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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

President Bush Puts War on Terror At Top of Republican Midterm Election Agenda; Democrats Stepping Up Attacks on Bush Administration's Entire National Security Strategy and Policies; Turnouts For Illegal Alien Amnesty Marches Plunge; Widening Divide in Republican Party Over Comprehensive Immigration Reform; Mexican Court Rejects Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's Allegations of Fraud In Recent Presidential Election; Pat Buchanan Discusses New Book; Brad Meltzer Discusses Book

Aired September 5, 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, President Bush puts the war on terror at the top of the Republican midterm election agenda. Democrats say the president's conduct of the war in Iraq is the real issue.
We'll have complete coverage.

And the Republican Party has abandoned any effort to push the president's and the Senate's pro-amnesty agenda for illegal aliens through Congress before the midterm elections. Former presidential candidate, best-selling author Pat Buchanan accuses President Bush of dereliction of duty for failing to secure or borders.

He's our guest here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Tuesday, September 5th.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

President Bush today strongly defended his policies in the war on terror in a speech designed to set the agenda for the upcoming midterm elections. President Bush, as he has done repeatedly since September 11th, declared the United States is safer but not yet safe.

Democrats say President Bush is trying to avoid responsibility for the escalating violence in Iraq. Insurgents there have now killed 12 of our troops over the past three days.

Ed Henry reports from the White House on the president's efforts to make terrorism the central issue in the midterm elections.

Andrea Koppel reports from Capitol Hill on the Democrats' battle to focus on the president's conduct of the war in Iraq instead.

And Christine Romans is here with a special report on the financial struggle of middle class Americans and their families, an issue Republicans and Democrats are all but ignoring. We begin with Ed Henry in Washington -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, today was part two in the president's latest series of speeches on the war on terror. We're just learning, though, that part three in this series will come tomorrow at 1:45 in the East Room here at the White House.

The president will be focusing on that Hamdan decision that came down earlier this summer where the Supreme Court basically said the president does not have a blank check in dealing with the war on terror. The president tomorrow, in the process of delivering this speech, will also deliver legislation to Capitol Hill dealing with detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino saying, "The president will discuss how our policies are keeping the American people safe," how they're trying to strike a balance between keeping tries off the streets of America, but also bringing justice. This -- today's speech, though, came nearly five years after the president vowed he'd get Osama bin Laden dead or alive. But today the president acknowledged the terrorists are still a major threat all around the world and took the extraordinary step of quoting bin Laden's own words in letters to followers, also what the president called grisly al Qaeda training manuals to dramatize how dangerous the terrorist group is right now.

A balancing act for the president, because politically this seems like it could be a positive ripped right out of the Karl Rove playbook that worked in 2002 and 2004. But this also could play into what Democrats are saying, claiming that the White House has actually made the country less safe.

In his speech today, the president said al Qaeda has been weakened, but then he seemed to elevate Osama bin Laden a bit by comparing him to Adolf Hitler.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. The question is, will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say?

America and our coalition partners have made our choice. We're taking the words of the enemy seriously. We're on the offense. We will not rest, we will not retreat, and we will not withdraw from the fight until this threat to civilization has been removed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: The president adding that for al Qaeda, Iraq is not a distraction from their war on America, contending once again that Iraq is the central battlefield in the war on terror. But a new CNN Opinion Research Poll suggesting the public is not necessarily buying that claim from the president. Only 45 percent of Americans saying Iraq is part of the war on terror, while 53 percent say it's not part of the war on terror, let alone the central front -- Lou.

DOBBS: Ed, the elevation of Osama bin Laden in the president's rhetoric and, in fact, contrasting him to Lenin and to Hitler, is a real departure from what has been his path over the last several years, trying to downplay Osama bin Laden, now pushing him forward. That seems to be an interesting political calculation.

HENRY: Absolutely right. In fact, a couple of years ago, when the president was not naming Osama bin Laden in his public speeches, reporters started asking about it, and the White House response was essentially that the war on terror does not come down to one person. Now it seems like the White House is reversing course a bit, possibly giving the state of some of these public opinion polls -- Lou.

DOBBS: And reversing course a bit, as you put it, to compare him to Hitler, to Lenin, and to make him the central figure here is a very interesting political change of tactic.

We thank you very much.

Ed Henry from the White House.

Insurgents killed 12 more of our troops in Iraq over the Labor Day Weekend. Two of our troops are being killed on average each and every day in Iraq.

2,654 of our troops have been killed in this war, 19,773 wounded, 8,991 seriously wounded.

Democrats are making Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his management of the war in Iraq a major issue of their approach to the election campaign. They're demanding Rumsfeld's immediate resignation. Democrats are also stepping up their attacks on the Bush administration's entire national security strategy and policies.

