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LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK
Political battle over Bush's Iraq plan. The Senate votes to raise minimum wage, but Americans may not get paid yet. Pressure on White House to release border patrol agents. State push through bills against illegal immigrants. Bush seeks allies in sanctions again Iran.
Aired February 4, 2007 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: Tonight, the political battle over the president's conduct of the war in Iraq has reached a pivotal point. Will the Senate vote against the president's plan to increase U.S. troop strength in Iraq? That special report.
And the Senate votes to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade. That doesn't mean hard-pressed working Americans will receive a pay raise anytime soon. We'll have that story, all of the day's news, a great deal more, straight ahead.
Good evening, everybody. The Congress tonight is preparing for a political showdown with the White House over the president's strategy in Iraq. Over the next few days, the Senate is expected to vote on a resolution proposed by Democrats and some Republicans that criticizes the president's troop increase plan.
The vote comes as the new National Intelligence estimate shows Iraq is facing what it calls daunting challenges over the next year and a half.
Elaine Quijano reports from the White House -- Elaine?
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, a new assessment by the nation's intelligence community on the future of Iraq is sobering. And it comes at a time when President Bush is facing intense political pressure, particularly skepticism over his Iraq policy.
That skepticism of course, coming not only from Democrats, but from even some fellow Republicans, prominent Republicans who oppose the president's idea to send some 21,000 additional U.S. troops to pacify Baghdad and the rest of al Anbar Province.
This National Intelligence estimate released recently represents the collective view of the nation's 16 intelligence agencies and says that the challenges facing the Iraqi people over the next 12 to 18 months are, quote, "daunting."
The declassified key judgments lay out how sectarian and ethnic divisions could be serious obstacles for Iraqi leaders in achieving political reconciliation.
The White House is not disputing those findings by the National Intelligence community.
At the same time, though, the administration argues that the key judgments, one of them includes what might happen, the possible consequences of an increase in violence if coalition forces were to withdraw rapidly from Iraq.
Now, also, a senior administration official saying that when the president offers his budget on Monday, that part Of that budget will include a request for an additional $100 billion in funding this year for Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, another $140 billion requested for 2008.
All of this happening, Lou, as you know, at a time when there are continued concerns and questions about just how long American forces will remain committed in Iraq -- Lou?
DOBBS: Elaine Quijano reporting.
Lawmakers expressed their frustration with the progress of the war during confirmation hearings for General George Casey.
President Bush nominated General Casey, the outgoing U.S. commander in Iraq, to be the Army chief of staff. General Casey strongly defended his leadership in Iraq during that hearing.
Jamie McIntyre reports.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORERSPONDENT (voice-over): The case against Casey was laid out in prosecutorial style by maverick Republican John McCain, who slammed the outgoing Iraq commander's past "rosy predicts," and his reluctance to call for reinforcements while Iraq descended into chaos.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: I question seriously the judgment that was employed and your execution of your responsibilities in Iraq. And we have paid a very, very heavy price in American blood and treasure because of what is now agreed to by literally everyone is a failed policy.
MCINTYRE: Casey's critics fault him for failing to adapt as the war took a turn for the worse. Only asking for more troops in December after president Bush ordered an overhaul of Iraq Strategy.
GEORGE CASEY, GENERAL, U.S. ARMY: I did not want to bring one more American soldier into Iraq that was necessary to accomplish the mission.
MCINTRYE: Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin pressed Casey on President Bush's comment that Iraq was headed to a slow failure and until the president himself stepped in.
CASEY: I don't see it as slow failure. I actually see it as slow progress. MCINTRYE: In fact, Casey says he still feels only two brigades of additional U.S. troops are needed in Iraq, not the five the president ultimately ordered. And he stubbornly defends his strategy.
CASEY: It may not have produced the results on the time lines that people expected or wanted. But I do believe that is has laid the foundation then for our ultimate success in Iraq.
MCINTYRE: If confirmed to replace General Peter Schoomaker as the Army chief of staff, Casey's job will be to insure his replacement, General David Petraeus, can get however many troops he needs from an Army that is severely strained.
CASEY: I'll tell him the same thing that Pete Schoomaker told me when I went to Iraq two and a half years ago. That was ask for what you need. We'll figure it out.
MCINTYRE: Casey professed ignorance of a new Pentagon Inspector General survey of 1,100 soldiers, which found many were short vital equipment. He promised to look into it under questioning from Maine's Susan Collins.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R), MAINE: This troubles me terribly. I think it is simply wrong for us to send troops into harm's way without fully equipping them without giving them up-armored vehicle.
