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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Beijing Successfully Tests Missile That Can Destroy U.S. Satellites; Nuri al-Maliki Today blasted President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; A growing Republican Revolt In Congress; White House Refusing To Pardon Two Former Border Patrol Agents; Senator Jay Rockefeller Interview; Congressman Dennis Kucinich Interview; Charlie Crist Interview
Aired January 18, 2007 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the Bush administration and corporate elites in this nation are building a new bureaucracy to create a North America union comprising the United States, Canada, and Mexico, all the while trying to deny it, trying to create that North America union without any constitutional authority or the approval of Congress or the American people.
We'll have that report.
And as the United States struggles to defeats insurgents in Iraq, communist China is sharply escalating its military challenge to U.S. global superiority. Beijing has now successfully tested a missile that can destroy vital U.S. satellites.
We'll have a special report, a great deal more, all of the day's news straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Thursday, January 18th.
Live from Miami, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Communist China tonight has developed a new weapons system to destroy critically-important U.S. military satellites. This is one of the most dangerous Chinese challenges to U.S. global military superiority ever.
As Beijing escalates its military buildup, the Bush administration is facing new opposition to its conduct in the war in Iraq. The Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, today blasted President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for criticizing his government.
Jamie McIntyre reports tonight from the Pentagon on communist China's rising military threat.
Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House on the rising stress in U.S. relations with Iraq.
And Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill on the growing Republican revolt in Congress.
We turn first to Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon -- Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, it's a clear shot across the bow from China for the United States. In shooting down one of its own satellites, China has demonstrated that it feels no constraint against developing space weapons.
MCINTYRE (voice over): Low Earth orbit satellites have become indispensable for the U.S. military for communications, for GPS navigation to guide smart bombs and troops, and for real-time surveillance. But they are also extremely vulnerable, as the just revealed test of a satellite killing weapon by China ominously demonstrates.
JOHN PIKE, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG: If we, for instance, got into a conflict over Taiwan, one of the first things they'd probably do would to be shoot down all of our lower orbit spy satellites, putting out our eyes.
MCINTYRE: According to U.S. government officials, after three misses, China last Thursday succeed in shooting down one of its own aging weather satellites with a medium range ballistic missile fired from the ground. U.S. censors tracked the satellite as it disappeared from its polar orbit 537 miles above the Earth and was reduced to hundreds of pieces of space debris after impact with a kill vehicle carried by the missile.
The U.S. has lodged a formal diplomatic protest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was this a provocative move by China?
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Don't know that, but we are concerned about it and we have made it known.
MCINTYRE: Under a new space policy authorized by President Bush last August, the U.S. asserts a right to freedom of action in space and vows to deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to U.S. national interests.
Experts say the concern is not as much about Chinese capabilities, as their long-term intentions.
PIKE: The thing that is surprising and disturbing is that they have chosen this moment to demonstrate a military capability that could only be aimed at the United States.
MCINTYRE: Now, Washington has said a strongly-wondered demarche to Beijing calling the test "inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation in the civil space area." But Lou, the fact of the matter is, even if China goes no farther in testing, it's already demonstrated it can shoot down a satellite if it wants to -- Lou. DOBBS: Well, forgive me, Jamie. That seems to be an inordinately and pathetically weak response on the part of the United States, for some reason assuming that China would -- its government would respond and say they will not proceed.
What is the United States itself doing, our government, to deal with this direct challenge?
MCINTYRE: Well, you know, you could see, Lou, that in the U.S. space policy there are fighting words about preventing other countries from having the capability of threatening U.S. satellites. But the fact of the matter is, China is a big enough military power that the U.S. can't simply, you know, launch a military action.
So they are reduced to diplomatic initiatives, to protests, to trying to unite world opinion and putting pressure on China. And as you can see, China seems pretty impervious to that pressure.
DOBBS: All right. As almost every other nation on the face of this Earth over the course of the past decade.
Thank you very much.
Jamie McIntyre, reporting from the Pentagon.
Communist China's defense spending is rising faster than any other major country in the world. Much of that spending is to modernize the Chinese navy and the Chinese air force.
China this month introduced a new generation of fighter jets that demonstrate Beijing's ability to build highly sophisticated weapons. The J-10 fighter, as you see there, is powered by Chinese manufactured engines and carries Chinese-made precision-guided missiles.
As communist China accelerates its dangerous military buildup, the United States seems focused on the war in Iraq. The Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki today strongly criticized President Bush's policy in that war. Al-Maliki said Iraq needs more weapons, not more advice from the Bush administration.
Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was his first interview since President Bush laid out his new strategy to bring calm to Iraq, and it was biting. Iraq's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, the man Mr. Bush is counting on to take the lead in turning things around, turned the tables, blaming the Bush administration for not providing enough weapons for the Iraqi troops to secure the country.
NURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I believe that our armed forces could be in much better position than it is now. And if that had happened, it would have spared us and people with other foreign forces a lot of losses. MALVEAUX: President Bush brushed off Maliki's criticism, focusing instead on his new pledge to Maliki to send more American troops to help secure Baghdad.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We may not be providing them as quickly as he wants, but nevertheless, it is a good sign when the prime minister says, just give us the capabilities. And that's precisely what my new strategy and new plan is attempting to do.
MALVEAUX: But his strategy also requires Maliki to step up his military and political responsibilities. And administration officials have been warning him, America's patience is wearing thin.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Iraqi government was on borrowed time. Maliki borrowed a familiar phrase from the Bush administration, suggesting the criticism would only embolden the terrorists. Said, "I believe such statements give a morale boost to the terrorists and push them towards making an extra effort, making them believe they have defeated the American administration. But I can tell you, they haven't defeated the Iraqi government."
White House aides downplayed Maliki's comments, characterizing it as a sign of his independence meant to show strength to the Iraqi people.
SNOW: You have comments to reporters and you also have actions on the ground. And those are actions that we support and that demonstrate real seriousness on the part of the Maliki government.
MALVEAUX: Now, Lou, aides say that they believe all this tough talk from Maliki is really for domestic consumption, for the Iraqi audience. They say that the president is heartened by some of the actions, recent actions by Maliki's government, including sending two brigades into Baghdad, increasing militia detainees, as well as making progress in this oil deal -- Lou.
DOBBS: Suzanne, thank you very much.
Suzanne Malveaux from the White House.
The Republican rebellion against President Bush's new Iraq policy is widening tonight. A group of Republican senators is working on a new resolution to oppose any troop increase in Iraq. This comes one day after Senator Chuck Hagel formed an alliance with Democrats to fight that troop increase.
Dana Bash has the latest for us from Capitol Hill.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A group of senators in the president's own party are so opposed to his strategy in Iraq, they're trying to come up with their own resolution, making that clear with a Senate vote.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Individual ones of us have had the opportunity to tell the president personally what we think, but that doesn't have the magnitude, the impact of the entire Senate going on record.
BASH: Republican Susan Collins and several other GOP senators who disagree with the president say a resolution offered Wednesday by Republican Chuck Hagel and Democratic leaders is too broad and terms like "escalate" make it too controversial.
SEN. NORM COLEMAN (R), MINNESOTA: The bottom line is I'm not signing on to the Hagel piece. We're look at some other alternatives.
BASH: The fact that Minnesota's Norm Coleman and other Republicans who had supported the president on the war are searching for ways to show they now disagree with him is the latest sign of Mr. Bush's increasing isolation. Especially since the White House has been meeting with GOP lawmakers trying to stop a revolt.
COLLINS: I think the president is hearing our concerns, but unfortunately he's not heeding our concerns.
BASH: With prodding by Bush officials, GOP leaders who still back the president may propose resolutions of support. They're hoping to get help from Democrat-turned-Independent Joe Lieberman.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: As you know, I support the president's proposals because I believe we have so much on the line in Iraq. I think those who oppose the president's ideas have an obligation, responsibility to propose an alternative course that offers the hope of success.
BASH: Now, the first forum for this Iraq debate to play out will be next Wednesday, the day after the State of the Union Address, in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where opponents of the president's plan on Iraq will try to pass a bipartisan, non-binding resolution that they hope to send to the full Senate for a vote in the next couple of weeks -- Lou.
DOBBS: Is there anywhere on Capitol Hill, Dana, an effort by the Democrats or Republicans to put forward a -- an active strategy and new direction in Iraq, rather than saying what should not occur? Is any element of this dissent voicing a specific affirmative policy on the conduct of the war in Iraq or its conclusion?
BASH: The answer is yes. But the answer is, there are a lot of different ideas.
You know, the Democrats say that they have finally come together on an idea that they've been pushing for quite some time now, that troops should start coming out in four to six months. And they say that will force the Iraqi government to stand up for themselves. Then you have Republicans like Susan Collins, who say, you know, no more troops in Iraq, but I was just there and what I think you should do is move troops to Anbar Province.
There are a lot of other -- lot of other different ideas. And that is part of the problem, is that there is a lot of opposition to the president's plan, but in terms of what to do about it, nowhere near a consensus on it.
