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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Judge Rules Against Intelligent Design; NSA Spying On American Citizens Is Causing An Uproar; Illegal Alien Gang Controversy; Pentagon Monitoring Terrorist Suspects Inside United States With New Intelligence Unit; NYC Transit Strike Causes Commuters To Get Creative; Crews Pull Seaplane Wreckage; Oil-For-Food Money Accounted For
Aired December 20, 2005 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody.
Tonight, a landmark ruling in the battle over religion and science in our schools: the debate over separation of church and state.
Plus, the courts intervene in New York City's first transit workers' strike in a quarter century.
And new information about the plane crash off of Miami Beach. We'll go live to Miami.
We begin tonight with a stunning setback for supporters of intelligent design. It's a showdown over religion and science in our public schools.
A federal judge in Pennsylvania today ruled that intelligent design cannot be taught in public schools in Dover. Intelligent design theory holds that some kind of supernatural being, not evolution, helped create life on Earth.
Bill Tucker reports from outside the courthouse in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania -- Bill.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kitty, the opinion is 139 pages long. But it has a conclusion that you don't have to be a lawyer to understand.
TUCKER (voice over): Using direct, plain language, Judge Jones ruled that the teaching of intelligent design violates the separation of church and state. In making this decision, the judge wrote, "We have addressed the similar question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not. And moreover, that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist and thus religion antecedents."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The decision is plain and direct because after six weeks of trial, it couldn't have been more clear that intelligent design is really just a marketing slogan for a religious proposition. TUCKER: The judge even stating in his decision that members of the school board lied in court to hide their reasons for instituting their policy of teaching intelligent design. Scientists, educators and advocates of separation of church and state embraced the decision.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This decision is a major victory for science education, and a major victory for science.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The opinion reminds them and all of us that religion is an intensely personal decision for parents and for their children.
TUCKER: The parents who sued to stop the teaching of intelligent design are grateful to the victory.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Judge Jones. You listened to us as parents, you listened to us as plaintiffs, and you understood our roles as parents.
TUCKER: As great as the joy on one side was, was the stinging of defeat on the other.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the court has done is made Darwin's theory of evolution dogma, an orthodoxy that cannot be questioned by anyone in the public school system. This is censorship. This is not education. It's indoctrination.
TUCKER: Now, the Dover school board that was responsible for this policy on intelligent design was voted out of office last month. This opinion is expected to stand without appeal, Kitty. So, as far as Pennsylvania goes, the question of intelligent design is settled. At least for now -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Thanks very much. Bill Tucker. Thanks, Bill.
Well, joining me for more on the impact of this judge's decision is our faith and values correspondent, Delia Gallagher.
And Delia, you know, I was really struck by the language in the judgment, how strong it is. It's really a passionate topic.
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN FAITH AND VALUES CORRESPONDENT: This was amazing. Yes, this was very interesting.
I mean, it is 140 pages, so it takes a while to get through it. But even just reading the conclusion, this judge was very convinced throughout the six-week trial that the intelligent design proponents were trying to get creationism, religion, into the science classroom. He makes no bones about it.
At a certain point he even says they told outright lies about their testimony. He also says that the decision of the school board in Dover was one of breathtaking inanity. I mean, this is a no holds barred verdict. Very interesting from the judge. PILGRIM: He also indicated that he thought it was a waste of time and resources to actually discuss this, and yet the entire country is up in arms about this topic.
GALLAGHER: Yes. And he spent quite a lot of time in his trial discussing it.
I mean, it's something that's very interesting about this trial as compared to others. It's the first time that intelligent design is on trial. And intelligent design, you know, is one of those things that everybody is trying to understand, what exactly do they mean? And the proponents are saying, well, it's not really religion, we're not really saying it's god.
So he spent quite a lot of time talking to them and trying to figure out what is intelligent design? And that's what he comes to these conclusions about. So he's not just voting on constitutionality, but he's also saying intelligent design is not science. And that is what is going cause a lot more people to get in on this discussion.
PILGRIM: Well, the fact of a judge ruling on whether intelligent design is science or not, the debate is whether that's appropriate or not. Can you have it both ways?
GALLAGHER: Well, absolutely. I think that's a perfect point, that, you know, this is not an either/or situation sometimes. And in his ruling he also says that -- he says at some point that, you know, the plaintiffs even said that science does not have to conflict -- or that evolution doesn't deny the existence, necessarily, of a divine creator.
And I think it's an important point to make, that there are many religious people for whom this is reconcilable, that you can have the Catholic Church, for example, believe that you can teach evolution and you can still believe in god as a great designer. So there are other great possibilities.
