak directly to millions of Americans, but impossible for the United States government and other governments of other civilized nations to speak to the Arab street. Is this an equation that we have to simply alter, and soon?
AJAMI: It's an equation we can never win. In fact, we can never reach the Arab streets. We can never reach Arab opinion. Our enemies there are hell bent on our destruction. They really are -- they know exactly what we say to them, but they won't hear us.
In the case of bin Laden, remember, bin Laden came into his own during the age of the radio, and during the age of the cassette, which was a symbol and a weapon of the Khomeini revolution, and during the age of the satellite channel.
For all practical purposes, Lou, we know that basically Osama bin Laden owns al Jazeera. I mean, this is the place that he has taken to the airwaves. He owns these airwaves. He knows the language of the media. He knows about our news cycles. He knows when we're looking for news and when we're ready for it. And it's exactly predictable.
DOBBS: Let me ask each of you, if you would, in the short time we have available, but Lee, first, if you would, is there any possibility at all in your mind that the west will be able to motivate moderate Muslims, to begin constraining the radicals of particularly the Middle East, the radical Islamists who were conducting and supporting the most horrible terrorism?
WOLOSKY: Well, that is an important question. Because, of course, it's a key component of the success that we're likely to achieve or not in the war on terror. Namely, having moderate Muslims on our side, particularly moderate Muslim leaders to help fight and win this war. And of course, bin Laden spoke to that theme in his statement by tying the United States to corrupt Muslim regimes. It's an important distinction. It's a dividing line that he is trying to draw within the Muslim world between the extremists and the moderates.
DOBBS: Jim Walsh?
WALSH: Yes. It's absolutely critical, Lou. We don't want this to be a war of the West against Islam. We need moderate Muslims around the world to join with us in trying to stamp out Muslim extremism, Islamic extremism. But I'm afraid right now we're not doing very well. According to the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency back in the spring, al Qaeda has changed from an organization to a movement. Because there are so many inflamed hostilities and anger at the U.S., it has given al Qaeda a recruiting opportunity. So right now, we seem to be losing that battle, but it is critical that we win that battle.
DOBBS: Fouad, you have the last word tonight.
AJAMI: Well, I think only when the Muslims lands, when the Muslims themselves, when Saudi Arabia and when Jordan and when Egypt themselves are impacted by terrorism, then I think we can recruit them on our side.
But so long as the terror targets western lands. And so long as the terrorists targets America, we don't see much sympathy for the United States. This is the hard facts of this confrontation.
DOBBS: A confrontation that will, as I think all of you suggest, will be long and difficult. And we thank you very much for being with us here tonight on the broadcast.
WALSH: Thank you.
WOLOSKY: Thank you.
DOBBS: A reminder now in our poll question, do you believe Osama bin Laden and radical Islamists are trying to influence the outcome of our election with this new videotape? yes or no. Cast your vote at CNN.com/lou. We'll have the results later in the broadcast.
Coming up next, with 4 days to go, terrorism again, the central issue in this election. I'll be talking about that and a host of other issues with our panel of this country's top political journalists. Please stay with us.
DOBBS: Joining me now to wrap up this last full week of the presidential campaign, Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times," Karen Tumulty, "Time" magazine, and Roger Simon, "U.S. News and World Report."
Let's begin with, Ron, the Osama bin Laden videotape. Everyone agrees that it is, whether as I said, a clumsy or clever effort, it is an attempt to influence the election. What do you make of it?
RON BROWNSTEIN, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Well, on the one hand, it does remind people that there are wolves in the woods, to borrow from the Bush campaign commercial. On the other hand, it reminds people that Osama bin Laden has not been apprehended in three years after 9/11.
My own sense, I have trouble sort of parsing out which way that bends in terms of helping Kerry or Bush, but I do think the one clear impact is that it eclipses the message from both candidates, at least tonight, and possibly through the weekend, and makes it tougher for them to get out their closing message, closing argument in this campaign.
TUMULTY: Well, considering, however, that the arguments for the last week have essentially consisted of bouncing from headline to headline, I think this gives us the message for the rest of the campaign. Quite frankly, I find it hard to find any way that this helps John Kerry. What we've seen over and over and over again is that when terrorism is the topic, and when people are reminded of 9/11, Bush's numbers go up.
ROGER SIMON, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: I don't have any trouble parsing out who this helps. I think this is an enormous boost for George Bush. And if the president is reelected, to some extent, he will have Osama bin Laden and this tape to thank for it.
Consider four days before presidential election, the most hated man in America, the murderer of 3,000 of our citizens, attacks the president. What response shall the voters of the United States give? Shall they say, we agree with Osama bin Laden, we're going to turn the commander in chief out of office, or shall they return the commander in chief to office?
