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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Showdown Over Iraq; Cold-Blooded Murder of U.S. Soldiers in Iraq; War on the Middle Class
Aired January 26, 2007 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, President Bush and Congress head for a political showdown over the conduct of the war in Iraq. President Bush says he is the decision maker, his words. Democrats and some Republicans are stepping up their demands for an urgent change in the president's strategy.
We'll have complete coverage here tonight.
And corporate America escalating its war against the middle class, ignoring congressional rules and flooding the country with cheap overseas labor.
We'll have that special report, all of the day's news, a great deal more, straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Friday, January 26th.
Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
The political confrontation between the White House and Congress overthe conduct of this war in Iraq is intensifying. President Bush today refused to reconsider any part of his decision to send more troops to Iraq. The Senate is planning a full week of debate on a resolution to repudiate the president's strategy.
Meanwhile, a new illustration tonight of the grave risk facing our troops in Iraq each and every day. Military officials say four troops killed last weekend were captured by insurgents and then murdered.
Ed Henry reports on the -- from the White House on the president's refusal to compromise with his critics on Capitol Hill.
Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill on the rising political pressure on the president.
And Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon on disturbing new details about the deaths of four of our troops, raising questions about the integrity of the military's reporting.
We turn first to Ed Henry at the White House -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Democrats on Capitol Hill think that the president may now be beating the war drums against Iran, but the White House insists the president is just trying to step up the capture and killing of Iranian agents who are in Iraq and are using improvised explosives devices to help militias in Iraq.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It just make sense that if somebody's trying to harm our troops or stop us from achieving our goals or killing innocent citizens in Iraq, that we will -- we will stop them.
HENRY (voice over): This allows the president, sitting with his newly confirmed commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, to try and achieve two goals -- improve security in Iraq, and get tough with Iran, which is moving ominously closer to obtaining nuclear weapons. But the president's action against Iranian agents also provides fuel to the fire, fanned by Democrats that the White House is really gunning to expand the war in Iraq into Iran.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We want the American troops protected in Iraq. But for the president to escalate this conflict outside Iraq is something he has to come back and ask us permission to do.
HENRY: Democrats charge some of the president's rhetoric against Iran, like this last week, is reminiscent of the so-called cowboy diplomacy that led to the war in Iraq.
BUSH: If they are moving weapons inside Iraq that will hurt the cause of democracy and, more particularly, hurt our soldiers, we'll take care of business there.
HENRY: But on Friday, the president insisted Democrats are wrong.
BUSH: Now, some are trying to say that because we are enforcing -- helping ourselves in Iraq by -- by stopping outside influence from killing our soldiers or hurting Iraqi people that we want to expand beyond this beyond the borders, that's -- that's a presumption that simply is not accurate.
HENRY: Democrats want aggressive, direct talks with Iran and other key nations, as the Baker-Hamilton commission called for.
REID: I think what we should be doing is just as Secretary Baker suggested -- look at a regional way to solve the problem in Iraq.
HENRY: But the president has rejected many of the Baker-Hamilton recommendations and is now brushing off bipartisan congressional opposition to his move to increase troops in Iraq.
BUSH: One of the things I found in Congress is that most people recognize that failure would be a disaster for the United States and -- and that I'm the decision maker. I had to come up with a way forward that precluded disaster.
HENRY: "I'm the decision maker" sounds awfully similar to that now same comment from last year that the president uttered, "I'm the decider," when he rebuffed calls for the firing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Democrats believe this shows the president is still dug in on foreign affairs -- Lou.
DOBBS: Ed Henry, is there concern there in the White House that the president has put himself on the horns of a dilemma? Not having put enough troops into Iraq, suggestions by many, as you know now, that even the additional troops will not be sufficient to achieve strategic aims, and the mistakes of the past in which he simply refused to recognize the insurgency, the entire administration refused to recognize the insurgency as a civil war and a conflict primarily between the Sunnis and Shia?
HENRY: Well, Lou, I think based on Vice President Cheney's interview with CNN this week, he's not -- many top officials are not concerned about the mistakes made in Iraq in terms of moving forward. Many of them believe that, in fact, there have been many successes in Iraq and they've rejected that.
I think, secondly, you put your finger on another problem, another major dilemma, which is not enough troops. There have been a lot of people saying for a long time there are not enough troops in Iraq, and now the president has finally admitted just in the last couple of months that he needs to increase the size of the military overall, but defense experts point out that's going to take a long time. And if there had to be, if there had to be another war with Iran or anyone else, the military's stretched very thin -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much.
Ed Henry from the White House.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates today strongly defended President Bush's strategy in Iraq. The defense secretary said critics of the president's troop increase are emboldening the enemy, as he put it. Secretary Gates also said the Pentagon may accelerate the deployment of additional combat brigades that the president has decided to send to Baghdad.
