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Bush Pushes Amnesty Agenda in Mexico; Alberto Gonzales Under Fire Over Dismissal of 8 U.S. Attorneys; Dems Buying Votes

Aired March 13, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, the escalating revolt against White House efforts to create a North American union with Mexico and Canada. Many states are now demanding that the U.S. government abandon its efforts to integrate the United States with Mexico and Canada.
We'll have that special report.

Also tonight, the illegal alien lobby stepping up its courtroom assault on a small town in Pennsylvania for trying to end the harsh effects of illegal immigration.

We'll have the story.

And the fight to win justice for two Border Patrol agents betrayed by the Justice Department, sent to prison on the testimony of an illegal alien drug dealer who was given immunity to testify. Presidential candidate Congressman Duncan Hunter joins us.

And we'll have all of that, my thoughts on the president's visit to Latin America, my thoughts on this attorney general, and, oh, yes, Senator Ted Kennedy. That and all the day's news, much more, straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Tuesday, March 13th.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

President Bush tonight is in Mexico. They're aggressively promoting his plan to give amnesty to as many as 20 million illegal aliens in this country. Upon his arrival in Mexico, President Bush declared he will do everything possible to convince Congress to pass what he calls comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration facing new criticism tonight over its abrupt dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys. There are increasing demands for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Gonzales today admitted mistakes, and he said he was taking responsibility, but refusing to step down.

Elaine Quijano reports from the Yucatan peninsula on the president's agenda while in Mexico.

Kelli Arena reports from Washington on the rising furor over the attorney general's management of the Justice Department.

Andrea Koppel reports from Capitol Hill on charges the Democratic leadership is trying to buy off critics of its plan for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

We turn first to Elaine Quijano, traveling with the president -- Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, President Bush is visiting Mexico as part of an effort to shore up relations among U.S. allies in Latin America, but Mexico's new president made clear he believes the United States has neglected his country and said it's time for the U.S. to pay attention once more.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has no more important relationship in the world than the one we have with Mexico.

QUIJANO (voice over): That was President Bush six days before September 11th, but terrorist attacks changed all that and put Mexico on the back burner of U.S. foreign policy. Now, more than five years later, Mexico's new president, Felipe Calderon, is demanding to be put on the front burner.

PRES. FELIPE CALDERON, MEXICO (through translator): I believe it is now time to retake the spirit of those words and to direct our relationship towards a path of mutual prosperity.

QUIJANO: In his first visit to Mexico since Calderon's election, President Bush wants to send a message that the U.S. cares about its neighbors to the south.

BUSH: Mr. President, my pledge to you and your government, but more importantly, the people of Mexico, is I will work as hard as I possibly can to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

QUIJANO: But in Latin America, bitterness lingers over legislation signed by President Bush and pushed by conservatives in his party to build a 700-mile-long fence along the border.

MICHAEL SHIFTER INTER-AMERICAN DIALOGUE: Calderon is interested in an immigration agreement and clearly resents, as do most Mexicans, this idea of building a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico. It sends a message that Latin Americans are an not wanted in the United States, and it's been seen as an insult, and many have taken offense.

QUIJANO: Sensitive to that criticism, President Bush is trying to strike a careful balance between securing the borders and securing the support of a country that is skeptical of Mr. Bush's ability to deliver an immigration deal.

BUSH: The United States respects rule of law, but in the debate on migration, I remind my fellow citizens that family values do not stop at the Rio Grande River.


QUIJANO: Despite the tension on immigration, both leaders are stressing the positive, and their shared belief that creating decent paying jobs in Mexico will cut down on the number of people trying to illegally cross into the United States -- Lou.

DOBBS: Elaine Quijano reporting.

The government of Mexico tonight finally appears to be realizing that the long-term solution to our illegal immigration and border security crisis rests in Mexico. More than half -- estimates run from 60 to 70 percent -- of the 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens in this country are citizens of Mexico.

The Mexican ambassador to the United States told "The Washington Times," "Comprehensive immigration reform in the United States starts in Mexico." The ambassador also said, "Unless Mexico is able to generate economic growth, we will still have a difficult time."

Illegal aliens are overrunning many small communities in this country, and some of those communities are fighting back at federal inaction to secure the borders and enforce U.S. immigration law. Later here we'll have a special report on the landmark legal battle taking place in Pennsylvania -- the small town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, a raid against the well-funded illegal alien lobby and its powerful corporate America supporters.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales today rejected Democratic demands for his resignation. The attorney general insists he has learned from his mistakes in the political showdown over the sudden dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys. However, Gonzales' chief of staff did resign for his role in the controversy.

Kelli Arena has the report from Washington.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Amid calls for his resignation, the attorney general says he accepts responsibility and admits mistakes were made in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

ALBERTO GONZALES, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I believe in accountability. Like every CEO of a major organization, I am responsible for what happens at the Department of Justice.

ARENA: Responsibility may lie with Gonzales, but the blame, he says, lies with his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, who abruptly resigned. Gonzales says he was simply out of the loop on this one.