MCINTRYE: General George Casey said that the Iraqi brigades that are reporting for duty in Baghdad are only two-thirds manned. Nevertheless, he gave a rosy prediction, that Iraqi forces would be able to assume control of their own security by the end of the year.
But, Lou, by week's end, we got a more sober assessment from the National Intelligence estimate. It concluded that Iraqi security forces, particularly the police, would be hard-pressed to take on any additional duties in the next 12 oil 18 months.
It specifically cited the challenges it would have operating independently. Of course, those are keys to the new strategy working in Iraq. So a very down beat prediction from the National Intelligence assessment -- Lou?
DOBBS: Jamie, over this weekend, many Senators will be considering whether or not to confirm General Casey to be the Army chief of staff. What is the likelihood, in your opinion, that he will be confirm which some would suggest would be to not hold him accountable for what has been at least gradual failure in the president's words?
MCINTYRE: Well, my guess is, he will be confirmed. Privately, I'm told while Senator McCain is likely to vote against him, he's not going to try to block the nomination. He's not going to get a unanimous vote of approval like General Petraeus did.
But I think Carl Levin summed up what best, the people who support him and still want to hold him accountable say he's made mistakes, but that the major mistakes were made by the Bush administration, and he was carrying out that policy.
Also, the army chief of staff job, much different job than being a war fighting commander. It's about training, equipping, providing the forces. They do feel he's qualified for that job whatever you think he did as a commander in Iraq.
DOBBS: Jamie, thank you very much. Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the Iraqi government is not sending a sufficient number of reinforcements to Baghdad. The Iraqi government promised to send three additional brigades to the Iraqi capital.
But Secretary Gates said the Iraqi units that have arrived so far are under strength. Some of those Iraqi units are nearly 50 percent below their authorized manpower.
The cost of the U.S. troop increase in Iraq could be much higher than the Bush administration is originally projected. The Congressional Budget Office now says the troop surge, as it is called, could cost up to $27 billion over a one-year deployment. That would be five times more than the White House suggested.
One reason for the difference, the CBO figures include the additional expenses of thousands of support troops for those five combat brigades.
Democrats insist their opposition to the troop increase in Iraq does not mean they're weak on national security. Democrats say the president's focus on the war in Iraq has actually harmed U.S. efforts to defeat radical Islamist terrorism in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Bill Schneider has the report.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDET (voice-over): Disillusionment with the war in Iraq has produced a dramatic shift in the polls. "The Washington Post"-ABC News poll asks, who do you trust to do a better job handling the campaign against terrorism? President Bush or the Democrats? In 2003, President Bush had a 51-point advantage. In 2004, Bush was ahead by 29 points. And now? People say they trust the Democrats more than president on terrorism.
Republicans won the 2002 and 2004 elections as the Daddy Party. The party that would do a better job presenting the country. But it didn't work in 2006.
In 2002, Republicans had a 35-point lead over Democrats on handling terrorism. Now, the parties are virtually tied. That gives Democrats an opening.
But they can't make the same mistakes they made in the 1970s. Then anti-war sentiment made the Democrats look weak on national security. The loss of Vietnam followed a few years later by the Iran Hostage Crisis made Americans feel vulnerable.
Enter Ronald Reagan and a new era of Republican dominance. Now Democrats are trying to make it clear that opposition to the war in Iraq does not mean weakness in the war on terror.
The public no longer believes the war in Iraq is part of the war on terrorism. The best way to fight the war on terror, Democrats argue, is to get out of Iraq.
SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD, (D), WISCONSIN: Our Iraq centric policies are hurting our ability to defeat the enemy that attacked us on 9/11.
SCHNEIDER: The Daddy Party may be in trouble. Political analyst James Pinkerton of the New America Foundation put it this way in an interview with the "San Francisco Chronicle:" In times of war, he said, the instinct is to trust dad more than mom. And Republicans have benefited from that. But if dad keeps wrecking the car, then there may be reason to change -- Lou?
DOBBS: Bill Schneider, thank you.
Still ahead here, the United States facing rising opposition from its close allies and other nations to any tough sanctions against Iran. Despite U.N. sanctions now in place. We'll have that special report.
Also, Senators vote for an increase in the federal minimum wage. But hard-pressed working Americans must wait for their first pay increase in a decade. We'll have that story.
And rising pressure tonight to free two border patrol agents sent to prison for doing their jobs, trying to protect this country from illegal Mexican drug smugglers. We'll have that story, a great deal more. Stay with us.
