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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Escalating Conflict Between Israel and Lebanon; President Bush Defends Israel's Right to Defend Itself; House of Representatives Votes to Continue Forcing Communities to Offer Multilanguage Ballots; Global Warming Responsible For Wildfires?; Democratic Senators Blasted Bush Administration's Conduct of War in Iraq; Janet Murguia Interview

Aired July 13, 2006 - 18:00   ET

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


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Israel bombards Lebanon from the land, the sea, and the air. Radical Islamist terrorists have fired rockets into one of Israel's largest cities for first time.
We'll be live with reports in Haifa, Israel and Beirut.

And a new flash point in the showdown over illegal immigration and border security. Do multilingual ballots divide our country or enhance our democracy?

We'll have that special report.

And the president of the National Council of La Raza, Janet Murguia, joins me here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Thursday, July 13th.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

Israeli troops and radical Islamist terrorists tonight are fighting an escalating undeclared war that could spread across the Middle East. Israeli aircraft and ships today bombarded hundreds of targets in Lebanon, including Beirut International Airport and the main Beirut-Damascus highway.

Radical Islamist terrorists fired dozens of rockets at northern Israel. Two of those rockets hit Israel's third largest city, Haifa.

Alessio Vinci reports from Beirut tonight on the impact of the round-the-clock Israeli bombardment of Lebanon.

John Vause reports from Haifa, where residents are preparing for the possibility of more rocket attacks.

And Ed Henry reports from Rostock, Germany, where President Bush tonight faces a major new test of his foreign policy.

We turn first to Alessio Vinci -- Alessio.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Lou. It has been a day of escalating violence here in Lebanon, a day during which many Lebanese realize that the bad old days of a long war may be coming back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VINCI (voice-over): Israel promised a painful response and hit Lebanon where it hurts the most, the tourism industry at the height of the summer season. All three runways of Beirut's international airport have been damaged.

All flights in and out were canceled. Incoming passengers diverted to Cyprus. And after nightfall Thursday, gunboats hit a fuel depot at the airport again while Israeli planes dropped leaflets urging people to stay away from Hezbollah buildings. The Israeli navy is also imposing a naval blockade preventing vital fuel supplies from reaching the capital's port.

Residents of Beirut fear a prolonged blockade and the return to the bad old days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation is very bad. We expect everything now is coming bad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wasn't scared, but when I saw everyone going to the gas stations, I thought maybe I should, too.

VINCI: In southern Lebanon, closer to Hezbollah's main area of operations, people stockpiled essential supplies.

Security sources say Israeli artillery and airstrikes have killed more than 50 civilians. Twelve members of one family were killed in an airstrike close to the border.

Lebanese officials call the Israeli strikes an act of war and rejected Israel's insistence that it held the entire Lebanese government and not just Hezbollah responsible for the soldiers' kidnapping. Saying it is unable to rein in Hezbollah, the Lebanese government has called on the Security Council to intervene while calling for a comprehensive cease-fire.

Lebanese analysts close to Hezbollah says a truce is now up to Israel.

IBRAHIM MOUSSAOUI, LEBANESE ANALYST: The door is still wide open for direct negotiation, but they have to stop -- or to start a cease- fire. The Israelis didn't want that, it seems.

VINCI: With two Hezbollah ministers in its cabinet, the Lebanese government finds itself caught in the middle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VINCI: The Lebanese government has distanced itself from obviously the attacks, from the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers. At the same time, also it has denounced Israel's attacks. But at the same time, it is acknowledging that it has no control over the southern border area, essentially indicating that it has very little power or no power to help bring about an end to the current crisis -- Lou.

DOBBS: Alessio Vinci from Beirut.

Thank you.

Radical Islamist terrorists today fired rockets at the Israeli city of Haifa, nearly 40 miles from the Israel-Lebanon border. A senior Israeli diplomat called the rocket attack on Haifa a major, major escalation.

John Vause reports from Haifa -- John.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, according to the Israeli military, two Hezbollah rockets reached this port city early Wednesday evening. It is the first time Hezbollah missiles have traveled so deep into Israeli territory. No one was injured, but the Israeli government has described this as a major escalation.

Hezbollah denies the missiles were theirs, even though hours earlier they threatened to carry out just such an attack. Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for 100 or so rocket attacks on Israeli towns and cities in the north of Israel.

The tourist town of Nahariya was hit twice, once in the morning and once in the evening. There, one person was killed, more than a dozen were injured.

And the town of Safed, home of Israel's northern command, has also come under attack. Seven Katyusha rockets there killing at least one person and wounding several others.

The Israeli military offensive continues with airstrikes across Lebanon. The Israeli navy is blockading the coast of Lebanon. And Israeli artillery continues to pound Hezbollah's strongholds in the south.

