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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

New Intel Report: Iraq is 'Daunting' Challenge, Senator Clinton Promises Bold Action to End Iraq War, Deadly Tornadoes Hit Florida, U.N. Report Warns of Global Warming

Aired February 2, 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, a bleak warning about the future of Iraq. U.S. intelligence agencies say the chaos in Iraq could last for another year and a half.
We'll have complete coverage of the new report on intelligence from Iraq.

Drug seizures along our southern border increasing sharply. Has the United States lost the war against drug cartels in Mexico?

That special report.

And the very latest on the Florida tornado disaster, 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, February 2nd.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

U.S. intelligence agencies today declared the United States faces a daunting challenge in Iraq. A new national intelligence estimate shows a U.S. troop withdrawal within 18 months would lead to significant escalation in sectarian violence.

Senator Hillary Clinton today said she would withdraw our troops from Iraq immediately if she is elected president. Senator Clinton and other senators are likely to vote next week on a resolution that strongly criticizes the president's plan to send reinforcements to Iraq.

Ed Henry tonight reports from the White House on the bleak new warning about the future of Iraq.

Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon tonight on whether the president's military strategy can succeed.

Candy Crowley reports from Washington on Senator Clinton's plan for Iraq.

We turn first to Ed Henry -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, pressure going on the White House. The top Democratic on the House Armed Services committee today declaring that this report shows the president's increase of troops in Iraq is the very last roll of the dice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY (voice over): A blistering assessment in the president's own national intelligence estimate, or NIE. The cycle of violence in Iraq is likely to get worse and hopes of political reconciliation are fading face.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, FMR. ACTING CIA DIRECTOR: The situation is deteriorating and continues to deteriorate at an accelerating place.

HENRY: The White House strategy is to play the only card they've got. The situation is so desperate, the president's plan for increasing troops needs time. Though, they readily admit, that might not work either.

STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The president made it very clear it's going to be hard and there's no assurance for a success. The president believes his strategy has a prospect for success. It's going to be hard. The NIE says that. The president has said that.

HENRY: But, in fact, the new report also challenges the president on several key fronts. While the White House continues to refuse to call it a "civil war," the report says that term does describe key elements of the conflict. While the report adds the term "civil war" does not adequately capture the full complexity of the conflict, analysts say this actually suggests Iraq is worse than a civil war.

MCLAUGHLIN: This is more complicated than civil war. Civil war is checkers. This is chess. In fact, it's a multidimensional chess board.

HENRY: The president has increasingly been pointing the finger of blame at Iran for the violence in Iraq. While the report acknowledges Iranian support of Shia militants is intensifying the conflict, the report adds, "The involvement of these outside actors is not likely to be a major driver of violence or the prospects for stability."

But the report did seem to bolster one argument the White House continues to make -- that withdrawing U.S. troops would spark even more massive civilian casualties in Iraq and a refugee crisis to boot.

HADLEY: An American withdrawal or stepping back now would be a prescription for fast failure and a chaos that would envelop not only Iraq, but also the region.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: And the report says that chaos could include ethnic slaughter, as well as other nations like Turkey entering the fray -- Lou. DOBBS: And the White House, its reaction to this NIE?

HENRY: Well, what Stephen Hadley is basically trying to say is, we agree, the situation is desperate. That's different from where they were a few months ago, but it's exactly where the president was a couple of weeks ago with his speech.

And their only point at this point is to say, look, it's so desperate, you have to give this plan one last chance. But obviously patience is being lost on the Hill. People -- even though the president urged lawmakers in the State of the Union, look, give me more time, almost immediately, in fact, within 24 hours, these non- binding resolutions starting come out.

So they know time is running out -- Lou.

DOBBS: Ed Henry, thank you very much, from the White House.

Congressional Democrats said the national intelligence estimate is further evidence the president's plan to send additional troops to Iraq will not work. Senator Ron Wyden predicted the estimate would increase support for a Senate resolution opposing the president's plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: Clearly, a civil war is very bad. This appears to be even worse. The intelligence community is saying that there is a level of chaos that has completely infected the region. And that's why I believe a different policy is needed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: And Republicans, for their part, admit the new intelligence estimate is bleak news, but they said the president's plan appears to be the only proposal that offers any chance of success.

The military today said eight more of our troops have been killed in Iraq, two of them in a helicopter crash northwest of Baghdad. It was the fourth American helicopter to be lost in Iraq over the past two weeks.

Nine of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month. 3,090 of our troops since the beginning of the war have been killed, 23,279 wounded, 10,342 of them so seriously they could not return to duty within three days.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates today said Iraqi army units arriving in Baghdad are seriously undermanned. The U.S. commander in Iraq, General George Casey, said some of those units are almost half their authorized strength. The news confirming doubts in the national intelligence estimate about the quality of Iraqi forces.

