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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Flood Disaster in New England; Waiting for Relief in Northern Pakistan; Police Beating; Bush Administration Emphasized Miers' Religious Background; Eminent Domain May Be Abused; New Developments On Stolen Aircraft; New Rules To Translate Report Cards And School Documents Into Nine Languages; Producer Discusses "The West Wing"

Aired October 12, 2005 - 18:00   ET

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


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody.
We begin tonight with what is turning out to be a major flood disaster in New England. As many as seven people are already feared dead in New Hampshire alone after the worst flooding in that state in a quarter century. And now, with more torrential rain falling in the northeast, there are fears even more people could be killed across the region.

Tonight we'll be reporting on the violent weather in New England.

We'll also have a special report on our dirty hospitals and how they could help spread the deadly avian flu.

We'll have the latest on search for earthquake survivors in Pakistan.

We begin tonight with the flooding and rain in New England.

Rob Marciano in Hartford, Connecticut, with the report -- Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Lou.

The flooding issues across New Hampshire, northern New England now filtering southward. And believe it or not, the rainfall the past day and a half here has been much less than the previous two days.

We are in Riverside Park, aptly named. It is right along the river, the Connecticut River, a mighty river across New England that starts -- the headwaters of which start somewhere around the Canadian border, slides down across New Hampshire, splits Massachusetts, splits Connecticut, and dumps some of this rainfall eventually into Long Island Sound.

Big floods here back in 1936 and 1938, where the river rose to 30 feet. Nowhere near that today, and we don't expect that over the next couple of days. But another pulse of rain will get through this area and cause more problems, especially downstream, as we head through tomorrow and beyond.

A little bit farther north of us, across southern parts of Massachusetts, Oxbridge, Massachusetts, just to the south of Worcester, which has seen over five inches of rain over the past couple of days, flooding problems there also. Again, today, a bit of a break. A lot of the major rivers beginning to recede. But as we head to tomorrow, they may very well be on the rise again.

Well, what about Hartford? They had the big floods back in the 30s. You know, the Civil Corps of Engineers got together and said we're not going to let that happen again.

They built 7.4 miles of dyke and levee, and six pumping stations. So on a much smaller scale, but, you know, kind of similar to New Orleans. They said it would take a 500-year flood to flood Hartford.

So bigger problems are going to come when we go into tomorrow and then beyond. Mostly west and south of here, to the Housatonic, the Hudson River, western parts of Connecticut, and eastern parts of New York State, where all the rivers from what, believe it or not, are two tropical systems, not land-falling hurricanes, but two tropical systems feeding into a weather system that's dumping a whole bunch of rain. And we could see several more inches over the next couple of days.

Big cities like New York City, the Bronx, at least some of the boroughs, could see some issues, already seeing some issues tonight. So it goes far beyond New Hampshire and far beyond Hartford, Connecticut, tonight -- Lou.

DOBBS: Rob Marciano. Thank you.

Weather forecasters are now saying the heavy rain in the northeast could last until Saturday, at least. As much as six inches of new rainfall could arrive in northeastern states. That's in addition to the 12 inches that's already fallen in some areas. A few inches more could cause many rivers, as Rob Marciano reported, to overflow.

Turning to the earthquake disaster in South Asia, President Musharraf of Pakistan today appealed for more international help after the worst earthquake in the region's history. Officials say the final death toll in Pakistan could be more than 40,000.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today visited the Pakistani capital of Islamabad to assess the extent of the damage and to assess how the United States can better help with the relief operation.

Nearly five days after the earthquake struck, the Pakistani government is now facing rising anger over its slow response to this disaster. Bill Neely reports from Pakistan's remote northern region, where some villages have received no government aid whatsoever.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL NEELY, REPORTER, ITV NEWS (voice over): This is battle, and it's scarred for life. A village that's lost half its children and most of its homes, and from its government, it's received nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just make some promises with us, "We are sending this thing, this thing to you." But so far, there's nothing. NEELY: And on to where roads have been washed into rivers, and where trees, but not towns, still cling to the hills. And here, too, hunger. They struggle for a bag of rice.

Their government says a million people in Pakistan are in acute need, but no one from any government agency has come here.

Most roads are passable, though the land has slipped everywhere and carried most of hell cut away in an earthquake its people call a monster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a monster. Earthquake, can't understand the whole thing. The people who are living -- the people are so poor.

NEELY: And much poorer now. This man has lost his whole family.

There are no aid agencies here, no food distribution, no medical teams from their government to treat injured. And wherever you look, the injured and the dead are being taken down the hills for help.

(on camera): In every town across this vast area there is tragedy. In this girl's high school, 60 children were killed when the roof collapsed. In every place, in every village it's the same story, one of great loss, of great need, and of a great anger at a government that could do much, much more.

Bill Neely, ITV News, Pakistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: Six weeks after Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today announced that it has accomplished the Herculean task of pumping all of the water out of New Orleans, pumping some 250 billion gallons of water, in fact. The Army Corps says New Orleans is now completely dry. All parts of the city are accessible.