Congressional critics of the president's new Iraq strategy are refusing to back down. The Senate likely to hold a full-scale debate next week on the troop increase.
Meanwhile, one of the president's strongest critics in the House, speaker Nancy Pelosi, today was in Iraq.
Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A trip to Iraq by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leading war critics added drama to the unrelenting pressure on the White House from a newly emboldened Congress. A fact-finding mission, including a meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for Democrats who want troops out of Iraq, not more troops in.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: And we were very honored by the time that the prime minister spent with us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes are 81, the nays are zero.
BASH: Back in Washington, the Senate unanimously approved the president's choice to lead his revised Iraqi military campaign, but not before a top Republican opposed to the president's plan made clear that General David Petraeus and the commander-in-chief must heed the concerns of Congress and the American people.
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: The president specifically asked that if there were suggestions, forward them, speak them. And I and others, in a matter of clear conscience, have done just that.
BASH: Over the objections of the White House, Republican John Warner is pushing a bipartisan resolution stating the Senate disagrees with adding troops to Iraq. That will come after a vote now scheduled as soon as next Tuesday on a different resolution, backed by Democratic leaders, saying it's not in the national interests to send more troops to Iraq.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Well, we hope this Republican leadership will join with us to thoroughly debate this issue.
BASH: The White House is bracing for what promises to be the most spirited Iraq debate since the war began. Even Bush allies are being cautious. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he is "skeptical of the Iraqi government" and called the president's plan "their last chance to step up and show they can be effective."
McConnell said GOP leaders will likely promote an alternative resolution, backed by Senator John McCain, setting up benchmarks for Iraqis to meet.
BASH: And CNN has obtained an early draft of Senator McCain's resolution, which is expected to get White House support. It sets out some benchmarks, 11 benchmarks that are fairly vague, like assuming responsibility for security in all provinces in a time manner.
Now, this resolution, we are told, is being shopped around, circulated to Republican senators. The goal, Lou, is to peel off support for other resolution that outright condemn the president on his new plan -- Lou.
DOBBS: It should be an interesting and obviously very important week on Capitol Hill next week.
Thank you very much.
BASH: Thank you.
DOBBS: Disturbing new details tonight about an insurgent attack that resulted in the deaths of five of our troops last Saturday. That attack was horrific, even by the standards of the brutal tactics of Iraq. The military says four of the five American soldiers killed in that attack were abducted. They were then murdered in cold blood.
Jamie McIntyre reports.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In its new and more complete account, the U.S. military calls last Saturday's attack in Karbala a well-rehearsed precision operation and notes it had all the earmarks of an inside job. Explosives were used to destroy U.S. Humvees inside the compound, a diversion that allowed the dozen or so armed gunmen to get away with four captured U.S. soldiers after killing one and wounding three others in a grenade and small arms attack.
The militants, driving at least five American SUVs, GMC Suburbans, wearing American-style uniforms, carrying U.S. weapons and speaking English, had already deceived Iraqi police guarding the compound and went straight to where the Americans were located, according to a news release. The account provides grisly details of what happened next.
The attackers drove north to Babil Province, where they attracted suspicion when they passed through another Iraqi checkpoint. The Iraqis tailed them as they drove across the Euphrates River into Hillah, and eventually found the SUVs abandoned in Al Mahawil.
According to the release, two soldiers were found handcuffed together in the back of one of the SUVs, both dead from gunshot wounds. A third soldier was found shot dead on the ground. A fourth was aleve, with a gunshot wound to the head, but died as Iraqi police rushed him to a nearby hospital.
The original military account released the next day said only, "Five U.S. soldiers were killed and three wounded while repelling the attack."
ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I've just been made aware of the discrepancy in the account, and I've asked for the specifics about it. And I'm -- I'm about where you all are at this point. I think as they've investigated and tried to figure out what was going on, that this other report has come out.
MCINTYRE: The U.S. military says there was a clear breakdown in Iraqi security and a full investigation is under way. Among the things the U.S. wants to know is, how did the attackers know exactly where the Americans were? And did they get any help from the Iraqis at the checkpoint or inside the compound -- Lou.
DOBBS: Certainly those are critically important questions, and amongst those critically important questions is how is it that it is a week later that we are having that, obviously, incorrect initial report corrected?
MCINTYRE: Well, a senior military official tells CNN that it was -- it was a combination of things. The confusion about what happened, the fog of war, the -- the time it took them to piece everything together, plus concern that they didn't want inaccurate, grisly details to come out before the family members of these soldiers had been told what happened to them.
DOBBS: All right.
Jamie McIntyre, I understand the last value. I don't understand the method employed to observe the value.
I thank you very much.
Jamie McIntyre, from the Pentagon.