Jamie McIntyre reports now from the Pentagon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The report offers a gloomy forecast on the ability of Iraqi forces, in particular the police, to do what it takes to make the new Iraq strategy work. Despite real improvements, the NIE concludes, Iraqi security forces will be hard-pressed to execute significant increased security responsibilities or operate independently against Shia militias over the next 12 to 18 months. That sounds far more pessimistic than what the outgoing U.S. commander in Iraq just told the Congress.

GEN. GEORGE CASEY, U.S. ARMY: The Iraqis are in a position to assume responsibility for their security by the end the year.

MCINTYRE: But General George Casey also revealed that Iraqi brigades reporting to Baghdad are showing up undermanned, some just over half strength. The Pentagon says that risks missing a key benchmark.

GEN. PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: They're not at the level we would like them to be, total strength-wise, but they are showing up on the time when they said they would.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Iraqi unit (INAUDIBLE) constitute meeting their part of the deal?

PACE: It needs to be stronger than that.

MCINTYRE: The intelligence estimate contains other bleak assessments. The overall security situation will continue to deteriorate unless there is measurable progress. Iraqi leaders will be hard-pressed to achieve sustained political reconciliation. And key elements of the Iraqi conflict can in fact accurately be described as civil war, even as the big picture is more complex.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I believe that there are essentially four wars going on in Iraq. One is Shia on Shia, principally in the south. The second is sectarian conflict, principally in Baghdad but not solely. Third is the insurgency. And fourth is al Qaeda.

MCINTYRE: The multifaceted foe makes it hard for the U.S. to really know the enemy. Take the two soldiers killed in the crash of another U.S. helicopter, the fourth in two weeks. Bad luck or a new threat?

PACE: Don't know whether or not this is just statistically what's going to happen over time when you're flying at that level and people are shooting at you, or if there's some kind of new tactics and techniques that we need to adjust to.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: The intelligence estimate isn't all doom and gloom. Typically, it hedges its bets. It suggests there are a couple of things that could reverse the downward spiral, such as greeter Sunni acceptance of the government and major concessions on the part of the Shia and the Kurds.

But, Lou, you know, in the intelligence business you can't go wrong accentuating the negative. That way you're either proven right or pleasantly surprised.

DOBBS: Absolutely. And pleasant surprises have been few and far between over the past four years.

Jamie, let me ask you, that -- Secretary Gates, talking about the four wars, and laying out the components of those wars, that is the most intelligent assessment from DOD, whether the secretary or any one of the generals, that I've heard about the -- the architecture of this conflict. Would you agree?

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, the reason I included it in my report was it was the first time I heard it articulated that way.

Clearly, what's -- what's going on there is a very complex situation, and that was the point he was trying to make, is that -- not denying that it was a civil war, but just saying it's much more complicated than that. And, of course, that makes it much more complicated to deal with.

DOBBS: Right. But understanding the architecture also makes that possible.

Ad as to General Pace, that is about as candid as I've heard him being when addressing the -- under-strength, Iraqi units, and talking about the challenge facing the military, the United States in Iraq.

What were you -- what was your reaction?

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, one thing that the events of the last year have done is essentially given the Pentagon a cold shower. They are no longer complaining about the media not portraying the good parts of what's going on in Iraq. They have pretty much have had a reality check.

And for General Pace, it really happened in the middle of last year, when he really began to understand that the strategy wasn't working and realized something had to change.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Jamie.

Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.

Defense Secretary Gates also talked about the rising threat to this country and our allies from Iran. Secretary Gates said the United States is determined to stop Iran from supplying weapons to insurgents in Iraq to kill our troops. But Gates said the United States is not planning to go to war against Iran. Gates didn't say how this country would stop insurgents receiving Iranian weapons and supplies.

The Bush administration today said it will ask Congress for another $245 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That over the next two years. A hundred billion dollars for this year, $145 billion for next. The administration, however, expects the cost of the war to decline sharply in 2009.

Senator Hillary Clinton today made a bold declaration about what she would do about Iraq in 2009 if she is elected president. Senator Clinton said she would end the war immediately. The senator made her remarks at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, a meeting also attended by other Democratic presidential hopefuls.

Candy Crowley reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Carrying the baggage of her yes-vote on the Iraq war, she pushes back.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: If I had been president in October of 2002, I would not have started this war.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: The '07 winter meeting of the Democratic Party gives the rank-and-file their first side-by-side comparison of their '08 presidential candidates. From any angle, it's clear the senator from New York is vulnerable on the war. And, while her main opponents name no names, she is the subtext of their arguments.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: I was opposed to this invasion, publicly, frequently, before it began. I thought it was a tragic mistake.

CROWLEY: And, where she defends a Senate resolution expressing opposition to putting more troops into Iraq, former Senator John Edwards calls the resolution a betrayal.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot be satisfied with passing nonbinding resolutions that we know this president will ignore.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

EDWARDS: We have the power to stop the escalation of this war.

CROWLEY: And, where she opposes cutting off funds for the war, Dennis Kucinich, the war's original protester, objects.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we give the president the money to continue the war, the Democratic Party will have bought the war.