And for the first time today, residents of New Orleans' decimated Ninth Ward were allowed to return to their homes to see what could be saved and what was lost. The Ninth Ward submerged in as much as 12 feet of water after the hurricane. It was flooded again when the outer bands of Hurricane Rita hit.

Residents were told to gather what they could and then leave. In one house, a man made a terrible discovery.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL MURPHY, RETURNING TO NINTH WARD: And I walked in here and I found my grandma on the floor dead. Just remains, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You never expected to find that.

MURPHY: No, not in a million years. Never expected to find that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) DOBBS: Paul Murphy says his grandmother probably chose not to evacuate New Orleans before Katrina.

In a New Orleans courtroom today, the man brutally beaten by New Orleans police in the French Quarter over the weekend pleaded not guilty to charges of drunkenness, battery and resisting arrest. The case of Robert Davis is just the latest blow to the reputation of the New Orleans Police Department, a reputation that has been in decline for more than a decade.

Lisa Sylvester reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The three officers didn't talk at the news conference, but their lawyer did. He says Robert Davis, the 64-year-old man beaten by police, was stumbling drunk and bumped into an officer on a police horse and then said, "Go F yourself." The officers claimed Davis reached his hand into his waistband, the suggestion that he may have been armed.

FRANK DESALVO, ATTORNEY: When directed to place his hands behind his back, he refused and placed both his hands in his front waistband in either an effort to keep them from cuffing him, or an effort to maybe grab a weapon.

SYLVESTER: Davis appeared in court to face public intoxication charges. He says he gave up drinking 25 years ago and did nothing to provoke the patrolmen.

The details of what happened that night are now the focus of federal, state and city investigations. The New Orleans Police Department is also under fire for officers leaving their post in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Some officers are accused of looting local businesses. The police department says dozens of Cadillacs were commandeered following the hurricane, but the owner of the dealership where the cars were taken from says...

DAVE STEAD, SEWELL CADILLAC: I promise you, I didn't give anybody authorization to take $60,000 cars. I don't know at what point they can appropriate your vehicles. That's never been explained to me in the legal standpoint. So I don't know.

SYLVESTER: The New Orleans Police Department has had a reputation since the 1990s of corruption, when two officers were convicted of murder. The department has never been able to shake that image, despite the purging of bad officers. The Police Association says the national media is perpetuating that negative perception.

LT. DAVID BENELLI, POLICE ASSOC. OF NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: Let's investigate it, learn everything about this case, and then make a decision. Don't convict these guys in the media, and don't convict these people -- these officers before they have their day in court.

SYLVESTER: But it can't all be blamed on the national media with pictures like these.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: And calls to the New Orleans Police Department for this story were not returned, but the Police Officers Association says there are many great heroes on the force who are not getting the recognition for their great work -- Lou.

DOBBS: That may be the case, but when you have a police department accused of deserting their post during a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina, and we're talking about dozens and dozens of police officers, looting, corruption, stealing cars, and then calling it commandeering, one wonders where is Mayor Ray Nagin in all of this? Where is his leadership?

Where is the mayor, Lisa?

SYLVESTER: He's actually been very quiet on this. We haven't seen many public statements. In fact, really, we haven't seen any public statement from the mayor's office after we saw the video of the beating.

So, you know, that's a question that some people are asking, and that we'll continue to ask. I do know that Ray Nagin is going to be visiting some of the displaced residents in shelters tomorrow. But he -- his office has been pretty quiet as far as a response to the beating videotape.

DOBBS: Lisa Sylvester, from New Orleans. Thank you.

That brings us to our poll question tonight. Do you believe the New Orleans Police Department is the most corrupt and mismanaged police department in this country, yes or no? Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results later.

Also, still ahead here, a deadly new threat to our troops in Iraq. How insurgents are using sophisticated new technology and roadside bombs. We'll have that special report.

And, this country's hospitals could actually help spread the deadly flu virus if it ever does reach the United States. We'll have that disturbing report.

And rising anger all over this country over what is nothing less than the abuse of eminent domain by local governments to seize private property.

Those stories coming right up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The Pentagon now says it is considering a number of plans for deploying federal troops in the event of an avian flu outbreak in this country. The mysterious avian flu has spread now to 15 countries. Sixty people have died in four countries, all in Asia. President Bush says he will consider using the military to enforce a quarantine, were it necessary. Meanwhile, the threat of a bird flu pandemic has left health officials searching for antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu. But that drug is made by a European corporation, and its active ingredient comes solely from China.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Thirty-four thousand prescriptions of the flu drug Tamiflu were filled last week. Last year at this time it was only 4,000. Tamiflu is one of the few drugs that experts think may be helpful in treating bird flu, or avian flu, if a human-to-human pandemic occurs.

