Return to Transcripts main page
LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Top Army General: U.S. Army Could Break; President Bush Considering Iraq Strategy Options; Senator Tim Johnson's Condition Remains Critical; Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Doesn't Seem Willing To Take Tough Action Against China; Michael Chertoff Gives Bleak Assessment Of Ability To Secure Southern Border; Union Officials Says ICE Agents Terrorized Workers in Raid; Dire Warning About U.S. Students Being Outpaced By Foreign Students
Aired December 14, 2006 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: I am in Tampa, Florida, tonight, where we're preparing for a special town hall meeting on our continuing series of special reports, "War on the Middle Class," coming to you from CNN at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
Our top stories tonight.
A new warning that our military is nearing the breaking point. Army chief of staff General Peter Schoomaker says the Army needs thousands more troops.
We'll have complete coverage of this urgent new warning.
And calls for the biggest overhaul of our public education system in a century as middle class Americans are struggling to obtain a quality education for their children.
We'll have that special report.
And the president of the commission calling for the shake-up joins us.
All of that and a great deal more straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Thursday, December 14th.
Live from Tampa, Florida, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
One of this country's most senior military commanders, General Peter Schoomaker, today called for a large increase in the size of the U.S. Army. General Schoomaker said the Army will break without additions of thousands more troops.
The Marine Corps is also asking for more troops. The military's request comes as the Bush administration is preparing to announce a new strategy for Iraq.
The Democrats are demanding quick action on Iraq, but Democrats are failing to come up with a plan of their own, as Jamie McIntyre now reports from the Pentagon on the military's urgent and increasing requests for more troops.
Elaine Quijano reporting tonight from the White House on whether the president is planning to increase the number of troops in Iraq.
And Bill Schneider reports from Washington on the Democrats' failure to come up with a strategy of their own for the war in Iraq.
We turn first to Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon -- Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the heads of both services providing ground troops to Iraq and Afghanistan agree that the time may have come to start recruiting reinforcements. The new Marine Corps commandant went public last month with his conclusions he needs more troops, several thousand, unless the war in Iraq suddenly ends. And today, the Army chief of staff, General Peter Schoomaker, told the Commission on the National Guard and Reserve that he needs thousands more soldiers, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. PETER SCHOOMAKER, CHIEF OF STAFF, U.S. ARMY: Over the last five years, the sustained strategic demand for deployed combat brigades and other supporting units is placing a strain on the Army's all-volunteer force, now being tested for the first time in an extended period of conflict. At this pace, without recurrent access to reserve components for remobilization, we will break the active component.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCINTYRE: Schoomaker was brought out of retirement by Donald Rumsfeld to remake the Army into smaller, more combat-ready units. He's already brought the Army from 33 brigades to 42 and increased the overall size by 30,000 soldiers, using emergency powers. And he shifted a larger percentage of the Army into combat jobs.
But until now, Schoomaker has resisted making any permanent increase. But with the war dragging on and with President Bush considering a surge of U.S. forces in Iraq, Schoomaker says the Army could probably recruit as many as 7,000 additional volunteers into the active duty force next year. That's unless more reserves and guard troops can be called up. But the head of the National Guard told CNN today the Army already has full access to guard and reserve forces.
The White House says that President Bush is open to the possibility of increasing the size of the military.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He takes seriously any of the requests from the service branch chiefs, and the Pentagon will certainly have its input as people get ready, not merely on the issue of Iraq or Afghanistan, but also budgeting issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCINTYRE: There are two problems, Lou, with increasing the size of the military, money and recruiting. It's not easy attracting people into the military when their first tour of duty might be in a deadly war zone. But the bigger problem may be money. It will cost billions of dollars to permanently increase the size of the U.S. military -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, those considerations, Jamie, it seems to me, at least, are absolutely irrelevant if you have the chief of staff of the Army saying that the United States military, the United States Army, is facing the breaking point without adding those troops.
MCINTYRE: Well, and you have to give Peter Schoomaker credit. He's done everything possible to avoid a permanent increase in the military, trying to reorganize the Army so that it's much more effective. But he's basically done those things, and the war is still going on, the demand is just as great. The only answer then comes down to more troops.
DOBBS: Jamie, thank you very much.
Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.
One of the key questions, of course, facing the Bush administration is whether to raise the number of troops in Iraq. Senator John McCain in Baghdad today said the Pentagon should send as many as 10 additional combat brigades to Iraq. Senator McCain is part of a congressional delegation now in Iraq.
Nic Robertson reports from Baghdad -- Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the senators have been meeting with top Iraqi officials. They met with the president and the Kurdish president, both of whom are opposed to seeing a U.S. troop presence grow here, in terms of training the Iraqi military.