Andrea Koppel reports from Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Rule one when waging war, even a political war: attack, attack, attack. And as part of their September offensive, Democrats are pouncing on the Republican strong suit, national security.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: Today, thanks to the efforts of the Third Way organization, Senate Democrats are releasing a report that examines by the numbers Bush national security failures.

KOPPEL: The Democrats' battle plan: focus on Iraq and terrorism -- issues voters care about most this election year -- and force Republicans to play defense.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), MINORITY WHIP: If we are not in a civil war in Iraq, we are so perilously close it's hard to imagine the difference.

KOPPEL: It doesn't hurt when one of those Democrats delivering the message...

REID: I'm honored to have former supreme allied commander General Wesley Clark with us today.

KOPPEL: ... is a decorated war veteran.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, FMR. NATO COMMANDER: This administration and the Republican leadership in the Congress have weakened our country and made Americans less safe.

KOPPEL: In rapid-fire succession, Democrats hit Republicans hard, releasing a 27-page report entitled "The Neo Con," highlighting previous claims of President Bush's national security failures. While on the Senate floor, another Democrat offered an amendment to try to force the Pentagon to admit Iraq has descended into civil war.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: And the September 1st report prepared by the Department of Defense on stability and security in Iraq reaffirms what the American people already understand: the conditions of civil war exist, violence in Iraq is spiraling out of control, and staying the course is not a viable option.

KOPPEL: But Republicans punch back, calling Democrats obstructionists.

SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: Democrats blocked reauthorization of the Patriot Act for months. Democrats are blocking nominees to critical national security endeavors. Democrats have blocked expediting our national missile defense system. Democrats have voiced opposition to the NSA terrorist surveillance program.

KOPPEL: And fired off an aggressive press release entitled "No Confidence: Why Americans Don't Trust Dems with Global War on Terror," accusing Democrats of opposing the Patriot Act, which Republicans say is an essential tool in fighting terror.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOPPEL: And Democrats say they plan to keep up the pressure in coming days. Tomorrow they plan to offer up what's known as a vote of no confidence on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, while Republicans will also be pushing back hard, pushing their legislation, like warrantless wiretaps, looking towards what kind of military tribunals there should be for Guantanamo detainees, and, of course, funding for homeland security and next year's Pentagon budget.

All of those things, Lou, have one common denominator: national security -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much.

Andrea Koppel from Capitol Hill.

Democrats and Republicans are all but ignoring another critically important issue for voters and our American families -- the outright war on our middle class. Wages for working men and women in this country and financial pressures on their families have worsened over the past five years. But college tuition, gasoline prices and housing costs escalating higher.

Christine Romans reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate will come to order.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Your lawmakers are back at work, but maybe out of touch with the topic around America's dinner tables.

BARBARA EHRENREICH, AUTHOR, "BAIT AND SWITCH": Washington is a little -- in a little bit of a bubble that there's a real disconnect between what they see and what the average American is experiencing right now.

ROMANS: What the average American is experiencing right now is a growing gap between the top and the bottom. More children without health insurance, wages barely keeping up with inflation, stagnant wages, even for college-educated workers.

And the polls show it.

The economy tops the list of voter concerns when heading to the polls this November. Trumping, Iraq and terrorism. But Washington seems to be missing the message.

ROSS EISENBREY, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: Maybe it is that people in Washington are working so hard to raise money. So they're talking to corporations, they're talking to other elite people, that they are out of touch with the average family.

ROMANS: And the average family is in a bind. He says after inflation the household income of working families is down 5.4 percent since 2000.

DAVID GERGEN, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: The truth is, we're living more and more in a bifurcated economy in which if you're at the top you're doing really well. But if you're at the bottom or near the bottom you're doing really badly. And that -- that -- I think that the Republican rhetoric will have to change. I mean, they -- you can't seem as a governing party to be as out of touch as some of their rhetoric has been over Labor Day.

ROMANS: Out of touch and apparently not believed by the American people. Only nine percent of Americans polled last week think the economy is good.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Now, many believe this could be a golden opportunity for the Democrats if they can capitalize on it. Voters tend to blame the party in power. And angry voters tend to go to the polls in the greatest numbers -- Lou. DOBBS: And, of course, the Democratic Party is precisely where the Republican Party is, in the hands of special interests, corporate interests, and all but ignoring middle class working men and women and their families.

Christine, thank you very much.

Christine Romans.

Still ahead here, the illegal alien lobby is failing to convince Americans to support their pro-amnesty agenda.

We'll have that special report.

And former presidential candidate, best-selling author Pat Buchanan says President Bush guilty of dereliction of duty for failing to secure our borders. Buchanan is author of the new best-selling book, "State of Emergency." He's among our guests here tonight.