Tamiflu is made by Roche, a European company. But up until now, the active ingredient of the drug, oseltamivir, is found in a plant, the star anise. A primary source of that plant is China.

NICK TURLAND, MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN: It's only known from China as a wild plant. It's quite restricted in southwestern China near the Vietnam border. It probably gets over into northeastern Vietnam as well.

PILGRIM: Scientific papers from Roche show the process, from Chinese star anise, to shikimic acid, to oseltamivir, to capsules of Tamiflu.

ELIZABETH PRESCOTT, BIOSECURITY ANALYST, EURASIA GROUP: If we were to see high demand for this chemical compound, there might be some disruption of delivery of the active ingredient, and therefore have an impact on ultimately delivering Tamiflu even at the maximum manufacturing capability that we currently have, which is still not sufficient.

PILGRIM: Roche says the ingredient is also being synthetically produced in a new manufacturing process to supplement natural supply. A Tamiflu supply chain is expected to be approved in the U.S. this year.

Medical experts say Roche has significant production problems that may limit how much or how easily the ingredient can be made synthetically. The Food and Drug Administration says they have no comment on the supply of the active ingredient of Tamiflu, the information is a trade secret.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, drug analysts and medical experts say Roche is increasing the capacity, even here in the United States, to try to double its production next year and the year after. But global demand is outstripping the production, and experts worry that the natural source of the drug is limited and the synthetic process is not yet perfected -- Lou. DOBBS: So, in other words, the United States, right now -- and we don't know the degree to which Tamiflu will be effective against whatever virus does emerge -- and we hope it doesn't, but is likely to emerge from H5N1, the avian flu -- we're dependent on a foreign pharmaceutical company to produce a drug, the primary ingredients of which are mainly in China, also to some degree in Vietnam?

PILGRIM: Yes, that's exactly right. It's a scary situation. And when you really push on this, people don't have good answers.

DOBBS: Particularly the FDA.

PILGRIM: That's exactly right. When we spoke to them, they said it's trade secrets information, they couldn't discuss it further.

DOBBS: When the public health and safety is concern and risk, we'll find out what we can, I'm sure.

Kitty Pilgrim. Thank you.

If and when the bird flu does arrive in this country, our hospitals could be incapable of stopping its spread. The World Health Organization says each year two million Americans are infected with dangerous and preventable infections in our nation's hospitals. More than 80,000 of those patients die every year as a result.

Christine Romans reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Sixty people worldwide have died from the avian flu. Four times that many will die today in this country from a preventable infection they picked up in a hospital.

And now, the World Health Organization warns hygiene in hospitals must improve. In a report to be released tomorrow, the WHO says, "The risk of a new influenza pandemic highlights the urgent need for efficient infection control in health care."

SIR LIAM DONALDSON, WHO: Should we get a bird flu pandemic at some stage in the future, then if patients are admitted to hospital, we want to reduce the risks of cross-infection.

ROMANS: Infection that is carried on the hands of doctors and nurses. And the number one tool against contamination, simple hand washing. But the WHO says, "The lack of compliance among health care providers is problematic."

So problematic, the WHO says these hospital infections are a leading cause of serious illness and death for infants. Neonatal infection rates in the United States are 14 percent.

Patient safety advocates have long warned of rampant infection rates and the need for hand washing. SUSAN SHERIDAN, CONSUMERS ADV. PATIENT SAFETY: And, you know, we must get a sterile environment now. I mean, to protect ourselves, to protect health care workers. And so we've got to lick that problem first before we tackle another problem like the avian flu.

ROMANS: Indeed. The WHO says today five to 10 percent of patients entering the hospital will develop a serious infection.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: The numbers are staggering, and that's without an epidemic of any sort. Infections in our health care system are already a leading cause of death in this country, and the WHO warns that current trends, if they continue of death and injury in the hospital, may lead to declining life expectancy in this country.

DOBBS: Sobering -- sobering thoughts. Thank you very much, Christine Romans.

Coming up next here, a deadly new threat in Iraq. How insurgents are using more advanced technology to target and to kill our soldiers, next.

And then, judging Miers. President Bush has another new explanation on why he chose Harriet Miers as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. We'll have that story.

And mystery solved. A multimillion-dollar jet missing in Florida that turned up hundreds of miles away, we will have the resolution of that mystery coming right up.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: New hope tonight that Iraqis may vote in favor of that country's new constitution in a referendum Saturday. The Iraqi parliament today approved a last-minute compromise aimed at winning the support of the minority Sunni population for the constitution.

As Iraqi politicians discuss their constitution, insurgents and terrorists continue their bloody campaign of bomb and gun attacks. The worst attack today, a suicide bomb that killed 30 people outside an army and police recruiting center in the northern town of Tal Afar. Yesterday, 30 others were killed in a suicide bomb attack in the town's marketplace.

American troops in Iraq face a deadly new threat. Insurgents are now using laser beams to detonate roadside bombs. Those bombs are responsible for most of our combat deaths in Iraq.

