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Gas Pump Politics; China Trying To Grab Oil Near Florida Coast; Gulf Outing For Bush; Tyler Drumheller Interview

Aired April 27, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, middle class Americans are reeling from skyrocketing gasoline prices, and elected officials in Washington are in a frenzy trying to come up with answers, but they're completely ignoring the real causes of this war on the middle class.
We'll be live on Capitol Hill with the latest.

And communist China could soon be drilling for oil a few miles from the coast of Florida with a help of communist Cuba. The United States at this point powerless to stop communist China's latest oil grab.

We'll have that special report.

And organized religion admitting big businesses are in direct support of amnesty for illegal aliens. They also support boycotts and protests that will take place next Monday that could damage our economy.

We'll have that report.

And among my guests tonight, a leading advocate of amnesty for all illegal aliens, Professor Janice Fine, who says amnesty would be good for all Americans. We'll be talking with her and our other guests here, straight ahead.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate, and opinion for Thursday, April 27th.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

Members of Congress tonight are proposing new energy plans almost as fast as gasoline prices are rising. Republican and Democratic lawmakers competing with each other to suggest new policies to tackle these soaring gasoline prices, but lawmakers are ignoring the real causes of this front in the war on the middle class, and middle class Americans continue to face higher living costs, stagnant wages and higher interest rates.

Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From this committee room with the Fed chairman...

REP. JIM SAXTON (R-NJ), JOINT ECONOMIC COMMITTEE.: How does the oil price increase affect your outlook on the economy?

BASH: ... to this one on the other side of the Capitol...

REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R), VIRGINIA: Have either of you found any evidence of manipulation in the trading of gasoline or oil contracts?

BASH: ... to the Senate floor...

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: I want to introduce legislation called the Gas Price Reduction Act of 2006.

BASH: ... the dizzying frenzy to speak out on sky high gas prices drove House Republicans to show up at their has station press conference in a hydrogen minivan. The speaker parked his SUV in back.

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), HOUSE SPEAKER: We're 65 percent dependent on foreign oil from places like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria and Venezuela. Whenever they decide to turn the spigot or raise the prices, our consumers suffer.

BASH: Senate Republicans walked to a park where their microphones were set up. The leader's SUV, needed for security, rode next to him.

SEN. PETE DOMENICI (R-NM), ENERGY CHAIRMAN: We'll get consumers relief at the pump.

BASH: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are in overdrive to come up with proposals showing voters this election year they feel their pain at the pump. After Democrats proposed suspending a gas tax they say would save consumers $100 million a day, Senate Republicans scrambled to unveil a multi-part plan which would put money back in people's wallets.

DOMENICI: We are going to ease their burden, the burden of those families who are hit so hard, by giving them $100 rebate to help offset the very steep gas prices.


BASH: The question is, will any of these proposals actually help consumers lower their prices at the pump right now? Senator Grassley flatly admitted, no. Despite all of the sound and fury, there's not a lot of faith in this incredibly partisan atmosphere that any of these proposals could actually pass -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, partisan atmosphere or not, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, proposing a rollback of royalties, some $7 billion going to big oil, $10 billion in subsidies. And that energy bill in which those subsidies were passed and the president approved, less than a year old. And Congressman Curt Weldon talking about the rollback on the federal excise taxes.

What is -- what is the likelihood that any of this will happen?

BASH: That is a big, open question, and I don't think anybody really has an answer to that yet here, Lou, because it just depends on what form they come before Congress on both sides. As I mentioned, for example, on the Senate there are a lot of proposals that Democrats and Republicans could support, but Republicans want to put the drilling in the Alaskan wildlife on that proposal, Democrats simply won't go for that.

That's just one example of how complicated, despite the common desire, how complicated this issue is, especially in an election year.

DOBBS: Dana, thank you very much.

Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.

The frenzy on Capitol Hill over high gasoline prices likely to intensify as focus settles on ExxonMobil and its massive profits over the first three months of this year. ExxonMobil's profits rose to nearly $8.5 billion, the fifth highest profit for any American corporation ever.

Over the past three months, gasoline prices have soared to $2.93 as a nation average from $2.34, up almost 60 cents in that period. Crude oil prices falling to $71 a barrel in New York trading. The fourth straight day of declines, but no sign the oil companies are planning to lower gasoline prices anytime soon.

Communist China could soon be drilling for oil just miles off the coast of Florida. China negotiating with communist Cuba to develop oilfields in the Gulf of Mexico, and incredibly, U.S. law prohibits U.S. oil companies from drilling in the same area as the communist Chinese are about to do.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): China's global grab for oil has made it partners with rogue nations around the world. The latest, Cuba, buying oilfields that are virtually in our back yard. Some in Congress are outraged.

