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Showdown Over Iraq: Senate Dems Defeated; More Troops to Iraq; White House Mess: Gonzales Under Fire

Aired March 15, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, startling new figures on the tremendous scale of alcohol and drug abuse occurring among our college students. Nearly half of all students are binge drinking or abusing illegal drugs.
We'll have that special report here tonight.

Also, the illegal alien lobby is intensifying its efforts to win amnesty for illegal aliens. Immigration attorneys and their corporate supporters trying to write amnesty legislation for your Congress.

We'll have a special report on how they're doing.

And new developments in the trial of a small town trying to reduce the effects of illegal immigration on their community. The ACLU and its corporate allies insist Hazleton, Pennsylvania, must abandon its ordinance. The executive director of the ACLU, Anthony Romero, fresh from Scranton, Pennsylvania, the site of the trial, among our guests here tonight.

Join us for all of that, all of the day's news, and much more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Thursday, March 15th.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

A major setback today for Democratic efforts to set a deadline for the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. Senate Democrats failed to win sufficient support for a measure calling for the withdrawal of all our combat troops by the end of March next year.

But Senate Democrats are escalating their offensive against the White House on another front: the future of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The Judiciary Committee today said it may subpoena Justice Department officials in the controversy over the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys and the way in which the U.S. Justice Department communicated with Congress.

Dana Bash reports now on the political defeat for Senate Democrats.

Barbara Starr reports on Pentagon plans to accelerate the deployment of more reinforcements to Iraq.

Suzanne Malveaux reports on the showdown over Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his management of the Justice Department.

We turn first to Dana Bash -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, across Capitol Hill today, Democrats had a simultaneous victory and defeat on the issue they say voters brought them here to confront, and that is bringing troops home from Iraq.


BASH (voice over): It was the Senate Democratic majority's first real attempt at forcing a change in Iraq policy, a deadline for troop withdrawal by this time next year. And it failed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The yeas are 48. The nays are 50.

BASH: Republicans argued it was irresponsible.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: It is constitutionally dubious and it would authorize a scattered band of United States senators to literally tie the hands of the commander-in- chief.

BASH: Democrats called it the only responsible thing to do.

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: Maybe if they had micromanaged the war they would have had enough body armor. Maybe if they had micromanaged the system, we wouldn't have the scandal at Walter Reed.

BASH: Democrats in the House had more success. Hours earlier, a key committee passed a bill to bring all U.S. combat troops home by September 2008.

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Let me tell you, you talk to the families. You know how hard this was on the family. You know what a pain they bear. Not us, them, that they bear, the ones that are killed and out in the field.

BASH: Under the Democrats' plan, troops could begin leaving Iraq as soon as July of this year if President Bush cannot prove Iraqis are meeting political and security related benchmarks.

Republicans slammed Democrats for sending a dangerous signal to the enemy.

REP. BILL YOUNG (R), FLORIDA: We should not set the timetable. We should not determine the troop movement.

BASH: The hard deadline for troops to leave Iraq is part of a $124 billion bill to fund the war. Democrats added $21 billion, mostly sweeteners to attract votes from a divided caucus. Things that have nothing to do with war, like $25 million for spinach producers, $5 million for tropical fish breeders, $74 million for peanut storage.

REP. HAL ROGERS (R), KENTUCKY: Welcome Kmart shoppers. This is an effort to buy votes.


BASH: House Democrats say they will bring this to the floor next week for a vote. The president has threatened that he will veto this it if it gets to his desk, but it is unlikely that is going to happen because today, Lou, Senate Democrats did demonstrate that they can't muster a simple majority to force the issue of bringing troops home from Iraq and a deadline for that -- Lou.

DOBBS: So all of this is storm and fury and it signifies nothing in terms of effect.

What will the Democratic leadership then do?

BASH: They're going to keep plugging along. We are going to see this continue, as I said, in the House. It's going to continue in the Senate.

What they said today is, yes, they understand -- at least on the Senate side, of course -- that they had a defeat. But they insist that this is getting everybody on the record. And they insist over and over, Lou, that Republicans are going to essentially pay when it comes to public opinion, because they say public opinion is on their side here. That's what they say.

DOBBS: But public opinion won't be expressed at the polls until -- for two years almost. Actually, a little less than that, a year and a half to -- to nine months.

What in the world are we watching? Are we watching a continuation of what we saw under Republican leadership? That is, a Congress that is simply at stalemate?

BASH: What we are watching is a Democratic leadership that is here and in control but simply does not have the votes ultimately to pass the proposals and the policies that they want to do. That's what we are seeing. A Democratic majority, but with a very slim majority -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much.

Dana Bash.

BASH: Thank you.

DOBBS: The Pentagon today acknowledged for the first time that some of the violence in Iraq can be called civil war. The military sending nearly 30,000 additional troops to Iraq to fight the insurgency. Tonight the Pentagon said the number of reinforcements could rise higher.

