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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

President Bush Threatens Sanctions Over Iranian Nuclear Program; Republican Revolt Over Immigration Reform?; Assessing the Challenge of North Korea

Aired June 19, 2006 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. government tonight is issuing threats against two nations: in the case of Iran, trying to end Iranian enrichment processes that could lead to the development of nuclear weapons; and, in the case of North Korea tonight, trying to halt the test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could carry nuclear weapons. We will have complete coverage here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Monday, June 19.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

The United States tonight faces dangerous threats from two members of the axis of evil -- North Korea on the brink of launching a long-range ballistic missile that could strike the United States. U.S. officials say North Korea is escalating its nuclear confrontation by preparing its first long-range missile test in nearly a decade.

Meanwhile, President Bush today threatened to impose sanctions against Iran if that country does not give up its nuclear weapons program. President Bush said nuclear weapons in Iranian hands would be a grave threat to people everywhere.

David Ensor reports from Washington tonight on North Korea's escalating threat to this country. Ed Henry reports from the White House on the nuclear confrontation. And Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon on another national security issue, the apparent abduction of two of our soldiers by insurgents in Iraq.

We turn first to David Ensor -- David.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the Bush administration is warning North Korea to reconsider launching a long- range missile in the coming days.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: It would be a very serious matter, and, indeed, a provocative act, should North Korea decide to -- to launch that missile.

ENSOR (voice-over): Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President Bush have been talking to Japan, China, South Korea and others about what to do if North Korea, as expected, goes ahead.

The North Korean launching pad is one of the sites most often photographed from space. Cloud cover since the long-range missile was deployed there and has been fueled has prevented commercial photos, but U.S. spy satellites with radar and other capabilities to see through bad weather show a Taepodong-2 ready to launch.

The missile, believed to have two stages, could reach Alaska, and possibly as far as the northwest coast of the lower 48 states.

WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT ADVISER: North Korea is saying, well, maybe Iran has oil, and that's why they're getting attention. Maybe, if we have long-range missiles, we can get the United States' attention.

ENSOR: Eight years ago, North Korea tested a medium-range missile, firing it into the mid-Pacific Ocean over the top of Japan. Analysts say it could face even more sanctions and U.N. Security Council condemnation if it goes ahead this time.

Clinton-era negotiator Wendy Sherman says, as with Iran, what is needed is tough diplomacy.

SHERMAN: The United States has to go back into discussions with its partners in the six-party talk and put together a real package with incentives and disincentives that can be put in front of North Korea. And they have to begin very nitty-gritty engagement.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ENSOR: U.S. officials say, while North Korea has nuclear devices, there is no evidence it has managed the difficult feat of building one small and hardy enough to sit atop an intercontinental missile. Still, a long-range missile test would amount to a serious 21st century case of saber-rattling -- Lou.

DOBBS: It would be, as the secretary of state said, provocative. Provocative of what? And what can the United States do about this test of a long-range missile?

ENSOR: When North Korea agreed to six-party talks, which haven't been going well, there were some rewards. There were some sanctions taken off, a few. Those will be probably reimposed.

And the U.N. Security Council may well be asked to condemn North Korea in strong terms. I think Japan will probably ask for that. So, there will be words. There will be some actions. But I don't suppose it will deter the North Koreans -- Lou.

DOBBS: David, thank you very much -- David Ensor reporting from Washington.

President Bush today demanded Iran suspend all its uranium- enrichment activities. President Bush said Tehran will face progressively stronger international sanctions if it does not comply. Iran so far has refused to accept a package of incentives to give up its nuclear program, a package drawn up by the United States, Europe, Russia and China.

Ed Henry has the latest for us from the White House -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Lou.

A blunt threat, as you noted, from President Bush today on the eve of his trip to Vienna for the European Union summit, where Iran's thirst for nuclear weapons will be at the top of the agenda for that summit.

Delivering the commencement address today at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in New York, the president said, the U.S. will not enter into international talks with Iran until it stops its uranium- enrichment program. Iran insists that program is intended solely for peaceful programs.

But the president, rather bluntly, today alleged it is actually meant to mask efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. And he threatened tough sanctions if Iran continues to refuse the U.S. offer to enter into historic multilateral negotiations. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iran's leaders have a clear choice. We hope they will accept our offer and voluntarily suspend these activities, so we can work out an agreement that will bring Iran real benefits.

If Iran's leaders reject our offer, it will result in action before the Security Council, further isolation from the world, and progressively stronger political and economic sanctions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Now, European Union -- Union officials have given Iran an informal deadline of the end of June to answer the U.S. offer to come to the table.

That's why the president has a lot riding on this summit in Vienna over the next couple of days. He has faced harsh criticism that he did not give diplomacy enough of a chance on the eve of the Iraq war. This gives the president a chance to show that, in this case, with Iran, the U.S. and its European allies, like France and Germany, stand shoulder to shoulder -- Lou.

