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Bush on the Border; Fireside Chats on Iraq Proposed; Toxic Spill Cleanup in China Underway; Congressman Cunningham Faces Questions About Real Estate Deal;

Aired November 28, 2005 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Tonight, President Bush's speech on our nation's border security crisis, our illegal immigration crisis. The president finally acknowledging a national security issue that affects all Americans and about which there are strong, strong feelings. We'll be examining the president's words today.

And then, a stunning story of complete inaction on our nation's broken borders. Uniforms for our U.S. Border Patrol agents are still being made in Mexico more than a year after this broadcast first sounded the alarm on the issue.

Also tonight, new developments in the Able Danger controversy. Why former 9/11 Commission members continue to believe there is no basis for an Able Danger investigation. We'll be talking with one of the 9/11 Commission members and examining whether or not more needs to be known and soon.

Also tonight, a high-ranking Republican congressman, decorated Vietnam veteran pleading guilty and announcing that he will be going to prison and leaving Congress, taking almost $2.5 billion in bribes in a defense contract scandal. We'll have that story for you live from Washington.

And a special report on communist China's disgraceful track record on something call the truth. A U.S. government that has repeatedly denied that there is a problem with currency manipulation in this country, a Chinese government that repeatedly lies to its citizens, insisting the world can trust it to tell the truth on bird flu.

We begin tonight with our nation's broken borders and President Bush's long overdue call for a border security crackdown. In the past hour the president spoke in Tucson, Arizona. He claimed he's committed to solving our nation's border security emergency, an issue that is now a top concern for nearly all Americans. But the president also pushed a guest worker proposal that has not ever gained political traction and has not been called anything less than amnesty for illegal aliens.

Tonight, from Tucson, White House Correspondent Elaine Quijano with details of the president's address, Casey Wian with reaction to the speech. And from Washington, Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider reports on what the embattled White House now needs politically from this border speech. We begin our coverage tonight with Elaine Quijano -- Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And Lou, the challenge for President Bush today was to navigate the complicated intersection of immigration policy and politics.


QUIJANO (voice over): After facing harsh criticism from conservative Republicans calling for tougher measures and tougher talk on border security, President Bush tried to deliver.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to make it clear that when people violate immigration laws, they're going to be sent home, and they need to stay at home.

QUIJANO: Speaking in Tucson, Arizona, some 80 miles from the Mexican border, the president tried to make the case his administration is taking border security and enforcement seriously. Yet, Mr. Bush, a former Texas governor, also reprised his call for a temporary worker program which would allow illegal immigrants the chance to obtain temporary visas and remain in the U.S.

That proposal first introduced by President Bush nearly two years ago has enraged conservatives who see it as amnesty.

BUSH: I oppose amnesty. Rewarding those who have broken the law would encourage others to break the law and keep pressure on our border.


QUIJANO: But big business which supports the temporary worker program forms another key component of President Bush's base. In addition, some say getting too tough on the issue risks alienating Hispanics and swing voters which are crucial to the Republican Party.

And all of this, Lou, taking place against the backdrop of the midterm congressional elections next year -- Lou.

DOBBS: Against the backdrop of those elections, also against the backdrop of a U.S. Air Force base, U.S. Border Patrol and Customs Enforcement agents. The president, again, speaking to a highly selected crowd, was he not, Elaine?

QUIJANO: That's exactly right. This is all about sending the message that President Bush is strong and serious about securing the nation's borders. But at the same time, of course, still sticking to his message that he believes any kind of legislation passed by Congress needs to include a provision for a temporary worker program as well.

But President Bush clearly trying to placate those people who have come out strongly against his temporary worker program, acknowledging that more needs to be done to secure the nation's borders -- Lou.

DOBBS: He referred to the Arizona delegation more than once during those remarks, Elaine, as you know. Interestingly enough, Congressman Hayworth, Senator Kyl have put forward legislation that is very strong on first establishing border security and eliminating the idea of a guest worker program, which in poll after poll is precisely what the Americans who are being surveyed are saying they want.

Why is the president seemingly deaf on that issue?

QUIJANO: Well, he has been strong about a temporary worker program, or about the idea that there is a need that is being fulfilled by undocumented workers in this country, something that even before he became president that he felt strongly on. And of course, he refers to his experience as Texas governor to say that he understands some of the challenges that they are facing because of these undocumented workers.

At the same time, he feels philosophically they are, in fact, fulfilling a need. And he feels it's a compassionate program to include the temporary worker provision -- Lou.

DOBBS: One that most on Capitol Hill say is dead on arrival. Elaine Quijano from Tucson. Thank you very much.