Barbara Starr reports from the pentagon. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): CNN has learned that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has signed orders speeding up the deployment of up to 3,000 additional forces. Most of them from a combat aviation brigade.

Armed with dozens of attack helicopter gun ships and troop transports, the brigade will likely leave the U.S. in May. Their main job, airborne support for the 20 brigades of ground combat forces. There just aren't enough helicopters in Iraq right now to keep the so- called troop surge on the ground going.

General David Petraeus, the new commander in Iraq, has made it clear. He wants to mass as many troops as fast as he can. While some levels of violence are down, there are still many skeptics.

LAWRENCE KORB, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: The Petraeus doctrine is, too little, too late. If we were going to do this, we should have done it right from the beginning. Listen to General Shinseki, had enough troops on the ground to get the situation under control after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

STARR: And for the first time, the Pentagon has openly acknowledged in a congressionally mandated report that some of the violence in the last quarter of 2006 in Iraq is properly descriptive of a civil war. With signs the troop increase is making a difference, that acknowledgement is winning kudos from at least one long-time Pentagon critic.

MURTHA: I just read the report that we get every quarter. We are starting to get realistic reports. Since Secretary Gates came in, we are getting much more realistic reports.


STARR: Lou, Pentagon officials also say they are now considering extending the tour of duty for additional units already in Iraq. All of this adds up to how tough it is going to be for them to maintain the troop surge and how they're trying to find enough troops to keep it going, possibly into early next year -- Lou.

DOBBS: This is now a war that has taken, Barbara, as you well know, longer than World War II. We have reinforcements being added to the reinforcements -- 21,500 the initial statement from the White House. The Pentagon is obviously reaching deep into the -- I was going to say the force strength of the military, but it's really now force weakness, trying to keep enough troops in the field.

I have two questions for you. One, the mood there amongst the general staff in terms of what they're being compelled to do here? And secondly, their reaction to what is storm fury and absolutely nothing being done on Capitol Hill?

What's their reaction to that?

STARR: Well, let's talk first about the reaction here to this troop surge and what it all means.

What you are hearing in the hallways of the Pentagon in the last couple of weeks is a lot of concern about finding the troops to keep it going. The concern is that when they bring units home from Iraq, that they give these very tired soldiers and Marines enough time home with their families to rest and recuperate and enough time to get the equipment back in order and trained to go again. That's a big issue.

As for the political side of it, Lou, I have to tell you, every general I talk to is trying to stay as far away from all that as they possibly can.

DOBBS: Barbara, thank you very much.

Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.

Seven more of our troops have been killed in Iraq. Five killed in combat, two in so-called noncombat-related incidents.

Forty-four of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month. 3,207 of our troops since beginning of the war have been killed. 24,042 of our troops wounded, 10,685 of them seriously.

The United States, Europe, Russia and China today surprisingly agreed to impose new sanctions on Iran over its refusal to comply with U.N. demands that it end its nuclear weapons program. The new sanctions include a ban on Iranian military exports and imposed freezes on Iranian financial assets. The proposals have been sent to the United Nations Security Council. A vote on the measure could be held as soon as next week.

Iran is already saying it will ignore those sanctions.

The White House today faced a new barrage of questions about its domestic policy. Specifically, about the future of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Gonzales is under fire for the abrupt dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys and the fact that he did not have sufficient information when communicating with the Congress. White House spokesman Tony Snow today strongly defended the attorney general from his critics, both Democrat and Republican.

Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's the only Republican calling for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to be fired. But the White House fears he may be just the first.

SEN. JOHN SUNUNU (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: He certainly has lost the confidence of most members of Congress and the American public.

MALVEAUX: White House Spokesman Tony Snow said they are disappeared in Sununu. But privately, senior administration officials are trying to minimize the damage, painting him as a constant complainer, who has accused the administration of violating American civil liberties in carrying out the war on terror.

And administration officials insist Gonzales's job is safe.

But today, the Senate Judiciary Committee demonstrated just how serious they are, authorizing subpoenas for five top Justice Department officials to testify before them, in case Gonzales backs out of his offer to allow them to speak voluntarily. But the committee's Republican members were able to postpone the vote on whether to subpoena top White House aides for at least a week, citing ongoing negotiations with White House lawyers.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: The subpoena issue has to be handled with great delicacy.

MALVEAUX: But Democratic say White House officials are not getting a pass.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: If I do not get their cooperation, I will subpoena. We will have testimony under oath before this committee.

MALVEAUX: One person they want to hear from is White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove. Today, he spoke publicly for the first time about the escalating controversy.

KARL ROVE, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: This, to my mind, is a lot of politics. And I understand that's what Congress has the right to play around with and they're going to do it.