DOBBS: Dana, thank you very much.
Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.
Another of our troops has been killed in Iraq. The military saying that a sailor assigned to a military police brigade died in a non-combat-related incident.
Twenty-three of ours troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month. 3,027 of our troops since the war began. 22,951 of our troops wounded, 10,218 of them so seriously they could not return to duty within three days.
At least 24 Iraqis were killed today in attacks across Baghdad. Ten of the Iraqis were killed in a car bomb attack at a market in the southern part of the Iraqi capital.
And today, three retired generals strongly criticized the Bush administration's plans to increase the number of troops in Iraq. In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, one of those former commanders, General Joseph Hoar, said the plan is "too little, too late."
Joining me now is General David Grange, one of the country's most distinguished military leaders.
General Grange, let me just ask you, do you agree with General Hoar, this is a discussion about too little and too late?
BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I do agree that it is too late. I do agree that it is less numbers of troops than we actually need. But I don't think it's -- the word "too late" is accurate.
It is late. I think that something could be done to try to reverse the situation. And there's not too many choices out there but to do what we're trying to do right now.
DOBBS: Is it your opinion that we are involved in a strategy here? As the president talks about reinforcements, are we involved in -- he talked about the gradual failure of his policies and the conduct of this war over the past year. Are we simply for stalling a conclusion that is one of withdrawal over the course of the next year?
GRANGE: Well, I think, you know, withdrawal is inevitable. I mean, it's going to happen I think within the next two years, for sure. But here's the issue. You have a -- what's the recognized government, for example, in Baghdad? Is it the elected government or is it militia leadership? And if you take the fact that it's the militia leadership and don't do anything about it, then we might as well just leave, because you have a state within a state.
So if we're not going to have a state within a state, we're going to do something about the unauthorized military units, then something must be done.
DOBBS: And that something that must be done, many are urging that it be done by the Iraqis themselves. One of the issues now, two of the three battalions in the Iraqi government being sent in to Baghdad to fight the insurgents are from Kurdistan. They don't even speak Arabic.
Is there any reason in the world to believe that those -- that those battalions would even be loyal to the al-Maliki government?
GRANGE: Well, the American GIs don't speak Arabic either. I think actually it's a good choice.
One, I think they'll take orders from the Iraqi government and the U.S. better than some of the Iraqi army or police that are in cahoots with the militia. So I think they are more loyal and they are very good fighters.
DOBBS: And at what point do you think it would be realistic to expect U.S. troops to leave Iraq?
GRANGE: I think it would be fair to say, if you go ahead and support this effort for four to six months -- in other words, once this reinforcement gets on the ground, give them a chance to succeed -- I mean, you could pour all kind of weapons in the Iraqi army, but if they're not ready to use them, it doesn't do any good -- and give them a chance to get where they can take over that job, then we've given them a last, final chance to succeed.
DOBBS: A date certain, six months from the beginning of February, when the first troops of reinforcement are to arrive in Iraq.
General Grange, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
General David Grange.
GRANGE: My pleasure.
DOBBS: Still ahead here, the White House and federal prosecutors are refusing to give justice to two former Border Patrol agents sent to prison for shooting a Mexican drug smuggler given immunity by the U.S. Justice Department to testify against those agents.
We'll have that special report and White House reaction.
And corporate elites, special interests threatening middle class Americans' access to affordable healthcare.
We've tell you how. We'll tell you why in our next report.
And we'll be talking about the war on the middle class here in Florida. I'll be talking with Governor Charlie Crist. The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee joins us as well, Senator Jay Rockefeller, to discuss the president's conduct of this war on Iraq and many other issues.
Stay with us as we continue reporting live from Miami, Florida.
DOBBS: Supporters of former Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean are continuing their efforts to free those men from prison. The former agents began serving 11 and 12-year sentences yesterday for shooting and wounding an illegal alien Mexican drug smuggler given immunity by the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute those agents. The government is defending its actions against Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos.
Casey Wian has our report.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Former Texas Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos have been behind bars for one day, leaving about 4,000 days left on their sentences for shooting a Mexican drug smuggler nearly two years ago. Family members, dozens of federal lawmakers, and more than a quarter of a million supporters blame the Bush administration for siding with the drug smuggler, not the agents.
JOE LOYA, IGNACIO RAMOS' FATHER-IN-LAW: The question is why the government has betrayed him like this after so many years of service with our U.S. Border Patrol, over a hundred drug busts. Never hurt anyone, never hurt anybody. Never shot anyone.
You know, a clean record.