And a school board considering what action, if any, to take against a school bus driver who ordered black students to sit at the back of the bus.

We'll have a special report tonight from Coushatta, Louisiana, and a great deal more still ahead right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Tonight, Republican leaders in Congress are all but abandoning efforts to pass so-called comprehensive immigration reform as the president has asked, certainly before Election Day. And illegal alien amnesty supporters are seeing support for their movement evaporate across the country.

Casey Wian reports tonight from Los Angeles as turnouts for illegal alien amnesty marches plunge across the nation.

Lisa Sylvester from Washington on the widening divide in the Republican Party over comprehensive immigration reform.

We begin with Casey Wian in Los Angeles -- Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, supporters of expanded rights for illegal aliens blamed everything from the holiday weekend to poor organization for the small crowds at their Labor Day marches.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Bush, escucha, estamos en la lucha!

WIAN (voice over): About a thousand supporters of expanded rights for illegal aliens marched in the streets of Los Angeles chanting, "Bush, listen, we are here!" They flew the flags of anarchists, Mexico and the United States, and demanded full amnesty for anyone in this country illegally. Illegal alien supporters rallied in several other U.S. cities on Labor Day. They're continuing their effort to link illegal immigration and organized labor.

Border security activists accuse the union marchers of betraying American workers.

DEBORAH CRAIG, CAMPO, CALIF., MINUTEMEN: We had a standard of living. We had a wage. The middle class is nonexistent in Los Angeles. It's being destroyed by illegal immigration. That's why we're here, because illegal immigrants are scabs, period.

WIAN: Police separated this group of counter-protesters from a hostile crowd of illegal alien sympathizers who continued their practice of calling anyone favoring immigration law enforcement "racist."

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Racists go home! Racists go home!

WIAN: The marches were nowhere near the size of the Mayday Open Borders protest earlier this year. It's another sign their movement, and especially their effort to register a million new sympathetic voters by 2008, is losing momentum.

An Associated Press analysis of voter data in a dozen U.S. cities found no evidence of a pro-amnesty voter registration surge. In fact, in Los Angeles, the birthplace of the illegal alien marches, new voter registration actually dropped 54 percent during the first six months of this year compared to 2004.

Still, the Catholic Church continues its support of illegal aliens, mixing politics with prayer.

CARDINAL ROGER MAHONY, ARCHDIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES: This month particularly we pray for a just immigration reform. Congress has a duty and an obligation to respond to this pressing moral ethical need.

WIAN: The cardinal made no mention of the morals or ethics of those openly violating U.S. immigration laws.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: Cardinal Mahony says he faxed a letter on Labor Day to President Bush and congressional leaders, urging them to pass what he calls just immigration reform. He also said the state of California would be bankrupt without what he calls the state's immigrant population -- Lou.

DOBBS: Did the good cardinal also pray for Vicente Fox or Felipe Calderon, the leadership of the government of Mexico that is responsible for devastating its people, leaving more than half of them in poverty and creating a situation in which they try to flee their own country?

WIAN: Not out loud at least he didn't -- Lou.

DOBBS: Then let's -- let's hope it was a silent prayer.

Casey Wian reporting from Los Angeles.

Thank you, Casey.

Support for so-called comprehensive immigration reform is collapsing on Capitol Hill this week. Congressional leaders say it will be virtually impossible to secure an immigration reform compromise before the November elections.

Lisa Sylvester reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For months now we've seen the rallies, the immigration hearings, the speeches on Capitol Hill. Two immigration reform bills have passed Congress. But lawmakers will likely end the session without getting anything to the president's desk. That's not sitting well with everyone.

STEPHEN EICHLER, MINUTEMAN PROJECT: We will not tolerate open borders. We will not tolerate our nation to be invaded. And we will not tolerate inaction on Capitol Hill.

SYLVESTER: Inaction is exactly what we're seeing. The GOP leadership has signaled that it's putting immigration reform on the back burner until after the fall elections. The immigration issue has divided Republicans. So Republicans are playing it safe, highlighting another topic, the war on terror and security.

ROY BECK, NUMBERSUSA: They're saying that September's the month for providing America's security, and you can't have security unless you have secure borders.

SYLVESTER: The do nothing on immigration strategy is enraging the conservative base that hoped for more from a Republican-controlled Congress and White House.

BILL LAUDERBACK, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: For the last three months, the leadership in the House has apparently been afraid to even appoint a conference committee to sit down and work out a compromise with the Senate. That's not leadership. That's a derelict abandonment of leadership.