They've also met with the U.S. military commander here, General Casey. They've had intelligence briefings. Senator McCain, from what he's seen, though, he says violence is up and so -- so should the U.S. troop presence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'd like to say that I believe conditions have improved. Certainly in Baghdad they have not. I believe that there's still a compelling reason to have an increase in troops here in Baghdad and in Anbar Province in order to bring the sectarian violence under control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: Well, Senator McCain's comments coming hard on the heels of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's plan to go on a divergent route from what the U.S. has been talking about until now. That is, Iraqi security forces taking control of the city, U.S. forces pulling back.
Senator Lieberman, however, taking the same view as Senator McCain, that more troops, more U.S. troops, are what's needed in the city right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: I echo what Senator McCain said. I think -- I feel very strongly that as the president looks for new direction forward in Iraq, that we need more, not less, troops here. But there has to be real thought about what those troops do to help the Iraqi security forces secure the country. And of course there has to be ultimately real leadership by the government of Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: And while the senators have been getting their briefings, in Baghdad Iraqi police have picked up 45 dead bodies on the streets, all bullet-riddled. Often in these cases signs of sectarian killings.
Twenty-five people kidnapped earlier in the day were released. They were all Shias. The indications are that the kidnappers are probably Shias too.
Sectarian violence here at its worst. They seem to be holding on to a number, an unknown number of Sunnis that they kidnapped earlier in the day, brazenly driving into the center of Baghdad armed, wearing Iraqi police uniforms, picking up people on the street and driving off with them. Now a number of Sunnis, an unknown number, still held by these kidnappers -- Lou.
DOBBS: Nic Robertson from Baghdad.
President Bush has refused to say whether or not he will support an increase in the number of our troops in Iraq. The White House today said President Bush is listening to advice from all branches of the military, as well as the Pentagon's civilian leadership.
Elaine Quijano reports from the White House -- Elaine.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And Lou, at the president's public events today, including a speech here in Washington at the White House summit on malaria, President Bush gave no hints as to what way he might be leaning when it comes to changes on his Iraq policy. But one thing that he has said time and time again is that he listens to his commanders on the ground when it comes to troop levels in Iraq.
Well, today White House Press Secretary Tony Snow was asked if the military service chiefs were to advise against substantially increasing U.S. troops in Iraq, would that effectively rule out that option? Here's what Tony Snow had to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SNOW: The president will make the decision he thinks is most appropriate. And he certainly respects the advice of the service chiefs. But keep in mind, you have service chiefs, you have combatant commanders, you have the secretary of defense. You have a lot of people involved in the decision loop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUIJANO: And Snow indicating even within the military the advice coming in from a variety of sources, but that ultimately the decision is up to President Bush.
Also, Snow emphasized once again today that no final decisions have been made. But administration officials have told CNN that the president has not ruled out the possibility, certainly, of raising temporarily the number of forces in Iraq.
Now, of course an announcement on any changes to Iraq policy is expected early next year -- Lou.
DOBBS: Elaine, Tony Snow saying that the president has a lot of people to listen to. Is there a suggestion that he doesn't have confidence in the recommendations of his own chiefs of service?
QUIJANO: I think what Tony Snow is essentially saying is that not just from the military side of things, there are also of course diplomatic concerns to take into consideration as well. And that's a message we've certainly heard over recent days as President Bush has been on the "inside the beltway" listening tour, as we've called it.
But you're right. The president, in the past, certainly has made it a point to say that any decisions on troop levels really is based largely on the advice of those commanders in theater.
But now what Snow appears to be doing certainly is saying the president has many options. And as this is explored further, any changes that might be made is going to be taken into account, not just solely that advice that he is getting from those commanders in theater, but advice coming in from a variety of different places, even a variety of places inside the military -- Lou.
DOBBS: Elaine, thank you very much.
Elaine Quijano from the White House.
The war in Iraq appeared to be far from the minds of Democrats today as they announced plans for their first 100 hours as the majority party in Congress. Incoming House speaker Nancy Pelosi made no mention of the war in Iraq at all in her news conference today. But she had plenty to say about other issues.
Bill Schneider reports.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): When it comes to New Year's resolutions, it's hard to match the House Democrats.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), INCOMING HOUSE SPEAKER: Raising minimum wage, cut in half the interest rates paid on student loans, rolling back subsidies to big oil, advancing stem cell research, cut the link between lobbyists and legislation, passing the 9/11 Commission recommendations.
SCHNEIDER: Some things like ethics reform they can do on their own. Everything else has to be passed by the Senate, where the Democratic majority is hanging by a single vote and signed into law by President Bush. The toughest pledge to keep may be this one...
PELOSI: No new deficit spending. That will be a part of the rules of the House and we'll also introduce it as a statute.
SCHNEIDER: Democrats will have to square that with the pledge to cut the interest rate on student loans.
What about the issue that brought Democrats to power, as Pelosi acknowledged last month?
PELOSI: Nowhere was the call for a new direction more clear from the American people than in the war in Iraq.