Of course, not in the public science classroom. That's where this judge had to make the distinction.
PILGRIM: You're deeply grounded in this topic. You're our faith and values correspondent. You were based in Rome for many, many, many years, and so you understand the implications of where this goes in terms of religion.
GALLAGHER: Yes, but you know, Kitty, the interesting thing is that, in American society, you know, people in Europe think what are they talking about? And it's our society which likes to be very legalistic about things, we like to have the fine point on it, and we like the fact that a judge looks at this and says, well, this is what I think.
I think in some respect, you know, this is going to help people on both sides of the debate really make sense of what's been going on. And I think that it's particular to American society sometime, these debates.
PILGRIM: Well, I have to say, do I enjoy it, and I enjoy the discussion that comes up. Thanks very much for being with us, Delia Gallagher.
GALLAGHER: Thank you. You're welcome.
PILGRIM: And later I'll be talking with a leading supporter of intelligent design, Richard Thompson, of the Thomas Moore Law Center. He's a leading -- and also, he's for intelligent design. A leading opponent, Steve Harvey, has worked with the ACLU, and he'll also join us.
Now, we'd like to know your thoughts on the question of intelligent design in the classroom. In tonight's poll, our question is: Do you agree with Judge John Jones' decision that the theory of intelligent design should not be mentioned in science classes?
That's a yes or no. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll bring you the results later in the broadcast.
The White House today stepped up its offensive against critics of the National Security Agency's secret wiretaps in this country. Vice President Dick Cheney declared the program is a critical weapon in the battle to defeat terrorists. The vice president also dismissed charges that the wiretaps are unconstitutional.
Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vice President Dick Cheney, traveling in Pakistan, vehemently defended the administration's secret wiretapping program, arguing it was justified to protect Americans.
RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is good, solid, sound policy. It is, I'm convinced, one of the reasons we have not been attacked for the last four years.
MALVEAUX: Cheney, who is cutting his overseas trip short to come home to cast possible tie-breaking votes on key legislation in the Senate, joined the chorus of administration officials tasked to aggressively hit back at critics who claim the president overstepped his bounds by approving some wiretaps without seeking a warrant as required by law.
CHENEY: We're doing it in accordance with the Constitution and the laws of the United States and it ought to be supported. This is not about violating civil liberties because we're not.
MALVEAUX: In April of 2004, in a speech addressing the Patriot Act, the president tried to reassure Americans their civil liberties were being protected, but he failed to mention the secret wiretapping program. GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anytime you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so.
MALVEAUX: Asked whether the president was being forthcoming by not mentioning there had been exceptions, his press secretary said ...
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I reject that suggestion.
MALVEAUX: And Kitty, of course the controversy only continues to heat up over this matter. There are some Democrats now, a few who are at least willing to use the "I" word as impeachment, exploring that possibility, if the president broke the law. There are also a few moderate Republicans who have joined the Democrats now in calling for those congressional hearings -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Suzanne, project out, what's the political fallout? What is the White House bracing for here?
MALVEAUX: Well, what the White House is doing is essentially they're coming out strong, they are coming out defiant, saying that the president has the right, the legal right to do this, the constitutional right. But what they're going to do, essentially, is wait, simply see as members of Congress go home over the holidays, how their constituents, how this plays out with them.
They do not believe this issue is going to stick with most Americans. They believe that as long as they know that the president is acting within the legal bounds here, that if he decides to get tough, make some exceptions here, that most Americans will go ahead and go along and support the president on this one. So we'll just have to wait and see.
PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much. Suzanne Malveaux. Thanks, Suzanne.
A bipartisan group of senators is demanding an immediate inquiry into the secret U.S. spying on American citizens. Now, the senators want to know whether the government carried out the wiretaps without appropriate legal authority.
Ed Henry reports from Capitol Hill.
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Two Republican senators, Chuck Hagel and Olympia Snowe, joined three Democrats in signing a letter expressing profound concern about domestic spying. The letter demands an immediate joint investigation by the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees. The bipartisan pressure on President Bush comes amid a heated dispute over whether Democrats privately endorsed the classified eavesdropping.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D) ILLINOIS: Whenever the administration is caught in a situation where the intelligence is flawed or controversial, whether it was the invasion of Iraq or this spying on American citizens, their first line of defense is, well, the Democrats were in on this, they knew all about it. And that's just not true.
HENRY: Two Democrats, Senator Jay Rockefeller and former Senator Tom Daschle, say they got limited briefings and voiced private concerns to Vice President Cheney about the program. But Republican Pat Roberts fired back that, "On many occasions Senator Rockefeller expressed to the vice president his vocal support for the program. His most recent expression of support was only two weeks ago."