Insurgents have killed two more of our troops in combat in Iraq, a Marine and a soldier. Sixty-six of our troops have been killed so far this month in Iraq. 3,066 of our troops since the beginning of the war. 23,114 have been wounded, 10,278 of them so seriously they could not return to duty within three days.
Insurgents also killed at least 15 people in a bomb attack on a pet market in Baghdad today. This, the second insurgent attack on the market in two months.
The war in Afghanistan also escalating, and the United States is increasing its troop strength there as well by a full brigade. Some 3,000 soldiers.
A NATO commander today said one battalion from that brigade will be deployed to southern Afghanistan, where NATO troops are fighting radical Islamists. The United States has been asking Europe to send additional troops to the area for months to help British and Canadian soldiers, but not one European country has sent reinforcements.
Still ahead here, corporate elites ignoring congressional rules, importing cheap overseas labor, sacrificing the jobs of hard-working Americans.
We'll have that special report in "War on the Middle Class."
Also tonight, a rising number of states may refuse to implement a critical new measure and law to protect this country from radical Islamists.
We'll have that story.
And is the Bush administration putting the interests of big business, commerce and trade ahead of the national interests?
We'll have a special report on what is a disturbing trend in U.S. foreign policy.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: The United States citizenship and immigration service finally released its report to Congress on the H1B guest worker visa program. But Congress still hasn't seen fit to release that report to the public, perhaps because the numbers are much higher than the government has authorized.
Bill Tucker reports.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The number of H1B visas an existing guest worker program for skilled workers is capped by Congress at 65,000. Another 20,000 foreign students who graduate from American universities with advanced degrees are also eligible for the visa.
That's 85,000 visas a year. But the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service approved 116,927 applications in 2005. It approved 130,497 in 2004.
The reports in 2004 and 2005 were not released until November 20th of last year. A release date that activists find disturbing.
JOHN MIANO, ATTORNEY: I think it's odd that it occurred after the election. Somewhat suspicious that while there were bills pending to have an H1B increase, that the information about the actual numbers of H1B visas was not available.
TUCKER: A spokesman for USCIS admits the reports were late, but he calls the oversight "honest," explaining that in the transitions from INS to the Department of Homeland Security they neglected to file the reports.
"We notified the oversight by a member of Congress. They quickly produced the reports."
Some critics see a pattern.
RON HIRA, ROCHESTER INST. OF TECHNOLOGY: There's been a pattern by the administration to -- to keep, you know, this data that they don't particularly want out bottled up, and we've seen this with the Commerce Department offshoring report, and we've seen it in other areas like NASA (ph) and the like.
TUCKER: And there is intrigue. These reports were obtained by LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, not off a Congress Web site, not from the House Subcommittee on Immigration, but off the Internet, where activists are distributing them by e-mail. (END VIDEOTAPE)
TUCKER: The reports are real. USCIS acknowledges publishing the reports and giving them to Congress in late November. But USCIS says it's not their job to distribute the reports to the public, that's up to Congress.
And, you know, Lou, it may serve in the congressional interests to not make the report widely available to the public, because there are some disturbing facts in that report, and Congress is about to take up debate on doubling that program again sometime this next couple of months.
DOBBS: Well, if they are going -- permitting -- I mean -- I mean, it's just mind-boggling. The program is under such intense criticism.
DOBBS: Just allowing employers to go over by 40 percent over the quotas, more than that, in point of fact, 40 to 70 percent, without effect -- the USCIS does not explain why it's not enforcing it, doesn't have the information, and is holding information back. And now Congress as well?
TUCKER: It gets better, actually, Lou, because when you talk to USCIS, they say, "It's not our responsibility to issue the visas. That falls to the State Department. We just approve the petitions."
DOBBS: And the relationship, of course, between the petition and the -- I mean, this is -- if the American people have not figured out that there is a corporatist agenda at work in this administration and throughout the bureaucracy, then I don't know what more we could possibly report.
And this Congress, whether Democratically controlled or not, has an absolute responsibility to ask, why aren't immigration laws being enforced? Why aren't the laws passed by this Congress being enforced? And the American people need to ask why does neither Congress nor the executive branch fulfill their duties, their constitutional duties?
It is remarkable what is happening in this country. It is on the verge of tragic.
Bill Tucker, thank you very much.
An amendment to the Senate minimum wage bill would punish government contractors that hire illegal alien workers. They would be barred from future government contracts for 10 years. It's proposed by Senator Jeff Sessions. The measure passed, by the way, by a 94-0 vote.
Senator Sessions also proposed an amendment that would increase fines on businesses that hire illegal aliens. That proposal did not pass. The Senate is expected to continue debate on the minimum wage next week. Senator Sessions will be our guest here next Tuesday evening.
The REAL ID Act passed into law last year requires national standards for issuing driver's licenses by next year. But some state governments are saying they will never comply with that plan, no matter the law.
