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Supreme Court Slams President's Policy on Military Tribunals; Mexican Government Widened Efforts to Win Allegiance of U.S. Residents; Extraordinary Threat to Democracy from Electronic Voting Machines; Senate Approves United States/Oman Free Trade Agreement; Showdown in Congress Over "New York Times"; Pedro Noguera Interview

Aired June 29, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the Supreme Court strikes down one of the Bush administration's principal policies in the war on terror. The Supreme Court declares military tribunals for Guantanamo Bay prisoners illegal.
We'll have complete coverage here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Thursday, June 29th.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

The Supreme Court today ruled that President Bush exceeded his powers by establishing military tribunals to try terror suspects held in Guantanamo Bay. In a 5-3 ruling, the Supreme Court said the military tribunals violate U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions. Their ruling is a significant political and legal defeat for the president and his interpretation of his powers as commander in chief.

Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon on the Supreme Court's decision and what it means for the future of terrorism suspects and Guantanamo Bay.

Ed Henry reports on the White House from President Bush's reaction to the Supreme Court decision.

Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill on whether the Congress will pass legislation that would allow the president to put so-called enemy combatants on trial.

We turn first to Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the Bush administration concedes that this ruling from the high court is a setback. But they say it's only a temporary one.


MCINTYRE (voice over): The high court ruled that if President Bush wants to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay before military commissions, those commissions will have to be brought into line with both military law and the Geneva Conventions. The case was brought on behalf of a Yemeni man, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who was captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and who officials say has admitted to being Osama bin Laden's bodyguard and driver.

His lawyers argue that military commissions created to try Hamdan and eventually dozens of other detainees were unfair, and the Supreme Court agreed.

LT. CMDR. CHARLES SWIFT, MILITARY ATTORNEY FOR HAMDAN: We have never contested that we not be tried there. All we have wanted is a fair trial. And we thanked the Supreme Court for ensuring that Mr. Hamdan will get one.

MCINTYRE: The ruling was 5-3. Chief Justice John Roberts did not take part because he ruled in favor of the government when he was on a lower court.

Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens says, "... the rules specified for Hamdan's commission trial are illegal," citing the "... failure to apply one of the most fundamental protections, the right to be present."

The majority also found that the rules of evidence and other procedures failed to meet the standards required by traditional military courts-martial and the Geneva Conventions.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a blistering dissent, saying the ruling will "... sorely hamper the president's ability to confront and defeat a new and deadly enemy."

But nothing in the ruling prevents President Bush from holding enemy combatants at Guantanamo indefinitely, or eventually trying them, so long as the legal deficiencies cited by the court are corrected.

And the attorney for Australian David Hicks, another detainee challenging the commission process, says the irony for the 450 detainees at Guantanamo is the court victory could actually prolong their imprisonment.

MAJ. MICHAEL MORI, MILITARY ATTORNEY FOR DAVID HICKS: Unfortunately, that's the byproduct of having to fight for a fair trial for them. If they'd used a fair system two and a half years ago, the trial would be done.


MCINTYRE: The Bush administration took heart in the fact that the court did not find any "constitutional impediment" to military commissions, and they vowed -- administration officials vowed to work with Congress and with attorneys to draw up new rules quickly to allow the commissions to get back on track -- Lou.

DOBBS: Jamie, thank you.

Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon. President Bush today said he will conform with the findings of the Supreme Court. The president said that he will work with Congress to find a new way to put terrorism suspects on trial.

Ed Henry reports from the White House -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, a slap in the face for President Bush. A conservative-leaning Supreme Court declaring he does not have a blank check in the war on terror.

The president was busy in a meeting with the Japanese prime minister when this decision came down. So the president got what he called a drive-by briefing. It only lasted about three minutes from staff on the way to a joint press conference with Prime Minister Koizumi.

This enabled the president to deflect questions. He also basically said the administration lawyers are still trying to dig through the ramifications.

And the president quickly tried to shift to what he thinks is more politically advantageous turf to basically talk about his broader stewardship of the war on terror and declaring he will make sure that these detainees are not released onto the streets of America.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One thing I'm not going to do, though, is I'm not going to jeopardize the safety of the American people. People got to understand that. I understand we're in a war on terror, that these people were picked up off of a battlefield. And I will protect the people, and at the same time conform with the findings of the Supreme Court.


HENRY: Now, the president and his spokesman, Tony Snow, also quickly latched on to the opinion from Justice John Paul Stevens that basically said that this may be up to Congress to come up with a legislative solution.

Take a listen to Tony Snow.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I think what the court is saying is that it wants to make sure that there's congressional authorization, and it also is concerned about comporting with the Geneva Conventions and also the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And those are matters that will be taken under advisement.