DOBBS: President Bush is under increasing pressure tonight to pardon two former patrol agents. The agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos have been in prison for more than two weeks while the illegal alien they wounded remains free, given immunity by the U.S. Justice Department to testify against those agents. And he has filed a $5 million lawsuit against the U.S. government.
Casey Wian brings us up to date.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORESPONDENT (voice-over): Former agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean were transferred this week to their new homes for the next 11 and 12 years, federal prisons, each more than 1,000 miles from their families in El Paso.
At the same time, efforts to win release for the men convicted of shooting and wounding a Mexican drug smuggler near the Texas border two years ago are intensifying.
SEN. DAN PATRICK, (R), TEXAS STATE SENATE: This is outrageous. These two men put their lives on the line to protect our country. And I've read the case. I've gone through all the facts. Maybe they made mistakes, maybe they didn't. Look, I don't trust a drug dealer, number one.
WIAN: Federal lawmakers are diamonding the Justice Department release documents relating to the decision to prosecute the agents and grant immunity to an admitted illegal alien Mexican drug smuggler.
REP. TED POE, (R), TEXAS: And the question is, why is the government stonewalling the truth? Why don't they come and level with us and let us know what was behind all of this prosecution.
WIAN: One of the documents, from the Homeland Security Department's Office of Inspector General, we first disclosed five months ago. It shows smuggler Oscar Aldretti admitted to a border patrol agent he was transporting a drug load the day he was shot. That admission took place five days before prosecutors granted him immunity, contradicting statements by U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton that he couldn't prosecute the smuggler because of a lack of evidence.
Meanwhile, Sutton has launched a public relations offensive. While declining our interview requests, Sutton has made other media appearances defending his prosecution.
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER, (R), CALIFONRIA: He has targeted the men who were defending us. He tried to demonize them. He's called them corrupt. They've never had charges of corruption. He said they had a bad record. They've never had any disciplinary actions against them.
WIAN: A bill sponsored by California Congressman Duncan Hunter to pardon the agents, now has 78 cosponsors, all of them Republican.
WIAN: Congressional sources say the White House has agreed to review the case once the official trial transcripts are released. And that is expected to happen within the next few weeks -- Lou?
DOBBS: Casey, I talked with Congressman Michael McCaul of Texas. The Homeland Security Subcommittee, which he once chaired, by the way, has received at least an IG report, inspector general report, from the Department of Homeland Security.
And there is, at this point, no official word as to what it reveals or does not reveal. But it continues to raise questions as to why in the world the U.S. attorney in Texas, Johnny Sutton, undertook such an aggressive and what, in the minds of many, is simply a wrong- headed prosecution.
WIAN: The inspector general report, secret testimony in this case that has been kept under seal so far, those could provide a lot of clues as to why the government decided to prosecutor these two agents, and give folks and Congress and the White House more information -- the information that they've been denied so far -- Lou.
DOBBS: There's just, at this point, seemingly no room for any question about why the U.S. attorney undertook this incredibly aggressive and certainly seemingly, at this point, absolutely unjust prosecution.
And as you say, the fact that there is any testimony under seal also a great concern. And the fact that the transcripts of that trial have not been released yet, it's either incompetence or it is something else.
Casey Wian, thank you very much.
A bill aimed at shutting down day labor centers in the state of Virginia is now working its way through the state's legislature. It is yet another example of what states are doing now, taking action, trying to crackdown on illegal immigration and its impact, while at the federal level, Congress and the White House talk amnesty and do not enforce U.S. immigration law.
Bill Tucker reports.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are nearly 50 immigration-related bills under consideration in the Virginia general assembly. That's almost double the number of bills last year.
JACKSON MILLER, (R), VIRGINIA STATE HOUSE: What the sum of these bills is for is to make the Commonwealth of Virginia a very uncomfortable place for people who come to this country illegally.
TUCKER: The bills pending would create fines for employers who hire illegal aliens, deny in-state tuition rates to Virginia's public colleges and universities to illegal aliens, expand the power of state and local police in the enforcement of immigration law.
One bill, sponsored by State Representative Miller, would deny state and local assistance to illegal aliens.
Miller says it is aimed at local organizations and charities that petition the state for funds and then use those taxpayer dollars to aid illegal aliens.
The bill is not popular with charities.
KITTY HARDT, COMMONWEALTH CATHOLIC CHARITIES: When we're providing emergency services, you know, basic services to people in extreme human need, we don't want to be in a position to having to stop and check the citizenship of every person.