SCHNEIDER: It's by far the highest priority to voters. But the new speaker did not mention Iraq once at her press conference today.
The House has little control over Iraq policy. It gave the president the authority to use force in October 2002 and set aside only two days to debate the war since then.
The House does control spending. But Democratic leaders are reluctant to cut funding for the troops.
One House Democrat is running for president to protest that policy.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What does it say if only one month after the voters gave us control of Congress on the issue of Iraq that we turn around and say, we'll keep funding the war?
SCHNEIDER: What it says is that the Democrats are cautious. Every item in their agenda has strong public support, but there's no consensus behind a plan to end the war among either Democrats or the public. And as far as an increase in the number of troops, Lou, that would be a very tough sell to Congress or to the American people.
DOBBS: Well, the speaker laid out a number of critically important issues, critically important to this country's middle class. But as you point out, the speaker herself had acknowledged that a large impetus for the Democratic victory on November 7th was Iraq.
Was there any attempt at rationalization today for ignoring that pivotal, critical and determinate issue?
SCHNEIDER: One reporter asked her a question that touched on Iraq about the -- what would happen with the Senate majority, depending on what happens to Senator Johnson. She said that was a hypothetical, she didn't want to answer it. She brushed it aside. She simply didn't go into it.
She didn't mention immigration reform either. And that was an issue in the election.
DOBBS: Bill Schneider, thank you very much.
Still ahead here, Senator Tim Johnson remains in critical condition tonight after emergency brain surgery. We will have the very latest for you from the hospital and what it could mean for the direction of the U.S. Senate.
Also, an astonishing admission by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff about the federal government's inability to secure our southern border.
We'll have that special report.
And National Guardsmen patrolling part of that border with Mexico have been ordered out of the area, leaving a gaping hole for illegal drug smugglers and illegal aliens.
We will have the astonishing reason why when we continue.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Senator Tim Johnson remains in critical condition tonight after undergoing surgery to stop bleeding in his brain. The Democrat from South Dakota was taken to a Washington hospital after falling ill on Capitol Hill.
Brianna Keilar reports now from George Washington University Hospital.
Brianna, what's the latest?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, doctors here at GWU Hospital who operated on Senator Johnson for what is being described in layman's terms as a brain hemorrhage are not as of yet speaking to the media.
Media relations here at the hospital deferring all questions to the senator's office, which did issue a press release a short while ago saying that Admiral John Eisold, the attending physician of the U.S. Capitol, said, "Senator Johnson has continued to have an uncomplicated post-operative course. Specifically, he has been responsive to both word and touch, and no further surgical intervention has been required." Meanwhile, we've seen a steady stream of high-profile senators here at George Washington University Hospital. Earlier today, soon- to-be Senate majority leader Harry Reid was by for quite a while. Then we also saw North Dakota senator, Democrat Byron Dorgan, and then a short visit this afternoon from current Senate majority leader Bill Frist.
All of them here to check in with their friend and colleague, Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota -- Lou.
DOBBS: Brianna, thank you. Do we know at this point how long the senator was in surgery, how many surgeons were attending?
KEILAR: At this point, Lou, we don't know those details. We do understand from a source familiar with Senator Johnson's condition that he was out of surgery this morning at 12:30 a.m. No details in terms of how many surgeons from the hospital.
DOBBS: OK. Thank you.
Thank you very much, from Washington.
Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is a neurosurgeon himself. And he joins us from our studios in Atlanta.
Sanjay, the doctors say he is responding to words and touch. Give us your analysis of that significance.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's very significant, Lou. You know, when you talk about this type of damage to the brain -- and what I was most concerned about and probably most doctors hearing this, was that his speech areas might be affected given that he had some slurring of speech when he first had the problems.
Now, when you talk about the speech areas being affected, you're talking about not only be able to speak and write, but also being able to understand both the spoken and written words. So the fact that they were very deliberate in their language, saying that he is responding to words and to touch, I think is significant. It might mean that he's understanding and that maybe those speech areas weren't so dramatically affected.
So I think that that's pretty important.
Let me just show you really quick, if you will, the left side of the brain here. It's some of the highest priced real estate.
This is part of probably the area of the brain that was probably affected. And this part over here is where you have the strength sort of emanating for the right side of the body.
It's probably that -- that brain was probably focused sort of in this area. And it sounds like they've removed that blood clot and removed the problem as well.
DOBBS: Sanjay, this -- the senator's office said this was not a stroke. This is a brain hemorrhage.
What is it exactly? Can you give us that in layman's terms?
GUPTA: Yes, absolutely.
You know, they sort of gave us more details just a few hours ago, Lou. It wasn't a stroke in sort of the traditional sense of the word stroke. What that typically means is that, you know, one of the arteries, for example, here in your neck that goes to your brain got blocked off and you weren't getting enough blood flow to your brain. And that's the typical definition of stroke.
