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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Pentagon Worried About Proposed Intelligence Changes; Protesters Say Ukraine Election Flawed

Aired November 23, 2004 - 18:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
KITTY PILGRIM, HOST: Tonight, did Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld lobby against intelligence reform supported by President Bush? Rumsfeld says absolutely not.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF STATE: The fact that "The New York Times" editorial says that I'm obviously lobbying against the president's stated policy is nonsense.

PILGRIM: Border crisis. America has more immigrants than ever, more than 10 percent of our population, many of them illegal aliens. I'll talk with Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies.

Your privacy at risk. American legal jobs outsourced to cheap overseas labor markets. Foreigners reading your legal documents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: U.S. lawyers are subject to state disciplinary jurisdiction and foreign lawyers, of course, are not.

PILGRIM: And revolt in the Ukraine. The opposition says the election was rigged. Is Ukraine on the brink of civil war? Former National Security Council official Mark Brzezinski is my guest.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for Tuesday, November 23. Here for an hour of news, debate and opinion, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, who is on vacation, Kitty Pilgrim.

PILGRIM: Good evening.

Tonight Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has strongly denied trying to block intelligence reform supported by President Bush. Rumsfeld declared he did not lobby against intelligence proposals recommended by the September 11 Commission.

Critics of the intelligence bill say it could limit the flow of battlefield intelligence to military commanders.

Senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Pentagon is worried that the rapid flow of real time battlefield intelligence, the kind U.S. military commanders used to win a swift victory in Falluja, could be more cumbersome if a separate national security czar is in charge.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who opposed the plan, insists once President Bush decided to support it, he saluted smartly.

RUMSFELD: Needless to say, I'm a part of this administration. I support the president's position.

MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld bristled at charges leveled by Connecticut Congressman Christopher Shays that he blatantly opposed the Senate version of the bill supported by the White House and flatly denied a "New York Times" editorial that said, "Despite Mr. Rumsfeld's denials, it seems obvious he lobbied against the president's stated policy."

RUMSFELD: "The New York Times" is wrong. The Congressmen who are saying that I had blatant opposition to the bill is incorrect.

MCINTYRE: Joint Chiefs Chairman General Richard Myers did support a House version opposed by the White House, which keeps Pentagon control of battlefield intelligence.

In a letter requested by and sent to Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter, Myers writes, "The House bill maintains this vital flow through the secretary of defense. It is my recommendation that this critical provision be preserved."

But General Myers, unlike Rumsfeld, is required by Congress not to allow politics to influence his military advice.

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS: Chairman Hunter called and asked for my opinion on a certain matter that related to intel reform. And I was obliged to give him my opinion. And I did that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: While they may have been out of step with their commander in chief, neither Myers nor Rumsfeld is in any trouble, according to the White House, because White House officials say they both expressed their concerns through proper channels -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much, Jamie McIntyre.

President Bush has ordered a review of the way the United States carries out covert paramilitary operations. The president wants to determine whether the Pentagon should take over paramilitary operations now conducted by the CIA.

The September 11 Commission recommended that the Pentagon should have sole responsibility for such operations.

President Bush faces a critical test of his authority over the intelligence bill. President Bush says he wants Congress to pass the bill. But the president faces strong opposition from some powerful members of his own party. White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reports from Crawford, Texas -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Kitty.

President Bush, of course, we are told spending a quiet week for the thanksgiving holiday at his Crawford ranch, but also facing that critical challenge, whether or not he can convince his own party, the leadership, and even those among his cabinet to push forward the 9/11 intelligence reform.

Now, White House spokesman Claire Buchanan (ph) said earlier today that the president is personally involved in the process. It was last week that he made calls. He reached out to the Republican leadership. Now that's happening behind the scenes with his chief of staff, as well as senior staffers, as well.

And while she said that the president did not lean on Secretary Rumsfeld to support the bill, she did point out several times that Rumsfeld's appearance today simply proves and shows that he stands by the president.

She also downplayed disagreements between them, saying that this is really an issue of Congress to work out. Also downplayed the dissent from the joint chiefs of staff, saying that President Bush welcomes any type of various opinions on the legislation.

But Kitty, it's important to note that insiders say there is a lot of pressure the White House is putting on the House leadership to push this thing through -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much, Suzanne Malveaux.

The White House today declared there are, quote, "extensive and credible indications of fraud in the Ukrainian presidential election." Tonight, thousands of Ukrainians are protesting against the defeat of the pro-western candidate.