Barbara Starr reports from the Pentagon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Military sources tell CNN that coalition forces in Iraq have found a new type of improvised explosive device, an IED, that for the first time combines two deadly technologies aimed at maximum destruction, a disturbing advance in the bombs that have killed hundreds of U.S. troops. Military sources confirm to CNN the unexploded bomb had an armor penetrating capability and an infrared laser detonator.

The bomb had a metal cap charge specifically designed to penetrate armored vehicles. The infrared detonator was much like the electronic eye on a garage door system. The first object that breaks the beam, the bomb explodes.

A senior U.S. military commander tells CNN that infrared or IR detonators now are the toughest type of roadside bomb for coalition troops to find.

BRIG. GEN. CARTER HAM, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We are seeing greater degrees of sophistication, different techniques, different -- different technological approaches. And that's a great challenge for us.

STARR: And U.S. officials believe Iranian-backed terrorist groups are behind this latest development.

Insurgent capabilities clearly have grown from the initial months when IEDs mainly consisted of old Iraqi army ordnance.

LT. GEN. JOHN VINES, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL CORPS: Their tactics have become more sophisticated in some cases, to be sure. And so that is -- that is, again, terrorism enabled by some limited military capacity.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: And Lou, experts say that military capacity of the insurgency now includes weapons designers, weapons engineers, bomb- making plants, all inside Iraq. Improvised explosive devices may not be all that improvised anymore -- Lou.

DOBBS: Apparently not. And the very fact that the Pentagon is now adding the military component to this insurgency, that's very troubling for everyone.

STARR: Well, it is -- it is a development that they have seen coming. They continue to say, you know, in a way, this is a bit of a cat and mouse game. Not to minimize it.

When they see the insurgents make the developments, they ratchet up their countermeasures, and then they see the insurgents respond. They do think now that the insurgents are getting plenty of outside help -- Lou.

DOBBS: And having immense success in maintaining a high level of attacks against U.S. forces. Thank you very much, Barbara. Thank you.

STARR: Thank you. DOBBS: Still ahead, "New York Times" reporter Judith Miller back in federal court, testifying again before a grand jury.

In New Jersey, residents there trying desperately to save their now condemned homes. We'll have a special report on what may be a major abuse of eminent domain.

Also tonight, illegal aliens, CAFTA, free trade, unfair trade. "The West Wing" taking on important public issues familiar to our viewers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN ALDA, ACTOR, "THE WEST WING": The easiest way for a terrorist to get into this county is to cross this border. This isn't just an immigration issue. This is a -- this is a homeland security issue. We have to get control of our borders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: The executive producer of "The West Wing" our guest here tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: "New York Times" reporter Judith Miller today testified for a second time before a grand jury investigating the CIA-White House leak. Miller, who went to jail for refusing to disclose her confidential source, declined to speak with reporters after her testimony. The leak investigation has now lasted twice as long as the Watergate investigation.

Bob Franken reports from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): She went to jail for 85 days for refusing to testify. But now Judith Miller was again before the grand jury, answering questions for the second time in the less than two weeks she's been out.

Miller was back because she discovered notes in her "New York Times" office that detailed conversations with the vice president's chief of staff, Louis Scooter Libby. That occurred earlier than the ones she described in testimony last time. She left with no comment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any comment?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No comments.

FRANKEN: Libby's name has come up repeatedly in an investigation into whether those who leaked the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame in summer 2003 violated the law. Plame is the wife of Joseph Wilson, who had been harshly critical of Bush administration claims that Iraq was developing a weapons of mass destruction program. Friday, the president's longtime chief political adviser, now deputy White House chief of staff, Karl Rove, is scheduled to testify. It will be his fourth time appearing before the grand jury.

The White House comment again is "No comment."

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has given no hints about possible indictments. The grand jury's term expires on October 28.

(on camera): The betting is the decisions about indicting, the whos, the whats, and for that matter, the whethers, should be coming soon. Decisions that have a legal impact, of course, but also a profound political impact.

Bob Franken, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: And in politics, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson now says he did not receive assurances from Karl Rove about how Harriet Miers would judge from the bench should she be confirmed as Supreme Court justice. Dobson's latest comments come a week after he had said he had received confidential information from the White House that led him to support Miers. But Dobson does say he discussed Miers' strong religious beliefs with Rove, and President Bush today said his staff is doing nothing wrong by stressing Miers' religious background.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers. They want to know Harriet Miers' background. They want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions, and part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Well, White House aides, again, said Miers' religious beliefs played no part at all in choosing her as a nominee for the Supreme Court.

Joining me now from Washington is Bill Schneider. These comments, Bill, seem to be frankly in contrast, if not conflict, with the words from the president saying that it was one element of his consideration.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, and there seems to be something of a code going on here, communicating to conservatives that Harriet Miers should be OK with conservatives because she's an evangelical Christian, therefore, it might be fair to assume she's anti-abortion. Therefore, they might be led to believe or to conclude she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. That's all a lot of winking and nudging.