I think -- also it energizes the Republican base. It energizes Jewish voters, since Osama bin Laden directly links Israel and the attacks on Lebanon. And it steps on all the bad news, the explosives story, that disastrous briefing at the Pentagon, the altering of the TV commercials. All that's off the table, at least today, tomorrow, and probably through Sunday.
DOBBS: The explosives story, you think then, is basically behind us, because of the domination of this story over the next few days?
SIMON: Over the next few days, I do.
DOBBS: Which are the only days that count in this presidential election.
Karen, Vice President Cheney is on his way to Hawaii. What in the world is going on?
TUMULTY: Well, the map is changing. Former Vice President Gore is either already there or he's on his way as well. I mean, we're talking about four electoral votes, but suddenly you're seeing states in play that were just simply not expected to be in play. And now that it looks like the big three are sort of settling, that if you had to bet today, probably Florida goes to Bush, Pennsylvania and Ohio look like they're heading toward Kerry, suddenly these kind of second tier or in Hawaii's case no-tier states are suddenly more interesting.
BROWNSTEIN: We'll have to see whether this is all phantom. I mean, the Democrats sending Bill Clinton to Arkansas over the weekend, and Dick Cheney going to Hawaii, and George Bush was in New Jersey. It may be that none of this pans out, but I think it's partially a reflection of the fact that there are so few states that are really in play on either side. I mean, each side is dealing with a very narrow margin for error, as they try to reach 270, because of the extraordinary stability we see in the electorate and in the Electoral College map from 2000. So anything else you can put in play is an asset at this point.
SIMON: The Cheney appearance is at 11:00 at night on Sunday. Dick Cheney must think that Don Ho still has a midnight show to go to.
DOBBS: He may have. He may have.
SIMON: Who is going to be attending this thing, since it is going to start 90 minutes late, probably, like all presidential and vice presidential events. You know, this might be for the porpoises only.
DOBBS: Well, Bruce Springsteen in Madison, Wisconsin and Don Ho in Hawaii, these are probably not bad choices.
Which makes you wonder, is there another way for these candidates to gather a crowd of late.
BROWNSTEIN: Here at the end, here at the end, you know, it's really about excitement and mobilization. I do wonder how many of these closing arguments are really reaching anybody, one way or the other. Interesting fact: I was talking to somebody on the Kerry campaign today. Over the last week as this Iraq explosives story kind of waxed and waned, good days for Kerry, good days for Bush, depending on the revelation. In the battleground states, each night President Bush's job approval rating in their tracking, unchanged. I really think that we're sort of at a point now where we're beyond the ability of these candidates to move many voters with arguments. It may just be about who can muscle out its side on Election Day to tip this thing one way or the other.
TUMULTY: Well, especially given how many voters have already voted at this point. In Florida, it's something like one in seven have already voted.
SIMON: That's why I think energizing the base is so important. Any little unexpected thing -- we thought the October surprise might be the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden. This tape is better than either of those things for George Bush.
DOBBS: I'm surprised you think this is such a strong...
SIMON: I think this is very big. I think this will anger a lot of Americans. It's much more angry than Brits writing letters telling us who to vote for. This is Osama bin Laden telling us who to vote for. BROWNSTEIN: Is he telling -- I mean, do you read the tape as in telling us who to vote for?
SIMON: It doesn't matter the specifics of the tape, or the fact that he's attacked George Bush before. Now for the first time...
BROWNSTEIN: Now, he attacked both of them in the tape.
SIMON: But we know who his enemy is. His enemy is President Bush.
BROWNSTEIN: But does that mean that the one he would prefer is John Kerry? In fact, he explicitly says there is no benefit to America in picking either.
SIMON: His motivation doesn't matter, and I don't think he understands the American people or our politics.
TUMULTY: Osama bin Laden has no future as a political consultant.
SIMON: I hope he has no future as a human being alive on this planet.
DOBBS: Amen, brother. Roger Simon, Karen Tumulty, Ron Brownstein, thank you very much as we move to the final days. We look forward to talking with you next week.
Tonight's thought is on politics. "We love the blather and boast. The charge and counter-charge of campaigning. Governing is a tougher deal." Those the words of Hugh Sidey.
Coming up next, the results of our poll tonight, and a preview of what's ahead on Monday. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Now the results of tonight's poll. Fifty-eight percent of you say Osama bin Laden and radical Islamists are trying to influence the outcome of our presidential election; 42 percent say they are not.
Thanks for voting, and thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here Monday for a special report on the eve of the presidential election. Why no one wants to be first to call election night. We'll take a look at how the networks have changed their way since 2000.
Also, we'll be talking about critically important issues in this campaign. I'll be joined by former presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan, and the co-host of CNN's "CROSSFIRE," James Carville, among others.
For all of us here, we hope you have a very pleasant weekend. Good night from Washington. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is next.
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