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Israel Authorizes Call Up of at Least 15,000 Reserve Soldiers; Tyre Under Fire; Bush Administration Says No Fake Peace; Pentagon Changes Language to Describe Iraq Insurgency; John Hostettler Interview

Aired July 27, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Israel says it will never give up its struggle against Hezbollah. Israel calls up thousands more of its reservists. We'll have complete coverage tonight for you of this conflict from the war zone.
And the Arab League ambassador to the United Nations among our guests here.

Also tonight, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has ordered thousands of American troops to remain in Iraq longer than planned as violence in Baghdad is worsening. We'll be going live to the Pentagon. We'll examine the Pentagon's efforts as well to manipulate the language it uses to describe this war and its conduct.

And alarming testimony on Capitol Hill today about the Senate's amnesty bill for illegal aliens. Witnesses saying the bill would make it easier for terrorists and criminals to enter this country. The chairman of the committee that held today's hearing, Congressman John Hostettler, joins us here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Thursday, July 27th.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening.

Israel tonight is preparing for a long battle against Hezbollah. The Israeli defense minister said Hezbollah cannot break Israel's will to win this war. Israel is calling up at least 15,000 more of its reservists, but the Israeli security cabinet has ruled out what it calls a full-scale invasion of Lebanon, at least for now.

As the fighting continues and intensifies, the number of people killed and wounded is rising. Lebanon now says as many as 600 Lebanese have been killed over the past 16 days. Israel says 50 Israelis have been killed.

John Roberts reports tonight from northern Israel on the Israeli military struggle to defeat Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

Karl Penhaul reports from the Lebanese city of Tyre, where most of the residents have fled after more than two weeks of bombing and shelling. Elaine Quijano reports from the White House on President Bush's determination to resist demands for an immediate cease-fire in this conflict.

We turn first to John Roberts in northern Israel -- John.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SR. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, there is a debate going on in Israel right now between hard-liners who want the army to launch a major ground invasion to sweep Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon and political leaders who worry about world opinion may opt for a much smaller-scale plan. Right now the military has plans on the table to try to push Hezbollah back about 14 miles, all the way to the Litani River, an operation that would require an enormous number of troops. But political leaders are thinking about dialing that back to a much more modest goal.

Today, we got the first pictures of Israeli troops inside Lebanon in the town of Maroun al-Ras. That was the very first town that was taken about a week ago. There was a combat engineering battalion who went in there in a short operation. They took a pool camera in with them.

The correspondent who was with that pool camera described the streets of Maroun al-Ras as being broken up, not many signs of life there. There was also no sign of fighting overnight and early this morning when the camera was inside, unlike what happened yesterday in the town of Maroun al-Ras, in which one Israeli army officer was killed, and as well, further north in Bint Jbeil, where the Israeli army suffered its biggest losses to date.

But as you said, there's a plan to call up as many as 15,000 reservists, and they are reinforcements along the border. We saw another combat battalion -- combat engineering battalion along the border staged and ready to go in. Not sure when they were going to get their orders, but it seemed pretty definite that they were going to be going in to join the fight.

Now, I talked with some of those soldiers who told me that what happened in Bint Jbeil and the strength of Hezbollah in fighting the Israeli army has them a little bit frightened, it has them a little anxious. But I talked to one second lieutenant, a fellow by the name of Shai Betito, who said it has only strengthened his resolve and made him more eager to get into the fight.


2ND LT. SHAI BETITO, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: In Israel, everybody know everybody. So I probably know one or two from those guys. For us, it gives us more motivation than ever before. We want to get in, we want to fight, we want to win.


ROBERTS: Now, of course the question that everyone is asking, repeatedly asking, is, how much longer is this going to go on? I talked with one of the northern command's big generals today, who said if they go for the larger plan, that is, to push Hezbollah all the way back to the Litani River, that's an operation that could take more than a month. But if they opt for the more modest option, that's something he said could be over within one to two weeks -- Lou.

DOBBS: John, thank you very much.

John Roberts reporting live from northern Israel.

Israel today said more than 1,500 Hezbollah rockets have been launched into Israel over the past two weeks. The Israeli military has so far failed to stop Hezbollah's onslaught. Dozens more rockets struck northern Israel today.

Fionnuala Sweeney reports now from Israel's third largest city, Haifa -- Fionnuala.

FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, a busy day in terms of rockets being launched into Israel. Thursday, more than 45 Katyushas landing across the northern one third of the country. Only two people are likely injured. However, an indication that Hezbollah, despite the Israeli military campaign along the Lebanese border, still has the capability to hit Israeli communities.

Meanwhile, a cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv decided not to expand Israel's military campaign into southern Lebanon. There have been calls from some quarters to launch a greater ground offensive. But perhaps following the killing of nine Israeli soldiers and the wounding of dozens of others in the Hezbollah stronghold of Bint Jbeil, the decision has been taken not to expand that ground offensive.

However, the status quo remains, this war is still very much on -- Lou.

DOBBS: Fionnuala Sweeney reporting from Haifa.