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: Shame on you, Mr. President, for allowing these two brave heroes to go to jail and permitting the drug dealers and the terrorists an open border to the United States.
WIAN: U.S. attorney Johnny Sutton defends his office's prosecution of the agents and grant of immunity to the drug smuggler, citing testimony he was unarmed, posed no threat, and was running away when he was shot. However, Agent Ramos says he testified that the drug smuggler was turning and pointing at the agents as if he had a gun...
IGNACIO RAMOS, FMR. BORDER PATROL AGENT: He went like this.
WIAN: ... and that medical evidence of the smuggler's wound supports that. Both agents say their only regret is not properly reporting the shooting.
REP. BRIAN BILBRAY (R), CALIFORNIA: Now, there might have been a mistake here, but not to the magnitude of almost the viciousness of enforcement on these two agents.
WIAN: The White House apparently refuses to recognize multiple inconsistencies in the case, even while lawmakers demand a presidential pardon.
SNOW: The president has heard the concerns. One of the things that we think is important is that the lawmakers, as they look at case, need to look at the facts of the case.
T.J. BONNER, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: If people knew all of the facts of the case, they would be even more furious than they are now. The facts prove that these agents were simply doing their jobs, defending themselves against an armed drug smuggler, and yet the U.S. government turns on them with all of its might and resources and prosecutes them, giving the drug dealer a free pass.
WIAN: Bonner says Border Patrol union members in Texas were warned they would be terminated if they called in sick in support of their incarcerated former colleagues.
WIAN: The appeals process will now move ahead, but not until the court certifies transcripts of the agents' trial. That is expected to happen within the next few weeks.
And tonight, Lou, President Bush told a local television station in Texas that he would review the case. And he also did not rule out the possibility of a presidential pardon -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well in this case, Casey, you have saved the best for last. This is the first acknowledgement by the president of the entreaty of 55 U.S. congressmen, members of his own party, and the actions that are highly questionable on the part of the U.S. Justice Department from their investigation through their prosecution.
WIAN: Tony Snow was asked about those 55 congressmen today. The president not asked about it directly, as far as we know. But Tony Snow did not indicate that the president would be willing to sit down and meet with those congressmen, as they've asked. But as you mentioned, Lou, this is the first time the president has acknowledged this case, and he says he will review it.
DOBBS: And I frankly cannot recall a time in which a president has been absolutely charged with betraying those agents or any federal employee by this many members of his own party. This is a remarkable historical moment, and one hopes that the White House recognizes it for what it is.
Casey, thank you very much.
Casey Wian. WIAN: OK.
DOBBS: Congressman Duncan Hunter today introduced legislation to pardon those two former agents. Congressman Hunter said, "It is irresponsible to punish them with jail time... this conviction demoralizes our nation's Border Patrol and sends a clear message that we are not serious about protecting our borders and enforcing our immigration laws."
Congressman Hunter is considering a run for the presidency, also asking the Federal Bureau of Prisons to take steps immediately to protect Compean and Ramos while they here in prison. There is concern they may face reprisals from drug smugglers and other felons that they may have apprehended over the years of service to the nation in protecting our border.
That brings us to our poll question tonight. The question is: Do you believe the U.S. government's prosecution of these two former Border Patrol agents based on the immunity given to an illegal alien drug dealer is consistent with this administration's support of open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens? Yes or no?
Please cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.
Up next, healthcare costs continue to erode the income of middle class Americans. New proposals could mean that working people will have to pay even more.
We'll have that report.
And a partnership between the United States, Mexico, and Canada, supported by big business, is moving ahead without the approval of voters or Congress and certainly without constitutional authority.
We'll have that special report.
And Senator Jay Rockefeller, the new chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, joins us here tonight. We'll be discussing the war in Iraq, domestic spying, and more.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: The Bush administration is pushing and pushing hard a partnership between the United States and Mexico and Canada, with a goal of what it calls integration by 2010. This partnership among three nations is being discussed at the highest levels of the three governments at the urging of the largest multinational corporations, but it is barreling ahead with absolutely no congressional oversight, no voter approval, out of sight completely of the American people. And as far as we can determine, without any constitutional authority whatsoever.
Christine Romans reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Congressman Virgil Goode wants to stop the Security and Prosperity Partnership.
REP. VIRGIL GOODE (R), VIRGINIA: It will lead to a union between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. And it will greatly harm the sovereignty of the United States. It is part of the open borders philosophy to do away with borders. And I vigorously oppose it.
ROMANS: Launched in 2005, it's a dramatic government and business effort to "harmonize regulations." The president promised, no matter who the players are in Washington, Mexico City and Ottawa, this bureaucracy is meant to endure.