DOBBS: Ed, thank you very much -- Ed Henry reporting from the White House.

The U.S. military in Iraq has been unable to find two of our soldiers taken prisoner by insurgents last Friday. Commanders say they will never give up the search for those missing soldiers. More than 8,000 American and Iraqi troops are trying to find them.

Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was Friday night about dusk in the Iraqi town of Yusufiyah, a hotbed of insurgent activity just southwest of Baghdad, smack in an area known by U.S. troops as the Triangle of Death.

Three U.S. soldiers in their Humvee were manning a checkpoint at a portable bridge that had been stretched over a canal. At 7:55 p.m., soldiers at another traffic control point nearby heard an explosion and small-arms fire coming from the bridge, and radioed for help. By 8:10 p.m., a small quick-reaction force arrived and found one soldier dead, two others missing.

Immediately, a full-scale hunt was launched, and military dive teams began searching the canal.

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, U.S. ARMY SPOKESMAN, COALITION FORCES IN IRAQ: We are using all available assets, coalition and Iraqi, to find our soldiers, and will not stop looking until we find them. We will never stop looking for our service members, until their status is definitively determined.

MCINTYRE: Over the weekend, the search was expanded to include 8,000 U.S. military and Iraqi army and police, along with manned and unmanned spy planes. Even F-18s from the aircraft carrier Enterprise are pressed into service to use their sophisticated targeting systems to look for clues.

The missing soldiers are 23-year-old Private Kristian Menchaca of Houston, Texas, and 25-year-old Private Thomas Tucker of Madras, Oregon. Their fate has attracted the attention of the highest levels of the U.S. government.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: And, obviously, their safe return is something that everyone will work for, and their safe return is something that everyone will pray for.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: U.S. military officials remain skeptical of the claim posted on an Islamic Web site that the two soldiers have been captured, are being held hostage. And officials say that the official reporting on what happens does not support some reports suggesting that the soldiers were either lured into a trap or isolated by a diversionary attack. They say that does not appear to be the case -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you, Jamie -- Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.

American troops tonight are pushing deeper into insurgent- controlled areas of the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad. Ramadi is the capital of Al Anbar Province. As many as half of all American casualties in Iraq have occurred in Al Anbar Province. Troops from the 1st Armored Division are leading that operation. At least six insurgents have been killed in Ramadi. Troops have found insurgent weapons and equipment used to make roadside bombs. An Italian prosecutor tonight is demanding the indictment of an American soldier for accidentally killing an Italian Secret Service agent in Baghdad last year. Another Italian agent and a newly freed hostage were wounded in that same incident. The prosecutor in the case is accusing the soldier of murder and attempted murder. U.S. officials say a military investigation cleared the soldier of any wrongdoing.

Still ahead here tonight: The world's largest billboard company tries to muzzle a campaign by Minutemen against senators who support amnesty for illegal aliens. Free speech or corporate dominance of our political system? We will have that special report.

And nearly 50 of the country's most distinguished conservative Republicans revolt against the president's pro-amnesty agenda. One of those conservatives, Bill Bennett, is among our guests here tonight.

And the White House is ignoring congressional demands to keep U.S. airlines in American hands. Congressman Frank LoBiondo is leading the fight against this great American giveaway. He's our guest.

And, as North Korea and Iran escalate their nuclear defiance, two of the country's top national security analysts join us here as well.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The Minuteman Project tonight trying to send a message to supporters of illegal alien amnesty on Capitol Hill, but the Minutemen say they're being silenced by corporate America.

Their fight comes as top conservative leaders have written their own warning to President Bush over the issue of amnesty for illegal aliens.

We have two reports tonight, Peter Viles in Los Angeles on the Minutemen fight to launch a nationwide billboard campaign, and Lisa Sylvester, reporting from Washington, on the conservative movement's letter to President Bush.

We begin with Peter Viles -- Peter.

PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the Minutemen wanted to call attention to pro-amnesty senators by name in their home states. But Clear Channel, the billboard giant, said, no, you cannot call these senators by their names.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go after the employers. If we want to stop...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

VILES: Clear Channel hasn't muzzled its radio stations on the illegal immigration crisis. And its Los Angeles station, KFI, has been a friend of the Minuteman Project.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many are voting for Jim Gilchrist tomorrow?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

VILES: But now Clear Channel's billboard company, the biggest in the world, is muzzling the Minutemen.

In Phoenix, the Minutemen wanted to place a version of this anti- amnesty billboard that would have taken on Senator John McCain by name.

JAMES GILCHRIST, FOUNDER, MINUTEMAN PROJECT: Senator McCain, these soldiers did not die for illegal alien amnesty.

VILES: A similar billboard was planned for Massachusetts and Senator Ted Kennedy.