One of the president's comments today is interesting in his call for border security, saying better interior enforcement begins with better work site enforcement, referring to the employers of illegal aliens, which is -- of course a crime in itself. "American businesses," the president said, "have an obligation to abide by the law, and our government has the responsibility to help them do so."

The president then did not refer to the matter again and made no recommendations for enforcement whatsoever.

Well, most of the country has been awaiting the president's decision to finally take a comprehensive approach to border security and what is nothing less than a border emergency. But questions remain tonight about the commitment of this president to fix our broken borders and about how much new ground has been broken in the president's address today.

Casey Wian has the report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Bush arrived at the scene of the crime, actually the scene of more than a million crimes this year. That's the number of illegal aliens who snuck across the border in Arizona.

In recent weeks, the president has at least publicly made border security a priority. It's clearly an effort to repair his immigration policies which have so far been a colossal failure.

BUSH: Illegal immigration is a serious challenge, and our responsibility is clear. We are going to protect the border.

WIAN: Arizona Senator Jon Kyl is cosponsor of an immigration reform bill that emphasizes tough border security.

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: Combined with the assets that we are now appropriating to try to gain control of the border, and the reforms that are in bills like the one that Senator Cornyn and I introduced, I think we can succeed both in securing the border and enforcing the law, working a temporary worker program within the rule of law, and not providing amnesty. It's possible if we have the will to do it.

WIAN: Just last week, the Department of Homeland Security said it would end its policy of catching then releasing most illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico. But even that has a loophole because it only applies to those caught within 100 miles of the border.

Here in Arizona, where voters last year overwhelmingly approved a proposition denying state welfare benefits to illegal aliens, many are skeptical of the president's continued push for a guest worker program. Randy Graf is one of the founders of Proposition 200 and is running for Congress.

RANDY GRAF (R), ARIZONA CONG. CANDIDATE: Border security has to be front and center. I mean, you know, we've got temporary worker visas on the books today. The American public is speaking up, and we cannot tie a guest worker bill into any type of an amnesty proposal.

That's been tried in the past it. It only encourages more illegal immigration. I think that's been proven.

WIAN: Shortly after Bush proposed his guest worker program in January of 2004, the Border Patrol reported illegal alien crossings doubled in Arizona.


WIAN: Now, this time, President Bush offered no new proposals to solve the nation's illegal immigration crisis. The only thing different was his tone. He emphasized, as you mentioned, Lou, border security for a change -- Lou.

DOBBS: He also suggested that illegal aliens -- he sort of transferred the discussion, Casey, as you noticed, I'm sure, in his remarks. He then transferred it to immigrants at large, and even made the insistence, uttered the suggestion that all immigrants should learn English.

It was a remarkable, it seems to me, at least, a remarkable performance that lacked straightforwardness, directness and specificity.

WIAN: It seems as if he was trying to repackage the issue rather than getting to the root of the problem -- Lou.

DOBBS: Yes. Thank you very much. Casey Wian from Tucson, Arizona.

We'll be hear hearing from Casey Wian as he travels with the president. He'll be in El Paso, Texas, tomorrow. Thank you very much, Casey.

Well, we invited Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to join us on this broadcast tonight to discuss the president's border proposals and immigration proposals. Secretary Chertoff's office didn't respond to our request. Our invitation, I assure you, remains open, as always, to Secretary Chertoff.

President Bush's shift in strategy on broken security, broken border security, illegal immigration, comes at a time when his strategy on Iraq and other national security issues are under severe criticism. After coming home empty-handed from his week-long trip to Asia, in particular, to China, the president hopes border issues in this country will resonate not only with his conservative base but with all Americans, all voters.

So far, it appears to be a very tough political sell, at least the way the White House strategy is playing out.

Bill Schneider reports.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): On the immigration issue, President Bush has to pull off a political balancing act worthy of the flying Wallendas. Can he do it? On the one hand, the president has always made Hispanic outreach a priority.


SCHNEIDER: On the other hand, conservatives are in open revolt against President Bush's call for a guest worker program, which they regard as amnesty for lawbreakers. A president who's in political trouble can't afford to alienate his base. They're all he's got.

How far apart are Hispanics and conservatives? In June, the Gallup poll asked whether the U.S. should make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens. Seventy percent of Hispanics said yes. Eighty percent of conservatives said no. Where was the American public as a whole? Closer to the conservative position. Seventy percent, no.

FRANK SHARRY, NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM: The big question, the elephant in the middle of the room, is the 11 million here illegally.

SCHNEIDER: By nearly two to one, the public opposes a guest worker program that would allow illegal immigrants to apply for work permits. The only way President Bush can sell his guest worker program is to balance it with more effective enforcement.