MALVEAUX: And Lou, Rove also noted that President Clinton actually dismissed all 93 of those federal attorneys before he took office, as he has the prerogative to do so. But the big difference here between then and now -- in fact, then they didn't have the Patriot Act with a clause that allows the president to appoint those federal attorneys without -- without Senate approval. And so there are some lawmakers who are very concerned about this.

They believe that the balance of power has been disrupted between the legislative and executive branches. And some go as far to say that this Bush administration, this White House, has abused its power -- Lou.

DOBBS: I don't think there is much question, or at least I don't think there should be much question about whether or not the president has the authority and the right and the prerogative to fire U.S. attorneys. What the executive does not have -- and that seems to be, to me, at least, the central question here -- the right to mismanage the Justice Department and to fail to accurately communicate with the Congress.

In this case they misspoke. That is the most generous interpretation possible for what the Justice Department responded to the Congress.

What do you think will happen there?

MALVEAUX: Well, White House officials have actually acknowledged that, yes, those Justice Department officials did misspeak. And they say that they believe they didn't have the full accurate picture when they testified.

It is something that they are very disturbed about. But they do not think that it rises to the level of holding Karl Rove and others here at the White House responsible for the mistakes that were made at the Justice Department.

DOBBS: Suzanne, thank you very much.

Suzanne Malveaux from the White House.

The White House has been forced to clarify remarks made by the president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon. At a summit meeting with President Bush yesterday, as we reported, President Calderon said some of his relatives live and work in the United States. But it appears a Mexican government translator left out a critical part of the Mexican president's statement.

The White House said Calderon also said, "I have not seen them" -- referring to his relatives -- "in a long time and do not know their migratory status." The White House did not say whether it has established whether those relatives of Calderon are in the country legally or illegally. And the president of Mexico declined to speak to that issue.

Still ahead here, General Grange joins us to examine whether our troops in Iraq have a chance of preventing all-out civil war.

Also, Insurgents shooting down a rising number of our helicopters in Iraq. We will have an exclusive report for you tonight on the Army's urgent and unique efforts to adapt new tactics for survival and success in Iraq.

And the grim reality of our national crisis over alcohol and drug abuse. We'll have a special report on the huge levels of binge drinking and drug abuse on our college campuses.

Stay with us for all of that and a great deal more straight ahead.


DOBBS: For the first time, the U.S. military is acknowledging elements of the conflict in Iraq can be called civil war. The military's new assessment comes in the latest quarterly report on the war in Iraq from the Pentagon.

Joining me now, General David Grange, one of the country's leading former military commanders who also served, of course, in the Middle East. General, let me ask you this -- as I watch what is happening in the House of Representatives, as I watch what's happening in the U.S. Senate, as I listen to the Pentagon define this as having elements of a civil war, I think, what in the world does any of that mean to our men and women in uniform in combat in Iraq and their leaders?

What does it mean to them, if anything?

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Nothing really. If you call it civil war or call it something else, it doesn't mean anything to the grunt, the GI on the ground fighting the war. I mean, there's plenty of threats. You have al Qaeda fighting everywhere, you have factions.

You have influence from Iran and Syria. You have coalition forces. You have the Iraqi army and police. They're in a fight. They have identified the enemy when they're told to fight, and it doesn't matter.

DOBBS: Senator Mikulski said today that -- the Democrats and congressmen accused of micromanaging, but suggesting that perhaps some micromanaging on the part of the administration when it comes to body armor, up-armoring vehicles, providing adequate equipment, and care for our wounded warriors.

How would you respond to the senator?

GRANGE: I like the idea of micromanagement when it comes to sending troops into harm's way with the proper gear, the proper training time, and readiness that they need to be sent into harm's way. But once that happens, it is up to the ground commander to make the rest of the decisions on how to fight that fight.

DOBBS: And how to fight that fight -- at this point, four years in, do you believe that General Petraeus -- we just received word that more reinforcements are being added to the reinforcements that have been announced over -- in increments here since the president announced first the surge strategy. Do you think, given the state of the equipment, which nearly every military leader now in the -- in theater says is in terrible shape, the troops are tired and have been overextended, does he have the opportunity here to succeed?

GRANGE: He has the opportunity to succeed. They're already making headway. You'll remember now we are playing catch-up here. So these reinforcements that are going in there, which is to weigh the main effort, which is Baghdad, is essential for success.

Hopefully, hopefully people are not going to go into combat with equipment that will not work. And I hope those problems have been fixed. But yes, it is a tired force. And that's why everything we can do in this nation to make them successful must be done right now.

DOBBS: Let me ask you this. This is the world's only superpower. We have gone through Vietnam. We have gone through Iraq now twice with the Gulf War in 1991. Korea. World War II. Why is it the world's only superpower is spending over half a trillion dollars, more than 3,000 lives, more than 24,000 troops wounded in Iraq, a nation of some 25 million people with an insurgency that is an absolute minority of the population, and our general staff and this leadership, civilian leadership, have been unable to bring it to a successful conclusion?