GILCHRIST: It would say, Senator Kennedy, these soldiers did not die for illegal alien amnesty.

VILES: But Gilchrist says Clear Channel won't allow the senators' names to appear on either billboard, saying it fears vandalism by either supporters of the senators or opponents of the Minutemen.

The Minutemen have attracted unruly protests. When this billboard was unveiled in Colorado earlier this month, one protested immediately Clear Channel, even though Viacom owns the billboard.

GILCHRIST: Clear Channel should take a stand, because, if they buckle under this pressure, it means that any fringe group out there, anyone who threatens violence or mayhem will get their way. And that means we are no longer a nation governed by the rule of law. We are a nation governed by mob rule.

VILES: The president of Clear Channel Outdoor told LOU DOBBS TONIGHT -- quote -- "We do not want to run copy that would be deemed offensive to a group or individual." He went on to say, "We don't want to get ourselves caught up in controversy."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VILES: And further, specifically to this issue, Lou, the president of Clear Channel told us it was not fears of vandalism that caused him to reject those initial billboards. It was that they felt that those billboards constituted a personal attack on the senators involved, and they thought that would be offensive to the senators.

And, for that reason, to essentially protect the senators from a political attack, they refused those billboards -- Lou. DOBBS: They refused the billboards because they felt, in their judgment, they constituted a political attack.

VILES: Well, what they said was personal attack, if you will.

DOBBS: Well, I guess that's an interpretation, but one would also suggest it's a matter of freedom of speech. It's remarkable they would be taking that position, and an unfortunate one, from the standpoint of the Minutemen.

Do we know whether or not these -- Clear Channel has any particular national vested interest in relationships with Senators Kennedy and McCain?

VILES: I don't know about Senator Kennedy. They're been big givers to Republican candidates and to the -- big supporters of the Bush administration.

They have tangled with Senator McCain on the issue of media consolidation. So, I'm not sure he's at the top of their best-friends list. But they do give to a lot of Republicans, less so to Democrats.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Peter Viles, from Los Angeles.

Top conservative leaders tonight have launched their own revolt against the illegal alien amnesty movement in this country. A group of conservatives have signed a letter to President Bush, in that letter demanding he pull his support for illegal alien amnesty, his guest-worker program, and instead support the tough House border security legislation.

Lisa Sylvester has the report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... first family!

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 2004, conservatives were credited with securing President Bush's second term. But, today, on the issue of illegal immigration, the president has lost his loyal base. Forty-one prominent conservatives have written a letter to the White House, urging what's called sequencing: Secure the borders first, before implementing a guest-worker amnesty program.

The list includes prominent names like Bill Bennett, President Reagan's education secretary, Judge Robert Bork, "National Review" founder William F. Buckley, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

JOHN FONTE, THE HUDSON INSTITUTE: In 1986, we did everything at once. We did it comprehensively. We did -- there was an amnesty, and they said we would get enforcement at the same time. But that didn't happen. We only had the amnesty and no enforcement.

SYLVESTER: Conservatives do not want to repeat the mistakes of 1986. They favor the House plan that tightens border security. The Senate approach supported by the president includes enforcement measures, but also extends citizenship to illegal aliens who pay back taxes and fines. The White House has dubbed this earned legalization. But conservative Republicans say, voters will see it differently.

DAVID KEENE, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: But I was at the White House. This was some months ago. And we were discussing it. And -- and one of their senior people said, you know, this is not amnesty, and described it and looked at the definition. And I said, you know, the problem is, you don't get to define amnesty. The voters are going to define it. And if it's -- if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, they're going to think it's a duck.

SYLVESTER: This year, President Bush's job is not on the line. But congressional Republicans are up for reelection. And the president's position on illegal immigration could hurt them at the polls.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: President Bush is in the clear minority in his party on this issue. Eighty-five percent of congressional Republicans voted against the guest-worker amnesty plan.

And the group that sent the letter to the White House will also run an Internet campaign to defeat any amnesty bill -- Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much -- Lisa Sylvester from Washington.

Up next here: leading conservatives blasting the president's so- called comprehensive immigration reform. Bill Bennett is among those criticizing the president. He's our guest.

And congressmen voting themselves another pay raise, while hardworking Americans watch their own incomes shrink, dereliction of duty on Capitol Hill, while the war on the middle class escalates -- that special report coming up.

And Iran refuses to suspend its nuclear program, as North Korea prepares to test an intercontinental missile. Two leading national security analysts join me to discuss these dual challenges to the United States.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Congress voted to give itself another pay raise. It's done so every year for nearly a decade. But it hasn't raised the minimum wage for our lowest paid workers in nine years, even as their real incomes decline.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At $5.15, the national minimum wage is not enough to keep a family of three above the poverty line.