What happened here is he actually had a cluster of arteries and veins that were sort of growing together. And you can see the picture there.
That tangle, if you will, of blood vessels can bleed. It's just got a lot of arteries and veins all sort of clustered together, and that can bleed. And when that bleeds, it causes pressure on the brain.
That causes almost the same sort of symptoms that someone might have if they had a stroke. And that's wherein the confusion lies, to some extent. It's the same symptoms but a different process that caused it.
DOBBS: Right. For whatever reason, neither the senator's office nor the hospital is being particularly forthcoming about details. And perhaps that's understandable. But as best you can assess, what does the senator's prognosis look like?
GUPTA: Well, it is tough to say, and that might be part of their hesitation so far. You really don't know much for the first couple of days as someone's still waking up from anesthesia and starting to sort themselves out.
But I would say that it is concerning for one reason. Lou, there are many different parts of the brain. The part of the brain that this seems to have affected is what we call eloquent brain, some of the highest prices real estate in the brain. And as a result of any kind of damage to that area it takes longer from which to recover.
You need more speech therapy, you might need more physical therapy. You need those sorts of things.
And when people are talking about recovery, I think what they're really asking is, will he be able to speak normally again? Will he have full strength on the right side? And that sort of progress is measured in weeks and months, as opposed to hours and days.
DOBBS: And the idea that he's had this -- this injury to his brain, speech, there could be therapy. There can be all of that. Is there any reason to be concerned that his capacity to reason and to -- in other words, to carry out his job as a U.S. senator is also threatened?
GUPTA: Well, yes, I think you have to be concerned about that early on. First of all, for a couple of reasons.
One, this appears to have been a very large bleed. And the reason I say that -- and this is speculating, Lou -- but the reason I think it's fair to say that is because they did take him to the OR, operating room, fairly quickly after he got to the hospital, indicating there was some sense of urgency based on the size of the hemorrhage.
So that would make me think that there might be some -- some damage to areas of the brain that might be responsible for things like the reasoning. But also speech, obviously, is very inter-linked with one's functions. And if his speech, either because it's garbled or it's not coherent, it might be affected.
DOBBS: Right. Well, certainly we will hope for a full recovery and a speedy one for the senator.
DOBBS: Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
As always, Sanjay, thank you very much.
GUPTA: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: As unseemly as it may be, we have to look at the political implications of the senator's illness. It raises the possibility that Democrats could, in fact, lose a one-seat majority in the U.S. Senate. That's because a Republican governor in South Dakota would be the one to choose Senator Johnson's successor, were that to be necessary.
Dana Bash has the report from Capitol Hill.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After spending most of the night at the hospital with his colleague, the incoming Senate majority leader tried to sound optimistic.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY-LEADER DESIGNATE: We're all praying for a full recovery. We're confident that will be the case.
BASH: The Capitol physician announced surgery to remove blood from Senator Tim Johnson's brain was successful and by the afternoon, former Senator Tom Daschle emerged from the hospital voicing confidence his friend would be able to return to work.
QUESTION: Did you see him?
TOM DASCHLE (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: It looks encouraging, yes.
QUESTION: There's no way he's going to give up his seat, I guess.
DASCHLE: No need to.
BASH: But there is still no information about the South Dakota Democrats' prognosis, so no relief from the uncertainty gripping the Capitol as to whether Senate Democrats will be able to hold onto the narrow majority they won in November.
The what ifs are unavoidable. If Johnson's Democratic seat were to become vacant, South Dakota's governor, a Republican, would pick a replacement. If that seat turned Republican, the Democrats would lose their 51-49 majority. The Senate would become evenly split, 50-50. And since the vice president casts tie-breaking votes in the Senate, Republicans would then be in control.
The Senate's Democratic leader dismissed any talk his party could lose power.
REID: There isn't a thing that's changed. The Republicans selected their committees yesterday. We have completed ours. The -- I have a very busy succeed today, going ahead and getting ready for the next year.
BASH: The fact is the only way a governor can replace a sitting senator is if he dies or if he resigns.
JAMES THURBER, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Senators can serve indefinitely, even though they're gravely ill. We've had lots of examples of that. There's no way to legally remove them unless they're convicted of high crimes and treason.
BASH: In 1969, another South Dakota senator, Carl Mundt, suffered a stroke and refused to resign. He ended up serving four years without casting a vote. The incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, had surgery for a brain aneurysm in 1988 and did not come to work for seven months.
BASH: Now for all their optimism in public, privately Democrats say they are very concerned primarily because Senator Johnson's prognosis is still such a mystery.
And Lou, as for Republicans, one GOP senator put it this way. He said any talk right now of replacing Senator Johnson or the shift of power, the balance in power going from Democrats to Republicans, is "ghoulish" -- Lou..
DOBBS: Foolish and, of course, necessary. And as I said at the outset, unseemly as it gets.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Dana Bash.