DOBBS: Well, winking, nudging and nodding, you know, whatever you want to call it, it isn't being very straightforward ...

SCHNEIDER: No.

DOBBS: ... when you're speaking earnestly and straightforwardly with various elements of your support, than with the various senators whose approval you need for her confirmation as the nominee, is it?

SCHNEIDER: It certainly isn't. And you may remember this summer when Judge Roberts was nominated, a Democratic senator said he thought it might be fair to ask Roberts about the impact of his Catholic -- in his case -- religious faith on his decisions as a judge. And there was an enormous hue and cry.

This was out of bounds, this was entirely unfair. People accused the Democratic senator and others of imposing some kind of religious test on a nominee. One Catholic group says Roberts' religious faith has no bearing and no place in the confirmation process. They wanted to rule out religion.

Well there, the idea was liberals wanted to find out if his Catholic views would somehow incline him to be anti-abortion, and therefore, they'd be inclined to vote against them. Now the signal the is being used by a lot of Republicans to say her religious faith is a signal that she might be inclined to vote against abortion in the same way.

DOBBS: And while in Roberts' case, in Judge Roberts' case, he was very clear. He said Roe versus Wade, in his view was settled law, and that was a salve to many who were concerned. There is no such statement here from Harriet Miers, but what is interesting, I think, to many of us, is the fact that this administration is reaching out on a purely religious basis.

They may be doing so with Jewish groups, Catholic groups as well as evangelicals, but right now the focus seems to be on evangelicals, and that seems to be, if you will, a mysterious political play that must have great import to them. Are these groups really that powerful politically, that they can have this influence on the White House, irrespective where confidences were either broken or spoken between Rove and Dobson?

SCHNEIDER: Look, the president's conservative base -- a lot of it, not all of it, but a lot of it -- is in rebellion against this choice. This is a way of sending the signal as Monty Python used to say, "wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more." It's a signal that they can be reassured she's, quote, probably OK on the abortion issue, and ought to go along with this choice.

DOBBS: Troubling as all of this is to anyone, it is also troubling that apparently a number of highly qualified judges turned down any consideration for a nomination because of the vicious atmosphere that exists in Washington in the confirmation process.

This is, as Senator Biden acknowledged, "a kabuki dance in which very little is said, and most of it is said for the benefit of television audiences rather than to get to the heart of the confirmation process." Is there any chance in the world we're going to see this noxious, corrosive tone change in Washington?

SCHNEIDER: Not in the immediate future. It did change, I think, with Judge Roberts because he had a stature ...

DOBBS: He had such overwhelming talent.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. He had such overwhelming talent that it kind of set aside other questions.

DOBBS: Perhaps there is ...

SCHNEIDER: We don't know really what his views are, but there is no question about his qualification. In her case, she doesn't have it.

DOBBS: Perhaps that is the secret to eliminating that noxious, corrosive atmosphere so that anyone who challenges will look like the fool they are for doing so.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. Let me add one other element. When we ask the public, do you think any nominee should be required to answer questions about his or her views on the abortion issue and how they would rule on abortion, the public says by a good majority, they say, yes, they think so. They want to know that. They are very straightforward about this. But no nominee will answer that question.

DOBBS: Despite being asked mercilessly over and over again.

SCHNEIDER: And in coded ways.

DOBBS: Oh yes, much the -- you know, the clever nuanced Washington dialogue.

SCHNEIDER: Right.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Bill Schneider.

Turning now to a recent Supreme Court decision that is affecting home owners all across the country now. A rising number of local governments are forcing people off their land for what they call now the public good.

The process known as eminent domain is not only used to make way for new highways and schools but also some cities are using it to, well, grease the skids for expensive homes and offices and developers who will be paying more in the way of property taxes. Bill Tucker has the report from Long Branch, New Jersey.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From California to Connecticut, the power of eminent domain is being unleashed. According to the Institute for Justice, eminent domain is being invoked in nearly 100 cities in the name of public good.

One of those communities is Long Branch, New Jersey. The ocean front is being redeveloped, replacing neighborhoods with expensive condominiums, luxury hotels, spas, restaurants and shops, which might sound attractive unless you receive a letter like the one sent to Lori Ann Vendetti. She and her neighbors received letters they had 14 days to accept an offer from the city for their property or the city would take their property using eminent domain.

LORI ANN VENDETTI, PROPERTY OWNER: All of a sudden everyone wants to be in Long Branch, so we're not good enough to be here anymore.

TUCKER: Lori and her neighbors are fighting the city.

DANA BERLINER, SENIOR ATTORNEY, INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE: Eminent domain abuse affects everyone, but it particularly affects working class and middle-class families, minorities and elderly communities.