Israel today said it has carried out more than 120 airstrikes against targets in Lebanon over the past 24 hours. Israel says many of those targets were Hezbollah strong points in places such as the city of Tyre, from which Karl Penhaul now reports -- Karl.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, it's been another day of shelling and bombing by Israeli warplanes and artillery around Tyre. Most of the activity has been concentrated on the southern and eastern edges of the city.

The situation started to ratchet up about midmorning and went through to mid-afternoon. Things calmed down for a little while, but again, as evening fell, things started to pick up as two Israeli warplanes circled overhead and started dropping bombs on positions about two miles from where we are now.

Now, inside the city, following the bomb attack on an apartment building on Wednesday, those citizens who had remained inside the city of Tyre say they are now terrified. Many of them we have seen and also calling to city officials have been trying to leave the city in the course of the day. City officials also say that there is now very limited food and drinking water for those who have to remain.

As far as the presence of Hezbollah militia fighters within the city, we certainly, in our tours around the city each day, have not come into contact with any of them. What we have seen from time to time are Hezbollah community leaders, those who are in charge of policing the community, if you like, and also making sure in some cases that those who remain here have sufficient medical supplies.

According to them, they've told us that the main militia fighter groups have now left the cities and urban areas and are concentrating their efforts from the countryside in the fields surrounding this city -- Lou.

DOBBS: Karl Penhaul reporting live from the badly-damaged and the subject -- object of a number of Israeli targets, the Lebanese city of Tyre.

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut says it's organized an additional evacuation ship for Americans who were unable to leave Lebanon. That ship is set to leave the Lebanese capital tomorrow.

About 600 Americans left Beirut yesterday on what officials had called the last rescue mission. The embassy now says it decided to organize an additional ship because there is a new opportunity to evacuate those Americans from Beirut.

President Bush today declared he does not want what he called a "fake peace" in the Middle East. President Bush said the United States will accept cease-fire only if it addresses the Hezbollah threat. President Bush's remarks come one day before he discusses the Middle East conflict with his close ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Elaine Quijano reports from the White House.


ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When they last met, President Bush's frank and off-color assessment to British Prime Minister Tony Blair dominated the news and showed the president's frustration with the diplomatic effort.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I felt like telling Kofi to call -- get on the phone with Mr. Assad and make something happen.

QUIJANO: But that was 10 days ago.


QUIJANO: Since then, the fighting has not stopped. And the civilian death toll continues to climb.

Against that backdrop, President Bush is set to welcome Blair, his staunchest ally in the war on terror, to the White House. Both the president and the prime minister are facing intense pressure from European allies to support an immediate cease-fire.

WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT ADVISER: Europe and the United States are not on the same path. And we will see if Tony Blair is going to stick with Europe or stick with the United States.

QUIJANO: So far, the Bush administration has not budged, with the president restating that peace and a cease-fire are not the same thing. At an Oval Office meeting with Rumania's president, Mr. Bush laid out his Mideast goal.

BUSH: To hopefully end this as quickly as possible, and, at the same time, making sure there's a lasting peace, not a fake piece, not a fake, you know, circumstances that make us all feel better. Then, sure enough, the problem arises again.

QUIJANO: With the secretary of state expected to return to the Middle East this weekend, the White House is forcefully rejecting any notion her earlier trip there was a failure.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You are laboring under the presumption that she was supposed to come up with a magic wand and say, a cease-fire. What she has said is, what on earth is the good of having another empty handed cease-fire in the Middle East?


QUIJANO: Now, today, the president engaged in some telephone diplomacy, talking to Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, for the second time this week. As for the president and Prime Minister Blair, nearly two weeks after their last meeting there is no indication that either leader plans any kind of dramatic shift in strategy -- Lou.

DOBBS: Elaine, thank you.

Elaine Quijano reporting from the White House.

Much more on the war between Israel and Hezbollah ahead here tonight. The Arab League ambassador to the United Nations joins me.

Also tonight, new fears the Senate's amnesty bill would overwhelm our already overburdened and overtaxed immigration system and allow criminals, even terrorists, into the country. We'll have complete coverage on the threat to our democracy.

And e-voting is even worse than many had believed. E-voting machines completely fail a key election test in Ohio. We'll have that special report tonight.

And the Pentagon taking drastic measures to raise U.S. troop strength in Baghdad as violence in the Iraqi capital escalates.

We'll be going live to the Pentagon. Reports from Baghdad straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: There is growing concern across the country tonight over our worsening illegal alien crisis and how it is affecting not only our social services, medical service, our tax costs, our economic costs, but also our courts and our broken immigration bureaucracy.

Lisa Sylvester reports tonight on new warnings from Capitol Hill tonight on the threat that illegal alien amnesty poses to our national security.

And Casey Wian reports from Los Angeles on the rising crisis in our court system.

We begin tonight with Lisa Sylvester -- Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the Senate passed its immigration legislation after only 10 days of full debate. Many questions were never answered, including, how would the federal government screen the millions of illegal aliens and what guarantee is there that terrorists could not exploit the system?