TUCKER: The bill denying public funds passed out of the House by a vote of greater than two to one. Now it is headed to the state Senate where Miller says it's likely to be approved.
Virginia is not alone. Last year, there were 570 bills introduced in 32 state legislatures aimed at tackling the issue of illegal immigration.
STEVE CAMOROTA, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: States face a choice really. They can either work to buttress immigration law enforcement or work to undermine it. But the basic policy of immigration and basic immigration enforcement really does come from Washington.
TUCKER: Not every state is looking to crack down on illegal immigration. In Maryland, they're considering offering in-state tuition to illegal aliens.
TUCKER: In Maryland, they're considering in-state tuition to illegal aliens, in violation of federal Law. But increasingly, we are seeing state and local police make the choice to aid in the enforcement of federal law.
This week the sheriff's department of Davidson County, Tennessee, signed an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to have deputies trained in immigration law enforcement. Davidson County is where you will find the city of Nashville -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Bill Tucker.
Still ahead, the president urging our allies to help isolate Iran. But our allies, well, they're not cooperating as the White House would have them. We'll have that report.
And the law that allows President Bush to bypass Congress to push through trade agreements has contributed to thirty consecutive years of trade deficits, the loss of millions of good-paying American jobs.
It's what's called Fast Track Authority. It expires on July 1, unless Congress decides to cede that authority to the president.
And can Congress put aside ranker and partisan politics to finally push a minimum wage increase for middle class Americans into law? We'll have that report and more straight ahead. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Communist China, Russia, and Europe are resisting U.S. efforts to introduce new sanctions and tougher sanctions against Iran to stop Tehran's nuclear weapons program.
The United Nations has already passed limited sanctions against Iran. But those measures have failed to stop Tehran from accelerating its program.
And Kitty Pilgrim has the report.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iran is defying the world daily, ramping up its nuclear program, threatening to start large scale production of nuclear fuel. It seems the United States can do little about it.
GARY MILHOLLIN, WISC. PROJECT ON NUCLEAR ACTIVITY: They have defied the rest of the world and said they're not going to stop. We don't have a formula that is capable of stopping it.
PIGRIM: Today, Bush administration officials charged Iran with fueling the insurgency In Iraq. The president has warned that Iran's actions would be met with swift retribution.
The United States is trying to squeeze Iran by cutting off trade and freezing financial transactions. So far without help from European allies. The State Department is offering weak apology for Europe's foot dragging on economic sanctions.
SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Everybody is going to move at their own pace, OK? Individual European states are going to move at their own pace.
JON ALTERMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Europe is only about talk. So they don't want to go totally away from the U.S. position, but they also are very, very scared the U.S. will drag them into a long inconclusive unsuccessful war that they really don't want to be in.
PILGRIM: Iran also a major topic at Admiral William Fallon's confirmation hearing. He was talking about a strong U.S. Naval presence to influence the region. The second battle carrier group is on its way into the region.
Senator Warner questioning why other countries could not assist that effort.
SEN. JOHN WARNER, (R), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Why should not the European nations send a ship or two to also add to the strength, the signal we're trying to send to that country that we're not going to permit them to go forward with nuclear power?
PILGRIM: Admiral Fallon answered the idea was appealing and would welcome European help.
PILGRIM: The United States wants Europe to join it in putting pressure on Iran, asking it to freeze assets of certain companies and curtail financial transactions. But it's clear that European countries have no stomach for measures that go beyond U.N. sanctions against Iran -- Lou.
DOBBS: All right. Kitty, thank you very much.
Time now for some of your thoughts.
Kevin in New Jersey said, "Our National Guard troops at the Mexican border don't apprehend, don't detain and don't transport illegal aliens. What are they there for? Lou, I'm 16 years old. Even I can see our nation's impotence at securing its own borders." Phil in Arizona said, "Senator Session's bill, barring companies that hire illegal immigrants from getting government contracts, is an excellent way to try to control the illegal alien mess. But will the companies comply? I assume it means all government contracts from local governments to the federal government. The big question is, will the law be enforced by our government?"
That unfortunately is a big question with nearly every aspect of immigration and border security law right now.
Thanks for your thoughts. Send them to us at loudobbs.com. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my book "War on the Middle Class."
Up next, the Senate voting to raise the minimum wage. But it's not the bill the House wants. We'll report on whether Congress will eventually reconcile their differences and give middle class working Americans a break.
And the president's Fast Track Authority contributing to 30 years of trade deficits, the loss of good-paying middle class jobs. Congress has a chance to change all of that. Will they? We'll have the report.