GRANGE: You know I think, Lou, that one thing these general officers would love to have is to fight a conventional war. You know, we're in a regular war, an insurgency. These are tougher fights than a conventional fight.

We are organized for conventional fight. We have been trained for conventional fighting. This is a regular warfare, very tough. It takes time.

We don't want to accept that fact. But that's the way it is.

DOBBS: General David Grange, thank you very much.

GRANGE: My pleasure.

DOBBS: Well, the Army is sending more helicopters and air support to Iraq. Pilots and crews receiving new training. Those pilots training to deal with a rising threat from enemy anti-aircraft weaponry.

Jamie McIntyre now has this exclusive report from the Army Aviation training center at Fort Rucker, Alabama.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At the Army's Aviation Warfighting center in Fort Rucker, Alabama, it's the job of aging veterans to keep rookie students from getting shot down. The pilots and students are all well aware that this year in Iraq U.S. helicopters have become a favorite target of insurgents. Too often with deadly results.

But it's not the first thing on their mind.

1ST LT. CURTIS WILLIAMS, APACHE STUDENT PILOT: I want to focus on training to make sure that I'm ready for when my time comes if something like that is to arise.

MCINTYRE: First Lieutenant Curtis Williams has been a soldier since the first Gulf War in 1991, and now he's itching to fly an Apache in a war zone. In particular, he's grateful his IP, instructor pilot, is just back from the front lines.

(on camera): Did you have any close calls when you were in Iraq?


MCINTYRE: You're flying in Iraq. You're in a combat situation. You are the pilot. What are you thinking? SANDERS: Self preservation. You have to take care of yourself in the aircraft to be effective in a combat multiplier.

MCINTYRE (voice over): Allen Mays (ph) is another veteran instructor with Iraq experience. He sat down in the cockpit of his Kiowa scout helicopter to show me how not to get shot out of the sky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our primary thing is their speed is life. We never stop flying. We never come to stationary hover. And we don't have to as a scout pilot. We go forward on the battlefield.

MCINTYRE: Mays (ph) is reluctant to give away the latest tactics. He knows anything he reveals on CNN could help the enemy. But he confirms that reports from the front lines are incorporated into every lesson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We pass it off to our students. These things are happening. These are the tactics that the enemy are using. And this is how we can combat some of those tactics.

WO1 ERICK KNARZER, KIOWA STUDENT PILOT: I'm extremely confident. The IPs we have here, I think, are the best pilots around. And the machine is fantastic. I wouldn't have wanted to fly this helicopter if I wasn't confident. And I love this helicopter.

MCINTYRE: It won't be long before Eric, Knarzer and his fellow Army pilots test their metal in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, Fort Rucker, Alabama.


DOBBS: Coming up next here, America's college students under the influence. An alarming new report on the extent of binge drinking on our college campuses.

Also, the pro-illegal alien lobby pushing its amnesty agenda with support of corporate America on Capitol Hill. Corporate America's latest aggressive efforts to rewrite our immigration laws.

And a small town under siege in court fighting an influx of illegal immigration and battling an army of lawyers.

We'll have expert analysis and where this landmark case is headed, the stakes, and who is likely to win as well.

All of that and more coming right up.

We'll be right back.


DOBBS: A shocking new report tonight that shows almost half of our college-aged students are abusing drugs and alcohol.

And as Christine Romans now reports, the number of death is on the rise because of it.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A new study finds an inexcusable culture of acceptance on American campuses for alcohol and drug abuse. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reports 3.8 million college students binge drink and/or use drugs.

Chairman Joseph Califano found no significant reduction in overall drinking.

JOSEPH CALIFANO, CASA: Even more troubling, the rates of riskier dangerous drinking, being intoxicated, frequent binge drinking, drinking just to get drunk, have increased.

ROMANS: Califano's report, "Wasting the Best and the Brightest," analyzed data from 1993 to 2005. It found 49 percent of full-time college students binge drink and/or abuse drugs. Almost 23 percent meet the clinical criteria for dependents or abuse, with sometimes deadly consequences.

Some 1,700 alcohol-related college deaths in 2001. Up six percent in three years.

So why are students drinking to excess? Amy Gnotek, a senior at Michigan State University, explains.

AMY GNOTEK, COLLEGE SENIOR: There's a lot of reasons that, you know, the students are finding reasons to drink -- when they're done with an exam, or there's lots of bar specials all the time, too, cheap, cheap beer. Cheap shots. Anything.

So, whatever gets them there.

ROMANS: On many campuses the weekend has overtaken the week.

PHILLIP JONES, UNIVERSITY OF IOWA: You will find the atmosphere of the campus from Thursday night until Sunday night being saturated with many students drinking. Students go out, they stand, they drink, and they drink, to get drunk.

It's not socializing. And it is clearly a matter of abusive use of alcohol.

