Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Clears Troops of Massacre in Ishaqi; Venezuelan Film Could Take Over One Of This Country's Top Voting Machine Firms; Independent Gasoline Station Owner Wages War Against Big Oil

Aired June 2, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the military is fighting back against allegations that some of our troops massacred civilians in Iraq. The Pentagon's military and civilian leadership is now struggling to control a crisis that could threaten the entire U.S. mission in Iraq.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Friday, June 2nd.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

Tonight, the crisis over reports that some U.S. troops massacred civilians in Iraq is intensifying. U.S. military officials are now investigating new allegations of our troops, and defense officials say an investigation into one of the alleged massacres has cleared U.S. troops of any wrongdoing. Top and civilian military leaders at the Pentagon are emphasizing that only a small number of troops were involved in those incidents.

We have complete coverage tonight of the incidents in Haditha, Ishaqi and Hamandiyah.

Jamie McIntyre, at the Pentagon tonight, has the latest for us on the progress of these investigations into the alleged massacres. Sumi Das reports from Camp Pendleton, California, on the possibility that seven U.S. Marines and a Navy corpsman could face murder charges. And from the White House, Elaine Quijano reports on the reaction of the Bush administration to what is an intensifying crisis.

We begin with Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the Pentagon was quick to refute allegations that back in March U.S. troops intentionally killed 11 civilians in a town called Ishaqi, north of Baghdad. The Pentagon says that those are old allegations and that incident had already been thoroughly investigated.

This is a case where, in March, U.S. troops attacked a suspected terrorist hideout. Local Iraqis complained that civilians were shot, a charge that was renewed when the BBC aired a videotape it obtained from a Sunni group which it said contradicted the U.S. military's version of events. But the Pentagon says a U.S. military investigation cleared the special operations troops involved, saying they used an appropriate escalation of force against a legitimate target which was the source of hostile fire.

The U.S. military is insisting it takes these kind of allegations seriously.


BRIG. GEN. DONALD CAMPBELL, CHIEF OF STAFF, MULTINATIONAL CORPS, IRAQ: The credibility of our coalition forces is too valuable a commodity to squander needlessly. And every incident and allegation, no matter how small, strikes a blow against that credibility.


MCINTYRE: Credibility is the key here. And Marine Corps Commandant General Michael Hagee, who was dispatched to talk one on one to his Marines is now back at the Pentagon. We see him -- hear a little bit of him here talking to troops in Baghdad, stressing the importance of the Marines doing the right thing, as you hear him say there.

The Pentagon says that the results of the criminal investigation into Haditha may not be available immediately. In fact, the investigation, we're now told, may remain open even as charges are brought against some of the Marines and they proceed to trial.

And as you have reported, the case -- in the case of the Marines charged with a single death of an Iraqi back in April, that -- those charges are expected to come fairly soon, according to defense attorneys who are defending some of the Marines -- Lou.

DOBBS: The case in Hamandiyah of the one Iraqi civilian killed. The latest now, if you will, Jamie, on the investigation into that, somewhere between four and eight Marines accused of killing as many as 24 Iraqi civilians. Where are we?

MCINTYRE: Well, the criminal investigation has basically wrapped up, although we're told from sources that they're still doing some -- interviewing some witnesses. And there's even some talk about whether they might decide to exhume the bodies in order to get additional forensic evidence.

And so we're waiting to see when those charges will come. But I can tell you that the Marines who are the subject of that investigation already believe they're going to be facing charges because, as I said, many of them are already making arrangements with civilian defense attorneys to assist in their trials.

DOBBS: Jamie McIntyre, from the Pentagon.

As Jamie just reported, the military is also investigating reports that U.S. Marines killed an Iraqi civilian near Hamandiyah in April. Military prosecutors could file charges at any time against the seven Marines and the Navy corpsman involved in the investigation.

Sumi Das now reports from the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton in California -- Sumi. SUMI DAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks very much, Lou.

Well, we can tell you that we don't have names for those Marines, but we have been able to narrow it down to the company level. These are Marines who are all based here at Camp Pendleton, they're part of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment, and they're attached to the Kilo Company.

Seven Marines in total. They are being held here at Camp Pendleton. We are being told that they're at the brig -- Lou.

DOBBS: Sumi, thank you very much.

Sumi Das from Camp Pendleton.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today defended the training and the conduct of all our troops in Iraq. Rumsfeld said 99.9 percent of those troops conduct themselves in an exemplary manner. Rumsfeld declined to comment on the specific allegations, but he did say that he does not want in any way to influence the investigators examining these cases.

The Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, also spoke about the investigations today. Al-Maliki demanded that the United States hand over files on what happened in Haditha last November. Earlier, al- Maliki said that Iraq will conduct its own investigation of the incident.

Another of our soldiers has been killed in the war in Iraq. The soldier died in a non-combat-related incident, as the Pentagon puts it, earlier this week. 2,473 of our troops have now been killed in Iraq, 18,254 wounded. Of those, 8,386 seriously.