Ukraine is a strategically vital country on the Russian border. David Ensor reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With tens of thousands protesting on the streets of Kiev, the White House says it is deeply disturbed by what election observers like Senator Richard Lugar say appears to be an attempt to steal the presidential election.

ADAM ERELI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: There is a widespread perception in Ukraine over the fairness, wide perception that the elections were not -- were not free, were not fair, and do not reflect the will of the people.

ENSOR: The White House is urging Ukraine's authorities not to certify the results. With most of the votes counted, opposition candidate Viktor Yuschenko, a pro-western moderate nationalist, is narrowly losing the vote to Russian-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, according to Ukraine's election authorities.

Yuschenko is charging massive vote fraud. In a nation of 50 million, boarded by NATO member Poland on one side, by Russia on the other.

With the protesting crowds in Ukraine growing, Washington is urging authorities not to use force against their own people.

MICHAEL MCFAUL, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: The last thing the United States wants and our European allies is a major civil war in Europe. That's what this could become.

ENSOR: American and European diplomats are urging Ukraine to conduct a serious inquiry and a recount. They're urging the same to Ukraine's all-important neighbor to the east, Vladimir Putin of Russia.

(on camera) But beyond expressing outrage and warning against violence, analysts say the West may have but limited influence over the outcome.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: We now go to Jill Dougherty, who is the Moscow bureau chief for CNN, and she is in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

What's the very latest, Jill, on the protests?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kitty, you know, the entire day has been filled with these protests, literally three at one time, at one moment, with tens of thousands of the people in the streets.

These are the supporters of Viktor Yuschenko. He is the opposition candidate. And his supporters already are calling him president, even though the official vote count puts him three points behind the government-backed candidate, Viktor Yanukovich.

And Yuschenko, the opposition candidate, moved from demonstration to demonstration today. The most recent one was a big demo over by the presidential administration building, where security forces dressed in riot gear, black helmets, et cetera, came face to face with demonstrators.

But there was no violence. In fact, there has not been any violence at all throughout the city, throughout this capital. Another big demonstration on Independence Square.

And then one of the most dramatic events today, opposition candidate Yuschenko in the parliament, putting his hand on a Bible and taking a symbolic oath of office. It has no legal basis, but certainly symbolically, it is very, very important.

And Yuschenko says he is not letting up. You can see that, because already he is calling on his supporters to rally yet another day. So we're expecting, Kitty, Wednesday, even more demonstrations with this political limbo and the standoff continuing.

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much, Jill Dougherty reporting from Kiev. Thanks, Jill.

And later in the show, I will talk with former National Security Council official Mark Brzezinski. He's an expert on the Ukraine and Russia, and he's closely following the latest developments.

In Iraq today, U.S., British and Iraqi troops launched a new offensive against insurgents. Five thousand soldiers and Marines are taking part in the offensive in Babil Province. That's south of Baghdad.

The operation follows the U.S. victory over insurgents in Falluja. U.S. Marines in Falluja today collected stockpiles of ammunition and weapons abandoned by the insurgents.

The State Department has closed its offices in the Indian city of Mumbai because of terrorism concerns. The alert affects the U.S. consulate and the information center in Mumbai. Officials warn that American interests in the Indian capital, New Delhi, could also be a terrorist target.

Fears about a terrorist target in this country, as well. The ambassador bridge crosses the border between the United States and Canada, and thousands of trucks cross it every day. And incredibly, they're inspected only after they have crossed.

Jeanne Meserve reports from the U.S.-Canadian border.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Golden Gate Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, always on the list of symbolic targets terrorists might want to hit.

Here's another: the Ambassador Bridge, which spans the U.S.- Canadian border between Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario, carrying one-quarter of the trade between the two countries.

MARGARET IRWIN, AMERICAN TRUCKING ASSOCIATIONS: In terms of the number of trucks that come over the Ambassador Bridge, it is by far thousands and thousands ahead of any bridge -- other bridge at the northern border.

MESERVE: The 12,000 trucks that use this bridge every day are not inspected until after they have crossed.

THOMAS "SKIP" MCMAHON, AMBASSADOR BRIDGE: We compare it to having your luggage inspected after you get off the airplane. MESERVE: If the U.S. were to inspect trucks on the Canadian side before they crossed the bridge and vice versa, the bridge would be more secure.

But U.S. Customs officers have greater power to search, inspect and arrest than their Canadian counterparts, and the Americans carry guns. Putting them in Canada has the potential to weaken their authority.

ASA HUTCHINSON, UNDERSECRETARY, HOMELAND SECURITY: If you operate on Canadian soil, you're doing it under their authority and their law, which does not allow the same type of inspections as our inspectors are used to. We would not be able to protect ourselves in the same way.