CROWLEY: Ditto, Senator Chris Dodd.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Frankly, I am disappointed that we can't find a way to do more than send a meaningless message to the White House. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: She remains the clear and early front-runner in the Democratic race for president. But Iraq is a clear problem. She promises a different future.

CLINTON: If we in Congress don't end this war before January 2009, as president, I will.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: The risk is that each day of the war seems to increase the number of get-out-now Democrats. For them, 2009 may not be soon enough to win their votes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: The focus on Senator Clinton's past vote is almost solely a product of her front-runner status. Of the four other lawmakers running for president, Dodd, Biden, Kucinich, and former Senator Edwards, only Kucinich voted against the war.

DOBBS: Important credentials, Candy, in this political atmosphere.

What was the reception to the respective candidates there?

CROWLEY: Well, what was interesting is the anticipation for Barack Obama was probably the greatest. People were standing in the aisles, anticipating him. There was great reception for him, but Hillary Clinton was also warmly embraced. She got a lot of applause.

The people that you saw dressed in pink, those are Code Pink people who are against the war. She's the only one that they protested. But there was -- it was just a handful.

So, the two of them, as you might expect, being the two people who are in the top tier, got the warmest reception.

DOBBS: Candy, thank you very much.

Candy Crowley from Washington.

Turning now to the tornado disaster in Florida.

At least 19 people were killed when the storm struck four counties in the middle of the night. Those tornadoes left a 40-mile trail of destruction. Hundreds of homes were destroyed. Officials say the death toll could rise.

Rescue crews are continuing to search through the wreckage tonight. This is the worst combination of tornadoes and thunderstorms to strike Florida in nearly a decade.

Still ahead here, more on the tornado disaster in Florida. We'll have a live report for you from the scene. Also, a big increase in drug seizures along our border with Mexico. We'll have a special report on the war on drugs and whether or not it's being lost.

NASA takes action after communist China's anti-satellite missile test and Beijing's rising military threat to this country. NASA squarely in the middle of this dispute.

We'll have the story and a great deal more, straight ahead.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Leading members of Congress are demanding tough action against communist China after Beijing's efforts to kill a satellite last month. One lawmaker, Congressman Duncan Hunter, says the United States must prepare for a new era of military competition in space. NASA tonight is suspending all space cooperation with Beijing.

Christine Romans has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Last April, President Bush and Chinese president Hu Jintao agreed to cooperate in space on moon exploration and so-called space debris avoidance, a way to strengthen ties between the two nations.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a very important relationship.

ROMANS: After China's January launch of a satellite-killing missile, that relationship is strained and space cooperation unlikely. A spokesman for NASA confirming comments first carried in "The Washington Times" -- "We believe China's development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the constructive relationship that our presidents have outline, including on civil space cooperation."

Space cooperation that some said was ill-advised to begin with since China's program is run by its military.

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "COMING COLLAPSE OF CHINA": China is behind the United States, of course, in terms of its abilities in space. And really a cooperation agreement would really have been a technology transfer from the United States to China. Clearly, the United States was going to get very little benefits from this.

ROMANS: It is unclear if that space cooperation was ever anything more than symbolic. A NASA spokesman says, "NASA's bilateral interactions with China have been very limited because of government- to-government issues." Without elaborating on what those issues are, he added, "Talks were not under way between the two space programs at the time of the missile test."

(END VIDEOTAPE) ROMANS: Initially, the two countries planned to work together on the problem of space junk. China's missile obliterated a weather satellite in space. Members of Congress say China likely made that problem that they were going to work with the U.S. on even worse.

DOBBS: The idea of NASA working with a nascent Chinese space agency is precisely, as Gordon was suggesting -- I mean, Gordon Chang talking about another -- an outright technology transfer.

ROMANS: Right. The critics very concerned that the only thing -- the only people that had anything to gain here were the Chinese, not the Americans.

DOBBS: A $230 billion trade debt, turn over all the satellite and space technology we possibly have through this idea. And the good news is it lasted not quite a year, this idiotic idea of the Bush administration. Unfortunately, so many of those ideas concerning China have lasted far longer.

Thank you very much.

Christine Romans.

The Bush administration finally taking action against communist China on the trade front. It seems the Trade Representative's Office has finally decided that China is not trading fairly.

This, six years into this presidency. And the trade representatives, Susan Schwab, filing a complaint today with the World Trade Organization.

The subject of the dispute, subsidies on steel, commuters, clothing, and a variety of other industries. Under the rules of the World Trade Organization, the United States and China have 60 days to resolve that dispute before it goes to a panel for a hearing.

Not included in the dispute, China's currency, which many trade critics consider to be China's biggest subsidy of all.

That brings us to our poll question tonight.

Do you believe the Bush administration has done enough to address our massive trade deficit with China? Yes or no?

Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results upcoming.

And turning to the war on the middle class, for years on this broadcast we've been reporting on the challenges, the problems facing this nation's middle class. Tonight it seems the Democrats on Capitol Hill might actually be doing something. But this newfound attention to the middle class has many wondering whether the Democrats are go to come up with real solutions or if this is simply politics.