HENRY: But complying with the Geneva Conventions is exactly what the administration said it didn't need to do as it made its case for broad powers in the war on terror. That's why it's a slap at the administration and that's why they're also eager to dump this right in Congress' lap -- Lou.

DOBBS: To dump it in Congress' lap, there is something strange, if I may say, Ed, about a president saying he will conform to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Why would that even be necessary to say?

HENRY: Well, of course, he has to conform. And also, let's not forget that this all started with an executive order by the president, not a move by Congress. But this was originally an executive order by this president that started this whole process to begin with -- Lou.

DOBBS: Ed, thank you.

Ed Henry from the White House.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans immediately said they would work with the White House to find a way to deal with terror suspects held in Guantanamo Bay. Senate Majority Leader Senator Bill Frist said he would introduce legislation to set up what he called appropriate procedures. Democrats said the Supreme Court ruling demonstrates that President Bush has exceeded his executive powers.

Dana Bash now with the story from Capitol Hill.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On Capitol Hill, even some Republicans said the high court dealt President Bush a necessary blow to his claim of sweeping wartime powers.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: The problem with the way he chose to do this is that they dealt Congress out early on and they paid a price in the court for that. Now we need to fix that.

BASH: Democrats, who have long complained about Mr. Bush's tactics, took a "We told you so" approach.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: ... that no president is above the law. The court rejected the Bush administration's decision to turn its back on treaties and laws that have served America so well for generations.

BASH: The court's ruling makes clear it falls to the president and Congress to establish a legal framework for detaining and bringing prisoners at Guantanamo to trial. And lawmakers immediately scrambled to figure out how.

Republican leaders working with the White House said the military, not the civilian courts, should handle the cases.

GRAHAM: Do we let them go? No. Do we try them in civilian court, which would be a disaster? No.

What we do in Congress is work with the administration to create a military tribunal system where Congress is a collaborative partner. And if we'll do that, the court, I think, will approve the trials.

BASH: Republican sources say a leading idea to overcome the court's objection is to establish a legal process that would treat detainees the same way U.S. troops are treated, using the military's Code of Justice.


BASH: Now, several committees on the House and Senate side are already planning hearings to explore this issue next month. But one of the outstanding questions Republicans are discussing, Lou, is whether or not an actual legislation is needed.

The Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, released a statement saying he does intend to write a bill, but the Senate Armed Services chairman, John Warner, told us he things that may not be necessary. He said the existing court system may be adequate -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you, Dana.

Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.

The Pentagon opened the prison in Guantanamo Bay in January of 2002, shortly after the overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. A total of 759 terror suspects from 49 countries have been held at Guantanamo Bay naval base over the past four and a half years. Of those, about 300 detainees have either been released or transferred to other countries. Most of the detainees are from Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Yemen.

Later here, we'll be examining the legal, political and constitutional implications of today's Supreme Court ruling.

Also ahead, our government absolutely refuses to enforce laws against illegal immigration, illegal employers, even when those employers work on U.S. military bases. We'll have a live report tonight from Los Angeles.

And for the first time illegal aliens in this country could choose the next president of Mexico. That special report coming up.

And the lax security of electronic voting machines placing our democracy at risk. We'll show you tonight just how easy it is to hack into those electronic voting machines. You'll find greater comfort with video games.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Well, tonight, as the U.S. government refuses to defend American workers and their families here at home, the government of Mexico is asserting the rights of its citizens living in this country, most of them illegally.

We have two reports tonight. Peter Viles, in southern California, on a contractor that hires illegal aliens and services the nation's busiest military base. And Lisa Sylvester, on the government of Mexico's widening efforts to win the allegiance of residents in this country.

We begin with Peter Viles in Los Angeles -- Peter.

PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, this is another crackdown on illegal workers, where it appears that there will be no crackdown on the company that hired them.


VILES (voice over): It happens routinely, whether at the Navy facilities in San Diego, or at nearby Camp Pendleton, private contractors working on the most sensitive government installations employing illegal aliens. The latest outrage, Burtech Pipeline, which had a contract at Camp Pendleton, employed 72 illegal aliens, all Mexican nationals, and says it had no idea.

DOMINIC BURTECH, PRESIDENT, BURTECH PIPELINE: We ask for two forms of ID, and, you know, typically, you know, I guess the IDs look just like they're real, because if they didn't, they wouldn't have got by us.

VILES: Burtech claims that none of those 72 ever worked at Camp Pendleton. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is rounding up the illegal workers, but there is no indication anyone in management will face charges.

BURTECH: According to the INS, that there's no penalties at this point and we're not going to face charges, because we did have, you know, all the documentation that is required from an employer. Unfortunately, some of it was fraud.