GONZALES: I regret the fact that information was not adequately shared with individuals within the Department of Justice, and that consequently information was shared with the Congress that was incomplete. ARENA: But the resignation of a top staffer did nothing to tamp down Democratic anger at Gonzales.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: He said, "Many decisions are delegated."

Mr. President, did the attorney general not know that eight U.S. attorneys were to be fired? If he didn't know, he shouldn't be attorney general. Plain and simple.

ARENA: Gonzales says he stands behind his decision to let the U.S. attorneys go. Still, there are new questions about the role the White House played in the firings.

Lawmakers were incensed this morning when they found out there were e-mails dating back to early 2005 between Gonzales' chief of staff, Sampson, and White House counsel Harriet Miers, who, it turns out, had suggested all 93 U.S. attorneys be fired.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: Well, I picked up the newspaper at a quarter to 5:00 this morning, as I did, and frankly boiled over as I read information that we had not been told and that we should have been told and we could have been told. And it made me quite angry.

ARENA: In a memo dated January 1, 2006, Sampson wrote to Miers, "I recommend that the Department of Justice and the Office of the Counsel to the President work together to seek the replacement of a limited number of U.S. attorneys."


ARENA: Now, the White House insists that it did not play a role in who was ultimately let go, but not everyone is convinced. And lawmakers promise more hearings to get to the bottom of it -- Lou.

DOBBS: There's one question that Attorney General Gonzales, Kelli, was not asked today, nor did he address in his brief comments. Kyle Sampson, his chief of staff, was going about all this, presumably, at the behest and direction of the attorney general himself, but that was not addressed today at all.

ARENA: No, it wasn't. There were an awful lot of questions, Lou, that were not addressed today in a total of nine minutes that was devoted to that press briefing.

DOBBS: Any idea as to whether or not we will get an answer to that question?

ARENA: Well, members of Congress certainly hope to get one -- Lou.

DOBBS: All right. Well, let's hope we do. Otherwise, it would seem we have an attorney general who presides rather than manages a 110,000-person department.

Thank you, Kelli Arena, from Washington.

Democrats criticizing the attorney general haven't discussed the Clinton administration's decision to fire all 93 U.S. attorneys. That in 1993.

Clinton's attorney general, Janet Reno, said she dismissed all of those U.S. attorneys because they were all appointed by the previous Republican administration. Reno insisted that those firings had nothing at all to do with any investigations that were underway at the time into possible crimes by prominent Democrats.

Turning now to the war in Iraq, insurgents have killed two more of our troops. 3,195 of our troops killed since this war began. Insurgents also killing at least 10 people in a series of gun and bomb attacks in Baghdad. Those attacks coming as more of our troops arrived in Iraq.

And the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, today visited the western city of Ramadi, the capital of Al Anbar Province, the most violent province of all in Iraq. This is al-Maliki's first visit to Ramadi. Many of the city's neighborhoods are controlled by Sunni insurgents and al Qaeda terrorists.

For the first time since this war began, more than half of Americans now say the United States will not achieve victory in Iraq. The CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll reveals 54 percent of Americans surveyed do not believe the United States will win the war. The poll also shows slightly more people support the president's decision to send more troops to Iraq -- 37 percent now, compared with 32 percent in January.

Democratic leaders tonight are being accused of trying to buy votes in their congressional battle to change the direction of U.S. involvement in Iraq. Republicans say Democrats have added billions of dollars of unnecessary funds to the emergency spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan. Those Republicans say that additional spending is nothing less than a bribe.

Andrea Koppel reports.


ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Democrats say they added the extra $21 billion to fund other emergencies. Almost $3 billion would go to Gulf Coast recovery and rebuilding levees. Another $4 billion to help farmers, including those hit hard in California and Florida.

House Republicans accuse Democrats of using pork barrel politics to win support for a bill that also sets a deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq.

REP. ADAM PUTNAM (R), FLORIDA: They have engaged in all sorts of horse trading to try and buy votes on the left and the right in their caucus, which will end up costing the taxpayers billions of dollars in unnecessary and unrelated spending to the troops' needs. KOPPEL: Unrelated spending, like $1 billion to buy flu vaccines in case of a pandemic, $500 million to help western states deal with wildfires, $400 million for low-income heating assistance, and $735 million for children's health insurance.

Democratic leaders say these are important programs.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: What are they talking about as pork? Are they talking about the money that we have in the bill for health care for the poorest children in America? Are they talking about disaster assistance, which they have refused to give to America's farmers who -- which is long overdue?

KOPPEL: Citrus growers in Florida, Congressman Tim Mahoney's district, would be among those who would benefit, but this conservative Democrat says the add-on isn't meant to buy his vote.

REP. TIM MAHONEY (D), FLORIDA: I told the leadership that if it -- you know, if they felt that it didn't distract from the message, that, keep it. If they felt it distracted from the message, yank it.


KOPPEL: Now, the House Appropriations Committee is set to vote on this bill later this week, and if it passes, it could end up on the House floor as soon as next week. Democrats at this point, Lou, are expressing cautious optimism that they'll have the 218 votes need to pass it, but they are not taking a single vote for granted -- Lou.

DOBBS: How recently did they, Andrea, add all of these pork barrel items to a supplemental spending bill for our military in Iraq and Afghanistan?