SYLVESTER: In the spirit of the election, congressional leaders see immigration reform as a political hot potato and are looking for an easy way out. But by not acting, voters could show them the way out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: Now, Congress has less than five weeks of scheduled work left this year. It's possible that lawmakers could try to reach a compromise in a lame duck session after the election. But if nothing is done by the end of December, then the bills die and Congress has to start all over again -- Lou. DOBBS: Sometimes nothing is better than something. In this case, that something being comprehensive immigration reform, as it's called.

Lisa, thank you very much.

It still raises the question, why in the world five years after September 11th are our borders not secured?

Thank you very much.

Lisa Sylvester from Washington.

And our poll tonight, the question: Do you believe Congress is correct to do nothing on the Senate's illegal alien amnesty legislation? Yes or no?

Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. The results will be here later in the broadcast.

The Miller Brewing Company tonight trying to defend itself from charges that it sponsored and funded an illegal alien amnesty march in Chicago last week. Newspaper reports saying Miller paid more than $30,000 to help promote the march.

Miller admits it donated money to the organizers of the march in the past, but it denies that it directly gave money to promote this particular march. Miller Brewing says it in no way supports illegal immigration.

Miller also putting out a statement. "Going forward, Miller will closely review all requests for support from community and charitable organizations to ensure that we are not indirectly funding or associating our name with advocacy groups on the immigration issue."

Miller donated cash to illegal alien amnesty groups after amnesty groups threatened to boycott Miller for supporting the author of the House border security bill, Congressman James Sensenbrenner. Ironically, Miller beer is now being targeted for another boycott. This time by groups upset with its involvement with the illegal alien amnesty movement.

Still ahead here tonight, Mexico finally has a president-elect, if that nation's high court has its way more than two months after its presidential vote. We'll be live with a report from Mexico City.

Pat Buchanan, best-selling author, former presidential candidate, joins us. His best-selling new book is "State of Emergency," blaming Mexico for fueling the nation's illegal alien crisis.

Best-selling author Brad Meltzer is among our guests here tonight. The Department of Homeland Security is turning to him, to other novelists and others who think out of the box, and creatively, to discern what the next threat from radical Islamist terrorists might be.

Stay with us for that and a great deal more.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Political turmoil in Mexico tonight with protesters shouting outside Mexico's top electoral court unanimously certified conservative Felipe Calderon as the country's next president. The court rejected leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's allegations of fraud. But Lopez Obrador says he will not recognize the court's decision.

Harris Whitbeck reports from Mexico City -- Harris.

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Lou.

Official candidate Felipe Calderon is celebrating the fact that after two months of public debate, of protests in the streets, he was named president-elect today by the top electoral court in the country. The court looked at allegations of fraud, of President Fox getting involved in the election, and of widespread irregularities and decided those were not warranted and that Felipe Calderon had, in fact, won the election.

As you said, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leftist opposition candidate, has said that he will not recognize the results of tonight's election. He has asked his sympathizers to gather in Mexico City's main square to hear what he says are his plans for the coming days. He has already said, I repeat, he will not recognize the results of today's election.

So there might be more clarity in terms of who the new president of Mexico will be. There is not much clarity as to what the situation on the ground will be over the next few weeks -- Lou.

DOBBS: Harris, thank you very much.

Harris Whitbeck reporting from Mexico City.

Let's look at some of your thoughts now.

Doug in New York, "Dear Lou, today 'The New York Times' reports that the GOP Congress has decided to back off illegal immigration and focus on national security in an effort to bolster their candidates in the upcoming election. How can they possibly separate the two issues? The southern U.S. border is an unprotected swinging door for terrorists, vagrants, drug dealers and criminals to waltz into the United States at their whim."

Blaine in Michigan, "Lou, I'm so tired of this do-nothing Congress not making decisions on key issues such as border security. It seems our elected officials are playing it safe by not making any decisions until after the elections this November."

Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. More of your thoughts are upcoming here later in the broadcast.

Next here, Democrats and Republicans farther apart than ever on key issues, critical issues of national security. We'll be bringing you the latest poll numbers.

Also, political commentator, former presidential candidate, best- selling author Pat Buchanan joins me. His best-selling new book now number three on the best-seller list, "State of Emergency," a wakeup call to fix our broken borders before it's too late.

And you could call it stranger than fiction. The Department of Homeland Security turning to best-selling thriller writer Brad Meltzer for help in the fight against radical Islamist terrorism.

Brad Meltzer joins us here next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Republicans and Democrats are both putting national security at the top of their campaign agendas for the upcoming elections. But the two parties have very different views on whether the war in Iraq or the broader war against terrorism should be the main focus of their campaigns. Bill Schneider reports on their conundrum.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): For Democrats and Republicans, the midterm election is framed around different issues. At the top of the Democrats' list, Iraq. Terrorism ranks lower, not because Democrats are unconcerned about terrorism, but because they believe the war in Iraq is a dangerous distraction.

