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President Bush Demanding UN Take Action Against North Korea; Interview with Michael Weisskopf; Is China Stepping Up?

Aired October 9, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: Thank you, Wolf. Good evening, everybody. Tonight, North Korea says it has carried out its first ever underground nuclear weapons test. If confirmed, that test could lead to a nuclear arms race in Asia and raise the risk that terrorists may once again be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons in a free market.
President Bush demanding the United Nations take immediate action against North Korea but is the United Nations simply a paper tiger? And what happens next?

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton joins us here next. All of that, a great deal more, straight ahead.

ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. News, debate and opinion for Monday, October 9th. Live from Washington, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. Communist North Korea today defied the entire world and announced it's carried out an underground nuclear test. Russia says North Korea exploded a nuclear device as large as 15 kilotons, slightly larger than the bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima.

But U.S. officials said the explosion was much smaller, equivalent to only a few hundred tons of TNT. President Bush called the test a provocative act that threatens international peace. President Bush said the test required an immediate response from the security United Nations Security Council but tonight, the Security Council appears sharply divided over whether to introduce tough sanctions against North Korea.

Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House tonight on the U.S. response to North Korea. Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon on what we know about that North Korean test and North Korea's nuclear program. And Jaime Ferorth (ph) reports from Beijing on communist China's reluctance to support any sanctions against North Korea. We turn first to Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, White House officials say it could take hours or perhaps even days before U.S. intelligence can confirm whether or not this was even a nuclear test. But either way, this test has already really changed the political equation. It's raised the stakes not only for North Korea's Kim Jong- Il but also President Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MALVEAUX (voice-over): President Bush declared North Korea's a threat to international peace and security.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: The United States condemns this provocative act. Once again North Korea has defied the will of the international community and the international community will respond.

MALVEAUX: But it was more than three years ago when Mr. Bush warned ...

BUSH: We will not tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea.

DAVID ALBRIGHT, FORMER UN WEAPONS INSPECTOR: The United States' credibility is on the line.

MALVEAUX: So early morning Mr. Bush made a round of urgent calls to the leaders of China, South Korea, Russia and Japan to ensure those once engaged in talks to convince North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program would respond with one voice.

JAMES SASSER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: You have a paranoid, isolated dangerous state now on the verge of possessing nuclear weapons.

ALBRIGHT: There really could be nuclear war in northeast Asia. And so you have to now focus on this problem much more and this test scares people.

MALVEAUX: That fear nuclear weapons experts say could work in the Bush administration's favor. The president has been pushing the UN Security Council to impose tougher sanctions against North Korea for pursuing its nuclear ambitions. Today the council condemned North Korea's actions but its neighbors are nervous about how Pyongyang might react to a resolution with real teeth.

ALBRIGHT: China has made clear that it sees the tough economic sanctions as just provoking North Korea toward a nuclear confrontation.

MALVEAUX: Japan and South Korea fear its neighbor's regime could collapse. North Korea has consistently called for the U.S. to conduct one on one talks. But U.S. officials reiterated the Bush administration will not be sucked into a showdown with North Korea. That it will only engage in regional negotiations.

Many political and nuclear analysts believe that approach is a mistake.

ALBRIGHT: The United States holds the key. And it has to talk directly to North Korea. It has to be able to make a deal. Because in the end, North Korea fears the United States the most and most worries about a U.S. attack or a U.S. effort to destroy the regime.


MALVEAUX: Now the Bush administration's problem according to nuclear analysts is that it keeps moving the red line. In July, it was these missile launches from North Korea. We're going to get tough.

Now it is this apparent perhaps nuclear test, now we're going to get tough. And Lou, if you listen to the language of the president today, warning that North Korea must not trade these nuclear weapons or nuclear technologies with rogue states or terrorist groups, leading some nuclear analysts again to believe that the U.S. again is moving that red line.


DOBBS: Suzanne, thank you. Suzanne Malveaux from the White House. As Suzanne just reported, the United States cannot introduce effective sanctions against North Korea without the support of communist China. Beijing strongly criticized Kim Jong-Il decision to go ahead with the test. But communist China appears still to believe that firm language alone can end the crisis. Jaime Florcruz reports now from Beijing.


JAIME FLORCRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: China has hosted six party talks, playing a mediator's role. As North Korea's closest ally and biggest supplier of food and energy. But even China could do nothing to stop the north from conducting a test despite receiving a 20 minute warning from Pyongyang, according to U.S. officials.

Now China is taking a harder line saying it resolutely opposes such a quote "brazen act," the strongest language yet from China. But harsh words cannot reverse North Korea's course. Now it's a matter of how to deal with a nuclear North Korea.

RUSSELL MOSES, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that the world has got to assume after a North Korean nuclear tests that there's no turning back from this. And I think regrettably many of the countries within the area are simply going to live with that fact.

FLORCRUZ (on camera): The six party have been stalled for a year and Pyongyang wants nothing short of bilateral talks with the U.S. Despite diplomatic shortfalls, Beijing still hopes dialogue will save the day. Jaime Florcruz, CNN, Beijing.


DOBBS: Communist China and other countries all agree that North Korea carried out some kind of nuclear test. But only Russia explicitly said the North Korean test involved a nuclear device. U.S. officials say it will take several days to determine whether North Korea actually carried out a nuclear test and whether indeed it was successful. Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senior U.S. intelligence officials tell CNN North Korea's underground detonation was so small it could have been caused by several hundred tons of conventional explosives such as TNT. One U.S. official told CNN it was a "sub-kiloton explosive event." Adding "We cannot confirm if it was a nuclear explosion."

The U.S. Geological Survey detected a seismic event at 10:35 Monday morning, North Korea time some 240 northeast of the capital of Pyongyang, matching the announced location of the test. But it registered a magnitude 4.2 indicating the yield was much smaller than the several kilotons from a typical nuclear test. Still, experts argue that really doesn't matter.

MIKE CHINOY, PACIFIC COUNCIL ON INTERNATIONAL POLICY: It would be irresponsible for any serious policymaker in Washington, Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul or elsewhere to go on the assumption that simply because it was small, that the North Koreans don't have a nuclear bomb.

MCINTYRE: The relatively small blast raises several possibilities. The test was not nuclear, an elaborate charade. The test was nuclear but intentionally small, perhaps to limit radiation and conserve fissile material, or the test was supposed to be bigger but something went wrong, as one U.S. official put it, more fizzle than pop.

Still if the idea was to get to world's attention and increase North Korea's leverage at the bargaining table, it was a booming success.

JIM WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Essentially this test was a political act and not a military act. And all the political consequences are going to happen whether it was fake or true, whether it was a fizzle or a success.

MCINTYRE: Few in the U.S. government doubted North Korea had the ability to conduct a simple nuclear test and it still believed it lacks the technology to miniaturize a bomb and put it on a missile that could hit the United States.

But there are real fears the move will spark an Asian arms race.


MCINTYRE (on camera): And the working assumption, Lou, at this point is that the test was in fact a nuclear event and that further data testing including air and ground samples looking for radiation will confirm that. In fact, some experts say the seismic wave pattern generated by the underground explosion bears the signature of a nuclear blast. Lou?

DOBBS: Jamie, we reported here last week, at the end of last week that the United States military had put on alert all of its forces to detect whether or not tests were carried out, to determine what kind of test it was and for us to be before the world reporting that the Pentagon cannot say with authority whether or not the North Koreans in fact carried out a nuclear test is somewhat troubling to those of us who would expect the U.S. military to have far better detection and intelligence apparatus than what this suggests. MCINTYRE: Well, the answer to that is the small magnitude of the explosion makes the detection, the determination that much more difficult. They will be able to tell, though, as they analyze the data, they did have collection devices up. They were watching the site where the test was announced. And presumably, they'll be able to analyze this and come up with a pretty good guess. But because the explosion was so small, it may be difficult to say for absolute certainly that it was in fact a nuclear explosion.

DOBBS: Jamie, thank you very much. Jamie McIntyre reporting from the Pentagon.

There is, as Jamie McIntyre suggested, a wide range of possibilities about the size and nature of the North Korean blast. And there is a wide range as well of estimates, official estimates. South Korea's Geological Institute estimates the North Korean test was the equivalent of 550 tons of TNT. France also reported the explosion measuring at about 500 tons. But Russia said the test was much larger and reflecting Moscow's belief that North Korea used a nuclear device.

The Russian defense minister said that blast in the estimation of the Russians was equivalent to believe 5,000 and 15,000 tons of explosive.

For more on communist North Korea's test and the United Nations' response, I'm joined now from New York City by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton. Ambassador, good to have you here.

You, secretary of state Rice, the president of the United States, very clear last week suggesting whether saying it would be provocative that there would be consequences, you said that the world would be a much different place the day after if North Korea carried out such a test. What are your thoughts tonight?

JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UN: Well, I think what they have demonstrated is they have the capability that we thought they had. And we have begun, as the president indicated, to take a very strong line here in New York to try and get Security Council sanctions against North Korea that would frustrate their desire to have a sustained nuclear program. Hard to say at this point how we'll do. Although, the early reactions from Russia and China have been positive. I think they're taken by surprise by this test, I think they realize how unacceptable it is. And their reaction in the council today was very favorable to our approach.

DOBBS: There are also reports as you well know, of course, ambassador, that the Security Council is too divided to take significant action. And there is clear doubt as to what actions the United Nations Security Council could take that would be effective toward North Korea. What do you say?

BOLTON: We'll find out for certain I think tomorrow. But I think a couple of things emerged today. First, we made it clear that we want a chapter seven resolution. That is to say a resolution that would be binding on all UN members. There was no disagreement on that score. We indicated we wanted strong sanctions against the North Korean WMD and missile programs. There is no disagreement on that score. Now we'll have to see when we get the specifics but I've been in this kind of situation before where Russia, China and others have thrown up objections and obstacles from the outset. We have not seen that today.

DOBBS: And that is, as you point out, certainly noteworthy and perhaps that is the basis that the United Nations will not be a paper tiger and in fact take some sort of action. But it does however leave us with the question, what can the United Nations Security Council do even if the entire Security Council were to act in concert to in any way punish North Korea for its actions. The nation is starving, it is a government that is hardly capable of feeling pain because there is so much pain throughout. What do you do?

BOLTON: Well, in the first place, the North Korean elite doesn't care much for the suffering of its people. So that's not an avenue that's going to get their attention. What will get their attention if we can get agreement in the Security Council are strong measures to prevent their importation of materials, technology, resources they need for their programs in weapons of mass destruction.

And to cut off the way they earn hard currency around the world to keep those programs afloat. Proliferating ballistic missile technology, selling drugs through diplomatic channels, counterfeiting our money. We need to go after all of those programs which both support the regime itself and their weapons program. If we could get support for that, we could put that regime under enormous pressure.

DOBBS: The North koreans have made it clear they want to talk bilaterally, direct talks with the United States. The United States has insisted that it remain a six party configuration. Any suggestion that that would change?

BOLTON: Well, this idea that everything would change if only he had direct bilateral contact between the United States and North Korea is a way of saying this is all America's fault. And of course there are always those who blame America first, as Jeanne Kirkpatrick once said. But the real issue is this is not North Korea against the United States. This is North Korea against the world. And in fact, they could have talks with us if they would only come back to the six party talks which China has hosted and which North Korea has boycotted for 13 months now.

DOBBS: You're saying they could talk to you within the apparatus of the six party talks, not that they could also add to that an adjunct bilateral.

BOLTON: No, and they could - and they have talked to us on a bilateral basis inside those talks. So it's just false to say we're not prepared to talk to them bilaterally.

DOBBS: And I would have to think within the Bush administration the day after that nuclear test that there's great comfort in the fact that you've retained the six party architecture for those talks.

BOLTON: It would be nice if North Korea would come back to the table at some point. And that's something we look to China to put more pressure on North Korea to achieve.

DOBBS: Ambassador John Bolton, thank you for being here.

BOLTON: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: More on North Korea's nuclear defiance ahead here tonight. Two of the leading authorities on North Korea and its nuclear capabilities and ambitions join us. And the White House refuses to give a community on the front lines of the battle against illegal immigration the help it needs to enforce our immigration laws and protect our middle class working men and women. We'll have that special report.

And first it was spinach, how it's lettuce and it's hamburger, now it's also carrot juice. Just how many other foods have been contaminated in the last two weeks and what in the world is this government doing to protect you? We'll have the story.

And new questions tonight about whether or not one of the country's most powerful Catholics, Cardinal Roger Mahoney covered up a shocking child sex scandal involving one of his priests.


DOBBS: Tonight in "Broken Borders", determining who has the legal right to be in this country is the job, of course, of federal immigration agents. But increasingly much of that vital task is being carried out by local law enforcement officers all around the country.

Casey Wian is in Santa Ana California tonight where many police are happy to help enforce those federal immigration laws but unhappy about the lack of support they're receiving from the federal government. And in Washington tonight, Lisa Sylvester reporting on the federal government, five years after September 11th, the federal government still does not know how many people are in this country are overstaying their visas. We begin with Casey Wian in Santa Ana. Casey?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Orange County, California wants to help the federal government crack down on illegal immigration. And especially on criminal illegal aliens.

But a proposal to do just that has been dramatically cut back.


WIAN (voice-over): Orange County, California Sheriff Mike Carona asked the Department of Homeland Security to train 200 of his deputies to help enforce immigration law. But now under a tentative agreement with the feds only 12 to 15 agents will be trained.

SHERIFF MIKE CARONA, ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: We're happy to be able to engage with them in the program. And I don't see that as a loss. I see that as the first step in a fairly significant win. You're always disappointed when you don't get the entire package you put forward. WIAN: Immigrations and Customs Enforcement said in a statement, "This is a process that is still under negotiation and any comment on numbers of personnel involved is completely premature."

Even so, some Orange County lawmakers are furious.

REP. DANA ROHRBACHER, (R) CA: This administration's response to this request from Sheriff Carona just suggests again the very low priority that this president places on our battle here in California and elsewhere to get control of the out of control flow of illegal immigrants into our society.

WIAN: Eleven percent of the inmates in Orange County's jail are foreign nationals facing immigration charges. It's unknown how many others are illegal aliens who simply haven't been identified. Carona's original plan would have authorized deputies to conduct immigration status checks on a wide range of criminal suspects.

BILL CAMPBELL, CHAIRMAN, OC BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: It would have allowed special investigative teams like our anti-terrorism team, our anti-gang team, our anti-drug team, to have that additional tool that if they couldn't quite prove the person was, say, a terrorist, but could show that they were here illegally, we could get them out of the country. We would all be safer if that was the case.

WIAN: The scaled-back proposal only covers county jail inmates. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it has more than 6,000 agents and officers working on interior enforcement of immigration laws. That's fewer than one agent for every 2,000 illegal aliens.


WIAN (on camera): Meanwhile, Orange County continues to spend about $50,000 a day on illegal aliens in its jails and there appears to be only limited help coming from the federal government. Lou?

DOBBS: Casey, thank you very much. Casey Wian reporting form Santa Ana, California.

Many of the September 11th hijackers came into this country illegally and then they overstayed their visas. Now more than five years later, the federal government has no way of knowing who is doing exactly the same thing. Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This Georgia restaurant manager came to the United States with his family on a tourist visa to visit Disneyland and never left. He works using a phony Social Security card and green card. How much did it cost?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe $120 for each.

SYLVESTER: According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 40 percent of the illegal alien population in the United States did not hop a fence but entered on a legal visa. REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, (R) WI: The reason they stay here illegally is because they get a job illegally. We've got to start enforcing the law against those who break it.

SYLVESTER: A 2004 GAO report shows that the U.S. government doesn't even have the ability to monitor visa overstays.

JESSICA VAUGHAN, U.S. CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION: The fact that we have no idea who has overstayed, when they were supposed to leave, what category they entered on poses obvious security vulnerabilities.

SYLVESTER: Four of the 9/11 hijackers were among the visa violators. The Department of Homeland Security as since rolled out the $900 million U.S. Visit program to track foreign visitors. But the exit system is still limited to only 12 airports and two seaports. It does not include any land ports.

CLARK KENT ERVIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Unless and until we have the exit feature fully operational at every legal point of entry, that will be a huge potential gap through which they can pass.

SYLVESTER: The travel industry and big business continue to fight the full implementation of U.S. Visit which is one reason more than five years after the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. border system remains as broken as ever.


SYLVESTER (on camera): The vast majority of illegal aliens who ignore their visa expiration dates are never caught. According to the Government Accountability Office, the risk of arrest for all visa overstays is less than two percent, Lou.

DOBBS: And the influence of big business in terms of providing those jobs illegally, the tourism industry, for example, and for lobbying against the implementation of safeguards as you point out, five years after September 11th - I mean, it's just disgusting.

SYLVESTER: It's exactly as Representative Sensenbrenner said. It's a job magnet. They know they can get jobs here so they come here and you are right, the tourist industry is very instrumental and big business in making sure they have those jobs, Lou.

DOBBS: Along with service industries, construction, hotels -- it goes on. Quite a town you've got here, Lisa Sylvester, Washington, DC. Thank you.

Coming up next, North Korea says it's tested a nuclear device. The United States says a nuclear armed North Korea will not be tolerated. What does that mean? Two of the world's leading authorities on North Korea join us here tonight.

First it was spinach, then it was lettuce, then it was hamburger and now it's carrot juice. We'll have a special report on what your government is doing to protect you from what looks like a crisis. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: First it was spinach and now lettuce being recalled and consumers being warned in Western states. People in Florida and Georgia have fallen ill from drinking bottled carrot juice. The outbreaks raising serious questions about whether this nation's food supply safe and whether better oversight is critically needed and whether all of this is a two-week coincidence.

Bill Tucker reports.

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lettuce selling under the brand name Foxy pulled from grocer's shelves. The company responsible, Nunes, voluntarily recalling its leafy green lettuce after testing its water and learning some of the lettuce was contaminated with e. coli bacteria.

BOB NUNES, THE NUNES COMPANY: What we're trying to do is just do the right thing, come out earlier, not wait, taking care of business the right way.

TUCKER: The company says it has already been able to pull back 97 percent of the product in question. There have been no reports of anyone being made sick from eating the lettuce which was sold in Arizona, California, Nevada, Washington State, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. The lettuce scare comes a week after it's been said it's safe to eat spinach again.

And lettuce is not alone. Bottled carrot juice from Bolthouse Farms is being pulled from stores after consumers suffered botulism poisoning from the juice.

Fifty-two hundred pounds of ground meat from a small meat packing company in Iowa, Jim's Market and Locker, was recalled after the meat was suspected of being contaminated with e. coli. Officials say there are no reports of any illnesses from eating the meat. Food experts say these sorts of outbreaks underline the need for consumers to be more vigilant about their food.

DOUG POWELL, FOOD SAFETY NETWORK: We all eat. We have enormous power about where we spend our shopping dollars. Ask questions. Ask people where they are getting their lettuce or spinach. What are they doing to reduce dangerous microorganisms being that product?

TUCKER: There is legislation calling for the creation of a new government agency, the unified food safety agency.


TUCKER: That legislation is written by Senator Durbin of Illinois. And Lou, this weekend, both New York senators, both Clinton and Schumer, came out in big support of that bill -- Lou?

DOBBS: Well, we do have agencies already responsible for it. Perhaps someone could go out and find out what in the world those agencies are actually doing to protect consumers. Bill Tucker, thank you very much.

Time now for some of your thoughts.

Donna in Arizona: "I'm truly disgusted with our government trying to deceive the American people again. Congress authorizes a 700-mile fence on the border, appropriates $1.2 billion for it. The money, however, will be distributed for a combination of projects. To add insult to injury, Michael Chertoff would have the flexibility to use alternative measures, when fencing is inappropriate. I can see why President Fox is not upset with this authorization because he knows there will never be a fence in the foreseeable future on the US- Mexican border."

Richard in Texas: "If we are consumers, not citizens, where do we get our refund?"

And David in Virginia: "Lou, am I lost? What is illegal about making it illegal to hire illegals?"

Send us your thoughts at We'll have more of your thought coming up here later in the broadcast. Each of you whose e- mail is read here receives a copy of my brand new book, "War on the Middle Class."

Next here, world reaction to North Korea's nuclear test. Fast and furious. We'll be talking with two of the leading authorities in this country about what the world should do next.

Also, a month from midterm elections rumblings that Foley fallout may effect just who wins at the poll. Our political panel tonight takes a look and journalist Michael Weisskopf. He went to cover the war in Iraq and became part of the story. He joins us next with details from his new book, "Blood Brothers." Stay with us.


DOBBS: New questions tonight about the possible cover up of a sex scandal involving the head of the Los Angeles Catholic diocese. The L.A. district attorney's office says new evidence in a new documentary may implicate Cardinal Roger Mahony in the cover up. The new documentary suggests Mahony knew one priest was molesting children and did nothing to protect them. The documentary features explosive revelations from the former priest. Oliver O'Grady says he abused boys and girls across central California for 20 years. Then Bishop Mahony was his superior at the time, while some of those molestations took place. O'Grady says he told Mahony about his situation, as he put it, and they agreed he should go to counseling. O'Grady eventually served seven years in prison. The film, "Deliver Us From Evil" opens in Los Angeles, New York and Boston this Friday.

A new survey shows that gasoline prices dropped again, dropped an average of nearly 14 cents a gallon over just the past two weeks. That's down from the peak in August, when prices soared to more than $3 a gallon. But analysts say you can expect to see gasoline prices start to rise again as winter approaches. OPEC announcing plans to cut crude oil production by a million barrels a day. A group of illegal aliens is suing Wendy's. The workers were employed by Wendy's subsidiary Cafe Express. They were fired after Wendy's law firm apparently missed a deadline for a federal program that would have helped to make them legal. A Wendy's spokesman calls it a quote, "extremely unfortunately situation" but says the chain had to fire the workers because they were illegal.

In Venezuela, a massive anti-Chavez rally jamming the streets of the nation's capital of Caracas. President Hugo Chavez will face opposition candidate Manuel Rosales in a December presidential election. And these protectors are rallying behind Rosales. Rosales says he's sick and tired of Chavez giving away Venezuela's oil wealth to foreign countries.

In Mexico, protests against an allegedly corrupt regional official have spread to Mexico City itself. After walking for days, leftist activists and striking teachers have arrived in the capital city's outskirts. Five of them have been killed since their protests began in June. They blame followers of the official -- outgoing Mexican President Vicente Fox is vowing to resolve the crisis before he leaves office. He has until December 1st to do so.

Returning to the top story of the evening, I'm joined now by two of the world's leading authorities on North Korea. In New York City, Gordon Chang, a widely renowned expert on nuclear proliferation, with a special focus on North Korea, author of the book "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World."

And in Washington, Richard Fisher of the International Assessment and Strategy Center. He spent two decades studying Asian security issues and implications for U.S. policy. Gentlemen, good to have you here.

Let me begin first, if I may, with you Gordon. The president has said this is intolerable. Secretary of State Rice has said it would be provocative, it would be a provocation. Ambassador Bolton, with whom we just talked, saying that it would be a different world a day after. It's the day after. Is the United States simply incapable of dealing with this issue? Was it bluffing? What is U.S. policy here?

GORDON CHANG, NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION EXPERT: Well, you know, it sounds like that because President Bush has had some pretty tough language. But unless he backs it up with tough action, the North Koreans are just going to laugh at us.

And the reason why we're in the fix that we are today is because they've been laughing at us for about three years. The United States really needs to start acting like a super power. We need to have some frank and honest discussions with China, not only in private but in public because the Chinese either did not or could not stop that test. It's bad enough to outsource the problem to China, but we have just sort of let the Chinese act irresponsibly for three years now and that's why we're in the fix that we see today.

DOBBS: Richard, the Chinese responded in a way rather surprising saying straight out, this was a brazen act on the part of the North Korean government. What does that mean?

RICHARD FISHER, INT'L ASSESSMENT & STRATEGY CTR: There's also been reports today that in the conversation that Chinese president Hu Jintao had with President Bush, that he also made clear that he was not in favor of any strong action or sanctions.

I agree with what Gordon has said, but I also suggest that it's time to have an even franker dialogue with our South Korean ally. It is their reluctance to confront North Korea, that has really allowed this train to leave the station and produce dangers of nuclear terrorist proliferation.

DOBBS: Why is South Korea, which is a small and impotent nation up against the might and power of communist China?

FISHER: The South Korean people are very afraid of war, justifiably. But they're even more afraid of a precipitous North Korean collapse that would swamp their economy and set their standards of living back 50, 60 years. We need to approach Seoul with frankness. We need to gather our allies and help them to stand up so that they can face down this horrible regime.

DOBBS: Let me -- you talk about, Gordon, that we have to behave as a superpower. Let me ask you, could that also entail learning when to simply shut up and the United States government not be bellicose and threatening in its language and not take the forefront on every issue that confronts the world? This is by any definition a regional issue certainly with worldwide implications and direly so. But why in the world not let the rhetoric recede the support? One could incorporate what both you and Richard are saying with intelligent, behind the scenes, soft-spoken diplomacy with communist China, with other powers in the region. This is, point of fact, first and foremost, their headache.

CHANG: Well you know, when you look at it, North Korea has two primary sponsors, South Korea, as Rick pointed out, and China. And Iran has two primary sponsors, Russia and China. And the Chinese have always acted irresponsibly when they've had company. But when they're alone, when they're isolated, they've become much more accommodating.

And it's up to United States diplomacy and our leverage to be able to isolate China, so they have no choice but to do the right thing. And if we don't do that, the Chinese, no matter what they say at the Security Council or whatever, are not going to do anything to stop North Korea and Iran.

FISHER: Although we've been engaged on the Korean peninsula since 1950 because the North Korean regime poses a threat to us, to our interests. Therefore, we have an obligation to defend our own national security interests by taking a lead, if necessary, to accelerate the collapse of this odious regime in a way that does not...

DOBBS: Mark, Let me ask you the same question I asked Ambassador Bolton here. Sanctions, all well and good. The population is starving to death. This government is a hideous joke in every respect. But the fact is...

FISHER: When the soldiers start starving, then things will start to move.

DOBBS: Well, one can only imagine what would be required to have that two million man army starving and that leader. What is -- if there is no silver bullet here, what is the solution?

Gordon, first you.

CHANG: I think what we really have to do is try to separate China out. And the United States, as Rick points out, needs to make sure that we approach these with determination, because the Bush administration has not done that, because we've really just sort of soft-pedalled our relations with China. And we need to say to the Chinese, now is the time to act responsibly, because it's now or never.

DOBBS: OK Let's talk about the reality of that. Over $200 billion trade deficit. We have not even been able to get them to move on valuation of their currency. They are flagrantly violating human rights everyday and expanding the practice. And we think we're going to have some influence, Richard, over the communist Chinese. This government has shown absolutely no fortitude or resolve whatsoever in relations, whether they be trade, political, or military with the Chinese.

FISHER: Well, that does not mean that we don't have to strive for what ought to be a proper, strong and direct policy. Gordon is absolutely right. We have to separate China. As you said, we've subcontracted this policy to China. Now we have to take it back and we have to confront our ally in South Korea about its responsibilities and what we are willing to do to help the North Korean regime come to its end.

DOBBS: Richard Fisher, Gordon Chang.

Gentlemen, thank you both for being here.

FISHER: Thank you.

CHANG: Thank you.

DOBBS: Now the subject of our poll. Do you believe the Bush administration has been bluffing both Iran and North Korea to stop their nuclear ambitions? Yes or no. Cast your vote at The results, coming up in just a moment.

Next, the Foley scandal widening. Our panel of political analysts joins us to look at the implications for both Republicans and Democrats. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Insurgents in Iraq have killed ten more of our troops over the past four days. Six were our Marines fighting in Al Anbar province, west of Baghdad. The other four soldiers, serving in other parts of Iraq. Thirty-one of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month, 2, 746 of our troops have been killed since this war began. More than 20,000 others have been wounded.

My next guest is a terrific journalist, top news magazine reporter. He went to Iraq to cover the war and he was seriously wounded. Michael Weisskopf lost his hand when he threw a grenade out of a humvee, saving the lives of, not only himself, but of four soldiers and his photographer. Afterward, he wrote a powerful book about his recovery and the ordeal of some of the wounded troops he met at Walter Reed Medical Center.

Michael Weisskopf, a senior correspondent for "Time Magazine", author of the new book, "Blood Brothers: Among the Soldiers of Ward 57".

Good to have you here.


DOBBS: It's not often that I get to say to a fellow journalist, it's an honor to be in the presence of a hero. I know you downplay it. But I think what you did instinctively, surely, just says so much. And it's so wonderful the way you reacted, and that you have focused on the lives of those who shared the suffering and carry the suffering of this war.

WEISSKOPF: You know, heroism is such a big word, Lou, and it separates mortals like me, flawed mortals like me, from everyone else. I don't like it. I think all of us have it in us to act honorably in a few seconds if necessary, and I acted honorably. It took me a while to reach that point even in understanding it. I knew I saved lives. I was really proud of that. But why I did it, what motivated it, whether it was a conscious decision, an act of self-sacrifice or just a reflex. And that's part of the arc of the book.

But it also focuses on the other guys. And I learned a great deal from them. It gave me the courage to look harder at myself.

DOBBS: As you looked, and you give us the examples of, particularly three other folks within the book. I was just talking about -- one of the pictures in the book with you, a fellow writing, learning to draw with the prosthesis.

If we can show your right hand.

WEISSKOPF: A piece of steel.

DOBBS: A piece of steel. And the terrific drawings he's able to do.

WEISSKOPF: This is a man. His name is Peter Damon (ph). He was a sergeant in the Massachusetts National Guard, lost both hands in a helicopter tire explosion, and had been an amateur artist. And when he was teaching himself how to write, in Walter Reed, again, he started out with As and Bs and before long, decided to experiment with circles and squares. And got very excited, and hit the speed button on a phone and called his wife and said, Jen, I can still draw. I can still draw. And she said, of course, it's in your brain, not in your hands.

And he's a remarkable man who has gotten back to drawing and very, very fine sketches. There's one of them in the back, I'm proud to say. And he's going to open a gallery now in Massachusetts.

DOBBS: I've got to turn -- as we report here each night, more than 20,000 people wounded, some of them grievously. Many of them grievously, almost 10,000 of them seriously wounded. With approaching 2,800 Americans dead in Iraq, how do you feel when you hear those numbers and report on those numbers now after your experiences?

WEISSKOPF: I have a very strong emotional reaction. I can analyze this war intellectually. But having lived through Ward 57, the amputee ward, watching people reenter, recover, you can't help but react emotionally. And this is a war in which for every dead, there are eight wounded. That's twice that of Vietnam. And their battle after the war is one that goes on and on. And it is a struggle worth writing about.

DOBBS: And you have done so. The book is "Blood Brothers," a terrific book. And Michael Weisskopf, I know -- part of this -- I'm not going to play amateur psychologist. I'm glad that you've taken time to try to work out your resistance to the word hero and to intellectualize your experience in some ways, too. We're all the better for it and I still get to say, I salute you. It's a great honor to be talking with you.

WEISSKOPF: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: The book is "Blood Brothers." Michael Weisskopf, thanks.

Coming up here, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer. And Wolf, I talked so long that we didn't get to do it together in here. Wolf, tell us all about it.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Lou, very much. The North Korea nuclear test, the world waiting for the other shoe to drop. The U.S. is pushing for tough sanctions. But will that be enough to stop the atomic march? We're joined by the U.S. chief negotiator Chris Hill.

Also, war scenario, is it even an option? We'll find out the consequences of a military conflict with North Korea.

Plus, there's a radioactive Washington scandal. We have some new poll numbers on the impact of the Foley fallout that it's having on Capitol Hill and the campaign trail.

Plus, we'll talk to the executive vice president of the Log Cabin gay Republicans. All that, Lou, coming up right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

DOBBS: Wolf, thank you very much. And it's great of you to let me into "THE SITUATION ROOM" earlier.

BLITZER: You're always welcome. And a strong interview with Michael Weisskopf too, he's a great guy.

DOBBS: You've got that right. He is a terrific guy.

Next, the Foley scandal. Now well into its second week, Democrats continue to press their apparent advantage while Republicans are still on the defensive. I'll be talking with three of Washington's best political minds about where in the world are we headed, politically and as a nation? Stay with us.


DOBBS: New evidence tonight that the Foley scandal is indeed hurting the Republican Party. Just about 52 percent of voters say -- well actually 52 percent of voters believe the House speaker should in fact resign. According to a new CNN poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, more than half of voters surveyed also say there was a deliberate coverup of the scandal by Republican leadership. The poll also says the Republican Party is losing the support of voters down from 43 to 37 percent. The number of registered Republicans who will vote for the GOP also falling to 38 percent.

Joining me now, three of the country's best political analysts. Diana West, columnist, "Washington Times." The "Chicago Tribune's" Pulitzer price winning columnist Clarence Page. Good to have you both here. And Tom DeFrank, Washington bureau chief, the "New York Daily News." Tom, good to have you here.

Let's start, Diana, this looks like an unmitigated disaster by any definition for the Republican Party?

DIANA WEST, WASHINGTON TIMES: Well it does, but there's so many things happening that I just can't be sure how this will shake out in the 29 days until the election. I think emotionally, it's a disaster.

But I don't know after things really shake down, we'll see this affecting voters with that edge that we might expect today.

DOBBS: Do you see as much ambiguity?

CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, only ambiguity in the sense that a lot of Democrats I've talked to are still waiting on edge for the other shoe to drop. In other words, the October surprise they've been imagining or anticipating for weeks, months. Who would have guessed that the surprise would be Foley?

But there's still -- Democrats have a lot of experience in snatching defeat from the draws of victory in the last few elections. But other than that though, all the signs are pointing toward Republicans losing both houses, as far as I can see.

DOBBS: Do you concur?

TOM DEFRANK, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Yes. And Lou, the good news for Democrats is if the election were tomorrow, the Democrats would take both the House and the Senate. The good news for Republicans is the election is not tomorrow. It's four weeks from tomorrow and lots of things can happen. Overnight is a lifetime in politics.

But I agree with my colleagues. The trend line is not good for the Republicans, but they're still convinced that they're get out the vote operation, their microtargeting operation will make the difference in the end. We'll see.

DOBBS: The idea that the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, for the person sitting in his or her district, congressional district walking in, the fact that Mark Foley had -- is involved in a scandal, the leadership, is that going to, in your mind -- we were talking about illegal immigration, border security, port security, the war in Iraq, the global war on terror? Suddenly these melt away and people are going to focus as they walk into those polling booths and say, it's all about Mark Foley?

WEST: That's what I don't think will happen, which doesn't mean that Republicans will hold on to their power. But I do think that if so-called values voters, the ones supposed to be most affected by this, actually figure on this for a few weeks and sleep on it for awhile, they're going to realize staying home and thereby making sure that Democrats take power is not going to advance their own pet causes. So I'm not sure that in a few weeks, that's really going to be...

PAGE: ... It's kind of a cumulative impact, though. Values voters have been upset in many cases with the Bush administration, with the Republican Congress, for not living up to a lot of promises, on a lot of their agenda issues. So this, many people think, is the straw that broke the camel's back. So people are just going to be apathetic and they won't turn out, and that's going to help the Democrats.

DOBBS: The anger toward President Bush, his policies in Iraq, the global war on terror, every poll reveals it, how is that going to play into local -- traditionally local races, the district's congressional races and how people vote in your judgment, Tom?

DEFRANK: Well, the Democrats are trying to nationalize the election. More and more Democratic ads link the president with the local candidate. In Maryland, for instance, the Democrats have now got a Web site that says,, referring to Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich. So the Democrats are counting on unhappiness with the president to rub off in local elections. We'll have to see.

DOBBS: We'll leave it at we'll have to see. Diana, Clarence, thank you very much. Tom, thank you.

The results of our poll tonight. Every bit as scientific as anything you've heard reported there, 86 percent of you say the Bush administration has been bluffing both Iran and North Korea to end their nuclear aims.

Thanks for being with us tonight here in Washington. Please join us tomorrow. Thanks for watching. Good night from Washington. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?


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