MESERVE: U.S. and Canadian officials are talking intensively about synchronizing the laws of the two countries or even swapping small pieces of territory on either side of the bridge.

ROY CULLEN, PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO CANADIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: There are issues around powers that -- on both sides that need to be dealt with, and this is not, you know, all straight-ahead stuff. There are some complex issues there.

MESERVE (on camera): The idea of swapping the Customs stations around has been discussed since 9/11, but, more than three years later, nothing has been done.

(voice-over): Those responsible for the security of the bridge want action.

SHELBY SLATER, DETROIT HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR: It hasn't happened, and that's the bottom line. It just hasn't happened.

MESERVE: And no one on the U.S. or Canadian side can say when or if it will. So the trucks keep rolling across the bridge uninspected.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, on the U.S.-Canadian border.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: That brings us to the subject of tonight's poll. Do you believe trucks and cargo should be inspected before they enter this country? Yes or no. Cast your vote at cnn.com/lou, and we will bring the results later in the show.

Still ahead tonight, exporting your privacy. Your most sensitive personal information being shipped to workers in foreign countries. We'll have that special report.

And after 24 years, "CBS Evening News" Anchor Dan Rather is planning on signing off. We'll have that story coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: An update tonight on an astonishing addition to the $388 billion government spending bill. The proposal would allow the chairman of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to view anyone's tax return. But, tonight, lawmakers have reached an agreement on how to remove that proposal, and Joe Johns has the report from Capitol Hill -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kitty, the aggravation and heartburn caused by that provision could have run its course right now, by now at least, but the anxiety hung on for yet another day.

The House of Representatives was expected to try to vote in a bear-bones session to remove the provision on Wednesday, but House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi objected and has essentially called for a full roll call House vote.

That can't be done, of course, on Wednesday. It's the day before Thanksgiving. A lot of members are out of town at home or otherwise indisposed.

So the question is: Why is she doing this? Pelosi is trying to force the House of Representatives to stop House members from having to vote on bills that they have not been able to at least get a glance at, get an idea of what's in them.

So what she has proposed to the Republicans is that in exchange for unanimous consent to vote on this outstanding provision, she gets the opportunity to stop the practice of rushing bills to the floor. Republicans have said no way. They're standing their ground.

And the result of all of this is that the vote will be held on December 6. Until that time, of course, that big bill the Senate and the House of Representatives stayed in session on Saturday to work on remains in the Senate and will not be sent to the president's desk for his signature.

Kitty, back to you.

PILGRIM: All right. A little pre-holiday stress. Thanks very much.

Joe Johns.

We've reported extensively here on the exporting of manufacturing jobs, call center work, even accounting jobs to cheap foreign labor markets, and, today, an alarming report on another industry shipping jobs overseas. Lawyers in India are being hired to do work once done by attorneys in this country.

Lisa Sylvester reports from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Intellevate is an American firm that matches lawyers in India with corporate clients in the United States. The company has 80 employees in offices outside New Delhi and Bangalore, and its CEO says legal outsourcing is just getting started.

LEON STEINBERG. CEO, INTELLEVATE: The wage differential is significant, but that isn't what draws many people to India. It's the work effort. It's the ability to have them work at night while we're -- their day, our night, while we're sleeping, they're working.

SYLVESTER: The kind of work being sent overseas is not just legal grunt work like proofreading. It's also highly specialized work that requires a scientific or engineering background for patent legal work.

A software electrical engineer makes 65 percent less than an American counterpart; a Ph.D. scientist, 75 percent less; and a legal proofreader, 80 percent less. Intellevate's CEO says for every five U.S. applicants, he gets thousands from India.

STEINBERG: In the U.S., they'll look at that kind of job as filler work between things. In India, they look at it as a career, a long-term position.

SYLVESTER: But there are privacy concerns raised over sending legal work overseas: how to protect attorney-client privilege and conflicts of interest.

CAROLE SILVER, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY: But you also have problems of just disciplining lawyers and having them be subject to the same rules, and U.S. lawyers are subject to state disciplinary jurisdiction, and foreign lawyers, of course, are not.

SYLVESTER: And American lawyers say it's difficult to vouch for work being done overseas.

MATT POWERS, WEIL, GOTSHAL & MANGES: The clients will come and say, wait a minute, why did we choose this, and the answer had better be something that you can answer internally as opposed to, well, that's what we got back from Bangladore (ph).

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: Intellevate's CEO says students in the United States are lagging behind in math and sciences, which is only fueling the drive for companies to hire offshore -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much.