TUCKER: A survey by Monmouth University found most New Jersey residents do support the use of eminent domain, but under strict circumstance. Eighty-eight percent support take vacant and rundown properties to build schools, 65 percent support take land away from developers to preserve open space, but just seven percent support taking low value homes to build high value homes and shopping centers. Developers feel differently.

DAVID BARRY, PRESIDENT, APPLIED DEVELOPMENT COMPANY: I think that the government must have the power of eminent domain to help private interests assemble properties, and to do positive developments that, in the opinions of those elected officials, are beneficial to the entire community.

TUCKER: And there are benefits. The mayor boasts that since starting the redevelopment property tax collections are up, the size of the police force has been expanded, and crime has dropped 65 percent. To longtime residents, those arguments seem pale.

ANNA DEFARIA, PROPERTY OWNER: I'll never buy a piece of property by ocean again. How much do you need? A million dollars you can't buy it for God's sakes anymore. And my husband fought for what? Freedom for liberty for everybody or the few selected people that are coming from New York to buy there?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER: Now Mrs. Defaria and her neighbors have hired an attorney and they are seeking a stay of the condemnation proceedings until November when the New Jersey State Legislature convenes. That's because, Lou, New Jersey is one of 37 states currently considering legislation, that would redefine the use of eminent domain -- Lou.

DOBBS: And they're having to do so because of what nearly every judicial authority in the country thinks is one of the most wrong headed decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Kelo decision, which gave encouragement and incentive to municipalities to do precisely what is happening in Long Branch. much to the consternation of not only many in our judicial system but, obviously, to citizens throughout the country. Thank you very much, Bill Tucker, from Long Branch, New Jersey.

New developments tonight in the mystery of a $7 million business jet that was stolen in Florida and then flown to Georgia, and was never detected in that entire flight. Kathleen Koch has the report.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Investigators say it may have been a joyride that brought the business jet from St. Augustine, Florida to a small airport near Atlanta. 22-year-old Daniel Andrew Wolcott of Beaufort, Georgia, has been charged with one felony count of theft and five of reckless conduct. Wolcott does have a commercial pilot's rated license and may have had a connection to the Georgia airport.

OFFICER K. DARREN MOLONEY, GWINNETT CO. POLICE DEPT.: I don't think he was a full-time employee, maybe a part-time employee, but he did hang out at the Brisco (ph) Airfield.

KOCH: Police say they have spoken to five people who say they were on the plane with Wolcott. Police haven't said whether the plane, owned by Pinnacle Air, was locked. Business aviation experts say such aircraft are not easy to access nor to fly.

DAN HUBBARD, NATIONAL BUSINESS AVIATION ASSOC.: First you've got to get through the hardened locked doors and compartments. Then once you get into the aircraft, you have to understand the complex process involved in starting and flying the aircraft.

KOCH: While there are federal guidelines for security at the nation's 19,000 small airports, they are voluntary. Some states have requirements like New Jersey, which mandates all unattended planes have two separate locks.

Congressman Ed Markey has introduced a bill to beef up security at all small airports.

REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: My concern is that al Qaeda could take one of these small planes, load it with biological or chemical agents and then descend upon a major American city, causing massive injuries and massive panic.

KOCH: A recent General Accountability Office study criticized the Transportation Security Administration for not conducting, quote, "an overall systematic assessment of threats to or vulnerabilities of general aviation to determine how to better prepare against terrorist threats."

And many believe an aircraft this size could be a powerful weapon since empty, it weighs nearly 12,000 pounds.

Still, the Transportation Security Administration opposes requiring tighter security at small airports saying, quote, "only the airport owner/operator with intimate knowledge can best decide security enhancements for their airport."

(END VIDEOTAPE) KOCH: And while Wolcott is charged with violating criminal law, it's unclear whether or not he broke any aviation rules.

The Federal Aviation Administration so far has been able to find no radar data on the plane nor any indication whatsoever that Wolcott communicated with air traffic controllers during his 350-mile journey -- Lou?

DOBBS: Well, if that's the case, he violated a lot of FAA rules.

Kathleen Koch, thank you very much.

KOCH: You bet.

DOBBS: Just ahead, should American schools print report cards in any language other than English? Two officials, two city officials with very different views on this troubling subject join me here next.

Is this a nation of which English is the language?

And, you could call it a case of fiction over reality. The hit television show "The West Wing" sharing accommodations with this program and showing far greater courage than the real officials they depict.

I'll be talking with the show's executive producer Lawrence O'Donnell here next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Newly released documents by the archdiocese of Los Angeles tell a troubling story of more cover-ups by the Catholic Church. Those records show sex abuse claims against 126 priests, some going back decades. In case after case, the priests were accused, then took leave and attended therapy, but most were allowed to continue in their ministry. More than 500 plaintiffs are now alleging the archdiocese did not protect them from those priests accused of sexual abuse. The archdiocese of Los Angeles today said it, quote, "humbly begs forgiveness."

Turning now to the fierce debate in this country over language, the official language of this country.