The White House today said it is important to remember that our troops are engaged in a war on terror. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said people will hear good and bad things about this war.

Elaine Quijano reports from the White House -- Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, President Bush has been briefed on at least two of the three investigations, Hamandiyah and Haditha. Unclear if he has been briefed on that third investigation. But generally, word of these probes is certainly coming at a particularly bad time for President Bush, who has been working now for months to turn around low public opinion on Iraq.

Officials here, in fact, have been trying to tout Iraq's recent political success, the fact that the Iraqis have leaders who will serve for the next four years. The United States saw the unity government as a new chapter, a new opportunity. Now, of course, though, these investigations are greatly complicating the picture, and the news of Iraq's political success is being overshadowed as well.

As for reaction to these investigations, as usual the White House is being careful not to comment so as not to affect the ongoing investigations -- Lou. DOBBS: Elaine, any reaction there specifically to the impact that this will have are on the U.S. mission in Iraq?

QUIJANO: Well, certainly what officials are trying to say right now is that the United States and the Iraqi leadership are, in fact, both on the same page when it comes to trying to ascertain exactly what the facts are regarding each of these investigations. But certainly this is a new leader that is taking the helm of the Iraqi governmental, al-Maliki, the new prime minister, somebody that the United States has said it certainly can work with and has a great deal of faith in.

But now, of course, tensions emerging over these allegations, and we'll have to wait and see how, in fact, things proceed from here. But this was not the image, and this certainly is not the news that this administration wanted out at this time.

DOBBS: Elaine, thank you.

Elaine Quijano from the White House.

That brings us to our poll tonight. The question this evening is: Who do you believe bears the greatest responsibility for the conduct of the war in Iraq? President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld, the commanding generals, all of the above?

Cast your vote at The results coming up here later.

Also later in the broadcast, two distinguished former generals join me to discuss reports that our troops, some of our troops, massacred civilians in Iraq. We'll also be discussing whether or not those allegations will affect the ability of American troops to complete their mission in Iraq.

Also ahead, how could the United States allow foreign businessmen from a country with rampant voting fraud to take over one of the United States' leading voting machine firms? We'll have that special report here tonight.

And in California, it is big oil versus a little fellow. A gas station owner in the fight of his life because he had the courage to speak out.

And President Bush failing to tell you the real truth about this nation's weak jobs market. We'll tell you everything the president hasn't.

And three of the nation's most respected political analysts join us here to assess what has been a week to remember.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Bad employment news for this country's struggling middle class tonight. The number of jobs in this country grew by only 75,000 last month. That's only half of what is needed to keep up with the new workers entering the workforce, the growth of our population. But at the White House today, President Bush was touting that jobs report as good news.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American economy is powerful, it is productive, and it is prosperous.


DOBBS: President Bush did not mention that good-paying jobs last month disappeared at an alarming rate, according to the Labor Department. According to the Labor Department, 14,000 manufacturing jobs disappeared, 10,000 jobs in the automobile industry lost. As for the so-called jobs of the 21st century, the information technology industry lost 13,000 employees.

But there was some good news. Bars and restaurants hired 10,000 employees last month.

Let's take a look at some of your thoughts now.

Brian in California saying, "Lou, you asked for our ideas on what the Bush administration and Congress are doing right. OK. OK. I'm thinking. Give me a minute. I'm still thinking. Can I get back to you on this one?"

And Jim in Illinois saying, "Dear Lou, I've thought most of the day about your question and I think I've come up with the one thing that our government has done for us. It has brought the American voters together in one common goal, to vote them out in November."

And Sarah in Florida said, "The only thing the federal government has done right is the confirmation of Justice Samuel Alito. And if you remember, President Bush had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do that."

And Eddie in Florida said, "The president has done a great job cutting taxes and helping our economy prosper."

James in California said, "President Bush's sending John Bolton to the United Nations was a good move, by and large. The United Nations is ripe with corruption, anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism. It's long since been time to play hardball with Kofi and his cronies."

And Sherry in California, "Hi, Lou. I've read and read this over and over again and given it 24 hours of good thought. I came up with nothing, absolutely nothing of what the Bush administration is doing right. As for Congress, the only thing that's been done right is the Sensenbrenner immigration bill and the defeat of the Dubai ports deal."

We'll have more of your thoughts coming up here in just a matter of moments, but I have to tell you, I have never seen -- we had e- mails from all over the country, thousands and thousands of them, and I've never seen the word "nothing" expressed in so many different ways.

Senator John McCain thought it more important this week to meet with Latino leaders in California who support his fight for illegal alien amnesty than with congressional -- than with a congressional candidate from his own party, by the way, who is against amnesty for illegal aliens. Senator McCain urged Latino leaders in Orange County, California, to support their joint fight for amnesty in this country. He urged them to "speak for people who cannot speak for themselves. You are the role models."