ROMANS: But other academics disagree that as much as a quarter of college students are clinical abusers.

DENNIS MARTELL, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: I think it's an overstatement of the situation on college campuses and really goes against what we have in the industry have thought of as a good trend in making great progress on college campuses.

ROMANS: Part of that progress, students like Amy, who is active in the group Students Against Drunk Driving.

GNOTEK: You don't have to drink this much to have a good time. No one has been saying that.

ROMANS: She is speaking up.


ROMANS: Prevention researchers for many years worried that college binge drinking would lead to substance abuse later on, but now they say the danger is more immediate. Dangerous drinking is blamed for campus assaults, injuries, rapes, car accidents, all kinds of dangerous behavior.

DOBBS: And most of those college students, by definition, are under the legal age for drinking.

ROMANS: That's right.

DOBBS: And that raises the question, what are beverage companies doing about it? What is law enforcement doing about it? What are communities and college presidents and university presidents doing?

ROMANS: Joseph Califano today said that all of those people bear some responsibility here, in particular he wants to see colleges having no, no bar advertising anymore. He wants to see these colleges really cut back. He's mad about NCAA March Madness advertising of alcohol. He says why would you have alcohol advertising during March Madness or anything that is for college students?

DOBBS: Good point, as Mr. Califano often makes them. Thanks very much, Christine Romans.

That brings us to the subject of our poll. We thought we'd put it forward, straightforwardly tonight. Do you believe the United States can retain its status as world leader in higher education when almost half of our college-age students are falling down drunk or stoned? Yes or no, cast your vote at We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.

An army of attorneys descending on Capitol Hill today. They were there to pressure lawmakers to pass so-called comprehensive immigration reform, or as the president now call it "migration reform."

That's the way Felipe Calderon, president of Mexico, talks. The president learned a new way to express himself while in Mexico City. Whatever you call it, this new legislation would be amnesty for millions of illegal aliens in this country. As Lisa Sylvester now reports, the attorneys were back by powerful business groups all there to make a little money and lobby for their amnesty agenda.


LISA SYLVESTER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They started at 7:15 in the morning, hundreds of immigration lawyers plotting strategy. They came to Capitol Hill from around the country to lobby for a comprehensive immigration bill. Six to seven on a team visiting at least two senators. SCOTT BORENE, IMMIGRATION LAWYER: The system is broken as it presently exists. You need to have a comprehensive solution. You can't have enforcement only.

SYLVESTER: The American Immigration Lawyers Association representing 10,000 attorneys spent $130,000 on lobbying last year. But that effort is being bolstered by the even deeper pockets of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which last year spent $72 million on federal lobbying, up from $40 million in 2005.

And a new group has assembled with a single goal of convincing lawmakers to pass an immigration bill. That group boasts of a $4 million war chest.

CLARISSA MARTINEZ DECASTRO, COALITION FOR COMP. IMMIG. REFORM: I think what happened last year helped set the stage for where we are this year.

SYLVESTER: But the votes in Congress may not be there. More than two months into the new term, and no legislation has been introduced.

ROSEMARY JENKS, NUMBERSUSA: The delays tell us that they're having problems getting a coalition of members together. I think the president is having problems getting Republicans, enough Republicans to get anything passed.

SYLVESTER: Those pushing for amnesty have money and lobbying guns on their side. But those who support enforcement say they have something else.

JOHN KEELY, CENTER FOR IMMIG. STUDIES: We know the president wants this legislation. We know the leadership in the House and Senate want it. There's only one constituency that doesn't want that this legislation, the American people.

SYLVESTER: So money may talk in Washington, but its votes that get congressional members re-elected.


SYLVESTER: And those supporting an amnesty bill are not just having to convince Republicans. A number of conservative Democrats are very opposed to this legislation that would take away jobs from Americans and undermine the rule of law --Lou?

DOBBS: Without question. Lisa, thank you very much -- Lisa Sylvester from Washington. Coming up here next, new developments in the trial of a small town trying to deal with the impact of illegal immigration on its community. The ACLU says the town of Hazleton's crackdown is illegal. The executive director of the ACLU has spent some time at the trial. He joins us here tonight.

And the national crisis over drug and alcohol abuse. A powerful new documentary series, "Addiction," it premieres tonight on HBO. We'll be joined by the series producer and director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, they'll be with us. Please stay with us for that and a lot more straight ahead.


DOBBS: It was day four of the trial against Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Hazleton forced by federal inaction to enforce our borders and to enforce immigration law. The town is being sued in federal court by well-funded national pro-illegal alien and open border groups. Bill Tucker in court all day reporting now on the latest efforts of Hazleton's mayor to defend his town's ordinance. Bill?