SHARRY: Tough on the border, tough on employers, legal channels for the future and a solution for the 11 million. How do you put that together?

SCHNEIDER: Because on the third hand -- see, we told you this was a complicated balancing act -- President Bush has to worry about keeping his party behind him.

As of this month, nearly two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the president's handling of immigration. It's the only issue on which most Republicans oppose their president.


SCHNEIDER: It's also the only issue on which Republicans and Democrats agree. They don't like President Bush's policies, and they don't want to make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens. Lou, bipartisanship at last.

DOBBS: Bipartisanship, and uncomfortably so for the president.


DOBBS: And it's interesting to hear the way this issue is being framed by the politicians in both parties. Trying to describe border security, which is, after all, a critically important national security issue, and the crisis we face in illegal immigration as being a conservative issue for the president to deal with, when in point of fact, as you know, because you read these polls more closely and more often than anyone in this network, it is everyone in this country saying we have got to deal with border security, we've got to deal with a rampant illegal alien crisis.

SCHNEIDER: It's a populist issue by the precise definition of the word. It's broadly supported by the American people of all political persuasions.

DOBBS: And if that -- let me turn to a couple of other issues if I may, Bill Schneider. And that is, first, what is the president doing at this Air Force base again? Again, it looks like the president is not appearing anywhere except with a captive audience in front of him.

SCHNEIDER: Well, the rule in the White House is that the president appears before audiences that are either screened or invited by the White House. That has been the case.

We actually checked. The last time we know of when the president appeared before an audience that wasn't screened or invited was during the debates last year during the presidential campaign. That audience was screened, but it was screened by the Gallup organization to be an audience of undecided voters.

DOBBS: It is remarkable. And after a while it becomes to be somewhat wearing in terms of perception, does it not?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, it looks like the president doesn't go out and mix up with the American people. A lot of presidents draw strength from doing that. They go out, they speak to the people.

A fireside chat is not exactly that idea. But, of course, it's risky for presidents to do that, not only because of the security situation, but because they may meet with protesters, they may meet with a lot of complaints, particularly for a president whose job ratings are as low as this president's.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider, when is the last president that we've seen who could appear before an audience, a rope line, if you will, of just regular Americans, you know, regular folks who have not been screened by the White House for political persuasion?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I recall some rope lines with Bill Clinton, but then the most -- the most -- the biggest memory I have of that was Monica Lewinsky.

DOBBS: I was afraid you were going to go there, Bill.

SCHNEIDER: But I'm not sure that was public or screened, but nevertheless, she was there. She was an admirer, shall we say.

DOBBS: I think we've said enough. Bill Schneider, thank you very much.


DOBBS: We'd like to know what you think. Do you believe President Bush today articulated a plan to secure this nation's borders and to deal substantively with the issue of illegal immigration, yes or no? Please cast your vote at We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.

Still ahead, an eight-term Republican congressman has resigned. He's on his way to prison. We're live in Washington with the story.

And to tell the truth, Chinese-style. If communist Chinese leaders can't stop lying to their own citizens, don't expect them, some say, to tell the truth to any of the rest of us. We'll have a special report.

And why new concerns over these Border Patrol uniforms aren't so new, and why the failure to address those concerns is putting Americans at risk.

Those stories coming right up.


DOBBS: Tonight, the world's fastest-growing military and economic power appears to have chronic and serious issues with the truth. When disaster strikes, time and again Chinese government officials go into cover-up mode. It the is a time-tested communist Chinese strategy, one Chinese officials once again turn to after the toxic spill in the Songhua River.

Christine Romans has the report.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On this river, a deadly toxic brew of benzene traveled for 10 days. Ten days down the Songhua River before Chinese authorities finally told the truth that a chemical explosion November 13 had spewed 100 tons of cancer-causing benzene into the water. A cover-up being compared with the SARS epidemic of 2003, an outbreak China underplayed that eventually spread to 30 countries and killed 800.

LUCIE MORILLON, REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS: There were scores of people dying worldwide. Why the Chinese authorities were covering up the reality? And that's exactly what's going on here with Harbin.

ROMANS: In this disaster, more than a week after the blast, regional officials in Harbin, in northeast China, told residents it was routine maintenance that would shut down water for almost half the city, the city of nine million. The government's lies have brought great skepticism to northeastern China.

LIU HO JUN, RESIDENT, HARBIN, CHINA (through translator): Newspapers said the water would come on last night at 11:00 p.m., but we still have no water supply and we don't know when it is going to come on.

ROMANS: Meanwhile, China's disaster and cover-up has become Russia's problem. The benzene slick heads here to Russia's Amur River next.