Senator McCain made the comments on the same day as he canceled an appearance at a fund-raiser for Republican congressional candidate Brian Bilbray, who opposes McCain's so-called comprehensive immigration reform plan.

The Senate's so-called comprehensive immigration reform act would have an extraordinary impact on the population of this country were it to become law. A study by the Heritage Foundation has determined that 66 million people would be given legal status over the next two decades. Ten million illegal aliens already in this country, if you accept that estimate, will be granted amnesty immediately under the Senate legislation, as many as 20 million according to other estimates.

That legislation would also create a new guest worker program that would admit at least 325,000 workers every year, and their spouses and their children. And in some cases, their extended families.

The Congressional Budget Office says the guest worker program and increased welfare benefits would cost taxpayers an estimated $50 billion, and those are the most conservative estimates. They do not account for increased illegal immigration spurred by the hope of another amnesty in the future.

A firm owned by Venezuela could be allowed to take over one of this country's top voting machine firms. Venezuela, of course, led by Hugo Chavez, working to change the views of most South American countries, move to the left. Critics of the deal say our nation's very democracy is now for sale without anyone doing a thing about it.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The use of some 19,000 electronic voting machines in the city of Chicago and Cook County primary on March 21st of this year is now under intense scrutiny. The U.S. company that makes the machine, Sequoia, was bought in 2005 by Smartmatic, a private company primarily owned by Venezuelan businessmen.

When Chicago had problems with the machines, a dozen Venezuelan employees were there to help with the election. Chicago officials are outraged.

EDWARD BURKE, CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL: Well, I think that American elections ought to be run by American companies and ought to be run by American citizens, not Venezuelan nationals.

PILGRIM: Smartmatic is technically based in Boca Raton, Florida, but the president of the company, Jack Blaine, testified to the Chicago City Council fewer than a dozen Smartmatic employee work in Florida. The majority of the workers are based in Venezuela.

Watchdog groups question why U.S. voting machines would be under the control of citizens of another country, especially a country whose own election process is highly suspect.

JOAN KRAWITZ, VOTE TRUST USA: We believe this is a national security issue. There is no way that companies belonging to non-U.S. corporations should have access to our elections.

PILGRIM: The Treasury Department is supposed to monitor sales of U.S. companies to overseas investors where there is a question of national security, such as in the Dubai ports deal, the so-called CFIUS review process.

Some in Congress are demanding an investigation.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: In the case of Smartmatic, there are a number of unanswered questions. That's why I wrote to the secretary of the Treasury and asked them to review the ownership. It's offshore, it's murky. No one seems to know who even owns it. Certainly our government should know.

PILGRIM: A potential risk to the democratic process.


PILGRIM: Now, we called the Treasury Department to ask if the sale of Sequoia in 2005 had been reviewed or not. The Treasury told us they were aware of the sale but can't confirm if it's been reviewed or not. And some in Congress and voter watchdog groups also are demanding a better answer than that -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, this Treasury Department is filled with incompetence. They have stopped in over 1,500 reviews only one sale to foreign owners of American assets. But a voting machine company critical to this country's election count, and they can't tell you whether or not the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States reviewed it or not?

PILGRIM: They have no answer for us. And even...

DOBBS: These are the most arrogant, incompetent, bureaucratic idiots. I mean, the Treasury Department is trying to move ahead of a number of other departments in that -- in that category.

PILGRIM: It's incomprehensible that this would be in any way a question. DOBBS: Have we put a call in to -- I know John Snow's on a short tether and short tenure, but perhaps somebody who works for him would have some basic sense that he owes the American people an answer?

PILGRIM: Lou, we have been trying to get answers, and we have also been calling the Chicago officials. They said they thought it was a Florida-based company. So there are a lot of people...

DOBBS: Unbelievable.

PILGRIM: ... in murky, murky territory right here. And I think it really does deserve some examination.

DOBBS: Great -- it certainly does. We're going continue to do so.

I think we need to tip our hat to the congresswoman. She did a marvelous job in looking into this. And hats off to her. At least somebody is trying to make some sense.

This administration -- call the White House. Let's find out the answer so this audience knows exactly what's going on by Monday evening. And this is ridiculous! It's -- this one...

PILGRIM: We are looking into it actively -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you, Kitty. An outstanding report. It just burns me up.

Coming up next, an independent service station owner accused big oil of price gouging. Now they're trying to put him out of business. And they've almost succeeded. We'll have that special report for you from northern California. You don't want to miss it.

And some of our troops have been accused of massacring civilians in Iraq. Two distinguished retired generals join me here to discuss the situation, the possible repercussions.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: In California tonight, an independent gasoline station owner is waging what has been a one-man war against one of this nation's biggest oil companies. He says big oil companies are aggressively gouging consumers even as they earn record profits. He's also saying that they're trying to run independent station owners out of business. Tonight, he's on the brink of financial ruin because of his fight for the truth.