SEN. LARRY CRAIG (R), IDAHO: Stand on a high place in the lower Florida Keys and some day you will see an oil rig, and it won't be ours. It could be red China's, a foreign policy that allows China to drill in our back yard, not a very good policy.

PILGRIM: China is looking to develop the North Cuba Basin, within 50 miles of the Florida Keys. It could have oil reserves of 4.5 billion to 9 billion barrels. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, approximately half the size of Alaska's ANWAR.

Cuba is allowing Canada, Spain and now China to drill. China will also refurbish an old Soviet refinery in Cuba. But U.S. companies, because of the U.S. embargo of Cuba and hostile relations with Fidel Castro, are locked out of the game.

China has also befriended Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, who has offered Chinese firms operating rights to mature fields.

PAMELA FALK, CITY UNIV. OF NEW YORK: Strategically speaking, it is a very dangerous relationship to have Venezuela, very antagonistic with the United States right now, and China, very competitive with the United States right now, in the U.S.' own back yard in Cuba.

PILGRIM: The United States is heavily dependent on Venezuelan oil. Venezuela is the fourth largest oil supplier to the United States. The new oilfields offshore from Cuba could ultimately help supply concerns, but both countries increasingly favor China over the United States.


PILGRIM: Now, Senator Larry Craig wants to introduce legislation that would allow U.S. companies to operate in these waters, saying we can't let China lock up a potentially lucrative oil supply right in our own back yard -- Lou.

DOBBS: That would be unfortunate. And as Senator Craig suggests, rightly, really bad policy. But it would not be the only bad policy being pursued by this country in the Gulf of Mexico with Cuba, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and the rest of South America.

PILGRIM: Absolutely.

DOBBS: When is there any -- is there any indication of any interest on the part of this administration to create a strategy for this hemisphere?

PILGRIM: Well, actually, oil executives met in Mexico to try to talk...

DOBBS: I meant the government.

PILGRIM: Yes -- no. They were thwarted from doing anything by the government.

DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much.

Kitty Pilgrim.

A scathing report today from the Senate Homeland Security Committee calling for abolishment of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA. Senate investigators blamed all levels of government from the president to the mayor of New Orleans for botching the response of disaster relief agencies and workers to Hurricane Katrina. But the report's top recommendation, abolish FEMA.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: FEMA has become a symbol of a bumbling bureaucracy in which the American people have completely lost faith.


DOBBS: Leaving a number of agencies in the federal government, I would think, at risk.

President Bush today in New Orleans and Mississippi. He hoped to use the visit to promote volunteer efforts to rebuild the region. But the president's message was buried by the Senate report on FEMA.

Ed Henry is traveling with the president and reports now from New Orleans.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We could use a few more hands.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Making his 11th trip to the Gulf region since Hurricane Katrina, President Bush donned a carpenter's apron to help volunteers rebuild a home in New Orleans. And the president tried to reassure shell-shocked residents bracing for the new hurricane season just one month away.

BUSH: We pray there is no hurricane that's coming here, but we are working together to make sure that if there is one, the response will be as efficient as possible.

HENRY: Message: I care. But the empathy tour got stepped on by the bipartisan Senate report charging the federal government is still woefully unprepared for another disaster.

White House officials say they share the goal of improving governmental response, but now is not the time to restructure the boxes on a government flowchart by abolishing FEMA.

FRANCES TOWNSEND, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: I don't think it's productive to talk about dismantling the agency. I mean, I really think what the point of this is, is to strengthen the inherent case (ph) response and preparation capability, and that's what we agree on with the Senate.


HENRY: The new Senate report put the White House on the defensive on a day when they wanted to try to highlight some progress here in the Gulf region, just like yesterday, when the White House rolled out their new press secretary, Tony Snow, and that got overshadowed a bit by Karl Rove's fifth grand jury appearance in the CIA leak case -- Lou.

DOBBS: Ed Henry.

Thank you very much.

Still ahead here, many big U.S. businesses supporting boycotts and protests on May 1st, supporting amnesty for illegal aliens. We'll be telling you why.

And among my guests tonight, a strong supporter of illegal aliens and who says amnesty would be good for all Americans, not just illegal aliens.

And did the Bush White House ignore vital intelligence as it prepared for war in Iraq? I'll be talking with a top former CIA officer in Europe who says absolutely.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The California State Senate voted today in favor of a resolution to support Monday's nationwide illegal alien demonstrations and boycott, the so-called "Great American Boycott." Senators approved that resolution despite the fact that this boycott could hurt California's economy, disrupt its schools, and hurt local businesses.