Both sides are also sparring over who is to blame for the failure to renew 16 key provisions of the Patriot Act set to expire at the end of the month.
SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: It doesn't make sense why leadership on the other side would celebrate killing the Patriot Act. I don't understand it. I just don't get it.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: If the Patriot Act expires, 16th and Pennsylvania Avenue is the place where you to go to find out who is responsible for ending the Patriot Act.
HENRY: The Democratic mantra now is, "Extend it, don't end it." They want a temporary three-month extension of those 16 provisions in the Patriot Act, while both sides settle their differences. But it appears right now there's no deal in sight -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Ed, are both sides really willing to let those 16 provisions die? Now, who really has the upper hand politically, or is that too hard to calculate at this point?
HENRY: It's pretty hard. The president is basically banging on the Democrats and saying they were leading this filibuster of the Patriot Act, and it's true that mostly it was Democrats filibustering. The problem there is there were four Republicans who were helping to lead that filibuster, and so that obviously made it a bipartisan filibuster, blocking it.
And the problem I think overall is that both sides are just trading these jabs, but they're admitting privately the country could wind up being less safe while they're pointing fingers. And I think, to answer your question, they are probably willing to let this thing expire -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much. Ed Henry. Disturbing.
Still to come, Mexico's desperate effort to salvage its image and stop the construction of a fence along our southern border. We'll tell you all about it. And then fighting for the rights of illegal alien gang members. Yes, you heard that right. Some open border advocates say the human rights of violent gang members are being violated. We'll have a special report on that.
Also ahead, new developments into the investigation into the deadly plane crash off of Miami Beach.
And a judge intervenes in the first mass transit strike in New York City in a quarter century.
PILGRIM: The Mexican government has become so desperate to stop the construction of a U.S. border fence that it's being forced to turn to its own citizens for help. Now, the Vicente Fox government is now running radio ads in Mexico urging citizens to criticize efforts to strengthen our nation's borders and our national security.
And the Mexican government has even hired a U.S. public relations firm, Allen and Company (ph), to improve Mexico's image with the American people. Mexico's P.R. blitz comes just days after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to fund a 700-mile fence to keep out illegal aliens. And, as we reported here last night, this House vote has come under fierce attack in Mexico.
An elected official in the border city of Juarez, Mexico, says, "The United States asked for the fall of the Berlin Wall, and now they're covering the border with walls."
And a spokesperson for the Catholic Church of Juarez, Mexico, calls the House bill "... a triumph of the ideals of Hitler."
Illegal alien gang members in this country have become the subject of an unbelievable new debate. Open border advocates are now criticizing federal and local authorities for deporting some of the most violent criminals.
Casey Wian reports from Los Angeles.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Nearly 1,800 illegal alien gang members have been deported since February under Operation Community Shield, a joint effort by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and several local police departments. A model of successful immigration law enforcement is now the target of protests by groups who say it violates human rights.
ALFONSO GONZALEZ, UCLA RAZA GRAD STUDENT ASSN,: We're here today to denounce Operation Community Shield because it's wrongfully criminalizing Latino youth.
WIAN: Protesters in three U.S. cities claim Operation Community Shield is an overboard dragnet enforcement policy. EVA VALLE, PROTESTER: He wasn't a gang member. He was a good citizen that got sentenced, paid his dues. And after that he's been followed and harassed by the ICE and LAPD.
WIAN: Eva Valle says her husband, Juan Carlos, is a victim, despite his criminal record, illegal alien status and tattoos linking him to the violent Mara Salvatrucha gang.
VALLE: He was a good citizen that got sentenced, paid his dues, and after that he's been followed and harassed by the ICE and LAPD.
WIAN: Because he's actually not a citizen, but an illegal alien, Valle is now detained in preparation for deportation.
ALEX SANCHEZ, HOMIES UNIDOS: We've got to stop deporting these individuals because it's not affecting -- having any effect in stopping the violence in the communities.
WIAN: ICE says the opposite is true. And the agency is outraged by the protest.
In a statement, ICE says it "finds it ironic that special interest groups calling for justice would advocate turning a blind eye to lawbreakers who bring violence and misery to neighborhoods around the nation."
Victor Cerda is a former ICE official who helped launch Operation Community Shield.
VICTOR CERDA, PARTNER, TEW CARDENAS: If there is anybody who is a prime target for human -- you know, being a human rights violator, it's often the gang members themselves. And to portray it in another way I think is an injustice to the actual communities where they are held hostage at times to some of these gangs.
WIAN: ICE says half of those arrested under Community Shield are members of Mara Salvatrucha, and 40 are leaders of other gangs.
