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Significant Change in Medical Condition of Harry Whittington, Accidentally Shot by Vice President Dick Cheney; Some Believe U.S. Has Bad Foreign Policy; Dana Rohrabacher Interview; Tom Coburn Interview; Arizona State Legislators Debating Whether To Withhold Federal Tax Dollars

Aired February 14, 2006 - 18:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Tuesday, February 14.
Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody.

Tonight, the man shot by Vice President Dick Cheney has had what doctors describe as a minor heart attack as the White House is facing withering criticism over its response to the news of the shooting.

We'll have the latest.

And one member of the Bush administration finally admits that our trade relationship with Communist China is unfair and unbalanced. But are the White House and Congress paying attention?

We'll have that report.

And one lawmaker who does take Communist China's geopolitical and military threat seriously is Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Today, the congressman held hearings on Communist China's influence on U.S. foreign policy, and it is far greater than you could have imagined. He's our guest here.

And another member of Congress take a stand, Senator Tom Coburn, who's blasting Congress for its failure to cut out-of-control spending and wasteful pork barrel projects. He's not making friends in Washington. He's our guest as well.

And I'll be talking with Arizona State Senator Dean Martin, who's leading a tax revolt in that state against Washington because the federal government is refusing to secure our nation's borders.

All of that and much more ahead.

We begin with a significant change in the medical condition of the man accidentally shot by Vice President Dick Cheney. The shooting victim, Texas attorney Harry Whittington, suffered a minor heart attack after a piece of birdshot apparently moved to his heart.

Doctors have now moved Whittington back into intensive care. The vice president shot Whittington during a quail hunt Saturday. Ed Lavandera now reports from outside Whittington's hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas -- Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, doctors say that Whittington did not show any of the classic signs of a heart attack. No chest pain, no breathing problems. But they did notice an irregular heartbeat. And when they went in and looked further, they had found that one of pellets from the shotgun blast that he had taken on Saturday, one of -- just one of pellet had moved close to his heart. In fact, touching the heart or perhaps being embedded in the heart.

The problem is there are no plans right now to take that pellet out. The doctors say they just don't know exactly where in the heart that pellet is, and any kind of surgery to remove it would be much more painful for Mr. Whittington. And they say that they will continue to monitor him here for another seven days -- Lou.

DOBBS: Ed, his condition tonight is described by the hospital as what?

LAVANDERA: Stable. They say he's alert, talking, and actually in very good spirits. And like I mentioned, he didn't show any of the classic signs of a heart attack. So they sound optimistic.

DOBBS: Ed Lavandera from Corpus Christi.

Thank you.

The White House tonight is facing a new uproar over the way it has handled this shooting incident. Reporters are angry that Press Secretary Scott McClellan did not tell them about the change, the dramatic change in Harry Whittington's condition today. Yesterday, the White House press corps blasted McClellan for not being first to release the information about the vice president's accidental shooting.

Dana Bash has our report -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, today about two days after the shooting, it's the first time we actually got a statement officially from the vice president's office acknowledging that it happened, and it was about -- and because of the change in Harry Whittington's condition. And the statement was really striking because of the detail that it gave.

A big departure from the normal way that Mr. Cheney likes to do business. It told us how the vice president found out about the changing condition. And with time, specific times of when he got passed a note that there would be a press conference, the fact that he actually watched the press conference back here at the White House.

I'll read you part of the statement.

It said, "At about 1:30 p.m. Eastern, the vice president called Mr. Whittington and spoke to him. The vice president wished Mr. Whittington well and asked if there was anything he needed. The vice president said that he is stood ready to assist, Mr. Whittington's spirits were good, but obviously his situation deserves the careful monitoring that his doctors are providing."

Now, Lou, this all happened after today's White House briefing, but Scott McClellan tells us he actually was informed about the fact that there was a change in condition, about the fact that Harry Whittington had a mild heart attack just before he walked into the briefing room. But he said he didn't have all of the facts so he kept mum.

Instead, he tried to move on.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There were some very legitimate questions they were asked. As I indicated, I always believe that you can look back and work to do better. I indicated that yesterday.

I think today what we're focusing our efforts on, what are the most pressing priorities before the American people? And that's where we're focusing.


BASH: That may be where the White House staff, the president's staff wants to focus on the president's agenda, perhaps the president's speech tomorrow on health care, but it is becoming very clear, particularly on the president's side, that there is some frustration that they're not getting that message out and may have some trouble until the vice president himself comes out. But there's no indication that's going to happen anytime soon -- Lou.