Kitty Pilgrim reports.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The REAL ID Act mandates all states have to meet the same standards to issue a driver's license by May 2008. But some in state government are saying they simply can't make that deadline and that the program is too expensive.
JACK MARTIN, FED. FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: There's a lot of pressures to try to push it off further and further, and part of that objective would be to try to keep it from ever going into effect.
PILGRIM: Lawmakers in Maine Thursday passed a resolution to repeal the act, which they say could cost millions to enact.
Earlier this week, Montana legislators introduced two bills to reject the federal standards aimed at their state. Georgia, Massachusetts and Washington have introduced similar measures.
The need for the REAL ID Act is clear. The 9/11 hijackers had state driver's licenses for identification. In some states, driver's licenses are simply too easy to obtain with fraudulent documents.
ROSEMARY JENKS, NUMBERSUSA: There really is no opt out with federal law. If they decide not to comply, then the result is that the people who get driver's licenses from that state will not be permitted to use their licenses for certain purposes like getting on an airplane.
PILGRIM: The new rules would say, unless a person had a driver's license issued with the new standard, a person could not board a plane, enter a federal building or enter a nuclear facility.
PILGRIM: And the new rules would clearly make the state driver's license -- which is the main form of ID used in this country -- a much more secure and valid document. Now, without national standards in place, and quickly, the country still remains at risk -- Lou.
DOBBS: And, you know, I don't know what we -- we once said we were a nation of laws. I'm having a hard time understanding that right now.
PILGRIM: Yes. DOBBS: Because this is law. It is being undermined by the bureaucracy. It's being undermined by state governments without reaction from the U.S. Attorney General's Office. As Bill Tucker just reported, the H1B visas, definitive, finite quotas, not being enforced.
And the bureaucracy has the temerity, which suggests they also have the approval, if not outright direction from the president's office itself, to simply ignore a failure-to-enforce law. This is incredible.
PILGRIM: It is really shocking that the states are eroding this law so aggressively.
DOBBS: Kitty Pilgrim, thank you very much.
An illegal alien is suing a Spanish-language radio station for not giving her a car that she says she won in a contest. The station says federal law prevents it from awarding that prize if the winner could not provide a valid Social Security number.
Marabel Alvarez (ph), a Mexican national living illegally in Chicago, could, of course, not provide the necessary valid documentation. And the station, therefore, refused to award her the car.
She is now suing for breach of contract and extreme emotional distress. Her attorney said Alvarez (ph) has left Chicago out of fear of being deported. Without her car, I'm sure.
Coming up next, here, I'll have a few choice words for the opinion page editors of "The Wall Street Journal," its coverage of our reporting on this country's illegal immigration and border security crisis.
Also, commercial interests may be taking priority over foreign policy concerns in this nation's relationship with communist China.
That special report coming up.
And Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, threatening to expel the U.S. ambassador.
We'll have that report.
And President Bush becoming more and more isolated as a result of his policies in Iraq.
That report as well, up next.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: The U.S.-China relationship has been dominated by commercial and trade interests for years, while U.S. geopolitical interests have been all but ignored by the U.S. government. More than ever, so-called free trade policies have put our foreign policy goals at risk.
Christine Romans reports.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): There are growing concerns that the United States pursues commercial interests to the detriment of its foreign policy.
RICHARD FISHER, INTERNATIONAL ASSESSMENT & STRATEGY CENTER: This decoupling has been an issue of great concern and a matter of intense debate.
ROMANS: Case in point, China's recent satellite-killer missile test.
WILLIAM DOBSON, MANAGING EDITOR, FOREIGN POLICY: If you were Beijing, you might be forgiven for being a little bit confused, because on the one hand, you'll see the United States praising China on many fronts, saying that we want to do more business, more trade, and yet at the same time we come down very hard on them on something like this.
ROMANS: Two decades of pro-business economic policies with China have yielded a $213 billion-plus trade gap. In South and Central America, the U.S. trade deficit tops $42 billion after years of free- trade agreements pushed by multinational corporations. And the U.S. gave the region $1.7 billion in foreign aid last year.
Still, Latin America moves left, led by Venezuelan socialist strongman Hugo Chavez. Newly elected leaders denounce the United States, embrace dangerous dictators, nationalize companies, and silence free speech.
SEN. BENJAMIN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: At a minimum we would expect that we would then have a trusted ally that would help us on energy issues or help us on the war against terror, or help us on our war against drugs, or help us with so many of our other issues. But we find that we've opened up our markets and we don't even have the type of allies that we need.
ROMANS: All while American jobs suffer.
ROMANS: Venezuela's is the U.S.'s fourth larger oil supplier. China is the second biggest holder of U.S. treasury bonds. Because of these lopsided trade relationships, the U.S. is forced to tolerate behavior that is counter to stated U.S. foreign policy goals -- Lou.