OLEG MITVOL, DEP. HEAD OF FED. ENVIRONMENTAL SVC. (through translator): We can conclude that water contaminated with benzene could start coming in two days.

ROMANS: That China distorts the truth is no secret. More than a million people a year die in industrial accidents in China, like this mine explosion this past weekend. But often, they're reported well after the fact.


ROMANS: In the wake of this horrible benzene spill, high-ranking officials have promised an investigation of a cover-up they say is at the regional level. But there is no doubt whether the lies and the cover-up come at the local level, the regional level, or from Beijing. It raises serious concerns about whether China is up to international standards for disclosure -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, up to international standards for a host of important issues. Certainly the truth would be critical among those, particularly in the light of what is now understood to be a mutating H5N1 avian flu virus.

But while China is having some troubles with the truth, they're not the only government doing so. Witness today's announcement by the Treasury Department, Christine Romans.

ROMANS: Oh, and that would be, of course, the currency manipulation. China not a currency manipulator, according to John Snow and his colleagues at the Treasury Department.

DOBBS: Candor is critically important. We have to keep our eye on it. That's our job here. And we thank you for keeping your eye on China.

Christine Romans, thank you.

Also ahead tonight, one member of Congress admits he took millions of dollars in bribes from a defense contractor. He's out of Congress and on his way to prison. A tearful apology and that resignation next.

And a former 9/11 commissioner says calls for an Able Danger investigation are nonsense. Is it really? I'll discuss that with Tim Roemer here next.

And hundreds of children rescued from sweatshops where they were paid 35 cents a week. Find out where in one of those highly-competitive economies that are just simply outdoing America's business community. Find out where next.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: California Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham today pleaded guilty to multiple charges of conspiracy and tax evasion. Cunningham was a revered Navy fighter pilot who shot down five MiGs in Vietnam. He was an ace, and inspired the movie, in fact, "Top Gun."

Today he admitted that he broke the law.

Ed Henry reports from Capitol Hill.

Ed, this is a sad, tragic story.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A real dramatic fall, Lou. As you mentioned, beside being a war hero, also somebody not just a run-of-the-mill congressman. Someone in a powerful post.

He had his hands on the purse strings of the nation's defense budget. A senior member of the Appropriations Committee. But he admitted today that he violated that trust and disgraced his office.


HENRY (voice-over): Randy "Duke" Cunningham pled guilty to accepting bribes and evading taxes and then dramatically announced his resignation from Congress.

REP. RANDY "DUKE" CUNNINGHAM (R), CALIFORNIA: I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions. Most importantly, the trust of my friends and family.

HENRY: Two years ago, the California Republican sold this house in San Diego for the inflated price of $1.6 million to Mitchell Wade, president of a small defense firm. Wade then sold the house for a loss of $700,000, as payback for the congressman backing his bid for millions in military contracts.

CAROL LAM, U.S. ATTORNEY: It's an egregious pattern of bribes that included a defense contractor paying hundreds of thousands dollars more for Mr. Cunningham's home than its true value warranted. Mr. Cunningham asking the defense contractor who purchased his home to then pay the capital gains tax on that home, which the contractor did.

HENRY: Federal prosecutors said the congressman also got a yacht, a Rolls Royce, jewelry and antique furniture. Cunningham used the proceeds from the first house to buy this sprawling $2.5 million mansion, a serious upgrade for a congressman making about $160,000 a year. He also arranged for a second contractor to give him half a million dollars to pay off the new home.

CUNNINGHAM: In my life, I have had great joy, and great sorrow. And now I know great shame. I learned in Vietnam that the true measure of a man is how he responds to adversity. I can't undo what I've done. But I can atone.


HENRY: He will likely do that atonement behind bars. He now faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $350,000.

Democrats already trying to link this case to the indictments of Tom DeLay, Scooter Libby, the investigation of Bill Frist. They're charging there's a culture of corruption in the Republican Congress. Republicans insist the Cunningham case in particular is an isolated case, but you can bet this is going to be a primary issue in next year's midterm election -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, it's a horrible story, and almost inexplicable, except by greed. And you would not expect a man with his distinguished record to fall prey to such a base instinct.

The defense contractors involved in this not named in the indictments, who are they? And what in the world is going to happen to them?

HENRY: Well, Mitchell Wade does run a very small defense firm. This is not Lockheed Martin or a giant firm. It's a small company based here in Virginia, in the Washington, D.C., area.

He -- Mitchell Wade and others, three others, I believe, are named as coconspirators in this case. The will be facing charges as well, could be facing jail time. So in terms of one of the felonies for Cunningham, it was basically a conspiracy count, and that's where there are four coconspirators. So the defense contractors are not going to get off the hook either -- Lou.