VILES: The Bush administration insists it is getting tough on illegal employers with high-profile raids such as this one at pallet maker IFCO Systems, where seven company managers were arrested. And overall, ICE says it has made 382 employer arrests this fiscal year, up from 176 last year. But critics say that's not a significant crackdown, certainly not enough to change employer behavior, so it's really more of a public relations campaign.

MICHAEL CUTLER, FMR. INS AGENT: So what we're really seeing, I think, is an engineered set of arrests and press conferences to provide an illusion of enforcement, to provide an illusion that they've somehow changed their priorities.

VILES: The government has been inspecting all 900 companies in the San Diego area that do work on military installations or other sensitive sites and found that 30 percent, 270 companies, employed illegals.


VILES: Now, ICE now maintains that the law against hiring illegals is so weak it's not even worth using. So when it things it can build a case, which is rare, it uses completely different laws, the laws against harboring illegal aliens and the laws against money laundering, Lou, both felonies with longer prison sentences -- Lou.

DOBBS: And these -- I guess we could call them PR arrests, based on your report, are we going to see more PR or more arrests, or are we going to see something substantively happen in terms of enforcement of U.S. immigration laws?

VILES: Open question. We will see more of these arrests. There's been about a dozen in the past three months, and ICE highlights all of them.

The question is, will they rise to a level that changes employer behavior? And as an example, this guy in San Diego who was employing 72 illegals out of 200 wasn't even aware that this kind of ICE campaign was going on, didn't even know that INS had changed its name to ICE -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, he seemed somewhat indifferent to a lot of circumstances. That among them.

Thank you very much.

Peter Viles.

Mexico holds its presidential election this coming Sunday. The government of Mexico has changed its election laws to create a new voting bloc within the United States. For the first time ever, expatriate Mexican citizens, including illegal aliens in this country, can vote in Mexico's presidential election.

Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Araceli Rodriguez has lived in the United States for seven years with his family. For the first time since she left Mexico, she's casting a ballot in the Mexican presidential election. A change in Mexico's law last year allows Mexicans living abroad to vote for their candidate of choice. Forty thousand are expected to participate.

ARACELI RODRIGUEZ, MEXICAN EXPATRIATE (through translator): I've decided to vote to support because it is my country, and to have a better future, and so I can choose my president.

SYLVESTER: Rodriguez is voting for the candidate she feels will bring the most economic stability to Mexico. Like many first- generation newcomers, she still has strong ties to her home country, sending money to family there.

ANDREW SELEE, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: It's the first generation of immigrants are often looking homeward. They may be engaged in issues in the United States, but often there's a great nostalgia for the countries they come from. SYLVESTER: But the Federation for American Immigration Reform says therein lies the problem. FAIR argues the change in this year's election takes away an incentive for newly-arrived Mexicans to adopt U.S. culture and politics and creates divided loyalties.

Mexicans can apply for dual citizenship, they can vote in the United States and now Mexican presidential elections. They can even run for office in both countries.

JACK MARTIN, FED. AMERICAN IMMIG. REFORM: The large numbers of Mexicans who are maintaining their Mexican allegiance in the United States is inviting the Mexican government to medal in U.S. domestic affairs.

SYLVESTER: FAIR says it ultimately blurs the line of national sovereignty. Where does Mexico end and the United States begin?


SYLVESTER: And it is true that many American expatriates vote in U.S. elections from overseas, but FAIR says what is different here are the sheer numbers of eligible Mexican voters all concentrated in the United States, anywhere from four million to 10 million. And nowhere in the world, Lou, is there quite the same situation -- Lou.

DOBBS: And it was interesting in your report the woman you profiled, both speaking Spanish and talking about her country, and referring to Mexico, not the United States. So she may be a newcomer, but it doesn't appear she wants to stay long.

SYLVESTER: Well, she also mentioned in there her president, and, of course, she wasn't referring to George W. Bush, she was referring to the president of Mexico.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much.

Lisa Sylvester from Washington.

Well, tonight we can report to you a resurgence in the "can do" spirit of hard-working Americans. You remember when this country was all about can do?

Last night we reported to you really a sad story about the mayor of D'Iberville, Mississippi, who, because he simply could not find help, wants to use Chinese construction companies to rebuild his city after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, now 10 months later. The mayor said not a single U.S. company had offered to help or to bid.

Well, following our report last night, the mayor's office called us to say that 20 American contractors from as far away as Hawaii and Alaska had called and stepped forward to offer their services. The mayor, however, delighted as he is, still may be doing some business with the Chinese anyway because he can't find any American companies to finance the reconstruction work.

So if you're in the finance business, the mayor of D'Iberville, Mississippi, would like to hear from you. Remember, can do.

