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Jorge Castaneda Interview; Staff Sergeant Andy Davis Serving His Country Here At Home After Going To War

Aired June 23, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, federal law enforcement and this nation's major news out lets have devoted an extraordinary amount of time to the arrest in this country of what the government says are seven want to be members of al Qaeda. What is unclear to this broadcast at least is what the intent of those suspects actually was. What their capabilities and resources were, and with whom they were actually cooperating to carry out their alleged terrorist ambitions.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Friday, June 23rd. Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. The United States today indicted seven alleged terrorists on charges they conspired to, quote, "wage war against the government of the United States."

These terrorists, five of them American citizens, attempted to seek money and support for their mission from a government informant they believed to be a member of al Qaeda. According to the indictment, the terrorists conspired to destroy by means of an explosive the Sears Tower in Chicago. And the FBI building in Miami. Their arrest come as the Bush administration admits it has monitored the financial transactions of Americans in order to prevent new terrorist attacks.

We begin with three reports tonight. Susan Candiotti from Miami. She will report where the investigation into this newly uncovered homegrown terrorist plot continues tonight.

And Jeanne Meserve reports from Washington on whether there is a growing threat of homegrown terrorists to this nation.

And David Ensor reports from Washington on that top-secret government program that tapped into the banking transactions of American citizens.

We begin with Susan Candiotti in Miami. Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Lou, the question everyone is asking tonight is -- how far this group could have gone. Were they all talk and no action?


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): They had no money, weapons or supplies. Yet, the government claims this seemingly inept group of seven planned to pull off a full-scale terror ground war against the U.S. Their alleged base of operations, this windowless warehouse in a rundown section of Miami.

ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: What we have is a situation where individuals here in America made plans to hurt Americans.

CANDIOTTI: Hurt them by blowing up the Sears Tower and government offices.

ALEXANDER ACOSTA, U.S. ATTORNEY: They sought supplies, including weapons and vehicles. They took reconnaissance photographs.

CANDIOTTI: The government cites these photographs of Miami's FBI headquarters, the Miami Police Department and a nearby federal courthouse and detention center. The indictment charges the group's leader, Narseal Batiste, claimed his soldiers, would quote, "kill all the devils we can" in a mission, quote, "as good or greater than 9/11."

Whether the accused could have pulled it off is the question. According to the indictment, a government informant, who pretended to be a member of al Qaeda, infiltrated the group over several months. The group's leader is charged with pledging his allegiance to al Qaeda.

ACOSTA: They certainly had the will. They were searching for the way. Is the bottom line.

CANDIOTTI: In a Miami federal courtroom, five of the seven, all handcuffed, appeared briefly before a judge. Each testified he owned no property. Two said they had jobs. All got court-appointed attorneys and will be arraigned next week. Relatives said the suspects don't like President Bush and hate the war in Iraq. But never talked terror.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My son, he don't have heart to kill people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He don't got no heart to kill nobody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got no heart to kill people.

CANDIOTTI: Authorities say they made the arrests now because they made their case.

GONZALES: We took action when we did, because we believe we have an obligation to prevent America -- from another attack here.


CANDIOTTI: Well, kind of wannabes or not, the FBI insists the group had to be stopped. Yet, given their lack of money, bombs, weapons or training, it's not clear whether they could have done any harm. Lou, back to you.

DOBBS: Susan Candiotti. Thank you. From Miami. This is what we know about the seven suspects under arrest tonight. Five of them are U.S. citizens. One is a legal immigrant from Haiti. One is a Haitian national, in this country illegally.

All are said to be members of a religious group calling itself the Seas of David, which follows both Christianity and Islam. Most of the suspects are said to be totally broke. And one suspect, Stanley Grant Phanor has been arrested six times on criminal offenses that range from possession of marijuana to carrying a concealed weapon.

The alleged ringleader of the group is Narseal Batiste. He allegedly met on numerous occasions with a federal agent, posing as a member of al Qaeda. He requested tens of thousands of dollars to build, quote, "an Islamic army to wage jihad."

The alleged terrorists swore their allegiance to al Qaeda yet, had no connection at all with any al Qaeda member. They did have an overriding hatred for the United States, apparently, and a desire to attack the country. The U.S. law enforcement officials say the threat from these homegrown radical groups will only grow, in their opinions, in the years ahead. Jeanne Meserve reports.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Sears Tower, a landmark, a symbol, on the list of potential terrorist targets since 9/11. But the threat against it, once believed to come from abroad, came in this instance from within.

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: They were persons who, for whatever reason, came to view their home country as the enemy.

MESERVE: It is a product of the war on terror, officials say, unexpected and unwelcome. With al Qaeda disrupted, the seeds jihadist ideology have disbursed and germinated and grown into small local terror cells.

MUELLER: These extremists are self-recruited, self-trained and self-executing. They may not have any connection at all to al Qaeda or to other terrorist groups. They share ideas and information in the shadows of the Internet.