Many Americans want to make English the official language or at least encourage everyone in the country to try to learn and to speak English.

Tonight, a proposal in New York City seems to go against that movement nationwide. This would require public schools to translate report cards and other school documents into nine languages.

My guests tonight have very different views on the legislation.

Councilman Hiram Monserrate is a supporter and co-sponsor of the bill. Councilman Dennis Gallagher opposes it.

We thank you both for being here.

Let me start out with you, Councilman. Why is such a thing necessary?

HIRAM MONSERRATE (D), NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: Well, clearly, I think that in the city of New York, which is now close to 40 percent foreign-born -- close to 3 million folks in our city speak another language other than English and are limited in their proficiency in the language -- I think that it is prudent for the Department of Education in our city to incorporate those parents and to ensure that they are part of their children's education by being able to communicate to them where they might be lacking, where they need some additional help and so forth.

DOBBS: And, Councilman, why do you oppose it?

DENNIS GALLAGHER (R), NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: I oppose it on three different ways.

One, fiscally it's irresponsible. We're looking at budget deficits next year that are going to exceed $4 billion. We just gave the teachers a 15 percent raise -- well deserved, but quite frankly, how are we going to pay for it?

This bill will cost almost $20 million per year. It's a logistical nightmare to implement. And quite frankly, it takes us down the wrong direction.

We should really be encouraging people to learn English. This money is not spent in the classroom; it's spent outside the classroom.

We should teach people how to speak English and make English our official language.

DOBBS: Councilman Monserrate?

MONSERRATE: Well, clearly, the educational process is one that entails the classroom and outside the classroom. It entails parents being able to supervise their children doing their homework and to have communication with their teachers to know where their deficiencies might be or might not be.

Clearly, to have a report card sent to someone who doesn't speak English in the language that they speak so they know that their child has been absent or been late, or has other issues, is important, and I think that's a good investment for our tax dollars.

DOBBS: Let me show you both a statement from Mayor Bloomberg's office on this issue, if I could just ask you to take a look: "We are doing significant work to address the needs of our non-English speaking parents, including the creation of a translation and interpretation unit last year, the hiring of school-based parent coordinators, many of whom are bilingual. As we expressed earlier, the city council lacks the authority to pass this bill." MONSERRATE: Clearly, we don't agree with that.

DOBBS: I didn't think you would.

MONSERRATE: With all due respect to Mayor Bloomberg, on many occasions he has argued the curtailment of chartered powers in the charter of the city of New York. The reality is, is that we believe we have the authority. We are moving forward. This bill has been voted out of committee, and next month we will be voting it out of the full city council.

GALLAGHER: Well, we may have the authority, but that doesn't make it the right decision to make.

You know, great nations, no matter how ethnically diverse, have always had a common bond that unites its people socially, politically, economically, and that common bond has always been language.

And we should do everything that we can to really take that commonality of language and push it forward, not to destroy it.

DOBBS: What is the source of this?

Councilman, you are a New Yorker.

MONSERRATE: Yes, born and bred.

DOBBS: Absolutely.

This has been a melting pot.

MONSERRATE: Still is.

DOBBS: Well, it is, but it's a different melting pot. Because there was once a claim in the city that everyone came to the city, they met with common purpose, common goals and a common language.

GALLAGHER: Right.

DOBBS: And why should we -- if we're concerned about the parent involvement, why not help them learn English?

MONSERRATE: I agree with that.

In fact, that's why I'm a big proponent and supporter, much to the chagrin of my colleague, to promote additional services to teach folks how to speak English so that they can (INAUDIBLE) part of our society. But until they do, until they are proficient, they are limited in being able to involve themselves in their children's education and that's the problem.

DOBBS: But as you know, with those nine languages...

MONSERRATE: It's actually eight languages. English, obviously, we don't need to translate.

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: You don't even want to count English. Come on, let's count English, please.

(CROSSTALK)

MONSERRATE: It's English, plus eight others.

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: I'm going to give primacy here tonight to English at least.

MONSERRATE: Absolutely.

GALLAGHER: Please do.

And justifiably.

Can I tell you, this bill just way oversteps its bounds.

DOBBS: We're going to have to take off, and we appreciate you being here.

Come back. Let's continue the discussion, because there are lots of issues that this really represents and there's a metaphor for expressing.

We thank you very much, Councilman Gallagher and Councilman Monserrate. Thank you.

Coming up next here, one of the nation's most watched television shows is tackling issues that Washington so far really has just played with. No playing on "The West Wing."

The executive producer of "The West Wing," Lawrence O'Donnell is our guest here to talk about the issues his show has the courage to take on.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The hit NBC show "The West Wing" is raising issues on the show this season that are familiar to those of you watching this broadcast.