Lisa Sylvester.

Still ahead here tonight, a new role for Dan Rather. What the "CBS Evening News" anchor says he plans to do next.

And then, millions of illegal aliens crossing into this country, a new report finds it's nothing short of a crisis. Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies will be my guest. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PILGRIM: Veteran CBS News Anchor Dan Rather has announced he will give up the anchor chair next March. Well, this news comes just weeks after Rather apologized on air about a questionable report on President Bush's military service.

Jason Carroll reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RATHER, CBS ANCHOR: Good evening.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For nearly 24 years, Dan Rather sat in that coveted chair as anchor of the "CBS Evening News." During a meeting Tuesday afternoon at CBS headquarters, Rather told those he has worked closely with over the years the time had come to give up the chair.

ANDY ROONEY, "60 MINUTES": I think it's a good thing to do. He's about 15 years after Cronkite stepped down, that much older. So he's had a good run, and it's been great.

CARROLL: In a statement, Rather said, "I have been lucky and blessed over these years to have what is to me the best job in the world and to have it at CBS News."

Rather's contract ran until 2006, but now his last day as anchor is March 9, 2005, 24 years to the day since he took over. A bittersweet ending, according to his agent, who says Rather decided, in part, the timing was right because he had gotten through another election cycle.

Discussions about his departure heated up this past summer, months before the release of a "60 Minutes" story in which Rather and the network came under intense fire. The story alleged President Bush received special treatment to get him out of duties while serving in the Texas Air National Guard.

Initially, Rather stood by the story and its source.

RATHER: The story is true, and the questions raised in the story are serious and legitimate questions.

CARROLL: In the end, CBS admitted it could not authenticate the document they had heavily based their story on.

RATHER: So I want to say personally and directly I'm sorry.

CARROLL: The incident is still under review.

MARC BERMAN, "MEDIA WEEK": That might have led to his exit earlier than he was going to leave, but I think people also realize that people make mistakes and things happen. I don't think that's going to tarnish him at all.

CARROLL: Overall, the 73-year-old has had a distinguished career in journalism. His plans now: work primarily for "60 Minutes" until his contract runs out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: And CBS News President Andrew Heyward put it this way. He said, "Dan's dedication to his craft and his remarkable skills as a reporter are legendary." Kitty.

PILGRIM: Jason, I guess the big question is: What are you hearing about a successor to Dan Rather?

CARROLL: Oh, as you know, Kitty, there's lots of talk about that. I mean, there are several names that are sort of being thrown around.

John Roberts, CBS News correspondent. John Roberts. That name is pretty much at the top of the list. But we've also heard the name Scott Pelley being thrown in there as well.

Most media analysts expect CBS News to make some sort of decision on this relatively soon -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much.

Jason Carroll.

Still to come, a growing crisis along our nation's borders. A new study finds millions of illegal aliens are streaming into this country. A special report tonight.

And chaos in the Ukraine. Crowds fill the streets, protesting what they call a fraudulent election. Former National Security Council official Mark Brzezinski is my guest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: LOU DOBBS TONIGHT continues. Sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Kitty Pilgrim.

PILGRIM: In a moment, I'll talk with Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies about a shocking new report on the number of immigrants and illegal aliens in this country.

But, first, a look at some of the top stories tonight.

The Agriculture Department says tests on a cow suspected to have mad cow disease have come back negative. Initial tests had raised fears of the second case of mad cow disease in this country. The first case was discovered last December.

The suspect in the Wisconsin shooting of several hunters claims he was fired on first. Court documents reveal Chai Vang told investigators the hunters shot at him and called him racially derogatory names. Six people were killed. Vang is being held on $2- 1/2 million bail.

The Coast Guard says it has seized more than $928 million worth of cocaine headed for this country. The drugs were discovered during a two-month patrol in the Caribbean. Thirty-three people were arrested.

Well, drug smugglers are not alone in trying to take advantage of our nation's porous borders. A new study finds 34 million immigrants and illegal aliens now live in this country, the most in the nation's history. The Center for Immigration Studies says four million more immigrants have arrived in the last four years, two million of them illegally.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM (voice-over): Twelve million immigrants arrived in this country since 1996. While some immigrants die and others return home, the total increase to the nation's immigrant population, an astonishing eight million people. Immigrants now account for 12 percent of the population in the United States. That is the highest percentage in over 80 years.

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates there are 10 million illegal aliens here in America, but the majority are not living the American dream.