DOBBS: And Dana, as we reported here last night, the number of questions about Mr. Whittington's medical condition obviously important, but dominating that press conference, apparently dominating the briefing again today. Is there some concern on the part of the White House press corps that they're allowing this story to subsume critical issues of state that both the administration should be dealing with and the national press corps should be focusing upon?

BASH: I think it's probably fair to say that there -- that there is frustration or concern on both sides of this. From the White House press corps point of view, there are perhaps a lot of unanswered questions still about this -- the way this went down and about perhaps hearing from the vice president himself on this issue.

But also, as I mentioned, yes, there is concern, particularly from the White House itself. As I said, the president's side, that he does have issues that he had planned to talk about this week and still does plan to talk about this week.

Today it was more of a festive time here. He had the Texas Longhorns. But he's going to have a very serious policy speech tomorrow. We'll see how much attention it gets. DOBBS: Dana, thank you very much.

Critics of the Bush administration are trying to exploit Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident for their own political purposes. Imagine that.

The vice president's supporters are defending him. Imagine that.

But there is one thing that almost everyone agrees upon, Vice President Dick Cheney is very different from all other vice presidents.

Bill Schneider has the story.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Dick Cheney, man of mystery. He seems to prefer to exercise power privately, rather than publicly.

He was President Ford's chief of staff, the ultimate behind-the- scenes position. He was the first President Bush's secretary of defense, and chief executive of Halliburton, an energy services company.

To his critics, Cheney is the military industrial complex. He even jokes about his reputation.

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I had to describe myself, I'd say I'm serious, secretive, uncommunicative, you know, just a real people person.

SCHNEIDER: Americans distrust private power. It feeds conspiracy theories. The left has long nurtured the view that Cheney is the unelected president, the all-powerful emperor in "Star Wars."

GEORGE LUCAS, "STAR WARS": The emperor works behind Darth Vader, he doesn't actually stand in front. I say that in fear of getting hit with a lot of buckshot.

SCHNEIDER: The White House Press Corps suspects a cover-up.

QUESTION: Why is it that it took so long for the president, for you, for anybody else to know that the vice president accidentally shot somebody?

SCHNEIDER: Conservatives see a conspiracy by the liberal media to tarnish the vice president's reputation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We applaud this administration for taking time to get this right rather than panicking and putting the news out.

SCHNEIDER: There's a reason why Cheney has spent little effort cultivating a positive public image. He doesn't have to. He has made it clear, he's not running for president.


SCHNEIDER: That's unusual. It makes Cheney the first sitting vice president in almost a hundred years not to run for president. So now, instead of asking how much damage this incident has done to Cheney's political prospects, the issue is, how much damage could it do to the president and the Republican Party -- Lou.

DOBBS: And do you think it will have any influence on the tolerance on the part of both political parties, but principally the national media for the vice president's penchant to refer to his itinerary as undisclosed location and his schedule as unavailable?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I'm not sure they're going to get much more out of this vice president. Remember, I said he's not running for president. So I don't think...

DOBBS: Oh, I remember, Bill. I remember distinctly. It was just seconds ago.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. And he said he's not running for president. He's always said that. So, my feeling is he'll continue to do as he pleases, even though there will be increasing pressure from the press.

DOBBS: Yes, it -- he may do as he pleases, but after all, transparency in the United States government is still a critically important element, and he does, in point of fact, work in a public office for the people.

SCHNEIDER: Well, that's the problem. And he's always preferred to operate privately throughout his career, certainly as vice president. And that may get much more difficult.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider.

Thank you.


DOBBS: Major new problems tonight for the Bush administration's efforts to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Tehran today defied the United States, Europe and Russia. Iran resumed uranium enrichment at its Natanz nuclear facility. Iran also indefinitely delayed any talks with Moscow on Russia's plan to permit Iran to enrich uranium. The United States wants the United Nations Security Council to consider taking action against Iran as soon as possible.

Iran is only one of several dangerous challenges facing the United States, Europe, the world in the Middle East. Radical Islamist groups are becoming much more powerful in the region, threatening vital U.S. and European interests. So far, President Bush's call for democracy in the Middle East has failed to help pro-Western groups win political power.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Bush administration's promotion of democracy has blown up in its face as radical Islamists have gained power in the Middle East. Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, is postponing elections for fear the radical Muslim Brotherhood will gain more power. The Muslim Brotherhood draws its popularity from charitable programs with the Egyptian poor.

DANIELLE PLETKA, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: If you hold elections in countries where one party has been in control, then the other party that's going to have a stronghold is going to be an Islamic party because they've got the mosque network and the charitable network that have been helping them and getting them recognition all of these years. Those are the two powerful forces, the dictatorship, the authoritarian government, and people who have been hanging around in mosques saying Islam is the solution.