The Israeli defense minister says this is now about more than trying to free two Israeli soldiers who are being held hostage. The plan now is to drive Hezbollah militants out of southern Lebanon and ensure they never return -- Lou.

DOBBS: John, thank you.

John Vause.

President Bush today strongly defended Israel's right to defend itself. But in a sign the White House fears the conflict could escalate further, the president said Israel should not weaken the government of Lebanon. Tonight, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called upon Israel to exercise restraint.

Ed Henry, traveling with the president in Europe, reports from the German city of Rostock. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In advance of the G-8 summit, President Bush is trying to shed the tough guy image, playing nice on the world stage while the White House is ripping Iran and Syria for escalating violence in the Mideast.

BUSH: It's really sad where people are willing to take innocent life in order to stop that progress. As a matter of fact, it's pathetic.

HENRY: The president still tried to play the role of peacemaker and find some middle ground.

BUSH: Israel has a right to defend herself. Every nation must defend herself against terrorist attacks and the killing of innocent life. Whatever Israel does, though, should -- should not weaken the government in Lebanon. We're concerned about the fragile democracy in Lebanon.

HENRY: And the precedent sound downright differential to the United Nations when pressed on how long the Security Council has to sanction Iran over its nuclear program.

BUSH: Oh, they've got plenty of time. I mean, the U.N. Security Council, they've got time to react.

HENRY: Compare that to the president in March of 2003, pressed on whether had to wait for the U.N. before launching the war in Iraq.

BUSH: I'm confident the American people understand that when it comes to our security, if we need to act, we will act. And we really don't need United Nations approval to do so.

HENRY: But now on hotspots like North Korea, a cautious president has changed his tune.

BUSH: I'm hopeful that we can get some U.N. action on North Korea.

HENRY: The shift has come because the president's image around the world has been battered.

WILLIAM DOBSON, FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE: The president has to come sort of with his hat in had, doing the rounds, and hope that others are willing to listen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: It's after midnight here in Germany, but U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just had a briefing with reporters. She said the traveling White House is monitoring the escalating violence in the Mideast minute by minute. And she also had tough talk for Syrian President Assad, saying he has to stop harboring terrorists from Hezbollah -- Lou.

DOBBS: Ed, thank you very much.

Ed Henry reporting from Rostock, Germany.

The State Department today said Iran and Syria are directly to blame for the escalating violence in the Middle East. The State Department called Hezbollah subcontractors in terrorism for Iran and Syria.

Syria and Iran also have close ties with the radical Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Palestinian government. Hamas has refused to hand over an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian terrorists and taken to Gaza last month.

At the same time, U.S. military commanders say foreign terrorists and weapons have crossed into Iraq from Syria and Iran to join that insurgency.

Meanwhile, Iran is continuing to defy the world over its nuclear weapons program. The United Nations Security Council is now deciding what action to take against Iran.

Tonight, the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said an Israeli airstrike on Syria would be considered an attack against the whole Islamic world. The Iranian president said such an attack would bring a fierce response. He did not elaborate.

France and Russia, two countries with extensive commercial ties in the Arab world, tonight are strongly criticizing Israel's bombardment of Lebanon. Russia called Israel's strikes "disproportionate." France said there is a risk of a wider war in the Middle East. Both countries, of course, strong opponent of U.S. efforts to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.

The violence in the Middle East today leading to a sharp increase in the price of crude oil. Crude oil prices rose by nearly $2 a barrel in New York, closing at a record high, $76.70 a barrel. And, of course, the principal reason for that gain, fears the Middle East conflict could widen.

Still ahead, a new front in the showdown over our illegal immigration and border security crisis. Members of Congress facing off over multilingual ballots.

We'll have that special report.

And fears tonight that two big wildfires in California could merge into one giant fire. Tens of thousands of acres have already been burned. Thousands of people evacuated.

We'll have a live report for you.

And how imminent is the threat of global warming? And is there anything we can do immediately to stop it? Three of the world's leading climate scientists join us here tonight to discuss those issues and more.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Tonight, state and local governments all across the country are intensifying their fight against illegal immigration while Washington debates measures that could discourage minority assimilation in this country.

Lisa Sylvester reports from Washington tonight, where the House of Representatives today voted to continue forcing communities to offer multilanguage ballots to voters.

And Kitty Pilgrim reports on local governments readying tough new crackdowns on businesses that hire illegal aliens.

We begin with Lisa Sylvester in Washington -- Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, by a vote of 390-3 the House of Representatives voted to extend the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But first, lawmakers had to tackle four controversial amendments. One would eliminate a requirement that ballots and voting information be provided in foreign languages.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: When we come from various ethnic groups and races, what unites us? It's our language, the English language.

SYLVESTER: Supporters say multilingual ballots take away the incentive to learn English. Opponents argue they make it easier for the poor and uneducated to vote.