And good work to those 20 companies. We're going to follow this story throughout to see what happens. And we hope what happens is all for the best.

Another gruesome example today of the bloody drug wars that are raging across northern Mexico. Assassins left another severed head on the steps of city hall in Acapulco. Just last week, four severed heads were found near Tijuana. In Rosarito Beach, three policemen killed.

The pacific tourist resort of Acapulco is a battleground as well now for drug cartels trying to control the lucrative narcotics trade and the entire region. Drug traffickers have murdered more than two dozen people in Acapulco alone this year. They've killed more than 1,500 people across northern Mexico this year alone.

Coming up next, hackers could erase your vote, they could change your vote, they could swing the next election. Electronic voting machines less secure than video games. Our special report on democracy at risk, next.

And the Senate approves another so-called free trade deal. This one gives away our ports and our sovereignty. The great American giveaway and faith-based economics in the form of so-called free trade goes on.

We'll have the report.

And the Bush administration tracking terrorist finances for years. Now it's outraged that the press is reporting on one of those programs. Is this election year politics, or is it genuine, sincere concern for national security?

We'll examine the issue next.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Tonight, further evidence of the extraordinary threat to our democracy from electronic voting machines. Many Americans now cast their ballots on electronic voting machines, but security on many machines is, at best, lax. So lax, in fact, that a hacker can change the outcome of an election without even touching the voting machines.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In an election, wireless voting machines are at the biggest risk for voter fraud. According to the recently released Brennan report, someone with a hand-held device like a Palm Pilot or other personal digital device could alter a vote in a computer on Election Day.

Voter activists are concerned.

BRAD FRIEDMAN, BRADBLOG.COM: You can change the software, you can infect the system with a virus. There's all sorts of ways that you can affect these machines using these infrared ports and other wireless devices.

PILGRIM: Some e-voting machines use commercially available computer components that have a wireless feature included. Experts say if that feature is dormant, it could theoretically be activated by a hacker.

AVI RUBIN, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: The minute you introduce the capability to communicate over wireless networks, now you don't even require the attacker to physically be there. They could be sitting in a car across the street from the polling station and changing the software on the voting machine, possibly.

PILGRIM: The Brennan report, compiled by a panel of computer and election experts, plainly states, "The threat analysis shows that machines with wireless components are particularly vulnerable to software attack programs and other attacks." And adds, "Despite that, vendors continue to manufacture and sell machines with wireless components."

Two states, New York and Minnesota, have banned voting machines with wireless technology.

Representative Rush Holt and 190 other members of the House of Representatives have signed on to legislation to ban wireless connections for all electronic voting machines.

REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: All of the kinds of voting systems out there can be tampered with. Votes could be lost or stolen.

Secondly, that there -- that it is an urgent problem. This is not some sort of theoretical problem that might happen some day in the future, but that it is urgent.

PILGRIM: Holt says it is not too late to intervene for the November elections, but time is running out.


PILGRIM: The Federal Oversight Committee on Elections allows wireless voting technology, but not all members of that panel were convinced it was safe. Some members of that panel expressed concerns, but still federal guidelines currently allow it -- Lou.

DOBBS: Amazing. Thank you very much, Kitty.

Kitty Pilgrim.

Taking a look now at some of your thoughts.

Jordan in Connecticut wrote in to say, "Mr. Dobbs, I'm 13 and home schooled by my grandmother. She feels the school system is very defective. Watching your program is part of my schooling, but it doesn't feel like school. I enjoy your frank, open discussion. Keep up the good work."

Well, thank you. We'll try. You too, Jordan.

And Linda in Arkansas, "There's a whole lot of whacking going on in Washington. The Senate whacked us with the bill for the illegals. The House whacked us by giving themselves a big raise. And we get Bushwhacked daily."

Garey in Tennessee, "Lou, let me see if I understand this. George Bush can tell the American public about a program to track funds of suspected terrorists in 2001, the Treasury secretary can tell us about it in 2002, but for "The New York Times" to tell us about it in 2006 is an act of treason?"

Send us your thoughts at We'll have more of your thoughts coming up here later.

Next, the Senate surrenders control of U.S. ports and U.S. sovereignty again, all in the name of faith-based economic and so- called free trade. Our special report on the latest great American giveaway.

And the Supreme Court overrules the president and blocks President Bush's bid for extraordinary war powers. We'll examine the ruling from a legal, constitutional and political perspective.

And our schools failing our children, failing our society. I'll be joined tonight by a man whose definitive research shows we can fulfill the promise of education after all, for all.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Congress today moving closer to approving a free trade deal that will allow foreign companies to control our ports.

We'll have that special report in just a moment. But first, other developing news.