PILGRIM: The recent wins by Hamas, a terrorist organization, and Palestinian elections came from the same reason. Hamas funds social programs and offered an alternative to the corrupt Fatah organization.

Today, the State Department said international funding for the Palestinians is under review unless Hamas gives up their agenda to destroy Israel.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: It is up to them to make a certain set of decisions. The international community couldn't have been clearer as to what is -- what will be required of them. And we'll see if they're able to meet the requirements.

PILGRIM: Iran's Islamist leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was elected in flawed elections, also by giving promises of stipends to the country's poor. Iran now supports the insurgency in Iraq.

All proof that elections in themselves do not constitute democracy. It's the actions of the government elected that are the ultimate test case.


PILGRIM: Now, Secretary Rice, in her trip to the Middle East last June, said the democratic system cannot function if certain groups have one foot in the realm of politics and one foot in the camp of terror. So, it's up to the West to push for elections and democratic reform, such as a free press and human rights, to counter the Islamists who use the democratic process for their own gains -- Lou.

DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much.

Kitty Pilgrim.

In Iraq, insurgents have killed one of our sailors serving with a bomb disposal unit. The U.S. sailor was killed by a roadside bomb in Al Anbar Province.

Separately, a coalition soldier was killed in a bomb attack in western Baghdad. The U.S. military has not said whether the soldier is American -- 2,268 of our troops have now been killed in Iraq since this war began.

Still ahead here, your tax dollars at work. You won't believe how much money the Bush administration handed out to public relations firms and advertising agencies to push policies.

And U.S. trade representative Rob Portman apparently has seen the light. We'll tell you what he has to say about the U.S.-Communist China trade relationship.

And your company watching you? Why a new silicon chip could make privacy at work a thing of the past. George Orwell knew a thing or two, it turns out.

Our special report coming up next.


DOBBS: The Bush administration under fire tonight for spending massive amounts of taxpayer money to influence your opinion on its pollicies. A new GAO report says the United States government has spent your tax dollars on public relations and advertising, even as it tries to cut programs important to our nation's middle class.

Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): U.S. leaders have long used the power of speech to persuade. If that does not work, the Bush administration has used another tool: advertise, to the tune of $1.6 billion. That's how much seven federal agencies spent on public relations in advertising contracts between 2003 and early 2005, according to a GAO report.

The Pentagon paid the most, with $1 billion in contracts. That includes $35,000 for promotional materials for a golf program and $10,000 in Air Force prize giveaways with cruises to the Mediterranean.

TOM SCHATZ, CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE: When we're in the middle of a war, it's unfathomable that the Air Force would be spending $10,000 promoting cruises in the Mediterranean. Certainly there are better uses for that money.

SYLVESTER: But it's not just the trips and trinkets that have some worried. Critics point to more than $1 million spent on video news releases to promote the administration's agenda on issues like the war in Iraq, agricultural policies, marriage and Medicare.

Democrats say when the government involvement is not disclosed, it's covert propaganda.

REP. GEORGE MILLER (D), CALIFORNIA: We're getting into a very dangerous realm of the government promoting disinformation to its own citizens. And the government should never be in a position of doing that.

SYLVESTER: Conservative columnist Armstrong Williams was paid by the Department of Education to editorialize in favor of the No Child Left Behind Act. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, "Recovery TV" aired.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here's the latest from Louisiana.

SYLVESTER: It looked and sounded like an independent broadcast, but was funded by FEMA.

And the Pentagon has been blasted by critics for hiring a PR firm that paid to have stories run in an Iraqi newspaper supporting the war. Critics say it's one thing when the government seeks to inform the public, another when journalism is put on the auction block.


SYLVESTER: The Bush administration has been bending over backwards to get its views out in front the public, but spending $1.6 billion does not seem to have paid off. A new poll shows 56 percent of the public disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job as president, only 39 percent approve -- Lou.

DOBBS: $1.6 billion spent in advertising and public relations by the United States government? That is obscene, and I cannot, for the life of me, imagine that there is a rational explanation for even a fraction of that money.

SYLVESTER: It's an eye-popping figure any way that you look at it -- Lou.

DOBBS: It's extraordinary.

Thank you very much.

Lisa Sylvester.

Speak of extraordinary, census takers in Mexico are trying to explain a notable shortfall on the latest census population numbers there. The figures show Mexico's population was 103 million people last year. Census officials say that's about two million short of what they had been expecting.

They say they have no idea what caused that shortfall in their population numbers, but they suspect lower birthrates and something that they called migration.

We in the United States could venture a guess that we could offer up to the census takers in Mexico. Perhaps we will later in the broadcast.