Today, the House took up some of those issues.


SYLVESTER (voice over): The Department of Homeland Security would be charged with screening as many as 20 million illegal aliens, organizing a temporary worker program, and creating a database for employers, if Congress were to pass the Senate's amnesty bill. Some lawmakers say that DHS would face an impossible task.

The agency is still ironing out major glitches with the entry- exit U.S. visit system, a much smaller program.

REP. HAROLD ROGERS (R), KENTUCKY: Like visitors and fish, things get stale after a certain period of time. And we're beginning to smell an odor up here, Mr. Secretary.

SYLVESTER: Secretary Michael Chertoff touted DHS accomplishments, ending the so-called Catch and Release program and stepping up work site force enforcement.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We never had more than 176 criminal cases during the entire fiscal year. This year, with the year three quarters done, we've got 445 criminal cases.

SYLVESTER: But in a Judiciary Committee hearing, congressional members offered anecdotal evidence that suggests Immigration and Customs Enforcement continues to ignore current immigration law.

REP. TOM LATHAM (R), IOWA: I've had local law enforcement people contact ICE over and over and over again about known violators in the community, and they just absolutely blow them off.

SYLVESTER: Another DHS agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, would handle the millions of applications for illegal aliens. CIS has been riddled with fraud and mismanagement. MICHAEL MAXWELL, FMR. DIRECTOR AT USCIS: The workforce is horribly demoralized. And there needs to be a shift in management, a shift in leadership. There needs to be accountability.

SYLVESTER: Supporters of the Senate bill want to settle these issues in conference committee. Members of the House say the issues are too large and too important to be decided behind closed doors.


SYLVESTER: House members are concerned the amnesty provisions are so generous, the United States would still have less, not more, control over its immigration system. As one witness put it, he said, "The Senate bill almost ignores that there ever was such a thing as a 9/11 attack on the United States" -- Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much.

Lisa Sylvester, reporting from Washington.

Later here I'll be talking with Congressman John Hostettler, who chaired those hearings today on our broken borders and immigration crisis.

The nation's federal courts are simply being overwhelmed by illegal immigration. Not many people are paying attention to that cost of illegal immigration, including our border states. Federal courts, the system is simply collapsing under the weight of illegal immigration. And the federal government is doing absolutely nothing to solve what is a rapidly worsening crisis.

Casey Wian reports.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Nationwide, a U.S. federal judge handles, on average, 87 felony cases a year. But in our border states, federal judges are now swamped with more than four times that many, mainly because our nation has failed to control illegal immigration.

Laredo, Texas, Judge George Kazen says, "The sad truth is that America has an insatiable hunger for illegal drugs and cheap labor. The southwest border is a gateway for both."

In Laredo, Kazen and one other judge handled 2,800 felonies a year, or 15 times the national average. The result, many felony immigration cases are not being prosecuted. And the backlog of criminal immigration appeals is straining the entire federal court system.

KRIS KOBACH, UNIV. OF MISSOURI LAW PROFESSOR: Now all the other divisions in the U.S. Department of Justice are having to contribute attorneys to the cause of litigating these immigration cases. If we're going to get serious about enforcing immigration in this country, then we have to have more people to actually adjudicate the cases, bring the criminal prosecutions, et cetera.

WIAN: The Senate immigration reform bill does include a modest increase in judges, prosecutors and court personnel near the southwest border. The House bill doesn't. The Border Patrol predicts its attempted crackdown on illegal alien and drug smuggling will only further overwhelm federal courts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that going to create in the initial phases an increase upon the judges, upon the U.S. attorneys, the marshals and things of this nature? Yes. But because we are quickly going to be able to ramp up to becoming an overwhelming force to these criminal organizations, I believe that the deterrence effect is going to take hold.

WIAN: In the Border Patrol's 210-mile Del Rio sector, agents no longer immediately deport most illegal aliens. Under Operation Streamline, every one of them is charged with illegal entry, a crime punishable by 180 days in federal custody.

It has strained judicial resources. But the Border Patrol says illegal alien traffic there has dropped and dropped significantly.


WIAN: We asked a Border Patrol spokesman why Operation Streamline hasn't expanded to the entire border with Mexico. He simply did not have an answer.

And Lou, the federal government has few answers for illegal immigration, border security, and the cost of its failure to control both -- Lou.

DOBBS: And it is a national disgrace that that is the case.

Thank you very much, Casey Wian.

Still ahead here, is this any way to run an election? Three months before our upcoming midterm elections, this nation isn't ready. We'll have a special report for you tonight on the monumental failure of e-voting machines in Ohio. New evidence that e-voting poses a direct threat to our democracy.

And major new developments tonight in the military's plans to stop sectarian violence in Baghdad as violence there intensifies.

We'll have those reports.

And Israel tonight calling up at least 15,000 of its reservists to fight its widening war against Hezbollah.

The Arab League ambassador to the United Nations joins us here next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: In our series of reports here we call "Democracy at Risk," we've chronicled the threat to the integrity of our electoral system posed by e-voting. More than half of all voters in this country are expected to cast their ballots on electronic voting machines this November. As we've documented here, electronic voting machines are not only vulnerable to severe malfunction, but to fraud.