REP. CHARLIE GONZALEZ (D), TEXAS: That's what language assistance is all about. It is about inclusion, not exclusion.

SYLVESTER: Under the current law, a jurisdiction must provide a translated ballot if English is not the primary language of more than five percent of the voting age citizens. Currently, more than 299 counties in 30 states provide ballots in a foreign language, including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese and Spanish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My amendment would lift the federal mandate imposing foreign language ballots on localities by allowing the mandate to sunset.

REP. LINDA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: If the mean-spirited Section 203 amendment passes, eligible voting age citizens will be deprived of language assistance and lose the chance to cast an informed, accurate vote for the candidate of their choice.

SYLVESTER: But all U.S. naturalized citizens already need to pass an English proficiency test, and they have the option of using an interpreter on Election Day. Amendment supporters say the law costs local governments like Orange County, California, millions. REP. JOHN CAMPBELL (R), CALIFORNIA: And the last cycle spent $600,000 on bilingual ballots when only seven-tenths of a percent -- seven-tenths of a percent of the ballots requested were multilingual or bilingual ballots.

SYLVESTER: The multilingual provision has also been described as arbitrary. In Wayne County, Michigan, there are 23 different Arabic dialects. It would be nearly impossible for election supervisors to accommodate them all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: Now, all four of the amendments were defeated within the last hour, including the multilingual ballot provision. That vote, 185-238, with most Republicans in opposition -- Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you.

Lisa Sylvester from Washington.

Hazleton, Pennsylvania, officials tonight vote on a groundbreaking law that would punish employers and landlords for hiring and housing illegal aliens. The vote comes as state and local governments are being forced to take new action against illegal immigration in the absence of federal action.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Suffolk County wants its contract workers to be legal, and businesses will be fined if they are not.

STEVE LEVY, SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE: The 1986 immigration laws and the federal government already require this, but unfortunately, as we all know, the feds don't enforce it. So where the feds won't, we think it's time that the local governments step up to the plate and fill that void.

PILGRIM: The 5,500-member Long Island Business Association supports the proposal, but it worries about harsh penalties if some worker manages to slip through the system.

Suffolk County is not alone in getting tough on businesses who hire illegal aliens. Local governments across the country have taken up the task.

The community of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, has proposed fines on any businesses that employ illegal aliens and fines for any landlord who rents to them. Last week, the mayor of Avon Park, Florida, proposed a similar ordinance inspired by Hazleton's approach.

A Pennsylvania superior court judge wrote a letter to Homeland Security director Michael Chertoff asking for a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Hazleton. The nearest ICE office is in Philadelphia, more than 100 miles away.

He wrote, "The safety and security of residents of Hazleton, Pottsville and other northeastern Pennsylvania communities are being compromised by a lack of enforcement by ICE." He goes on to say, "County judges have been told to release illegals suspected of crime back into the community and that ICE officers will not come to northeastern Pennsylvania for those suspects."

When shown the letter by CNN, Immigration and Customs Enforcement responded by saying, "ICE agents in Pennsylvania work day and night to assist law enforcement in the Hazleton area and other communities throughout the state."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Since that letter was written three weeks ago, ICE has been in Hazleton on several occasions for illegal immigration sweeps with the local law enforcement. And Hazleton City Council members meet tonight for the final reading of this proposed law to crack down on illegal immigration. It is expected to pass without any difficulty -- Lou.

DOBBS: And this is a trend moving throughout the nation. More than half the states now have put forward and passed legislation.

PILGRIM: And everyone you talk to says we need to do this on the local level now, because no one else is stepping up.

DOBBS: It's unbelievable that the federal government, which has, obviously, the responsibility, as well as the power, is simply refusing to enforce immigration law.

Kitty, thank you.

Kitty Pilgrim.

That brings us to our poll tonight. The question: Which benefit do you believe illegal aliens should be eligible for, in-state tuition rates, free healthcare, Social Security food stamps, all of the above, none of the above?

Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results for you later in the broadcast.

Tonight, law enforcement officials on the Texas border with Mexico are investigating an alarming shooting that took place last night. Mexican gunmen last night fired as many as 300 rounds from automatic weapons across the Rio Grande near Harlingen, Texas.

Gunmen fired at sheriff's deputies and Border Patrol agents. No one luckily was injured. But there is concern tonight that the gunmen may have crossed into the United States.

Coming up next, tens of thousands of acres scorched by raging wildfires and tens of thousands more at risk. We'll have a live report next. And then, are the wildfires the latest evidence of global warming? At least one study says they are. I'll talk with three of the world's leading climate scientists.

Coming up, we'll be discussing climate change and what, if anything, can be done to stop it.

And sectarian violence exploding in Iraq. Is the country descending into full-scale civil war?