It does bring us to the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe the U.S. government should help the Mexican government locate the supposed two million citizens that are missing from their census?

Please cast your vote at We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.

Still ahead, Al Gore apologizes to the Arab world. We'll explain why.

Also, get used to a frightening new term. It is called tagging. Why computer chips placed in your skin may be soon tracking employees' every move.

And U.S. Trade representative Rob Portman, he has been studying trade with China and he is trying, it appears, to make sense about so- called free trade. President Bush certainly can't be happy. Perhaps neither will the communist Chinese.

Our special report coming up next.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: An Ohio company has become the first American firm to implant silicon chips in employees to track their every move. Don't be surprised if your company asks to tag you in the years ahead.

Bill Tucker has the story.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Sean Darks, chief executive of, didn't want to ask his employees to do anything he wouldn't do, so he had this chip embedded under his skin. The chip has an access code for admittance into a room holding security footage for government agencies and police.

For Darks, the tiny chip is a security solution. No IDs for employees to lose. They can't. It's right there in their arm.

SEAN DARKS, CEO, CITYWATCHER.COM: Actually, it's an inexpensive solution versus a retina scanner or a fingerprint ID. Those solutions are rather expensive. This solution is inexpensive as far as compared to those.

TUCKER: Less expensive and less secure. The chips themselves don't contain any personal information, but they do contain a key to information, on encrypted information that Jonathan West Hughes (ph), a software developer in Canada, said he found relatively easy to copy. Meaning he could become Sean Darks in the eyes of a machine if he wanted to.

Then there is the issue of policy and whether employers might start demanding employees get the chip implanted as a form of ID.

SCOTT SILVERMAN, APPLIED DIGITAL: Certainly you have a choice on whether or not you want to take employment somewhere. But as we market through our distributors to the employer community, one of things we emphasize in the privacy policy in the materials that are distributed is the fact that the product should be a voluntary product.

TUCKER: Sounds good, but people who work on privacy issues point out that the work place has seen a steady erosion of privacy rights.

MARC ROTENBERG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EPIC: In the 1980s, you know, you'd take a polygraph test to get a job. In the 1990s, it was drug testing. A little later on, it was reading your e-mail. And then each step along the line you start to ask the question, you know, is the law going to create any zones of safety?

TUCKER: When and where does that line get drawn? Privacy right groups invoke the image of big brother watching. Some on the Christian right call them the mark of Satan.

People who contemplate the future are excited about the possibilities. After all, it just puts us this much closer to realizing a marketer's dream as shown in this scene from the movie "Minority Report."


TUCKER: Now, many of us carry around an equivalent to this tiny little chip already, only they don't look like this. They look like this. It's an ID card which we need to electronically release the locks where we work.

Of course the difference is, Lou, when I get home from work, I can put this card down and walk away from it.

DOBBS: It does raise some fascinating and difficult issues. And it looks like this is going to take hold, huh?

TUCKER: I don't know if tell take hold or not. I mean, there's a lot of resistance, because, well, fundamentally, there's something creepy about somebody putting a chip in your arm.

DOBBS: I think so.

TUCKER: Me too.

DOBBS: Bill Tucker.

Thank you very much.

Still ahead here, our nation's trade representative finally admits what this broadcast has been reporting for years, this nation's trade policy with the communist Chinese is idiotic and in crisis. A special report coming up.

And Senator Tom Coburn, the man who calls pork barrel spending a gateway drug on the way to a spending addiction, he's our guest here. He's not trying to make friends, by the way. And good for him.

Able Danger. Congressional hearings finally set to begin tomorrow on Capitol Hill. A preview from Congressman Curt Weldon coming up next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Tonight, at least one member of the Bush administration has finally acknowledged the obvious, that the U.S. trade relationship with Communist China is neither free nor fair.

Trade Representative Rob Portman says it is time to readjust our trade relationship with Beijing, but it is far from clear tonight that the White House and Congress will listen.

Christine Romans reports.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Bush administration says it is now significantly concerned by the U.S.- China trade relationship.

ROB PORTMAN, U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: The relationship needs to be more balanced, more equitable.

ROMANS: U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, vowing a "new phase of greater accountability and enforcement with China."

PORTMAN: As a mature trading partner, China should be held accountable for its actions and required to live up to its responsibilities.

ROMANS: His 29 page top-to-bottom review includes a laundry list of U.S. complaints. None of them new: continued Chinese trade barriers, piracy, labor violations, extensive government subsidies for China's domestic industries, environmental concerns, and spotty compliance with international trade rules.

Since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, our trade deficit has exploded, topping $200 billion last year, the most unbalanced trade relationship in history.