And an alarming new report shows global warming will continue for centuries. Tonight, we will examine global warming and our prospects. We'll be joined by two of the country's leading scientists on global warming. Stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK, news, debate and opinion. Here again, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: The U.S. trade deficit has reached just about seven percent of GDP, never higher, no nation, no developed nation has ever seen its trade deficit reach that level. And now President Bush wants renewal of the trade promotion authority, the so-called fast track authority that rendered by Congress has allowed the White House to ignore Congress which has the constitutional responsibility to negotiate trade agreements. Lisa Sylvester has the report.
GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: I would suggest moving back. I'm about to crank this sucker up.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush at the wheel of a Caterpillar tractor. He used the Peoria, Illinois plant to drive home his trade agenda. The White House wants Congress to renew fast track authority which it has used to push through a record 13 new trade agreements with other countries.
BUSH: Because we lowered trade barriers and said, you treat us the way we treat you, it has enabled this company to sell more product than ever before. SYLVESTER: Fast track trade promotion authority allows the executive branch to negotiate trade deals without much input from Congress. It's up for renewal this June. Proponents say fast tracking increases efficiency. Critics say it spawns trade agreements that steamroll the American worker. And encourages companies to move to low-wage countries.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL, (D) NY: ... positive ideas ...
SYLVESTER: House Democrats question why they should renew fast track if it will only sap away American jobs.
REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS JOHNS, (D) OH: Take me back to Ohio and tell me what I can say to my constituents about how we make trade work for American workers in states like Ohio.
SYLVESTER: The chairman of the House Trade Subcommittee says the administration must adopt a new trade policy for fast track to be renewed.
REP. SANDER LEVIN, (D) MI: Rhetoric doesn't work. It's results. And we have had the wrong results in terms of trade policy from this administration. They have essentially shrugged their shoulders while other countries have adopted policies that have disadvantaged us.
SYLVESTER: The result has been more than 3 million U.S. manufacturing jobs lost since 2000. And a U.S. trade deficit that ballooned to $800 billion.
SYLVESTER (on camera): Representative Sandy Levin wants to see the a new policy that establishes basic international labor and environmental standards in the countries that want to trade with the United States. Right now, he says the current agreements hurt U.S. workers and permit big business to exploit workers in other countries. Lou?
DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester from Washington.
The Bush administration finally appears to be paying some attention at least to our exploding trade deficit with communist China. That deficit is likely to be a record $230 billion for all of last year. The United States has now filed a case against China with the World Trade Organization.
Bush administration officials sale Beijing is illegally subsidizing Chinese exports. However, the U.S. complaint makes no mention of China's currency and manipulation. And U.S. manufacturers say the Chinese currency is undervalued by as much as 40 percent giving Chinese exporters an unfair advantage. The Senate this week passed its version of a bill to raise the minimum wage, unlike the clean version passed by the House of Representatives.
The Senate considered 111 amendments, abandoning all but a handful. But as Christine Romans now reports, politics is in the way of relief for America's most vulnerable workers. Christine?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, it certainly is. It has been 10 years of no acts for the lowest paid workers in this country. And now America's workers must wait awhile longer before they get any relief in their paychecks. The Senate this week voted 94-3 to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 over the next two years. But this bill is now in for a fight with House negotiators. They want a clean bill to simply and quickly raise worker pay. Waiting any longer, supporters say, is simply an insult to workers.
But Senate Republicans want to send the president a bill that has tax cuts for small businesses. They still see a higher minimum wage as a burden to business owners even though some 650 economists including five Nobel laureates and hundreds of businesses including retail giants Costco and Wal-Mart. They have said they want to see a higher minimum wage. That it's good for everyone.
While the politicians hammer it out, America's working poor wait some more. By the time the Senate finally acted this week, Lou, they had gone 3,818 days without an increase in the federal minimum wage. Over that same period, Congress raised its own pay by $31,600.
Now Capitol Hill aides say, Lou, we brace ourselves for political process. Something that we all dread. But this time it means America's workers every day that process drags on, America's workers have to wait.
DOBBS: And they have not yet scheduled the conference.
DOBBS: This should be with a Democratic leadership in both houses relatively straightforward and Jeff Sessions, Senator Sessions his amendment passing 94-0 to stop government contractors from hiring illegal aliens.
ROMANS: That's right. One of the few amendments of those 111 that made it in the end, tax cuts for businesses and also this Sessions-Grassley amendment. Because they say it's germane to the working conditions and the pay of America's workers if there is illegal labor competing for the same jobs.