In the most recent "West Wing" episode, presidential candidate Arnold Vinick, played by Alan Alda, of course, meets with the Minutemen on the U.S./Mexican border to help energize his campaign and he talks about the need to secure our broken borders with Mexico.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, are you saying the Minutemen should get tough (INAUDIBLE) illegals? ALAN ALDA, ACTOR: We've got a 2,000-mile border here and most of it is unprotected most of the time. We can't have real homeland security if we can't secure our borders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, the Border Patrol has asked the Minutemen to stop operations. Why do you support the Minutemen?

ALDA: I understand why the Minutemen are here. I understand their frustration and I share their goals.

But I agree with the Border Patrol: We should leave law enforcement to the professionals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Also discussed on the program so far this season, CAFTA, the debate over free trade and the politics of judicial nominations.

Joining me now, the executive producer of "The West Wing," Lawrence O'Donnell.

Good to have you here.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "THE WEST WING": Thanks, Lou.

DOBBS: As you might expect, listening to Senator Vinick take on issues that so many of our elected officials stay away from, can you somehow export, if you will, that courage to Washington, D.C.?

O'DONNELL: Well, Lou, I've got to give you credit.

It's really the way you've treated the subject on your show that made me go in this direction, meaning what interests me about it is the way politicians avoid it and the way they want both sides of it. I mean, you saw the senator in that scene talk about let's be really tough on the border and he goes to do a photo-op with the Minutemen, but then when he gets asked the question from another angle, he'll start referring to them as vigilantes, the way President Bush did.

It's a subject that sends politicians scurrying in all sorts of directions, and what interests me about the way you've done it on your show is here is this kind of lone voice in a way that just keeps going after this, and I noticed that. And I think, well, now this is a really -- you know, Lou Dobbs is a popular show, there's a lot of interest out there in this subject, and yet it's not being dealt with at the elected official level the way Lou deals with it.

And that's why I tried to kind of bring those two things together in this episode.

DOBBS: Lawrence, we, on this broadcast, certainly -- we envy deeply, profoundly, the ability for you to craft the outcome to your concerns about issues. We wish occasionally that we had that ability.

Congressman Santos, a Hispanic who's going to have to deal with these issues after getting blindsided, if you will, by Senator Vinick -- is he going to respond with equal dimension and passion?

O'DONNELL: Yes, he is. He's gong to come back in episode seven, which will be a live debate episode on Sunday November 6th, our new time slot this season, 8:00 p.m. on NBC.

And he's going to be very passionate about this subject. I mean, he's going to talk about his own family roots going back south of the border and he will talk about the effectiveness of border control. He's from a border state also like the other fictional senator is. He's from Texas, and he's going to have a practical approach to it, he's going to have different approaches to it.

He's going to be arguing with the other guy of, why are you just paying attention to this now, and is it in effect because you're trying to exploit the fact you're running against the Latino candidate?

You know, neither side here is going to have the winning hand on this issue, because I think this issue is too complex actually for a politician to simply play a winning hand on, that works both on policy terms and politically.

DOBBS: The complexities certainly have all -- if anything is documented in all of this, it is the complexity.

Lawrence, you've taken on subjects that most entertainment producers would just run from. For crying out loud, free trade, unfair trade policies, CAFTA, illegal immigration -- with the depth that you're going into it.

And you're rewarded by your audience for that, aren't you?

O'DONNELL: Yes.

Listen, Lou, the business pages are where I get my best material for the policy discussions in the show.

I did one last season about China trade and about us being overwhelmed by Chinese bras, which we are.

(LAUGHTER)

O'DONNELL: Which is just kind of funny...

DOBBS: And a few other products.

O'DONNELL: Yes.

When you play it on our show, you get sort of humor out of it and you get some interesting instructional material, but it's all -- for me, it's all to set up conflict. I mean, and the way that last year it was to set up conflict with the labor's side of the Democratic Party, and here it's to set up personal conflict between these two candidates.

And I think the truer you stay to the way the issues are actually played, the better it is.

I didn't invent a single thing in this dialogue. President Bush called the Minutemen vigilantes, not me as a writer. The guest worker program that they talk about in the show, that's the kind of thing that's been advanced by President Bush and by John McCain and Ted Kennedy.

I don't even think of myself as a creative writer in these terms. I think of myself as taking the actual dynamics that are being played in the real political world and fitting them into our dramas and providing the tension with our characters.

DOBBS: Lawrence, as we say often at the end of our broadcast, my producers, writers, our staff and I when we do discuss it, you just can't make this stuff up.

O'DONNELL: That's right.

DOBBS: Lawrence O'Donnell, we thank you very much and wish you all the continued success with "The West Wing."

O'DONNELL: Thanks, Lou.

DOBBS: Still ahead here, the results of our poll and a preview of what's coming up tomorrow.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Results of our poll tonight: Seventy percent of you say the New Orleans Police Department is the most corrupt and mismanaged police department in this country.

Thanks for being with us tonight.

Please join us here tomorrow, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales meets with his Mexican counterpart about rising violence along our southern border. We'll have that special report. We hope you'll be with us.

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

Good night from New York. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.

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