Reports just in that Israel has targeted the Interior Ministry in Gaza tonight. Israel today rounded up dozens of Hamas leaders as part of an ongoing mission to rescue an Israeli soldier taken prisoner by Palestinian terrorists. Israeli forces also bombarded suspected Palestinian targets in Gaza.

In the Northeastern United States tonight, raging floodwaters still leaving a trail of destruction from New York to Virginia. In Binghamton, New York, an entire restaurant swept away into the Susquehanna River. The flooding has claimed at least 12 lives in four states.

And U.S. and Canadian officials today announced the results of a two-year operation to crack down on an aerial cross border drug smuggling operation. As a result of Operation Frozen Timber, authorities seized more than 8,000 pounds of marijuana, 800 pounds of cocaine, three aircraft and a $1.5 million of U.S. currency. Officials call it one of the most brazen criminal schemes ever uncovered along the U.S./Canadian border.

Our elected officials' addiction to so-called free trade plainly visible on Capitol Hill today. The Senate approved the United States/Oman free trade agreement. The measure makes it possible for a company such as Dubai Ports World to take over our port facilities in the United States with a little help from Oman.

Bill Tucker reports.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Senate gave its blessing to the free trade agreement with Oman, the final vote not even close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes are 60, the nays are 34. The bill is passed.

TUCKER: But it didn't pass quietly.

SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: Now we have a trade agreement that comes to the floor of the Senate and says, oh, by the way, it's going to be all right if Oman or a company owned by Oman or a United Arab Emirates company that buys an Oman company and decides through that company to contract to run American seaports, that's going to be fine.

TUCKER: The agreement came to the floor under terms known as fast track, which allows the executive branch to negotiate trade deals and permits Congress to only vote the entire deal up or down. But questions were asked as to why a free trade agreement contains provisions that affect port security.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Why should our trade agreements contain language such as this that is legally confusing, at the least, and potentially opens us up to being sued if we decide that something is in our national security interest.

TUCKER: The sentiment that carried the day, though, was not national security concerns ...

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: These states in the Middle East like Oman, especially the United Arab Emirates states, are our dear friends.

TUCKER: ...would seem to be enough for most in the Senate.

LUCY DUNCAN-SCHEMAN, SAFE PORTS GROUP: We've got to wake up our legislators. They've got to look at this and say why are we opening this door to something that does not need to be opened?

TUCKER: The agreement must still go to the House.


TUCKER: And the House won't vote on this deal for at least another two weeks. Congress is out on break until July 11. When the House reconvenes, it, like the Senate, cannot alter the agreement in any sort of way, Lou. The members can only vote yes or no.

DOBBS: Once again, we can only hope that the House of Representatives can save us from the United States Senate. It is remarkable, as Senator Dorgan is laying out the plain facts on the floor of the Senate, 60 members of the United States Senate saying, well, we just don't care, and to hear Senator Orrin Hatch talking about our dear friends in Oman.

What does it matter whether they're our friends, our dear friends, or anyone else? Why should we give this power to any foreign entity?

TUCKER: Exactly.

DOBBS: It is inexcusable. Bill Tucker, thank you very much.

There was a showdown in Congress today over a "New York Times" report on the government's efforts to track the financial transactions of suspected terrorists. Republicans accuse the "New York Times" of treason. Democrats said the Republicans are simply trying to mobilize their conservative base.

Andrea Koppel reports from Capitol Hill on the heated exchanges on the floor of the House of Representatives.


REP. MICHAEL OXLEY (R), OHIO: We are at war, ladies and gentlemen.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republicans and Democrats hurled accusations across the aisle.

OXLEY: This is the third time in a relatively short period of time that this country has been witness to essentially treasonous behavior on the part of individuals who leak classified information clearly against the law -- clearly against the law -- and then brazenly report it in the front pages of major newspapers, aiding and abetting the enemy.

REP. ALCEE HASTINGS (D), FLORIDA: We have flag burning proposals for constitutional amendments, we have gay marriage proposals for constitutional amendments, yet when it comes to the basic freedom and liberty of this country, the press, we are presented with a resolution that condemns them.

KOPPEL: At the heart of this verbal volley, a seven-page Republican resolution which condemns administration officials who leak stories to the media and demands the cooperation of the news media in, quote, "not disclosing classified intelligence programs." Massachusetts Democrat James McGovern said Republicans were playing politics.

REP. JAMES MCGOVERN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We are here today because there hasn't been enough red meat thrown at the Republican base before the Fourth of July recess.

REP. TODD TIAHRT (R), KANSAS: Mr. Speaker ...

KOPPEL: But Kansas Republican Todd Tiahrt said the only people playing politics were the leakers themselves.