BASH: Thank you. DOBBS: Appreciate it.
DOBBS: Coming up next, almost half the Bush cabinet is in communist China tonight. But will the Bush administration do anything ever to stop China's unfair trade practices and this country's unproductive trade practices?
Also, the Army's top general saying it is now essential to increase the size of the U.S. Army by thousands of troops. I'll be talking with General David Grange about this urgent warning and clarion call for help.
New calls today for a complete overhaul of our public education system to help middle class Americans compete with foreign labor and to preserve the American dream for their children.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Communist China is breaking international trade rules, flooding this country with cheap imports and taking every possible advantage of failed U.S. trade policies. But Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson doesn't seem willing to take tough action against China. On his visit to Beijing, the Treasury secretary simply warned the Chinese that the United States is "going to be inpatient."
Christine Romans reports.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson bringing the Fed chief and half of President Bush's cabinet to talk trade in Beijing.
HENRY PAULSON, TREASURY SECRETARY: Carlos Gutierrez, secretary of Commerce; Susan Schwab, United States trade representative.
ROMANS: Paulson urged China to step up its pace of reform, telling reporters, "They're so big and such an economic powerhouse that the reset of the world is going to be impatient, particularly the U.S."
It's being billed as the first U.S./China strategic economic dialogue. But Americans have been talking with the communist Chinese for years, more than 20 years of smiles, handshakes and photo ops, all while China pursues a disciplined national strategy: Subsidizing its factories, restricting market access for U.S. companies, manipulating its currency -- keeping it weak versus the dollar -- and allowing piracy to flourish.
CHARLES MCMILLION, MBG INFORMATION SERVICES: Each time we send a new delegation, they are learning, they are hearing promises, and each time they come back and we don't see results.
ROMANS: What we do see, he says, is an exploding trade deficit, accelerating after China's entry into the World Trade Organization, and expected to reach $230 billion this year.
WILLIAM HAWKINS, U.S. BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY COUNCIL: It's just going to keep going up unless we do something here to change our policies. China's not going to change their policies voluntarily.
ROMANS: Case in point: China's vice premier headed off any criticism by telling reporters her American friends don't understand the Chinese.
ROMANS: And a Chinese Central Bank official this week declared its currency is, quote, "a sovereign issue," all but saying the issue is off limits to the Americans there.
Meanwhile, Paulson urges a long-term dialogue, even while acknowledging that the U.S. is becoming impatient -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, Christine, that may make some sense to some bureaucrat, some diplomat, some idiot trade representative somewhere, but the fact is straightforward, this is not about communist China. It's about the United States. And if we -- you know, I love the idea that the Americans don't understand the Chinese. This government doesn't understand Americans itself.
The idea is that we have to change our trade policies, open markets to exports, and try to make some sense of what has been a -- just an absolute entanglement of miserable thinking and horrible results in terms of policy.
Is there any indication whatsoever, now that they've had their visit in Beijing, that the cabinet, six cabinet secretaries along with the treasury secretary, are going to do anything on this side of the Pacific?
ROMANS: It is very clear they see this as the beginning of a dialogue, Lou, not a conclusion. They don't expect any kind of agreements or breakthroughs is the word they used.
DOBBS: I love the idea this is their first strategic dialogue. This has been going on now for almost 10 years. And there is -- if there's a strategic dialogue, that leaves a heavy burden on the Chinese, because the United States has no strategy that's discernible, at least.
Christine Romans, thank you very much.
Time now for your thoughts.
Jim in Pennsylvania wrote in to say: "It is apparent the Bush administration and Congress prefer to use the comprehensive approach when dealing with current issues. Comprehensive immigration reform, comprehensive health care reform, and a comprehensive plan in Iraq just to name a few. The only thing both branches of government have been able to offer the American public has been comprehensive incompetence." Send us your thoughts to LouDobbs.com. We'll have more of your thoughts coming up here later. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my book, "War on the Middle Class."
The top story of the day, the United States army's chief of staff, General Peter Schoomaker, today declaring that the military will break without the addition of thousands more troops. General Schoomaker also said the Army needs more freedom to use the National Guard and reserve troops.
Joining me now to assess General Schoomaker's urgent warning is General David Grange, our military analyst. General Grange, let me ask you straightforwardly, General Schoomaker, highly respected, a clear voice, along with the commandant of the Marine Corps, the heads of both branches saying without equivocation it is time to supplement, to add to this country's military might. What's your reaction?
BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Lou, I agree with both of them. In fact, we've talked about this since 2003 quite often. And yes, it is time. It's late, actually. You have to increase the size of the active force, and of course have access to the reserve component.
But remember, the reserve component access has restrictions on it once they have been mobilized one time.
And the other point of this is that the whole nation's leadership must be behind it, in resources, in attitude, money to make it happen.