BUSH: And I appreciate the commitment of the prime minister and the president toward a spirit of partnership to outlast whatever politics may occur.
ROMANS: To critics, outlasting politics means skirting Congress and the will of the American people in secrecy. It took a Freedom of Information request to find out what happened last fall. Closed to the press, the North America forum was attended by the highest levels of business in government. The conservative group Judicial Watch found...
TOM FITTON, JUDICIAL WATCH: This is a forum where the push is for taxes, the push is for open borders. The push is for investment funds for Mexico.
So all the talk is on one side of the equation.
ROMANS: Among the notes the Pentagon released of meeting, a goal of integration and "Open borders for industry and investment. North America needs to be more competitive, and yet security goals seem to interfere with this outcome." And the admission, "Most people (are) not compelled by North America integration need to identify steps that demonstrate the concept and success."
ROMANS: Numerous documents advocate open borders between and a secure perimeter around the three countries, taking what's called a continental vision. It is a vision Congressman Goode does not share. He will introduce this week a resolution opposing the Security and Prosperity Partnership -- Lou.
DOBBS: And some mindless and uninformed before suggesting that this is not even occurring. I saw a number of articles suggesting whether it's North American Union just isn't happening. It's a fiction as some wild conspiracy theory, yet it is absolutely documented, this administration continues to deny what is happening right in front of us, although it is happening with stealth and with secrecy, it's happening.
ROMANS: The administration has a Web site called spp.gov. It outlines myths and realities. People can check it out themselves but there are a lot of questions about this, Lou.
DOBBS: You can check out our Web site, too, which is about truth. We'll let the administration have its own view of that truth. And fortunately it seems to be one that they don't want to share with a lot of Americans for some reason. This is a very important story.
ROMANS: They will not come on camera to talk about it, but they will refer us to a Web site but not come on camera it talk about it.
DOBBS: Absolutely. How odd and out of character. Christine, thanks. Christine Romans.
One of the biggest issues facing the new congress is the future direction of the war in Iraq, indeed the biggest -- arguably the biggest issue facing the United States. Democrats are determined to challenge the president's decision to send 21,500 more of our troops to Iraq. Some of those Democrats are threatening to cut off funding for the war, others are demanding resolutions and taking other avenues. But opposition is clear.
And joining me now, one of the Senate's most influential Democrats, he is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Jay Rockefeller.
Senator, good to have you with us.
SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: Senator, let's start with Senators Levin, Biden, Senator Hagel a Republican, talking about moving forward with a nonbinding resolution opposing that -- those reinforcements. Will you be cosponsoring the resolution? Will you be supporting it?
ROCKEFELLER: Absolutely. And I think those who say that's a symbolic you know, nonbinding resolution, really have it wrong, because I think it's going to be a bipartisan rejection not of the president per se, but of a policy which has never made any sense, which has never been thought through and which never understood what they were getting into.
DOBBS: Do you also support, as senator Hillary Clinton has suggested, putting a cap on the number of troops in Iraq?
ROCKEFELLER: Not sure yet. I mean, I think that may -- we may come to that depending upon what happens. The president has indicated, as you know that he hasn't listened to anything Congress says. That's not the first time that's happened. We tend to believe that. So, if we want to make our point, we will probably going to have to move on to something stronger.
Our basic problem in Iraq, I think, Lou, and you know, I think you know, we broke it. And they have to fix it. And that's what the acceleration of troops is all about. I mean, you can't fix it militarily. That's pretty much gone, in spite of our soldiers being incredible brave and so many them dying and just getting grievously injured. But now it's the Sunnis versus the Shiites. Are they willing without the promise of us being there to look over their shoulder all the time militarily? Are they willing to look at each other and say, hey, we can put this country back together again. That's the only hope. And I hope that they come to a positive conclusion, but I'm skeptical. I don't think it's a very happy situation.
DOBBS: Not a happy situation for anyone in this country, for the people of Iraq.
Are you hopeful? General David Grange said he believed this increase should go ahead. He's in obvious disagreement with you and a number of other generals. Should go ahead and within four to six months a best effort and at that point withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq if there is a lack of -- if there is no success? Either way, give them four to six months to at least succeed where they have failed over the course over the past year or so. You reject that out of hand.
ROCKEFELLER: No, I don't reject that out of hand. In fact I sort of agree with that. And you know the four to six months depends on when you start.
But let's say you started two to three months and said to the Iraqi government, which I don't think is committed to doing this. Remember Maliki came out and was against the increase in troops and now he's for it and I'm sort of what happened in between. But I do think you have to be very tough with them. And I don't think there's a military solution.