DOBBS: Another defense contractor mentioned as well. What do we know about them?

HENRY: Very little details in terms of exactly who they are. That's something we're still probing now. The second defense contractor, one of them, basically helped pay off the mortgage on the second home of about $2.5 million.

But again, very -- these were small contractors. We're still trying to get details on them. But Cunningham, obviously somebody, as you mentioned, who had been considered a hero.

DOBBS: Well, Ed, let's shed light on the issue, particularly of those contractors. And I guess you could also say light them up. And I hope you will be here to light them up soon.

HENRY: OK, partner.

DOBBS: Thank you very much.

Congressman Cunningham will not be the only former member of Congress in prison if he is sentenced to serve time, of course. Former Democratic congressman James Traficant of Ohio, he's now serving eight years in prison for charges, including take bribes, filing false tax returns and racketeering. Traficant is scheduled to be released in 2009.

It has been 10 days since Congressman Curt Weldon sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld demanding an investigation of Able Danger and a hearing in Congress. Weldon sent that letter Friday, November 18. And as of this broadcast, we understand that the defense secretary has not responded.

Almost 250 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed that letter, along with Congressman Weldon. They are demanding that members of the Able Danger Army intelligence unit be allowed to testify about what they knew and what transpired in the year before 9/11, and to do so before Congress.

Able Danger officials claim to have identified 9/11 mastermind Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 radical Islamist terrorists more than a year before that attack. They say they were not allowed to share that information with the FBI. The FBI, of course, might have been able to do something to prevent 9/11.

You can read Congressman Weldon's letter to the defense secretary on our Web site, My next guest says there is no documentary evidence that Able Danger ever identified Mohammad Atta.

Tim Roemer is a former member of the 9/11 commission. He and other commissioners blasting Congressman Weldon and former FBI director Louis Freeh for accusations that the commission failed to investigate Able Danger. He joins us now from Washington. Good to have you here.

TIM ROEMER, FORMER 9/11 COMMISSIONER: Lou, always good to see.

DOBBS: Why do you think Louis Freeh, the former director of the FBI, would be so critical of the commission and so insistent that we need to know more about Able Danger, if there's nothing do it?

ROEMER: Well first of all, I think Director Freeh was a very good prosecutor, an excellent agent in the FBI before he was director. He knows that you need cold facts and hard evidence in those kinds of jobs.

Similarly, Lou, the 9/11 commission, we did public hearings, we wanted accountability, we wanted facts in evidence. We couldn't put a chapter in our book saying that people thought they saw a chart without having the evidence of that chart. So we need substantiation that there was a chart. This is about the evidence involved and factually presenting a chart that shows that Atta and the other terrorists were investigated or identified ahead of time. And finally, I'd say, let's get to the bottom of it, Lou.

We do need to make sure that Congress is doing its job of investigative oversight. The Senate Intelligence Committee has done a look at this Able Danger. I encourage to you have the chairman and vice chairman on your show and have them give you your take on Able Danger, too. Let's get to the bottom of the issue.

DOBBS: Certainly, I would like nothing better, but like you say, cold, hard facts are what I want, and what this audience wants, and we're not going to get it, frankly, from about third parties and what they decided to do or not to do, what they decided to look into and what not to.

The cold hard facts can only come, as I'm sure you would agree, Tim, by the secretary of defense, unleashing all of the members of Able Danger to state straightforwardly before our elected representatives in Congress, what they knew, when they knew it, and to demonstrate hard empirical evidence that they knew it. And were, as the allegation goes, blocked from sharing that information. Would you not agree?

ROEMER: Well first of all, I'd say that gag orders should be issued by courts, not by the Defense Department on people that may or may not know something about the factual existence of a chart that identified hijackers a year before 9/11.

So I agree that one, Congress should continue to look at this. Two, the Senate Intelligence Committee should make public their findings, I think they're done.

And three, Secretary Rumsfeld should respond and Congress should -- they can compel people to testify before Congress. They can tell Mr. Rumsfeld to come and tell us everything he knows about this issue.

DOBBS: Let me ask you two questions. Congressman Weldon as you know in that letter to former members of the commission on August 10th, he asked two questions. One, who decided not to pass the Able Danger information onto the FBI? And two, why did the 9/11 commission staff not pass that information onto the commissioners? Can you answer either of those questions?

ROEMER: I think I can answer both of them for you.

DOBBS: Good.

ROEMER: One, when the evidence came to us from Mr. Philpot, on I think it was on July 12th, 2004, two weeks before we issued our report, four years after 9/11. Before that name or recollection of the chart was mentioned to somebody on the commission, Lou. That was two weeks before we went to print.