DOBBS: And it is straightforward. The cautionary note very, very clear and visible to everyone in our State department and this White House. And the track record, as you look back over the way in which the United States has conducted its foreign policy, vis-a-vis these two countries, Venezuela and China, it is -- it is absolutely transparent.
So, Christine, thank you very much.
ROMANS: You're welcome.
DOBBS: Christine Romans.
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez says the U.S. ambassador in Venezuela may be soon be "persona non grata." President Chavez threatened to throw out the ambassador if he continues to "interfere" in Venezuela's domestic affairs.
What was the U.S. ambassador's offense? The ambassador said that Venezuela must compensate American companies if Hugo Chavez nationalizes those companies.
Now our poll question tonight. Do you believe the United States should always link its commercial and trade policies to our foreign policy? Novel thought. Yes or no. Cast your votes at loudobbs.com, we'll have the results here later.
Time now for some of your thoughts.
Marry Ann in California is saying, "This North American alliance is all about not building a fence. We the people of the USA are being made to support anyone other than the citizens of this country.
Anita in Texas said, "The Wall Street Journal" thinks pardoning Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean would destroy the GOP's reputation as the law enforcement party. Willingly allowing 20 million immigrants to come here and work illegally has more than accomplished that already."
Send us your thoughts at loudobbs.com. We'll have more of your thoughts here later. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my book "War on the Middle Class."
Now, a few words for the editors of the "Wall Street Journal" opinion pages, whose lead editorial today is entitled "Bonkers at the Border."
The libertarian editors of the "Journal", genuflecting to our ideology and their open borders corporatist masters, call my defense of Border Patrol agents Compean and Ramos and criticism of their prosecution pseudo-journalism, yet they don't contravene a single fact we've reported here and they accept the U.S. attorney's statements without reservation. Even though those statements are based upon the testimony of an illegal alien drug smuggler given immunity to prosecute those agents.
Until this incident, both agents had unblemished records for their professional conduct on duty. Ramos was even nominated as Border Patrol agent of the year. Yet the "Journal" insists on calling these two federal agents corrupt.
Here's the reaction of the U.S. Border Patrol Council's president. "The editors of the 'Wall Street Journal' have every reason to be ashamed of themselves and owe a sincere apology to these two agents and their families as well as to every other American."
Those editors might also ask, as more than 70 congressmen are now asking, why is the Department of Homeland security stonewalling repeated requests by Congressman Michael McCall for the DHS investigation report? After it was promised two months ago.
What was the role of the U.S. Justice Department's top officials in this case? Why do five other border patrol agents call to the scene of the attempted arrest of the drug smuggler remain after two years on administrative duty?
Why do three jurors now say they were coerced in rendering their verdict? And why would the judge in this case deny Ramos and Compean freedom while their case is appealed? And why in the world was this case ever prosecuted in the first place?
Coming up next here, the revolt against the president's war plan. So why are the politicians staying away from this weekend's anti-war demonstrations? Bill Schneider has that story.
And the president says he's the ultimate decision-maker when it comes to troop increases. But how will that fare with the American people? I'll be talking with three of the country's best political analysts.
And the White House bracing for more fallout from the trial of Scooter Libby. Our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, joins us here next, with his thoughts. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The American public continues to show its opposition to the president's plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq and while there may not be major protests in the streets, President Bush is quickly finding his position has isolated him from many Americans, including former allies. Bill Schneider reports.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): An anti-war protest march evokes a lot of strong images. Sixties radicals, flag burning, Jane Fonda. The organizers of Saturday's march said this is not the same.
TOM MATZZIE, MOVEON.ORG: It's not just about protests. It's about citizen engagement with their government.
SCHNEIDER: Back then the protests were louder and more visible, sit-ins, disruptions often with an anti-American tone. We're not seeing much of that now. One reason? No draft. Another reason. Anti-war activists have a powerful ally they didn't have in the '60s.
MATZZIE: It's not just the anti-war movement anymore. There is now an anti-war public. SCHNEIDER: Sixty-three percent of Americans oppose the president's troop increase. The anti-war protest is aimed at Congress.
MATZZIE: You were elected with a mandate for the American people on Iraq, it's time to fulfill it. Congress needs to stop the president's escalation in Iraq.
SCHNEIDER: President Bush made this plea to Congress.
GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work.
SCHNEIDER: But when it comes to influencing Congress, an unpopular president is no match for an unhappy public. Members of Congress have to answer to the voters. So do candidates running for president.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) IL: At some point, we've got to step back and say, what are our responsibilities in the face of obstinacy on the part of the White House?
SCHNEIDER: One conservative Republican contender has already broken with President Bush on Iraq.
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK, (R) KS: It's difficult to understand why more U.S. troops would make much a difference.
SCHNEIDER: So have two other potential Republican candidates.