In a special election in this past May, one county in Ohio demonstrated just about all that can go wrong in an election with e- voting and just how much of a threat e-voting is to this country.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Cuyahoga County, Ohio, was all geared up to use electronic voting machines for the first time, but the election held on May 2nd turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. Many of Cuyahoga County's e-voting machines just didn't work.

The Diebold voter registration system dropped or displaced several hundred registered voters. Some Diebold touch-screen machines froze up, others crashed. On others, the paper record jammed up.

Cuyahoga County also used optical scanners. The thick black lines on some of the ballots interfered with the system reading them, and even when the machines worked many of the poll workers weren't sufficiently trained to instruct voters or answer questions.

REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES (D), OHIO: At the end of the day, poll workers were supposed to take a card out of the machine, put in it a bag and send to it the board of elections. Well, some of the workers closed down the machine, left the card in the machine. At the end of the day, there were cards that were still in machines and not being counted.

PILGRIM: The so-called ease of electronic voting turned into a nightmare and embarrassment because Ohio accepted $100 million in federal money to buy the machines.

JUDGE RONALD ADRINE, CUYAHOGA SELECT REVIEW PANEL: Absentee ballots could not be scanned by the machines that were designed for that purpose. And so as a result, ended up doing a hand count on those ballots, some 17,000 of them, that took about six days following the election to complete.

PILGRIM: Afterward, a panel grilled election officials. A 400- page damage report identified dozens more problems.

The paper rolls were loaded backwards so they did not print election results. Election results were recorded on so many formats, memory cards, a central computer, internal memory of the machines, and paper rolls, nobody could figure out the tally. Memory cards were lost on Election Day and were never found again.

Security was lax. Sixty people took machines home with them for the weekend before Election Day.


PILGRIM: Now, the board of elections refused our interview request. The county won't have to wait until November for another e- voting test. The special election in August has everyone holding their breath. And for November, the county's trying to get as many people as possible to vote absentee ballot to cut down on confusion at the polls.

And yes, Lou, they are sticking with those e-voting machines that the state took $100 million to install.

DOBBS: I mean, that's breathtaking in terms of a failure of the electoral process. I can't imagine why the board of elections in Cuyahoga County didn't want to talk with you. That's just amazing.

PILGRIM: Yes, it's astonishing.

DOBBS: Where is Diebold in this? What does it say about what is happening?

PILGRIM: Yes, we spoke to them and they sent us a statement. They're basically in denial about this.

They said only one county in Ohio had problems with their machines. And the exit polls said that people -- 95 percent of people said that the machines were easy to use. This does not address the problem they had in trying to tally the vote.

DOBBS: A minor, minor consideration when one is holding an election is to be able to count the vote.

Thank you very much.

Kitty Pilgrim.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. Are you considering an absentee ballot to avoid problems with e-voting machines in your state come election time? Yes or no?

Cast your vote at We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.

Taking a look now at some of your thoughts.

Zein, in Washington, D.C., "OK, I was hoping you could clear this up for me. Kofi Annan is upset that the United Nations outposts in south Lebanon were hit by Israel, but it's OK for Hezbollah to place their rocket launchers right next to the U.N. outpost, thereby endangering the occupants? And it's OK for the Lebanese army to join the war against Israel, but where were they when they were supposed to be keeping Hezbollah disarmed per the U.N. resolution?"

"And I guess it's also OK for Hezbollah to hit civilians, because we all know their rockets cannot be targeted properly and thus will, of course, hit civilians, but that's absolutely not OK for Israel."

I think you have the gist of certain views in this country very good.

And Andy in North Carolina, "Why is the president ignoring our laws? The answer is simple: because he can. Since FDR, the executive branch has been gaining power, mainly because the legislative branch continues to give its powers and responsibilities to the executive branch."

"We're now at a point where the president can do almost whatever he wants, a point that is too close to a dictatorship for my comfort. It's time to return to three equal branches of government."

Send us your thoughts at More of them coming up later here in the broadcast.

Coming up next, the Arab League ambassador to the United Nations joins us. We'll be discussing the widening conflict between Israel and Hezbollah and what amounts to a civil war in Iraq.

Also, the United States is trying to play down fears of that civil war and widening sectarian violence in Iraq. As the military sends more troops to Baghdad, new language, new explanations from the Pentagon. General David Grange joins me to assess that development.

We'll be live on Capitol Hill, where Congress today heard disturbing reports about the extent of this nation's immigration crisis. Congressman John Hostettler joins us.

And why do members of the University -- the scholar athlete members of the University of Miami's football team need to carry handguns? Well, we'll tell you how their coach answers that question here next.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: In just a moment, we'll have the latest for you on developments of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, and the Arab League ambassador to the United Nations joins me here.