Casey Wian reports from Marina, California.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Mehdi Shahbazi remembers the good times, awards on the wall, dinners with oil company executives.

MEHDI SHAHBAZI, GAS STATION OWNER: This station was the best Shell station in northern California.

WIAN: Now he's lost his million-dollar Monterrey Peninsula home and lives in his van in the parking lot of his Shell station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I came to this country 40 year ago it wasn't like this.

WIAN: Shahbazi's gas station once supported his family in the United States and relatives in Iran. Now he's on the verge of losing everything, the result of his campaign against what he calls price manipulation by big oil companies.

Shahbazi's station began struggling in the late 1990s. He blamed Shell for making it harder for franchise stations like his to remain profitable. But things really turned sour last fall after Shahbazi read government documents he believes show big oil companies were artificially driving up gas prices. So he began telling his customers.

SHAHBAZI: I wrote a flyer and I put the idea in that American consumers should boycott all oil company stations owned and operated exclusively by themselves.

WIAN: He passed out flyers and put up signs. Eventually, his Shell-affiliated fuel supplier give him 24 hours to stop. Shahbazi refused.

SHAHBAZI: The gas prices, they were $2 per gallon, 20, 25 percent, 30 percent up. American people are going to lose their homes. And the middle class is going to melt (INAUDIBLE).

WIAN: Shell shut down his pumps and is now trying to evict him from the property, where he still operates a car wash and mini mart thanks to loyal customers.

MAGGIE WEAVER, CUSTOMER: I think it's really unfair. He was just trying to alert his customers to a possibility of something that they could do about what appears to be price gouging.

WIAN: Shell says, "Shahbazi voluntarily chose to be a dealer of Shell fuels and to obtain benefits of being associated with our company. His lease agreement with Shell was terminated when he falsely and publicly accused Shell of wrongdoing."

Shahbazi says his fight is not really with Shell but with all big oil companies.


WIAN: Shell says the closure of nearby Fort Ord (ph) is what really has hurt Shahbazi's business and that his frustration is misdirected. Even if it is, Lou, it's a frustration that's shared by many Americans -- Lou. DOBBS: Absolutely. Casey, thank you very much.

Casey Wian.

Coming up next here, two of this nation's most distinguished retired generals join me. We'll be discussing the serious allegations against some of our troops in Iraq.

Also, President Bush has launched a new intensive effort trying to pressure Congress into passing illegal alien amnesty and following the lead of the Senate. Three of the country's most respected political journalists join me to assess the week's developments.

And in tonight's edition of "Heroes," we introduce you to an Air Force lieutenant colonel who works around the clock to save lives of our wounded troops.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: A reminder now to vote in our poll tonight. The question is: Who do you believe bears the greatest responsibility for the conduct of the war in Iraq? President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld, the commanding generals, all of the above?

Cast your vote at We'll have the results coming up at the end of the broadcast.

The allegations that some of our troops massacred Iraqi civilians is raising new questions about the overall conduct of the war in Iraq. And it raises the pressure on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, as well as civilian and military leaders in the Pentagon.

Joining me now to discuss and examine the intensifying investigation and the possible repercussions, two distinguished former generals. General David Grange joining us tonight from Chicago, and General Terry Murray joining us from Washington, D.C.

Gentlemen, good to have you here.


DOBBS: Let me turn, first, to you, General Grange. These allegations, the time that it has taken to really investigate them and have an honest report to the president and to the American people, this is going to complicate matters, isn't it?

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Absolutely. It violates one of the core value, which is integrity. And not reporting it immediately, whether it was a situation that is possible negligence or not is beside the point. These things should be reported immediately. And if there was any doubt that there was some type of illegal action or not, then for sure through the chain of command. DOBBS: General Murray, your thoughts?

MURRAY: I would echo those same thoughts, Lou. When in doubt, report it. We don't know much about the circumstances at this moment, but commanders understand that anything on the margin probably needs to be reported.

DOBBS: Let me ask you both -- you first, if you will, General Grange -- this has to have a debilitating effect on our troops in Iraq, as Secretary Rumsfeld today, nearly all of whom are serving honorably, all of them serving bravely. What's your assessment?

GRANGE: Two things bother the soldiers, the Marines. One is that it distracts from all the great things the majority of them are doing. And number two, some comments are made by the media, almost accusing them that they're guilty before the investigation is complete. Those are the two things that bother the G.I.

DOBBS: General Murray?

MURRAY: I would share the same thoughts about the circumstances over there at this point, Lou. We don't know exactly what happened. But the troops, unlike during the mid- to latter stages of the Vietnam War, where there was great discontent at home, the troops do recognize that the American public, in spite of feelings about the war, have been very much behind the troops. And this kind of incident, if that's what it becomes, can damage that public confidence.