MICHAEL WESSEL, U.S.-CHINA COMMISSION: We've seen jobs migrate out of the U.S., production loss, R&D loss. And this is all the way up and down the food chain. Not just toys and textiles, as some thought it was going to be, but you're looking at computers, high-tech equipment. We're really seeing the devastation not only of our manufacturing base, but our high-technology base as well.

ROMANS: Many call this so-called new phase for the Bush administration nothing more than rhetoric.

WILLIAM HAWKINS, U.S. BUSINESS & INDUSTRY COUNCIL: They've done -- done nothing for five years here as the situation has deteriorated. I think that this is really meant more to head off the growing cries in Congress to do something.

ROMANS: He knows prior administration efforts have come up empty-handed.


ROMANS: The U.S. Trade Office is adding a China Enforcement Task Force and a chief counsel for China trade enforcement but the critics, Lou, say, that should have been done years ago.

DOBBS: Well, absolutely. And the idea -- this administration has had a wonderful, wonderful penchant for suggesting that any one who wants to have a balanced trade relationship with China or any other nation, for that matter, is a protectionist and -- or an isolationist is one of their -- also favorite terms of art.

So if this administration can get rid of those kind of idiotic and insulting polar extremes and false choices in their rhetoric and actually focus on this, I will be the first to salute them.

But if they continue the absolute charade that they're putting out as a trade policy, we'll also be, I guarantee you, every bit as energetic in our criticism as we've been.

ROMANS: It's easy to keep score. Something called the trade deficit, $201 billion last year.

DOBBS: And 30 consecutive years of trade deficits and we've got CEOs of U.S. multinationals and this administration talking about competitiveness and productivity and efficiency. And all they're saying is cheaper labor, cheaper labor, cheaper prices. Christine Romans, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

DOBBS: Let's hope that the U.S. trade representative is sincere. Trade representative Rob Portman, in fact, will be joining us here next week. We'll be talking about this unbalanced trade relationship with communist China, so-called free trade, and our exploding trade deficit. That's next Wednesday. Please join us here on CNN for that.

And communist China tonight is firing back after we reported here that China set up 4,000 front companies to steal U.S. military technology -- that last night -- including cruise missiles and aircraft engines. The communist Chinese Foreign Ministry called the charges groundless. The ministry even claimed that China will never buy any military equipment illegally.

My next guest says the United States is the only force capable of confronting what he called China's "megalomaniacal goals." Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California today held hearings on them anyway.

He says China is trying to influence U.S. foreign policy, joining us tonight from Capitol Hill. One of the surprising things, Congressman, that came out today is the influence of U.S. think tanks in advancing the Chinese interests.

REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, that doesn't surprise me because many the so-called think tanks, of course, have been set up by major corporations simply to lobby Congress and lobby the American people on behalf of old policy of get rich quick by dealing with slave labor in China. And so that didn't surprise me but it was an important point that we need to focus on.

DOBBS: Well, now you said slave labor, Congressman. The U.S. trade representative was talking about subsidized trade. Would slave labor qualify as a subsidy?

ROHRABACHER: Well, let me -- they have a low guy system in China in which, as you know, many of the products made in China and some of them exported here even, are made by people who were arrested because they were Christians or because they worship God in a certain way.

What we have in China is the world's worst human rights abuser and you have corporate America setting up these foundations and these think tanks that you're talking about, to try to convince us that in the long run it's going to turn out OK.

All we have to do is deal with them on a financial base. That's not the way you liberalize a country, by letting profit to be made by the dictator and by our big businessmen.

DOBBS: Congressman, I just want to point out something to our audience that the audience -- members of this audience may be a little shocked when they -- to focus on the fact that you are a Republican, Congressman, speaking in this way about the improper influence of U.S. corporations through think tanks on U.S. foreign policy and China.

ROHRABACHER: I will tell you that the U.S. corporate -- the record for U.S. corporations in China and dealing with other dictatorships, I might add, is a dismal record. And these people, you know, who run our corporations, it's their job to make a buck.

It's our job in government to try to make sure that what's happening is consistent with American principles, of our belief in treating people decently and honestly and consistent with the ideals of the American Revolution, of the rights of individuals.

DOBBS: My God, Congressman, a U.S. Congressman talking about the national interests, the interests of working men and women in this country and suggesting that corporate America should not be dominating our political system?

ROHRABACHER: Well, it's up to us as members of Congress not to let corporate America make the final decision.

DOBBS: Amen, brother.

ROHRABACHER: And that's what it's all about. We set the parameters but what we've had here in Washington -- and it's not just Bush. And by way, let me just note, during the Clinton years it was just as bad as it is right now.