LANNY DAVIS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: We want the focus to be on terrorism, not on being involved in a civil war in Iraq.

SCHNEIDER: For Republicans, terrorism is at the top of the list, Iraq at the bottom, not because Republicans downplay the importance of Iraq, but because they see it as part of the war on terror, we are fighting an enemy that threatens us.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For al Qaeda, Iraq is not a distraction from their war on America. It is the central battlefield where the outcome of the struggle will be decided.

SCHNEIDER: The Democrats prefer to depict Iraq as a civil war.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), MINORITY WHIP: Our soldiers, those brave men and women, have been caught in the crossfire of that civil war.

SCHNEIDER: The Democrats' argument is, if Iraq is a local conflict between Shiites and Sunnis, it does not threaten us, it distracts us. The election outcome could turn on which issue has higher priority to voters. Right now, that's the war in Iraq. Democrats are leading nationwide because voters concerned about Iraq are voting overwhelmingly Democratic. Voters who say terrorism is the top priority give Republicans a wide lead.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Republicans are in trouble, but there is no evidence of a surge of confidence in Democrats -- 31 percent approve of the job congressional Republicans are doing and 35 percent approve of the job congressional Democrats are doing. So people think Democrats are slightly less bad than Republicans. And by the way, how many Americans are satisfied with what Congress has accomplished this year? Lou, how's this for a rating? Twelve percent.

DOBBS: Well, you know, I love the American people. The system works. When voters and respondents in those polls say a pox on both their houses, you've got to believe they've got it pretty close to right.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, they do. The problem is when they go to the polls, they can't vote for a pox on both those houses. They have to choose one or the other.

DOBBS: Well you know, maybe not necessarily, partner. We'll see what happens.

SCHNEIDER: Well, we will.

DOBBS: Sometime there's are other options out there, Bill, but we're going to get into those later.

SCHNEIDER: I'm sure we will.

DOBBS: Thanks, Bill Schneider reporting from Washington.

SCHNEIDER: Pat Buchanan has written a fierce indictment of the Bush administration, it's complete failure to secure our borders. Buchanan calls the flood of illegal aliens into this country an outright invasion. Buchanan says the Mexican government is in effect trying to reannex the American southwest with its illegal alien policies.

Pat Buchanan's new book, "State of Emergency" is already a top national best-seller and it's not even supposed to be out for a few days. He's the author of other best-sellers, including "The Great Betrayal" and "Where the Right Went Wrong" and is with us here in New York tonight. Pat, good to have you here.

PAT BUCHANAN, AUTHOR: Lou, good to see you again.

SCHNEIDER: Now, this, first, congratulations on the response to your book. The idea -- you put the blame squarely with the government of Mexico. Tell us why.

BUCHANAN: The government of Mexico is pushing its poor and unemployed into the United States to ease social pressure on itself. Secondly, they get $16 billion in remittances back to Mexico. Third, it is awoken to the idea that it can reannex the American southwest, which it used to hold, linguistically, culturally, ethnically and socially, not militarily by pushing all these people in there and creating a gigantic fifth column in America.

The ultimate goal of Vicente Fox is the erasure of the border between the United States and Mexico. He has said as much and to make the two basically part of the North American union in which Mexico will get a constant flow of American...

DOBBS: With Canada.

BUCHANAN: ... With Canada, in which Mexico like Portugal and the European Union gets a constant flow of cash from the wealthy USA and La Reconquista is the objective, Lou.

DOBBS: It's remarkable. In your best assessment of all that is happening here, this administration, this so-called self-described compassionate conservative, a man who is leading this great nation in a global war on terror, focusing on that even today, not securing our borders. Let's forget the issue of illegal immigration for a second. How in the world do you suppose he rationalizes that to himself?

BUCHANAN: For the life of me, I can't understand it. We were told this morning the president's not going to focus on the immigration issue. He's going to focus on national security. Is not border security a major component of national security just as port security and airline security?

It is preposterous to have a 2,000-mile open border where six million have tried to break in according to the president, three million have made it. One in 12 is a criminal. Al Qaeda says they're going to try. And to leave that 2,000-mile back door wide open?

DOBBS: The idea that this president can rationalize it, that this Congress, Democrats and Republicans -- I mean, the president aligned with I believe it's 31 Democrats in the Senate to pass so- called comprehensive immigration reform.

It is straightforward amnesty. Let's not sugarcoat that in any way or permit amnestation. What in the world does not the Republican Party understand that they are -- that this president and this Republican leadership understand, they're going to put this House of Representatives out on the chopping block come November?

BUCHANAN: Let me tell you about a poll in Pennsylvania which is causing Santorum to rise. He's running ads against illegal immigration and secure the border -- 79 percent of Pennsylvanians oppose amnesty, 82 percent want a wall on the border.