I do think you have to make them confront their own reality of 1,500 years, and that is, can Sunnis and Shias in that country live together in something called Iraq? And if they can't, why are we there when the real war on terrorism started in Afghanistan and we're not doing very well there?
DOBBS: Senator, let's turn to domestic surveillance or warrantless wiretapping. Attorney General Gonzales was questioned today by members of Senate Judiciary Committee, as you know, about the administration's about face, if you will, in turning to FISA for that program. Here's what he said if we could roll that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We believe that the court's orders will allow the necessary speed and agility the government needs to protect our nation from a terrorist threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Senator, you and I have talked about this over the course of the past better than a year, what's your reaction?
ROCKEFELLER: My reaction is that's a very broad statement under which they can fit almost anything they want. Now, look let's be realistic, what happened -- a FISA court judge made a decision that they were tired of having all of these warrantless, unpermitted spying to take place. And so they said it's going to be different. And then the Justice Department kind of took credit for it, and he comes before the Judiciary Committee and says, well we have certain problems.
Well, to be honest with you, there a lot of problems still with the warrantless surveillance act -- wiretap, whatever you want to call it. And that's exactly what Judiciary Committee and the Intelligence Committee are for, to make sure that are there no loopholes, that every single person who is listened to in their conversation that there is a warrant for that. Not some kind a blanket thing thrown out over 10,000 people, but every single person.
If not, Lou, we haven't improved that much. And that gets to the core of what America is as a country.
DOBBS: And you'll be focusing the efforts of the Intelligence Committee and ensuring that.
ROCKEFELLER: Oh very much focused. Dianne Feinstein, myself, Carl Levin, there's just a slew of us who are -- and on the Republican side equally, that were absolutely determined to make sure that we solve this problem once and forever.
Civil liberties can be made into a kind a liberal thing. On the other hand, if you think about it in the sober fashion, civil liberties are kind of why America is different from the rest of the world. And we have to fight to protect those and to make sure that the government doesn't overreach. The Bush administration...
DOBBS: I think most of...
ROCKEFELLER: Excuse me, go ahead.
DOBBS: I was just going to say, senator, I think most of us look upon those civil liberties as kind of an American thing.
DOBBS: Senator, we thank you very much for being with us here. Senator Jay Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. Thank you, Senator.
Coming up next, Democratic congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich joins us. We'll be talking about the national media. Does it need reform? Is there a role for the fairness doctrine?
Health care costs continuing to erode the well-being and quality of life for middle-class Americans. Their new proposals that will add to the threat. We'll have that report and Florida's governor, Charlie Crist joins me to discuss his plan to protect homeowners from dramatic insurance increases. Stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion. Live from Miami, here again, Lou Dobbs. DOBBS: The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives tonight has finished its 100-hour legislative agenda, passing an oil revenue bill. That bill ends $15 billion of subsidies and tax deductions for major oil companies.
The House completed work on six major pieces of legislation in just about 42 hours of floor time. That's less than half the limit that the Democratic leadership had set. Now, of course, all of that legislation has to move through the Senate and ultimately through the president for his signature.
Other legislation passed includes an increase in the federal minimum wage -- the first in more than a decade -- stem cell research, lower prescription drug price, interest rate cuts for student loans.
One of the most critical issues facing this country is diminishing access to healthcare. As insurance rates skyrocket, costs are shifting to hard-working Americans. It could worsen. Under some new proposals, individuals could be asked to pay even more.
Kitty Pilgrim reports from New York.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That doctor bill is increasingly a personal responsibility. Over the last six years, health insurance rates rose six times faster than personal income, and the boss is shifting more of those costs onto the employees who are faced with higher premiums, higher deductibles and co-payments.
ELLEN GALINSKY, FAMILIES AND WORK INSTITUTE: In 2005, we found a significant drop in the number of employers that provide full coverage for personal health care. It went from 25 percent, which isn't a large number anyway, down to 10 percent. So a very big drop.
PILGRIM: An estimated 47 million people are without health coverage at all. Some in Congress favor a system in which the employer doesn't pay, the individual does, choosing their own coverage just like car insurance.
SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: There would be less cost shifting and also we'd save money because people would buy private coverage for out-patient services, rather than go to expensive hospital emergency rooms.
PILGRIM: Some states have embraced that solution also. Massachusetts requires its state residents to carry health insurance; it also subsidizes it for those who can't afford it. Vermont and Maine plan to enact similar laws. California's new concept of tax subsidized mandatory coverage continues with employer-based coverage.