TIAHRT: I believe that these government leakers are politically motivated and they're doing it to embarrass the administration. And that's why the minority wants to protect them.


KOPPEL: Democrats tried unsuccessfully to offer their own alternative resolution, which echoed the Republicans' concern about leaking classified information, but which rejected page after page of Republican conclusions, Lou, which said, essentially, that the administration's anti-terror surveillance programs were essential and successful -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Andrea Koppel, from Capitol Hill.

Bringing us to the subject of our poll tonight. The question, do you believe that the "New York Times", the "Los Angeles Times" and the "Wall Street Journal" SWIFT reports put at risk our national security? Yes or no. Cast your vote at The results later in the broadcast.

Today's Supreme Court decision to strike down the use of military tribunals in terrorism cases is a political and legal setback for President Bush. The Bush administration has strongly defended the president's use of his executive powers not only to create those tribunals, but to track down terror suspects.

Joining me now, CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, Richard Pildes, constitutional law professor at New York University -- good to have you with us, Professor. And our senior political analyst Bill Schneider joining us from Washington. Bill, good to have you with us.

Jeffrey -- and it's good to have you back here. Let's start with the United States Supreme Court saying no blank check, Mr. President.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Back to the drawing board. This administration has been struggling to create a system for dealing with these now 450 prisoners at Guantanamo.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court said yes, these people have a right to be in court. Now they say, you have to devise procedures that are more protective of their rights, and you have to work with Congress to do it. DOBBS: Were you surprised by the decision, Professor?

PROF. RICK PILDES, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: I think very few people were surprised who study this area and have watched the court over the last several years. They have clearly been troubled by the sweeping claims of executive power that have been coming out of the executive branch.

And the fundamental principle of the decision today is there are three branches of government, even during the war on terrorism. That's basically what the decision stands for today.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider, the political implications?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is clearly a poke, if not a slap in the face, to George Bush. They said he overreached his authority. And I think it's communicated to the public politically that this is a president who has an inclination to overreach, to claim more authority than he really has under the Constitution and the Supreme Court put him down.

And, for instance, in the fight with the "New York Times", that -- he could have consequences in other areas as well.

DOBBS: Well, before we get to the "New York Times," this issue decided today by the Supreme Court, the suggestion that straightforwardly, that U.S. law will not -- and certainly our Constitution will not make an exception for war, for terrorism or a special set of circumstances, that there is a code of law and behavior required of us under that law. Is that correct?

TOOBIN: That's absolutely right, that war can be a contingency in certain circumstances, but not forever. And I think one of the problems the Bush administration has had with the whole national security effort in the war on terror is its unlimited nature in time.

You know, no one believes that the war on terror is going to be won in a year or two years. It's not like World War II or even Vietnam. And I think the court was looking out at year after year and decade after decade at the war on terror and didn't want to give the executive that kind of power.

PILDES: Lou, can I put this somewhat differently?

DOBBS: Sure.

PILDES: I think the important point of the decision today is that if there are going to be exceptions during war, they have to be made by Congress and the president acting together as a first step. That's the minimum. So the court is very clear today that if Congress wants to allow the president to use military tribunals in Guantanamo, and Congress wants him to be able to structure them in one way or another, all of that decision making can still take place in Congress.

That's why I say this is a decision not about individual rights so much, but that there are three branches of government and Congress prohibited the president from doing what he's trying to do right now, but Congress could permit him to do something else, including what he would like to do at this moment.

DOBBS: But it would not be a matter of simply unilaterally through executive order altering the direction that this country would normally be going.

PILDES: That's exactly right.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider, the "New York Times", the Republicans, this president going after the "New York Times," although the "Wall Street Journal" and the "L.A. Times" also reporting, of course, on the SWIFT program, how much of this is, in your best judgment, for real in terms of an honest, sincere belief that national security has been jeopardized and how much of it is politics.

SCHNEIDER: Certainly a lot of it is politics. I'm sure that the president believes that, in some respects, national security was jeopardized. But look he's leaked information, classified information, comes out of the White House even to, god help us, the "New York Times," remember the Judy Miller case? There was information about the weapons and the name of the CIA agent. So this administration is not exactly guiltless.

DOBBS: Wait, wait, wait a minute, Bill. I don't buy that. Guiltless. That isn't really the issue here. The issue is did the "New York Times," in its responsibility as the free press, in the judgment of those politicians that are attacking it, genuinely, do they believe the "New York Times" did something truly wrong here?

SCHNEIDER: Oh, they believe the "New York Times" did something wrong, but they also know or believe that it's to their political advantage to go after the "New York Times," that really gets conservative juices flowing.