DOBBS: Unlike the military of the Vietnam era, in which the draft was in place, these are volunteer, professional soldiers in every regard, the finest -- and General Grange, you and I have talked about it a number of times -- these are the finest troops we've ever put in harm's way. This has got to be a shock, first of all, to all of us. We would never expect this kind of an allegation or, if it turns out to be, this kind of conduct. What has gone wrong that we're in this situation in your judgment?

GRANGE: Well, Lou, you are always going to have some incident. I mean, you're not going have 100 percent, lily white, incident-free war. Especially when it goes on this long. And it's hard to accept the fact because you have such good troopers today. Though I've got to tell you, there were some great soldiers in Vietnam.

DOBBS: No, I'm not suggesting otherwise.

GRANGE: I know you're not. And I just think that's important to recognize, however. But the longer a war goes on where you have combat situations one after another, you're going to have an incident. It doesn't mean it's right, but they're going to come -- they're going to happen, there is no doubt about it.

DOBBS: General Murray, the core values, that the Pentagon immediately put out the order that everybody would be -- all the troops in Iraq would be going through core values training. You know, I've got to tell you, my reaction was, how about some core values training for the generals? How about some core values training for the civilian leadership of the Pentagon?

We have asked these young men and women and the officers leading them to carry out an assignment about which we have been lied to, which we have been misinformed about by our political leadership. We have put them in a position that we said we would never put troops in -- I'm specifically referring to the Powell doctrine. How about core values for our general staff and for the civilian leadership?

MURRAY: Lou, I think that the -- particularly in my own experience in the Navy and the Marine Corps -- most of it with the Marine Corps, last three decades or so, core values is something that is understood and embraced from top to bottom in the organization.

As it pertains to circumstances in Iraq, there's always value in reemphasizing those core values, and I think what's equally important is to recognize that the environment that our troops are fighting, in urban areas, inside of Iraq and inside of Afghanistan, and the nature of the combat -- insurgents, guerrillas, as opposed to conventional forces who you recognize by the uniforms they wear...

DOBBS: Absolutely.

MURRAY:'s a very different experience. That does not alibi for this kind of conduct, if in fact, Marines did something wrong in this incident.

DOBBS: No, we all understand and respect, General, you're not in any way talking about rationalizing what is alleged to have been done by a handful of American troops. You're putting it in context. General Grange, let me turn to you and ask the same question.

GRANGE: Well, one thing about giving classes on these core values, they'll all get core values when they come into the military. They usually get them before deployment for that particular environment they are going to operate in.

Now, what you have to be careful of is that you don't just get everybody together and say, OK, this company was retrained on core values, check the block. It's something you live every day, every day, as you operate with the leadership setting the example. That's how core values are instilled and enforced, through leadership.

DOBBS: As you gentlemen know, we are approaching a -- what has to be considered a terrible anniversary. The war in Iraq has nearly approximated -- will soon reach in a very short while, the same amount of time as the U.S. involvement in World War II against a nation of 25 million people, against an insurgency that Secretary Rumsfeld was saying two years ago, little more than two years ago, was made up of dead-enders, bitter-enders and thugs.

Isn't it time, and this is what I was really getting at, that the general staff -- and I'm talking about our professional military leadership at the Pentagon and throughout the world -- examine what in the world we're doing here? The president's asking for patience, and the general staff, frankly, is not distinguishing itself. In my judgment, if I may say -- this is purely my opinion -- by carrying out a war in which we're asking our young men and women in Iraq to fight bravely against an enemy which is, as you pointed out, General Murray, is not in uniform, and we're asking them to build -- to nation build at the same time as to destroy an insurgency. There seems to be an awful lot of conflicted goals here. General Murray?

MURRAY: Lou, I don't think there's any question that if in fact civilian leadership or military leadership concluded after the conventional phase of the war, which was in effect a track meet, if there was a conclusion that given the tribal nature of Iraq, where you had very confrontational groups of people within that country, if there was not an expectation that this was going to become an insurgent environment and potentially a long-term insurgent environment, then people inside -- in uniform and out were not doing their jobs.

DOBBS: General Grange, you get the last word.

GRANGE: Well, it's an insurgency, definitely an insurgency, a long type of conflict, and it's not explained properly up front. And that's why we have the confusion now and why we have this debate, is that people don't understand what type of war we're in, because it was not articulated properly at the beginning.

DOBBS: General Grange, General Murray, both of whom -- and I should have pointed this out at the outset -- whose distinguished military careers stretch across a number of decades, certainly from the Vietnam War on, in which you both served with such great distinction.

General Murray, General Grange, thank you both for being here.

MURRAY: Thank you, Lou.

GRANGE: Thank you.

DOBBS: Still ahead, President Bush continues to demand amnesty for million of illegal aliens in this country. I'll be talking with our panel of distinguished political analysts about that and more, next.

And divisive wedge issues? Have you heard about gun control and ban on gay marriage? Abortion? Well, the midterm elections are here. Got to watch those poll ratings.

Let's talk about wedge issues. We'll have a special report.