But first, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today announced a drastic step to contain the escalating violence in Baghdad, the defense secretary ordering more than 3,000 of our troops in Iraq to remain longer than planned, one-year tour of duty. His announcement comes on the same day that insurgents killed 32 people in a carefully planned attack in a Baghdad neighborhood.

Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon tonight on the military's new efforts to stop the violence in Iraq. And Arwa Damon reports from Baghdad on the deadly new attack against Iraqi civilians. We turn first to Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, imagine this: You're a U.S. soldier in Iraq, you're coming to the end of a long hot summer, you're counting the days, and suddenly you're told you're going to have to add a few more pages to your calendar.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): The need for battle-tested troops with top of the line vehicles has prompted General George Casey to order an Army brigade equipped with Striker armored vehicles to stay in Iraq as much as four months beyond its scheduled 12-month deployment. Breaking the Pentagon's promise to U.S. troops that they will only serve one year in Iraq is something that had to be personally approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: If you extend somebody, is there some disappointment that they won't be home when they thought they might be home? Sure. But as I say, these are -- this is a professional military. They're doing a superb job.

MCINTYRE: While about 200 of the soldiers from the 172nd Striker Brigade Combat Team based in Alaska had already left Iraq after a year-long tour, 3,500 of the remaining soldiers, now in Mosul, have been told they will go to Baghdad instead of going home.

REP. IKE SKELTON (D), MISSOURI: What this does to that particular brigade, it is going to cause morale problems with the troops, and also with their families, who are expecting them to come home at the end of the year.

MCINTYRE: A caller to the nationally syndicated Ed Schultz radio show said her nephew was one of the affected troops and offered this reaction.

VALERIE, CALLER TO ED SCHULTZ SHOW: Very disgusted, extremely disgusted. I mean, they have been gone for close to a year. We were expecting him back home the beginning of next week. It is just too much time away. You just can't expect that. And then to turn around after they've been there for close to a year and tell them they're staying longer?

MCINTYRE: The war in Iraq is taking a toll not just on troops, but equipment, too. The Army says it will need $17 billion this year and more than $12 billion extra a year for the next few years just to repair and replace weapons. And the general tapped to take over the Marine Corps told Congress he has similar worries about his Marines.

LT. GEN. JAMES CONWAY, MARINE CORPS COMMANDANT NOMINEE: The readiness of the remainder of the equipment, ground and particularly aviation, is suffering, and as a result our readiness ratings for the remainder of the force are not what we would ordinarily show.


MCINTYRE: The troops whose deployment was extended will get some bonus pay, between $800 and $1,000 extra a month, but in return, they'll pull dangerous duty in one of the deadliest parts of Iraq -- Lou. DOBBS: Jamie, a troubling report, indeed, troubling for those soldiers and troops who are going to be extended, violating a promise made by the Pentagon. But at the same time, to hear the commandant of the Marine Corps, other generals talk about a lack of readiness four years after this nation entered a global war against radical Islamist terrorism, entered the war against Iraq and Afghanistan, that's just simply in my judgment inexcusable on the part of the leadership in that building that you report on.

MCINTYRE: Well, the problem, Lou, is simply money. This war is chewing up equipment at an astounding rate. And it is just going to take billions of dollars, and that's with a B, to replace and repair all that equipment. And that's why the general's making the case before Congress, because in addition to this $17 billion they're looking for now, they're going to need $12, $13 billion over the next several years in order to just pay for the cost of this war. It's an expensive prospect.

DOBBS: Expensive indeed. Over $300 billion spent. And the lives, the number of our troops wounded. I mean, this is -- and the idea that our general staff in that building are surprised that a war is crushing on equipment? I'm not -- I will just assert this opinion and then say thank you very much, Jamie -- but the idea that our generals would be surprised is to me, as I said, absolutely inexcusable and bears some scrutiny, I would hope, and some accountability.

Jamie McIntyre, thank you very much.

The insurgent attack in Baghdad came just days after President Bush announced he would send more troops to the Iraqi capital. Insurgents today launched a coordinated attack against mostly Shia neighborhoods in a new escalation of sectarian violence. Arwa Damon has the report from Baghdad -- Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, it was a complex attack. A car bomb followed by Katyusha rockets, and then a barrage of mortars, claiming the lives of at least 32 Iraqis, wounding hundreds of others. It's happened in a central Baghdad neighborhood, a Sunni/Shia mixed neighborhood. However, the attack was concentrated in a Shia area.

Images from this scene broadcast on state television showed utter devastation. Interviews with civilians there expressing their rage, saying where is the security plan that the Iraqi government has promised us? That plan is currently being discussed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on his trip to the United States -- Lou.

DOBBS: Arwa Damon reporting from Baghdad.

In the war between Israel and Hezbollah, Israel today declaring it will never give up its struggle against radical Islamist terrorists in southern Lebanon, specifically Hezbollah. Several thousand Israeli troops are reported to be inside Lebanon now, in intense fighting with Hezbollah. Radical Islamist terrorists have killed at least 31 Israeli troops, 13 Israeli civilians. The Israeli defense minister today said Hezbollah cannot break Israel's will, and he said Israel plans to set up a security zone just over a mile wide inside Lebanon.