MESERVE: The London transit bombers are said to have had no direct al Qaeda link. Likewise, the alleged Toronto terrorists who are said to have wanted the prime minister's head. And now there are other purported plotters in Florida, who were caught that someone that knew them grew suspicious.

JOHN PISTOLE, FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Let's just say that they were doing things that came to our attention through people who were alert in the community.

MESERVE: Members of local cells plot and plan where they live and work. They belong there. They do not stand out. They are, in short, hand to find. A homegrown cell that originated in this California prison was only stopped after some members were caught robbing gas stations, and investigators stumbled onto evidence of terrorism.

The absence of a larger organizational hierarchy decreases the likelihood of communications intercepts or unusual travel that might raise alarm bells. The key, say experts, is old-fashioned police work.

GEORGES BAURIES, FORMER FBI AGENT: You have to have a constant surveillance of what's going on within the community, and that means that agents have to be out there working with their informants.


MESERVE: No one has a real handle on the number of homegrown terrorists in the United States, but officials are worried that their number could be multiplying and their danger growing. Lou, back to you.

DOBBS: There could be that worry. There could be so many other worries, Jeanne.

On what basis does the attorney general's office, the Justice Department say that they -- what is the basis for their concern that these, as they style them, homegrown terrorists, if, indeed, these turn out to be such, could rival the threat of al Qaeda itself?

MESERVE: Well, look at London. There was a group there that officials have said were not connected with al Qaeda. And look what they did to the London subways, just about a year ago. So they point to that as an example of what might happen here.

DOBBS: Jeanne, thank you very much. Jeanne Meserve reporting from Washington.

We'll have much more on these terrorist indictments later in this broadcast. Among my guest tonight, Clark Kent Ervin, he's the former inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, who has written extensively on the threat of terrorism in this country.

The Bush administration tonight is defending a newly disclosed program by which it monitors certain types of banking by U.S. citizens. This top-secret program intended to track terrorists' money has been in place since September 11th. The Bush administration is criticizing in particular two news organizations, "The Los Angeles Times" and "The New York Times" for publishing stories that uncovered the operation. David Ensor reports.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The revelation that the government has had access to millions of international money transactions since 9/11 was confirmed by Bush administration officials who said the program is legal and effective against terrorism.

JOHN SNOW, TREASURY SECRETARY: It's what the American people expect us to do. It would be irresponsible not to use these legal authorities to follow the flows and go after the terrorists. TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It helped capture Hambali, who was responsible for the Bali bombing. It's provided information on domestic terror cells.

ENSOR: U.S. officials spent about two months trying to convince "The New York Times" not to publish a story about the program, under which the Treasury, CIA and FBI, can see records of bank money transfers if they have a name or account number and can show there may be a terrorist connection.

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT: What I find most disturbing about these stories is the fact that some of the news media take it upon themselves to disclose vital national security programs, thereby making it more difficult for to us prevent future attacks against the American people. That offends me.

ENSOR: "New York Times" editor Bill Keller said, quote, "We remain convinced that the administration's extraordinary access to this vast repository of international financial data, however carefully targeted the use of it may be, is a matter of public interest."

With board members from the world's biggest banks, the Swift is a global banking industry cooperative that acts as a clearinghouse for transactions worldwide. About $6 trillion worth of them every day. Critics charge the program, which uses subpoenas to get access to that data is an abuse of power.

REP. ED MARKEY, (D) MA: The Bush administration may be once again violating the constitutional rights of innocent Americans as part of another secret program created in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.


ENSOR: But administration lawyers insist the program is legal. Some officials admit, in an era when homegrown terrorists could be the biggest new concern, a program tracking international money transactions may be less useful than it has been before. Lou?

DOBBS: Well, let's not come to any conclusions, shall we, David on whether the al Qaeda or homegrown terrorism is the greater threat at this point. The fact that Ed Markey, Congressman Markey, said that there could be a violation, is hardly a resonant charge against this administration.

Subpoenas are required for each of the searches that they perform within the conglomerate, the Swift aggregation of international transactions, correct?

ENSOR: Absolutely right. And as I mentioned, administration lawyers say everything has been gone over very carefully. It's strictly legal, Lou.

DOBBS: And congressional oversight, that is the part of this we have not seen. To what degree is this Congress, which would be somewhat, if you will, in a -- among its most minor roles in oversight, providing any oversight?

ENSOR: My understanding is that the key subcommittees that should know about this, do. It's a very small number of people, though, Lou. There are not many in Congress that knew about this before they saw their " New York Times" or their "Los Angeles Times" this morning.

DOBBS: It's almost reached a point, David Ensor, that I will accept even a few people providing oversight rather than none. Thank you, sir. David Ensor, from Washington.