GEORGE PATAKI, (R) FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Sending more American troops into Baghdad is unnecessary to achieve the core victory over al Qaeda in Iraq.
SCHNEIDER: Senator Chuck Hagel's criticism has been full- throated.
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, (R) NE: And I think all 100 senators ought to be on the line on this. What do you believe? What are you willing to support? What do you think? Why are you elected? If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes.
SCHNEIDER (on camera): Only one presidential candidate, that's Democrat Dennis Kucinich, is scheduled to speak at this anti-war march. Why are the candidates staying away? Well, probably because they are worried it could look like the '60s. You know, Jane Fonda is on the program. Lou?
DOBBS: And perhaps, as Senator Hagel suggests, most of the senators aren't yet ready to march to the line and declare themselves.
SCHNEIDER: That's right. But you want to complete the analogy to the '60s. Senator Hagel is reported to be considering running for president. He could be, if he runs, the new Eugene McCarthy, the anti-war voice in the president's own party.
DOBBS: And I'm sure that Senator Hagel would have preferred you to choose someone that was successful in achieving both the nomination and the presidency.
SCHNEIDER: I'm sure he would.
DOBBS: Bill Schneider, thank you very much.
DOBBS: Members of the Bush administration are bracing for damaging fallout from the perjury trial now under way of Lewis "Scooter" Libby. They are concerned about upcoming testimony from White House insiders and for a perspective, we turn to our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. Jeffrey, good to have you here. This trial, it's a battle between Scooter Libby and his former bosses, it appears.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's really extraordinary. I don't know if Scooter Libby is going to be convicted or acquitted. But what I do know that the picture of the Bush administration in 2003 as the war is beginning, as the weapons of mass destruction are not found, as the criticism begins, where were the WMDs is not a flattering one. Because you see them mobilizing, not to find the WMDs, but to attack their critics.
DOBBS: To attack their critics, to operate a massive P.R. machine.
TOOBIN: And in service of something that turned out to be false. You know, Scooter Libby's charged with lying about when he learned, how he learned about Joseph Wilson , the critic's wife, Valerie Wilson, was a CIA agent. And he says he heard it from Tim Russert, but witness after witness has come forward saying everybody was talking about it at the White House before that conversation with Russert.
DOBBS: So at this point, what is his defense?
TOOBIN: Bad memory. His defense is that a lot of stuff was going on ...
DOBBS: That's never been employed before ...
TOOBIN: Well, you know, it's not -- it's not entirely implausible, in fairness because, he says, look, you're isolating something that seems bigger now than it was. I was dealing with all sorts of things. It was a confusing series of events and I was the person being sent out, you know, hung out to dry on this one. That's the defense.
We'll see if it works.
DOBBS: I have to say, from a distance, it does look like he is hung out to dry here. He is the scapegoat in this, sacrificed to save Karl Rove. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor in this case, knows that the leak had occurred and emanated from quarters other than ...
DOBBS: ... Scooter Libby. This looks like a -- there is a certain kangaroo-court quality to this.
TOOBIN: Well, certainly no one in the White House told him to commit perjury. But the picture is, you know, Libby, you go deal with this. Figure out some way to -- to put out this fire while we stay quiet back at the White House. It's not an appealing picture.
DOBBS: But, again, all of this is about the CIA leak, we know where the leak started. It wasn't Libby. What's the deal?
TOOBIN: Martha Stewart was never prosecuted for insider trading. She was prosecuted for lying in the investigation. It's the same scenario here. Not the crime, but the cover-up.
DOBBS: And, of course, not a -- not a small amount of attention. Thank you very much, Jeffrey Toobin. We look forward to your coverage and your analysis, as always.
TOOBIN: Interesting case.
DOBBS: Thank you.
Still ahead, three of the country's best political analysts join me on what is becoming a very -- very divided city, Washington, DC.
And "Heroes" tonight, the story of bravery on the battlefield, Sergeant First Class Rick Allen, he says he only did what Special Forces members do. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Joining me now, former White House political director, Republican strategist, Ed Rollins, "New York Daily News" columnist, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Michael Goodwin, and democratic strategist, Democratic National Committeeman, Robert Zimmerman.
Gentlemen this is a mess in Washington, DC. What in the world -- I mean, this -- you've got the president's party is in revolt against him on the issue, Michael, of Iraq. There is a confused agenda, at best, on the part of the Republicans. And the Democrats have already run into trouble with their agenda in the Senate. What's going on?
MICHAEL GOODWIN, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": I think the most important thing going on and the best thing, Lou, the Republicans are in revolt against the president. I think it's time. I think the Iraq strategy clearly is not well thought out, and nobody has confidence in it and I just hope people like John Warner will press the case, and in the end I hope 30 or 40 Republicans join the Democrats. You got to stop this guy now. He doesn't know what he's doing.