And in tonight's "Heroes," we take a look at the dedicated men and women at Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany, who work around the clock to save lives of our wounded troops. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Robert Kennedy Jr. is charging that Republicans stole the 2004 presidential election in an article in "Rolling Stone" magazine. Kennedy alleges, quote, "a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people," end quote.

Kennedy focused particular attention on the state of Ohio where he says tens of thousand of eligible voters were purged from the rolls, pointing as well to irregularities with electronic voting machines which he says almost invariably benefited George W. Bush and hurt John F. Kerry.

President Bush will urge the Senate Monday to approve a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in this country. The president appears to believe he can improve his party's chances at the polls by promoting wedge issues important to his conservative base.

Dana Bash reports.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republicans gay rights activists are going door to door on Capitol Hill ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm asking Senator Specter to oppose the marriage amendment.

BASH: ... urging senators to vote against a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

PATRICK GUERREIRO, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: Good republicans don't believe you should get distracted from cutting taxes and controlling federal spending and winning the war on terrorism by embracing these kind of socially extremist views.

BASH: To social conservatives, prohibiting same-sex marriage is a top priority. These ads are targeting senators in more than a dozen states.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Homosexual activists don't care if children are deprived of a mom or dad. Only a constitutional amendment can protect marriage from attack.

BASH: The Senate vote is expected to fall far short of the two- thirds majority needed to amend the constitution.

But to conservative groups, that's besides the point. They say GOP leaders must debate issues like a gay marriage ban if they want disillusioned conservatives to vote in November.

PETER SPRIGG, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: We don't have an interest in reelecting a Republican Congress if they are not willing to fight for pro-family issues.

BASH: Social conservatives are frustrated with Republicans in Washington and this issue is exhibit A.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The union of a man and woman deserves an honored place in our society. BASH: In 2004, President Bush and Republican congressional leaders talked up a federal ban on gay marriage to galvanize social conservatives in key swing states. Since then, the president has been virtually silent and the rank and file feels abandoned.

RICHARD VIGURIE, CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST: I do. I think it's too little, too late.

BASH: Veteran activist, Richard Vigurie, says voting on same sex marriage now looks insincere.

VIGURIE: If they will try to mollify the conservatives, placate them at the margins, at the edges. They will try to throw a little bone here, a little bone there. But I just don't see that they really do understand that we are dead serious, that we have been betrayed.


BASH: But even for conservatives, this is not a clear cut issue. Some, like Senator John McCain of Arizona, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, oppose a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages. They say the true Republican position on this issue, Lou, is for the states to decide.

DOBBS: Whatever that means. Thank you very much, Dana Bash. The wedge issues are here, and we're approaching midterm elections now. Thank you very much, Dana Bash from Washington.

Joining me now is Robert Zimmerman, Democratic strategist; Michael Goodwin, columnist, "New York Daily News"; from Washington, D.C., Bill Schneider, our very own senior political analyst.

Good to have you with us, Bill. Let me start with you. Wedge issues -- is this really going to work?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, it's not going pass the House. It's not going to pass the Senate. It's not going to become a constitutional amendment. It's all political posturing, the worst form of cynicism.

What they want to do is get a vote on the record to show the Republican base we're there fighting for you even if we can't win, and to be able to use the issue against Democrats who vote against it. It's the worst form of cynicism.

People want to hear about immigration, they want to hear about Iraq, they want to hear about the deficit, they want to hear about gas prices. People aren't concerned about the looming threat of same-sex marriage.

DOBBS: Same-sex marriage or unions, a big threat -- it's something for the pro-family people to be concerned about. What in the world is the threat to heterosexual marriage posed, Michael Goodwin, by a gay union?

MICHAEL GOODWIN, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, look, I mean, I actually support gay marriage, but I do believe there are many Americans who don't. And so I think it is -- I think it is fair.

DOBBS: Thank you, Senator, but I'm just curious. What is the threat? Empirically, independently, what is the reality?

GOODWIN: I think the threat is perceived threat. I mean, people look at it and say this does set back a morality, that they're very strict about what -- how they think the Bible -- and it is tradition between a man and woman.

DOBBS: OK, that's fine.

GOODWIN: Now, obviously, it's changing, but I think in some congressional districts -- to go to Bill's point, in some congressional districts, people will pick up votes simply by supporting it. And so it could turn the election in a few close districts.

DOBBS: I've got to say to you, I happen to believe -- and we have, I believe, the smartest audience television. I really do, and I'm serious about that, Bill. When you look at what people say to us through e-mails and phone calls, whatever it may be, folks watching this broadcast know what the issues are that are grabbing them by the throat right now in this country. And you talk about pro-family when the median family income for a family of four is declining in this country?


DOBBS: What's pro-family about that?

ZIMMERMAN: That's the point. President Bush with this proposal and what the Republicans are doing are really embarrassing their offices and really disgracing themselves and their mission in government. It is an obscenity to call this pro-family. All this does is play upon the fears and hates that people have, and the ignorance.