In a new videotape released today, al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al Zawahiri, said he grieves the death of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, al Qaeda's leader in Iraq. Al Zarqawi was killed earlier this month in a U.S. air strike in Iraq. We have decided on this broadcast not to air the videotape, because it is straightforwardly propaganda and this broadcast, and we believe our audience, are not interested in propaganda from any quarter.

Still ahead here, we'll be reporting on the violence on along our southern border with Mexico. After you witness the special report tonight, I assure you, you'll be demanding border security.

And later I'll be joined by the former Mexican foreign minister, Jorge Castaneda, who will be our guest. And the war on the American middle-class. It is unrelenting. The most skilled workers are being shut out of good-paying jobs right here at home by corporate employers in favor of foreign workers. That special report and a great deal more still ahead.

And three of the nation's most distinguished political analysts join me as well. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Disturbing new reports tonight of a dangerous escalation in the bloody violence that is raging along our southern border with Mexico. A gruesome killing spree just south of San Diego shocked even those accustomed to the brutal methods of Mexico's organized crime family. And we should warn you, some of the images in this report are graphic. Viewer discretion is, without question, advised. Peter Viles reports.


PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even by the standards of Mexican drug wars, this episode is shocking. It took place Tuesday night in the coastal town or Rosaritor, just south of San Diego. Three police officers and a civilian, murdered. Their bodies mutilated and their heads cut off and dumped 18 miles away in Tijuana. Local press reports indicate the men were abducted by a small army numbering 100 men, some of whom wore what appeared to be the uniform of Mexico's federal investigative agency, the AFI.

CHIEF VALENTE MONTIJO, ROSARITO POLICE (through translator): One hundred armed people there, identifying themselves as members of AFI. They identified themselves, they had plates, they had vehicles with codes. It was an operation.

VILES: Mexico's drug wars have been fueled by a multibillion dollar industry, the spreading influence of brutal Central American gangs and rampant corruption.

DAVID SHIRK, UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO: Sometimes it's very difficult to tell the difference between law enforcement and the cartels, because of the high degree of corruption and involvement of law enforcement in some of these narcotic activities.

VILES: Drug-related killings are also a fact of life near the Texas border, where drug wars in Nuevo Laredo have claimed more than 200 lives in the last few years. The State Department believes Americans in border towns are at risk. The United States this month offered a $5 million reward in Mexico City for the capture of Jorge Castillo Sanchez, the reputed leader of one of cartels.

The U.S. ambassador to Mexico explained, quote, "Residents of our border communities will be significantly safer if he is apprehended and brought to justice."


VILES: Now, these cartels are almost as well armed as the Mexican military. In fact, one cartel is believed to consist of an elite military commando unit that simply left the military to go into the drug-smuggling business intact. Lou?

DOBBS: Peter, thank you very much. Peter Viles, reporting.

Coming up next here, American high technology workers being replaced by cheap foreign labor, thanks to a guest-worker program that is already in place. And the Bush administration and Congress, they are doing nothing about it. It is part of the war on the middle- class. That special report coming up.

And illegal immigration driven by Mexico's poverty. What will Mexico's next president do about border security and the illegal immigration crisis? I'll be talking about Mexico's former foreign minister, Jorge Castaneda.

And in Miami, the FBI has arrested a group it says wanted to attack the Sears Tower. How serious is the threat of so-called homegrown terrorism? I'll be talking with former Homeland Security inspector general, Clark Kent Ervin. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The war on our middle-class continues unabated. The country's most skilled workers, in fact, are being shut out of good- paying jobs right here at home by corporate employers in favor of cheap foreign labor. And neither the president nor Congress is doing a thing about it. Bill Tucker reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When it comes to protecting American workers against foreign labor, Congress isn't. The latest report issued this week by the GAO found weak oversight of the program, with the Department of Labor serving as a rubber stamp for H1-B visa applications.

SIGURD NILSEN, GAO: Of the more than 960,000 applications that Labor reviewed from January, 2002 through September, 2005, 99.5 percent were certified.

TUCKER: Shockingly, there's nothing new about the findings. An assessment from the Office of Management and Budget in 2004, found the program, quote, "vulnerable to fraud." A report by the Department of Labor in 2003 found serious flaws and warned of, quote, "fraudulent applications."

Even more bizarre, in 1996, the Department of Labor found that the guest-worker visa programs, quote, do not protect U.S. workers' jobs or wages. Ten years later and Congress has done nothing. That inaction has emboldened employers seeking only to hire only H1-B workers to the exclusion of American workers. As members of the House Judiciary Committee learned on Thursday.

JOHN MIANO, PROGRAMMER'S GUILD: In the past six weeks I found over 1,500 ads requesting H1-B workers only from 350 employers. There are now Web sites that are virtual visa bazaars. Companies don't advertise jobs. They advertise visas.

TUCKER: Other panelists told the elected representatives that fixing the problem is simple and crucial.

ANA AVENDANO, AFL-CIO: The best thing we can do is to protect U.S. working standards so that workers can earn a decent wage, work in dignity under decent conditions and not continue to foster systems like the H1-B program that simply provide employers with a steady supply of exploitable workers.