ROSS EISENBREY, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: The poverty threshold in the United States is now more than $16,000 for a family of three. Yet, $5.15 an hour only provides a little more than $10,000 a year. So, it leaves you $6,000 below a poverty income. It's -- it's just -- it's not fair, and the states recognize that.

PILGRIM: Compared to the national average wage, the minimum wage is at its lowest since 1947. Yet, Congress has been willing to let the pay increase for the minimum wage stagnate at zero percent since 1997. Yet, Congress has managed to give itself eight pay raises totaling 23 percent in that amount of time.

REP. DAVID OBEY (D), WISCONSIN: I think it's disgraceful that we waited nine years to do this. We have seen gas prices go up by 140 percent since the minimum wage was increased. We have seen home heating oil go up by 120 percent. We have seen health care go up by almost 45 percent.

PILGRIM: Individual states have taken action to boost their state minimum wage. Some studies suggest that raising the minimum wage actually increases job growth and boosts local economies, as people earn more and spend more.

In Arizona, activists and citizens have 200,000 signatures for a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $6.75 an hour.

ALICIA RUSSELL, ACORN: The more they earn, the more they will spend. They will go in the communities to go -- they will go shopping at the malls. They go shopping, you know, for groceries, obviously. But they do go out and spend money on the children and their -- take care of them.

PILGRIM: State legislatures have increasingly taken action. In 2004, three states boosted their minimum wage. A year later, five more followed. This year, the state legislators of five more voted in a wage hike.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, some industries still argue that raising the minimum wage would undercut their competitiveness, but those companies are becoming a minority. The Economic Policy Institute says 86 percent of businesses now admit that an increase in the minimum wage level would have no adverse effect on their business at all. So, Congress has absolutely no excuse to delay -- Lou.

DOBBS: Oh, they -- they will come up with something, I'm sure. When it comes to reason, humanity, some concern for working men and women in this country, this Congress, like many before it, will come up with some reason.

It is absolutely unconscionable that this -- that the United States government, in any form, whether it's elected officials or in its Labor Department or any other part of the administration, can say to people, absolutely lie to them, and say that the minimum wage kills jobs, and that it just won't work, or it won't make them competitive, because what these companies are saying who are saying that they don't want to raise the minimum wage nine years after the last time, what they're really saying is that the way they can be competitive is have everybody worked for slave wages.

And I'm sure they can be very competitive, if that's the basis upon which they must be. We don't need those businesses, as far as I'm concerned, anyway. Let them shut their doors and move on.

PILGRIM: It's an absolutely laughable argument when you start going through the numbers.

DOBBS: And maybe it would a good idea for Congress to try out that same pay rate that they have established for the lowest wages in this country, or the lowest wage earners. Some would argue that perhaps that would be an appropriate pay level for them.

Thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim.

That brings us to our poll tonight. Do you believe raising the minimum wage will help our lowest paid workers? Or do you believe, as some critics suggest, it will eliminate jobs? Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We will have the results coming up here later.

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

Sandy in California: "Lou -- Dear Lou, should tax dollars pay for day labor centers for illegal immigrants?"

That's one of our questions last week.

"Unbelievable. Is there anything I have left as a citizen that the government hasn't given to illegals?"

And Susan in Iowa: "Instead of voting on Democratic or Republican lines, whatever happened to voting for America? Americans come first before any political party. Too bad our Congress has abandoned that concept."

And Carol in Georgia: "When are U.S. cities going to establish day labor centers for all the U.S. citizens whose jobs have been outsourced to foreign countries?"

Brandon in Georgia: "Amnesty is not a bad word. Jesus offers -- offers us amnesty. Jesus was also an immigrant. Let's not get so wrapped up in laws that are manmade and not of the lord."

Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. We will have more of your thoughts coming up here later.

Up next: North Korea prepares to test that ballistic missile that could carry a nuclear warhead to our shores. Two of the leading national security analysts in the country join me. And more than 40 of the nation's leading conservatives calling upon President Bush to abandon amnesty -- Bill Bennett joins me.

And Congressman Frank LoBiondo is determined to stop this administration from giving away another critical American asset, our airlines. He joins us as well.

Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Violent weather tonight in the Southwestern states -- in Houston, Texas, tonight, torrential rains, they have flooded neighborhoods there, closed highways as well, a slow-moving storm dumping 10 inches of rain on the area. The governor has called in National Guard and state park service rescue crews to help out.

In Arizona, hot winds pushing wildfires closer to homes and businesses north of Sedona -- that fire has scorched more than 1,000 acres and forced the evacuation of 500 homes.

In New Mexico wildfires there are burning almost 24,000 acres, more than 3 million acres nationwide have been burned so far this fire season.

It's been more than three months since Dubai Ports World agreed to sell its port operations at 22 U.S. ports. But as of today, all 22 of these terminal facilities remained under the control of Dubai Ports and the government of Dubai. You thought we weren't watching, didn't you? Bill Tucker reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The bottom line of the Dubai Ports World deal is pretty easy to understand.