The vote, strictly along party lines. All Democrats voted in favor of the resolution in the Senate. All Republicans voted against it.

The California State Assembly is also expected to pass this resolution. It is also Democratically controlled.

Organizers of the so-called "Great American Boycott" insists tonight it will take place as planned, even though many in the illegal alien amnesty movement are now openly opposed to the boycott. At a news conference in Washington, D.C., today, organizers of the boycott admitted there are disagreements within the activist community, but they say the split will not harm the turnout Monday.


JUAN JOSE GUTIERREZ, LATINO MOVEMENT USA: May 1st is going to be historic and is going to be vast in its massivity. We fully expect that millions of workers, men and women, immigrants and non- immigrants, their supporters, are going to heed our call that on May 1st there be no work, no school, no shopping and no selling. A day without immigrants.


DOBBS: Juan Jose Gutierrez today said he is certain that this boycott has the strong support of the majority of the American people as well. Juan Jose Gutierrez, of the Latino Movement USA, will be our guest here Monday, May 1st, the day of the boycott.

Businesses across this nation will be shutting down Monday during the May 1st boycott. Some will close in support of illegal aliens. Others say it won't make any sense for them to open because their employees are illegal aliens. After all, without the pool of cheap illegal alien labor, they say, many businesses in this country would find themselves out of business.

Bill Tucker reports.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): While many businesses and illegal immigration supporters are backing away from Monday's planned rallies, others are stepping up in support. Much of Los Angeles' 7th Street produce market, supplier to thousands of local restaurants and markets, will be closed on Monday.

PEDRO ASTORGA, 7TH STREET MARKET MERCHANTS ASSN.: We will not work on May 1st. We will not sell any vegetables or fruits.

TUCKER: Many meat packers will also be shutting down. Tyson announcing they will be closing many of their plants due to "market conditions" and a "potential shortage" of workers. Cargill and Seaboard are reportedly shutting down as well, but calls to their offices by LOU DOBBS TONIGHT went unreturned.

The shutdowns raise the question of why they would sanction the protests.

ROY BECK, NUMBERSUSA: This is their chance to get an amnesty for themselves. I mean, most people think this is an amnesty for illegal aliens, but what is being pushed is also an amnesty for outlaw businesses. So, you know, when you see these businesses letting their workers off, you can pretty well know these are guys that have been violating federal law for years.

TUCKER: Economics play a role as well.

PETER MORICI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: The meat packers are confirming what we know, and that is that this large group of illegal aliens in the United States is lowering the wage rate of semi-skilled workers, people who are high school dropouts or high school graduates with minimal training.

ALISON PARKER, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Working in the meat packing industry, in fact, is the most dangerous factory job in the United States.

TUCKER: In 1980, a meat packing job paid $19 an hour. Today, that same job pays closer to $9 an hour, according to the Labor Department.

Bill Tucker, CNN, New York.


DOBBS: Extraordinary impact on wages. And some studies putting the effect on wages in this country, depressing wages, by an amount as high as $200 billion a year.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. After those protests and boycotts on the 1st of May, this coming Monday, do you believe that American citizens should develop a method of demonstrating their opposition to amnesty and our total lack of border security?

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

Spanish language radio stations tomorrow will begin playing a new version of the "Star-Spangled Banner," sung completely in Spanish. Some of the best-known Hispanic recording artists have recorded this version of our national anthem to show their support for illegal aliens before the boycott on May 1st. Here's just a sample of that new song.


DOBBS: The song described by supporters of the illegal amnesty demonstrations, the boycott, as a call for illegal alien solidarity. Spanish radio stations hope that by playing the song they will generate support and participation for Monday's -- what they now call the "Great American Boycott."

Still ahead here, I'll be talking with a supporter of illegal alien amnesty who says the Catholic Church has every right to fight for the rights of illegal aliens, that it's a good thing for America and all Americans to give amnesty to all illegal aliens.

And I'll be talking with a retired CIA official who says the war in Iraq will be seen as one of the worst policy mistakes in our history.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The international crisis over Iran's nuclear defiance is escalating still. Iran has received a shipment of missiles from North Korea that can strike targets in Europe. Those missiles are also capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today said Iran seems determined to defy international efforts to control its nuclear program. The secretary of state declared it is now time for the United Nations Security Council to take action. The Security Council has demanded that Iran stop enrichment of uranium by tomorrow.

Aneesh Raman reports from Tehran.


A standoff between Iran and the U.S. seems to be in the works. A day ahead of a deadline to stop its nuclear program, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, today said the country would not suspend Iranian enrichment and warned against any action taken against Iran because of that.