TUCKER: But instead of fixing the problems, Congress is ready to expand the program in the name of immigration reform.


TUCKER: And that expansion moves ahead, because corporate America says it needs more H1-B visa workers, and why wouldn't they? A recent study found that H1-B wages, Lou, are significantly below the wages that are paid American workers.

DOBBS: We should be pointing out that we have been reporting on this issue for literally years on this broadcast, and neither party has stepped up to stop a practice that is aimed squarely at our middle-class and working men and women in this country. It's unconscionable.

TUCKER: It is.

DOBBS: Bill Tucker, thank you. Taking a look now at some of your thoughts in whether Americans would be better off if all three branches of government were to go on a on a summer holiday as we asked last evening.

Harvey in Kentucky said, "In the name of all that is sane, please keep those bozos in Washington. The last thing we need here in the real world is an influx of politicians during the summer."

And Linda in Florida. "Yes, let them all go on unpaid vacation starting now and we will give them a permanent vacation come November."

And Judy in California. "Lou, now you really have be confused. I thought our government was on holiday."

And Paul in New York. "How can we get a line on the voting machine that says 'none of the above'?"

And Judy in New York. "Lou, you bet the Catholic Church is backing the illegals. With the numbers dropping in their churches if they didn't back the illegals they would have to shut their doors."

Keith in California. "Wow, Lou! Cardinal Mahony and the church protecting illegals and sex offenders? Who would of thunk it."

Send us your thoughts at More of your thoughts are coming up later right here.

Next, a bloody war on our southern border with Mexico escalating. We'll have a report on the worsening violence. I'll be talking with Mexico's former foreign minister about the upcoming presidential elections as well.

And the FBI announces terrorist arrests in Miami, and security analyst Clark Kent Ervin is joining us to look at the possible threat of what is now being called homegrown terrorism.

And is President Bush enjoying a significant bounce in his polls? And what does it mean for the upcoming midterm elections? Three of the country's best political analysts join me. Some of them absolutely unbiased. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Clark Kent Ervin, the former inspector general of the Department of Homeland security will be joining me in just a moment on the terrorist plot arrests in Miami. But, first, two more of our troops have been killed in Iraq. They were killed today when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb just south of Baghdad.

Two-thousand five-hundred fifteen of our troops have now been killed in Iraq, 18,572 wounded. Of those, 8,508 seriously wounded.

In Baghdad today, the Iraqi government declared a state of emergency and imposed a new curfew after insurgents set up roadblocks in central Baghdad. A former defense intelligence analyst has admitted passing top-secret information to China. And he is pleading guilty to holding classified documents. Former analyst Ronald Montaperto (ph) could receive up to 10 years in prison.

And Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has announced his resignation from the Bush cabinet. Mineta was the only Democrat in the cabinet. He resigned after 5 1/2 years working for the Bush administration.

Seven men tonight are under arrest in Miami. They are charged with seeking to plot terrorist attacks. Targets allegedly included FBI headquarters in Miami and Chicago's Sears Tower. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales describes the group as homegrown terrorists. But he says they pose no immediate threat.

Clark Kent Ervin served as inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security. He's the author of the book "Open Target, Where America's Vulnerable to Attack" and join us tonight from Washington. Clark, good to have you here.


DOBBS: Give us your assessment, as best we can judge, from an indictment from what we know, how serious a threat of these seven posed.

ERVIN: Well, we don't know of course, Lou, but based on what we know now, it seems to me this was very serious indeed. We all have a stereotype in our minds of what a terrorist looks like and it's a foreign Arab, actually and al Qaeda knows this and so they are actively seeking to recruit among Anglo-Americans, Hispanic Americans -- Jose Padilla for example -- and African Americans, in prisons and otherwise. And so I think this is very, very, very chilling.

Furthermore, of course, according to the indictment, they intended to do two simultaneous attacks in two major cities against a political target and a financial one. And, of course, that's exactly the template of 9/11 itself.

DOBBS: And in this instance, at least, as best we can understand at this point, they had no money. They were absolutely flat broke. Had no resources whatsoever. Were in a -- certainly not a traditional church, but in some sort of a religious organization, which combined Christianity and Islam. How did -- just how seriously do you assess that kind of threat?

ERVIN: Well, that's, of course, what one of the apparent participants in this organization said, that it was just a religious organization, as you say, mixing Christianity and Islam. That's not what the government says.

We don't know the facts yet, needless to say. But the question is, in the age of terror, in the post-9/11 environment, what should the government do when there are people who, according to the government, who plot and plan to carry out a devastating 9/11-style attack? It seems to me that the government should lean forward and it shouldn't wait until these plots become operational. It should move in at the aspirational stage, and apparently that's what the FBI did here.