We'll have that report, a great deal more, still ahead.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Wildfires are raging tonight across tens of thousands of acres in southern California. The San Bernardino sheriff has just ordered an immediate mandatory evacuation of hundreds of homes in the Morongo Valley area. These wildfires have already burned more than 40,000 acres and destroyed dozens of homes.

Chris Lawrence tonight reports from Morongo Valley, California -- Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, this neighborhood we're standing in right now is one of those neighborhoods that was just ordered to evacuate by fire officials.

The Sawtooth fire, the fire that is burning behind me there, has now scorched at least 40,000 acres. That was the number from this morning. They have been fighting this fire all day, and we expect to get an update very soon. So, after some hours of firefighting, that number may very well change.

You can see what would happen there if that fire jumped the mountain, as it has several mountains behind it, and came right up here. You can see some of these homes right there that would be in danger. The people there have been ordered to evacuate.

An even greater danger is the fact that there is a second fire burning, the Mallard (ph) fire. It has already scorched several thousand acres. And most fire officials that I've spoken with tell me that it is highly likely that at some point very soon those two fires will merge -- Lou.

DOBBS: Chris, thank you very much.

Chris Lawrence reporting from Morongo Valley, California.

Taking a look now at some of your thoughts.

Glenn in North Carolina, "As an I.T. project manager, I could not imagine submitting a proposal to a potential voting machine customer that did not include verifiable paper receipts. Why? Because I couldn't imagine a customer stupid enough not to demand it." Mel in Washington, "The Corpublicans are inviting illegals across our formerly sovereign border to take jobs Americans don't want. The Corpublicans are sending jobs that Americans want to communist China. But damn! Americans are going to enjoy eating those Indian mangoes."

Jeff in Georgia, "Lou, in a few years we'll be as poor as Mexico, so tell al Qaeda to be patient. Mexico hasn't fought a war in 100 years."

George in New Jersey, "How is it illegal aliens can demand so- called rights and Americans are just left standing watching their rights get flushed right down the toilet? Hopefully our so-called representatives will get flushed come election time."

Byron in Arizona, "Lou, if the New York economy will fail, if all the illegals are returned to their countries, as the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has suggested, maybe they need a new mayor."

Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com We'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast.

Up next, is global warming now an imminent threat? And what can we do about it? Three of the world's leading climate scientists join me.

And new acts of war in the Mideast. Israel is striking back after rocket attacks on one of its largest cities. General David Grange with analysis.

And the National Council of La Raza takes issue with this broadcast's coverage of its annual conference in Los Angeles. The president and CEO of La Raza, Janet Murguia, joins me here next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: In just a moment we'll be talking with Janet Murguia, the head of La Raza, about her fight for illegal alien rights.

But first, these headlines.

Former CIA operative Valerie Plame is suing Vice President Dick Cheney, presidential adviser Karl Rove, and others for their role in revealing her classified CIA status. The civil lawsuit accuses the group of destroying her career and putting the lives of her and her family at risk.

Plame's identity was revealed in a column by Robert Novak three years ago. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. A spokesman for Karl Rove says the allegations are without merit.

President Bush today agreed to a court review of his controversial eavesdropping program. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court will now examine the NSA program's constitutionality. President Bush has defended the program as critical to saving American lives.

New surveillance video shows the sheer force of Monday's blast at a New York City townhouse. Trees were literally uprooted as debris flew everywhere.

Police say a doctor who owns the building blew the building up in an apparent suicide attempt by rigging a gas line. He remains in critical condition. Another person who was hit with flying debris is now in stable condition.

Insurgents have killed two more of our troops in Iraq. A sailor and a naval construction regiment was killed in Al Anbar province, and a soldier was killed in the northern city of Mosul.

2,545 of our troops have now been killed in Iraq, 18,874 troops have been wounded, 8,628 seriously wounded.

Democratic senators today blasted the Bush administration's conduct of the war in Iraq. Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Iraq is facing a full-scale civil war. The senators' comments come one day after the U.S. commanding general in Iraq said our troops could be called back to patrol the streets of Baghdad.

Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a week in which more than 180 Iraqis have died in sectarian attacks, at least 100 killed in Baghdad alone, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq was on Capitol Hill arguing that the rising violence between Sunni and Shia factions is not the start of a civil war.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Is it a low-grade civil war?

ZALMAY KHALIZAD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: I have to think that whether it's going to become a civil war, whatever the term of "full blown" or not, will be something that we judge later on with regard to what happened. Subsequently, we -- it would be, I think, a mistake to judge it, that this is the beginning of an overall civil war.

KERRY: Let's not quibble over the descriptive term. Let's agree that violence is up, it's increased sectarian violence.

KHALILZAD: It is.

KERRY: The heart of the question is if, you would agree it can't be resolved militarily?

KHALILZAD: I agree, I say the following, Senator Kerry, which is that in order to deal with this problem, you need both political steps and security steps.