KOPPEL: Well, they did it in the last couple of weeks. There have been a lot of closed-door negotiations taking place with various caucus members.

DOBBS: Right. You know, at this point it is -- it's almost -- if it weren't such serious business, it would be funny to think of Republicans, who put together one of the greatest pork barrel pieces of legislation in history -- that is, the Transportation Act of 2005, approaching $200 billion worth, to be talking about pork barrel in this legislation. It is equally funny to see Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, suggest that these $22 billion attached to a supplemental spending bill aren't pork barrel efforts at winning passage of legislation.

Andrea, thank you very much.

Andrea Koppel.

Still ahead, the Army faces a critical shortage of battlefield commanders. Is our Army near the breaking point? General David Grange joins us to discuss that and whether or not homosexuality should be considered immoral by the U.S. military. Also, many states are simply furious with the Bush administration for trying to create a North American union with Canada and Mexico without their approval, without voter consent, without public knowledge, without a vote in Congress.

We'll have the story on this rising reaction to what is nothing less than a national outrage.

And as the president visits Mexico, we'll have a live report for you from Soledad O'Brien from Mexico City on the Mexican view of our illegal immigration and border security crisis.

All of that and a great deal more straight ahead. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Attorney General Gonzales is resisting calls to resign over the firing of eight federal prosecutors, or at least the way it was handled and communicated with the U.S. Congress. The attorney general says is he committed to doing his job, but I have been wondering exactly who he's working for.

Just listen to what he had to say this month about the role of illegal aliens and the spread of gang violence in California, for example.


GONZALES: These are individuals who've run into a spell of tough luck.


DOBBS: Gonzales also talked about imprisoned former Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who have run into some bad luck of their own after being prosecuted for shooting and wounding an illegal alien drug smuggler given immunity by the U.S. Justice Department. Gonzales backs that prosecutor and not the men working to protect our border.


GONZALES: I have a great deal of confidence in the federal prosecutor that handled this case, Johnny Sutton, who worked with Governor Bush back in our days in Texas.


DOBBS: And when it comes to the government's former warrantless wiretap program, it seems his opinion depends on when you ask him about it. Back in August, after a judge struck the program down, the attorney general insisted President Bush had the power to authorize those wiretaps without court approval. But in January he made something of an about-face.


GONZALES: I believe very strongly that the president does have the authority to authorize this kind of conduct, particularly in a time of war. Conduct that's very consistent with what other presidents have done in a time of war. And we believe the authority comes from the authorization to use military force and from his constitutional authority as commander in chief.



GONZALES: We believe that the court's orders will allow the necessary speed and agility the government needs to protect our nation from a terrorist threat.


DOBBS: As for the current controversy over the fired prosecutors, the White House is backing the attorney general. Press Secretary Tony Snow says the president has confidence in him.

Well, that brings us to the subject of our poll tonight.

Do you believe Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should resign? Yes or no?

Cast your vote at We would love to hear from you on this one. We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.

Well, state lawmakers tonight are asking tough questions about the Security and Prosperity Partnership, what some call the North American Union. It's a plan devised by the Council of Foreign Relations, supported by big business and government elites to integrate the economies of the United States, Mexico, and Canada, with, of course, no congressional or voter oversight or approval.

Christine Romans reports now that more than a dozen states are urging the administration to abandon their plan.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Crawford, Texas, 2005. Cancun, 2006. Ottawa, last month. At the highest levels, the three North American governments are making the Security and Prosperity Partnership a top priority.

Canada's foreign minister last month...

PETER MACKAY, CANADIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: I think it's fitting that for the first time the three of us would meet under the same room that's in the context of the SPP.

ROMANS: They're working with major companies, harmonizing regulations, they say, and working to move goods and people more safely and quickly across borders. Arizona state senator Karen Johnson is convinced it's nothing short of a move toward a European-style North American union. She doesn't buy the government position that the SPP is an effort to make all three countries more efficient and safe.

KAREN JOHNSON (R), ARIZONA STATE SENATE: How can you harmonize and merge laws together with a narco-state? I mea, that is what Mexico is. It's an oligarchy. It has nothing to do with the way we govern. And Canada, as nice a country as it is, is socialistic.

ROMANS: Hers is one of more than a dozen states where lawmakers are considering legislation or passing resolutions opposing the SPP.

In the Illinois general assembly, for example, a House resolution cited the "open borders vision of the SPP" and urged the U.S. to withdraw from any further participation in the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

The administration denies its avail for some sort of North American union.

THOMAS SHANNON, STATE DEPT.: We think that we have kind of created not only a trail of public events, but also a trail of very explicit documents highlighting what it is we're trying to accomplish.

ROMANS: But not everyone supports what they're trying to accomplish.


ROMANS: Lawmakers like Karen Johnson in Arizona fear an assault on sovereignty and states' rights. And Canada, the liberals fear for their benefits and welfare system, and for their social network that they have there. And from the Mexican press point of view, at the Ottawa event last month some very pointed questions and outright skepticism about whether the United States is thinking about anybody but itself in all of this.

DOBBS: Well, I would think that the Mexican press would give the United States great credit taking care of 20 million of its citizens here. I mean, that's -- that seems like such a harsh view for the Mexican press to adopt.

What kind of idiots are the American people that we put up with this kind of nonsense? That we tolerate a president -- I can't even imagine what the Canadians are thinking.

The Canadians, they've got a wonderful country, wonderful people. They're being rolled over just like we are.

I just can't understand why there isn't an absolute, just straight out statement from every American to the U.S. government, "Stick it, and don't pull this again"?

ROMANS: I'm not sure what -- I can't speak to the intellectual capacity of the American people or their ability to band together, but, you know...

DOBBS: Well, the intellectual capacity -- I can speak to it. We're a wonderful, smart people. But we put up with so much nonsense. It's -- it's getting to the point of disgust.

Anyway, thanks for riling me up.

ROMANS: I'm sorry to rile you up, Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much.

ROMANS: Well, the state lawmakers have definitely made their voice heard on this. So...

DOBBS: Well, good. It's time people got riled up in this country.

ROMANS: So maybe that's where the American people's voice is heard, through the state legislature.

DOBBS: Absolutely. I hope that they'll get something done on this for all our sakes.

Coming up next, Soledad O'Brien is down in Mexico reporting on illegal immigration from the Mexican side of the border.

Hazleton, Pennsylvania, has cracked down on the impact of illegal immigration in their community, is under attack for a second straight day in federal court.

We'll have a special report for you live from the court.

The Army facing a shortage of officers. And we'll have some perspective from General David Grange on that and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs' statement about homosexuality being immoral.

And I'll have a few thoughts on President Bush, Senator Kennedy, corporate America, our attorney general.

Stay with us for that and a great deal more.


DOBBS: More than half of the illegal aliens in this country are from Mexico. Mexican citizens. Mexico also functions as a conduit for illegal aliens from other countries trying to reach the United States.

Soledad O'Brien is in Mexico there reporting on the issue of illegal immigration, joining us now from Mexico City.

Soledad, what has been your greatest lesson or surprise while there?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there have been a lot of surprises. For example, we've heard from many Mexicans who say they actually would like to stay in Mexico if they just had jobs. They're trying to in some cases create their own industries. For example, we saw a theme park where they -- people can pretend to be migrants and run across the border. That was a big, big surprise.

Another thing we saw which was pretty shocking was this town of Tultitlan, which is right where the freight trains roll through, Lou. And what you see are Mexicans and Hondurans and Guatemalans all basically hopping on a freight train. It's actually very dangerous. They call it "El Paso de la Muerte," the ride of the dead, the passage of the dead.

And the riders can fall off those trains. They can lose a limb, they can die.

We've seen the police cracking down actually on those freight train hoppers, but the towns people reach out to them, help them out, sometimes give them food and clothing, let them rest for a little bit. We asked them, "Why do you do that? Why do you do this?" And they say, you know, "I need a job."

DOBBS: They need a job. And what is the sense there amongst the people you have had time to talk with about the way the Mexican federal government is conducting policy?

Forty percent of all Mexico lives in abject poverty. The wealthy, of course, have extraordinary money. And there is very little in the way of a reasonable distribution of that wealth throughout the country.

O'BRIEN: Yes. I think people have been very hopeful about President Calderon, who, as you well know, has only been in office for a few months. But he's kind of said the right things. He says he is going to be the jobs president, the opportunity president.

Of course, not enough time has passed to see if that's actually going to happen.

DOBBS: Right.

O'BRIEN: There's been a rise in tortilla prices. That has affected the poor people very much.

So I think people are hopeful that if he can, in fact, not only bring jobs to Mexico, but also bridge that wage gap so that, let's say, a teacher who makes $12,000 a year, U.S. -- the equivalent, obviously, there -- you know, would want to stay in Mexico instead of go across the border illegally and pump gas for $26,000 a year.

DOBBS: Right. And the idea is, in point of fact, it has only been just about four months since Calderon took office. But the fact is he has moved against the drug cartels. He has ordered the legislature to strengthen laws against drug trafficking in Mexico. He has done a lot of the right things. So hopefully this is the beginning of something new for the country of Mexico and its citizens. Soledad O'Brien from Mexico City, thank you.

O'BRIEN: My pleasure, Lou.

DOBBS: The trial against Hazleton, Pennsylvania, continued today in federal court in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Hazleton, a small community of some 30,000 people, forced by federal inaction to take steps on its own to deal with the crisis caused by illegal immigration. It's being sued by well-funded national illegal alien advocacy groups and their supporting corporate American friends.

Bill Tucker is now outside the federal courthouse in Scranton, has the latest -- has the latest for us.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The plaintiffs made their case clear. Hazleton's laws aimed at illegal aliens are cutting a broad swathe in this small town.

TOM WILKINSON, PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: The ordinance has generated a tremendous amount of anti-immigrant sentiment in the city. Anti- immigrant sentiment has hurt businesses. It's caused people not to go to the restaurants that are owned by immigrants.

TUCKER: And that has been the theme of much of the plaintiff's case so far: arguing that even if the intentions behind the laws were sincere, there have been unintended consequences.

DR. JOSE LOPEZ, PLAINTIFF: I don't see any good that is coming out of this, because all it's doing is harm to the community and division in the community.

TUCKER: The case has played to the emotional side of the issue, making the city and its mayor targets, in and out of the courtroom.

JOSE MOLINA, PLAINTIFF: We have to stop going into the national level of media and say that it's as simple as saying illegal is illegal.

TUCKER: But the mayor argues it is simple and that the plaintiffs are overlooking what he sees as another very plain truth.

MAYOR LOU BARLETTA, HAZLETON: But what I'm hearing is people who feel they've been harmed because they cannot -- they have lost money, and businesses were profiting from illegal immigrants.

TUCKER: The mayor and his legal team point to a population of roughly 10,000 Latinos living in the community who remain living in the community and who he says are welcome in Hazleton as long as they're legally in the United States.


TUCKER: Now, Mayor Barletta is expected to take the stand tomorrow. He is being called by the plaintiffs, Lou, and it is widely expected that he is in for a long and very tough series of days on the stand.

And Lou, just this one note. I spoke to Dick Wolchek (ph), who's head of the ACLU in Pennsylvania, and you can expect the phrase NAFTA to be heard in the courtroom tomorrow.

Back to you.

DOBBS: The phrase what, Bill? I'm sorry.

TUCKER: NAFTA, North American Free Trade Agreement, will be discussed in the courtroom tomorrow.

DOBBS: Well, that's going to be just -- that's going to be a thrill a minute for everybody then.

I think we should go through this. Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton, a community, as I said, about 30,000 people. A raid against them, the national ACLU, the Pennsylvania ACLU, Cozen O'Connor, the law firm from, I believe, it's Philadelphia. The Puerto Rican legal defense fund supporting them. The biggest business lobby in the country. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I mean, this is crazy.

TUCKER: Oh, they are outmanned, and they are -- whether they're outgunned or not remains to be seen, but the ratio of attorneys is about 4-1, Lou, against Hazleton.

DOBBS: Well, we should all be proud of Hazleton for being able to muster that many to make it that small a ratio. We're laughing about this. It's a very serious financial situation for this small community.

TUCKER: Right.

DOBBS: And we're going to put up on our web site, just in the interest of narrowing some of the ratio and making it something of a fair fight, and this broadcast is going to contribute to the legal defense fund for Hazleton. We're going to invite you to do so if you want to. It's going to be on our web site, So if you want to support Hazleton, that's where you can do it, and we'll put up a fund and the address and you can do that.

DOBBS: Well, it's Hazleton struggling in federal court in Scranton, and there are new developments in two other courts fighting that crisis in illegal immigration.

A Valley Park, Missouri, ordinance similar to that of Hazleton has been thrown out by a local court. Valley Park officials have rewritten their law in hopes it will stand up.

And Morristown, New Jersey, police have joined a federal program that will allow it to check the immigration status of people they arrest and to hold criminal illegal aliens for possible deportation.

Joining me now for his important analysis of the Hazleton case and what's going on here is our senior legal analyst for this network, Jeffrey Toobin. Jeff, let me ask you. This case seems, obviously -- it's very important or, otherwise, these huge national organizations, the biggest business lobby of the country, wouldn't be arrayed there against this little town in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Even though this judge's ruling will not be binding outside of this part of Pennsylvania, the first case in an -- in an important new area of the law is always very important.

It was also in Pennsylvania when they had the first case striking down intelligent design, the curriculum, and basically that stopped all of those laws in their tracks. This could either stop or accelerate these kind of laws around the country.

DOBBS: Well, there's no intelligent design apparent, at least to me, in anything that this federal government is doing on the issue of immigration, illegal immigration, and border security.

The idea -- they pulled this language solely or primarily from the ordinance yesterday so that it would comport with, apparently, the law so as to make it workable. How do you feel about that?

TOOBIN: Well, they certainly by changing the law made it more likely to be upheld, because under the former version of the law, it's at least -- it was at least possible that the police could have gone to a business and said, well, there are a lot of Hispanics here. That's -- that's an indication there are illegal immigrants present. Now the law says you can't use simply race or ethnicity as a factor in deciding which business...

DOBBS: Which was never intended, according to Mayor Lou Barletta anyway.

TOOBIN: Right. But then he changed the law.

DOBBS: The other thing that's interesting as they point out, 30 businesses, Hispanic businesses, businessmen and women, have moved in since they put this ordinance on their books, and that sounds powerful to me.

Now, explain to us whether you think this ordinance will survive this test.

TOOBIN: Well, I think the toughest test for this ordinance is a doctrine called preemption, which is preemption is a constitutional law doctrine that says when the federal government is involved in regulating an area, the states and localities can't contradict or occupy the space.

The most famous case about preemption involves nuclear power plants.

DOBBS: Right.

TOOBIN: They said -- their federal laws dictate safety at nuclear power plants. Well, some states said, no, we want these -- the rules to be tighter, to be safer, and the Supreme Court said no, this is preempted by the federal government. The federal government determines it. I think that's the risk in this law.

DOBBS: And that's the risk. Who do you think prevails?

TOOBIN: I think the ACLU and the Chamber of Commerce, I think they're going to prevail. I think the judge is going to avoid the issue about whether it's discriminatory, and simply say, look, this is a federal matter. Hazleton, stay out of it.

DOBBS: And the idea that -- that Hazleton and every other community in this country, is there a way in which this ordinance can be worded in such a way as to remove your concerns?

TOOBIN: Well, it's not my -- it's my interpretation of what the court will do.

DOBBS: Right.

TOOBIN: I think it's going to be tough, because I think as soon as you get into anything related to immigration, judges are going to say -- a lot of judges, anyway, are going to say, "Hey, this is for the feds. It's not for the localities."

DOBBS: Well, it is for the feds, and the feds have absolutely been the most irresponsible and disgraceful bunch of barbarians in the country as far as I'm concerned. It's inexcusable.

TOOBIN: And the judges are going to say fix the feds.


TOOBIN: Don't change the localities.

DOBBS: Well, maybe we can fix everything. Go after the judiciary, the entire federal government.

TOOBIN: I'm certainly for fixing it. You got it.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. We're going to be following this case throughout.

Well, a few words now just to share my view on a couple of the day's developments.

The president today telling the Guatemalan people he needs to persuade the American people that the U.S. government is taking its responsibilities for border security seriously before he can push through comprehensive immigration reform. As he and Senator Kennedy like to refer to their amnesty for illegal aliens, that is the comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Well, Mr. President, how about this? The American people don't require persuasion. We require action. You know, real, honest results and resolution of problems. And as for the good senator, Kennedy wants to hold the Department of Homeland Security accountable for the way in which they handled a raid on an illegal employer of illegal aliens in his state.

Senator Kennedy didn't say a single word, however, about holding the Department of Homeland Security responsible for not securing our borders, nor a word about the unfair labor advantage the illegal employer gained by hiring those illegal aliens.

And President Bush and Senator Kennedy are absolute soul-mates who share distorted, even twisted views about their responsibilities to the American people and the laws they've been elected to uphold.

And corporate America is doing its best to roll back all that inconvenient government oversight and regulation tonight with the help of the co-author of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act passed amidst the corporate corruption scandals of just a few years ago.

Corporate America and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been conspicuously quiet on the backdating of stock options and the sub-prime mortgage lenders and their financial structures that are now undermining the stock market.

By the way, the Dow Jones Industrials today quietly lost another 240 points.

And on the subject of Attorney General Gonzales, today he sort of took responsibility for inadequately informing Congress on the actions of his department and the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, then threw his chief of staff under the bus, blaming him for the mess.

Gonzales has been -- has been seeing absolutely nothing wrong with warrantless wiretaps or apparently torture, and he refers to gang members as folks who have just run into a spot of tough luck. And fully supports giving amnesty to illegal alien drug dealers to testify against Border Patrol agents to appease someone in the Mexican government.

This time, Mr. Attorney General, I think you've got it right. You should take responsibility and carry out one of the only audible acts of your service as this nation's chief law enforcement officer.

Coming up next here, two Border Patrol agents still in prison for doing their jobs. Congressman Duncan Hunter joins us. We'll be discussing the fight to win a congressional pardon for those agents.

The Army is struggling to find enough battlefield commanders. General David Grange joins us to discuss that. And the chairman of the joint chiefs remarks today about homosexuality in the military. Stay with us.


DOBBS: New developments in the case of the two imprisoned Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. A House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee will heal -- hold hearings on that issue. Congressman Duncan Hunter is among those fighting this miscarriage of justice, sponsoring a resolution calling for a congressional pardon for both men. Congressman Hunter joins us now from Capital Hill.

Congressman, good to have you with us. How important, in your judgment, is this announced hearing on Ramos and Compean?

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, this is very important, Lou, because the only thing we can do right now until we get enough votes to actually pass this pardon, and we now have 95 co- sponsors on the congressional pardon bill, is to focus attention on it and put increasing pressure on the administration, on the White House.

So having hearings when once they've already been sent to prison and they now are in prison is probably the most important thing we can do. It's a good step.

DOBBS: And Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, do you think he should resign as a number of Democrats are saying? What kind of job do you think he's doing for the American people?

HUNTER: Well, you know, I haven't focused on Mr. Gonzales, and I have focused on this case with Compean and Ramos. I think that the conviction was a severe injustice, but the conviction was done by a jury, which was an extremely bizarre verdict.

But I think Mr. Gonzales could help us all a lot by advising the president to issue a pardon at this time. These guys have got more time in prison given to them than the average convicted murderer in America.

DOBBS: The idea that this -- this attorney general is conducting himself the way he is -- I know you haven't focused on it, but I have to say, I haven't seen the likes of this ever in my career.

He is just on the -- just about every quarter coming up short this defense of the Constitution and, in my opinion, coming up short in the defense of the American people, and, frankly, just the plain right thing.

HUNTER: Well, Lou, I -- you know, I think some of the things that he's done -- I think some of the calls that he has made in terms of the war against terror, I think have been good calls.

I mean, he's -- when he's had this debate with Congress over where the president's powers as commander in chief lie, whether or not he can do the things that he has done with respect to the various security acts that we've passed, I think those are close legal questions.

I think with Compose -- Compean and Ramos, clearly there should be a pardon for these guys, and I think that leaving these guys in jail for 11 and 12 years respectively is outrageous.

DOBBS: You and I certainly agree on that. And on Iraq, you judge just returned from Iraq. We have just very little time, maybe 30 seconds. Give us your sense of what is happening there.

HUNTER: You know, we can succeed in Iraq if we continue to stand up the Iraq military. They are standing up in Baghdad and Anbar province. It's hard, dangerous work, Lou. I think it's worth it. If we keep training up the Iraq military, we can be successful.

DOBBS: Congressman Duncan Hunter, good to have you here.

HUNTER: Thank you.

DOBBS: Up next, a critical shortage of battlefield commanders in the Army. General David Grange tells us.

Attorney General Gonzales admits mistakes. We'll be talking with three of the country's best talk radio show hosts about that and whether their listeners think Gonzales should step down.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Joining us now is one of the country's most distinguished former military leaders, General David Grange.

General, good to have you here.

GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: General, first, let's start with the fact that there's now an officer shortage. We are seeing a little slower deployment of those reinforcements that General Petraeus needs, he says, to carry out his orders in Iraq. What's your reaction?

GRANGE: That the -- I think, you know, the reinforcements are making a difference in Baghdad right now. You know, the quicker they get over there, the better, but it's going to take through May.

And I think the key thing now is that the American people have to give patience to have this thing work for a while, to let it get through this new strategy. Remember, we lost two or three years.

DOBBS: We've lost a lot of years and a lot of young men and women over there. The American people have been, in terms of patience, I'm not certain. When we look at what they're now saying is a shortage of officers to command our fine troops, what are we going to do?

GRANGE: Well, there's been a shortage of officers for quite a long time. I mean, I had them as a division commander in Germany. I remember that in Vietnam. I remember right after Vietnam, especially.

As long as you have a strong noncommissioned officer core, as long as you have people with experience, which we have a vast experienced military right now, that may save us.

DOBBS: Right.

GRANGE: But it's hard to get this midlevel ranks to fill up in the military right now.

DOBBS: So it's true what the grunts have always said about the officers throughout history.

GRANGE: Well, that's true, but, again, that gives us an advantage because we do have great sergeants.

DOBBS: Right. Let's turn to General Pace's comments about he thinks it's immoral, it's his personal belief that it's immoral -- homosexuality is immoral and all the furor that that's kicked up.

Let me ask you, you commanded the 1st Infantry Division. You commanded troops throughout your career. Did you ever have to discharge anyone for homosexuality?

GRANGE: Never have. Not in 30 years. The don't ask, don't tell policy, in fact, as I recall it, worked well. Never had a problem.

DOBBS: How about for adultery? Because General Pace brought that out. A lot of news organizations are leaving that out of the equation, but he was drawing, if you will, a moral equivalence in terms of adultery and homosexuality, which the military does not tolerate. Did you ever discharge anyone for adultery?

GRANGE: There are a few incidents where I was a reviewing authority for those cases, and we did discharge those people. And yes, we did.

DOBBS: And the military, I've been told -- and I don't know this for myself. Perhaps you do. That we are amongst the few militaries, the American military is amongst the few in the world that has a requirement that openly homosexual troops cannot serve. The British, the Australians, the Germans, the French, all permitting it.

Do you think that it's time for the United States to look at the issue, or do you think we should retain the don't ask, don't tell policy?

GRANGE: Well, it is working. I would say that right now is not a good time in the middle of a war...

DOBBS: Right.

GRANGE: ... to start something like that, but the private sector doesn't discriminate, and maybe it's time to re-look at it in the future.

DOBBS: General David Grange, as always, good to have you with us.

GRANGE: My pleasure. DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour, "THE SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.

We're going to have much more on this story. He served in the military, and he has been open about his sexuality. I'll speak with retired U.S. Air Force captain -- a captain about the uproar over General Pace's stunning comments on gays and lesbians in the U.S. armed forces.

And presidential candidate John Edwards tells us if he thinks the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, should step down. He's got some blistering words for the Bush administration. You're going to want to see this interview.

Also, some fishermen tried to help a stranded whale, but the immense mammal suddenly goes wild. We've got some incredible pictures you won't forget any time soon.

All that, Lou, coming up right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM".

DOBBS: Wolf, thank you very much.

And time now for three of the country's best radio talk show hosts joining me. Mark Simone, WABC New York; Charles Goya, KFNX, Phoenix, Arizona; and in Chicago, WGN's Steve Cochran. Good to have you gentlemen with us.

Steve, let's start with you. Gays in the military. Don't ask, don't tell. You just heard General Grange say it may be time after this war. And let's hope that that is soon to review -- for the military to review that policy.

STEVE COCHRAN, WGN RADIO HOST: Well, I completely agree. And you know how much I respect General Grange. I think it's nice to hear somebody with that amount of leadership experience say it's time to take a look at it.