DOBBS: I understand. ROEMER: And there was no evidence that this person had the chart. They didn't have the chart with them, they only recollected that they thought they saw the name. That's not evidence in the facts that you and I both want to see.

DOBBS: And as to why the commission staff didn't pass it onto the commissioners?

ROEMER: Because there was not the evidence that a chart was there. There were other agencies, Lou, like the CIA and DIA that were doing data mining, something similar to what Able Danger was doing.

DOBBS: So you would agree, then, with Congressman Weldon, that it's time to unleash whatever is known about Able Danger and the principal part -- as you referred to Mr. Philpot, Captain Philpot -- and his colleagues in Able Danger and let him speak to the American people, through at least a hearing in the U.S. Congress?

ROEMER: I would say this. As a private citizen, I'm no longer officially a part of the 9/11 commission, Lou. I think that the Congress needs to do its investigative oversight. We say on the 9/11 commission, oversight in Congress is dysfunctional and broken, they can have Mr. Rumsfeld come before them. They can have Steve Hadley, the national security adviser, who supposedly got a copy of this.

DOBBS: I think they just want to talk to the folks that made up Able Danger?

ROEMER: They could talk to any or all of those folks. I think they need to talk to top-level government people, they need to talk to the good and capable people at Able Danger.

They also, Lou, could talk to people at DIA and CIA who were also doing data mining, that is a very valuable tool in trying to fight terrorism.

DOBBS: Tim Roemer, as always, good to have you here.

ROEMER: Great to be with you, Lou. Thank you.

DOBBS: Thank you. We'll have much more on Able Danger and this controversy throughout the week, as we focus on the issue. Congressman Curt Weldon will be our guest tomorrow night.

Former FBI director Louis Freeh will join us as our guest here Wednesday. And our reporting will continue throughout the week.

Taking a look now at some of your thoughts. Many of you writing in about former FEMA Director Michael Brown's new venture.

Bill in Wisconsin said: Dear Mr. Dobbs. Ex-FEMA head Mike Brown starting an emergency preparedness consulting firm is like ex- President Bill Clinton starting a Washington, D.C., intern program.

Charlie in Maryland wrote to say: Lou, our elected officials in Washington have short memories, so let's remind them again. We put you there to represent us, not the illegal aliens.

And Dan in California: Dear Mr. Dobbs. I don't regret my vote for George W., but I do regret that he's trying to sell us out to Mexico. Why can't he see that his Guest Worker Program (amnesty) is extremely unpopular with most of the country? If he'd ever actually spend some time out here on the left coast, he'd see our closed emergency rooms, crowded bilingual schools, illegals hanging out on every corner, and very unhappy citizens. He needs to wake up, get out of bed with Vente Fox, and fix our borders.

Brandon in North Carolina: Stop driving my grocery prices up. I want cheap imports. Wal-Mart gives the consumer what they want and that is more money in their wallet. Every American is a consumer, so represent every American's interest and support free trade. I'm not alone, we are all consumers. And we all benefit from Wal-Mart's pricing strategy.

Sorry, but I can't quite change my position.

B. Jean in Massachusetts: Please keep driving into subject that politicians and big businesses want to bury.

I suppose that includes Wal-Mart and free trade as well. Thank you for sharing your voices and thank you for sending in your thoughts. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of our newsletter and my book, "Exporting America." You have to sign up for that newsletter on our Web site. And we thank you,

We reported here, by the way, more than a year ago, that the U.S. border patrol uniforms were made in, of all place, Mexico. That's right. U.S. border patrol uniforms being manufactured in Mexico. Tonight, new evidence that nothing is being done to fix this dangerous national security problem, and simple outrage. Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the U.S. border patrol, the front line defenders of our national territory, but their uniforms are made in Mexico. Border agent T.J. Bonner says:it's more than an issue of off shoring.

T.J. BONNER, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: It causes us great concern from a security and officer safety, and public safety standpoint. Someone could come across border masquerading as a border patrol agent. We rely on the identification patches on there to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys.

SYLVESTER: The Department of Homeland Security awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to national based V.F. Solutions. That company, in turned, subcontracts the work out to Mexico.

The terms of the contract allow the work to be done in Mexico as a cost-saving measure.

DOBBS: CNN has learned that the Department of Homeland Security is exporting work to a cheap foreign labor market.

SYLVESTER: We first told but this story June of 2004. A year and a half later, the uniforms are still being made in Mexico, despite the security risks.

STEVEN CAMAROTA, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: It's a terrible idea, and I think that anyone with common sense can realize that it's very difficult to maintain control of an operation when you put it overseas like that. So, I think that's really unwise.

SYLVESTER: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection says it was seeking the best value for the government, and has established security procedures that are strictly enforced during manufacturing.