JOE MULDOON, FULLER & COMPANY: Since March 6th, Dubai Ports World has owned and controlled operations in 22 U.S. ports and that Congress now has dropped the provision that would prohibit their approvals.

TUCKER: The reference to Congress has to do with the House and Senate stripping out language, put in by the House, that specifically forbid DP World from owning or controlling operations in our ports. With the removal of that language, it's not clear if DPW even legally is bound to sell the properties. The announced agreement by Dubai Ports World to sell was voluntary.

But the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States says "CFIUS does, in fact, retain the authority to bring the company back into the CFIUS process if it acts inconsistently with its announced plan to sell to a U.S. buyer." DP world, in a recent letter to congressional leaders, assured them that the sale is proceeding as planned, which seems to be reassuring Congress for now.

REP. PETE KING (R), NEW YORK: They are making the best faith effort to find an American buyer and that progress is being made.

TUCKER: But as of yet, there has been no formal offer to sell, which is known as a prospect us, from DPW.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER: While Congress is expressing confidence in the intention of Dubai Ports World, it's worth noting that Congress is also willing to employ language when it suits them publicly, then quietly remove it. It happened in this case and in congressional opposition to the surrendering of control of domestic airlines to foreign investors. Big storm, big language, quietly stripped out in committee, Lou.

DOBBS: So at this point, now it's just about four months since this agreement was reached, Congress has backed away from its language. Dubai Ports World has not acted. CFIUS, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, has said that it reserves the right to make Dubai Ports World do what it said it would do publicly. So you're not suggesting, are you, Mr. Tucker, in your reporting here, well, let me rephrase that. Is it a reasonable inference that the American public, the American citizens are being gamed again by this administration and this Congress?

TUCKER: I think it's a reasonable inference that they should be paying attention to what's going or not going on in Washington.

DOBBS: We're sure as heck going to be watching it and watching it very closely week by week. And spreading wherever we can bouquets to those who actually honor their word in this highly principled national capital of ours. Bill Tucker, thank you.

The Bush administration is determined to give away another critical American asset, control of our airlines to foreign interests. New language proposed by the Transportation Department would allow foreign investors to take control of our airlines. Congressman Frank Lobiondo and Congressman James Oberstar are leading the effort on capital hill to stop the give away. Congressman Lobiondo joins me tonight from Capital Hill. Congressman, good to have you with us.

REP. FRANK LOBIONDO (R), NEW JERSEY: Great to be with you, Lou.

DOBBS: You're a Republican, aren't you?

LOBIONDO: Yes, I am.

DOBBS: I wanted to just double-check that because you're not in the program here. You're supposed to be just shoveling American infrastructure and assets out the door as fast as you can to foreign ownership?

LOBIONDO: Well, unfortunately, there are far too many in Washington, I think, who have forgotten about September 11th and who have forgotten about what you so aptly discussed, the Dubai Ports World port debacle and the outrage that everyone shared over that issue and pledged that critical infrastructure would remain under American control. That seems to have been conveniently forgotten. DOBBS: Well, one has to give great marks for chutzpah to Norm Mineta, the Transportation Department secretary, basically, to tell you all in Congress to go to hell, everyone else who has any concern about the ownership, the control of U.S. airlines. Where does he come off acting like this?

LOBIONDO: Well, I'd like to think that they got some really bad advice. But you know, if it were not for major media journalists, like yourself, and I think you're about the only one who saw fit to keep raising this issue over and over again, I'm not sure many members of Congress would have joined in in this effort that Congressman Oberstar and I embarked upon last November.

And the outrageous part of this, which you have so aptly pointed out over and over again, is that this is statute. This is law of the United States of America. And the administration has attempted, by rule making, to overturn the statute and in essence give away critical infrastructure that for homeland security reasons alone should be nixed, let alone the economic reasons which are substantial in themselves as well.

DOBBS: Well, you and Congressman Oberstar have, with the introduction of your legislation, you've generated a bipartisan proposal. That doesn't happen that often, with support. What is the administration saying to you? You're a Republican in good standing, telling them they're making a horrible mistake. It is not the first one they've made, certainly. How are they reacting?

LOBIONDO: Well, I'm not sure. They haven't contacted me lately.

DOBBS: They haven't contacted you?

LOBIONDO: No, they haven't contacted me at all. But I can tell you that there were about 100 Republicans that joined with me and about 300 members of Congress overall. And some of them, like Chairman of the House Armed Service Committee Duncan Hunter, who spoke on the issue, because Congressman Hunter and Congressman Saxton dropped legislation to make sure the critical infrastructure would be in U.S. control.