What the president ought to do is say, look, do this, say to McCain and Kennedy, look, amnesty's not selling, but security is. So get the House bill and the Senate bill, all the security provisions of those two bills to border security and put them in a national security bill. He would win both houses. I think it would help him save the House as well as the Senate.

DOBBS: Well, I am not certain that I agree with you that this president is capable of winning anything right now except what seems to be an outright war being carried out by this administration on the middle class Americans and those who aspire to it, and their families.

The idea that this president, this Congress, are putting themselves in this kind of jeopardy going into this upcoming election, it looks like that the Democrats have a very good chance of winning the election. What are the prospects for border security and stopping illegal immigration with the Democrats?

BUCHANAN: If you get a Democratic Senate and a Democratic House, they will pass an amnesty bill and a guest worker bill with nothing along the lines of security and Bush will sign it. That's the danger, is that they will pass a bill as bad as the Senate bill right now and Bush will sign it. And that -- I'll tell you, Lou, as I've got a chapter in that book, the suicide of the ...

DOBBS: That would be a state of emergency.

BUCHANAN: ... Being the state of emergency, but the suicide of the GOP. Do they think that the 36 million people from the third world poor and unskilled pouring in, the whole third world coming is -- if they naturalized them and register, they're going to vote for your state tax relief?

DOBBS: You're a good Catholic, right? You've got Cardinal Mahony out there in Los Angeles saying you poor idiots in Congress, I'm going to pray for you. You poor idiots who want to secure our borders, we're going to pray for you.

BUCHANAN: Well you do need to pray for Congress, I'll agree with that. But look, let me say this. Look, any Catholic knows that Aquinas teaches if you've got a just government and just laws, we have an obligation to obey the laws and our governors have an obligation to enforce them. Can anyone say George Bush or the leadership of Congress are enforcing our immigration laws or defending the states against an invasion which is right in the Constitution, Lou?

DOBBS: You put it forward as a rhetorical question. The obvious answer is so clear and present and so is the danger. The book is "State of Emergency." It's No. 3 on the best-selling list. Pat Buchanan, liberals hate you, conservatives embrace you and...

BUCHANAN: ... Let me tell you something, liberals are concerned about the environment and, look, on this book, seriously, I get liberal talk show hosts who sit there very quietly and they listen. And frankly, I've got less of an attack from the whole country on talk shows on this book that almost anyone I've written except for my autobiography up until I was 27.

DOBBS: That's amazing. The idea that the elites in this country are trying to downplay the issue of illegal immigration and its impact on working men and women in this country who are already under assault from so many quarters.

BUCHANAN: You know, Lou, the thing that you've touched on in this show, the industrialization, outsourcing jobs, bringing in people to take the jobs of Americans, bring in bright young people from Bangladesh, making $25,000 a year, throwing these engineers out of work. It is economic treason against the American worker.

DOBBS: And I'm going to repeat it one more time. The book is "State of Emergency." Pat Buchanan, always good to talk with you. I don't care too much about those Republicans or those Democrats right now. But you've got friends and you've got enemies in both parties and you've got a lot of readers, so keep it rolling.

BUCHANAN: Thank you very much, Lou. Thank you.

DOBBS: Good to have you with us. Thank you. Pat Buchanan.

Still ahead, best-selling thriller writer Brad Meltzer. He's been recruited by the federal government to help anticipate the terrorist attack next on this country. He's among those being brought in by the Homeland Security Department to think about things out of the box. We'll be talking with him.

And the latest on the white school bus driver accused of forcing black students to the back of the bus in Louisiana. A key meeting on this issue is being held tonight in Louisiana. We'll be there live. We'll have that special report for you, next. Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: President Bush today delivered what the White House termed a major speech about the, quote, "nature of the enemy," end quote, in the war against radical Islamist terrorism. But five years almost after September 11th, intelligence agencies still don't have a clear picture of al Qaeda nor its operation.

Now the Department of Homeland Security has turned to psychologists, chemists and all sorts of professionals, and best- selling author Brad Meltzer, to think out of the box about al Qaeda strategy and potential terrorist strikes against this country.

Brad Meltzer is the author of the new book "The Book of Fate." He also wrote "The Tenth Justice," "Dead Even," "The First Council," "The Millionaires," "The Zero Game." Brad, I read every one of them. And I am delighted to have you with us here.

BRAD MELTZER, AUTHOR: Thank you. I appreciate it.

DOBBS: I think a lot of people, including myself, are surprised to hear that the government has the intelligence, the sense to turn to creative artists like you and say, think about what in the world terrorists could do to this country and how they would do it. Were you shocked when they called you?