And let's also be fair about. This not just a partisan tactic. Let's not forget during the Clinton administration when the Clinton administration unveiled the Defense of Marriage Act that was a precursor to this tactic.

DOBBS: My God. Michael Goodwin, Bill Schneider, Robert Zimmerman has made ...

ZIMMERMAN: Made an objective statement.

DOBBS: ... irrespective of partisan ...

GOODWIN: That's my job.

DOBBS: You are an example to all political strategists.

ZIMMERMAN: You're rubbing off on me, Lou. What can I tell you. But, no, I think it's important. DOBBS: Good for you for being that straightforward, because we've got to have honesty here. My God.

ZIMMERMAN: I support -- we do, and I think that one of the most obscene aspects of this gay marriage -- this anti -- this pro-family maneuver, this anti-gay marriage union maneuver is really just to try to distract from the real issues that are truly ripping this country apart right now.

DOBBS: Well, what's ripping at, I think, most of our guts right now is even the allegation that some of our troops in Iraq could be accused of shooting, murdering, civilians.

Michael Goodwin, what do you think will be the impact here?

GOODWIN: Well, let's assume that the charges are even close to what we're hearing. I think it's devastating. I think the timing couldn't be worse. I think that you're going to have the Iraqis wanting to investigate.

You're going to have I think, a tougher relationship between the Americans and the Iraqis at every level, diplomatically, militarily, you name it. It's going to be more trouble for our mission, more trouble for Iraqi society and I think it could kind of be the final nail in the mission. I mean, this just -- this just doesn't help anybody right now.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider, Michael Goodwin says it could be the conclusive event.

SCHNEIDER: It could very well be. Americans are exasperated, they're fed up. And they say what in the world are we doing there? American troops are in an impossible situation.

When they hear about these charges, yes, they want them investigated, but they also want people on the higher-ups held responsible for this. What happened to the chain of command? Somebody has to be responsible other than the people on the ground.

DOBBS: Amen, brother.

SCHNEIDER: They don't want to just see them take the blame, and that's always been the case.

DOBBS: It's about there were accountability.

ZIMMERMAN: That's the issue. Unlike Abu Ghraib where it really was just the lance corporals and the soldiers who were really held out as scapegoats in that situation, and it was inexcusable. There was no follow-up through the chain of command.

And here's a situation, where if -- the allegations have to be investigated on virtually every level. And what concerns me most is watching the fact that the Pentagon, through the timeline that's been disclosed, has not been forthcoming with the information. It took the media to disclose this. DOBBS: "Time" magazine specifically, yes.

GOODWIN: Could I -- yes, one further point I think, too. Don't forget, with Abu Ghraib, one of the big issues was we had the photographs. And I think that's going to be a big issue here. If we do have photographs of the massacre in any way ...

DOBBS: Well, there are allegedly photographs.

GOODWIN: ... it's going to change everything. If there aren't, the result could be somewhat muted.

SCHNEIDER: And one other thing, Lou, that those comments by the Iraqi prime minister were just outrageous charging that Americans carry out daily atrocities, that they have no respect for the Iraqi people. I mean, maybe he's doing it for political reasons, but all that does is build up a movement here in the United States where Americans are just saying, over and over again, get out of there as fast as possible.

DOBBS: It is -- well, we all feel terrible about it. I mean, it's horrible, as you say, devastating, if true.

ZIMMERMAN: And it's devastating to the overwhelming majority of our soldiers who have performed so heroically in Iraq.

DOBBS: Absolutely.

GOODWIN: I mean, probably 500,000 have circulated through there, and for a few it's just, you know ...

ZIMMERMAN: But the real issue is you put soldiers, lance corporals on their second and third tour of duty and some of them, tragically, might have snapped. And the reality is, it's about -- the issue is about management of this war. That's the real ...

SCHNEIDER: And the cover-up.

DOBBS: To look at 18,000 troops wounded, almost 2,500 Americans dead, to look at the sacrifice we've asked of these young men and to have this kind of incident, I mean, it is, as you say, it is just devastating.

And the fact is -- and I asked this of General Murray and General Grange -- they're having core values training for our soldiers, our troops, and marines, soldiers there. But a Pentagon that forgot the Powell Doctrine and a country that has ...

ZIMMERMAN: And a congress that forgot its oversight obligations too.


GOODWIN: And I think the general made a very good point about the longer the war goes on, the more of these incidents we are going to have, just by the stress and by the repeated combat that these soldiers are under.

ZIMMERMAN: And the mismanagement of this war.

DOBBS: It's been quite a week. And a tough one at that. We are looking forward to next week. The president travels making a big push on illegal immigration. Is it getting any attraction, Bill Schneider, real quickly?


DOBBS: We have just a few seconds.

SCHNEIDER: I think the president goes out and talks about illegal immigration in all these states around the country. I think it's not going to do him a bit of good. It's just going to mobilize his opposition, even in his own party.