DOBBS: And to that point, now that these seven men have been indicted, we can go to the Lackawanna six, who pled guilty to charges of providing material support to al Qaeda, yet they were sentenced only to terms ranging from seven to 10 years in prison. Does this seem appropriate to you?

ERVIN: Well, yes. Of course, you know, conspiracy is a lesser thing, actually, than carrying out an attack. But seven to 10 years in prison, that's a significant amount of prison time, and the very fact that the government is going hard after people who apparently are planning attacks itself is salutary, because it sends a message to terrorists that the government is vigilant and the government has penetrated these communities, and the government may be watching, particularly, since in this instance, there apparently was an informant in the ranks of this alleged terror group.

DOBBS: Clark Kent Ervin, we thank you for being here. Author of the book "Open Target: Where America Is Vulnerable to Attack." Thank you, Clark.

ERVIN: Thanks, Lou.

DOBBS: Another threat to our national security tonight, our inability to secure our southern border with Mexico.

Mexico's drug cartels are waging a bloody war along the border. It is a war that sometimes spills over to the United States. The government of Mexico has been unable to stop the violence, or the organized crime families and organizations that are smuggling drugs and illegal aliens with impunity.

Jorge Castaneda is the former foreign minister of Mexico. He joins us tonight from Washington, D.C. It is good to have you here, Jorge.


DOBBS: Let's turn -- I want to talk about these elections and their import, the elections, the presidential elections in Mexico on July 2nd. But the level of violence, we -- people being beheaded, hundreds murdered in one -- one small area, and I'm talking about Nuevo Laredo. Why cannot the Mexican government get ahold of this just rampant violence?

CASTANEDA: Well, strangely enough, Lou, part of the problem on the border is that the Fox administration has actually been quite successful in fighting against the drug cartels, which has unleashed the war among the cartels. I know it sounds silly, but that's the real situation. The reason there are these problems is this is a product of success.

In the past, the government cut deals with the cartels. It was easier to keep them quiet that way. Now the government is fighting them, and, yes, they have a war among them. And that's terrible for the country, for the cities, for the border, but it is something we have to fight, and it's also something that U.S. and Mexico have to cooperate on. We will not be able to solve the border corruption and drug problems, Lou, unless there is U.S./Mexican cooperation at the border.

DOBBS: Well, it is to me a criminal shame that the governments of Mexico and the United States have carried out what is at best a half-hearted war on drugs over the course of the past 20 years.

CASTANEDA: Much more has to be done, I agree, Lou.

DOBBS: Absolutely. Let's turn to what must be done on July 2nd. Mexico advancing its democracy. The principals seem to be Felipe Calderon and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the popular former mayor of Mexico City. Calderon, part of the -- the leading candidate from President Fox's party. The most recent poll, Excelsior poll, showing Lopez Obrador in the lead. Your thoughts?

CASTANEDA: Well, it's pretty much a dead heat, Lou. Right now, I think it's impossible to forecast who is going to win. There are several polls showing Lopez Obrador ahead, like the one you mentioned. There were a few polls showing Calderon slightly ahead.

I think at this stage, they are all within the margin of error. It's impossible right now to predict who is going to win, which is a good thing for Mexico. For the first time, or the second time, actually, in recent history we don't know who is going to win. That may not be surprising to Americans, but to Mexicans, that's a new development and a very positive one, not to know.

DOBBS: Not knowing, but let's bring Mexico, if we may, straight into the American matrix of political speculation. Lopez Obrador, some would say, would nationalize businesses, would scare off investment, would be a populist demagogue and would upset all of the advances of the course of the past five years. Your reaction?

CASTANEDA: Well, I wouldn't go that far, Lou, but I do think that he would not be the best for the country's future. He represents a sort of a back-to the-future alternative, back to the '70s, back to the '80s, back to the policies which unfortunately failed for Mexico then and which brought economic crisis, devaluation, unemployment, inflation, and led to many of the problems we're facing today.

Calderon is not an ideal candidate, but I think he is a better candidate than Lopez Obrador is.

DOBBS: And I think this is the point at which I say, Jorge, I remind everyone that you served President Fox as his foreign minister.

CASTANEDA: Absolutely.

DOBBS: And are a member of the same party as Felipe Calderon.

CASTANEDA: Well, I am not a member of his party, but I'm a good friend of his, and I intend to vote for him.

DOBBS: OK. We have got full disclosure.

CASTANEDA: Absolutely. Always, Lou.

DOBBS: Now on the issue of what has happened in Mexico or not happened, and that is a poverty level that is overwhelming. Half the population in poverty. Part of the reason for the drive of illegal immigration, failure in NAFTA to carry out investment that would enrich the people, as it was hoped it would. Which is the better candidate to move forward for the average Mexican citizen who has been left far behind over the course of the past decade?

CASTANEDA: Well, I think neither is perfect, but I prefer Calderon for the following reason, Lou. I opposed NAFTA when it was negotiated back in 1992 and '93, because it didn't include a lot of things that had to be included. But it became the law of the three lands, and now we have to live with it.