TOOBIN: I think Peter King, I'm going to opt more on the good faith. I really think they do believe that the press is an interest in this country that is serving its own interests, not the public interests. The Republican party really hates the press in great numbers. And in all sincerity, not just because it helps them in the polls.

DOBBS: The Democrats don't particularly like them either.

TOOBIN: They don't like them, but they hate them less, I think.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, there's something important there because there's a lot of liberals out there who see the "New York Times" as finally standing up to the administration. They've been angry at the press for a long time because they say the press just licks the hand of the Bush administration, so, to a lot of people, the "New York Times," to a lot of liberals, the "New York Times" looks pretty heroic.

DOBBS: Professor, you get the last word. PILDES: The message of the case today is the administration has to go very carefully when it treads into these sensitive areas. It just can't act with a blunderbuss. So whether with respect to potential prosecution of journalists or Guantanamo, they have to show a real need and they have to go to Congress and get broader participation in support for these decisions.

DOBBS: All right. Professor Pildes thank you very much. Mr. Toobin, good to have you with us. Mr. Schneider we appreciate your time.

At the top of the hour, Mr. Wolf Blitzer, THE SITUATION ROOM. Wolf, tell us about it.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much Lou, we'll have much more on this major defeat for the president, the Supreme Court ruling against the Bush administration on military tribunals for prisoners at Guantanamo. So what's the future for those 450 terror suspects who are detained there? We're going to go in depth and try to find out. Also, enemies of the crossroad. Within the last few minutes CNN has just confirmed there's a fresh air assault by the Israelis on the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

Also, candid Condi audio that was not supposed to be released. Her strong words for the Russian foreign minister coming up.

Love me tender. Get this, the prime minister and the president talk about deep bonds. That would be deep bonds and Elvis. Jeanne Moos stands by with the story. Lou, that's coming up in THE SITUATION ROOM.

DOBBS: Can't wait. Thank you Wolf.

Still ahead here tonight, should the United States give amnesty to insurgents in Iraq? I'll be discussing that issue and others with General David Grange and exposing the shocking inequalities in this country's public school system. The editor of a new book, "Unfinished Business: Closing the Education Gap in Our Schools," joins us here next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Nearly a third of all high school students will drop out. But the drop out rate among black and Latino Hispanic students is even higher. Almost 50 percent. Education researchers have been examining the racial disparities at Berkeley high school, which has been called the most integrated high school in America. And they report the results of their study in a book "Unfinished Business, Closing the Racial Achievement Gap in Our Schools."

Pedro Noguera is an urban sociologist with New York University and co-editor of the report. Joining us here tonight, good to have you with us.

PEDRO NOGUERA, CO-EDITOR "UNFINISHED BUSINESS": Good to be here Lou. DOBBS: Let's start out first, the idea that a third of the high school students in this country are dropping out, before we even get into the issues of race and economics and everything else, how in the heck can we tolerate that?

NOGUERA: Well, I think that's a good question. Why it is that it is not more of an issue? Why aren't we doing more as a country to ensure that kids are getting a good education. Because it has implications for our economy, it has implications for our entire society. And despite the fact that we have a law called "No Child Left Behind," we continue to see these numbers.

DOBBS: It's interesting. The idea that we could, the graduation rates in this country have been declining for the past 40 year. This is a country in decline. The public education system is the great equalizer for all of us. Our public schools make the difference for a lot of folks, including me, who were poor kids, who get a break in school. We're not giving kids, a lot of kids that break, are we?

NOGUERA: Well, I think there are still those kids like yourself and myself who have been able to use public schools to make something of themselves, to get to college and get professions. But I think that in too many areas, particularly in urban areas and in poor communities generally, the schools don't function in that way. There are a lot of kids who give up hope largely because they don't see college as attainable and because they're not provided the support they need to get there.

DOBBS: About a third of kids go on to college in this country. Not quite that high. But about a third. Let's get right to the issue here. If we had to do one thing right now, talking generally, to fix, and there are no silver bullets, we acknowledge that, but if there's one thing we need to do to re-instill vigor and success in our public school system, what would it be in your judgment?

NOGUERA: I would focus on the teachers. I would focus on recruiting the next generation of talented teachers, paying them the salaries that will attract our best college students there, to keep them there and providing the support that they'll stay.

DOBBS: And the performance, particularly in high school, to lose half of the black students from high school, to lose half of the Hispanic students from high school, what in the world are we going to do there?

NOGUERA: Well, that, really, the impact of that on black and Hispanic communities across the country is devastating. And there it will take much more than just schools, because we have to really understand the issues like poverty interact directly with educational performance. We have lots of kids going to school today in America whose basic needs aren't met and schools feel overwhelmed in meeting some of those needs.