Meanwhile, Israel has continued its round-the-clock air strikes against Lebanon. Israel says it carried out more than 120 attacks over the past 24 hours alone. Lebanon says as many as 600 Lebanese civilians may have been killed since this war began.

Divisions among Arab nations undermine prospects for any Middle East cease-fire that calls into question the role, of course, of the Arab League itself. Fourteen of the league's member states back in emergency summit on this conflict, one shy of the two-thirds required for such a summit.

Yahya Mahmassani is the ambassador to the United Nations for the Arab League and joins us here. Ambassador, good to have you with us.


DOBBS: Why in the world can't the Arab League come together for that summit?

MAHMASSANI: Well, as you know, first of all, there was a meeting on the ministerial level, and they took a decision calling for a cease-fire and for the setup of a mechanism so that this dispute could be resolved through dialogue and negotiations.

Now, there has been a request for this summit, and according to our rules of procedure, there has to be a certain number have to be accepted to get the summit. And it seems that not everybody is accepting to go to the summit.

DOBBS: It seems almost no one is accepting dialogue at this point. The Rome summit, if you will, headed up by Condoleezza Rice, our secretary of state, produced nothing -- not surprisingly, but it produced nothing. And the representatives of Israel, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran were not there. Is it your judgment that they would be required for any reasonable prospect for a cease-fire for a meaningful peace?

MAHMASSANI: Well, first of all, I think a cease-fire could be achieved if the United States were to get along in their own meeting. If the United States were on board, I think a majority of those who met there were calling for a cease-fire. The Lebanese want a cease- fire. The Arabs want a cease-fire. Everybody wants a cease-fire, except the United...

DOBBS: Israel and the United States.

MAHMASSANI: Israel and United doesn't want. Now, as for your second question, of course, settlement -- for the overall settlement of the Middle East question, yes, we do need Syria, of course. Syria is part of this.

DOBBS: Ambassador, explain to us the Arab League's role here. As we are watching what many people are calling now a civil war in Iraq between Sunni and Shia, why is the Arab League not directly involved in trying to work with the government of Iraq to reach an intelligent, humane conclusion to this conflict?

MAHMASSANI: Well, Lou, I think your information is not really correct on this question. The Arab League is very much involved, very much. First of all, you know, we're the first to send a mission to Iraq. We have an ambassador in Iraq, trying to sort out -- to keep our presence. Second, there was a meeting in Cairo...


DOBBS: Ambassador, I understand. Forgive me. I wasn't really talking about...

MAHMASSANI: Let me make my point.

DOBBS: If I may, I understand the diplomatic efforts you've taken, but where are the Arab League troops? Where are the forces to assist your brothers and sisters in Iraq, Arabs all, who are dying at the rate of 100 a day.

MAHMASSANI: We're not required to send troops.

DOBBS: You're not required to do anything.


DOBBS: But from your heart, for your brothers and your sisters?

MAHMASSANI: From our heart, we have got all the factions of Iraqi together two times. Once in Cairo, and where they came and met under the umbrella of the League of Arab States, headed by the secretary-general, and we all agreed on a certain formula. And then again, we were scheduled to make another meeting in Baghdad, and we made it recently, very recently in Cairo. Now, we did get all the Iraqis united.

DOBBS: Mr. Ambassador, may I say with all due respect -- and I would say the same thing to the diplomats of the United States, whether it be Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whomever. Talking, diplomacy is absolutely necessary, but results are critical. And we're not seeing much in the way of that when it comes to the Middle East, either in the conflict between Arabs and Israel or in the conflict between Shia and Sunni in Iraq.

MAHMASSANI: In the conflict with the Middle East, the Arab League have taken the decision to come to the Security Council in September, and look into the question of the failure of the peace process, the roadmap which never hit the road.

Now we're coming back to the council to put the whole issue of the Middle East and the Security Council and try to find out a reasonable solution that will end the Arab-Israeli conflict. We alone cannot do it.

DOBBS: Ending the Arab-Israeli conflict, for the Arab League to say straightforwardly, Hezbollah and the radical Islamist terrorists that it represents, have to be expunged. MAHMASSANI: Let me tell you something. First of all ...

DOBBS: Sure.

MAHMASSANI: No, let me tell you something. The Israeli now attack on Lebanon and aggression, what's it doing? It's destroying the country, a democratic country. It's ruining the infrastructure of the country, and it's -- no, let me get to it. What they're doing is decreasing the extremism of their religion, which ...

DOBBS: But Ambassador, all I asked you was about Hezbollah and your direct, direct capacity to influence Hezbollah and it's neutering, if you will.

MAHMASSANI: No, but Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government. It is part of the Lebanese fiber, the Lebanese society.

DOBBS: No, it may be part of its society.


DOBBS: But its minister roles and its limited roles, and its terrorist roles are ...


DOBBS: Please, you don't endorse Hezbollah's terrorism.

MAHMASSANI: No, I don't accept the word terrorism. Hezbollah is not terrorism. This is ...