It comes just a day after the country's supreme leader warned that if America attacked Iran, American interests around the world would be harmed and that Iran would respond with double the strength. The Iranian position is that they have a civilian peaceful nuclear program, that it is their right to have, and that if the U.N. takes any action, not only will the U.N. lose credibility, but Iran will cease cooperation with the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA.

Meantime, the Americans are saying that if the U.N. does not take action against Iran, it will lose credibility. And so now the critically important question is what the U.N. chooses to do in the weeks to come after what is expected to be a critical report of Iran by the IAEA comes out in the days ahead -- Lou.

DOBBS: Aneesh Raman, reporting from Tehran.

In Iraq, insurgents have killed three more of our soldiers. Two soldiers were killed in Baghdad, another in a gun battle, and one in a roadside road attack. And one of our soldiers was killed in a bomb attack in the northern city of Mosul -- 2,394 of our troops have now been killed in Iraq.

Four European troops were also killed in Iraq today. Three Italian, one Romanian killed by a roadside bomb in the southern city of Nasiriyah.

In Washington, a federal judge today rejected a motion to dismiss charges against former White House adviser Scooter Libby in the CIA- White House leak case. The defense attorney's motion challenged the powers of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the case. The judge ruled that Fitzgerald does not have excessive powers.

Libby is charged with perjury, lying and obstruction of justice. His trial is scheduled to begin now the first of January of next year.

The chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Arlen Specter, today threatened to cut off funding for the government's warrantless wiretapping program. Senator Specter said the Bush administration is not answering his questions about that program.


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: The effort by the administration to justify the electronic surveillance under the resolution authorizing the use of force which was passed on September 14, 2001, is totally -- totally without merit.


DOBBS: And something of a slap at Senator Specter. The White House said it has called appropriate members of Congress and will continue to be informing Congress about the surveillance program.

Time now to take a look at some of your thoughts.

Ken in Arizona, "Every time the president or one of his sycophants utters the phrase about 'jobs Americans won't do' it is another salvo in the war of the elites against the middle class. Thank you for returning fire on our behalf. We'll send our own salvos on Election Day."

Ken in Florida, "Lou, today as I went about my work day, I saw capable, hardworking Americans laying drainage pipe in a roadside ditch, cooking burgers and cleaning the grill. As I ate lunch and sweeping the floor in a sheet metal shop I visited, which jobs were those that Mr. Bush and Congress say that Americans won't do."

And Charles in Ontario, "Lou, Canadian citizens will soon have to produce a passport to enter the United States. For those Canadians who don't have one it would seem easier to just fly to Mexico and just walk across."

Send us your thoughts to We'll have more of them later here in the broadcast.

Up next, supporters and opponents of illegal alien amnesty debating the correct response of organized religion to the illegal alien crisis. And I'll be talking tonight with an illegal alien amnesty supporter who says illegal aliens should be allowed to join unions to drive wages higher.

And retired senior CIA officer Tyler Drumheller is our guest here tonight. He says the United States ignored key intelligence that could have prevented the Iraq war.

All of that, a great deal more coming right up.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: There was provocative debate in Washington, D.C., over the correct response of organized religion in this country to the illegal alien crisis. This debate comes as organized religion is aggressively lobbying for illegal alien amnesty and against tough penalties for illegal aliens and their employers in this country.

Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The immigration debate has touched on many issues, including religion. The Catholic Church has been vocal supporting amnesty, so has the Church World Service. At an immigration forum sponsored by the Family Research Council, amnesty advocates quoted scripture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The alien living amongst you must be treated as one of your native born. Love him as yourself."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We might want to ask as we decide on our response, what would Jesus do?

SYLVESTER: Religion is one of the considerations for Republican Senator Sam Brownback. He backs enforcement plus amnesty. SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: This is the right thing to do. I think it's the right solution for the country. I think it's a humanitarian solution.

SYLVESTER: But his views contrast sharply with others at the forum. Mark Krikorian is one of the nation's leading critics of amnesty. He's also a deacon with the Armenian Apostolic Church.

MARK KRIKORIAN, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: We have an obligation as human beings to treat even illegal aliens humanely, but the obligation is to treat them humanely as they're detained and removed from the country. They have human rights regardless of where they live and what legal status they're under. They don't have civil rights.

SYLVESTER: Representative Tom Tancredo believes in helping those less fortunate, but says charity begins at home.

REP. TOM TANCREDO (R), COLORADO: Why aren't we compassionate to the people who are legally present in the United States who are being negatively affected by massive illegal immigration? Why is it just a one-way street?