Bill Schneider has the report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The statistics sound good.

BUSH: Our economy has created nearly 7.2 million new jobs.

SCHNEIDER: Sixty-three percent of Americans say the country's economy is in good shape, the highest number since before 9/11. But Democrats are sensing a lot of middle-class anxiety.

Senator Chuck Schumer just wrote a book about it.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: They are unsure of their footing in an economy and a world that is about change, technology, and even disruption.

SCHNEIDER: The middle class feels buffeted by large and powerful forces, like globalization.

GARY BURTLESS, SENIOR FELLOW IN ECONOMIC STUDIES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: We have not invented for middle-class households very much in the way of new protection arrangements that keep their health insurance going when they lose a job, that help buffer them against big ups and downs in earned income when they lose their jobs or they have to accept a major pay cut.

SCHNEIDER: Middle-class wages have gone up, but the rich have made much bigger gains. And middle-class people often don't see their gains.

BURTLESS: Our employers are putting more money in our health care plans than they had to in the past. It means that our paychecks aren't rising as fast as our compensation is.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats sense a wave of public anger at those large and powerful forces.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot allow America's health care policy to be set by big insurance companies and big pharmaceutical companies.

SCHNEIDER: Is President Bush aware of the new populism?

BUSH: The fact is that income inequality is real. It's been rising for more than 25 years.

SCHNEIDER: He said that? Yes. And this, too, to Wall Street.

BUSH: You need to pay attention to the executive compensation packages that you approve.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Many Democrats believe the new populism is opening a new role for government, protecting the middle class. And not just Democrats. Governors like Arnold Schwarzenegger are responding with ambitious energy and healthcare plans, things that are not happening much at the federal level -- Lou.

DOBBS: The idea that the middle class to endure this, it is -- it has been up until the last year or so, all but impossible, the last couple of years, to talk about the middle class, because the focus of the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, so directed entirely at special interests.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. And the middle class, of course, is the one interest that just about all Americans share, everyone who feels "I'm not rich and I'm not poor."

The remarkable thing is that most people say the economy's in good shape, and now we're still getting this wave of populist anger and resentment against these big forces that people feel are out of control. That's what's really driving it.

DOBBS: Yes, this populist anger, as you put it, is really a heartfelt and well-documented reaction on the part of working men and women and their families in this country who have been ignored by both political parties for ages now. And the big forces, as you talk about it, are -- are driving both parties -- corporate America, special interests, and those are very real forces. And the bogeyman of globalization is the least of the issues, in my opinion.

It's simply an issue of fraudulent policy and absolutely wrongheaded policy when it comes to trade, the fact that most people in this country fail to -- they take -- they take note at only small measure that this country simply can't export goods and services fast enough to keep up with our imports.

SCHNEIDER: Yes.

DOBBS: And, you know, Bill, tell me, why does that elude these brilliant masters of the universe who run corporate America and Wall Street?

SCHNEIDER: The fact that Americans can't export? I didn't get the question exactly.

DOBBS: Why does it elude the masters of the universe on Wall Street and corporate America...

SCHNEIDER: On Wall Street, ah.

DOBBS: ... that we're not building or creating enough services that attractive enough to world markets to make up for those -- those cheap imports from around the world?

SCHNEIDER: Well, because they have a ready answer. They say other people can compete more cheaply and it's economically efficient, so let them go ahead and do it. That's been economic doctrine for a long time.

DOBBS: Yes, it's -- it may their doctrine. It's not -- it's lousy economics, and it really flies in the face of all the facts that are confronting this country today. SCHNEIDER: And it's terrible politics, as they are beginning to discover.

DOBBS: You better believe it. And as you say, that populism, it just means it's all about the people. And that's not a bad place to start, do you think?

SCHNEIDER: That's a very good place to start. But the parties are going to continue to argue about.

DOBBS: Amen, brothers. Amen, brother.

Bill Schneider, thank you.

Coming up next, we'll have a live report from devastated Lake County, Florida, where search-and-rescue operations are in full force tonight after the worst storms in the country's history.

And Mexico's new fight against drugs, is it actually fielding more violence at the border? Is it actually accomplishing something? And what in the world is the U.S. government doing?

We'll have that special report.

And democracy at risk. One of the first states to use electronic voting machines is rethinking that decision. It may set the standard for the nation.

We'll have the very latest for you.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Now, you may think, and certainly I do, that we are in the grips of a mass idiocy when it comes to failure to secure our borders and our ports. The U.S. Border Patrol says drug seizures of cocaine and marijuana are up sharply this year. President Felipe Calderon, of Mexico, continues to target drug cartels, to his credit. But despite the idiocy that surrounds border security, there is another idiocy rising up.

A group of law enforcement agents now say that effort is actually fueling drug trafficking and violence, and they say the answer is to end the war on drugs.

Casey Wian reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's been a busy week in the war on drugs. Twenty-two separate busts at California's Calexico's border crossing. In Nogales, Arizona, Customs and Border Protection found nearly 1,800 pounds of marijuana in a produce truck. And in Texas' Rio Grande Valley, a 1,700-pound marijuana bust. On the northern border near Buffalo, New York, agents uncovered 35,000 Ecstasy tablets behind the seats of a bus.