MELTZER: When I got that phone call, that's the last phone call you ever think you're going to get. When I write these novels, I always try and find out about the White House, about homeland security, about the Capitol. I get a phone call from the Department of Homeland Security that says to me, you know what, we'd love you to come in and brainstorm out of the box. And I say, my gosh, we must be in trouble if they need me. But the truth was, when I got there, it was reassuring, because I want to know. When you look at terrorists today and you have a group of terrorists who can take a disposable camera and can take Gatorade and make a bomb of out it, you better believe we need people thinking outside that box. And that's exactly what we did.

DOBBS: I have to say, it is one of the most reassuring things that I've heard when they brought you in, because I, as I said, I've read your books and you have got an intriguing mind for plots, as well as every other aspect of your craft.

But the idea that -- the Red Cell program is what it's called. Why Red Cell?

MELTZER: Well, the Red Cell is actually a name that's been used for years to do this kind of brainstorming. And what it is, is Department of Homeland Security's way of trying to anticipate what the terrorists are going to do next.

Now, they already have groups of people at the CIA, at the FBI thinking these things. What they want is people who don't think the way the government usually thinks. My job as a novelist is to beat the news. If I don't beat the news, then I've written a book that's old. So they want people like me to do exactly that.

DOBBS: And the truth is you have done just that in, I believe, nearly every one of them. You have been ahead by a couple of years at least in the developments.

MELTZER: Well, even in the newest book, in "The Book of Fate," the villains in the book, there's a Secret Service agent working with a CIA guy working with an FBI guy. And I gave the plot, I said, you know what, everyone talks about how great it is to let these organizations work together.

I actually came in the opposite, and I thought, if they work together, then there are not checks and balances on each other. I gave the plot of "The Book of Fate" to the old former head of the Secret Service, and he said to me, you're on to something here. This is going to be what the next thread is.

DOBBS: Well, at least Brad Meltzer has done something that the 9/11 Commission worried about as well. And I won't go into the politics of the thing. But when you're there brainstorming on this issue, Brad, how many people are in the room with you? How many other creative -- forgive the expression -- creative types would be there?

MELTZER: Yes, well, what they do is they sit us in a room, and the terrorists are doing very similar things, they just don't have wipeoff boards and are in a boring building in Virginia. We'll all sit there and we'll have a CIA guy, we'll have an FBI guy, we'll have a chemist, we'll have a psychologist, myself. And they'll say on one day maybe, we want you to take out this target. How would you do it? And we'll come up with the craziest thing you have ever heard.

But when you look back on something, is it crazier than smashing airplanes into the Twin Towers? Is it crazier than taking a bomb in the U.K. and trying to do it out of liquids? And it's amazing to me when we're done, I'll come up with the craziest idea you ever heard. And then the Secret Service guy in the room will say, no, no, no, here's how we one-up it. And then the chemist will say, don't use that chemical, use this chemical.

By the time we're done, we've created for the Department of Homeland Security, we've destroyed a major city in 10 minutes. And you go home that night, and you are absolutely terrified, because you realize how easy it is.

DOBBS: Now, I said I was reassured to know that the leadership at the Department of Homeland Security had the intelligence to bring you guys in. Are you reassured after going through the process, or are you more concerned?

MELTZER: Well, I'm actually very reassured that they have this. I mean, listen, let's be honest. Do they really need a novelist to save the day? No, they don't. But you know what, I'm happy that they're thinking in every crazy way. I want to sit at home and know they are thinking of every possible crazy MacGyver scheme that can be out there, and that they're trying to take our reports when we're done and say, how do we stop that one? How do we stop that one? How do we stop this one?

So I'm reassured by that. What I'm not reassured by is how simple it is to attack the country. And when you add just a little bit of brains to the mix, it is so simple you wouldn't believe it.

DOBBS: Well, Brad, I'm going to go back to the fact that you're involved in the process with a lot of other bright, talented people. And I'm going to take the reassurance. We have got enough of the other to worry about.

MELTZER: I appreciate it.

DOBBS: Thanks a lot for being here. The new book is "The Book of Fate." It comes out, what, this week?

MELTZER: Today.

DOBBS: It is today.

MELTZER: Today is the day, yes.

DOBBS: Great. Well, Brad, all the best with it. Best-selling author Brad Meltzer. Good to have you here.

MELTZER: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Still ahead, a school board in Louisiana has decided the fate of a bus driver who asked black students to sit in the back of the bus. Yes, it is 2006. We'll be at that hearing tonight, that meeting. We'll also have a live report from Louisiana, next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: I want to update you quickly on a story that we've been reporting on this broadcast for some time, the fate of two Border Patrol agents who were convicted of shooting a Mexican drug smuggler, the drug smuggler given immunity for his testimony against those agents.