And I think Calderon can do more for the poor people of Mexico, more to create employment, more to over the long term deter immigration to the United States, which is what we all want. Nobody in Mexico wants to cross the border in 120 degrees heat in the shade. Nobody wants to die in the desert of Sonora. Nobody wants to come to the United States under those terms, but that's the situation we have.

DOBBS: Well, we'll know more come July 2nd. You're heading to Mexico...

CASTANEDA: Absolutely.

DOBBS: ... this weekend. We would like you back. We'll be talking with you and a number of your fellow citizens over the course of the next week, as we approach the July 2nd presidential election. Jorge Castaneda.

CASTANEDA: Hope to be with you, Lou. Thank you very much.

DOBBS: Thank you.

That brings us to the subject of our poll. Do you believe it is time for the American people to demand absolute border security, a halt to illegal immigration, and commit to victory in the war on drugs? Yes or no? Cast your vote at We'll have the results coming up here later.

Still ahead, the war at home. President Bush sees a bounce in his approval ratings, while the debate over the conduct of the Iraq war has divided Congress and the parties. Three of the nation's best political analysts join me here.

And in "Heroes," our weekly salute to our men and women in uniform, a young Army Ranger who exemplifies what it means to be an American hero. His story, coming up next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Well, I'm excited to hear what three of what I think are the very best political analysts going have to say about the developments of this week. But, first, we're going to turn to another moment of excitement, brought to us by Wolf Blitzer and THE SITUATION ROOM coming up at the top of the hour. Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much Lou. Terror sting or setup? We'll take a look behind the scenes of the FBI raid in Miami. Was this a group of potential terrorists or did the government informant lead them into trouble? We're covering all sides of the story.

Plus, spying on bank data. Are financial records fair game in the war on terror? A secret program revealed.

Also, missile defense, plans actually right now to shoot down a North Korean missile, if the U.S. is attacked.

And global warming. Are rising temperatures to blame for severe hurricanes? We're taking a closer look.

All that, Lou, coming up at the top of the hour.

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

President Bush saw something of a bounce of in his approval ratings for the first time all year. Let's take a look at the approval ratings as they are scoped out there, our poll of polls, in point of fact. And joining me now to look at that resurgence, John Fund of "The Wall Street Journal," Michael Goodwin of "The New York Daily News" and Ed Rollins of formerly the White House, their political director a couple years ago.


DOBBS: Good to have you here. What do you make of it John fund, that looks like a resurgence if I ever saw it.

JOHN FUND, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": An up-tick. This shows that the president made a good call in changing his chief of staff to Josh Bolten. Josh Bolten has got the White House running on at least six out of eight cylinders and there's a new sense of morale and purpose and frankly a more consistent message from the White House.

DOBBS: Aren't you going to give Tony Snow some credit in there too?

FUND: Josh Bolten hired Tony Snow and Tony Snow has been good, to.

DOBBS: So it all devolves to the leader. What do you think Mike?

MICHAEL GOODWIN, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": I would hold the champagne. I think it's clearly an up-tick, but I think it's clearly too soon to say that it makes any difference. It's three points or so, and I think he's so far down that he needs a good month or two or three or four or five on that to really make a difference in the midterm elections.

DOBBS: Your thoughts?

ROLLINS: What I think he's done is he's energized some of the Republicans and conservatives that moved away from him because they didn't think he was fighting for anything. He's now back fighting for what he believes in, and I think that's what brought the three or four percent back.

DOBBS: One of the things this White House is fighting for is comprehensive immigration reform. The House has decided to heck with you all, you won't send us the legislation, you haven't blue slipped it, because you managed to put $50 billion, as James Sensenbrenner, the House Judiciary Committee chairman said, into the Senate bill and the constitution has a little something to say about where that sort of thing originates. But my favorite, John Fund, is Arlen Specter, so annoyed that the House would hold hearings, the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee decided his bill, he would hold hearings.

FUND: You know, Arlen Specter has had Attention Deficit Disorder for his entire life, except it always occurs when he doesn't have TV cameras around him.

DOBBS: Don't you think that's a remarkable thing for the Senate to finally decide that they want to know what the 715 pages of reform legislation they passed actually entails?

GOODWIN: It sounds like punishment by hearings. So I don't know what Specter hopes to achieve, but I think it's pretty clear what the House Republicans hope to achieve, which is to kill the Senate bill, to turn the public tide strictly against it and I think if they hold those hearings they will be successful at that.

DOBBS: Is this somehow some mad genius on the part of Karl Rove at work? The president aligns himself with the Democratic majority in the Senate, passes a terrible piece of legislation, the Republicans in dire straits across the country, save the day, by saving the nation from this idiotic legislation?