And in San Diego, federal agents found 22 pounds of black tar heroin in a car's spare tire. Thirty minutes later, another 22-pound load in another spare tire.

In Mexico, the drug wars continue, as well. Last Thursday, authorities burned more than four tons of seized marijuana. New president Felipe Calderon promises to get tough on drug traffickers. Since December, his administration says it has destroyed 20 tons of harvested pot, three tons of cocaine, and burned more than 4,000 acres of pot and opium plants.

SHERIFF LEO SAMANIEGO, EL PASO, TEXAS: I know he has conducted several raids in several cities, and rounded up drug traffickers. It would be great if he kept that up. But that remains to be seen.

Reporter: However, a group of 6,500 current and former law enforcement officers say the nations 37-year war on drugs is unwinnable and is actually creating more violence and addiction. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition says legalizing and regulating drugs is the best strategy.

TERRY NELSON, LEAP: Do we want to continue doing what's not working, or do you want to try a new approach? We believe, and we've done a lot of thinking and study on it, that it will work. It worked with alcohol prohibition and we believe it will work with drugs. It will certainly reduce crime by about 80 percent.

WIAN: LEAP says the U.S. has spent $1 trillion fighting the war on drugs, only to see drug violence escalate.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: But the war continues. Border Patrol says seizures of cocaine and marijuana are up sharply this year. It says increased manpower on the border has increased illegal alien traffic, freeing more agents to pursue drug smugglers -- Lou.

DOBBS: This idea of legalizing meth, Ecstasy, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, what in the world are these people thinking about?

WIAN: Well, they say that the war on drugs has been a massive failure. That despite all the money that we've spent, the massive amount of resources, law enforcement resources and time, drugs are cheaper now than they've ever been, easier to obtain than they've ever been.

DOBBS: Right.

WIAN: More deadly than they've ever been and more addicts than we've ever had.

DOBBS: All that's true. But why in the world -- you know, Casey, and you I have reported on that border. I've done reporting on that border for 30 -- in that border in Mexico for more than 30 years. You and I both know that this country has never taken seriously either border security or shutting down those drug cartels. And that if we wanted to do it and we had the will to do it, we could do it, in short order.

WIAN: It's certainly clear that what's happening now, the half- hearted attempt is not working, and I think that may be where this group is coming from, that perhaps not realistic to have a serious effort. And so maybe go the other way, like the Netherlands has, which has decriminalized drugs and has a much less drug -- much lower drug problem, much fewer drug addicts than the United States does.

DOBBS: Right. And the fact is that one of the most frustrating things about all of this is that the number of young people in this country who are in drug rehab, who are in hospitals and emergency rooms continues to rise. It is -- it is devastating what it's doing to this country.

And whether you're a libertarian, or whatever one might be, the fact is, we've got to get serious about not eating our young, which is what this nation is doing right now.

Thank you very much, Casey. Casey Wian.

Coming up next, one of the first states to use electronic voting machines is saying no more. Reversing that decision, they want a paper trail. How about that? We'll have the latest for you.

And an alarming new report on global warming finds the damage could last for centuries. Is any of it reversible? What should we do? We'll have that special report.

And deadly tornadoes ripped through Central Florida. Nineteen people are dead. More fatalities are expected as authorities move through the rubble of those tornadoes. We'll have a live report from you from the worst-hit areas. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: At least 19 people were killed today when power. Storms and tornadoes ripped through Central Florida. The storms cut a path of devastation across the state, damaging, destroying hundreds, if not thousands, of homes. Florida's governor declared a state of emergency in four Florida counties.

Among the worst hit, Lake County. That's where Rob Marciano is standing by. He has the very latest for us -- Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Lou, last night when Central Floridians went to sleep, they thought maybe they'd be safe and secure in their homes, even as thunderstorms began to brew overhead, but there were some super cell big thunderstorms that developed, and a big one came through Lake County.

Seventy miles long was the thunderstorm, and then at least one tornado dropped out of the sky from this storm that stretched from Lake County here in Lady Lake all the way over towards New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County.

This was a strong storm. It left a wide swathe of damage. National Weather Service survey teams were coming here today to determine just how bad and how strong this tornado, if, in fact, it was a tornado, was. But judging from the damage, it certainly looks like it was a -- a tornado.

Here's a listen to what some of the survivors had to say today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I didn't hear the noise, but the roof is laying on me, and that's what woke me up. But we're lucky to be alive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I heard my chimes going crazy and the wind, is when I knew it was coming, and then we heard the freight- train sound and we dashed for the bathtub.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got up and got off the couch. I was sleeping in there. It sounded like hell. Then you heard a train. And then the windows imploded. Then the wall. It came down. And then it was over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was total devastation. I've never seen anything like it in my life. Very scary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How thankful were you to find her okay?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank God. A total miracle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARCIANO: A miracle here as well. This home where two elderly people lived, the woman, Miss Edna, was sleeping in this bed when the walls literally came crashing down on her, burying her in rubble. Her husband sleeping in the other room, similar situation. He was buried in rubble as the roof and the walls came crashing down on him. He managed to pull himself up and remove the wall off his wife.