DOBBS: And in Baghdad today, Senator John McCain, Senator Joe Lieberman, saying clearly and again unequivocally, we need thousands more troops in Iraq. Do you agree?
GRANGE: I agree with that. One reason, because it puts the adversary off balance. They think we're in a desperate situation. Maybe we are. But for that reason alone -- also, in Anbar province, we have lost control in many of those areas in Anbar province. And in Baghdad, yes, only if they fight alongside Iraqi army units.
DOBBS: General Grange, you talked about maybe we are in a desperate situation. We've lost almost 3,000 Americans. We've seen 22,000 of our troops wounded. We have a military that is now acknowledging that our equipment that has been used now for almost four years in Iraq is broken, that needs replacement. We have the heads of two branches of service saying that their branch is almost broken. It's inconceivable to say that about a superpower like the United States, the only superpower.
Is our desperation born of a failure of leadership on the part of the general staff of the United States military? Is it the burden and the responsibility of that leadership, in the Pentagon in particular, to have anticipated and planned for the use of that equipment and the deployment of these troops?
GRANGE: It's a failure on leadership in the Pentagon, it's a failure on leadership in Congress to resource those issues. You have to really put the blame on the entire leadership apparatus that controls the armed forces of the United States of the America. And it is embarrassing for this nation to be in that predicament with looming threats on the horizon well beyond Afghanistan and Iraq.
DOBBS: The crisis is one, it is fair to say, is one of leadership, and a broad-based failure of leadership, unfortunately.
General Grange, thank you very much, as always. We appreciate it.
GRANGE: Thank you.
DOBBS: Coming up next here, a Native American community is blocking the National Guard from protecting our borders. We'll have that special report.
We'll also tell you what Mexico wants the United States to do with some of those arrested in illegal immigration raids.
And a union executive accusing immigration officials of, quote, "terrorizing workers." He'll be my guest here later.
And at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, the top of the hour, we'll bring you our special town hall meeting, "The War on the Middle Class," tonight here in Tampa. We'll hear from working men and women about the problems they face and the solutions they're hoping for. That's tonight immediately following this broadcast. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff today gave a bleak assessment of our ability to secure our southern border. Secretary Chertoff said illegal immigration so far has defeated all the enforcement measures this government has been able to muster. Jeanne Meserve has the report.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every day and every night, there is ample evidence that U.S. borders are not secure. Secretary Chertoff says there will be no solution until Congress passes a temporary worker program.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Only a temporary worker program will give us the ability to deal with that tremendous economic draw which has time and again over the years defeated all of the enforcement measures that the government has placed on the border to try to get security for this country.
MESERVE: But some argue that a guest worker program could in fact make the problem of illegal immigration worse.
DAN STEIN, FED. FOR AMER. IMMIG. REFORM: If we're not prepared to put in place the resources needed to make sure aliens leave when they're supposed to, to ensure employers can only hire lawfully authorized workers, to make the law have credibility again, nothing about a guest worker amnesty plan is going to make that a reality. Our borders will be out of control and our national security and our communities will be in jeopardy.
MESERVE: Chertoff contends that in the past year there has been measurable progress in stanching the flood of migrants pouring illegally over the borders. He credits the end of so-called catch and release, under which non-Mexicans caught by the border patrol were simply let go.
He also contends that enforcement actions against employers of illegal immigrant, like this week's raids on six swift meat packing plants are having an effect.
MESERVE: But critics are likely to point to a recent DHS report to Congress which said the department has effective control only 15 percent of the southern border -- Lou?
DOBBS: Jeanne, let me ask you. Was there any intake of breath as Michael Chertoff said that illegal immigration had defeated all of the measures taken by the U.S. government to secure its southern border. Did any reporter simply gasp at the absurdity of that comment?
MESERVE: He was speaking to a very large audience. A few reporters crinkled in the back. I couldn't gage their reaction. But let me tell you. He was trying to stress the positive in this speech. He was saying that in fact progress has been made. He pointed to the fact that the border patrol is going to double in numbers, that the secure border initiative is under way. That they've got technology contracts out. He did also say, Lou, that the debate on this issue had reached a fever pitch. I couldn't help but think of you.
DOBBS: Well, as you should. And literally tens of millions of other Americans who would like to think that this government has the capacity and the leadership to secure our borders and our ports at a time now five years distance from September 11th in a still continuing war on terror. Striking. I'm delighted you thought of me, Jeanne, thank you very much. Jeanne Meserve from Washington.
New details tonight on the raids carried out Tuesday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Mexican government officials say that nearly half of the more than 1,200 meat packing employees in six states detained in that raid are Mexican nationals.
Mexico is asking the United States government to release mothers who were arrested so they can care for their American-born children. And the United Food and Commercial Workers Union said the agents terrorized those workers in an outrageous display of force.
Marc Lauritsen is the union's international vice president. He joins us tonight. Marc, good to have you here.