MCINTYRE: In a speech this week in Washington, Ambassador Khalilzad said the violence between Shia and Sunni Iraqis has now surpassed the insurgency as the biggest threat to Iraq's future. Now he's telling congress, time is running out.

KHALILZAD: I believe that this government has about six months or so to bring the sectarian violence under control. And if it doesn't, then I think we would have a serious situation.

MCINTYRE: Violence is rising despite the dispatch of 50,000 Iraqi troops in Baghdad, forcing U.S. Commander General George Casey to consider bringing more American troops back into the capital city. Critics, including some senators just back from Iraq, say the current strategy is simply not working.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), FOREIGN AFFAIRS CMTE: I still don't see a strategy for, a clear strategy for victory in Iraq. I do see a strategy for preventing things from outright defeat. But I don't, I haven't come away with a clear strategy for victory.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: Meanwhile, the much anticipated announcement on U.S. troop cuts is still on hold, something Ambassador Khalilzad today described as simply an intent, a goal. And he insisted that General George Casey has not drawn up a firm timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops because of the uncertainty of the months ahead. Lou?

DOBBS: Jamie, thank you. Jamie McIntyre reporting from the Pentagon. Israel tonight faces a radical Islamist enemy that appears to be as determined as the insurgents in Iraq. Hezbollah has been fighting Israeli troops and bombarding Israeli cities and towns for more than two decades. Hezbollah is also blamed for the bombing of the U.S. marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, which killed 241 of our troops.

Joining me now is General David Grange. General, to see the Israeli forces moving back into southern Lebanon, your reaction?

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The reaction, Lou, is that when they pull back south and gave that area back to Lebanon and Hezbollah then built up into it and now they're conducting these attacks, the idea here, the strategic idea is to establish a buffer zone at least so the rocket attacks cannot hit critical cities inside of Israel.

DOBBS: You were operating, when you were in the United States army, in leading troops in Lebanon, you fought against Hezbollah. What are the odds that Israel will be effective in seeking out Hezbollah and destroying them?

GRANGE: Well, the chase for Hezbollah terrorists, the militant arm of Hezbollah, they're going to have some local success. There's no doubt about it. They will not destroy the militant Hezbollah arm regionally because it covers too much area. Outside Lebanon, Israel, et cetera. But you know, the '80s, the word Hezbollah was like the word al Qaeda today. And they're a growing threat. They've had many years to get more powerful. And we should talk about them a lot more than we do. We never mention the Hezbollah. DOBBS: Israel is focusing renewed attention on them. The idea that President Bush, the White House have made it very clear that this government holds Iran and Syria responsible for Hezbollah as their principal supporter. This war on the part of Israel has been carried out against Lebanon. Do you think that we should do more in terms of Syria and Iran?

GRANGE: Absolutely. You won't win at the tactical level. You have to hit the strategic resourcing of these terrorist groups. And of course, that is Iran and that is Syria. Now, you don't want to start another war, hopefully. But I would imagine that we'll see more covert action and more interdiction operations against the resourcing and movement in support of Hezbollah and Hamas.

DOBBS: Turning to Iraq, general, General Casey saying that American troops may be moving back to patrol the streets of Baghdad. Your thoughts?

GRANGE: As it should be if the conditions warrant. And we've talked about this many times before, as you recall. The conditions are going to have an increase and a decrease. And it will go back and forth depending on the violence. As discussed a few moments ago on this show, this issue about getting a handle on a legal armed groups, whether it be criminal or militia, is going to have to be taken on. And it's a tough set just like the warlords in Afghanistan because you're caught in the middle of it. But they have to be curtailed or there will be a civil war.

DOBBS: General David Grange, thank you.

Still ahead, the National Council of La Raza is taking issue with some of our reporting on this broadcast, particularly the coverage of their national coverage. I'll be discussing that with La Raza's president Janet Murguia.

And is global warming imminent? Is the threat real? Some experts say the wildfires raging in California could be a sign of climate change and a result of global warming. Three of the world's leading climate scientists join us here to discuss those issues, next, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Illegal alien rights group, the National Council of La Raza concluded its national conference in Los Angeles this week. Many of the nation's most powerful political and business leaders spoke at the conference and pledged their support to La Raza's cause. Tonight La Raza is taking issue with this broadcast's reports on the conference, specifically this portion of our report Monday evening.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The national council of La Raza not only advocates amnesty, it helps illegal aliens avoid apprehension by immigration authorities. It's Web site promotes a link to a three- page national immigration law center paper, entitled immigration enforcement, know your rights at home and at work.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: La Raza's president and CEO, Janet Murguia joins us tonight from Los Angeles. Janet good to see you. Were we wrong?

JANET MURGUIA, CEO, NATL. COUNCIL OF LA RAZA: I think it's just the characterization, Lou, but I appreciate being on the show here to talk to you about it. I think the way you're characterizing so much of what happens to our organization and at the conference, the fact that you say we promote amnesty, for instance, when we know what we're talking about when it comes to immigration reform is really not amnesty.