(on camera): Protesters are angry that local police are cooperating with federal immigration authorities to deport gang members. However, ICE officials say that type of cooperation is crucial to remove violent illegal aliens from this country.
Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.
PILGRIM: More violence tonight in the border city of Nuevo Laredo. Gunmen opened fire in a garage, killing five men.
Now, this city which lies over the Rio Grande across from Laredo, Texas, has been home to warring drug cartels. A record number of homicides have taken place so far this year in Nuevo Laredo. The record now stands at 175.
The president-elect of Bolivia, the man who calls his political movement America's nightmare, launching a fierce new attack against President Bush tonight. The far left politician Evo Morales is calling President Bush "a terrorist." Morales says, "The only terrorist in this world that I know of is Bush."
Morales calls the U.S.-led war in Iraq state terrorism, and Morales is an ally not only of Cuba's Fidel Castro, but also Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. Morales' election victory this weekend is raising new concerns about the far left rising popularity in Latin America.
Still ahead, new reports tonight of a secret government spying, and this time inside the Pentagon. We'll have a special report of a new Pentagon spying unit.
And today, stunning setback for intelligent design. We'll examine if the intelligent design movement is dead after today's major courtroom defeat.
Stay with us.
PILGRIM: The Bush White House is facing a barrage of questions about the National Security Agency's spying activities in this country. But the Pentagon is also monitoring terrorist suspects inside the United States with a secretive new intelligence unit.
Barbara Starr has the report.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Five months after the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon established one of its most secretive units. This document created the counterintelligence field activity, or CIFA. No one will say how many people work there, how big the budget is. It's supposed to track any threats against the Defense Department. But now some are asking, is the Pentagon spying on Americans?
This antiwar protest last March in New York was one of many demonstrations listed in one of CIFA's databases called Talon.
CAROLINE FREDERICKSON, ACLU: Talon is one of those databases in which the Pentagon has put all sorts of information about people participating in protests, perhaps against the Iraq war, environmental demonstrations, or other types of events have put this information on these individuals in the database.
STARR: The law allows the Pentagon to collect information about potential domestic threats. But if the information doesn't pan out, it's supposed to be deleted from all computers.
In the wake of disclosures that the Pentagon inadvertently kept Talon information on Americans who are not a threat, this man, Stephen Cambone, the Pentagon's intelligence chief, ordered a review of the entire effort and ordered all his intelligence staff to get training on what's legal and what's not.
As the controversy boils in Washington, led by the revelations the National Security Agency monitored communications in the U.S. without court warrants, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld making it clear on "LARRY KING LIVE" he believes President Bush obeyed the law.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: He is very sensitive to the importance of privacy issues, just as we are at the Pentagon.
STARR: And Kitty, the Pentagon says it's really just a matter of bad timing, that the revelations about their domestic intelligence programs came at the same time as the news about the National Security Agency conducting surveillance without court warrants inside the United States. Officials here say the two programs have absolutely nothing to do with each other -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: There's no doubt, though, that the personal privacy issue is very central to the consciousness of the American public. Barbara, help us sort out a little bit what's legal, what's not at the Pentagon.
STARR: Well, under the law, under the regulations, when there is a problem, when they believe they have a threat to the United States military, or to military bases, they can, indeed, investigate and collect information on that. When it's counterintelligence, when it's espionage, they work very closely with domestic law enforcement, and the presumption is that domestic law enforcement, the FBI, would take the lead in any case such as that.
But what is very clear, Kitty, is the law prohibits the United States military and the Defense Department from collecting intelligence about Americans who simply may have a different political point of view -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Very interesting stuff. Thank you very much. Barbara Starr.
Well, Germany has freed a radical Islamist terrorist convicted of murdering a U.S. Navy diver in 1985. Officials say Mohammed al-Hamadi (ph) was released on parole last Thursday. That's after 19 years in jail.
Hamadi was convicted of killing Navy diver Robert Stethem during the hijacking of a TWA airliner in Beirut. U.S. authorities had requested the extradition of this terrorists, but the Germans insisted Hamadi should stand trial in Germany. Germany has no death penalty. He was paroled, which means he is now free.
Coming up, millions of commuters travel by foot, bicycle, even scooter. A massive transit strike paralyzes New York. We'll have the very latest on that.
And what caused the fatal crash of the seaplane off of Miami Beach? Investigators have new information tonight. Stay with us.
PILGRIM: In just a moment we'll have a debate on our top story, today's major setback for intelligent design. But first, in the news at this hour...
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld confirmed today that the United States will begin withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan next year. The U.S. plans to withdraw 3,000 soldiers from Afghanistan in the spring as NATO expands its role in that country.