The unfortunate thing is the words of General Pace are damaging. They're out there. I respect the fact that he took a step back and reconsidered it, but his personal beliefs are not germane here.

And the fear is what surprises me. There's all this talk about the fact that this could damage the military. You know what? We're not going to see feather boas complimenting fatigues and ten-mile runs with -- you know, ten-mile runs with full pads done to show tunes. It's not going to happen.

We need able-bodied men and women who are going to be able to fight and serve this country and spell some of the folks that are on their third and fourth tours.

DOBBS: Absolutely. And Charles Goya, the idea that General Pace -- personally I have to tell you, I think the man, like any American, is entitled to his opinion. It's just unfortunate that the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff is expressing a personal opinion that has to be attached in the minds of so many to his role as chairman of the joint chiefs.

CHARLES GOYA, KFNX RADIO HOST: We look at him for his opinion about military policy and procedures and what makes for effective fighting force. This is the home of Barry Goldwater out here in Arizona who said, look, you don't need to -- you don't need to be straight to be in the military. You just need to be able to shoot straight.

DOBBS: Well, I think -- as it were. How you about, Mark?

MARK SIMONE, WABC RADIO HOST: Well, you know, it was a shock to me to hear him say that, and obviously, I don't agree with him, but I think he's just a very, very traditional old-fashioned guy. The question is, is it going to contaminate his decision making? Hopefully not.

DOBBS: Yes. And people forget, this is also the same general who appeared down in Miami a year ago talking about illegal immigration at the behest of the Bush administration.

I personally prefer generals stick to general work and leave the rest of it to the civilians. We've got enough abject fools working at those jobs. The idea that -- and this is an unintentional segue, I assure you, Steve Cochran. Attorney General Gonzales, is he just about -- has he just about done it?

COCHRAN: Well, you know what scares me is the statement he came out with today that he can't be expected to know everything that goes on with 110,000 people in the department. You know, forcibly or allegedly forcibly pushing out U.S. attorneys is a little more than an e-mail about the course of the day.

And what frightens me more is that he wouldn't be in that meeting. Not that he wouldn't know about it. He ought to be in that meeting.

DOBBS: We're going to be back...

GOYA: You know, Lou, we got rid of his chief of staff Scooter Sampson today, but that's only a start. At some point Gonzales has got to go himself.

DOBBS: It's a tough -- this is a tough month for Scooters, isn't it?

GOYA: It really is. One Scooter after another. But we're not done getting rid of people unwilling the president goes. In fact, he's south of the border right now. This may be the time to finally shut the border down.

DOBBS: Well...

COCHRAN: The problem is that's a job that a lot of Americans don't want to do right now. DOBBS: Well...

COCHRAN: The president.

DOBBS: ... look at the polls, it looks like more Americans might want to do that job than you think. We'll be right back with our panel in just a moment. We'll hear from Mark Simone. Stay with us.


DOBBS: We're back with our host. Let me ask you, Mark Simone. I know you're itching to defend Alberto Gonzales.

SIMONE: Half and half. First of all, this administration holds a record for firing the least amount of U.S. attorneys. You mentioned the Clinton administration fired 93 in one day. One of them was the U.S. attorney in Little Rock, the guy was going to look into Whitewater.

DOBBS: Well, another one was looking into Dan Rostenkowski, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

SIMONE: So when they say this was for political reasons, every U.S. attorney hired or fired was for political reasons.

DOBBS: OK. That's your defense?

SIMONE: Well...

DOBBS: Charles, Halliburton, one of our favorite companies, headed straight to Dubai. What a brilliant energetic, innovative business idea. What do you think?

GOYA: It's just like Dick Cheney was conveniently out of the country during the period that the Scooter Libby trial jury was in deliberation.

You know, we don't extradite people from Dubai. I don't know if you know, but we've got a half a dozen people the United States hasn't been able to extradite. Maybe this is a good time for the CEO of Halliburton to duck on out of the country.

DOBBS: The bad news is you may have given an idea to dozens of other CEO's who are looking to prospect. Cochran?

COCHRAN: Well, I just think that this is an opportunity for the folks to kind of spread their wings, because they're obviously doing it for the good of the American people. It's not a tax dodge. It's not trying to run and hide. They're thinking about us, Lou.

DOBBS: I know. You know, I appreciate that. I know that you're -- I can tell -- I can see the emotion building as you're expressing your gratitude. Mark?

COCHRAN: I'm welling up right now. I'm a little welling up. GOYA: Everybody is telling us how awful they are and they can't stand him. Now they're mad they're leaving. They're in the oil field services business. I would think that's in the Middle East.

DOBBS: They're leaving with our money, though.

GOYA: If they were in tulip fields, they'd be moving to Holland.

DOBBS: Some people are so disgusted with the way Halliburton has managed itself for years that they don't care. They're going to be critical.

GOYA: Now that George Soros has bought a couple million chairs, you'll see changes here.

DOBBS: Absolutely. Another great American. All right.

Gentlemen, thank you very much. Steve Cochran, Charles Goya, Mark Simone.

The results of our poll tonight, 97 percent of you say -- just 97 percent say -- the attorney general should resign.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. For all of us, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.


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