Nearly two-thirds live in or near poverty, double the rate of native-born Americans. Two-thirds, about six million people, have no health insurance. Illegal aliens now account for one out of every eight uninsured people living in the country. Thirty percent of illegal aliens households use at least one major welfare program. Mexico dominates the U.S. immigration story. Almost one-third of the U.S. foreign-born population is from Mexico, up from 22 percent back in '90. An estimated 6 million of the 10 million illegal aliens living in the United States are from Mexico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, I'm joined now by the study's author, Steve Camarota, of the Center for Immigration Studies. And he joins us from Washington. Nice to see you, Steve. Thank you for joining us.

STEVE CAMAROTA, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: Thanks for having me.

PILGRIM: If 10 million people come here illegally, what are the implications for national security?

CAMAROTA: Obviously, most of these people are not terrorist. But the fact remains, if 10 million people can cross our borders and live here illegally, any terrorist who wishes to do so faces little difficulty. If a Mexican-day laborer can cross our border without any trouble, so can an al Qaeda terrorist. If a Japanese exchange student can easily overstay his student visa and get a job and open up a bank account and so forth, again so can an al Qaeda terrorist. I mean, the implications for our national security are profound because we have just lost control of our borders.

PILGRIM: Steve, this is a huge surge, why the growth spurt in immigration right now?

CAMAROTA: Well, that's really one of the most interesting things. Usually people say, well, in the '90s, immigration was so dramatic, the numbers coming were so great, it simply reflected the nature of the economy at that time. People came to fill jobs. But what's so interesting is, it doesn't seem to have really slowed down. The number of people who came just since 2000, between 2000 and 2004, over 6 million new immigrants arrived from abroad, and the net increase was 4 million total in that time. That's about the same as came between 1996 and 2000. In other words, the slowdown in economy, unemployment's way up among natives and it's up immigrants and so forth, but it doesn't seem to have had any real impact on the flow of immigrants, which shows that immigration is not something driven largely by the economy. Rather it's driven by the desire of people to come to join family, to take advantage of social services, to enjoy greater freedoms. But it's not really the U.S. Economy that explains the record immigration of the '90s, because the first part of this decade is just as high.

PILGRIM: What is this doing to wages, Steve?

CAMAROTA: Well, I think the main impact will be on wages for people at the bottom end of the labor market. These are workers, unfortunately, that already make the least amount of money. And what immigration, particularly illegal immigration is doing, is dramatically increasing the supply of labor. Now obviously, if we were to enforce our laws and make more people go home and lower the number of people bidding and trying to get each job, wages would, of course go up. Some research suggests that immigration overall has lowered wages in the United States by about 5 percent to 7 percent.

PILGRIM: Now, President Bush is pushing for this temporary worker provision in his second term.

What do you think of that, given -- in the light of all the research that you've done?

CAMAROTA: Well, I think it's very troubling. The biggest problem is that if you were to try to grant amnesty, the president wants a guest worker amnesty, the roughly 10 million illegal aliens would become guest workers. But the fact of the matter is the system couldn't even handle that many applications. Other problems include the fact that you're basically rewarding illegal immigration. You're rewarding illegal behavior. And that, of course, itself is very troubling. And so I think that for one thing, the public is against it as well.

And so I think that it would be better if we were going to think about trying to grant some sort of amnesty to first enforce our laws, get control of the border, and then maybe move to the idea of, well, maybe people who have been here a long time will grant an amnesty. But to start with an amnesty, as the president wants to do, and not talk about enforcement, I think is just going to compound the problem.

PILGRIM: All right, thanks very much, Steve Camarota.

CAMAROTA: Thank you.

PILGRIM: Three weeks after the presidential election, the Government Accountability Office says it's investigating reports of voting irregularities. The GAO says it will examine the security and accuracy of new paperless electronic voting machines. Now, it's an issue that another government agency is also investigating. Daniel Sieberg reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Several groups, including the GAO and the Election Assistance Commission, are still dissecting the voting booth problems of November 2nd, 2004. There was nothing quite like those Florida hanging chads in 2000, but U.S. elections still have a ways to go before the public's confidence level goes up.

DEFOREST SOARIES, JR., ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION: We didn't have machine malfunctions that would suggest some kind of conspiracy, but we also know that there is a growing concern about the inner workings of electronic voting devices that are literally indiscernible.

SIEBERG: Congress created the bipartisan Election Assistance Commission as part of the help America Vote Act of 2002. That measure was designed to help eliminate old and unreliable technologies like those infamous punch cards. Part of that means keeping tabs on new technologies like stopping hackers from compromising machines and compromising votes the old-fashioned way, with fraud. Commission Member Paul DeGregorio saw that in Wilmington, Delaware.