DOBBS: I will stipulate that and I will tell you, I think the Democrats and the Republicans alike should hang their head in shame for what they're doing to this country, period.

ROHRABACHER: It is amazing. We have built up a monster that is, number one, taking -- stealing our technology -- not our defense technology, also the technology that we have in order to be competitive.

If they have slave or low-wage people working over there, the only way our people are going to survive is if our technological ideas are put in place and not stolen. We permitted the Chinese to steal this and build a competitive product overseas.

DOBBS: Congressman Rohrabacher, we thank you for being here. We hope that -- if I may, since we had George Lucas in one of our reports earlier, may the force be with you. We appreciate it. Thank you.


DOBBS: Thank you. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

I'll be joined next by a renegade U.S. senator. His name is Tom Osbourne -- he is Tom Coburn and he's not make any friends at all in Washington. But he's made a few friends on this broadcast and I think you're going to like what this U.S. senator has to say about the way this government is working or not working. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Our nation's budget deficit is projected to sort of more than $400 billion, and Congress still hasn't come up with any way to slash out of control spending and senseless pork barrel earmarked projects.

My guest tonight, one of the few -- one of the very few -- lawmakers who is battling wasteful Congressional spending, my guest tonight, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. His new bill, cosponsored with Senator John McCain, would cut earmarks and stop Congressional spending sprees.

Joining us tonight from Capitol Hill, Senator, good to have you with us.

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Good to be with you.

DOBBS: Now, you have -- you said Dennis Hastert effectively is just wrong. Dennis Hastert said members of Congress are best positioned to know where to put those earmarks, those red lights in their districts. Why do you disagree?

COBURN: Well, just think about it. Who knows best where to put a stoplight in Chicago. Do you think it's a Congressman? Do you think it may be the city transportation department or the highway department?

DOBBS: Well, you know, I have got to be honest. You win. You've got me convinced and I just hope that about 534 other folks listen up to Senator Coburn. When you look at what's happening, your bill, along with Senator McCain's -- do you think you're going to be able to get anything done?

Because, I mean, this squealing -- and if I may, squealing like pigs -- that we've heard from people like the newly-elected majority leader in the House, John Boehner saying he likes the lobbying, he doesn't think need you need to roll this stuff back. And he's a reformed candidate for your party, by the way, in the House. What do you make of that?

COBURN: Well, I think you need to differentiate between lobbying reform and earmark reform. I don't think you need lobbying reform if you'll get rid of earmarks. Earmarks is the bait, the tool that is used to pass the ever larger federal government that duplicates programs and doesn't do the oversight that needs to be done on those programs.

So I think you need to make sure your listeners are aware that there's a difference between reform of the lobbying process and reform of earmarks. If you eliminate the earmarks, you've taken care of 95 percent of the lobbying problems. I think the other thing is I think we can win if the American people get behind this.

DOBBS: What should they do? What should the viewers of this broadcast, this audience, do to help you and Senator McCain and others, who are really focused on managing this government.

COBURN: Well a couple of things. One, is just to recognize -- you just quoted $400 billion deficits. But the real deficit's a half a trillion dollars. It's the funny way that we take care of money up here that we can claim it's less than what it is. But every earmark last year was charged to our grandchildren.

So everybody out there in your audience that really wants to preserve the culture that we've created, the heritage where we say, "We'll sacrifice for the next generation, to create opportunity and freedom and standard of living," ought to say, "We don't need these earmarks now."

What we need is the government to live within its means and we need to be making the hard choices on what that is, rather than brining something home like 200 museums or $100,00 to the Tiger Woods foundation."

DOBBS: The famous bridge to nowhere.

COBURN: Or the bridge to nowhere. Or $500,000 for a ski track in upstate New York. I mean, these are things that we shouldn't be spending money on now because what we're really doing is stealing it from our kids.

DOBBS: And everyone who wants to deny that there is not a price for what this government is doing in terms of spending is, well, I'll put it gently, they're outright liars. And as you point out, our children, their children, will be paying for this. Senator Tom Coburn, it's great to have you here, as always. I know you've got a vote to get to and we appreciate your time.

COBURN: I do, thank you, God bless you.

DOBBS: Time now for some of your thoughts. Many of you wrote in about protests against this broadcast from the open borders activists, some of whom say the entire southwest of the United States should be returned to Mexico. And here are some of the protesters outside CNN yesterday. Some going so far as to call for Americans of European descent as they put it to go back to Europe, which is an interesting concept.

Debbie in Maryland wrote in to say: Why do most people south of the border speak Spanish? Maybe because they're of European ancestry as well. Spain, last time I checked, was in Europe.