So Congressman Hunter got very involved in this issue, got very aggressive with helping me convince other members of at least the Republican side of the aisle of how strongly we feel about this. And if 300 members of Congress voting on an issue and 100 Republicans, does not send a strong message, I'm not sure what does.

DOBBS: Well, to be straightforward with you, you've compared this situation to the administration's handling of the Dubai Ports World port controversy. None of us are too sure what this administration is thinking when it comes to U.S. control of critical U.S. infrastructure and assets.

LOBIONDO: Well, I think the president got some very bad advice on the Dubai World Port issue, some conflicting statements early on about who had reviewed it and at what level it had been reviewed, clearly indicated that that was not the case, that it was done at mid or low level. I'm not sure whether this was the same situation. But we intend, Congressman Oberstar and myself and Congressman Hunter and a group of us, intend to really continue to hold people's feet to the fire, to make sure this issue doesn't go away.

DOBBS: Good for you. And thank God somebody's looking out for the national interests in that city because there are days you wonder what in the world is going on down there.

LOBIONDO: Many of us wonder ourselves, but putting America first is never the wrong thing to do.

DOBBS: There you go. We appreciate it Congressman, good to have you with us.

LOBIONDO: Thanks, Lou.

DOBBS: President Bush has raised the fines on so-called indecent broadcast by 1,000 percent. You thought this administration wasn't enforcing the law, didn't you? Raise those fines, those indecency fines by 1,000 percent, we're talking law and order. President Bush signed the bill that raises the fines on broadcasters airing indecent programs from 32,000 to $325,000 per incident.

Meanwhile, as "The Washington Post" today reported, businesses employing illegal aliens have been fined a total, a total of $212,000. That's $212,000 for all of the violations by all employers in this country in force from 1999 to 2003. Back to the law and order question. We'll take up more of that in later broadcasts.

Still ahead here, the Bush administration insists it's taking a hard line against the nuclear threats of Iran and North Korea. Two of the nation's leading national security experts join me next. And Bill Bennett, one of the nation's leading conservatives, joins us. He co- signed an important new letter to President Bush calling upon the president to abandon amnesty.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Tonight North Korea is poised to launch a ballistic missile capable of reaching our shores. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today said it would be what she called a provocative act. The secretary of state didn't say exactly what that act would provoke. She did say the missile test, if it goes forward, would further isolate North Korea and its communist dictator Kim Jong-Il.

Meanwhile, President Bush is again demanding Iran give up its nuclear program. The president says Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons pose a great threat to the United States and the rest of the world. The president warns Iran faces economic sanctions if it doesn't suspend its uranium enrichment program. The president is scheduled to arrive in Vienna tomorrow, where he will meet with European allies. Iran's nuclear program will be topping the agenda.

Joining me now to examine and assess the challenge from North Korea in particular, Gordon Chang. He is the author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World" and Richard Fisher joins us as well. He's vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Center, joining us tonight from Washington. Rick, good to have you here.

RICHARD FISHER, INTERNATIONAL ASSESSMENT & STRATEGY CENTER: Thank you.

DOBBS: Gordon, let me begin with you. We have the secretary of state telling Kim Jong-il that it would be provocative to launch this missile. What in the world does that mean?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR: I don't know. I mean, it's one thing to talk tough. It's another thing to be tough. And the Bush administration has not been tough on either North Korea or Iran.

And more important, it hasn't dealt with the source of the problem, which is China. Because if we don't want North Korea to launch missiles or build nuclear weapons, we have to be clear with Beijing that we'll hold China responsible. We need to start drawing red lines. Because if it wasn't for Chinese material and diplomatic support, there would be no North Korea.

DOBBS: Do you agree, Rick?

FISHER: Absolutely. I would narrow it down. Gordon's absolutely right. There wouldn't be a North Korean ballistic missile or nuclear weapon were it not for discreet Chinese assistance to North Korea's nuclear weapon and ballistic missile program.

DOBBS: And what should be the United States response, Rick, then to the communist government of China?

FISHER: We should make this information public. We should explain publicly why we are sanctioning many Chinese companies today. We sanction them, but we don't explain why.

They're selling something to Iran. We don't know what exactly. But we sanction them. We should end that. We should also sanction China itself, when they sell repeatedly such dangerous technologies especially to Iran and when we find out about it to North Korea.

DOBBS: Gordon, we know that China is providing sophisticated technology and weaponry to Iran. We know that it is aiding and abetting North Korea. There's no ambiguity about it. What in the world should the United States -- I mean, this begins to look like some sort of kabuki dance and silly words flying through the air. And it's actually enervating and embarrassing at some level for the United States to keep blustering instead of acting and having no clear strategy.

CHANG: You know, it is choreography between Beijing and Washington, but nothing's getting done. The problem gets worse. As time progresses, these countries become more capable. Their missiles have longer range and they have more weapons. You know, as Rick says, we need to sanction China itself. We sanctioned the lowest-level companies and the Chinese just laugh. What we need to do is really say our markets, our technology, our capital. If you want them, you got to be responsible.