DOBBS: They're overwhelmed. I can understand that. How about classroom size, how about discipline? NOGUERA: It's huge, huge problems. We have schools in Los Angeles with 35, 40 kids in the classroom. We have schools right here in New York City with over 5,000 students in one building. So these are huge problems the require, I think, much more, not just money, but more careful thinking about strategically, how do we organize schools to provide the kind of education kids deserve.

DOBBS: We're about out of time. I want you to either cry whatever on this or not. But I'm told by educators that they simply don't get enough cooperation by parents in this community. I'm told by teachers that the administrators are idiots and that the parents aren't helping. I'm told by legislators that they can't do anything because they're bound up by the teachers unions. Is it all true or is it all balderdash?

NOGUERA: There are a lot of places to point fingers. And the problem is we do to much of that, and we don't take enough responsibility for what we can do. It really doesn't make sense that a country as great as this one, with the resources we have, can't provide a better education to more kids. And I think that's really a reflection of poor priorities.

DOBBS: Amen. And good work on the book, and good work on bringing this issue to the attention. "Unfinished Business" is the book. Pedro Noguera, co-editor. Thank you for being here. We'll talk more.

NOGUERA: Thank you.

DOBBS: Thank you.

Still ahead, more of your thoughts of illegal immigration, border security or lack of it, the Bush administration and more.

And the U.S. military says it's closer to regaining control of one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq. General David Grange is here next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: U.S. soldiers and Marines in Iraq tonight are advancing into insurgent-controlled neighborhoods in the city of Ramadi. That's the capital of al Anbar province. Over the past month, about half of all our casualties in Iraq have occurred in al Anbar.

Joining me now, General David Grange. General, as you know, the violence in al Anbar is usually the worst in Iraq. We're losing a soldier or Marine nearly every day on average there. What can be done to take control and to fix that?

GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, again, what they have to do, Lou, is just go in like they're doing now, take control back. But then add the sufficient number of Iraqi police and military in order to then not leave a void once it's taken. And I think that's the plan. DOBBS: As you know, we have sent forces into Ramadi. We have heard CENTCOM say that they've got control, and then recede back. And then we have this operation going on. What should we do? If we cannot secure that area through Iraqi forces, are we going to simply have to send more Marines and soldiers in there?

GRANGE: They'll reinforce with coalition forces, U.S. and others, if necessary, to do just that. They will not give it back to the insurgents.

DOBBS: Eleven insurgent groups have reportedly offered an immediate halt to all attacks provided the United States agrees to full withdrawal within two years. Could the Iraqi security forces permit us to even consider such a thing?

GRANGE: Well, I don't think we'd want to commit to something like that, because I don't trust them, for one. I don't care if it's 10, 11, 20 insurgent groups. They have an agenda. Most of them have no future. And I don't think I'd make that kind of a deal.

There is a withdrawal timeline. It is not going to be announced to the enemy, and I would not negotiate that, no.

DOBBS: General, how do you react to the U.S. Supreme Court decision today saying that what the president has done at Guantanamo Bay with those detainees is exceeding his constitutional authority?

GRANGE: Well, I mean, we've used military tribunals before in other conflicts. These people are military detainees. From what I understand, from what I'm told by military lawyers, that it is legal. But if the Supreme Court says we'll go about it a different way, then so be it. That's the law of the land.

DOBBS: Absolutely. General David Grange, thanks for being here.

GRANGE: My pleasure.

DOBBS: Coming up next, we're going to have more of your thoughts on illegal immigration and the crisis it's created in this country and the administration's so-called free trade policies. And of course, the results of our poll tonight. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight: 78 percent of you say "The New York Times," "L.A. Times" and "The Wall Street Journal" SWIFT reports did not put our national security at risk. Twenty-two percent of you said they did.

Taking a look now at more of your thoughts.

Ray in Oklahoma: "Lou, if the Bush administration conducted its war on terror the same way they are conducting their war on middle class American citizens, it would be a very short time before terrorism became a thing of the past." Scott in Georgia said: "The way things in this country are turning, before too long, anyone without LLC or corporation after their name will have no rights."

And Joanna in Texas, "Lou, President Bush says he wants a comprehensive plan for border security. How about a comprehensive plan for legal Americans to have adequate health insurance and job security?"

And Betty in North Carolina, "Lou, after watching your show, I noticed that you seem to be running out of superlatives to adequately express the insanity of the decisions of our government, the decisions our government is making. Just when you think the government can't be more corrupt or just plain stupid, they surpass themselves. Perhaps we'll need to develop new superlatives for the insanity afoot in our country. Any ideas?"

More than a few. Some we could use.

Juliette in California: "Free trade agreements? They've agreed to freely trade away our nation."

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

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. For all of us here, thank you for watching. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.


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