DOBBS: Do you agree? I'm asking this with a straight face. ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I know you are. I call it the Rollins revolution, because Ed Rollins and his colleagues were advocating Republicans stand up for a long time, and I give him credit. You know, it's interesting, it truly is beyond bipartisanship at this stage, and I think it's really to the credit of the Republicans, joining with Democrats, on this issue. We have a president who is now blundering into a potential -- a military conflict with Iran. It is -- we have no foreign policy strategy, either regionally or globally, it's a foreign policy by incident and it's a policy by press release.
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The most telling thing is the president appeared today at the House Republican conference in Maryland, which is an annual event and got polite, polite applause.
Normally this is a very boisterous event. This is a real cheerleading thing. He gave exactly the same message he gave the other night in the State of the Union, they were insulted by that. And this is his base group. If you start to lose the House Republicans, you've really got some real serious problems.
DOBBS: And apparently telling the members there, according to one of my sources, that those ranchers in Texas don't want a fence. On the issue of illegal immigration. I mean, this is ...
ROLLINS: Texas doesn't run the world and I think ...
DOBBS: Well, I guarantee you Texas ranchers aren't the ones running it.
GOODWIN: I think one of the things about Iraq that is so troubling because the president had an opportunity to have a bipartisan consensus. He invited Congress, he said I consult with Congress, and it's clear nobody in Congress supports him, and yet he won't listen. So as a president, you can't run a war with no public support in Congress or in the nation as a whole, so we've got to find some way to get him to listen.
DOBBS: Let's be honest about something here, I mean absolutely candid. We weren't winning this war when the president had political support.
DOBBS: And if there is some considerable blame here, it is, during, of course, what was a Republican-led Congress. But with membership, Democrats and Republicans, the lack of oversight by Congress, the inability to ask questions of the military leadership, to demand accountability from the civilian leadership, is -- is -- I can see no other way to say it, but it's a dereliction of duty toward the young men and women we put in harm's way.
ZIMMERMAN: That's the real tragedy. The greatest travesty of all is that we have our best and the brightest in harm's way. And where is our military and political leadership? Standing up -- we sent them into war without an exit strategy or a game plan or even the weapons to defend themselves.
ROLLINS: Well, Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense ever, and I think that he forced so much of this. He didn't want to go with the plans that had been in place. Our troops have fought a brave and courageous fight without the resources and I think that's the tragedy of all this.
GOODWIN: I think also you have to -- you have to draw distinctions between the different periods of the war. And I think you can ...
DOBBS: No question.
GOODWIN: ... make excuses with the Iraqi government and all that.
But I think the last year there is no excuse. It is simple pig- headedness and stupidity compounded daily by the refusal to consider any other options.
DOBBS: Let's turn, if I may, to the Libby trial. Airy Fleischer, given immunity to testify. How big a trial is this going to be, because it has already moved up, a little, I think on the scale in the first few days.
ROLLINS: It's the unraveling from inside of what really was going on, in which this vice president was probably the most powerful operative that there was in this whole operation and this operatives obviously did what -- but I think what's become very, very clear there was a real manipulation of the data, that they wanted to prove their case, that they were trying to manipulate the press.
And this guy, Joe Wilson, I'm not going to make a hero out of him, but he basically went on a mission, came back, and said it's not true what was happening, and they did everything they did to go out and blindside him.
GOODWIN: And I think it's interesting that Libby is not going down for the team. I mean, he's going to fight it in the way that he knows how and ...
DOBBS: Well, I think he probably thinks this would be a really poor team to go down for.
GOODWIN: It may go down before he does. So I think ...
DOBBS: Much the same way Newt Gingrich lost his job as speaker before -- before President Clinton could be impeached.
You know what's interesting, though? This trial is also symbolic of how this administration did business. It was an administration very politically mobilized. The focus was getting the enemy, getting the adversaries in the camp, politically, as opposed to really developing policy. GOODWIN: I think it's -- I think it's a very good point and I think it's a real lesson for all politicians and all administrations that you can get so caught up on the inside game that you can lose sight of the ball. And I think that's what happened here.
DOBBS: Let's very quickly, because this presidential campaign is well under way, and the time is narrowing in which the Americans must make a decision. Who is your favorite Republican? Who is your favorite Democratic candidate, Ed Rollins?
ROLLINS: I don't have a favorite Republican. I think the process is such that the three frontrunners who are Giuliani, McCain and Romney, are going to be the only ones who will be able to make this race because of the crowded primary season.
I think any one of them can -- can evolve. I think McCain has the first opportunity, but if he stumbles, Giuliani ...
DOBBS: A lot of people are saying that's sort of a Dole syndrome for McCain to be the front leader.
ROLLINS: The worst drill, from my perspective, I would hate to see '96 where we nominate a war hero who loses to a Clinton.