Federal officials today announced a $50,000 reward for anyone with information on a case of missing explosives. Some 550 pounds of explosives are gone from a store near Albuquerque, New Mexico. The theft is believed to have taken place over this weekend.
And in Colorado today, Joseph Nacchio, the former Qwest Communications CEO, was hit with an insider trader charge, 42 counts. A federal grand jury says Nacchio sold $100 million worth of Qwest stock in 2001. That's well before the company publicly announced it was in financial trouble.
PILGRIM: Also tonight, the largest mass transit system in the country remains closed for business. New Yorkers are scrambling to get home from work tonight as transit workers strike for the first time in 25 years. Adaora Udoji is live at New York's Penn Station. Adaora.
ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been a very long and cold commute for anyone in New York City trying to get anywhere, whether it be work or elsewhere.
You're right, we're at Penn Station and you can see there are thousands swarming around, many of whom would usually go into Penn Station, get on a train and get home. Not today.
We're talking about seven million people and they had to get very creative how they got around today, many choosing to walk. We saw folks traipsing across the Brooklyn Bridge, also lots of car pooling, some buses hired by companies. Cabs or taxis were able to pick up multiple fares today.
In the morning commute, they were limiting the cars. Cars had to come in with at least four people in them, otherwise they were not allowed into Manhattan. So a rally tough day for commuters, but also a tough day for strikers.
Late this afternoon, a judge held the union in contempt, saying they will be charged one million dollars a day for every day that they strike. That is because the judge ruled that they had violated an earlier decision calling the strike illegal against state law. The union saying that they have no choice to strike, they have not been offered a fair deal.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg came out a little later this afternoon, and he had some very harsh words for the strikers, calling them selfish.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), NEW YORK CITY: This selfish strike is illegal. We live in a country of laws where there can be severe consequences for those who break them. Union members are no different. We will use every avenue available under the law to get the transit workers back to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UDOJI: Also lots of worries for businesses today here in New York City, Kitty. That's because the loss of business attributed to the strike that cost that ranges anywhere from $250 to $400 million a day that businesses here in New York City will lose as the strike continues.
It's not encouraging, Kitty. From what we understand, the two sides have not been negotiating at all. At least not yet today, Kitty?
PILGRIM: Very distressing. Thank you very much, Adaora Udoji, thanks.
Let's have more now on our top story. A blazing defeat for believers in intelligent design. A federal judge in Pennsylvania has ruled that public schools cannot mention intelligent design in science classes. Judge John Jones even called it Creationism relabeled.
Now those who support intelligent design are outraged. And earlier I talked with Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center and he supports including intelligent design in science classes. I asked him for his reaction to today's ruling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD THOMPSON, THOMAS MORE LAW CENTER: It was a disappointment. We had a lot of concern for what the judge did here. Basically, this was a one minute statement that was read to ninth grade biology students.
It mentioned the phrase intelligent design twice, yet the policy of school board indicated that the only concept, the only theory that would be taught would be evolution, that the students would only be tested on evolution, and it further said that teachers could not teach creationism or intelligent design.
PILGRIM: Dover is the first school district to put forward this and put it in the curriculum. Why do you think it's such a hot-button issue all across the country for school districts?
THOMPSON: First of all, because there is now growing evidence based upon what scientists are looking at. The molecular machines, DNA, the concept of irreducible complexity that has been developed by Michael Behe that indicates that molecular systems such as the bacterium flajelum could not have occurred by Darwin's Theory of Evolutionism.
When you have these credible scientists now questioning Darwin's Theory of Evolution based on the empirical data that we observe, natural selection acting on random mutations cannot explain what we see. There is a purposeful arrangement of parts and the better explanation for that purposeful arrangement of parts is intelligent design.
You have this debate going on in the scientific community, and it's of great concern to me that a judge would try to determine the validity of one scientific theory over another. That is not position of a judge. They should allow this to go on in the scientific community where it belongs, not in the courtroom.
PILGRIM: You know, the political implications are considerable. The school board members who voted this in were ousted politically with the implications for the broad-based Christian movement in the country.
Extrapolate a little bit for us, do you see this as being the spearhead of many test cases on this?
THOMPSON: Well, there are a lot of other reasons why there could have been a change in the school board. intelligent design is one of them. We don't know what the voters had in mind, it was a very close election. However, I can tell you this, that across the country right now, many school boards and teachers are take up the issue of intelligent design.
Governments should not be censoring what is being taught in the public school system. In fact --
PILGRIM: But it by nature is a public school system.
THOMPSON: It reminds me of what happened in the Scopes trial in 1925 where ironically it was the ACLU said that there should be no dogma or orthodoxy in the public education system because that does not become education but an indoctrination.