For the third time the sentencing of Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean have been put off indefinitely. That's according to a spokesman for the agents' families tonight. The Mexican drug smuggler that the agents were pursuing was transporting nearly 800 pounds of marijuana.

But astonishingly, the U.S. Attorney's Office gave the drug smuggler immunity for his testimony against U.S. Border Patrol agents. The Border Patrol agents, however were convicted of assault, civil rights violations and other charges. Agents Ramos and Compean could face 20 years in prison.

A reminder now to vote in our poll. The question tonight, do you believe Congress is correct to do nothing on the Senate's illegal alien amnesty legislation? Yes or no? Please cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. Those results will be coming up here in just a few moments.

And we'll have a live report from Louisiana, as well, on the bus driver who ordered black students to sit at the back of her bus.

First, though, Wolf Blitzer with a preview of what's coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN with "THE SITUATION ROOM." Wolf, welcome back.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much, Lou.

Five years after 9/11, is the U.S. any safer from a potential terrorist attack? I'll ask the U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales if capturing Osama bin Laden is still a priority.

And will the U.S. war on terrorism cause fallout for Republicans at the polls? We'll check out why one of the GOP's strongest selling points could bring trouble this November.

And we're also learning more about the tragic death of Steve Irwin. We'll also look back at my interview with Australia's beloved "Crocodile Hunter." All that, Lou, coming up right at the top of the hour in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

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

This broadcast has been reporting extensively on the case of the white school bus driver in Louisiana who allegedly forced black students to sit at the back of the bus. School board officials tonight are discussing what, if any, punishment should be handed out in this incident.

Bill Tucker has the report from Coushatta, Louisiana. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): School bus driver Delores Davis has been suspended with pay since late August. Davis was suspended after a formal complaint was filed by the parents of nine black children who were allegedly singled out racially, told to sit in the back of the bus, and then subjected to racial slurs.

IVA RICHMOND, PARENT: My children started telling me how the bus driver was and they was calling them racial names on the bus.

TUCKER: Coushatta is a small town and there are only a little over 1,600 students in all of Red River Parish's schools. The incident has stirred up old feelings and hurt.

MALLORY PARSON, CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: It is just a real terrible incident. And I hate that our kids had to see this. I lived through the civil rights era. I was a young kid during the time the civil rights movement was going on. So I know exactly firsthand how ugly these things can get.

TUCKER: And it's a reminder that despite what progress has been achieved in crossing the racial line here, underneath the surface, old thoughts stubbornly remain.

JASON EBEY, FMR. PRES. CHAMB. OF COMM.: This action is just completely mind-boggling that something like this can happen. You know, we have the thought processes, but that the action was actually taken, that's where the shock comes in.

TUCKER: What happens next is up to the school board.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER: A decision on the driver's fate is expected tonight. The school board is holding a public hearing at the meeting here behind me. We'll, of course, be there.

One interesting note, Lou, the room that this meeting is being held in will hold only 30 people. The board had the option to go for a bigger space, but they didn't -- Lou.

DOBBS: But you'll be there and I take it there will be other journalists there as well. Are there other national television organizations there?

TUCKER: There are not other national -- we're the only national news organization here, Lou, but every local station out of Shreveport is down here. So there are a number of live reporters over here to my left reporting on this story.

DOBBS: Well, Bill Tucker, we look forward to that report. We thank you very much, Bill Tucker.

Still ahead, the results of our poll tonight. Also we'll also have some of your thoughts on illegal immigration. And the upcoming midterm elections. It's that time of year again. Thank goodness. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight -- 74 percent of you say you don't believe Congress is correct to do nothing on the Senate's illegal alien amnesty legislation.

Time now for more of your thoughts.

Tony in North Carolina: "Lou, Republicans think the election is about the war on terror. Democrats think it's the war in Iraq. The American people know it's the war on illegal immigration."

And Gabor in California: "Instead of dealing with the Middle East, maybe we should worry about our own backyards, specifically the illegal invasion crisis. We can protect other borders but not ours. And in the event we try to protect our borders, our Border Patrol agents face 20 years in prison for doing their job. This is the system that so many people want to have in their own nation?"

And Mike in Tennessee: "This government is working for everyone but the middle class. They've been bought and paid for by the special interests in this country, especially big business and the Chamber of Commerce."

Charlie in North Carolina wrote to say, "I agree wages will go up, given time. CEOs will made 500 times the lowest paid employee instead of 400 times."

Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. We appreciate hearing from you, and each of your whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of "The Financial Report of the United States" with a foreword by Congressman Jim Cooper, and a copy of Senator Byron Dorgan's important book, "Take This Job and Ship It."

We thank you for being with us tonight. We hope you'll be with us tomorrow. For all of us, good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer begins right now -- Wolf.

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