So they want to ban companies that use illegal labor from government contracts for 10 years.
DOBBS: The fact is that the Democratically-led Congress has an opportunity to show that the middle class matter once again in this country. And let's hope that they do exactly that.
ROMANS: Sure thing.
DOBBS: Christine, thank you. Christine Romans.
Florida's Governor Charlie Crist and Florida Congressman Robert Wechsler want to dump that state's new e-voting machines altogether. Throw them out. The machines were installed after the hanging chad debacle of the contested 2000 presidential election but those e-voting machines leave no paper trail for voters or those who would have to conduct a recount.
As a result, the midterm vote in Florida's 13th Congressional District remains contested. The two Florida leaders want to purchase optical scanning machines that require voters to use a paper ballot which would then be available for a recount. And this looks like what could be the beginning of a national, national trend.
Coming up next, the new speaker of the House wants special privileges. We'll be talking about that with our political roundtable.
And two scientists take on global warming. That's next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: An alarming new report from the United Nations finds that humans are responsible for global warming. And that the damage that results will last for centuries more.
I'm joined now by two of the nation's leading authorities on global warming. James Hansen is the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and joins me here in New York. Good to have you with us.
JAMES HANSEN, NASA, GODDARD INSTITUTE FOR SPACE STUDIES: Hi.
DOBBS: And William Gray, professor emeritus at Colorado State University in the atmospheric science department joining us from Fort Collins, Colorado. Professor, good to have you with us.
On this broadcast I announced a year ago, as I remember Dr. Hansen was here, everybody was prepared to talk about the debate over global warming. On this broadcast, we take it as a matter of fact. And the reason we do that in large measure is because the consensus of science. But also what is the downside of first of all in the scientific way just assuming that there is global warming, that mankind has a significant contributory role and that we should behave more responsibly? What would be wrong with that approach?
WILLIAM GRAY, COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY: The people that I deal with, the older scientists that have been in the field a long time, I've been working 53 years in the field, and a lot of people that deal with it with the day-to-day weather have great doubts about all this. They think much of the changes we've seen are primarily natural.
Now, the scientists involved with global modeling and so on, they lived in sort of a closed-in virtual world. And I don't think they've had contact with the real world enough that they can be so sure of the results that they're coming forth with.
DOBBS: I think Bill Gray is saying you're something of a whipper-snapper working off of those digital models and need to get a hold of reality. HANSEN: You know, there's a well-known fact that wrong ideas in science, to get them out of the system, you have to wait till some of the people die. But unfortunately, and of course we don't wish this on anybody, but unfortunately, in this case, we don't have time. If we don't get on the stick and get some action within the next decade, then there are going to be larger climate changes coming down the pike we won't be able to stop.
DOBBS: Professor, I want to go back and go along a number of lines here. And we've got some time here to discuss a couple of these points that are critically important. But I'd like your answer to what I asked. I said on this broadcast, we've decided to just as a working base that global warming is a fact, that mankind is the principal contributor to it. And we do so because it seems to offer very few disadvantages and great benefits if we take action to do what we can to be responsible. What is wrong with that kind of thinking?
GRAY: Well, there's nothing wrong with that, but you -- of course, we want to free ourselves from foreign energy sources as much as we can. And of course, wind and solar and other energy should be pushed, and we should have more research in that direction, but it comes down to cost.
This sounds very good to environmentalists and things that we should go to these other energy sources but they're going to cost a lot more. And it's cost tradeoffs that have to be dealt with.
DOBBS: So you can sign on with the fact that this broadcast at least says it's global warming, that mankind is the principal contributor to it, to whatever degree that it is, and that it is responsible to assume that mankind has an obligation to do as much for the planet as possible. Is that fair?
GRAY: Well, yes, certainly. But we have an obligation to maintain our standard of living and things, too. It's not just -- if we put these draconian restrictions in on fossil fuels, will they do any good? And the estimate is no, very little. Even if we followed the Kyoto treaty, it's not going to do much because China and India and so on are going to keep on burning fossil fuel.
DOBBS: I may shock you when I say, Dr. Gray, I don't really care about Kyoto. I really don't think that's an answer in and of itself. I think there are far better answers. Dr. Hansen, what's your reaction?
HANSEN: Bill focuses on global models, but in fact, most of our knowledge about how the climate system responds to changes in atmospheric composition come from the history of the earth, and what that tells us is we can't put back into the atmosphere all the fossil fuels, all the carbon that that is accumulated over many millions of years without producing a different planet. Without producing warming similar to ...