Today, the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State actually advocated an orthodoxy, the orthodoxy being Darwin's Theory of Evolution.
Students should be made aware there is a controversy in this particular area, and it's good for science education. It does not hurt the student. It helps the student. By not making them aware of this controversy going in the scientific community, it really is dumbing down the education system.
PILGRIM: Richard Thompson, you make a compelling argument. Thanks for making it on this broadcast. Richard Thompson, President and chief Council of the Thomas More Law Center. Thank you, sir.
THOMPSON: Thank you.
(END VIDEOTAPE) PILGRIM: Just ahead, the other side of the intelligent design debate. I'll talk with a lawyer who worked for the ACLU and Dover parents in their lawsuit challenging intelligent design.
Coming up, charges that some of the country's biggest airlines are outsourcing vital maintenance work to save money.
And later, the American people have spoken, we'll have the results of a new poll about which people prefer, happy holidays, or merry Christmas?
PILGRIM: More now on the heated debate about teaching intelligent design in public schools. My next guest is an attorney who worked with the ACLU and Dover parents in their lawsuit to eradicate intelligent design in the school curriculum.
Steve Harvey joins us from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Thanks for being with us on such a cold night.
Let's start with the charge that if you don't teach both theories, or at least initiate debate, you're dumbing down the curriculum. What do you say to that?
STEVE HARVEY, ATTORNEY, PEPPER HAMILTON: That's absolutely incorrect. intelligent design, as Judge Jones pointed out in his opinion after hearing six weeks of testimony, has no standing whatsoever in the scientific community. It's not bad science; it's not science at all. It's religion warmed over. It's creationism warmed over and pretending to be something else.
There is no controversy in the scientific community to present to students. Students should be taught about the scientific theory of evolution, which is overwhelmingly accepted in the scientific community, not about intelligent design, which is religion.
And in fact, to inject this religious concept into a public school science class violates the first amendment of our constitution, as Judge Jones held in his decision today.
PILGRIM: Steve, I don't pretend to be deeply based in science. But the proponents of intelligent design argue that there's growing evidence that DNA and the complexity could not have occurred by Darwin's theory of evolution. What do you have to say that's not too scientific, that our audience can get into to refute that?
HARVEY: I'm not a scientist either. Neither is Judge Jones, but his opinion takes that on squarely. Their argument is not an argument for intelligent design. It is merely an attack on evolution.
And so, nothing about this supposed complexity of DNA and the inability to explain it in any way supports the concept that there is an intelligent designer. But more importantly, in fact, the scientific community is working on explanations for many things, including the evolution of microbiological life. And we had eminent scientists testify in this case about that subject. And in fact, what Mr. Thompson said and what the intelligent design community holds up is simply wrong. There is almost no one in the scientific community who accepts it.
PILGRIM: But if it's being debated in the scientific community, why not in the classroom?
HARVEY: In fact, it's not being debated in the scientific community. That's completely a falsehood even. There is no debate in the scientific community on this subject. Intelligence design is a political movement, and it's not in any way -- has no scientific basis and there is no debate in the scientific community on this, and that's the reality of this situation. And that's why it's inappropriate.
PILGRIM: Do you think there's any place in the school curriculum, say a philosophy class, where this should be introduced?
HARVEY: Of course. We have no problem with the concept of intelligent design as religion or as philosophy. But it's not science, and it shouldn't be presented in science class. But for example, a comparative religion class, if you wanted to discuss that and other theories, that would be perfectly acceptable.
PILGRIM: You know what I find intriguing is that the entire country is looking at this and there are many school districts that are debating this. And yet the judge said it's a maelstrom with the resulting waste of monetary and personal resources. He thinks it's a complete waste of time to go into this. Do you think it's a waste of time to even debate this?
HARVEY: I actually think intelligent design has very little merit. Actually none, as a scientific proposition, so I agree with the judge. There is no reason to debate it and whether it should be in science class in public schools.
Clearly, it should not be. It could enjoy a nice position in philosophy class. But no need for debate beyond that. And in fact, this was a tremendous waste of the resources of the Dover community and all the people who worked on this case. It was an important trial, we're happy for the result, but it should have never taken place in the first place.
PILGRIM: Thank you very much, Steve Harvey, thanks for joining us.
A reminder now, do vote in tonight's poll. We'd like to know what you think. Do you agree with the judge's decision that intelligent design should not be mentioned in science classes. We have a yes or no vote on that. Case your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll bring you the results in just a few minutes.