Miraculously they just had some scratches, some bumps and bruises but no serious injuries. But look at this debris. This is not a tract home. This is not a trailer home. This is a home built of brick and mortar, quite literally, with 2 x 4s and 4 x 4s bolted to the concrete. This is a serious home. This was a serious tornado, Lou.

And unfortunately the tales are going to continue of survival and, even if you did survive, the lives of these people certainly turned upside down.

DOBBS: Rob, let me ask you. There seems to be some question about whether or not that was a tornado that hit?

MARCIANO: Well, you know, the National Weather Service teams, they sent out a survey team to assess the damage and to look at the pattern of the damage, to determine if it was a tornado and how strong it was. There really is no question that it was a tornado.

DOBBS: Right.

MARCIANO: But, you know, when it becomes official, we'll let you know.

DOBBS: And with all of the -- well, I don't really care how official it gets, but I am curious about another thing as you pointed out, the construction of that home. Brick and 2 x 4s. Popular in Florida, of course, is concrete block construction.

Could you tell any difference in terms of the resistance and the ability to withstand the storm, these tornadoes, as to whether it was brick or frame or cinder block?

MARCIANO: Well, as you know, Florida has some of the strictest building codes around, because it is in hurricane country, but even the strongest hurricanes have winds of 150 or so miles an hour, whereas hurricanes can have winds greater than that.

So when you're talking about a strong tornado, which is what this looks like it was, you can have winds in excess of 200 miles an hour, and at that point it really doesn't matter what the building is made of. It's going to come down.

DOBBS: Rob, thank you very much. We know that the rescue efforts are going to continue as they look for more survivors. And we'll hope for the best. Rob Marciano from Lake County, Florida, thank you.

A dire warning tonight from hundreds of the world's top scientists. They say mankind is responsible for global warming. Urgent action is needed to prevent catastrophe that could last for centuries. The warning comes in a long-awaited United Nations report.

Lisa Sylvester has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): European tourist attractions turned off the lights for five minutes to highlight the release of a new report on global warming. The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said human activity is directly responsible for global warming.

ROBERT WATSON, CHIEF SCIENTIST, WORLD BANK: When we run our cars on gasoline, we emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and it spreads around the globe and it acts like a blanket, and it causes the earth to warm up.

SYLVESTER: Polarized sheets are melting at a rate of nearly 10 percent every decade. The most significant loss has occurred in last four years. The IPCC report estimates sea levels could rise by as much as two feet, as the climate warms by 3 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit this century. Hundreds of experts from 40 countries contributed to the report. Still, there are skeptics who say the results are overblown.

WILLIAM GRAY, COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY: If these models were so good, they would be predicting next season. The reason they don't, because they don't have skill at that range. But they tell us what's going to happen 50, 100 years from now.

SYLVESTER: The Bush White House opposes mandatory carbon dioxide caps, and in 2001 pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol regulating emissions. Critics criticize the administration at acting at the behest of large oil companies.

ALDEN MEYER, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS: The principle source of global warming pollution is oil and coal that we burn in our power plants and use in our cars, and those companies stand to lose a lot of money if we use energy more efficiently and switch to cleaner sources.

SYLVESTER: The average American is responsible for twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as the average European, 20 times more than the average Indian.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: The Bush administration downplayed this new report and said a U.S. program to cut emissions could hurt the U.S. economy and send businesses overseas. But a growing number of Capitol Hill lawmakers say this report is a wake-up call for policymakers who ignore this issue -- Lou.

DOBBS: Yes, it's hard to imagine anybody is ignoring this issue, after the climate of recent years has, one year after another, establishing new records for a warmer climate in this country. It's -- it's going to be fascinating to see what policy adjustments are made as we go forward, with now a clear consensus on global warming.

SYLVESTER: And we have a Democratic Congress, and this is a big issue for Democrats, Lou.

DOBBS: Absolutely. As it should be just for all of us, irrespective of political party. Thanks, Lisa. Lisa Sylvester.

Coming up next, three of the nation's best political minds join me, Robert Zimmerman, Michael Goodwin, James Taranto. They'll be here to talk about global warming among other things, the war in Iraq and Nancy Pelosi. She's flying high. She wants to fly at your expense. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Let's look quickly at some of your thoughts before we turn to the thoughts of our political panel.

Herbert in North Carolina: "I'm a hard-core Democrat and like many, I am having second thoughts. I can't believe a single member has not taken a stand with Republicans on those jailed border agents. My vote and thousands more will be lost if they continue to put illegals first. Wake up, Dems, and look at what our party has become."

Cynthia in Pennsylvania: "It's absolutely unfathomable that not one Democrat in Congress has rallied in support of pardoning Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean. America is watching and Americans don't forget!"