DOBBS: Mr. Ambassador, if we are at a stage where we still ...

MAHMASSANI: No, let me say ...

DOBBS: Well, let me finish. And then I would be ...



DOBBS: Actually, you won't if I say you won't. So I will defer to you, Mr. Ambassador, out of respect.

MAHMASSANI: Yes, but let me tell you, the word terrorism, you know, is used by convenience. For example, the Israelis called the PLO terrorists. They fought, and eventually they made the deal ...


DOBBS: You and I are both -- Mr. Ambassador, you and I are both too old, too mature, too wise to have a semantic argument. You and I both know what terrorism is.

MAHMASSANI: Absolutely.

DOBBS: And you know very well that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.

MAHMASSANI: It is a resistance movement to keep the Israelis out of Southern Lebanon. It is now defending the country.


DOBBS: How can we ever -- and, you know, and this, I think, stands as a metaphor, Mr. Ambassador.

MAHMASSANI: But you look at is as terrorists, and we look at it as a resistance movement.

DOBBS: Yes, and as long as you do and if you cannot reach with the honesty of your spirit and say that the purposeful target of civilians by an organization such as Hezbollah is not terrorism ...

MAHMASSANI: What about Israel? Israel is targeting civilians on a daily basis.


MAHMASSANI: You have a state terrorism by Israel. If you want to call the targeting of civilians, it's the same thing Israel.

DOBBS: Mr. Ambassador, I'll admit -- Mr. Ambassador, I'll admit, I'll admit the loss of every civilian life, killed by Israeli strikes.

MAHMASSANI: Six hundred Lebanese have been killed.

DOBBS: Probably 600.

MAHMASSANI: They're civilian. They are civilian. They were killed by bombs by Israel, 5,000 pounds.

DOBBS: Now, as we sit here and we talk about this conflict, fools like us have been arguing over semantics for 58 years instead of resolving life and death issues. Doesn't that embarrass you as a diplomat? It embarrasses me as a human being, as an American.

MAHMASSANI: Simply because violence and wars do not solve problems. Israel has been apt on violence and let's come to the negotiating table, let's come to discuss these things reasonably without war, without violence, without bloodshed.

DOBBS: I'll sign up for that every time, and I hope you'll come back. We'll have a further discussion.

MAHMASSANI: I'd love to come back.

DOBBS: Ambassador Mahmassani, we thank you very much for being here.

MAHMASSANI: Thank you.

DOBBS: Still ahead, is the Bush administration manipulating the language describing the conduct of the war in Iraq to influence American perceptions? General David Grange joins me to assess that.

Another U.S. town is enacted tough new anti-illegal immigration laws. We'll be talking about a national trend. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Another local community in this country has passed a tough new anti-illegal immigration law, one that cracks down on employers and landlords that hire and house illegal aliens. The town of Riverside, New Jersey, last night voted unanimously in favor of its illegal immigration rule.

Under the ordinance, businesses knowingly hiring illegal aliens could lose their business licenses. Landlords could face penalties of up to $1,000. Local communities all across the country from Hazleton, Pennsylvania, to San Bernardino, California, passing similar legislation.

On Capitol Hill today, Congress heard alarming testimony about the broken state of our nation's immigration system. Witnesses testifying the country's immigration bureaucracy is simply unable to manage any kind of amnesty program as envisioned by the Senate. In fact, they say the Senate amnesty bill would make it easier for criminals and terrorists to enter this country.

Congressman John Hostettler of Indiana chaired the meeting, joins us here tonight.

Mr. Chairman, good to have you with us. Basically, your hearing is revealing that our immigration system not only is broken, but the agency responsible for it is absolutely dysfunctional.

REP. JOHN HOSTETTLER (R), INDIANA: Well, that's true, Lou. And the problem is that the Senate has recently passed the Reed-Kennedy Bill that would allow for anywhere from 11 million to 20 million illegal aliens to be almost instantaneously legalized.

And the simple fact of the matter is that the USCIS, the Citizen and Immigration Services even today has a mentality that says send them through. And as a result of that, a new program would inundate that bureaucracy with more names and that would be perilous to our national security with that type of attitude.

DOBBS: You called it the Reed-Kennedy Bill in the Senate. It's an outright amnesty bill, no matter how much this president, your president -- your president in the sense that he's a Republican. But the fact is Senator John McCain and Senator Kennedy got this ball rolling. Why isn't it the McCain-Kennedy Bill?

HOSTETTLER: Well, it's because a majority of Republicans in the Senate, Lou, actually did not support this bill. But as a result of the overwhelming support of the Democrats, this bill is now something that we have got to confront.

DOBBS: Well, I admire this penchant in Washington to control the language, but it is the McCain-Kennedy Bill, wouldn't you say? And the fact that the president of the United States and Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, decided to make the Democrats the majority party for the purpose of the amnesty bill, I mean, that's really on them, isn't it?

HOSTETTLER: It is something that we are addressing in the House in a series of hearings to show America that this amnesty is not a path that we want to go down.