SYLVESTER: Krikorian and Tancredo do not buy the notion that people of faith have to back amnesty. Compassion, they say, comes in many forms.


SYLVESTER: And there are millions of people worldwide living in poverty. The question is, how can the United States develop an effective immigration system? One that is compassionate, not only for legal newcomers, but also compassionate toward U.S. citizens who may be struggling economically. Lou?

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much. Any conclusion?

SYLVESTER: I think at this point they didn't reach any consensus. The people obviously who see it one way are going to continue seeing it one way. But I think it's very clear that compassionate, that's a term we hear over and over again, it's got to include compassionism toward U.S. citizens as well, Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Lisa Sylvester from Washington.

Well my next guest is a strong supporter of amnesty for illegal aliens and the May 1st boycott and she believes that church has an important role to play in fighting for the rights of illegal aliens.

Janice Fine is professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers University. She's also the author of the book, "Worker Centers" about community centers across the country that provide support and guidance for illegal aliens. Professor, good to have you with us.

JANICE FINE, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Thank you. DOBBS: Let's start out with the role of the church, the idea that the archdiocese of Los Angeles headed by Cardinal Roger Mahony is saying, basically, if the Senate and the House come together and approve what is the Sensenbrenner legislation of board security?

FINE: Yes.

DOBBS: That his parishioners should ignore it. Do you think that's a sensible role for a church to take?

FINE: Yes. I don't really understand why you don't. I guess if you think about the history of organized religion in this country, I feel like churches and synagogues have played the role of the moral conscience of the nation.

And so if you think of the civil rights movement, if you think and the labor movement, churches have always been on the front lines. I think that's a great thing and one of the things I wanted to say is that in my book, what you learn is that a lot of these low-wage workers, immigrant workers, the first place they go -- because they're religious people or many of them go to church and it's their priests who discover -- the workplace exploitation.

DOBBS: I have a little problem first of all equating the civil rights movement to anything to do with what is happening with illegal immigration in this country.

FINE: Why?

DOBBS: Because -- and I think it's frankly an insult to African- Americans, blacks in this country, who had as citizens of their country, their rights absolutely taken away from them and were denied opportunity.

This is an entirely different issue. These are people who are breaking our laws, coming to our country and the church -- and specifically the Catholic Church and the good Cardinal Mahony and the person who you seem to think is terrific, is embracing his new parishioners as they flood across the border with Mexico.

But the Catholic Church in Mexico is doing nothing to alleviate the corruption of that government, the impoverishment of about 50 percent of the population of Mexico...

FINE: Well I don't think we know that much about the role of the Catholic Church in Mexico.

DOBBS: ... and then taking on a moral -- I'm sorry?

FINE: I can't -- I don't know the role of the Catholic Church in Mexico.

DOBBS: I'm giving you just some of the rough outlines. It is absolutely a despicable record and a travesty and it is one of the reasons that 20 percent, as much as 20 percent of Mexico's population, is being forced into this country. So it's the other part of the equation, but let's go to the idea of amnesty for illegal aliens if we may. Why do you think that's such a good idea?

FINE: I think that no matter what our position is about undocumented immigrants in this country, I think what we can all break bread on is that once people are here, we have to make sure that labor standards are protected and that wages and labor standards and occupational health and safety are respected and we're in a situation now where undocumented...

DOBBS: You mean like they've been for the last 20 years?

FINE: ... we're in a situation now with undocumented immigrants where employers know that they can exploit them for that reason. And so what I think is that what's happened is that our immigration policy has become our most important labor market policy and I know you agree with that.

DOBBS: I happen to...

FINE: And the question is what do we do? And the bottom line is, we need enforcement in low-wage industries and to do enforcement in low-wage industries, we've got to have people at the grass roots, like these worker centers and others, who are making sure that the Fair Labor Standards Act is being upheld in workplace after workplace. That's what these organizations do and that helps every American worker.

DOBBS: ... I happen to agree with you that we have a strong role for government in the enforcement of standards. Worker protection which organized labor built up in this country over a hundred years, which we have seen roll back and in large measure because of the tolerance of both organized labor, as well as the corporate supremacists who are driving the policy of both the Democratic and the Republican Party to ignore immigration law and not find a role for government at our border? Don't you agree with that?

FINE: I think the issue is that what corporate America has done is systematically dismantled the new deal. And they've systematically dismantled a set of labor protections that you and I -- I think would agree on, right?