And Jim in Illinois: "So new House Speaker Pelosi wants Air Force planes available for her, her staff and her family. I missed the vote where we elected her 'Queen Pelosi'. How arrogant and abusive of power! New party in power, but more of the same."

Joining me now, editor of OpinionJournal.com, James Taranto. Columnist, "The New York Daily News", Michael Goodwin. Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman. He's on assignment in Washington.

What in the world are you doing down there, Robert?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Down here for the winter Democratic National Committee meeting. And they're also an opportunity for the different presidential candidates to make their case before the Democratic National Committee.

DOBBS: And Senator Clinton told you today and all those other folks today sitting there she's out of Iraq immediately if she's elected president in 2008.

ZIMMERMAN: Well, she laid out a plan, and she put some ideas before the table that were received very well. And I applaud her initiative for doing so. Obviously, she's not pulling everyone out January 20 and that's...

DOBBS: Good grief.

ZIMMERMAN: And that's not the full statement of what she said.

DOBBS: Robert, we're going to have to pull you out of Washington. You're starting to sound like you live there, man.

ZIMMERMAN: No, but I think, truly, you can't -- you know, as Kenneth Pollock pointed out from Brookings, there aren't solutions. There are just very tough choices.

DOBBS: So let me turn to James Taranto. Now, what is the solution from -- in your lights, to Iraq? What is the solution?

JAMES TARANTO, EDITOR, OPINIONJOURNAL.COM: Well, I don't know. I think whatever it is, it's going to be long and hard. I'm just not a military strategist. I don't -- I don't feel qualified to answer that question.

I will say on Mrs. Clinton, though, I think that Robert is actually right, at least in terms of predicting what she's going to do. If he becomes president in 2009 and we are still in Iraq, as I suspect we will be, she's not going to pull out. She's not going to keep this promise. She's telling this to rallying the base. ZIMMERMAN: I didn't say that, James. I have every belief that she will keep her promise. And she's been remarkably consistent on Iraq, where others have wavered. Because the solution is not going to be military, it's going to be a political solution.

DOBBS: Michael, you're going to have to referee this solution. I'll tell you, it is -- from both parties, what you're hearing is, it's complex. It's hard. We've got to get out. We've got to have a -- some success. We've got -- this is as diffuse and amorphous a set of public thoughts on a -- on a serious, critical national issue, as I can recall.

MICHAEL GOODWIN, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, and, Lou, next week, we are going to have the debate in the Senate that I think that you want and I certainly want, too. And that is a debate over the resolution, which, of course, will be substantive in terms of what are we going to do.

I think that what Hillary Clinton did today is an example of how presidential politics and partisan politics will unfortunately drive this thing. I think the best answer right now is to get a bipartisanship consensus on the question of the troop surge.

DOBBS: I thought we had a bipartisanship...

GOODWIN: We don't.

DOBBS: We had the Baker/Hamilton...

GOODWIN: Yes. The Iraq Study Group. Yes.

DOBBS: Yes, yes. It's dismissed and we...

TARANTO: Jim Baker was on Capitol Hill the other day, and he said he thought the troop surge was a good idea.

DOBBS: Well, that takes it away from being a bipartisan study group, then, because when he was the chairman of that study group, that is not what they recommended and the fact is, this president, James, as you well know, reject the Iraq Study Group recommendations and overrode his own divided military leadership.

ZIMMERMAN: It's also important to know, as well, the Republican Party is trying to block even a debate about solutions to the Iraq crisis. We -- they are threatening to filibuster.

GOODWIN: Not all Republicans. Not all Republicans.

ZIMMERMAN: That's fair.

GOODWIN: John Warner of Virginia, and Brownback from Kansas and Collins from Maine, a lot of Republicans are standing up against the president now and saying, listen, we don't want to pull out. We don't want to defund the troops, but we want to register our objections to this policy.

ZIMMERMAN: But, Mike, you need 60 votes to avoid a filibuster.

DOBBS: I've got to break here real quickly. We'll be right back with our political panel and Goodwin, Taranto and Zimmerman will all have their word. I assure you. Stay with us. And so we're different (ph).

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Coming up at the top of the hour, while its victims were fast asleep, a tornado ripped through Central Florida, leaving death, misery and destruction in its path. Were warning alerts missed? And how can we prevent that from happening again?

Americans in Iraq under attack by Iranian-made weapon. You've heard it before, but there's a new twist. American officials now say Tehran is providing insurgents with weapons to take out America's heaviest tanks. We're going to have the details.

And here in Washington, a new National Intelligence Estimate released today paints a very dark picture for the future of Iraq. Our Michael Ware is in Baghdad. He'll tell us how this report is so frighteningly true.

All that coming up right at the top of the hour. LOU DOBBS TONIGHT returns after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Nancy Pelosi not only wants her own Air Force, but the speaker wants the U.S. Air Force for personal accommodation. What do you think?

GOODWIN: I think Nancy Pelosi still feeling her way into this job and still making a lot of missteps. And little things like that that are very symbolic as to whether we're going to have a government...