PAUL DEGREGORIO, ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION: But they showed us a stack of fraudulent voter registrations that they had turned over to the law enforcement officials. And they were concerned about groups that are paying people to register people to vote.

SIEBERG: The commission got an earful of confused and angry voters on election day. More than 700 calls placed to their hotline, complaints about long lines, lost registrations, and provisional ballots. And while the public and the media might be fixated on high- tech mischief, some of the commission's concern involve better training for humans who have to run the elections and the machines.

RAY MARTINEZ, ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION: We are giving out millions of dollars, billions of dollars of federal assistance, and we have to keep in mind that it's not just to upgrade technology.

SIEBERG: The EAC is also supposed to establish standards for state and local governments, and participate in voting education projects. Overall, they admit there's a lot of work still to be done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The good news is that more Americans voted this time in history. The bad news is that we still don't live up to the expectations that democracy demands.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SIEBERG: Among the commission's goals before the next presidential election, will be to establish testing and certification for all types of voting systems. There are, of course, standards now, but the process is convoluted, very secretive and those technical guidelines are being developed by the NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The idea being that the standards are based on sound technology, not on partisan politics, something we can probably all agree on -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much.

"Tonight's Thought" is on democracy, and here it is. Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education. And those words are from Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Well, the holiday season is officially under way at the White House. Vice President Cheney's wife, Lynne, today unveiled the National Christmas Tree. She and her -- three of her granddaughters rode 40 feet into the air in a cherry picker and helped top the tree with a star. Now, President Bush will light the Colorado blue spruce next week.

Here's a reminder now to vote in "Tonight's Polls." Do you believe that trucks and cargo should be inspected before they enter this country, yes or no?

Cast your vote at cnn.com/lou, and we'll bring you the results a little bit later in the show.

And still ahead here tonight three of the country's top journalists will join me.

And then charges of voter fraud send Ukrainians into the streets in protest. East European expert and former national security council official, Mark Brzezinski, will join me. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: Tonight, thousands of protesters in the Ukraine are challenging the results of that country's presidential elections. The protesters say the election was rigged in favor of a pro-Moscow candidate and against the pro-Western candidate. The White House says there are, quote, "extensive and credible indications of fraud." Well, joining me now to sort this out is former national security council official Mark Brzezinski, an expert on the Ukraine and Russia. Thanks for joining us.

All this seems far away to most American viewers. What are the implications for the United States and U.S. policy, Mark?

MARK BRZEZINSKI, UKRAINE EXPERT: Well, if you look at Ukraine on the map, it's a strategically large country in the heart of Europe. It's the largest country in central Europe with 50 million people. And against its western borders, borders NATO-pact countries, Slovakia, Poland, and to its east, it borders Russia. What happens within Ukraine, whether it's a prosperous, free market democracy or whether it's a quasi-authoritarian struggling economy, impacts directly both the transatlantic community and Russia.

PILGRIM: Now, the pro-Western candidate, Viktor Yuschenko, seemed to suggest that this could devolve into civil war. What do you think the odds are of that?

BRZEZINSKI: Kitty, this moment in Ukraine is pregnant with possibility. It could devolve into a popular uprising in which the security forces and the people face off, or it could result in what I would call almost an accommodation between the government and the people with either the election nullified and a new election taking place, or a roundtable-type accord, like what happened in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in 1989 occurring where the democratic opposition agrees with the authoritarian government to share power.

PILGRIM: Now, election officials have said this is a fraudulent election, and that's widespread, U.S., E.U. How fraudulent was this election? Can we assess that?

BRZEZINSKI: Kitty, ballot stuffing, voter tampering, absentee ballots filed many times. The OSCE, Senator Lugar's group, the National Democratic Institute, there's all kinds of evidence of voter fraud. And the U.S. has been right up to now to call for free, fair transparent elections and not to favor a particular candidate. But the time is now also for the U.S., it's in our strategic interest for the U.S. to insist on an election outcome that's consistent with international norms.

PILGRIM: Some suggest that President Putin's hand is in this election. Doesn't this put us at odds with Russia, which has, up till now, been a very strong ally in many instances?

BRZEZINSKI: Russia has been a strong ally to the U.S. in some instances, but it has manipulated with the election in Ukraine. Russia injected hundreds of millions of dollars into the Yanukovich campaign. In other words, the candidate who favors Russia versus the Yuschenko campaign, the candidate that favors the west. Clear manipulation on the part of Russia. And one of the things that is incumbent on the U.S. to do is not only call for a fair and just outcome in terms of the election, but to urge President Putin to stop manipulating in the democracy-building efforts in the near abroad.