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, it was crime that took center stage in court today. The mayor telling the courtroom about the rising crime in his small town, pointing out that he's seen a rise in gang violence, talked about the Three Notarios, talking about the Latin Kings and talked about the presence of MS-13, which he said was very upsetting in his city. And he talked about a crime rate that he has seen explode. From 2003 to 2006, violent crime he says rose 60 percent. In that, he points right squarely at the foot of immigration. The ACLU disagreed.


WITOLD WALCZAK, ACLU LEGAL DIRECTOR: The mayor suggested that there were 19 crimes committed by illegals last year and five committed by illegals in 2005. You know, those are not the numbers we have seen.


TUCKER: As the mayor pointed out, Lou, that's a 300 percent increase. That's enough of an increase in the wrong direction as he put it, for him to crack down. He points out that the numbers are all in the matter of perspective and how you look at them.


MAYOR LOU BARLETTA, HAZLETON: Illegal aliens being arrested in the city of Hazleton have gone up 300 percent in the last two years. Thirty percent of our drug arrests in the last two years were illegal aliens. If that's enough, I don't know what is. I don't know what point you have to say that I'm going to defend the people in my community.


TUCKER: The mayor telling the court his budget is strained. He's reached a point where he doesn't know how he is going to fund the protection that he pledged when he took office as mayor.

Lou, he noted something very interesting, that between year 2000 and 2006, he had a population increase of 7,000 to 10,000 people. Increased by that much. He told the court he has not seen any corresponding increase in earned income tax credits, he has seen no earned income tax credits rise in that six years. And in that he told the court is an indication that something is very wrong and needs to be addressed and he told the court frankly he is strained and at the breaking point. Lou?

DOBBS: Bill, it sounds like a difficult day in court all the way around on this issue. Has there been any response on the part of the judge. Any indication as to how he is viewing this?

TUCKER: No, all I can tell you is the judge has been very generous in allowing both the attorneys a great deal of latitude on both sides of this issue. Very attentive, paying attention. But no indication which way he might be leaning this.

DOBBS: OK, Bill Tucker, thank you very much.

Joining us from Washington D.C. with more analysis on this case is George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. Professor, good to have you with us.


DOBBS: Jonathan, this is a peculiar situation at best where a small town has to deal with the impact of illegal immigration. No one disputes it is the responsibility of the federal government to enforce U.S. immigration law and to secure our borders, but this small town and millions of other taxpayers all over the country are paying the price for the federal government's refusal to carry out its responsibilities. What is your first, your judgment about the frame of this case?

TURLEY: Well, you are absolutely right. You see a lot of frustration on the state and local level. The problem is that -- all the equities may indeed be on the side of some of the officials. There may be great sympathy with the court.

But the constitution and federal statutes have occupied this area, that is state and federal law is largely preempted by the federalization of immigration. We don't want to have 200 different immigration laws. So you go one town to another. There is these dramatic changes. And Congress indeed has passed comprehensive legislation.

So they're going to have a very hard time prevailing in this question. They even have problems under Pennsylvania state law. Now the way the framers viewed this is that federal questions are left to the political process.

But remember Lou, when the framers wrote the Constitution, senators were elected directly by the state legislature. And so they had a lot more power over Congress than they do now.

DOBBS: That's an interesting point. But also this ordinance is no way contravening of the federal, any federal law or certainly the constitution.

One analogy made by our own Jeffrey Toobin in case of the minimum wage law, there is a federal minimum wage law and not contravening state minimum wages that have passed as you know, 29 states including the District of Columbia. This doesn't seem in any way to be contradictory or contravention of federal law it is rather dealing with the impact of something that is illegal at the federal level?

TURLEY: Well, there are little contradictions, you are right, that fundamentally there is some parallelism between the federal law and the state -- city's law. But Hazleton does have some differences, some penalties that are higher. Procedural issues that are different and where Congress is legislated in an area, even small differences, can lead to preemption.

DOBBS: Let me ask you this then, professor, what is a community to do? In the case of Hazleton, and I know it's being debated in court, but the mayor says looks like what is it 30 percent population increase, no increase in the community's tax base.

A significant increase in the number of arrests of illegal aliens to the degree they can determine that for drug offenses. What is a community to do?

TURLEY: Well, I'll tell you, Lou. The most interesting thing about this conflict is that here in Washington, quite frankly, lobbyists reign supreme, no matter what anyone may tell you. You know as well as I do that this is a city where these people are the overlords on many issues like immigration.

DOBBS: Absolutely.

TURLEY: But you can go 30 miles outside the Beltway and that influence is lost. And what you're seeing is that officials in Hazleton and other places; they really don't have any influence with those people.

So you are having this sharp contrast of federal officials, particularly politicians, who are really responding to the business lobby and trying not to crack down on illegal immigration. And state officials doing what they can. But it remains really a political, not a legal solution. They have got to change the people in Washington if they want to change the policy or at least change the minds of the people in Washington.

DOBBS: And meanwhile, it sounds to me like you are not giving the community of Hazleton or, any other community, in the entire country much confidence they will prevail.