DOBBS: Little things like flying U.S. military aircraft for yourself, your family, the delegation, your pals and everyone else is a little thing?

GOODWIN: In the greater scheme of things, it is small, but I think symbolically, it's important. And I think that's where she keeps making these missteps, such as the minimum wage in America Samoa, where it would apply. And those sorts of things, I think are going to backfire on the whole party.

DOBBS: James?

TARANTO: Lou, I'm disillusioned. I really thought the Democrats were going to be different.

DOBBS: Well, I've got to be honest with you, I'm praying. So far they are. They did get minimum wage passed. That's a good thing. Don't you agree, James? TARANTO: No, I don't. I think that the minimum wage is bad for jobs.

DOBBS: By 650 accounts, five of them Nobel Prize winning economists, saying it's good for business, not taking the party line of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the bozos at the business round table.

TARANTO: Yes, I would disagree with those economists. And I could find economists who would agree with me.

DOBBS: My point exactly.

Robert Zimmerman, what are you doing with your speaker down there? She's already lost it.

ZIMMERMAN: I'm damn -- I'm darn proud of our speaker, I'll tell you that.

DOBBS: What do you want to get her? Two bigger jets?

ZIMMERMAN: Her first 100 hours was a record, was a record of achievements for Democrats.

DOBBS: Which we have documented on this broadcast, Robert Zimmerman, and now I'm asking you about those planes...

ZIMMERMAN: That's the precedent of how speakers have traveled in the past, good for her.

DOBBS: Good for her? Whoa, whoa, whoa! You're the party of the people!

ZIMMERMAN: There's exactly right.

DOBBS: We didn't coronate Nancy Pelosi or any of those others.

ZIMMERMAN: And that's why we're going to focus on issues like global warming and the minimum wage and ending this tragic disaster in Iraq, because we are the part of the people.

DOBBS: I want to come back to those airplanes flying her family, the California delegation. What in the world is that about?

ZIMMERMAN: I truthfully feel that that's the precedent of past speakers. I don't really care.

DOBBS: You don't really care?

ZIMMERMAN: No, and I think the American people have much more...

DOBBS: Robert, you have been in that town now how long? How long have you been down there this time?

ZIMMERMAN: In this town long enough to know that America wants to deal with tuition -- college tuition issues, health care. Those are the issues that count.

DOBBS: Well, on that point, we want you back here soon. When are you coming back?

ZIMMERMAN: Coming back tomorrow.

DOBBS: We're going to try to rehabilitate you by the time you get back here.

Michael, the other issue here that -- it strikes me is this, the fact that by some miracle, this Senate passed by 94-0, the Sessions Amendment to the minimum wage bill, penalizing military contractors for a period of ten years if they hire illegal immigrants. Did you find that stunning?

GOODWIN: I think it's excellent. I think finally that perhaps the immigration thing will work its way through Congress in little bitty bites. And maybe this is the kind of way they have to do it, because they can't get a broad consensus.

DOBBS: James?

TARANTO: Well, I hate to say it to you, Lou, but I think immigration is exactly the one issue where President Bush may be able to work with the Democrats in Congress.

DOBBS: Oh, he did the first time. He got 31 Democratic votes and passed it during a Republican Congress. This president, when you get through with all your nonsense on ideology, this president is closer to Democrats than it is to conservative Republicans. You know, this is going to be a shock to you: he ain't a compassionate conservative.

TARANTO: Well, on immigration, he's closer to the Democrats than he is to the House Republicans.

DOBBS: He's closer -- he's closer to Felipe Calderon and Vicente Fox than anyone else. Don't you agree?

TARANTO: Well, I don't know about that.

DOBBS: Well, the -- Robert, Robert Zimmerman, the idea that the Democrats would pass so-called amnesty, which you prefer to call comprehensive immigration reform, not secure the borders, you're buying into this issue. Do you think he'll pay for it in the 2008 election?

ZIMMERMAN: First of all, I don't call it comprehensive immigration reform, and securing the borders has got to be a top Democratic priority. And when it came to the issue of the fence along the American/Mexican border, 27 Democratic senators stood up to vote for it as well as 64 House members.

I think clearly the Sessions Amendment is an important first step. I agree with Mike, that it has to be done gradually and securing the borders has got to come first. But remember... DOBBS: Robert, you have, I want to take back what I said. I think -- I think that there -- the fog is lifting. The toxicity from that town is leaving your bloodstream. We thank you. Come on back.

Robert Zimmerman, thanks for being with us tonight from Washington.

TARANTO: All is forgiven.

DOBBS: James Taranto, thanks for being here.

TARANTO: Thanks, Lou.

DOBBS: Good to have you.

And Michael Goodwin, as always, thank you, sir. Have a great weekend.

The results our poll tonight, only 99 -- does that say 99 percent? Ninety-nine percent say the Bush administration hasn't done enough to address our massive trade deficit with China.

We thank you for being with us tonight. Have a very pleasant weekend. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Lou.

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