But if the border patrol uniforms can be made in Mexico, some agents joke, what's next? Outsourcing border patrol jobs?


(on camera): Congressman Rick Renzi introduced a bill last year that would have required all border patrol agents uniforms being made in the U.S.A. The legislation stalled in the House, but he will reintroduce the legislation and will try to attach it to the comprehensive immigration bill now under consideration in Congress-- Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, I cannot tell you how many times as we report on this issue, and the more we dig into the issue of illegal immigration or border security crisis, you just throw your hands up, and ask what in the world are these idiots thinking?

SYLVESTER: I have to tell you, Lou, at this point I don't think anything surprises us, and this is a perfect example of that.

DOBBS: We'll leave it there.

Lisa Sylvester, thank you very much.

A reminder now to vote in our poll. Do you believe President Bush toady articulated a plan to secure our nation's borders and to deal substantively with the issue of illegal immigration? Yes or no. Cast your vote at

We'll have the results coming up in just a matter of moments.

Still ahead here, new evidence that the deadly bird flu virus is mutating into a dangerous new form. I'll be talking with two of the world's leads authorities on bird flu.

And desperate children, one of the world's so-called most competitive new markets exploiting them. We'll have that story next.


DOBBS: A new warning about the deadly bird flu. China says the mysterious disease is mutating, something health officials worldwide have warned could cause a pandemic.

The bird flu has now killed 68 people in five Asian countries. It has killed birds in 18 countries.

I am joined now by two of the leading authorities on this disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci Head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases from Washington. Dr. Donald Low, microbiologist and chief at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital, one of the world's leading microbiologists, joining us tonight from Toronto.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu seen in human cases in China has now apparently mutated from those in Vietnam.

First, Dr. Fauci, in your view, does this reflect some important shift and greater danger as a result of the avian flu mutation?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASE: No, it doesn't, Lou, in fact this is expected. Influenza viruses evolve and mutate all the time. It just happens that's the nature of the influenza, and certainly we're seeing that with H5N1.

It doesn't change anything with regard to the functionality of the virus from what we can observe so that you can have many, many mutations so long as there isn't a dramatic shift in what the virus can or cannot do.

So this is not unexpected, and it doesn't tell us that this virus is any different than what we were seeing when there were people in Vietnam, who were getting infected from the chickens just like we're seeing now in China. People are getting infected from the chickens.

The virus evolves, but functionally appears to be the same. Which does not necessarily mean that you can just say OK don't worry about it, you have to continually monitor those changes in case they do turn into a functional change.

DOBBS: Dr. Low, this mutation, you all have obviously been expecting it, fearing it, but nonetheless expecting it.

Where do you think we stand right now based on what we know from China, Vietnam and the Asian countries in which people have died, about the threat. Is there greater urgency now as a result of what we're watching?

DR. DONALD LOW, MICROBIOLOGIST IN CHIEF: Well, I think what it does, is it reminds us how important it is to try to reduce a transmission of this virus from birds into humans because every time that happens it gives the virus another chance to adapt, another chance to change.

And one of these days it's going to get it right. It is going to get it so it will be not only to cause disease in humans, but to transmit from human to human.

And that's what the biggest concern here is, is the fact, what we're watching is evolution, real time evolution. We're seeing a virus since it's first introduced in 1997 into humans back in Hong Kong has continued to undergo adaptation, evolution, learning how to make itself more infectious.

DOBBS: Let me ask both of you, gentlemen, if I may, and starting again with you Dr. Fauci.

The Chinese Communist Government has not shown a great openness on a host of issues as we reported here tonight.

Are both of you confident that we're learning everything that we should, worldwide, about what is happening in China, what is happening to Chinese citizens as well as what the government there is doing?

FAUCI: Well, I'm pleased that they are, in fact, talking about these new cases and making them known to the general public, but just from experience in the past, Lou, I have skepticism, and I have to reserve judgment.

I'm not thoroughly convinced that we're hearing everything that is going on there. That doesn't mean that they're not being forthwith, but just from the historical perspective from what we've seen, I have a degree of skepticism.

But I encourage them to continue to do what they've been doing, namely, we now know that there are these cases, and they're talking about them.

DOBBS: Dr. Low, your thoughts?

LOW: yes, I mean, you've got to realize, China has only reported three cases to us of transmission. Yet they've culled more than 20 million chickens.

When you look at a country like Vietnam, a much smaller country, about 20, 25 million people, they've reported over 60 cases. And so you have to really have skepticism with regards to the reporting.

And as Dr. Fauci said, you really have to encourage them to come forward because this information is really critical.