PILGRIM: You know, but Putin has said that Yanukovich is a convincing victory. How do we resolve that if he persists in claiming this as his victorious right?

BRZEZINSKI: Well, Kitty, this evening Putin actually backed away from his statement, which you are correct in saying, yesterday Putin's statement in which he actually gave congratulations and recognized Yanukovich as the elected president of Ukraine. Today he backed away from that statement, saying he was misinformed by exit polls. We know a little bit about that. And that we should -- that we should respect the decision of the Central Election Commission. But there is no way that democracy in Ukraine or Georgia or anywhere in the former Soviet bloc is going to thrive if Russia does manipulate with those internal decision-making of those peoples, and it's incumbent on us to press Putin not to do that.

PILGRIM: A real test case. Thanks very much for helping us understand that, Mark Brzezinski, thank you.

BRZEZINSKI: Thank you, Kitty.

PILGRIM: Still ahead, a warning about the exploding U.S. trade deficit from an unlikely source. We'll have the full story from Christine Romans.

And the Bush agenda for the next four years. I'll be joined by three of the best political journalists in this country. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: Bold words this week. Warning of this country's widening trade deficit. Those words not from U.S. officials, but from China. A senior central bank official warned the United States not to blame others for its economic problems, and that was in an interview with the "Financial Times." Christine Romans has the report -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kitty, China is giving us advice on our trade deficit and unemployment. And China says don't blame us for your problems. In an interview with the "Financial Times" the senior central bank official claims that China never blames anyone else for its problems, and the U.S. shouldn't either. Quote, "for the past 26 years, we never put pressure or problems on to the world. The U.S. has the reverse attitude. Whenever they have a problem, they blame others."

Well, he's talking about the glowing problem of our record and rising trade deficit with China now topping $150 billion a year. China's advice -- he says the U.S. should sell more airplane equipment. That would help balance trade. $150 billion deficit. And he suggests the U.S. get out of shoemaking, textiles, and even agriculture. Now, you could argue Wal-Mart, an American company, is already helping the U.S. get out of those industries. It alone is the third largest importer of cheap Chinese goods by one measure. One by one American factories have shut down because they can't compete with the cheaper labor from overseas.

And now a twist. Because of Chinese government pressure workers in Wal-Marts in China will be able to join unions, something that workers in the United States for Wal-Mart haven't been able to do yet.

PILGRIM: So the suggestion is, act like a centrally-planned economy and just abandon certain industries?

ROMANS: Well, they just say that we can't compete in those industries, and the central bank official also pointing out that labor costs in China, he says, are 3 percent of what they are here. 3 percent. Unbelievable. And so some of those industries, he says, the U.S. will never be able to compete.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Christine Romans.

Joining me now are three of the country's top journalists. And from Washington, Karen Tumulty of "TIME" magazine is here, Roger Simon of "U.S. News & World Report" and joining me in New York is Marcus Mabry of "Newsweek." And thank you all for being here.

Let's start with the political climate, always the most fun to kick around, and we seem to have a pretty big Republican rift. We have the issue over Arlen Specter, we have intelligence reform. Let's start with our Washington folks. What do you make of this Republican rift so far, Karen?

KAREN TUMULTY, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, the president -- the president came the day after the election and announced that he had some political capital, and he intended to spend it. The question right now is whether he's going to spend it by essentially cracking heads on his own side of the aisle in Congress.

The fact is, this intelligence bill is being held up because of conservative Republican opposition. In fact, put it on the floor today, and it would pass.

And the spending bill, this catch-all spending bill that has increasingly become the way the government does business at the end of a session has also become a political disaster. And with the Republicans controlling both chambers, the real problem here is the president being able to control his own party.

PILGRIM: But so much for this one-party rule, no opposition scenario. It didn't really come about, did it, Roger?

ROGER SIMON, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: No, it didn't. And President Bush is learning the lesson that on your first day of your second term, you're a lame-duck president. The party doesn't have to worry about George Bush being reelected again. He can't run again.

But the basic instinct of all members of Congress is survival. The members of the House have to run in two years. And they care very much what their constituents say.

Karen is absolutely right about this bill, however. It would have passed in the House. But it would have passed with a majority of Democratic votes. And Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House, for purely political reasons, didn't want that to happen. And that's why we don't have an intelligence bill today.

PILGRIM: Marcus, isn't it a little too early to be talking about Bush as a lame-duck president? I mean, after all, some said he had 12 months, 18 months.