MARC LAURITSEN, UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS: Thanks for having me, Lou. DOBBS: I'm sort of astonished to hear you say that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents terrorized workers. I mean, that's pretty strong language, particularly at a time when we're engaged in a war on terror?
LAURITSEN: Well Lou, let's take a look at what happened two days ago. 13,000 people, they went to work, they expected their lives to go on as normal. But what truly happened was when they got to work, these plants were surrounded, the gates were locked.
The agents swarmed in with military-type weapons and full riot gear. They stood up on tables and segregated people strictly by their skin color. They gave people that look like me, blonde hair and blue eyed, blue bands and said you are free to go.
DOBBS: So they're racist as well as terrorists, is that what you're saying?
LAURITSEN: What they did was -- with those military weapons. They detained thousands of people under military style tactics. What did ...
DOBBS: ... Military style tactics or law enforcement? Excuse me, Marc, let's be honest here. How would you distinguish these tactics from the tactics taken by law enforcement agencies in a number of circumstances?
LAURITSEN: But you bring a good point up. What was this about? According to the court records, this was about 170 people that ICE knew the name of that were working in those facilities.
And instead of going in and strategically removing them, they stormed into the plants and they terrorized 13,000 people so they could extract 170. Let me put it this way, I applaud what ICE did in Louisville, Kentucky with the same employer.
They went in very quietly and they extracted those allegedly were engaged in identity theft. They had the capability to do it. This was not about identity theft. This was about them making a splash. And what did they do in this splash? They turned communities upside down. They took breast-feeding babies away from their mothers and left students as young as six-years-old at schools with nothing -- no one to call home to. Nobody to take them home.
DOBBS: Let me ask you this, because I think a lot of people might be taken aback that the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is involved in this at all. What is your case -- what is your role in all of this?
LAURITSEN: These are working Americans. They're working men and women...
DOBBS: ... No, no, they're -- wait, whoa, whoa, partner, whoa, whoa. You said these are working Americans. We've got the Mexican government saying they're working Mexican nationals. Which are ? LAURITSEN: All right, well, I apologize. Let's say it this way. These are working men and women. Many of them who were here under legal status.
DOBBS: OK, they're men and women, we can buy that.
LAURITSEN: Let me tell you about Walter Malina (ph) from Grand Island, Nebraska, who is a perfectly -- he was...
DOBBS: ... We have some time constraints and I understand that you're trying to bring forth the story of the humanity -- the human issues here and we commiserate.
LAURITSEN: Or the lack of humanity.
DOBBS: But what I don't understand -- I'm sorry?
LAURITSEN: Or the lack of humanity that was used in this situation. That's what was needed, was a little humanity when they removed these people. And there are still people who...
DOBBS: ... my question is what is your union doing involved with employees who are illegal aliens, who have in 170 cases, been charged with stealing the identity of American citizens that work there and the workforce, 18 percent of which was illegal? What was your role in all of that?
LAURITSEN: Our role is to represent workers and to see that working people in this country get their shake.
DOBBS: Workers or legal workers?
LAURITSEN: They're people that are working in these facilities that need a fair shake.
DOBBS: No, they're people working, we understand. Did you check to see whether or not they're legal before you represent them?
LAURITSEN: Our job is to represent people that work in slaughter houses. That's what we do.
DOBBS: So you don't have a responsibility as a union to obey American law?
LAURITSEN: We represent people that work in these facilities. We don't hire them. We represent them.
DOBBS: OK, let me ask you -- since you won't acknowledge a responsibility for that, will you acknowledge a responsibility for the wages they're paid? What of their wages -- how much of their wages risen over the last 20 years, Marc, in those meat packing plants?
LAURITSEN: Lou, you and I both know -- I know where you're going and you and I both know that workers don't depress wages. Corporations depress wages and they depress wages by using a broken immigration system.
DOBBS: No, partner. No, you and I both know -- Marc, you and I both know that corporations have to pay living wages if there isn't an influx of illegal labor or surplus labor. And the reason there's a surplus labor, the very people you're supposed to be representing, American workers have watched their wages drop from $19 to $9 an hour because you're willing to make no distinction between an illegal worker in this country and a lawful, legal American citizen. And that is your responsibility.
LAURITSEN: No, what's happened here is that corporations throughout this country have exploited a broken immigration system for their own advantage.
DOBBS: Oh, I couldn't agree with you more.
LAURITSEN: This government needs to get on the stick. The Republican Congress that was just voted out of office promised us ...
DOBBS: ... you and I agree Marc, this government is a joke. This government is dysfunctional, it's irresponsible to the point of criminal negligence. Do we agree?
LAURITSEN: And what I will tell you Lou -- and what I will tell you is what you saw two days ago at these meat packing plants was this administration and this government's another bungling of a job that could have been done a lot better. This government bungled it and that's what they have done.