DOBBS: The trade policies of this country are putting more than $200 billion in hard currency in the hands of the Communist Chinese government every single year. Our trade deficit will go to $1 trillion this year. We're financing a massive military expansion, Rick. Who is kidding who ?

FISHER: Well Lou, one other thing that we can do is consider truly the possibility of actually shooting down this missile when it is launched.

We've been watching this missile being erected for the last week now. Let's shoot it down. Let's shoot it down. Let's teach a lesson not only to Kim Jong-il and North Korea, let's teach a lesson to the Chinese as well. We have the technology to stop their proxies from creating wars and destruction against us.

DOBBS: Now, that would be a dramatic statement. You're talking about, I assume, Rick, the AEGIS system that would be used, is that correct?

FISHER: We would have to use that system creatively, but we could also set up airborne ambushes for this missile as well. We should shoot it down.

DOBBS: When I start thinking -- and forgive me for saying this, Gordon -- the idea of stopping that missile to all the world, do we have the capability to do it?

CHANG: Well, I hope we have the capability.

DOBBS: I mean, that's a different statement though.

CHANG: We've been working on it. And I think one of the reasons why we have a ballistic missile program is really because we have thought about North Korea and have decided that we can't deter them. That we've got to be able to stop their missiles. I don't think that we'll be able to do it. Rick would know better, but on the other hand, I understand.

DOBBS: Would we be able to do it, Rick, and what would the Chinese do if we did such is a thing?

CHANG: Well, could we do that? We could do that if we used our AEGIS ships creatively and protected them. Would the Chinese be angry? Sure they'd be angry, but this missile is their fault. And if we shoot it down, it is because of their actions.

DOBBS: Well let's hope it doesn't come to that. And let's hope that perhaps there will be less bluster and a more clear statement. Can we agree on there, gentlemen, that we need to see a little clearer strategy on the part of the United States government when it comes to both Iran and North Korea here?

FISHER: Yes.

CHANG: We need to resolute the United States. That's the only way we're going to stop those programs.

DOBBS: Gordon Chang, as always, good to have you with us. Richard Smith (sic), thank you very much, sir. Good to have you with us.

FISHER: Thank you.

DOBBS: A reminder to vote in our poll. The burning question, do you believe raising a minimum wage will help our lowest paid workers by giving them more money per hour to work or do you believe, as some critics suggest that it will eliminate jobs and make the United States less competitive? Mind you our trade deficit this year will reach about $1 trillion. Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have results coming up just in a few minutes.

Coming up next, 40 of the nation's leading conservatives have some advice for the president on what he likes to call comprehensive immigration reform. Bill Bennett will join me. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Coming up here at the top of the hour, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou. Nuclear ambitions, the White House issuing stern warnings to both North Korea and Iran. We'll have the latest with this war of words. Plus, a closer look at just how close North Korea may be to having the capability of hitting U.S. soil.

Also, Howard Dean right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I'll ask him about the Democrats' plan to bring the troops home.

Plus, those missing American soldiers, we'll find out what's being done to bring them home.

And, Angelina Jolie in her first televised interview since having her baby. She continues her mission for refugees, even as the world press tracks her every move. Our Anderson Cooper sat down with her. He'll join us live here with a preview in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Lou, all that's coming up at the top of the hour.

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

A new CNN poll reveals who Americans don't want to see in the White House after President Bush leaves. Forty eight percent of those surveyed in our poll say they definitely will not vote for former Vice President Al Gore if he runs in 2006. He's the winner in this who I won't vote for poll. Senator Hillary Clinton is next. 47 percent. John Kerry tied. John McCain, 34 percent, considered a likely presidential candidate in 2008. Rudy Giuliani doing pretty well in this absolutely no poll, 30 percent.

Tonight, the conservative wing of the Republican party is in open revolt over the president's insistence on illegal alien amnesty. More than 40 of the nation's leading conservative thinkers are demanding the president drop his support for that illegal alien, guest worker program and support instead the House legislation with tough border security. They've written the president a letter asking that he acknowledge the wishes of the majority of Republicans on Capitol Hill and denounce amnesty.

Bill Bennett is one of the conservative leaders who co-signed that letter. His new book called America, the last best hope. He joins us tonight from Washington, D.C. Bill Bennett, you are an optimist. This president just passed comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate and turned the Democratic party into the majority for the purpose of doing so in the Senate. And you think he's going to listen to you guys?

WILLIAM BENNETT, FORMER EDUCATION SECRETARY: Well, we had the Dubai situation and we changed that. Or at least the president changed it. And I think there was some pressure. Look, Lou, we did this with some measure of regret. We support the president in a lot of things. We have our disagreements, too. But with a firm sense of conviction, this does not serve the country, it doesn't serve the cause of immigration, we're the children, the grandchildren of immigrants.