Well, the battle between happy holidays, merry Christmas appears to have a clear winner. According to a CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll, more Americans prefer the greeting merry Christmas, 69 percent versus 29 percent. And the number of those who say they use the phrase merry Christmas was up 12 percent from last year. In addition, 61 percent of those polled say the increase of happy holidays greetings at stores and in public places is a change for the worse. So there you are.
Coming up, how this country's major airlines may be putting your life at risk, just to save a few bucks. We'll tell you all about it.
Also ahead, the money pit: United Nations style. Shocking new details at the extent of corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food scandal. Stay with us.
PILGRIM: Off the coast of Miami Beach, Florida, today, investigators began pulling the wreckage of a seaplane from the water and continued to search for clues into what caused this deadly accident. Christopher King joins me tonight from Miami Beach. Christopher, what's new?
CHRISTOPHER KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kitty, what's new is authorities have wrapped up the recovery efforts for the evening. They'll resume in the morning now. Cruise ships are being able to take off from the ports here. They've been in the port since the crash had happened.
Take a look behind me. As you can see, there's one big cruise ship out there right now. That's slowly pulling away and pulling out to sea. Now, this seaplane was a Grumman G-73 and so far salvage teams have been able to recover part of the wing of the plane. It was an old plane built back in 1947.
Officials want to know if the age of the plane is a factor. They're looking for the plane's voice recorder. The National Transportation Safety Board said the recovery process is delicate.
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MARK ROSENKER, ACTING CHAIRMAN, NTSB: It's in the tail section of the aircraft, we believe, and it's difficult for us to get to it the way it's sitting, and the way the tail has been mangled up.
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KING: Now the plane crashed yesterday afternoon just after takeoff. It was headed to Miami Beach from Bimini in the Bahamas. Officials say they still don't know what caused the crash. Now of course, as I said before, cruise ships have been held in port since yesterday. But now the newest word is they've been allowed to leave port. Kitty?
PILGRIM: Thank you very much, Christopher King.
Also tonight, shocking new charges that our nation's airlines are playing a dangerous game with passenger safety. A new report says that airlines are now outsourcing vital repair work to unregulated companies, all because they want to save money. Lisa Sylvester reports.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 2003, an Air Midwest plane crashed in Charlotte, North Carolina. A factor in the crash? Repair work done the day before by a facility that did not have a Federal Aviation Administration certificate. A new Department of Transportation inspector general report finds that repair shops not closely monitored by the FAA are performing more significant work than anyone realized.
REP. JIM OBERSTAR (D), MINNESOTA: It undermines the public trust in the airlines, and frankly in the FAA as the overseer of safety.
SYLVESTER: Non-FAA certified facilities have been OKed to perform minor work or emergency jobs. But six airlines, none of them named in the report have been using shops for major repairs, including engine inspections. The Aeronautical Repair Station Associate whose members are FAA credentialed says there needs to be more oversight.
MARSHALL FILLER, AERONAUTICAL REPAIR STATION ASSOCIATION: If, in fact, you're having people, particularly people that are not working at a repair station doing this kinds of maintenance, it really is incumbent on the air carrier to make sure that they appropriately train these folks, that they provide them the appropriate technical information, that they audit these companies.
SYLVESTER: But neither the FAA nor the airlines has been monitoring the work, according to the inspector general. Instead of performing on site visits, the air carriers rely primarily on telephone contact. The Air Transport Association representing the airline industry did not respond on camera.
But in the statement said, "We are confident that the high maintenance safety standards and quality systems in place today at ATA-member airlines are working. Our exceptional safety record is evidence of that. We look forward to working closely with the FAA to enhance further airlines oversight of airlines practices."
SYLVESTER: The FAA also did not make anyone available on camera, but a spokesperson said even though some repair work has been done at facilities without FAA credentialing, the mechanics who worked on the planes are FAA certified. And the agency adds it's ultimately the airlines that are responsible for maintenance work -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: All right. Thank you very much, Lisa Sylvester. Thanks, Lisa.
Coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks you very much, Kitty.
We're following several stories, including evolution and intelligent design as its called. A judge rules on religion, science and what's being taught in your child's classroom.
Plus, spying on Americans, the firestorm heating up. We'll find out why one United States senator already inquiring about impeachment.
Also, the plane crash off Miami Beach. More than half the people killed came from one family alone. We'll have their incredible story. All that coming up right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Thanks, Wolf.
Well, if you're in the market for a new puppy, don't bother looking on eBay. The online auctioneer canceled plans to allow pets on its Web site. That's after receiving thousands of angry letters, and many were concerned that listing would encourage so-called puppy mills where dogs are sometimes bred in unsanitary exceptions. There is one exception to the ban, though. Fish, snails also still bought and sold on eBay.