ROLLINS: I'm happy to give Karl Rove credit when it's due, and often it is due. This president and Karl Rove wanted that Senate immigration bill. They were wrong. And I've said that in this show, and you said that in this show. And the House Republicans have been very clear that they want a security-only measure. They are going to go out and get big crowds to basically reinforce that and the president and the Senate bill is dead, dead, dead.

FUND: Lou, the voters are going to have a say next Tuesday in Utah, because a Congressman named Chris Cannon, who is very much in favor of a guest worker program, is being challenged in the primary there by a candidate who wants closed borders. And I have to tell you...

DOBBS: ... He wants secure borders. I think there is a difference. That had a little load on it, didn't it? FUND: Secure and closed. And I think that if the Chris Cannon, who has been a Republican Congressman there for a decade, if he loses then I think political chances of the immigration bill go way south, go way south.

GOODWIN: I don't see how they go north. The dye is all right cast on this.

DOBBS: Well, let me be just crazy here, just say something really wild. Let's move from the immigration, which has become a farce, that immigration debate in Washington. It's a joke and a shame of one. But there is the national security issue.


DOBBS: Securing our borders. Securing our ports. Is there any chance in the world that the federal government, any one of the branches of that government, will take seriously and response to something?

FUND: Let me tell you what I'm worried about, a leading official in Mexico is privately telling people that if Lopez Obrador, who is the populist leftist candidate who wants to drive away foreign investment in this country, if he wins on July 2nd, this Mexican official is saying privately, illegal immigration flows will triple within a few month because capital is going to leave the country and the economy is going to go down. That Mexican election on July 2nd is of incredible importance to the U.S.

DOBBS: "The Wall Street Journal's" editorial page aren't supporting Felipe Calderon (ph) are they, President Fox's party?

FUND: Investors in the market are looking at Lopez Obrador and saying no mas.

ROLLINS: No matter who wins there are still a million illegal aliens coming across that border every year, and that has to be stopped. I don't care what debate we have, and I don't care, and the long term we have to figure out what to do with the 12 million that are here, but we have to secure the borders right now.

GOODWIN: Well, to your point, Lou, about the ports, you have the ports and the borders and I think this week there were hearings about homeland security in the cities, New York City getting cut, Washington, D.C. getting cut. I think that we're not playing defense properly in this administration.

We're a one-trick pony. We attack, we attack, we attack. But, the home front is really not protected in any of these ways. And Bush, really, it's shocking, but he has let this happen, and I'm not sure why, but we've got to fix it.

DOBBS: And going back to Mexico, just a moment, if I can in the interest of fair and balanced, which I know is near and dear to your heart. If I may say, the Fox policies haven't really worked so well for a country that is exporting just about 20 percent of its population, principally it's hoarded.

FUND: Fox has been a disappointment and a failure. We hope that Calderon has learned from that failure.

DOBBS: I'm sure he has, because I notice one thing politicians do is they simply learn brilliantly from failure after failure.

FUND: If it's somebody else's failure.

DOBBS: Let me go to the next issue. Because you were talking about attack and attack. Another opportunity presents itself, and that, of course, is Iran. Talking with John Bolton, the U.N. ambassador here, he said, point blank, they have an opportunity, but he also made it crystal clear, that there is a very serious consequence awaiting.

GOODWIN: Well, I think this is the most dangerous game of all. I think North Korea is even something of a side light next to this. I think Iran is really the game, and we've got to figure that out and we're going to need Russia and China, because I don't think this is something we can do alone.

ROLLINS: And they don't scare. I think they have Ignored us for a long, long time and I think they will continue to ignore us. I think it's the combination of the two that is very, very dangerous, and I think they feel, as we sit and debate, whether we should be in Iraq, I think it empowers them to basically think they can do it without us.

FUND: Lou, the single most important thing we can do in Iran is if the North Koreans launch that missile in ten days, which is about the time I think they will, I think we have to try to shoot it down. I think we have a better than 50/50 chance of shooting it down. If we shoot it down, that's a message to Iran, you may get your nuclear program, but I don't think it will help much.

DOBBS: I don't like the inverse message that would be all to clear if we fail to shoot it down. Because if that's a message to Iran and we fail, I don't want to think about that message too hard.

FUND: Very few country want to launch a missile with a less than 50 percent chance of success, so even our willingness to take it down would send a message.

ROLLINS: Certainly the ultimate test of star wars which we have all been advocates of before.

GOODWIN: I think the Iranian mentality is different, I don't think they fear death. That's the issue here. And we may have all the weapons in the world, but I don't think it makes a difference.

DOBBS: Maybe I should plead guilty to not being overwhelmingly confident since I can remember talking to Edward Teller about SDI, better than 20 years ago now.

FUND: Half our tests have worked out. Half our tests have worked.

DOBBS: I'm trying to be enthused and reassured by that. It's just not working for me. John Fund, thank you very much. Michael Goodwin, thank you. Ed Rollins, thank you sir.

A reminder now vote in our poll. Do you believe it is time for the American people to demand absolute border security, a halt to illegal immigration, and commit to victory in the war on drugs? Yes or no? Cast your vote at Those results, coming right up.