DOBBS: And Marc, how do you explain to your membership, American citizens paying your union dues that you're come complicit in driving their wages down by participating in the exploitation of these illegal workers?
LAURITSEN: Well, I disagree. We're the ones that are driving those wages up. We're pushing them up as best we can.
DOBBS: You're driving them up? You're kidding? Name another industry that's lost 50 percent of its wage power over the course of the last 20 years.
LAURITSEN: Well, that's not exactly the truth. The wages in this industry have actually ...
DOBBS: ... Well no, it's actually worse than that, from $19 to $9 an hour.
LAURITSEN: No, first of all the starting wage in those union meat packing plants is about $11 an hour and goes as high as $23 an hour, depending on your job.
DOBBS: Marc, we'll continue this conversation later. It's a very simple thing. You're either part of the problem or you're part of the solution. If you feel good about where you are, that's fine. It's America and we appreciate you being here.
LAURITSEN: I look forward to continuing the conversation.
DOBBS: Our pleasure, come back any time.
Coming up next, a disturbing new study says our education system is a national disgrace. I've been saying that for about three years here. The American standard of living is at risk unless there is a major undertaking on the part of this country. We will have that report next.
Stay with us.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Kitty Pilgrim in New York. We'll be going to Lou Dobbs live in Tampa, Florida at the top of the hour.
In the meantime, a new commission is calling for the most radical overhaul of the American education system in 100 years. Now, the panel has dire warnings about U.S. students being outpaced by foreign students, especially those from India and China.
PILGRIM (voice-over): Thirty years ago, the United States could claim a third of the college students in the world. But now, the United States has only 14 percent of college students. Other countries are educating their populations because they have figured out that a highly skilled work force helps them competitively.
A new report adds, "Indeed, it turns out China and India are only the tip of the iceberg."
WILLIAM BLOCK, COMM. ON THE SKILLS OF THE AMERICAN WORKFORCE: If we're going to compete, if we're going to maintain our standard of living here, we've got to have the skills to compete with a higher quality of workforce that is better educated and better trained.
PILGRIM: Among the recommendations suggested: national examinations to set higher standards for college-bound students, recruiting teachers and paying them more, $95,000 a year. Now many get barely half that.
JOHN WILSON, NATL. EDUCATION ASSN.: The salary ranges that they're recommending, that will revolutionize teaching and it will attract many more highly qualified teachers into the classrooms.
PILGRIM: The report also recommends creating high performance schools and universal early childhood education for three and four year olds and encourage some high schoolers at 16 to move on to college courses.
Some educators say the top U.S. students are competitive globally with other industrialized countries but poor students fall off dramatically.
NANCY HOFFMAN, JOBS FOR THE FUTURE: We seem not to be able to overcome the effects of poverty on educational outcomes. And we don't do as well as other countries do.
PILGRIM: Joining me now is someone who wrote this report. We're joined by Marc Tucker, vice chairman and staff director of the new Commission on the Skills for the American Workforce.
And thanks very much for being with us, sir.
We have a very little bit of time. But one thing that struck me in looking at this report, the graduation rates are abysmal, that we have very few people actually making it through the entire process, all the way through to college. How do we get those up?
MARC TUCKER, COMMISSION VICE CHAIRMAN: We have the lowest -- we have the highest dropout rate in the industrialized world. In order to get those rates up, there are a lot of things we have to do.
We have to provide a much higher quality of early childhood education to all our children, but most especially to the kids who need it the most, who are arriving at kindergarten with half the vocabulary of their better-off counterparts.
We have to have the best teachers in the world. We have to recruit our teachers from the top third of the young people coming into college today.
We have to find a way to equalize a very inequitable funding system in the United States so that the schools that serve the kids who need us most have the resources that they require to get up to the highest standards in the world, which are the standards they're going to have to meet.
We have to streamline the administration and management of our schools so they become lean, high performance management systems.
We have to give our teachers in our schools a lot of autonomy to figure out how to get the job done, but to do it in the context of a real accountability for results.
PILGRIM: Sir, we have just a second left. I know we can't fix it all in two minutes, so...
TUCKER: We can't.
PILGRIM: ... we wish you every success. The report is very, very intriguing and thank you very much for being on to discuss it for the brief moment we've given you.
TUCKER: You are welcome. PILGRIM: Marc Tucker, National Center for Education and the Economy, thank you.
At 7:00 p.m., we'll bring you "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" special town hall, "WAR ON THE MIDDLE CLASS" from Tampa, Florida.
But we'll be right back in a moment.
Stay with us.
PILGRIM: Well, we have just a moment left. We'd love to read one quick e-mail for you. And we will have that in just a second.
OK. Well, actually we don't have that.
So we will go straight to Tampa. And Lou Dobbs is having a special town hall live from Tampa, Florida.
And he joins us right now -- Lou.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com