Still ahead, bricks of $100 bills unaccounted for in Iraq. The mystery behind the missing oil-for-food money next.
That plus the results of our poll, the tribute to our troops. Stay with us.
PILGRIM: An extraordinary story tonight about what happened to billions of dollars of money from the U.N.'s corrupt oil-for-food program. Saddam Hussein ripped off some of the cash for bribes, and some for himself. But billions of dollars of the oil-for-food money may have been lost or wasted by the United States. Richard Roth reports.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Frank Willis remembers what it was like to handle $2 million cash.
FRANK WILLIS, FMR. COALITION AUTH. OFFICER: We had bricks of $100,000 bills. We, in effect, treated them as footballs and hiked, and passed and went out for catches in the office.
ROTH: Working for the Coalition Provisional Authority after the United States toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, Willis personally paid a contractor to provide security at Baghdad's airport.
WILLIS: He showed up with his gunny sack, verified that there were 20 bricks of $100,000, crisp new $100 bills in shrink wrap, and left.
ROTH: In those days, Willis says, Iraq was a Wild West economy.
WILLIS: There were no effective banks operating. There were no systems of wire transfers. Communications that we take for granted in the United States didn't exist. ROTH: Audits by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction have found the transitional government failed to account for almost half of the billions it spent. One red flag: ghost employees at Iraqi ministries that received most of the cash.
WILLIS: Iraqi Airwaves was under my responsibility. It had 4,000 employees. They were paid. How did we know who the 4,000 were? Well the Iraqis knew and paid according to who they knew. So there's clearly leakage there as monies came into the Iraqis, and some of it was distributed and some of it ended in back pockets.
ROTH: The main critique of the oil-for-food program was that Saddam exploited it to line his own pockets with $2 billion in kickbacks. But when the program ended, there were $8 billion unspent dollars in the U.N. bank account. That money was turned over to the U.S.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: What we found was an appalling level of incompetence, mismanagement, waste, fraud and greed.
ROTH: Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman has led the call for more accountability over what happened with leftover oil-for-food and other cash in Iraq.
WAXMAN: We have not been able to get an answer for how much of that money was spent and where it went. We do know that $1.5 billion went to Halliburton.
ROTH: Waxman complains that his Republican colleagues held more than a dozen hearings on oil-for-food and only one on this spending.
WAXMAN: We don't really know who got the money, but we know it was a lot of money. Three hundred and fifty tons of $100 bills were shipped to Iraq, and that money was handed out like it was paper.
ROTH (on camera): An international monitoring board has asked the United States to reimburse Iraq for any leftover oil-for-food funds not used to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people.
Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.
PILGRIM: Both former CPA administrator Paul Bremer and his former spokesman declined to comment for the report. Now, the main problem, however, remains the U.N.'s corrupt and incompetent management of the oil-for-food program.
And some say the program shows the United Nations is corrupt from top to bottom. Tomorrow U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will attempt to answer that criticism in his year-end news conference.
Well, now the results of tonight's poll on the debate over the separation of church and state in our public schools. Eighty-four percent of you agree with Judge John Jones' decision that the theory of intelligent design may not be mentioned in science classrooms. Sixteen percent of you do not agree.
Finally tonight, our nightly "Tribute To Our Troops." Each and every night on this broadcast, we share the thoughts of some of the men and women serving this nation all over the world this holiday season.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, my name is Lisa Swanson (ph), and I'm stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan. And I wanted to wish a Merry Christmas to my family and friends in Easton, Pennsylvania.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to say Merry Christmas to my wife, Diana, and my children, Matthew and Andrew. Merry Christmas, guys. I love you.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Sergeant Lopez from Taji, Iraq. I would like to wish a warm seasons greetings to my Uncle Pop (ph), Aunt Cynthia, and Aunt Gwen and all my family and friends in New Haven, Connecticut. Love you, God bless.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, this is Lieutenant Lorraine Gunther (ph) from Tuz, Iraq. I wanted to wish all my family and friends back in Helmetta, New Jersey a happy holiday. I love you and I miss you.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Sargent Mason Lowery (ph). I'm stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan, and I want to say Merry Christmas to my uncle and aunt in Deep River, Connecticut. Merry Christmas, Tommy and Debbie (ph). Be home son.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Specialist Dobinson (ph) from Al Asad, Iraq. I'd just like to say hi to my friends and family back home from Holly, Pennsylvania. Mom, dad, love you all. Can't wait to see you guys. Happy holidays.
(END VIDEO CLIP) PILGRIM: Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us tomorrow. Our guests will include two U.S. military chaplains; one is a minister, and one is a rabbi.
For all of us here, good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" starts right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Kitty.
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