GOODWIN: What if illegal immigrants want to have gay marriage?

DOBBS: The truth is, it's a -- I'll tell you, America's a wonderful country.

ZIMMERMAN: There is no traction to what the president is doing. In fact, what we're seeing is complete collapse of confidence that this administration and the Congress can get anything done.

DOBBS: Even though the president for at least one vote on the immigration -- comprehensive immigration reform bill made your party the majority party in the Senate?

ZIMMERMAN: Wait until November.

DOBBS: Robert Zimmerman, Michael Goodwin, Bill Schneider. Thank you, gentlemen, appreciate it.

Coming up next, "Heroes." Tonight, we will meet Lieutenant Colonel Gina Dorlac. She works alongside her husband caring for our wounded troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Stay with us. You don't want to miss her story.


DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN, "THE SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer. Wolf, what are you working on?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou. Brand new developments we're working on tonight in one of the case of the alleged U.S. military misconduct in Iraq. Some Marines are cleared, others face potentially serious trouble.

Also, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in "THE SITUATION ROOM," accusing Republicans of tampering with the results of the 2004 presidential election. We're covering all sides of the story.

And nuclear standoff. Iran's president responding to the U.S.' latest demand that they shut down their nuclear enrichment program. Lou, all of that coming up at the top of the hour.

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

Now, "Heroes," our weekly tribute to our brave men and women in uniform serving this nation around the world. Tonight, we meet Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Gina Dorlac. She is a doctor and the director of the intensive care unit at Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany. Bill Tucker reports.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The biggest mystery about Lieutenant Colonel Gina Dorlac may be where does she find the time to sit down at lunch with her husband, an Air Force surgeon at Landstuhl Medical Center?

As director of the critical care air transport teams, Gina Dorlac is responsible for the training of the medical teams who care for our critically wounded during transport to Landstuhl. She's also the medical director of the intensive care unit there.

LT. COL. GINA DORLAC, LANDSTUHL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: When we finally do have a moment alone, we end up talking about hospital issues, and what should we do about this or that. And it's -- maybe it's good for the job, because we're always thinking about it, but it's definitely hard on our family.

On the other hand, I think each of us understands what the other's going through in a way that other people's spouses can't comprehend.

TUCKER: Something must be working. They've been married 17 years.

DORLAC: This is the first time that we've worked together in situations that we'll be on rounds, we'll both be on the ICU service at the same time, and we'll have a difference of opinion about something in patient care. So it's the first time we've had that come up. And it's -- it's hard not to take that home.

TUCKER: At home, it's not just a couple of lieutenant colonels sitting around talking. It is a family that includes three boys.

DORLAC: When we first got here, and we were adjusting to mom -- especially mom -- they're used to dad working a lot, but adjusting to me working as long hours as I do here. They used to -- their bedtime prayers were, please let the war be over, so mom could be home more.

TUCKER: As a parent, Landstuhl has deepened her sense of compassion and given her fresh insight into her mission.

DORLAC: You can't know until you come here what it feels like to work at Landstuhl, what it feels like to, for that brief period of time, hold someone else's son or daughter figuratively and sometimes literally in your arms, and ease their pain, and help them hopefully get better faster. It's huge. And when you feel like you've done it well and you've made a difference and you call somebody's mom on the phone and you can let her know this is what's going on with John, there's nothing as rewarding as that.

TUCKER: Bill Tucker, CNN, Landstuhl, Germany.


DOBBS: Coming up next, we'll have the results of our poll tonight and some more of your thoughts. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Here are the results of our poll tonight. Thirty-three percent of you say President Bush bears the greatest responsibility for the conduct of the war in Iraq; 8 percent say Secretary Rumsfeld; 2 percent commanding generals; 56 percent say all of the above.

More of your thoughts now. Brenda in Arizona: "This is the toughest question yet. I think what the government has done right is the training of the service medical teams. These people are the best at what they do. As Americans, we appreciate all service people, but the medical teams in Iraq are a shining example of the very best of America. It saddens me that it took hours to come up with that, but that's all I've got."

And Joyce in Florida: "The administration is only doing right by elites, corporations and their own self-interest. They make a mockery of democracy."

And Mary Lou in California: "United we stand! George W. Bush and his administration have finally succeeded in alienating both Republicans and Democrats, as we watch the downward spiral of public competence and our clueless president, along with an equally inept Congress."

Paula in Texas: "Lou, I have a son in Iraq, and he said today via e-mail that he doesn't know if he's done any good over there on his tour. A few Marines made his job so much more difficult and dangerous because of the actions of a few. We as a nation must remember the majority of our troops are doing the best job possible under very difficult circumstances."

A very important thing to keep in mind.

Send us your thoughts at Each of you whose email is read here receives a copy of my book, "Exporting America."

We thank you for being with us tonight. We hope you will join us back here Monday. For all of us, thanks for watching. Have a very pleasant weekend, and good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.


© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines