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Changing Tactics, Language in War in Iraq; Iraqi Government Trying to Stop Rising Sectarian Violence; Where's the Fence?

Aired October 23, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, insurgents have killed 12 more of our troops in Iraq. The White House has abruptly changed course on the language it is using about this war. But will the administration change strategy?
We'll have live reports from the White House, the Pentagon, and Baghdad.

And Mexico has a dangerous and rising addiction to proceeds from drug trafficking across our broken southern border. The Mexican government is doing virtually nothing to stop what is an out-of- control drug war that is spreading deeper into the United States.

We'll have that special report, all of the day's news, straight ahead.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Monday, October 23rd.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

The White House today made a remarkable attempt to reshape the debate around President Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq. A top White House official asserted there has "never been a stay-the-course strategy" in Iraq. But until recently, President Bush and administration officials repeatedly declared that "staying the course is the only viable option to win the war."

The White House shift comes as the number of American casualties in this war continues to rise and Iraq moves closer to all-out civil war. Twelve of our troops were killed over the weekend, 2,800 of our troops have been killed since the beginning of this war.

Suzanne Malveaux tonight reports from the White House on the Bush administration's changing tactics and language in the war.

Barbara Starr reports from the Pentagon tonight on whether the U.S. military has a strategy for victory in Iraq.

And Michael Ware reports from Baghdad on the spiraling violence.

We turn first to Suzanne Malveaux at the White House -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, of course there was a great flurry in speculation over the weekend. The president meeting with his top military brass here at the White House, whether or not there would be some sort of change in strategy or a course correction.

The White House did not announce any increase or decrease in U.S. troops, but rather said the plan was to put more pressure on the Iraqi government to take control over the security, as well as governance.


MALVEAUX (voice over): The White House denies it's secretly setting a timetable for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq, as a weekend report in "The New York Times" suggests. But officials acknowledge the president's Saturday meeting with his top generals did involve setting a timetable for the Iraqis to take over their security and governance.

DAN BARTLETT, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: ... to ensure that we are adopting the right tactics and strategies to impress upon the Iraqi government to make more control of their country.

MALVEAUX: The truth is, the distinction is largely semantic. President Bush has said repeatedly as soon as the Iraqis can protect themselves, U.S. troops will be able to come home.

NORMAN ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: When you set a timetable for Iraqi change, there's a threat implicit behind it, and the only thing we've got to threaten them with is a withdrawal of American troops.

MALVEAUX: While the White House dismisses this, it is cautious about appearing to push Iraq's president too quickly or punishing the fledgling democracy.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're not in the business of issuing ultimatums, and that part of it is inaccurate.

MALVEAUX: But the White House acknowledged it expects Iraq's president, Nouri al-Maliki, to do much more in dismantling the militias by the end of the year. A goal the administration says Maliki shares. The Bush administration is using its leverage to push the Iraqi leader to act urgently by emphasizing that international investments will only flow into the country once the violence goes down.

SNOW: You're not going to be able to do the kind of reconstruction you consider necessary until you've handled the security issues.


MALVEAUX: And Lou, really an extraordinary effort, an indication that the White House is trying to convince the American people that it's flexible in its Iraq policy. Press Secretary Tony Snow today essentially saying that the president is abandoning the rallying cry of "stay the course," that he is no longer using that particular phrase to outline the policy.

You may recall it was the last press conference the president said -- and I am quoting here -- he said, "Stay the course is only a quarter correct. If stay the course means keep doing what your doing, my attitude is don't do what your doing. If it's not working, change" -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much.

Suzanne Malveaux from the White House.

A new CNN opinion poll shows the number of Americans who believe the United States is winning this war in Iraq has fallen to the lowest level ever. The poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, shows only 20 percent of voters now believe the United States is winning. Eighteen percent believe the insurgents in Iraq are winning.

The poll also knows nearly 60 percent of Americans now say the United States should set a timetable for withdrawal. The Bush administration strongly rejects any timetable for withdrawal.

The Iraqi government today said its ordered its troops to confront any effort by armed groups to break Iraqi law. That announcement a clear warning to terrorist groups that have challenged the government's authority. But the Iraqi government appears powerless to stop the violence without American help.

Michael Ware reports from Baghdad -- Michael.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, it's perhaps a measure of the state of the war that on a day when 12 Iraqis were killed in attacks, two car bombs were detonated in the capital, and eight executed bodies were found across Baghdad this morning, some of them showing signs of torture, that it's considered a relatively quiet day.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces report five insurgents were killed in an attack near Baquba, north of the capital. Meanwhile, in the southern provincial capital of Amara, the Iraqi government has declared a curfew in an attempt to clamp down on Shia militia inter-violence which saw at least 16 people killed last week and as many as 90 wounded.

We're now seeing this Iraqi government attempt to flex its muscle as the Americans put increasing pressure for some sign of regress in the evergrowing insurgent and sectarian violence -- Lou.

DOBBS: Michael Ware reporting.

American casualties in Baghdad have risen sharply in part because the Iraqi government has failed to send enough reinforcements to the Iraqi capital. The U.S. military now admits its strategy to stop the violence in Baghdad has failed.

Tonight, the U.S. military is saying that one of our soldiers is also missing in Baghdad.

Barbara Starr reports from the Pentagon.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): With at least 86 Americans killed so far this month in Iraq, it's the worst month for the military in a year.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: And there's been a pattern that incidents have gone up during Ramadan.

STARR: Generals John Abizaid and George Casey, the two top commanders, now believe sending in large numbers of additional U.S. troops might only provide more targets and not improve security, according to military sources. Instead, they are focused on getting Iraqis to take more control.

The White House may not be talking timetables, but Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is doing just that.

RUMSFELD: The question is, well, when do you think that might happen? When do you think the Iraqis might be ready to do that, to assume those responsibilities?

STARR: U.S. commanders say they asked for six Iraqi army battalions to fight death squads in Baghdad. Only two have shown up so far, leaving the U.S. short of 2,000 badly needed Iraqi troops in the city. The question is whether Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki can stand up to the militias and assure the U.S. of progress.

RUMSFELD: I think people have to be realistic. And our hope is that we can assist them, the coalition can assist them in assuming responsibility for their -- their country, as I said the other day, sooner rather than later.


STARR: And Wolf -- pardon me, Lou -- just how bad is the violence in Iraq? Well, according to the Pentagon, so far this month (sic) alone -- and it is only October 23rd -- 580 U.S. troops have been wounded in Iraq. And as you say, just a short while ago, the military announced that they are looking for a soldier who's gone missing in the Baghdad area. This person is now listed as duty status whereabouts unknown.

The hunt is on for the soldier. It is simply the case that nobody knows where he is. They are looking for him -- Lou.

DOBBS: Barbara, thank you very much.

Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.

The United States tonight is also struggling to come up with effective strategies to deal with the rising nuclear threats from both Iran and North Korea. Iran's president, Ahmadinejad, today declared his country's nuclear capability has increased tenfold in just the past year. Ahmadinejad insists Iran's nuclear program is designed, however, for peaceful purposes only. But the United States and Europe say Iran has a nuclear weapons program and they want the United Nations to introduce tough sanctions.

The United Nations has already voted to impose sanctions against North Korea, but it's unclear whether Russia and communist China will enforce those sanctions as strongly as the United States and Europe would like.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today discussed the nuclear crisis with the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei. ElBaradei said that he does not believe the sanctions will do anything to stop North Korea's nuclear defiance.

Still ahead here, the threat to what's left of our middle class is escalating as our nation's dependence on communist China rises.

We'll have that special report.

And President Bush still has not signed that legislation to build a 700-mile fence along our southern border. You may wonder why not. We'll tell you in our special report.

And the war between Mexican drug cartels spreading deeper into the United States as Mexico's addiction to drug money rises.

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


DOBBS: Legislation approving the building of a 700-mile-long fence along our 2,000-mile border with Mexico was passed by Congress three weeks ago, but not until tonight did that legislation reach the desk of President Bush. And while we are waiting, illegal aliens and illegal drugs are flowing and flooding across our border with Mexico. In fact, the drug trade is one of the fastest-growing segments of the Mexican economy.

Lisa Sylvester tonight reports on a fence that is long overdue. It's been approved by Congress, so why hasn't the president signed the bill?

And Case Wian tonight reports on Mexico's addiction to the billions of dollars in drug money, and over increasing drug trade the Mexican government blames on the United States.

We begin tonight with Lisa Sylvester in Washington -- Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the White House is on record saying the president will sign the border fence bill, but as for when, that's a question that even the White House spokesman cannot quite answer.


SYLVESTER (voice over): The House and Senate last month passed legislation to build a 700-mile fence along the southern border. More than three weeks later, that bill has still not been signed by the president. With Congress not in session, the president has only 10 days to sign the bill before it dies in what's known as a pocket veto.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When does the president intend to sign the Secure Fence Act?

SNOW: That's a good question. And that's still being worked out, but it's going to be soon.

SYLVESTER: Soon, that's the answer from the White House. The delay is partly the fault of congressional Republicans. The GOP leadership was dragging its feet, sending the bill to the president's desk only today because they want a very public presidential signing right before the election.

Critics worry the border fence is being used as a political chip.

MIKE CUTLER, FMR. INS AGENT: I'm very skeptical, and, in fact, doubtful that that fence will ever really be built the way the American people are expecting it to be constructed. Time will tell, but I'm not an optimist.

SYLVESTER: The federal government has talked tough on border security before and not delivered.

Remember 1986?

JAMES CARAFANO, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: We granted amnesty, we gradually increased security on the border as people on the border got more upset. We did almost nothing on enforcing the laws inside the United States.

SYLVESTER: A majority of the American people, 54 percent, favor building a southern border fence, according to a CNN poll by the Opinion Research Corporation. Mexico, however, has been vocal opposing that fence and at one point threatened to take the issue to the United Nations.


SYLVESTER: Further feeling (ph) public skepticism is the fact that the fence legislation has so many holes. For starters, there's only money appropriated to build about half of that fence, and the president has discretion to use that money for other homeland security measures -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much.

Lisa Sylvester reporting from Washington.

Billions of dollars in illegal drug money fueling the Mexican economy, one of their fastest-growing sectors in their entire economy. And no one in the Mexican government appears committed to stopping it. The Mexican government, for its part, blames the United States for the drug trade problem.

Casey Wian reports.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): An out-of-control turf war between Mexican drug cartels is devastating both sides of the border. Fueling the battles, billions of dollars in drug trafficking proceeds that by some estimates now top oil and remittances sent home by Mexicans living in the United States as a source of foreign revenue for Mexico.

REP. MIKE MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: The drug cartels with military- grade weapons, technology and intelligence, and their own paramilitary enforcers. They have vast networks of dedicated criminals with the ability to distribute large shipments of drugs.

WIAN: The White House Office of National Drug Control policy estimates Mexican drug traffickers receive about $14 billion a year in illegal drug sales to the United States. But the DEA says up to $25 billion in drug money crosses the U.S.-Mexico border annually. And that doesn't even count the money made from middleman and end user transactions.

Mexican drug money is a hot issue at this week's meeting of Southwestern U.S. border sheriffs in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

SHERIFF TODD GARRISON, DONA ANA COUNTY, NM: We have had an increase over the last couple of years with methamphetamines and different drugs to that type. I mean, they're coming more from Mexico than being created over here. It's cheaper to bring them across.

We had -- I had a meeting with the Mexican council just the other day. And, I mean, that's -- those are concerns on both sides of the border.

WIAN: Eighty percent of the methamphetamines, 70 to 90 percent of the cocaine, and most of the marijuana smuggled into the United States comes from Mexico. Now Mexican drug cartels are planting millions of marijuana plants on public land in the United States. DEA officials say Mexican drug cartels are spreading throughout the United States, as far north as New York.

Yet, at a conference in Mexicali this month, Mexican president Vicente Fox again blamed drug users in the United States for Mexico's drug cartel problems, saying American money is what corrupts government officials and law enforcement officers in Mexico.


WIAN: A DEA official says the government of Mexico is doing more to help fight drug trafficking, mainly by extraditing kingpins to the United States, where they don't have access to their cartel soldiers from prison -- Lou.

DOBBS: This war on drugs that has been raging for 30 years now is a war that we have obviously been losing for three decades. WIAN: It's a war that is -- we've been losing. It's out of control. Ask residents of any border community throughout the southwestern United States and they'll tell you that this war, this failed war on drugs is having an impact on their daily lives. It's eating up law enforcement resources, and it's killing people.

DOBBS: And if you talk to anyone in this government, in this administration, there is no explanation for borders that are not secure, ports that are not being -- the cargo going into which is not being inspected. We -- and there are three major reasons that one would think that any government official would immediately insist on border security: a global war on terror, rampant illegal immigration, and drugs that are killing the youth of this country. But that seems not to be enough for our federal government.

WIAN: Apparently not. And when it takes, as Lisa Sylvester just reported, so long to sign a simple bill to build a border fence, and they're holding it up for political -- political gains, it makes you wonder where the priorities are -- Lou.

DOBBS: Yes. Unfortunately, the priorities become clearer and clearer.

Thank you very much.

Casey Wian.

Join us this Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN. We'll have a special report on our borders -- America Votes, 2006, "Broken Borders". We'll be reporting from the front lines, coming to you from San Antonio, Texas. A town hall meeting on illegal immigration and our total lack of border security.

That's Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, immediately following our regular broadcast, 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Please be with us.

Coming up here next, Panama votes to expand its canal. Who really benefits from that expansion?

We'll have a report on why the plan may put this nation's security at risk.

Communist China's threat to America's middle class, how our trade policies could make things even worse for those who can afford it least.

And America's voters as guinea pigs? Officials putting e-voting machines on the front line before they're ready? It gets worse. Our democracy at risk.

That special report coming up here next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: If you're wondering about communist China's strategy in the Western Hemisphere, look south. Communist China tonight appears certain to tighten its hold on one of the most important trade routes in the world for the United States, the Panama Canal. Voters in Panama have approved a plan to widen and expand the canal, and it appears communist China will be the biggest beneficiary.

Bill Tucker has our report.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The reason for the widening of the canal is basic. Today's ships are bigger than when the canal was built. But there is a brutal irony to the expansion. When the canal was first built, it was to accommodate the moving of American exports. Now, almost 100 years later, its expansion is to accommodate the flow of imports.

WILLIAM HAWKINS, U.S. BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY COUNCIL: The West Coast ports are clogged with goods already coming from Asia and from China, and they need alternative ways to reach the American heartland. And one way, of course, is through Mexico, through railroads and highways up from Mexican ports that are also being build by the Chinese with Chinese money, up through Mexico, into the Midwest.

TUCKER: The canal is owned and operated by Panama, but the American-built port facilities at either end of the canal are now owned and operated by Hutchison Whampoa, the world's largest port operator, a Chinese company owned by Li Ka-Shing, a man who was once offered the governorship of Hong Kong by Beijing.

The fact that China is our supplier and controls that supply route makes trade critics uneasy, and they point to a security risk.

ROBERT SCOTT, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: The bigger issue, I think, is -- is that we have become increasingly reliant on China and other countries in east Asia for critical components in our defense systems. And this really exposes our economy and our national security more than just the Chinese ownership of these port facilities.

TUCKER: Last year 2,748 ships flying the Panamanian flag moved through the canal. Thirteen hundred flew the Liberian flag. The United States was the number one port of destination.


TUCKER: Only 260 ships flew the American flag that crossed the Panama Canal, and they were not headed for international waters.

Lou, most of those ships were moving petroleum or petroleum products from the East Coast to the West Coast.

DOBBS: Bill Tucker.

Thank you very much. Last February, when we reported here that a Dubai-owned company would control security at 20-some-odd American ports, there was an uproar all across the country. DP World, the company involved in that deal, said ultimately that it would sell those operations to a U.S. entity. Well, that hasn't happened.

We continue to follow Dubai Ports World and the disposal of its ownership in those ports, and tonight we can report to you that an agreement is in the final stages. We are told that that agreement is in the final stages, but no additional information is available. Not from Dubai Ports World nor from the U.S. government.

We continue to watch. We'll continue to report.

Time now for some of your thoughts.

Grace in Texas says, "How about a Boston 'E' Party? We gather up all the electronic voting machines and thrown them in Boston Harbor. Sounds good to me. Then we can actually print paper ballots."

Richard in Florida, "Do the election officials think that two weeks from an election is a good time to find experts? I guess it's like waiting until all the people who want to cross our border do, then build a fence to stop them. Something just sounds backwards here."

And John in Indiana, "Lou, it seems that the message the administration wants to send with the border patrol prosecution is: Don't apprehend anyone coming into the Untied States illegally, be they illegal immigrants, drug smugglers, or potential terrorists. This prosecution is sure to have a chilling effect on the vigilance of border patrol officers."

Send us your thoughts to We'll have more of them coming up here later in the broadcast.

Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my new book, "War on the Middle Class".

Up next, what's good for communist China is most definitely not what's good for America's middle class. U.S.-China trade policies once again putting America's workers and national security at risk.

We'll have that special report.

They've caused problems in election after election. So why have we put our democracy at risk by relying on e-voting machines?

That special report coming up.

And the Democrats may take control of Congress this fall, but they may not keep it for long. At least that's the view of two of my guests here tonight, the authors of a new book. They'll be here later.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling today sentenced in Houston to 24 years in prison. Skilling, convicted in April of fraud, insider trading, conspiracy in connection with the collapse of Enron. One of the largest corporate scandals in American history.

Skilling vehemently denied any wrongdoing. His attorneys have asked the judge to allow him to remain free pending appeal.

Gasoline prices down almost eight cents a gallon over the past two weeks. The price of regular self-serve on average running about $2.20 a gallon, the lowest price this year. Just 10 weeks ago in August, the price of a gallon surged past the $3 mark.

Hurricane Paul weakening tonight as it heads for Baja, California. Paul neared Category 3 status today. Winds as high as 110 miles-an-hour. It is weakening, forecasters say it might not even have hurricane force by the time it reaches land.

Another food recall tonight. Ballard's farm sausage recalling all of its egg salad products because of possible contamination. That recall affects 17 states. The company says tests show mixed results for the presence of Listeria, a bacteria that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, the elderly and those with weak immune systems.

A rally was held this weekend to protest the harsh sentences handed out to two U.S. border patrol agents arrested for doing their job, a drug smuggler given immunity to testify against them. A motorcycle rally showing support for the border patrol agents. Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who were sentenced to 11 and 12 years in prison for shooting a Mexican drug dealer. People at the rally voiced support for the agents and blasted the federal government for not failing to stop illegal aliens and drug smugglers from entering the country.

Tonight, a new front in the war on the middle class. Trade policies of this administration and those before it have led to massive trade deficits and a crippling budget deficit. Now there's growing dependence on borrowing from communist China to keep our interest rates in this country low. And it's a direct threat to all working Americans. Christine Romans reports.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Communist China is increasingly America's banker and this country's reliance on China's loans is another front in the war on the middle class.

PETER MORICI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Any time that China wants to, it can turn the screw on all the money we owe China, drive up interest rates and drive the American prosperity and the prosperity of the middle class right into a ditch.

ROMANS: Even the editorial page of the "New York Times," long a supporter of so-called free trade with China, is expressing alarm at America's growing indebtedness to the communist Chinese. Quote, "the size and growth of China's holdings mean increasing vulnerability for the United States."

China is on track to own a trillion dollars in American IOUs. If the Chinese cut back their lending to the U.S. by diversifying into other currencies, or by domestic spending, rather than buying U.S. bonds, interest rates, prices and taxes here would skyrocket.

If China suddenly stopped lending to the U.S., it could spark a 1929 style financial crisis, even a slow diversification into another country's debt would mean the erosion of American living standards. The White House has consistently said it welcomes a strong China, that China is a partner in the global economy.

HENRY PAULSON, TREASURY SECRETARY: As global economic leaders, we share the responsibility to establish and maintain open markets at home and further economic liberalization and free and fair trade in all countries.

ROMANS: And others say China would never do anything to hurt its largest market, the United States. But there's a growing fear our diplomatic efforts with China are hamstrung, as Washington works overtime to prevent angering its bankers.


ROMANS: Now that "Times" editorial blames excessive Bush administration borrowing, but Peter Morici at the University of Maryland blames both parties. Congress, the White House reaching back into the Clinton administration, failed trade policy he says that can be traced directly to America's middle class. If not through outright job losses, Lou, then as a threat that China poses as our banker.

DOBBS: And the "New York Times" has discovered that Tom Friedman's apology for free trade agreements that have resulted in 30 consecutive years of trade deficits just might not be the brightest move?

ROMANS: Apparently they've been watching our program after many years of us talking about this.

DOBBS: Excellent, excellent, late but hopefully converted. Christine Romans, thank you.

There are ways for middle class Americans to confront seemingly overwhelming issues in this country. Imagine that. An example comes from a town in Missouri where people took on the difficult problems of human trafficking, which often involves illegal alien.

Washington, D.C., well, they just didn't come to the rescue. So what did those folks do? They decided to take matters into their own hands. Bill Schneider reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Independence, Missouri is middle America. Harry Truman's America. Not the kind of place where you expect to find a problem like human trafficking.

ILENE SHEHAN, COO, HOPE HOUSE: Modern day slavery is going on right in front of you.


FRED MILLS, INDEPENDENCE POLICE CHIEF: An Asian female that was brought into this country for one reason, to force her into prostitution.

SHEHAN: They have picked up some young men that were trafficked here from Russia and who were forced to drive ice cream trucks.

SCHNEIDER: The community's response?

MILLS: Disbelief that No. 1 it would be going on in mid America. Would that kind of thing happen here? Yes. And then it turned to anger and then it turned to how are we going to resolve this?

SCHNEIDER: The answer was a cooperative effort organized by the local U.S. attorney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I worked with local law enforcement, with prosecutors, investigators, individuals from labor agencies.

SCHNEIDER: Guided by the U.S. attorney, local authorities applied for a federal grant. This month, the Justice Department awarded $450,000 to the Independence Police Department and $450,000 to Hope House, to fight human trafficking. Was politics involved? Only in a supporting role. The initiative was local.

SHEHAN: Have had calls from our state representatives congratulating us and thanking us for taking on the charge of combating human trafficking in our area.


SCHNEIDER: Empowerment requires cooperation. Public officials, private agencies and the community all working together. Politics is about competition, not cooperation, which is why to most Americans, politics is the enemy of problem-solving.

And Lou, take a look at these polls about Congress. Only 13 percent of Americans say they're satisfied with what Congress has accomplished this year. And since the Republicans took over Congress 12 years ago, 56 percent say the Republican Congress has been a failure. Too much politics, not enough problem-solving. Lou?

DOBBS: The idea that Independence, Missouri took that action, people in the community deciding to deal with a problem that the federal government has failed to do, not inspecting cargo in our port, not providing border security, not enforcing immigration laws, for crying out loud, not even enforcing basic human decency. And for that community to take it on, there's a wonderful thing in the title, Independence, Missouri.

Maybe that's an idea that will spread around to communities. Maybe the ACLU will want to get involved with the fact that a community is actually doing something about issues. That must upset them deeply and profoundly.

SCHNEIDER: Absolutely. They were very upset about this. They were horrified to discover it was going on and that Washington had very little to do with it.

DOBBS: Absolutely. Well, we hope more Americans will take a spiritual lift from Independence, Missouri and follow chorus and maybe the folks in Washington D.C. might even find a little courage of their own and a sense of responsibility. But that just might be asking for too much, I'll leave it there. Bill Schneider, thank you very much, an inspiring story.

Please join us here later tonight. CNN America Votes 2006 special, Ed Henry reporting on "Our Do Nothing Congress" tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, all part of our broken government series. That's being broadcast throughout this week here on CNN.

And Wednesday night, I'll be reporting to you from San Antonio, Texas, a city on the front lines of our border security and illegal immigration crisis, a town hall meeting.

As we reported earlier, the Bush administration today said the Iraqi government must take more responsibility for its security. That's the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe the Iraqi government must, as a high ranking White House adviser said, step up and take more responsibility for that nation's security? Yes or no. Cast your vote at We'll have the results coming up here later.

The BBC tonight is admitting what many of it critics have expected for years. It is biased. Leaks to British newspapers say top BBC executives have acknowledged that Britain's largest broadcast has promoted left-wing views and anti-Christian sentiments. And those executives also admitted the BBC is guilty of being anti-American. Oh, my goodness. One senior BBC official said bias is now so deeply embedded in the BBC culture, it will be almost impossible to remove it. They can give me a call, I have a few suggestions for them, what they can do with that anti-American bias. I think we can clean it up in quick order.

Coming up here next, the authors of an important new book, "One Party Country: The Plan for Republican Dominance in the 21st Century." The authors say we're on our way to becoming a one-party country. Some people think that's one party too many. They'll be my guests.

And we have spent billions of dollars to overhaul our voting system and it's not a system we can trust. I'll be talking with two of the countries most respected authorities on our election system, democracy at risk here next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Counting down to election day, that's what we're doing. And it appears likely, we're told, Democrats will take control of one or even both houses of Congress. But once there, what lies ahead for a possible Democratic majority with a lame-duck Republican in the White House?

We have the co-authors of the important new book, "One Party Country: The Plan for Republican Dominance in the 21st Century." Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallstein, we thank you for being here.

Peter Wallstein, let me ask you this. The idea that there would be a one-party country, as we're looking at the prospects the Democrats might take -- you guys wish you'd kind of done a different deal on that title?

PETER WALLSTEIN, AUTHOR, "ONE PARTY COUNTRY": No, actually, we're quite proud of the title and the theme, because this book is really a long-term look at the Republican Party. And you know, this is a tsunami election year. This is a year -- an election year unlike most others.

But the Republicans have plenty of advantages, and we talk all about them in "One Party Country." They've got this massive voter database. They have a 72-hour plan, as they call it, to get out voters in competitive races, and we think that when this election comes down to close campaigns, as it's going to come down to in the House and the Senate, that the Republicans do have an advantage.

So everybody is predicting a Democratic landslide, at least in the House, and we think that prediction is premature, at least for this election. But if the Democrats do win this year, we also think that when the tsunami goes away, the Republicans are back in the driver's seat of American politics.

DOBBS: Tom, how do you arrive at that? Because there are Democrats out there watching you right now, deep partisan scent, what in the heck have Hamburger and Wallstein done her to us? I mean, what are they talking about?

TOM HAMBURGER, AUTHOR, "ONE PARTY COUNTRY": Lou, let me tell you, the title of our book, "One Party Country," actually comes from...

DOBBS: You've got a big elephant up there.

HAMBURGER: ... refers to the dream, if you will, the dream of Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman and others in the White House of establishing what they called dominant majority. They wanted to do for the Republican Party, under George W. Bush, what Franklin Roosevelt did for the Democrats. They were envisioning and hoping for 40 years or more of Republican dominance.

Now, is this election upsetting that dream? Is it turning it into a nightmare? Quite possibly.

But the point we make in the book -- and this is really why, as Peter said, we're both proud of the title and proud of the work that we did -- is that the advantages that the Republicans have put into place, not just under Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman, but actually going back multiple decades, are enduring. And our argument is, unless the Democrats understand this Republican advantage, unless they play catchup, the Democrats may be very surprised in 2008, even if they're victorious in 2006, and find themselves the minority party.

DOBBS: To support some of the theses of your book -- I was talking with a political operative today who happened to be in Ohio. And he was referring to some of the advantages Republicans enjoy in that state, despite the lead in the polls for both the gubernatorial candidate and for the senatorial candidate. And that sounds even ominous in some cases. Rising absentee ballots, the Democrats not as strong as people might have thought on the ground. He's even suggesting that there might be a surprise there. What do you think?

HAMBURGER: Well, of course, Ohio, Lou, is the state where Republican -- that really won the 2004 election for George W. Bush. And it was a place that Peter and I both observed very closely in 2004, and where we came away very impressed with the Republican ground operation. And it's a place where they have invested, they've invested over time to build up a series of advantages that will allow that party to triumph at least in a close election. Now, will it -- can it survive -- can their advantages survive a tsunami? I don't think so. But we think there could be some surprises.

DOBBS: Let's talk about New Jersey. Peter, New Jersey, you're talking about the Republican machine, it seems to be nonexistent in New Jersey. You've got a -- the scion of a political family in Tom Kean running against Bob Menendez, an appointed senator but with a long career in the House, who's under federal investigation. He's leading the brand name.

WALLSTEIN: Well, this is a good example. New Jersey is a blue state. Republicans really shouldn't be in contention in New Jersey, and yet they are. And Menendez has a kind of a long-lasting political machine of his own there, but the Republicans are giving him a run.

And you asked about Ohio. This also goes to that same point. You know, we saw -- the Republicans -- whether it's New Jersey or Ohio or Pennsylvania or Florida, they can really map these congressional districts and states down to the neighborhood level, to the precinct level, and they find voters that were previously Democratic or unaffiliated, and they get them to the polls as Republican voters.

DOBBS: In "One Party Country," you do a wonderful job of analyzing your thesis and you make a persuasive case. But in a way, even more importantly, you lay out very carefully, and I think extremely well, the political forces and the approaches that are being taken by both parties, a very instructive book.

Tom, let me ask you just one last question. Do the Democrats take the House and the Senate?

HAMBURGER: We thought you might ask it, you know. I'm not in the prediction game, but we will say... DOBBS: You are now.

HAMBURGER: The Democrats are on a roll right now. The wind is at their back, and yet what we say is -- and our book is written for the long term -- the Republicans have a series of strategic and structural advantages that could leave them in charge, if not in 2006, watch out, they'll come back strong in 2008.

DOBBS: Peter Wallstein, you concur, I assume, with your co- author?

WALLSTEIN: I do. But you know, I won't be surprised -- everyone's talking about a Democratic landslide in the House. I won't be surprised if I wake up on the morning of November 8th and Republicans have kept it a lot closer than people expect, or perhaps even held on. I mean, we've seen this from the inside. They're tough.

DOBBS: Tom Hamburger, Peter Wallstein, we thank you both. The book is in living color, "One Party Country." I can't recommend it too highly. It is a terrific read on politics, and this is the season for it. Gentlemen, good luck. Thank you for being here.

WALLSTEIN: Thank you very much.

DOBBS: And a reminder to vote in our poll tonight. Do you believe the Iraqi government must, as a high-ranking White House adviser said, step up and take more responsibility for the nation's security? Please cast your vote at We'll have the results coming up here in just a few minutes.

Coming up next, millions of voters using e-voting machines. We'll ask two leading election analysts and experts whether this will put our democracy at risk. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN, the "SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lou.

We're following breaking news in Iraq, reports of a missing American soldier. CNN's John Roberts is embedded with the U.S. troops conducting the search right now. We'll get the very latest from John.

Also, the political ad wars, Republicans targeting Democratic Congressman turned Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr. Are they playing it for laughs or playing with fire?

And will he or won't he? Our video columnist Jeanne Moos on Barack Obama's flirtation with the 2008 race for the White House.