We're in favor of legal immigration, even lots of legal immigration. But, this doesn't serve the president, it doesn't serve his party and most important it doesn't serve the United States of America. And we mean to make our views clear. It's a range of people. I know some on the left or the liberal side will say it's more of the same old, same old. Most of the 41 you know and you know most of them are usually fighting with each other about one thing or another in the conservative catechism.

DOBBS: Well, I am happiest when conservatives and liberals alike in Washington are fighting each other. It usually means the center is a little safer than usual. You also attacked the Senate legislation in this, saying, adopting cosmetic legislation if we can see this, please. Adopting cosmetic legislation to appear to be doing something about enforcement. I guess we're going to see this?

BENNETT: We can talk about it. Look, I think the key here and it's something you talked about a lot. You talked about this with great authority and been on this issue for a long time. But I think what people need to understand is that the key for us is sequencing, what Newt Gingrich calls sequencing.

You've got to close the border, you've got to persuade the American people that you've fulfilled that pledge, to stop the hemorrhaging and keep people from coming in. Otherwise the rest of it make no sense. Two parts of that are, one, it's the logical precondition of doing anything else. You cannot deal with the problem if the problem continues to get worse. You know, you can't do the rest of the surgery if you're still bleeding and hemorrhaging.

DOBBS: Brother, you're preaching to the choir.

BENNETT: Well, yes. And to most of the American people I think, too. As I hear them on radio. The second point is, I think it's an issue of credibility. People just, you know we had 86, we had Simpson Mazzoli. You know Ed Mease wrote a very impressive op-ed, I know you talked to him about that, in which he said, we were wrong. We believed this thing would work and it didn't work.

DOBBS: He also gave us a great lesson. No matter what anyone thinks of Ed Mease's politics, he reminded anyone who wanted to read his words, that there is still room in this country for using language as it was intended, to convey an honest understanding of language to convey true meaning rather than try to disguise it.

BENNETT: Yes.

DOBBS: Ronald Reagan talked about amnesty, this president calls it earned legalization. But the question I've got, Bill, is how in the world, what are we to take away from the fact that 4 1/2 years, almost 5 years now, since September 11, we should even have a discussion about border security, that we had Senator McCain stand up with Senator Kennedy and just give themselves just a great big congratulatory hug about passing serious robust profound legislation when they're lying through their teeth?

BENNETT: Yes, well, the problem is this, and as we say in social science, and I don't like to quote social science usually, disaggregate the issues and understand, the American people understand, that the security of the border is the first issue. That's the one on which you have to have credibility before you earn the capital to move on to something else. Look, these 10, 12, 14 million people are going to be there around anyway, Let's guarantee a safe border, a secure border. Sovereignty is what we're talking about. If I can just say a word about the people who support the House bill, not the Senate bill.

DOBBS: Quickly because we're out of time.

BENNETT: These are not anti-immigrant people, they people who believe in due process, they believe in procedures. They believe in doing it the right way.

DOBBS: Bill, I got to stoop. The idea that a person has to explain that people are good people because they're concerned about the security of the border, the sovereignty of their nation, enforcing laws and looking for a fair, square deal for working men and women in this country. We're not going to take time to do that one.

BENNETT: Well, part of what we're talking about here is a incredible bias in the media, with some very notable exceptions.

DOBBS: Not here, partner.

BENNETT: I know that, that's why I'm here.

DOBBS: Bill Bennett, good to have you here. Still ahead, we'll have more of your thought and the results of our poll. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Now the results of our poll. The radical suggestion that wages, the lowest wages in country be raised to help out our lowest paid workers and improve the economy. Well you know what, 86 percent of you say raising the minimum wage will help those lowest paid workers, 14 percent of you, however, are adamant in the counter- intuitive result that it will eliminate jobs and hamper our competitiveness. Imagine. Good for the 86 percent, we love the 14 percent as well.

Taking a look now at more of your thoughts. John in Oregon, "Since Congress won't take no for an answer, you need to add hell no to all of your polls." We will do so.

Paul in Arizona, "Lou, know why our congress tries so hard to get reelected, they can't make a living under the laws they passed."

And Jane in Georgia, " Someone should tell Mayor Bloomberg that there's a market for crack cocaine and crystal meth. I don't see the government establishing centers for this market. Illegal means illegal."

And Ross in New Jersey, "How can someone be living in the shadows if we're building them day labor centers?"

And Clare in Arizona, " Let me see if I understand this, it's illegal for employers to hire illegal aliens, but the government is using tax-payer dollars to set up day labor centers so that employers can drop by and hire illegal aliens?" You've got to love America, I know you do, I know I do.

Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs@CNN.com. Thanks for being with us. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer begins right now, Wolf.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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