We checked and you know what? You're exactly right. Spain is in Europe. It looks like we all have a lot more in common than people want to give us credit for sometimes.

Brenda in South Carolina: Lou, they call you a racist. If being a patriotic American is racist, then sign me up.

Well no one is going to be using the race card when they actually have some facts in their defense of their arguments.

And Judy in Florida: We're not racist, we just don't like giving our country away.

Scott in California asks: Why does President Bush say he's fighting terrorism when he can't even control our own borders? I'm 20-years-old and have to worry about domestic terrorism more than I do about the Middle East. Why are we policing the globe when we can't take care of business at home?

We'll have more of your e-mails coming up here shortly, including your thoughts on the vice presidential shooting accident, like this one from Don in California who said: Cheney's press office blew it. They should have immediately announced that Mr. Whittingon's condition was related to bird flu.

The thoughts get better and better. Our e-mail address, Outrage tonight after former Vice President Al Gore declared this country committed terrible atrocities against Arabs after September 11th.

The former vice president told a mainly Arab audience in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, that Arabs in the United States were quote, "Indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a Visa, or not having a green card in proper order. And held in conditions that were just unforgivable," end quote.

Those are remarkable words from the former vice president, any former vice president, given that 15 of the 19 September 11th hijackers came from Saudi Arabia and the terrorist used false documents in this country. Gore's office declined to comment to us when we talked to them tonight. I have one comment. And that is if you're going to pander, Mr. Vice President, I would prefer you do it at home rather than in Saudi Arabia. Congressman Curt Weldon promised today that this week's Able Danger hearings on Capitol Hill will answer many important questions about pre-9/11 intelligence failures. The Congressman says these hearings will prove there's been a massive cover-up about Able Danger intelligence that some say could have well prevented 9/11.


REP. CURT WELDON (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I am not going to sit still until we have the facts and the true information about what we knew before 9/11. And why is there this effort to silence these people? Why have there been intimidating threats made when people want to simply tell truth?


DOBBS: Among those scheduled to testify tomorrow, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer, the officer who brought the Able Danger controversy to national attention. Erik Kleinsmith, a former U.S. Army major, who says he was ordered to destroy Able Danger data.

Congressman Weldon said today that all Able Danger intelligence was not destroyed and says the name of 9/11 mastermind Mohamed Atta surfaced 13 times in pre-9/11 intelligence data that still exists. This broadcast will have complete coverage and analysis of the hearings tomorrow. Congressman Weldon will be our guest here as well.

Former 9/11 commissioner member Tim Roemer joins me Thursday. And Emmy award-winning investigative journalist Peter Lance, who's written extensively on Able Danger, joins us here Friday.

Coming up at much to the hour here on CNN, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou. Coming up, the man shot by the vice president in a hunting accident takes a turn for the worse, suffers a heart attack. We're going to have reports from the hospital treating Harry Whittington and from our senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Why did the local sheriff wait a day before interviewing the vice president and other witnesses to the accident? You'll hear the sheriff's answer in his own words. That's coming up.

And it's your taxpayer money. So why might it be wasted right now? The federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina. All that plus what made Saddam Hussein go in a hunger strike, Lou, coming up in a few minutes.

DOBBS: Okay, Wolf, thank you. Looking forward to it. And a reminder to please vote in our poll tonight. The Mexican government unable to account for about two million people in its latest census. The question, do you think the U.S. government should help the Mexican government locate the supposed two million citizens that are missing from their census? Please cast your vote at We'll have the results coming right up. Also ahead, Arizona state lawmakers taking on the federal government for failure to protect their state from illegal aliens. One state senator is leading an absolutely intriguing effort which may have the Internal Revenue Service and the Bush administration, it may give them -- he's our guest here next, stay with us.


DOBBS: You can call it the Boston Tea Party Phoenix, Arizona style. Arizona says its residents are paying billions in federal tax dollars without receiving any protection from the federal government on border security in return. Tonight, Arizona state legislators are debating whether to withhold federal tax dollars to win Washington's attention.

Arizona State Senator Dean Martin, the sponsor of this tax revolt bill, joins us tonight from Phoenix to explain the plan. And what in the world are you doing, diverting IRS dollars to the state?

DEAN MARTIN (R), ARIZONA STATE SENATOR: Well, the plan is, is everyone who would pay their normal federal income tax, they just send the checks to the state of Arizona. We'd aggregate that amount, and subtract out our costs for illegal immigration, and forward on the balance to the federal government.

DOBBS: Have you checked to see whether or not this is legal?