And I think that what we're doing is targeting the workers instead of targeting the corporations and saying, we live in the Wild West now. You know, that the minimum wage has ceased to be a tool of social progress and that low-wage workers are being used as pawns in a system of subcontracting that we are all complicit in. In your waiting room today, there was a janitor from OneSource. OneSource is a small subcontracting company that's just indicative of the problem with our economy today.

DOBBS: The outsourcing of jobs, imagine that?

FINE: No, not just outsourcing, but subcontracting independent contractors. DOBBS: Of course, and because that gives everyone a level of what what would be called, in more dramatic language, plausible deniability.

FINE: That's exactly right.

DOBBS: And an arm's length from responsibility for the actions they're taking.

FINE: That's right.

DOBBS: I quite agree with you, but going to the role of government in terms of protecting labor standards and I would agree I think we would agree 100 percent that the minimum wage in this country should be raised considerably.

FINE: Considerably.

DOBBS: I don't think we agree about the role of government in enforcing immigration policy. Because had we enforced our immigration policy, had this government responded rationally and with a view to working men and women in this country about whom you and I both care, would we not have secured our borders four and a half years ago at the very latest?

FINE: See I think that border enforcement is one piece of the puzzle. But I really think that the great silence in this debate -- there are two that I can think of. One silence in the debate is about wage enforcement and about the way that corporations have completely structured the economy to the detriment of low-wage workers and the middle class. But the second silence is about economic development in Mexico, right?

Why aren't we following the flows backward back to where people are coming from and seeing what are the conditions in their communities and how do we change that? Why aren't we talking about NAFTA and what a crime NAFTA is?

DOBBS: Do you realize what would happen, professor, had we not -- if we had not, with the acquiescence of both political parties, this Congress and this president insisted on border enforcement and enforcement of our immigration laws, the United States would not be serving as a safety valve for appropriate social and political pressures that should be building up right now in Mexico for Reform and that's...

FINE: Let me just say this about border enforcement.

DOBBS: ... You get the last -- quickly.

FINE: We have spent a huge amount of money on border enforcement.

DOBBS: We spent -- no, no, professor, say something else about borders because we haven't done a thing. FINE: We have more border enforcement than ever we had before. More people are dying and more people are getting through. I don't think border enforcement is going to fix our problem.

DOBBS: I think without it, we can't fix our problem and that's where we'll have to end it.

FINE: OK, very good.

DOBBS: Professor, great to have you with us. Come back soon.

FINE: Thank you.

DOBBS: Coming up next year here, did the White House deliberately ignore pre-war intelligence in going into Iraq? Tyler Drumheller, a retired top-ranking CIA officer who investigated Iraqi weapons programs is our guest. And the Pentagon doesn't know how much to pay our troops? Now it's demanding money from soldiers who gave their lives in Iraq. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Tyler Drumheller served as the CIA's highest ranking officer in Europe. He was in charge of the operation that infiltrated the top levels of Saddam Hussein's government, and he says invading Iraq will be considered one of the greatest policy mistakes in our history.

Tyler Drumheller joins us tonight from Washington, D.C. It is good to have you with us.


DOBBS: What prompted you to come out with this information?

DRUMHELLER: Well, over the last year, since I retired, I had watched as the administration blamed the agency and the officers and the personnel of the agency for the war, basically, and in the end I know that it was just the opposite, that in fact we had intelligence that would have given them the right answers before the war, and in fact the policy was ahead of the intelligence. And I felt that the officers and the people in the service deserved that.

DOBBS: You say unequivocally that the Bush administration, from the time it came in, was focused on taking action in Iraq, and intelligence was created and supported and directed to support that policy. Why so?

DRUMHELLER: It wasn't created and directed. What it was, was there was a lot of intelligence out there -- rumors from the emigre community, the reporting from unvalidated sources -- and the administration chose what backed, what supported their policy.

Our feeling was that we didn't have a lot of good sources at the time they came into power, because at the end of the Clinton administration we had shifted from Iraq to Iran and terrorism, which were actually greater threats at the time. And it took a while to get back up to speed on Iraq.

But by the fall of 2002, we had a source in place that gave us a clearer picture of what the Iraqis were -- capability was.

DOBBS: The CIA had a high-level, very high-level source within Saddam's government. It was -- that source was obviously used for much of the intelligence. Yet when you were interviewed by the commission investigating the pre-war intelligence, there was no mention of that, discernible mention of that in the report. Were you surprised?

DRUMHELLER: I was surprised, because I testified for quite a bit of time on that one case, and actually the longest period of time that I testified. And when the report came out -- it is in there, there is a very -- a very small reference to it, but you'd have to know what you were looking for to know what it was.