Robert Zimmerman, your preferences?
ZIMMERMAN: I won't even go there, Ed, as tempting as it is.
DOBBS: I thought you were rather kind to Ed initially here.
ZIMMERMAN: Well, you know, it's respect and deference and a little intimidation.
DOBBS: No good deed goes unpunished.
ZIMMERMAN: A little intimidation. But the point here, is the concept of a front-runner of the Democratic Party is obsolete thinking. I mean, at this time before the 2004 election, Joe Lieberman was the front-runner. Then it was Wes Clark, then it was Howard Dean. John Kerry had to borrow money to get into Iowa and compete here.
DOBBS: So Senator Clinton and Senator Obama should start worrying.
ZIMMERMAN: I think they had better start doing their homework in those early contests. It's going to be very competitive.
DOBBS: You get the last word.
GOODWIN: I've thought all along it's going to be Giuliani against Clinton. I still think that. They both clearly have a contest on their hands, different kinds of obstacles but I still see no reason that they won't end up as the nominees. DOBBS: And will the nation's fortunes and common good prosper as a result?
GOODWIN: I think a lot of it depends on what kind of campaign we force them to have.
ROLLINS: But borrowing money is not a way to go this time. You had better have the money to be able to raise it.
ZIMMERMAN: And the message.
DOBBS: A hundred million dollars to find out whether or not you have something called electability. Robert Zimmerman, thank you very much, Michael Goodwin, Ed Rollins.
GOODWIN: Thank you.
DOBBS: Up at the top of the hour, THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER. Wolf, what do you got?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much, Lou.
Coming up, the U.S. says Iran has an invisible hand in Iraq's violence and has a mountain of evidence to prove it, but given credibility problems in Iraq, can the Bush administration convince the world about Iran?
Also, he once called Miami a third-world country, now Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo said Congress should get rid of its black and Hispanic caucuses. Might that help or hurt his White House run?
And a film about global warming gets a chilly reception. Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth" has an Oscar nomination, two of them, actually. But one high school district isn't so impressed. And some are comparing the debate over the movie to the debate over teaching the theory of evolution in schools.
All that coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Lou?
DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf.
Just ahead, "Heroes," the remarkable story of one soldier in Iraq who risked his life a number of times for the national interest and for his uniform and comrades. He's our "Hero." Stay with us.
DOBBS: Now, "Heroes," our weekly tribute to our men and women in uniform, serving this nation around the world. Tonight, the story of Sergeant First Class Rick Allen. Lisa Sylvester has his story.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sergeant First Class Rick Allen gazes at the army's Special Operations' Memorial Wall at Ft. Bragg. He's drawn to one name, his captain who died 17 months ago in Najaf, Iraq.
August 12th, 2004, the mission was to help Iraqi troops secure a school. As they neared their convoy was hit. First gunfire. Then an RPG struck Allen's vehicle.
SFC RICK ALLEN, U.S. ARMY: The smoke was so bad, I couldn't see through it, and our medic was -- told me, he's like, hey, man, you need to get out of there before something happens. So I grabbed my weapon and jumped down.
SYLVESTER: But he stayed, manning the vehicle's machine gun so that his troop members and the Iraqi National Guard could seek cover. His captain took a group into the school that the insurgents were using as their base. When the call came they needed reinforcements, Allen ran directly into heavy enemy fire to help.
ALLEN: My guys took the right half of the building. We went down the hallway, about three-quarters of the way when we heard a lot of gunfire and a big boom.
SYLVESTER: Allen's captain was killed. His team's intelligence sergeant, wounded. Once again, Allen ignored the heavy fire to retrieve both men.
MAJ. DEAN FRANKS, U.S. ARMY: It really just comes down to how many times he put himself in harm's way. When he could have done other things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For gallantry in action ...
SYLVESTER: For Allen's valor, he was awarded the Silver Star. When asked to describe his Special Forces team and why they do what they do, he gave the true definition of a hero.
ALLEN: I guess to me it captures ordinary men doing extraordinary things and hopefully the whole team is recognized for -- for this, not just me.
SYLVESTER: These are the soldiers who fight to defend their country, Allen says, the guys who run to the sound of gunfire, instead of away from it. Lisa Sylvester, CNN.
DOBBS: Sergeant Allen now back at Ft. Bragg, along with his wife and two children, he plans on returning to Michigan to teach reserve officer training.
Coming up next, the results of our poll. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight. Fifty-nine percent of you do not believe the United States should always link its commercial and trade policies to our foreign policies. Time now for one last thought. Walter in New York said "North American Union? Is that like the New World Order? Why even acknowledge any borders at all since we don't seem to enforce them?"
Unfortunately a good question.
Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us her Monday. Have a great weekend. Good night from New York. THE SITUATION ROOM begins now with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?
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