TURLEY: I'd have to bet against them. It's not that it's a totally lost cause, but it's just going to be a very rough and long road to hoe for them.

DOBBS: OK, Jonathan Turley, we thank you very much.

TURLEY: Thanks, Lou.

DOBBS: Up next, Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU. He'll be here. We'll be talking about the group's lawsuit against Hazleton's ordinance. And John Hoffman, producer of the HBO documentary "Addiction," he joins us, the critically acclaimed series on the crisis of drug addiction in this country, premieres tonight. Stay with us. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: We have reported extensively here on the position taken by the ACLU on illegal immigration, and its leading role in the lawsuit against Hazleton. Joining me now is Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU. Anthony, welcome back.


DOBBS: This trial, this ordinance is on trial. We say it's the community of Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

ROMERO: That's right.

DOBBS: The principal objection to a community trying to deal with the impact, illegal immigration, you put forward on a constitutional basis?

ROMERO: Correct.

DOBBS: What in this law, this ordinance, in your judgment in contravention of the U.S. constitution?

ROMERO: Well Lou, we all agree on the importance of immigration and trying to find a solution to it. The problem is that the Hazleton ordinance goes much further in dealing with that issue. It's a state and a local ordinance dealing with a federal issue as we just heard from Jonathan Turley, that the law itself is written in such a way that it promotes discrimination.

It is not so surgical as only to focus on the issue of illegal immigration. The concern we have is that it's going to promote racial profiling, it's going to promote discrimination, it's going to turn citizen or resident against resident and it's going to have a much broader impact than even the mayor or individuals who are trying to fix a problem will want to have.

DOBBS: Are you as interested as the community of Hazleton and its residents in stopping the impact, the negative impact of illegal immigration on communities in the country?

ROMERO: I think that is an important issue that we need our Congress to solve and we need our government to solve.

DOBBS: OK, I'm asking you as the head of the ACLU, and I agree with you about Congress, but I'm asking you.

ROMERO: And one of the things I am most concerned about is ensuring the constitution and the Bill of Rights.

DOBBS: We all are. Partner, you're never going to have an argument with me about the constitution or individual rights.

ROMERO: I know, that's why I am here again.

DOBBS: But I want to understand, do you personally as the head of the ACLU take as great an interest in the concern for the community of Hazleton, and communities just like it all over the country.

ROMERO: Sure, sure.

DOBBS: That being the case. What could the ACLU do in combination, not with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is supporting you, not in combination with other corporate interests, which is, sort of interesting for me, for the ACLU to be bound up there, what can you and Mayor Lou Barletta do if you sat down outside the courtroom, maybe crept over to his office or coffee shop and you say, you know, mayor, I am just as concerned as you are. Here is how we rewrite the ordinance? What would you say?

ROMERO: But Mayor Barletta has not been interested in such a dialogue. They changed law, four, five times.

DOBBS: But you've got a big organization, he's got a small community. You've got more resources. Let's you and I, let's elevate it. Tell Lou Barletta what he can do with his ordinance to make it compatible with all our interests.

ROMERO: What's also clear is that the mayor has been using this as a platform for a much broader debate.

DOBBS: He is an elected official. He is entitled to political impulses, you and I aren't.

ROMERO: I agree, and that's why we're here to defend the rights of all people.

DOBBS: OK, good.

ROMERO: And the concern that we have is that the law is not surgically focused on the issue that he says he's addressing. It is not focused.

DOBBS: But you're personalizing the issue rather than dealing with what I ask -- and what I ask Anthony is what could you and Lou Barletta work out on that ordinance to deal with what you say is a shared interest?

ROMERO: I think one thing.

DOBBS: Moving away the impact, the negative impact of illegal immigration.

ROMERO: I think the ordinance has to be struck down because it promotes discrimination.

DOBBS: OK, I understand that, you said that.

ROMERO: I don't think the way he has framed it and the arguments he has used. You are someone who is concerned about empirical data. Scrub those numbers. You have the mayor in court today who couldn't talk about the impact on violent crime, 228 violent crimes since 2001. Only two or three did the mayor could point to since 2001 to 2006 that were committed by illegal aliens.

DOBBS: How many cases did they have accurate data on how many people were actually illegal aliens?

ROMERO: He wasn't able to answer the questions either.

DOBBS: No, but in this country is because the federal -- if the state and local level people are not being permitted to answer the question.

ROMERO: Sir, the mayor is trying to -- Lou, the mayor is trying to put together a solution to this issue. We have to scrub the data. The solution is not.

DOBBS: I'm an empiricist just like you. But I'm also a funny fellow. But I asked a question, which was how can you and Lou Barletta sit down?

ROMERO: After we win this lawsuit, we'll sit down. Now we're in court. We've got to win. We didn't pick this battle.

DOBBS: What if you lose?