MARTIN: Well, the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution gives the states the authority for anything that's not delegated in the Constitution. The 16th Amendment gives the federal government the right to collect an income tax. However, it does not specify how. And so, we're going to redefine that, that the 50 states shall collect it for them, and deduct out any federal mandates.

DOBBS: It's an interesting concept, since federal government is doing absolutely nothing in terms of enforcing immigration law, and is woefully inadequate in providing border security. Other states could follow your lead. But first, how much support is there within the Arizona state legislature for what you are advocating?

MARTIN: Very strong support. As it comes out here, we are looking at $1.3 billion -- and we're a small state, our whole budget is about $8 billion -- in uncompensated costs for illegal immigration, in health care, education and incarceration.

And so we spend $25 billion that our citizens give to the federal government, and they can't individually fight the federal government, but the state's basically saying we're going to come in there and fight for you.

DOBBS: Has your legislation now passed committee?

MARTIN: If passed out of the Finance Committee last week, and is moving towards the floor.

DOBBS: And what is your sense of the support that you will enjoy there?

MARTIN: I believe we'll have the support on the floor. I hope to move it out here in the next month, and hopefully get it through the House and up to the governor's desk in time for April 15th.

DOBBS: Well, Governor Napolitano declared a border emergency in your state. Is it your sense that she would support you?

MARTIN: Well, I would sincerely hope so. She declared a state of emergency, but didn't do anything. She asked the federal government -- she actually sent them a bill, and they didn't pay it, for illegal immigration. So we're kind of looking at this as well. We're taking the federal government to collections.

DOBBS: Well, Senator Martin, we thank you very much and we appreciate you being here and wish you luck.

MARTIN: Thank you.

DOBBS: Still ahead, we'll have more of your thoughts, the results of our poll tonight, and we'll have the very latest for you on the intrepid fallen heroes fund. Please stay with us.


DOBBS: Now the results of our poll tonight. The question: Do you think the U.S. government should help the Mexican government locate the supposed 2 million missing citizens, missing from their census? And well, 53 percent of you -- this is about as balanced a result as we've had in some time -- 53 percent of you say, yes, we should; 47 percent, no, we shouldn't. But obviously everyone intrigued. Heavy voting in the poll.

We've got more of your thoughts now. Many of you wrote in about our report here last night on the company from the United Arab Emirates that is close to taking operational control of many of this nation's major sea ports, a deal the Bush administration has all but signed off on.

Lois in Michigan writes -- "Putting foreign nations in control of our ports, especially a nation that has harbored our enemies, is asking to put the fox in charge of the hen house. Would anyone in their right mind consider doing that? Maybe that in itself is the real truth."

Glen in New Hampshire wrote to say: "How dare the White House even consider this? And where the hell is Congress? Every congressman ought to be on the floor denouncing the idea of this lunacy."

And Tom in Pennsylvania: "Lou, thank you for reporting on our major ports being controlled by a company from the United Arab Emirates. The media would rather talk about something more important, such as the vice president's accidental shooting. I don't know whether you're a Democrat or a Republican. That makes you an honest reporter." And we received a lot of e-mail on that infamous shooting accident that the vice president and Mr. Whittington went through last Saturday.

Bruce in Mississippi saying -- "Lou, we need to focus on the serious issues. Cheney shooting a fellow hunter with birdshot is unfortunate, but not worth the time that has been spent on the event."

Charles in Nevada: "What difference does all this make? It was just a minor accident with 28 gauge birdshot. So what? Are the media that desperate for a scalp?"

And Fred in Texas: "Lou, the ridiculous hysteria shown by the White House press corps today trivializes any important issue the press corps may cover in the future."

And finally, Liz in Arizona: "Lou, thank you for what you said last evening about the press not addressing the important issues. You are fair and balanced."

No, I'm not. Those are the other guys. We just try to deal with the truth here.

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts at Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my book, "Exporting America." Also, if you would like to receive our e-mail newsletter, sign up on our Web site,

And we want to once again call your attention to a very important cause, the intrepid fallen heroes fund, constructing a state-of-the- art facility for our seriously wounded. It will be built in San Antonio, Texas, a center that will help members of our military severely wounded in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

We'd like you to contribute. If you'd like to do so, please go to The fund is three weeks and just over $3 million away from its goal. Once again, Or you can find a link to the fund on, or call 1-800-340-HERO. 1-800-340-HERO.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. Long-awaited congressional hearings on the Able Danger controversy finally begin on Capitol Hill. Congressman Curt Weldon made it happen. He's our guest.

And we'll talk with a top NASA scientist who says his bosses tried to stop him from talking about global warming. Our special guest, Dr. James Hansen. Please be with us.

For all of us here, good night from New York. Thanks for watching. "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer begins right now -- Wolf.


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