DOBBS: That's a very important statement you've just made. Could you repeat it? HANSEN: Yes, if we put all of the carbon dioxide from the fossil fuels back in the atmosphere, we will get warming of at least several degrees Celsius and that will make it a different planet. The last time it was three degrees Celsius warmer, sea level was 25 meters higher. There was no ice in the Arctic. It was a different planet.
DOBBS: Is there -- is there agreement in point of fact that we can do very little as the United Nations report suggests to alter our destiny over the course of the next century?
HANSEN: Oh, we can do a lot. That's one of the things which I think the report falls short on. It doesn't tell us about alternatives. It looks as business as usual, and that results in large climate change.
But there are alternatives. We need to get on a path where we reduce the rate of emission of carbon dioxide. And we can do that. It does require an emphasis on energy efficiency and on clean renewable energies.
DOBBS: Bill Gray?
GRAY: Well ...
DOBBS: Very quickly, if you could.
GRAY: We should certainly look at alternate energy sources, do more research and try to wean ourselves away from fossil fuels as much as we can. But we must realize that if we do this, it's going to cost more and that be tradeoff economically has not been worked on, and even if we do, we aren't going to change things much. I don't think that if we go on with business as usual, we're going to have the consequence that the IPC report is coming forth with.
DOBBS: We've just been.
GRAY: It's a gross exaggeration.
DOBBS: We've just spent a half trillion dollars in Iraq, and keeping it purely in financial terms, a half trillion dollars in Iraq, it seems like that could also be a considerable amount of money for alternate energy development and investment. Dr. Hansen, thanks for being here.
Professor Gray, thank you, as well. We'll be back with more politics in a moment. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Here now our "New York Daily News" columnist Errol Louis, the "Washington Times" columnist Diana West and Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf. Good to have you all here. Hank, are there enough candidates to suit you for 2008 already?
HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's like taking a census after a small state here. The Republicans have much more trouble regardless of my party affiliation than the Democrats do. Not clear who emerges as a favorite. The Republican candidates - you have Senator Brownback saying he is not going to work very much because he's running for president, give me a break.
Errol, what do you think.
ERROL LOUIS, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": I think that's about right. The GOP has a history of early on coalescing around one candidate. You're looking mostly at Rudy Giuliani and at Senator McCain in a tossup. But you've got other people who have a legitimate claim on the first election in almost a generation where there's no incumbent or vice presidential incumbent running for office.
DOBBS: The Republicans are facing some real uphill work here too with Iraq with this administration, a president with historically low approval ratings. Is this just -- is it going to be a miracle if a Republican were to win the presidency in 2008?
DIANA WEST, "THE WASHINGTON TIMES": Probably, but I think if any of them are very smart, which we have yet to see really as presidential candidates, they have a tremendous opportunity because with the various failures of the Bush administration, they can move ahead and distinguish their own policies from these failed policies. So if any of them have the guts to do that, that may have bring some daylight for them.
DOBBS: Chief among failed policies I think most people would agree is Iraq. The Senate preparing right now to decide which way they're going to go. But it appears clear there will be a resolution either strong or perhaps more moderate to effectively censure of the president on the conduct of this war. What do you think will be the effect?
WEST: Well, I'd like to say I find that disgraceful on several counts. That's not the right message to send the president because it goes right over his head on to our various enemies and friends around the world about what our state of disintegration has become. I would rather see the Senate for example turn down General Casey to be our new chief of staff. I think that would send a message that people in the Senate ...
DOBBS: Democrats say they want to hold General Casey -- they want accountability here.
WEST: I think that would be reasonable.
DOBBS: This general -- what do you think, Hank? Why can't the Democrats muster the courage to stand up and they say they're going to bring accountability, stand up and say here it is.
SHEINKOPF: It would be a good thing for them to do but look at the Senate for a moment overall. Even Chuck Hagel who is the senator fro from Nebraska who has been supportive with the president is voicing concern. John Warner standing up and saying no, it's not the best idea to expand the number troops. While doing that, they also ought to take the generals to task because they are responsible. And the villain in the piece was no longer available, the guy that should be taken to task overall is Donald Rumsfeld. And unfortunately, he's not around to be beaten up any more.
DOBBS: Do you agree with that, Errol or do you see a broader responsibility? It seems to me like, as the saying goes, there's plenty of credit to spread around here.
LOUIS: For sure. But what you described actually is a great or acceptable military policy, terrible political policy. The Democrats got back into power last November by standing out of the way and letting this administration fall on its face. They're not going to I think step up any earlier than they absolutely have to try and clean up the mess.