RON POLLOCK, FAMILIESUSA: What those states are doing is they're frustrated because there hasn't been leadership out of Washington. And so they feel they can't wait any longer because too many of their citizens are being hurt.
PILGRIM: Health care issues are shaping up to be a big issue for the 2008 campaign.
PILGRIM: Last summer, President Bush signed the Health Care Act of 2006. It increased the amounts that people could put into tax free health savings accounts. That doesn't begin to tackle the problem of rising costs. Many of those plans have very high deductibles, so less than one percent of Americans have opted to sign up for those kinds of plans -- Lou.
DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much. Kitty Pilgrim.
Up next here tonight, Florida's governor, Charlie Crist, joins me. We'll be talking about the problems of soaring insurance rates for Florida homeowners, rising property taxes.
And Democratic Congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich joins us. We'll be talking about media reform and his candidacy. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Concentration of media ownership, Internet neutrality and oversight of the Federal Communications Commission, among the issues the new chairman of the House Domestic Policy Subcommittee plans to take on. That and, of course, running for the presidency. Joining me now is Congressman Dennis Kucinich.
Congressman, it's good to have you with us.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: Thank you very much, Lou. I appreciate a chance to be on your show.
DOBBS: You have spoken out for the first time -- I'd not heard the words fairness doctrine in a very long time. But you are compelled to look at that issue and to bring it front and center to the national agenda. Tell us why.
KUCINICH: Well, years ago, when I was teaching at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, I talked about the creation of the Federal Communication Commission.
When it was first created in 1934, Lou, it said that all broadcast licensees should serve in the public interest, convenience and necessity. The fairness doctrine derived from the public interest. And that is that there should be an uninhibited marketplace of ideas.
That's what the First Amendment is all about. And so what I have asked is for our committee's work to include a revisiting of the fairness doctrine in this year of 2007.
DOBBS: And you plan on holding hearings. As you know, there is a school of thought that the fairness doctrine which, of course, hasn't been around now for some 20 years, was stifling and therefore, also, contravening the First Amendment, free speech. How do you respond to those who would charge that?
KUCINICH: Well, there's been some real changes in media in the last 20 years since we have seen the fairness doctrine go. We've seen 50 large media companies suddenly shrink to six. And so this idea of uninhibited exchange of ideas in a marketplace needs to be looked at in the era of media consolidation to see, for example, how in the world did we end up in this war in Iraq?
When one study said that only three -- new sources who oppose the war were able to get on the air out of 393 in a study, what does that say? Was there is an uninhibited exchange of ideas? How could we have the trade policies which we have, for example, if there was a free and uninhibited exchange of ideas over NAFTA and GATT and the WTO.
I think that this is an opportunity for America to revisit the issue of consolidation in the media, how it relates to whether the media's serving in the public interest, and so my committee's going to have hearings on that.
DOBBS: All right, Congressman, we were just about out of time. But I can't let you leave us without asking you how your campaign for your party's nomination is going. How are you feeling?
KUCINICH: Let me say this, Lou, that I'm the only candidate who not only consistently opposed the war but who voted against funding the war. Today, the big debate is escalation. The debate ought to be ending the occupation, and it ought to be not funding the war, to bring our troops home.
I put forth a 12-point plan that's intended to do that. You cannot say that you oppose this war and continue to fund it. And so I've been clear on this. I lead the effort in the House and I'm continuing to lead the way as the candidate for president.
People want a president who has the clarity of vision and is not going to commit men and women to put their names on the line in the name of the United States if that cause is based on a lie. And I saw immediately that it was the wrong thing to do and people want a president who has the judgment, the right judgment on these kind of grave matters.
DOBBS: Congressman Dennis Kucinich, thanks for being here.
KUCINICH: Thank you.
DOBBS: We'll be talking over the course of the next couple of years. Thank you.
KUCINICH: Thank you, sir.
DOBBS: Up next, I'll be talking with Florida's new governor, Governor Charlie Crist. He's pushing a plan to rein in this state's soaring insurance rates, a state that has also been deviled by soaring property taxes. We'll be talking to him about that and more. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DOBBS: Coming up on CNN at the top of the hour, the "SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.
The chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joe Biden, a leading and vocal critic of a troop increase in Iraq and a likely presidential contender. Can Democrats ever agree on how hard to push back against the president? I'll ask him.
And mercury rising: a very mysterious event in the Los Angeles subway system. Was it a test of our homeland security?
Plus, Obamamania as the Illinois senator pushes ahead on his plans to run for the White House. Is America ready for an African- American president?