DOBBS: I would like your reaction to something President Bush said during his State of the Union address. We've all talked about 16 words, but these words would be interesting. During his State of the Union address -- that was on January 28th of 2003 -- and this is what he had to say.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction. But why? The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for those weapons is to dominate, intimidate or attack.


DOBBS: What's your response?

DRUMHELLER: Well, there is a strategic truth in that. Over the long term, Saddam, if he could have developed those weapons, if he could have developed the nuclear weapons, if he could have developed the biological weapons, he certainly would have used them. They certainly had nascent programs to do that. But they were years and years away from doing it. And we had plenty of time to put together a large, Gulf War I-style coalition that could have prevented the kind of chaos that took place after the fact.

DOBBS: But, Tyler, in context, the Clinton administration, from the president on down through his administration, President Clinton, talked about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, as if he were in possession of them at that time. Democrats, Democratic senators, congressmen, Republican senators, Republican congressmen, all -- the British -- speaking -- and the world community -- and the United Nations, by the way, speaking as if Saddam Hussein had those weapons of mass destruction. Yet you're saying our intelligence ran counter to that all but complete, ubiquitous view that was in unanimity.

DRUMHELLER: Well, unfortunately, all that sort of common wisdom was based on either extrapolations from the amount of equipment left over after the first Gulf War, or just the analytical theories about what Saddam would actually have.

We really didn't have good sources on it, and it wasn't until, as I say, until the fall of 2002 that we had a policy-level source that could keep us informed on that.

Now, those other countries, the Clinton administration, the Europeans and all the others, they always -- they feared that he had this, they always suspected he had it, but none of them had enough confidence in the intelligence that they had to commit to something like going to war, because they knew that there were still questions in this. It was still -- there were still vagaries in the intelligence sources.

DOBBS: A mistake that you say is the greatest in the country's history.

Let me ask you something of immediate currency because of what is happening in Iran as we approach tomorrow's deadline with the Security Council and the possibility of a weaponized uranium enrichment program. Does the CIA, in your judgment today, does the U.S. military intelligence, all of these intelligence agencies in the U.S. government, do you believe the American people should have confidence in the level of intelligence that they can gather, analyze and report?

DRUMHELLER: I believe they can have confidence in the officers that are doing it. I think, if given the time to collect it -- I don't know what they're actually doing now because I've been out of it for about a year -- but the fact is, they can do it, but they need to be given time.

And the process needs to be allowed to go forward without politicization. And whatever the answer is at the end, if it doesn't fit people's preconceptions, that should be accepted. If Iran is 10 years away from building nuclear weapons, then that should be accepted. It shouldn't be -- you shouldn't look for other things that contradict that.

DOBBS: That 10-year reference that Tyler Drumheller just made was the suggestion of John Negroponte, who is the national director of intelligence, and he made those comments last week.

All right. Tyler Drumheller, thank you very much. We appreciate your being with us.

DRUMHELLER: Thanks a lot.

DOBBS: A reminder now to vote in our poll, please. After the protests and the boycotts on May 1st, do you believe that American citizens should develop a method of demonstrating their opposition to amnesty and our lack of border security? Yes or no, please cast your vote at We'll have the results coming right up.

And coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf. WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Lou.

Discredited, demoralized and dysfunctional. That's what senators are saying about FEMA, and they want the agency abolished. We'll talk to the man who was at the center of it all during Hurricane Katrina, the former FEMA Director Michael Brown.

Plus, the name game. Should it be Hillary Rodham Clinton or just Hillary Clinton? A new poll shows words do matter.

And from beer to fuel. We'll find out how a Miller brewing plant is being pressed into action to help relieve your pain at the pump.

Plus, the new face of the White House. That would be former FOX anchor Tony Snow. Our Jeanne Moos has a closer look at some of his rock star moments. All that coming up, Lou, at the top of the hour.

DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf. Coming up next here, our men and women fight and die in Iraq and Afghanistan, then the Pentagon bills them because of its own bureaucratic errors. That's straight ahead. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan harassed by the federal government and its debt collectors. At a Capitol Hill hearing today, angry troops describe a bureaucracy that can't keep track of their pay, and after leaving the service, facing endless collection notices and ruined credit ratings.


SPEC. FRANK MANGUM, ALABAMA ARMY NATL. GUARD: Before I was deployed to Iraq with my Guard unit, I was a sheet metal mechanic in the construction industry. I was required to climb ladders all day long. My wage was between $15 and $17 an hour. I can no longer do this job. I now make $8 as a manager for the local Burger King franchise. My service in Iraq cost me my health, my money and my job. Now I'm being asked for more.


DOBBS: Pentagon computers also list 400 of our troops who were killed in combat as owing money to the government.