All that, Lou, coming up right here in the "SITUATION ROOM".

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

Joining me now, two former members of the Election Assistance Commission, an agency set up in response to the Florida debacle in the 2000 election, part of the Help America Vote Act.

First meet Deforest Soaries, he's a Republican, former chair of the Election Assistance Commission.

Good to have you here.

Ray Martinez, Democrat, former vice chair of the commission.

Ray, good to have you with us, all the way from Austin, Texas. Thank you.

Let's begin with a third of -- and if we can show these stats. It's sort of interesting, one third of voters this November will be using new voting equipment. Thirty-eight percent will be using electronic voting equipment.

Deforest, what do you think is going to happen?

DEFOREST SOARIES, FORMER ELECTION COMMISSIONER: Well, I think we're going to have frustration at the polls. Many poll workers will be inadequately prepared for the use of this equipment. And if there's a close race, there will be tremendous frustration because there will be difficulty confirming what the real results were, given the lack of any paper to verify what happened at the polls.

DOBBS: And Ray, looking at another statistic that everybody might as well start getting comfortable with, the 2000 voting machines, they malfunctioned in 25 states. I mean, are we going to see that -- something that widespread, do you think, in this election, or will it be even worse?

RAY MARTINEZ, FORMER ELECTION COMMISSIONER: Well, I certainly hope it's not anything to that magnitude, Lou. And I think the American public ought to demand that election officials around the country do their due diligence to ensure that we don't see problems like that. You know, election administration is comprised of three essential parts, Lou, the technology we use, the processes that we have in place and the people that run our elections. And we've seen a lot of problems when it comes to the technology, but we've also seen equal amounts of problems when it comes to the people aspect of election administration. We have to emphasize that as well.

DOBBS: Lots of wonderful people volunteer, Deforest, around this country to work in polling booths and work for the election offices all across this country. As part of the Help America Vote, billions of dollars put into play here, jurisdictions all over the country buying these machines. Are we better off, in your judgment today, than we were in 2000?

SOARIES: Well, I think we're worse off because in 2000, at least we knew what we didn't know. And the hanging chad became center stage in 2000. Today six years later after spending $2.5 billion, we don't know what we don't know. We don't know about security, we don't know enough because the EAC never got enough money for research. The Congress passed a law that authorized $30 billion for research. EAC to this date has received zero of those dollars. The Republican party...

DOBBS: Zero.

SOARIES: The Republican-led Congress and the Republican White House have failed. And what Ray and I were invited to do was really a charade. And I think the public, as Ray said, should be outraged and demand results from the local to the federal level.


MARTINEZ: Well, I think that's right, Lou. I mean, I certainly agree with my friend and former colleague Buster Soaries, who was an outstanding leader for the EAC.

Look, I think that it's time for us to make our elections work in this country, Lou. I mean, that's the bottom line. And obviously we have a great deal of work to do to make that happen. It's time for us to bring together the best and brightest from the high-tech industry, Lou, the business industry, election officials, et cetera, for us to make things work. You know, Friday, this coming Friday, we'll celebrate -- or actually mark, I suppose some people might scorn the passage -- it's the four-year anniversary of the passage of the Help America Vote Act this coming Friday, of Congress passing that historic law.

It's time, four years later, Lou, six years removed from Florida in 2000, it's time for us to achieve a consensus on exactly what we have to do to really improve the process of election administration.

DOBBS: Deforest Soaries, thank you very being here. Ray Martinez, we thank you as well. I hope you will come back over the next couple of weeks because you make me want to cry. And we have to deal with this issue and come up with a solution as you gentlemen are suggesting. And even with just two weeks remaining before this election, we've got to focus on it. And we thank you for your part, gentlemen.

MARTINEZ: Thank you for having me.

SOARIES: Thank you.

DOBBS: Still ahead, the results of our poll tonight, more of your thoughts. Stay With us.


DOBBS: This just in, to this broadcast from the White House. The White House has just announced that President Bush will sign into law the legislation to build that 700-mile fence with Mexico, signing Thursday. And of course we'll be bringing that to you here on this broadcast live here on CNN. Now the results of our poll tonight. Ninety-six percent of you say the Iraqi government must step up and take more responsibility for their country's security.

And time now just for one last e-mail. Thomas in New Jersey wrote in to say:

"Lou, I thought there was a war on drugs, and if there is a war, isn't the American border the front line of this war? President Bush should have stepped in and given the two U.S. Border Agents medals for a job well done."

Send us your thoughts at Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my new book, "War on the Middle Class".

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. From all of us, thanks for watching.

The "SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer begins now -- Wolf.


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