It's about a comprehensive solution to this broken system that we have that would actually make people walk through certain very onerous steps to earn legalization. And I guess the way that you say we promote illegal immigration or illegal aliens, I just want to make sure you understand that we want to make sure we're promoting a sensible, rational solution to immigration reform.

And of course, at our conference we covered other issues besides immigration. It is the issue of the day and we wanted to focus on it. But as an organization, we work to promote opportunities for Hispanics in this country and to really help them, you know, be more successful and to help them achieve the American dream.

So I just wanted to make it clear that in that particular link in the reference, we feel that it's important for people to be informed of their rights when in this country. And it's just important for that information to be put out there and the way that it was characterized is what I took issue with. But, you know, we are committed at this organization to really promote opportunities for Hispanics in this country.

And, yes, we are a civil rights organization. So we will talk about those issues and do what we think is best in getting to those policy solutions we believe will advance the community.

DOBBS: Right, and as we've documented on this broadcast many times over the years, Janet, you and I have a different view about what is the appropriate and best policy for this nation.

But I really do want to -- if you do not find error or take exception to the characterization, let me ask you this. As a civil rights organization, when you link to the Immigration Law Center and they advise, quote, "if you hear" -- speaking to an illegal alien in this -- "If you hear that immigration has been asking questions about you at your job, it is possible that officers may show up at your house. If this is the case, try to find a way not be at your home for a couple of days." That sounds like you're telling someone to avoid law enforcement.

MURGUIA: No, it's just a matter of, you know, obviously, we tell everyone in our community to respect law enforcement. But it's also important to know that they have some individual rights when in this country. And that's consistent with what's in the Constitution and the 14th Amendment, and I don't think there's anything wrong with informing people of what their rights are.

DOBBS: "If you open your door, if the officer asks if he can come in and you say yes, you're probably consenting to his entering your home. The best thing to do is keep the door closed and asked the officer to identify himself, then ask to see a warrant. Do not open the door if he can't show you a warrant. An officer's not allowed to force you to consent to entering the house. For example, if your house is surrounded by border patrol or immigration cars with their lights flashing and the officer is holding his gun as he asks for permission to enter your home and you say yes because you're afraid, a court would probably not consider this to be a valid consent."

That's really remarkable at a time -- I understand the rights and the law, but the suggestion that people should not respect the law ...

MURGUIA: That's not what we're saying, Lou. We're saying that that is the law and it's consistent with the 14th Amendment of our Constitution. I'm not saying ...

DOBBS: Well, you know, that's an interesting thing to say, because -- you know, and I'm not an attorney and I will defer to you because I'm sure you're well-advised on this. And, obviously, you deal with the subject daily and thoroughly, but the idea that any citizen -- well, in this case he wouldn't be a citizen. But the idea that anyone ...

MURGUIA: But they could be citizens. They could be citizens. A lot of times ...

DOBBS: Well, but this is clearly aimed at illegal aliens. And the idea ...

MURGUIA: No, we don't know.

DOBBS: I guess what I'm saying to you, Janet, is why not just admit that we've got people breaking the law and it is really time for it to end?

MURGUIA: Well, we need a solution, and that's why we're promoting comprehensive immigration reform, because we need to have a solution, but nobody else seems to be focusing on the fact that if we don't get a solution soon, you're going to have continual individual acts, you're going to have continual acts of the state and local government. We need a comprehensive solution so we can put an end to all of this.

DOBBS: I got to tell you what offends me far more, just between you and me -- no one else, just you and me, Janet.

MURGUIA: OK.

DOBBS: Was listening to the remark of Karl Rove, and former President Bill Clinton at your conference pandering and suggesting just to me in the most outrageous tones that this debate is framed in racism, and it was just, I think, embarrassing.

MURGUIA: Lou, that's not what ...

DOBBS: Particularly Karl Rove's comments. My gosh.

MURGUIA: Lou, that's not what they were saying, and I think it's interesting ...

DOBBS: No, I know what they were saying. I'm telling you what they were saying in my interpretation.

MURGUIA: No, I was there. Lou, I was there.

DOBBS: Well, I was there by videotape, the magic of television.

MURGUIA: Well, but I was there. And I'm telling you, it's interesting to note if nothing else that you have President Clinton and Karl Rove coming together in agreement on a solution that must be comprehensive for this immigration reform system to be fixed.

DOBBS: Janet, there's something about combining Karl Rove and Bill Clinton that makes me awful nervous.

MURGUIA: Well, it should give us hope that there can be people with differences of opinions who can come together on one solution, and we need to have a solution and it needs to be comprehensive. And if you think that they're pandering, that's your opinion, Lou.