DOBBS: That's a shame, as well. Because if there were ever a time for intelligence in choices being the loyal opposition, it would seem to be now. For them to be bereft of any new ideas here.
LOUIS : You don't want to tar the whole party with one brush. If you look -- Senator Obama stood up this week and said the date by which all U.S. combat troops should be out of Iraq. He has put forward an amendment that embodies that. He has put out there for debate.
DOBBS: Senator Clinton has capped the troops. But these are not strategies. These are desired outcomes and if you will, deadlines. This is hardly a brilliant and deep thought.
WEST: It's scary actually. Because if that's the alternative, making deadlines, setting troop limits, again, telegraphing to our foes in various places the lack of interest in pursuing any of these strategies.
DOBBS: But Diana, is it far worse signal, a far more damaging signal that the only superpower on the face of this planet 300 million people strong sends the most advanced military in the world into a nation of 25 million people and is now there for longer than World War II without being able to avoid failure, whether gradual or quick as the president styles it. That is -- that renders us impotent in the eyes of the world.
WEST: It does and it has.
DOBBS: Doesn't that frighten you far more than a political debate?
WEST: Oh, yes. But it all frightens me. I mean, we have this situation and there have been no leaders stepping to the fore with any kinds of different answers. We're sticking with the same - it's like we're locked in a circle, going around between sending a few more troops which many of these Democrats opposing it said about a year ago.
DOBBS: It is unfortunately a mortal circle and one from which we must find some resolution. We're going to be back with these folks in just a moment. Please stay with us.
DOBBS: Well, the voters got rid of Dennis Hastert and all those Republican leaders, brought in Nancy Pelosi and all those Democratic leaders. Now she wants military transport for flights back and forth to her district for family, for her delegation. What in the world are you Democrats doing, Hank?
SHEINKOPF: This is not so good. And I don't think this is what the people voted for. Even if you did a cost benefit analysis of how much it costs to move members of the California delegation back and forth, it certainly should not include families. That's above and beyond I think.
DOBBS: Has she gone tone deaf? Her advisors?
SHEINKOPF: Um, sometimes things happen to people in power where they just need to get reminded again.
DOBBS: It seems to be, Errol, happening to obviously Republicans and Democrats alike. People in power in Washington.
DOBBS: In my opinion, absolutely indifferent, all but indifferent to the needs of the middle class representing the largest group of Americans. And the temerity to sit there and as a citizen servant to the public demand a military aircraft. What big shots, what phony nonsense!
LOUIS: Absolutely. I mean, you see this and all I can think is the audacity, the audacity. You've got people who, I think, fall victim just as you say to the perks, the privileges.
DOBBS: It's actually Hank that's saying that.
SHEINKOPF: (inaudible) Democrats doing that.
LOUIS: I mean, if nothing else, I don't know how much this happens to you, hank, but I think we will who are journalists, people will stop you in the airport. People will stop you in the street and engage in debate. And it's a very healthy kind of exchange, depending on ...
LOUIS: And for her to say she doesn't want any part of that, that she doesn't want there to be even an hour, first class on a commercial airline, you know to, maybe interact with the public a little bit, it says something very bad about her style of leadership.
DOBBS: How about the imperial presidency, Diana? I mean we're watching Tutankhamen being marched across the street every time President Bush walks out - I remember watching Al Gore as vice president - My gosh, he had more security around him and more perks around him as vice president than previous presidents had up until Johnson.
I mean, this is crazy stuff. What are we doing? It's starting to look like an imperial, royal parade.
WEST: Of course a lot of that comes out of security concerns, I suppose, but getting back to the Pelosi perks, I think that is less a security issue - I mean, I don't think she's fallen out of touch with people. I don't think she was someone that was ever in touch with people.
I mean, this kind of behavior so quickly after taking office does not suggest a change of heart so much as ...
DOBBS: So you see this more as a Democratic problem than a Republican problem?
WEST: No. It's just business as usual. It's business as usual.
DOBBS: You know, it's a lousy time for business as usual ...
WEST: It is.
DOBBS: ... in, I think, our humble opinion here, right?
WEST: I would say.
DOBBS: It would be nice to see these leaders aspire to a bit of a higher standard. Maybe that will happen before we meet again next week.
DOBBS: Good to have you always, Diana, thank you very much. Errol, Hank, thank you.
Thank you for being with us tonight. For all of us here we thank you for watching. We hope you are having a very pleasant weekend. Goodnight from New York. THIS WEEK AT WAR begins now with John Roberts.
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