Joining me now for more on this, General David Grange. General, how do you react when you hear that?

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Lou, it's inexcusable. This nation has a great history of keeping soldiers alive on the battlefield, great medical care, and what happens is when you return to the United States, something seems to drop off the edge of the cliff.

There's a lot of problems in pay, there's a lot of problems on benefits, and this is just another example. The solution? When it doubt, take care of the soldier, the G.I. Let the government take the hit on the money, sort if out between the government entities.

DOBBS: Absolutely. Well, this general's staff has a lot to account for in the Pentagon, the fact that they can't take care of this, the delays in body armor, up armoring Humvees, responding to the IED threat, the fact that we're three years into this insurgency.

Is it time that this Congress decided to exercise its oversight responsibilities and said what in the world are these generals doing with our finest young men and women in combat, deserving our full support in Iraq and Afghanistan, and being treated like this, and the American people being asked by the generals -- General Pace, General Casey -- to be patient?

GRANGE: The problem with taking care of soldiers, whether it be resourcing them with their pay and allowances, taking care of families, equipment like body armor, is not a new issue. It's been an issue the whole time I served. We just have -- we are just more aware of it today and it's something -- it's a moral responsibility of the leadership, both civilian and military, to sort it out.

DOBBS: Well, the leadership starts with Donald Rumsfeld -- well the commander in chief, President George W. Bush, then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Three years into this insurgency, the patience of the American people with nearly just under 2,400 Americans dead in this war, 17,000 wounded, more than 8,000 of them seriously -- isn't it about time this Congress demanded from the general staff, the generals, what in the world are you doing what are you going to do to get it right?

GRANGE: The issue here is there is a problem with the military side. There's also a problem with the civilian side. You know, this is a ...

DOBBS: Oh, I agree with you.

GRANGE: This is a combined effort.

DOBBS: I couldn't agree with you more.

GRANGE: The State Department, the Department of Defense, other governmental agencies, the ambassador.

DOBBS: But the military, our men and women -- you have been a warrior serving this country for a very long time, more than three decades. The men and women in uniform are the ones dying, and those generals are there to take care of them as well. And they're there to get results.

And we hear them discussing domestic political issues, weighing in on patience for the body politic of this country and we don't see, frankly, the results. And that's a disappointment to all of us who care about the country, care about those men and women in uniform, and care about the national purpose. Isn't it time to demand an accounting of those generals?

GRANGE: Well, for sure it's time to communicate to the American people the purpose of the effort, solutions that are in your face, realistic, up front. I think there's some great serving general officers. I know there are. I know some of these people.

The problem is it's not communicated, I don't think, well so the American people understand fully what's going on. And I think today in this global information environment it's more important than ever to get the facts out, to talk to people. For instance, an insurgency is not the first mile of the marathon. It is the marathon and you have to explain that.

DOBBS: And this country's military has never defeated, over the course of the past 50 years, an insurgency.

GRANGE: Toughest fight there is, and we don't do well at it.

DOBBS: And the American people deserve to be told that, to communicate that. And while our policymakers, our civilian leadership, we can deal with that in election time, but don't you think that we're carrying such a burden here, economically, in terms of the lives of these young men and women, that we've got have an accounting? Because this has reached a point that is extraordinarily, extraordinarily difficult.

GRANGE: Most importantly in lives, also in just the amount of resources the country has put forth on to thin. How are we going win? What have we got to do next? What does it look like?

I'm afraid that -- and I hope this doesn't happen -- that politics does not push withdrawal of troops as an example. If we have to deploy more troops just to shock the enemy, that what are they doing now to win, we need to do it. I mean, think of Patton, what would he do?

DOBBS: Absolutely. I think that is one general that apparently the general staff -- I'll speak for myself here, General Grange -- the general staff and the Pentagon better start thinking about because withdrawal of 30,000 troops, the implications of that, the lack of success on the part of this generals staff, it is time for an accounting in my opinion. Do you agree?

GRANGE: Well there's -- no, I think it's forthcoming that the center of gravity for this nation to continue on with this conflict is the will of the American people. If we lose the will of the American people, there will be no war. We will come home. It won't be 30,000. It will be 138,000. It will be over.

DOBBS: General David Grange. Thanks for being here.

GRANGE: My pleasure.

DOBBS: Good to have you here in New York.

GRANGE: Thanks.

DOBBS: Still ahead, we'll have the results of our poll tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The results of our poll? Ninety-seven percent of you say American citizens should develop a response demonstrating opposition to amnesty and our lack of border security. And we're going to start that dialogue here tomorrow night.

Thanks for being with us. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" starts right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.


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