DOBBS: Yes, ma'am.

MURGUIA: But the fact of the matter is, they understand how important the Hispanic community is and how important it is to communicate to the Hispanic community at this important time. We appreciate both of them being there.

DOBBS: And maybe that's where I go wrong, because I don't know how important the Hispanic community is. I do know how important Hispanic American citizens are, and I don't frame folks in community terms. Maybe that's because I'm a troglodyte, but ...

MURGUIA: Well, Lou, I'm a Hispanic-American citizen myself, and I can speak for myself.

DOBBS: Right, very well.

MURGUIA: And I appreciated the fact that they were both there and that they were communicating to the Hispanic community, to Hispanic-American citizens and to the country that this is an important issue and we need to have a comprehensive solution to it.

And if Karl Rove and President Clinton can agree and if Governor Schwarzenegger and Mayor Villaraigosa can agree, all those -- Governor Richardson -- all agreed that we need a comprehensive solution to this problem.

DOBBS: Then the rest of us don't need to have an opinion if you've got those luminaries coming together with their great minds.

MURGUIA: It's an example, Lou, of how there is a growing coalition that is bipartisan that can come together on this.

DOBBS: Well, it's sure an example of five folks in front of your group saying what you wanted to hear, I'll say that much. Janet, it's good ...

MURGUIA: They're not the only five folks who believe this, Lou, and you know that.

DOBBS: I understand. Those are just the five we mentioned.

MURGUIA: Yes, but you know that. There is a broad, growing coalition that understands we need a comprehensive solution.

DOBBS: You know, I'm going to give you the last word, Janet. I like you. Janet Murguia, thanks for being here, the president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza.

MURGUIA: Lou, thank you very much.

DOBBS: A reminder now to vote in our poll. The question is, which benefit do you believe illegal aliens should be eligible for? In-state tuition fees, free healthcare, Social Security, food stamps, all of the above, or none of the above? Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results coming up in just a few moments.

And as you just saw, Wolf Blitzer is coming right up at the top of the hour. "THE SITUATION ROOM," Wolf, tell us about it.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.

Our continuing coverage of the breaking news out of the Middle East, a major escalation of the violence. We have reporters in all the hot spots and interviews with the key players, including the Israeli and the Syrian ambassadors to the U.S., as well as the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.

Plus, a closer look at how the crisis could hit home. Oil prices are now at a record high, and that's likely to impact all of us. All of that, Lou, coming up, right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

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

Coming up next, more of your thoughts, including your concerns about the all-out war on our middle class.

And wildfires that continue to rage in California. Is global warming to blame? Three of the world's leading climate scientists joins me to discuss global warming and what can we can and cannot do about it.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: The wildfires raging in Southern California tonight could be the latest evidence of global warming, according to research scientists at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The report published this month found a, quote, "dramatic and sudden increase in wildfire activity in the mid-'90s and '80s." One of the scientists said it is the first indicators of the impact of climate change in this country.

Joining me now to discuss what can be done to minimize, to mitigate the impact of climate change, three of the world's leading climate scientists -- Michael Mann, director of the Earth Systems Science Center at Penn State University, Gavin Schmidt of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University, and Alan Robock, climate scientist professor at Rutgers University. And we thank you all for being here.

Let me turn first this idea of a consensus on global warming. Is there one or is there not?

MICHAEL MANN, CLIMATE SCIENTIST: Well, there's clear agreement among the leading scientists in this field that humans are having an influence on the climate. There are several different lines of evidence that are independent. Just the basic physics of how the atmosphere and the climate system works tell us that increasing greenhouse gas concentrations should warm the surface.

DOBBS: Well, if you all as leading scientists, with your best science, your best minds working in the field, agree that there is global warming and that greenhouse gases emissions are responsible for all or part of it, what can we do, Gavin, to deal with the issue?

GAVIN SCHMIDT, CLIMATE SCIENTIST: First of all, we have to understand the physical basis for those changes. We need to understand the greenhouse gases, we need to understand the effects of ozone and black carbon. And then, once we've understood the question, we can come back and say, well, what are the behaviors that we have as a society that are creating these problems? And then what we need to do is stop doing those behaviors and transfer our skills to another kind of...

DOBBS: To get on with the solution.

SCHMIDT: Right, to get on with the solution.

DOBBS: Alan, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works put out a press release, basically taking James Hanson to task, one of the noted climate scientists, one of your peers, to -- in your case more than a peer -- and whom I've talked with and whom I've appreciated. They're taking him to task for supporting Tom Brokaw's documentary on Discovery because he's got ties to Al Gore, to all sorts of radical liberal bad people. How do you react to that kind of thing?

ALAN ROBOCK, CLIMATE SCIENTIST: Jim Hanson has spent his life studying climate change, and he recognizes that humans are the strongest thing on the planet to cause climate. Now, we're stronger than natural variability, and he's sick of people not doing anything about it. He things it's time to stop just studying it. Although we do have to study it to deal with it.