ROMERO: There's no way -- we'll appeal it. There's no way we can lose. The bill of rights is completely on our side.

DOBBS: OK, now, but you will sit down -- you commit, sit down with the city.

ROMERO: After we win, we strike down this as unconstitutional. I'm more than delighted to sit down with the mayor and figure it out.

DOBBS: At the end of the trial. You are a good man, Anthony Romero.

ROMERO: I'm glad to be here.

DOBBS: ACLU, come back soon.

ROMERO: I will, sir.

DOBBS: Coming up, top of the hour, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf?

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

Karl Rove's name keeps coming up in this controversy over the firing of those eight federal prosecutors. Now there are new e-mails just coming out and putting the presidential advisor front and center. We have the e-mail.

Also. Presidential candidates won't have California to kick around anymore. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger rocks the race for the White House with a bold stroke of his pen. Schwarzenegger -- here in "THE SITUATION ROOM" tonight. And, one man wants to be president, the other uses words of evil to criticize the current U.S. president. So what's the deal with Rudy Giuliani, the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and some business ties? All that, Lou, coming up right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf.

Coming up here, a very important new documentary debuts tonight on alcohol abuse and drug abuse on HBO tonight. "Addiction," the documentary tackles the crisis that is facing this nation head on. The documentary's producer John Hoffman joins us live, he has a powerful message to share. I'll also be talking with Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Her organization working with HBO to create this documentary. It is something that everyone concerned about the issue with children should absolutely see. Stay with us.


DOBBS: An important powerful new documentary series on the national drug and alcohol abuse crisis in the country debuts tonight on HBO. It's entitled "Addiction."

Joining me now the producer of "Addiction," John Hoffman. John, good to have you here. Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one of HBO's most important partners on this project. Good to have you with us, doctor.

Let's start with the very simple findings today that just about half of our college students are abusing both drugs and alcohol on college campuses. This isn't a surprise to you, is it?

NORA VOLKOW, DIRECTOR, NATL INST ON DRUG ABUSE: No, it's not a surprise. We have recognized that there is an enormous amount of abuse of illegal substances in college. And it's the age at which you are much more likely to take drugs. It is unfortunate that it is so high, and it's unacceptably high.

DOBBS: And the idea of putting together across a series of platforms a treatment on this very important issue, what time does it air tonight?


DOBBS: And how long is it?

HOFFMAN: It's a 90-minute special.

DOBBS: Excellent.

HOFFMAN: And there are many programs that follow that people can watch throughout the weekend.

DOBBS: And they'll be able to see this on HBO and also go to the Web, you also have out a four-disk set. Is this going to be available?

HOFFMAN: It's available now. The book is available now. And we are doing everything we can to lower the barriers between the content and the public.

DOBBS: I have not seen this yet, in its entirety. I've seen enough of it to know that I'm going to see all of it. I can't recommend it too highly.

I know that you are also working with schools across the country. Any public school, any private school, I will tell you right now. If you have got children if you are interested in this issue, you have got to get involved with this project. It's unbelievable.

HOFFMAN: Thank you.

DOBBS: How likely is it, give us some idea of what your expectations are, doctor, in terms of improving the public understanding of the crisis.

VOLKOW: I expect, actually I think it's already has happened because it has made aware how prevalent addiction is and how devastating it is. I would hope that it would make the medical community specifically much more open to recognize drug addiction as a disease so they evaluate it and treat it.

I also hope that it helps to communicate with the criminal justice system the importance of addressing the problem of drug addiction as a very effective way to decrease the amount of crime in this country. Finally, in the educational system, the importance for parents and teachers to recognize that addiction, everybody, ultimately can be vulnerable to it and they cannot ignore it.

DOBBS: And John, since, we talked, just about a week ago -- the attorney general of New Mexico, the governor of Virginia have both come out strongly urging people to watch "Addiction." That's not the usual response to a documentary.

HOFFMAN: It's not. It's remarkable. And these are unsolicited responses. And there are events happening in over 100 cities across the nation where community leaders are gathering the public together, bringing together the local treatment providers, the people learn what is available locally. And there are hundreds of house parties that people are having to view this. And the Web is this organizing tool that is in this regard, this is a fantastic use of the Web.

DOBBS: 9:00 tonight, "Addiction" and on the Web.

HOFFMAN: People can stream it. Watch it -- anybody can stream it, watch all programs on their computer and they can download it as podcasts.

DOBBS: Excellent. And we thank you both and compliment you both for what is just critically important work.

HOFFMAN: Well, we can't thank you enough DOBBS: Thank you very much, doctor thank you.

VOLKOW: Thanks to you.

DOBBS: Coming right up, the results of our poll. I know you can't wait. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight, 91 percent of you responding that the United States cannot retain its status in world leader as higher education when almost half our college-age students are falling down drunk or stoned.

Thanks for being with us tonight, good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf?


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