DOBBS: Are we going to be able to count on the House of Representatives to represent their constituents? Or are we going to see -- are we going to see something like what happened in the United States Senate?

HOSTETTLER: We are not going to see a repeat of the failure of the United States Senate in the Reed-Kennedy Bill. We are going to hold our own, and the American people can depend on that.

DOBBS: Congressman John Hostettler, thank you very much for being here.

HOSTETTLER: Good to be with you, Lou.

DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer reporting from Jerusalem. Wolf, tell us about it.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou. Al Qaeda's Middle East threat, Osama bin Laden's right-hand man calling for attacks worldwide. Will Lebanon now become a rallying cry for terrorists?

Plus Israel keeps up the fight while Lebanon reports up to 600 civilians killed in the battle over the past two weeks. We're taking you to both sides of the border where the cost of war is being paid in human lives.

Also, getting some perspective. I'll take you in a black hawk helicopter tour for a bird's eye view of the battlefield.

And blown from the headlines, the other war that's been far more deadly. We're going to take you to Baghdad, where the carnage continues. Lou, all that coming up right here on "THE SITUATION ROOM."

DOBBS: Thanks, Wolf and great work from Jerusalem.

The coach of the University of Miami Hurricanes football team is planning on talking to his team next month about the dangers of owning and using handguns. Coach Larry Coker says he will discourage his players against owning guns after a shooting incident involving two of his players last week. Turns out Hurricane reserve safety Willie Cooper was shot and slightly wounded outside his off-campus apartment by a gunman, hiding in the bushes.

He was very fortunate because one of his teammates, another scholar athlete, Hurricane player Brandon Merriweather happened to be packing and he returned fire with his semi-automatic. Merriweather had a permit for the gun. The Miami police said it was a lawful shooting. Coach Coker will be talking about the incident when his players begin practice for the fall football season. He questions whether he can enforce a no-gun rule for his team, however, if guns are being used legally off campus. It's tough to coach in modern-day college football.

A reminder now to vote on our poll. Are you considering an absentee ballot to avoid problems with e-voting machines in your state? Yes or no. Please cast your vote at We'll have those results coming up here in just a few minutes. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: The White House and the Pentagon appear to be trying to shape the language they use to describe the war in Iraq now. At one time they talked about the insurgency, now they're talking about something called death squads in Iraq. And I want to turn now to our military adviser and our General David Grange, to discuss this issue.

General, the Pentagon is talking about death squads. It reminds me when the defense secretary, you remember in the earlier days of the insurgency, just about two years ago, was talking about bitter enders, dead enders and thugs. Now they've moved to death squads. What in the world are they trying to do?

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it's still an insurgency, there are still insurgent group, there's still a lot of criminals that do things, whether it be hostage taking, extortion, whatever, for money, and then you have death squads that are actually small military elements that belong to the militias.

DOBBS: And do you think the Pentagon is being careful and discreet in making its definitions clear to everybody? Because I haven't heard them say insurgent.

GRANGE: Yes, the perception out there is really kind of what's on the street of the say death squads or insurgency, it is all of the above. The country is full of all those bad things, especially in Baghdad right now.

DOBBS: Absolutely, general. And how does, how in the world does that general staff react when some bright young man or woman goes up to Secretary Rumsfeld and says, let's call them death squads this week instead of looking at what is a desperate conflict between Sunni and Shia in that country? Aren't they disgusted by it, our men and women in uniform?

GRANGE: Well, there is confusion out there and words, you have to be careful of the words you use to describe different kind of actions. Like invasion, incursion, maneuver, the same as death squads and criminal groups and militias. And so there's a combination of all those things going on. They are causing a lot of problems. It's on the brink of a civil war. Baghdad is very critical right now. And the reinforcements, the movements that are being taken, if they don't happen right now and Baghdad falls, it is really the center of gravity of Iraq.

DOBBS: And the fact that we're moving troops, our troops back into Baghdad, tells us just how critical that conflict has become when we can't, and I say we because it's our American troops, we can't absolutely secure the nation's capital, how secure can the nation be, the nation of Iraq?

GRANGE: Yes, see, the problem is the Iraqi military units are quite good. The police are terrible. And these military units are going to be put in there to back them up and to integrate with them and watch them do their job properly, force them to, which they're not doing right now.

DOBBS: General Grange, we thank you for being here to help straighten this out. That language thing, I know it's very popular in Washington to try to put language around a perception, but honestly, it's still the best policy, don't you think?

GRANGE: Absolutely.

DOBBS: And I know that. I wish general grange, we could, I know you wouldn't like it, but we'd sure love to see you back in that Pentagon to straighten a few things out. General David Grange, thank you, sir.

GRANGE: Not the Pentagon.

DOBBS: General David Grange, thanks again. We'll have the results of our poll coming right up and your thoughts about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's view on efforts to control illegal immigration and establish border security. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The results of our poll, 65 percent of you say you are considering using an absentee ballot this Fall. We thank you for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. For all of us, thanks for watching, good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" now with Wolf Blitzer, Wolf.


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