MARCUS MABRY, NEWSWEEK: Well, I think certainly the president would say that, and so would Karl Rove. But the fact is, he's in this amazing position now, with the Republicans, they wanted to be a majority party. Well, sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. And in a majority party, you have many different strains at work, you have many different coalitions, parties that come together to really form your coalition. And the social conservatives, the fiscal conservatives don't necessarily all agree, and certainly right now we're seeing the defendants of the Department of Defense who actually don't want to see the intelligence budget go largely out of the Pentagon. They don't want that to disappear. They want it to stay there.

PILGRIM: So are we saying that President Bush will have to expand his negotiating skills, which some people consider not that developed?

MABRY: Well, I just can't wait to see what the president does actually to bring these Republicans in line. I mean, he's very good at cracking the whip, and pointing out the problems with Democrats, but it's going to be I think a hard thing to point out the problems with Republicans. He's not done that before.

SIMON: Let me suggest, though...

PILGRIM: Yeah, go ahead.

SIMON: The president can win this fight anytime he wants to. The president can take this fight to the people if he really wants to expend political capital. The presidency in the modern era controls the message of the day, the national conversation, what gets on the tube. That's what's important -- that's what's important.

And President Bush can flex his muscles at any time. He can go around Sensenbrenner and Hunter. He can go directly to those recalcitrant members of Congress and get them to vote for this bill. It's just whether he wants to expend that capital on this fight, which we have to remind ourselves is a bill he never much wanted in the first place.

PILGRIM: And it's an early fight. Karen, let's just look at the approval ratings before you chime in here, because...

TUMULTY: Sure.

PILGRIM: ... they do reflect popular approval is coming up for President Bush -- 60 percent have a positive opinion, versus 36 percent negative opinion of Bush. He's above 55 percent. He is gaining in the public opinion polls -- Karen.

TUMULTY: Well, that's right. This is the closest thing to a honeymoon that a reelected president is going to get. However, if you look in the same polls at the public's optimism, for instance, whether people think that things are going well in Iraq, you find that people don't. And you also see that a lot of the opposition to the president's basic policies that was there before the election remains there.

And Roger is right, he has to decide whether he wants to spend some capital on this fight. But if he doesn't do that now, the question is whether he's really going to have the muscle tone that it takes for the fights that are ahead, because Social Security reform, tax reform, these are not going to be easy things to accomplish. PILGRIM: And Iraqi election, the appointment of judges, Social Security routinely called the third rail of politics, very difficult issue to take on. These are big, big battles. Is this a weak start to maybe a big battle later, or is this just a weak start that may not go well?

MABRY: I think it is a weak start. I think it's too early to say that it's all over. We have a tendency to do that in the media far too often. I think what we're seeing, though -- and again, as Karen was saying, 55 percent, you know, approval rating, this is as high as the guy's going to get right now. This is the honeymoon. And the fact is, that's not a very strong showing, actually, for a president who just won reelection, with what he claimed to be a mandate, a historic mandate. That's not what that 55 percent number says. That will be in the 60s at least.

So I think what he's going to have to do now -- and it's a horrible -- it's a hard political balancing act. Do you spend political capital in this kind of a battle, which is incredibly popular with the American people, which you shouldn't have to spend any political capital on, which is going to subtract from your political capital later on, or do you spend it now to make the Republicans get in line so that you'll be able to actually make them be in line for the harder fights to come? As Social Security and tax reform will be.

PILGRIM: That's a tough call. You know, I really can't let you go without asking about Dan Rather. First of all, does anyone know who's replacing him, which I know you may not. But any suggestions we'll take.

MABRY: I'd bet on Byron Pitts.

PILGRIM: OK. Karen?

SIMON: I think they'd like to get John Daly, but they'll probably get John Roberts.

PILGRIM: OK. And also, the whole thing is, how political do you see this? Do you see this in any kind of a political context?

TUMULTY: Well, I don't. I mean, of course, Dan Rather has been the great, you know, the great monster to the right in this country for a long time. I do not think that this is going to -- this is going to sort of solve that problem. I think that they are going to continue to see the media as this big liberal beast.

PILGRIM: Well, anyway, be that as it may, we have to wrap up here. Roger Simon, Karen Tumulty and Marcus Mabry, thanks very much for joining us.

MABRY: Thank you.

PILGRIM: And still ahead, the results of tonight's poll, a preview of what's ahead tomorrow. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: Now the results of tonight's poll: 95 percent of you believe trucks and cargo should be inspected before they enter this country. And just 5 percent of you said no.

Well, thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us tomorrow. Ken Pollack, the author of the new book, "The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America." He will join us.

For all of us here, good night from New York. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is next.

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