And a deer on thin ice. Check it out. See how this doe gets out of slippery situation.
All of that, Lou, coming up in the "SITUATION ROOM".
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Wolf.
Florida's homeowners today are facing huge insurance rate hikes, some as high as 400 percent, after the disastrous hurricane seasons of 2004 and 05. The state is trying to provide relief with initiatives, led by Governor Charlie Crist, who had an emergency session of the state legislature.
And Governor Christ, who succeeded President Bush's brother Jeb in that capacity, joins us tonight from Tallahassee.
Good of you to take time to talk with us, Governor.
Congratulations on your election.
A special session of the legislature, is it producing what you'd hoped?
GOV. CHARLIE CRIST, (R) FLORIDA: It is so far. I'm very optimistic, Lou, and it's very good of you to be in Florida. It's very important to understand that Floridians are suffering from an insurance crisis, I dare say.
You're absolutely right about your introduction. The rates have soared to historic highs. It is very crippling on our people. You know, you understand we've had an awful lot of hurricanes over the past few seasons. That has precipitated this.
But we also understand that the insurance industry has enjoyed a $60 billion profit, according to some estimates, over the past year, $3 billion of that on the back of Floridians just in this past year as well. We want to do everything we can during this special session this week in Tallahassee to get relief to Floridians all over our state. They need it, they deserve it, and they want it.
DOBBS: As you know, Governor, this broadcast is committed to the interest of middle-class Americans. And what is happening in the state of Florida is emblematic in so many ways of what is happening around the country.
But you are unique as a Republican governor taking on big business in the way in which you are doing. You're going straight after those insurance companies.
CRIST: Well, we need to. That's the duty, I think, of this office. You know, I really don't care about Republican, Democrat, independent. What's important is that we do what's right for the people, Lou. And they understand that. And they send us that message very loud and very clear on November the 7th, that they want us to work together to do what is right. And that's exactly what we're trying to do.
And I've got to congratulate the Democratic members of the House, the Democratic members of the Senate are working very hard here in Tallahassee with our Republican colleagues to get this done and get it done as quickly as possible.
DOBBS: Those are nice words for all of us, I think, to hear. I'll speak only for myself. It's nice to hear a Republican governor talking about the Democratic members of his state legislature that way. It's not something that we often hear. It's a hopeful -- it has a hopeful resonance and we wish you all of the best of luck in it.
You also have rising property taxes that are just crushing people here as well. What can be done there?
CRIST: Well, a lot. We believe -- we have an exemption already that exists in Florida. The first $25,000 of the value of your home is exempt from taxation. We would like to double that -- our Democratic colleagues want to help us do that, too -- to $50,000.
We also have something else, Lou, in our state that's been very advantageous to property owners. It's a three percent cap on their increase in their property taxes per year.
But people lose that when they go to another home. And if you're a young family, you want to get into a larger home, more square footage, you lose that advantage of that cap. We want to make that portable, if you will, to the second home that they may purchase when they want to move. They feel trapped in the home that they're in right now in our state. We want to enjoy an economic boom. We believe that we will if we can address this insurance issue, as well as the property tax issue. They're sort of the Twin Towers, if you will, of the pocketbook issues that are facing our people.
DOBBS: One quick last question -- we're really out of time, Governor. I appreciate your time. But Florida's also taking some interesting and important initiatives in public education. Are you hopeful that you're going to see that those initiatives succeed as well?
CRIST: Yes, we're very hopeful. I'm a proud product of Florida's public school system and our state university system. And I have three sisters that I love dearly. Two of them have been public schoolteachers. One of them the most important things we can do is raise teachers' salaries and continue to have measurement and accountability in our system. We're committed to it. Our children deserve it. We must continue on that path and I'm sure we will.
DOBBS: Governor Charlie Crist, we wish you well in all of that.
And we thank you and the good people of Florida for the hospitality we've encountered here. We'll impose on that hospitality for another day.
Thank you, Governor.
CRIST: Please do.
Thank you, Lou. It's kind of you to be with us.
DOBBS: You betcha.
Still ahead, we're going to have the results of our poll.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Quickly, our poll results: 90 percent of you say the U.S. government's prosecution of Border Patrol agents is consistent with this administration's support of open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens.
Time for one quick e-mail.
Carol in Ohio: "Had I known that I was voting for a president who continuously holds the rights of Mexicans over the citizens of his own country, I would never have voted for him. I'm beyond disgusted and outraged."
Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us tomorrow.
For all of us, thanks for watching. Good night from Miami, Florida.
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