DOBBS: Are there--first, are there any, but if there are any, sufficient numbers of world health officials in China to monitor what is transpiring?

FAUCI: I think we can do better. I think there needs to be more transparency. It's not only monitoring Lou. It's getting the samples and letting other people give a confirmation of an examination of it.

Because if you're looking at the evolution of the virus, you don't want to keep something just within your own framework. You've got to share it with the WHO and with investigators everywhere.

DOBBS: Dr. Fauci, Dr. Donald Low from Toronto, we thank you gentlemen. We appreciate you being here as always.

LOW: Good to be here. FAUCI: Thank you.

DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour here, "The Situation Room," and Wolf Blitzer--Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.

We've got lots of stuff going on, including Saddam Hussein. He's lashing out in court. Is his trial spinning out of control? We'll take you there.

Plus, a crooked Congressman breaks down in tears. He inspired the movie "Top Gun." We'll find out why he's now facing up to ten years in prison?

Also three months since Hurricane Katrina, devastated New Orleans, find out how far the city's come since then.

Our Anderson Cooper is live on the scene.

And the invasion of bed bugs. Find out why these creepy crawlies may be making their way back at the hotels and apartment buildings near you.

All that plus Lou Dobbs himself coming up right at the top of the hour-Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Wolf. Look forward to it.

Tonight, a painful side effect from our national battle with obesity. Researchers they people all over the world are becoming so big in their back sides that drug injections are missing their mark.

Patients, because of the size of the buttock muscles and all this is between them and the needle that they're trying to inject, they're not receiving the correct drug doses. The solution is something that no one will like very much. Those researchers suggest we need longer needles for those offering those rear side injections.

Still ahead here, disturbing images and stories from children forced to work in sweatshops. Exploited for the sake of cheap foreign labor in an expanding world market. Is it global competitiveness that we hear so much about to employ seven-year-olds?

We'll have the story for you.


DOBBS: I can't tell you how many times I've heard COs, economists and others suggest that the United States is becoming less competitive. In point of fact, shipping jobs, outsourcing jobs to cheap overseas labor markets because the American worker isn't competitive enough, isn't productive enough, is overpaid.

Well, there are untold millions of children being exploited in what is supposed to be one of the world's so-called most competitive new markets. Satinder Bindra reports now from New Delhi, India.


SATINDER BINDRA; SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's breakfast time, and with it, at last, some care and affection for more than 450 children who need it so desperately. All were rescued by city officials from sweatshops in New Delhi where they toiled in abysmal conditions.

From now on, I won't work in the embroidery trade again, says Abdul Qadeer. My mom and dad want me to return home and study.

For now he's in a shelter run by an NGO, and this is probably the best care he'll ever get. Several months ago seven-year-old Abdul left his poverty stricken village in Eastern India to learn how to make dresses. As a trainee, he says, he was paid about 35 cents a week, and had to buy his own needles.

Once a week, Abdul says he was allowed to leave work, he was entitled to one set of clothes a year.

(on camera): Many of these children are mentally and emotionally exhausted. They say they were given just two meals and forced to work 12 to 18 hours a day. They also say they were frequently beaten up by their employers.

When I was homesick and cried, he says, my bosses kicked, punched and beat me with slippers, leaving me delirious for the rest of the day.

Indian officials say they will prosecute all those who hire these children. In reality, very few prosecutions work their way through the courts. We went to the district where the children were recovered. But business owners denied hiring them.

The owner of this factory says charging employers won't solve anything, he says the government has to get to the root of the problem. India's widespread poverty.

If these children don't work, he says, they'll become vagabonds and there will be also no money to run their homes. They'll be forced to beg.

The international labor organization estimates 12 million Indian children work in sweatshops. Indian officials recognize the magnitude of the problem and promise all these children will be home in weeks. But Abdul Qadeer and his friends say poverty may soon force their own parents to send them back to the same sweatshops where they lost their childhoods. Satinder Bindra, CNN, New Delhi.


DOBBS: A terrible story, and one that we'll be following, of course, throughout.

Still ahead here, we'll tell you how you voted in our poll tonight, and we'll have a preview of what's coming up tomorrow. Rather astounding poll results on our question today dealing with the president's remarks on border security, national security and what is an illegal immigration crisis. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Now the results of our poll tonight: 98 percent of you responded saying President Bush,in your opinion, did not articulate a plan to secure our nation's borders and to deal substantively with the issue of illegal immigration. We thank you for being with us tonight. More on the able danger controversy. Congressman Kurt Weldon joins us, and among our guests, Senator Jon Kyl, his reaction to the president's speech on our broken borders. We hope you'll be with us. For all of us here, thanks for joining us. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer begins right now.


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