And please join us here Monday, when I'll be talking with nationally syndicated columnist Ruben Navarette who disagrees with my views on illegal immigration and border security. In fact, he says I pander to racists and xenophobes. We'll be talking about that.

Also Monday, a panel of experts join me to talk about the shocking new report from the National Academy of Sciences showing that the earth may be hotter than it has been for thousands of years, but most assuredly the hottest it's been in 400. We hope you'll be with us here Monday.

Up next, "Heroes," our weekly salute to our men and women in uniform around the world. Tonight, you'll meet the Army ranger who learned to appreciate all this country stands for, while serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan. His story is next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Now, "Heroes." Andy Davis served two tours in Afghanistan, one in Iraq. He earned the Bronze Star with valor for his service in Iraq. Now he's applying that same dedication to serving this country here at home.

Lisa Sylvester has his story.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Staff Sergeant Andy Davis was one of the first U.S. soldiers to parachute into Iraq. His Army ranger unit, the 3rd Battalion, 75th Regiment, was tasked with securing a dam and a bridge that stretched over the Euphrates River.

ANDY DAVIS, ARMY VETERAN: They fought us extra hard and they kept fighting and kept bringing in more folks, and no matter how much air support we would call, they were pretty good at hiding. And then when the aircraft would leave, then they would come out and fight us again. So this was a pretty significant fight for a very strategic location.

SYLVESTER: The 25-year-old veteran knew he wanted to serve his country at a young age, influenced by movies like "Top Gun." He joined the Army 10 days after leaving high school. On September 11, 2001, he realized he was going into combat. DAVIS: I was watching the news -- I don't even know which channel it was -- and they kept replaying it and replaying it and replaying it and I knew in my heart that we were going and it was for a good reason.

SYLVESTER: Davis served two tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. He was awarded a Bronze Star medal with valor. Now that he's out of the military, he's founded a non-profit, Comfort for Courage, that helps veterans readjust to civilian life.

DAVIS: On this side where we have mounted a head-mounted display, what we're ...

SYLVESTER: In his day job, he creates and tests vision software equipment for the troops.

DAVIS: If you ever used a Hertz rental car where it has the NeverLost system, it's basically that for a person.

SYLVESTER: He's also attending college and running as a Republican for the Minnesota State Legislature, a decision he made after witnessing the elections in Afghanistan and Iraq.

ANDY: Seeing what these people that have nothing to start with, would risk to go vote, to just go put their name on a piece of paper, walking through car bombs, risking kidnappings, all those things and to come home and see people voting more for "American Idol" was really surprising to me.

SYLVESTER: He hopes to convey the message that people need to be engaged, to follow what's going on in the world, and try to make it better.

Lisa Sylvester, CNN.


DOBBS: Coming up next, we'll have more of your thoughts. Among those thoughts on the NAFTA superhighway, a few Canadians apparently don't want to be Americans. And we'll have the results of our poll, of course. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight -- 98 percent of you say it is time for the American people to demand absolute border security, a halt to illegal immigration, and commit to victory in the war on drugs.

Taking a look now at more of your thoughts, Mel in Nevada: "I'm an American who was born here, and served my country for 20 years in the Navy. So why do I have to press one for English when trying to contact American businesses?"

And David in Virginia: "Lou, I think that in order to protect our nation's sovereignty, we should not allow the superhighway from Mexico to Canada to go forward. Just give the SPP and NAFTA the shafta. Go USA."

And Tom in North Carolina: "A NAFTA superhighway would be fine, as long as there are no off ramps."

And Alex in California: "So the highway from Mexico to Canada is being paid for by corporate and federal funds? Isn't federal funds just a euphemism for taxes from the middle class?"

And Jeffrey in Illinois: "Lou, the only reason Bush wants a North American union is he's running out of U.S. ports, borders and airlines to sell."

Chuck in Ohio: "Lou, you continue to say 'what in the world are our elected officials thinking?' I fear that you're making a huge assumption that they actually think." Fair point.

Woody in Oregon: "Even if the Democrats -- I'm a Democrat, I think," he says, "are the party of border security, they still sound like the party for amnesty." It gets complicated between these Republicans and these Democrats.

And Daniel in Maryland: "Lou, summer holiday? Their job is a holiday. How many jobs can you not do what you were hired for, then pass laws blindly, ignore your boss, give yourself a pay raise and then work less than half a year, plus have a hell of a retirement for it?" You've got a good point.

And Linda in Illinois: "Lou, originally the separation of church and state was put in the Constitution to protect the church from the state. It seems today the Constitution is protecting the state from the church."

Send us your thoughts at Thanks for being us with tonight. Please join us here Monday. The nation's top climatologists join me to examine the new National Academy of Science report showing the earth is hotter than its been in 400 years.

Have a great weekend. For all of us here, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.


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