DOBBS: I'm with Jim, by the way. I mean, you guys have put your best efforts forward, you've come up with a -- you may -- let's be honest, it's science. It could be there is something wrong with the conclusion, but why take the risk?

ROBOCK: That's right. I've taken a lot of money from the government to do my research.

DOBBS: Let me make a note of that.

ROBOCK: If I discover a danger to society, what they want me to do is tell them about it, not to keep quiet.

DOBBS: Well, what are we going to do? Let's on this broadcast tonight, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, this broadcast decides global warming is caused by emissions. That discussion is over here. Let's talk about what we should do next.

MANN: Well, you know, first we have to start -- we have to stop the sort of the false debate that has been placed in the public discourse about the science. The science is agreed upon. And unfortunately, because it's an inconvenient conclusion...

DOBBS: You're so used to dealing with this. I'm saying to you, we've moved beyond it. The false debate is over. We're going to focus on what pitiful little people on this planet can do to change the outcome.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBOCK: This is a hard problem because it has to deal with our basic source of energy, coal and oil. But it's a simple problem because we know what to do about it. We can develop new sources of energy. And we have to develop a lot of little things, it's not just one solution. So we can use more solar power, more wind power, more biofuels -- not just corn but also switchgrass. I mean, President Bush mentioned switchgrass in his State of the Union. That's burning -- turning cellulose into fuel.

There's a lot of different things that we can do, and if we do each of them separately, the total amount of emissions will go way down.

DOBBS: Well, let me ask you this, why in the world aren't our research institutions, our -- some of our technology companies, why aren't our universities driving forward? This country, you used to be able to rely upon innovation from surprising quarters in all of those places.

ROBOCK: We need leadership from the top. The current budget is cutting research in these things, in energy efficiency and other sources. And they're spending a lot of money in the so-called energy bill giving it to the oil companies. DOBBS: Right, $12 billion worth of subsidies, $7 billion in royalties while they're posting record profits.

MANN: You know, Lou, there are other simple things we can do. Our fuel efficiency. There's absolutely no reason that we have to be driving around in SUVs.

DOBBS: Well, people might argue with that. I know that's a popular response, but people working out in the country, I mean, have got to have big vehicles, whether they're SUVs or whether they're trucks.

MANN: Some people need them.

DOBBS: Right.

ROBOCK: We can make save vehicles that are much more fuel- efficient if we developed them. We know the technology to do that.

DOBBS: This is a can-do country, Gavin. This is a country mobilized with good leadership that can do things. Now, let me ask you this, can we do enough to really turn the tide, if you will forgive the cliche, in climate change?

SCHMIDT: There's going to be an element of climate change that's going to continue to happen anyway, because right now the planet is trying to catch up with what we've already done to it. So what we're talking about is we're not going to be able to stop climate change; we're just trying to prevent it from reaching those worst-case scenarios where you really have serious problems with ice sheet melting and sea level rise.

DOBBS: So it's your best judgment that this is reparable?

SCHMIDT: The worst cases are avoidable. Reparable to going back to the way we were?

DOBBS: We're out of time.

SCHMIDT: That's probably impossible.

DOBBS: Time. I'm going to ask if you all could join us again here in the next week or two, and if we can start focusing on real solutions.

SCHMIDT: That would be great.

MANN: Sure.

DOBBS: What do you think?

ROBOCK: Sure.

DOBBS: If you're up for it, we are. Thank you. Good to have you with us. Still ahead here, we'll have the results of our poll tonight. More of your thoughts, including your rising disappointment with our elected officials. I can't imagine why. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight: 96 percent of you say illegal aliens should not be eligible for any of these listed benefits. Remarkable, remarkable outcome.

Taking a look now at more of your thoughts.

Bernadette in Connecticut: "Lou, war on drugs, war on terror, war in Afghanistan, war in Iraq. Unfortunately, the only war this administration is winning is the war on the middle class."

John in New Jersey, "Hey, Lou, the only thing sinking lower than my confidence in our elected officials are my wages."

And Sharon in Nevada, "I have complete confidence in my elected officials. I believe they will do the best for them and their bottom line, while selling me and our country out to the highest bidder."

Patrick in Pennsylvania, "Lou, if Kim Jong-Il were on the Pennsylvania ticket for Senate and was going to secure the border, he would have my vote."

Joe in California, "You forgot to say one thing about Fouad Ajami" -- our guest here last night, the author of the book "The Foreigner's Gift," -- "a great American." And you're right. We should have added that as well.

Send us your thoughts to LouDobbs.com. You will receive a copy of my book, "Exporting America," if your email is read here. We thank you for being with us. Please join us here tomorrow.

For all of us, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer begins now -- Wolf.

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