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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Pullout Timetable: Iraq Withdrawal Deadline; Bush Veto Threat on War Bill; Assassination Attempt in Iraq; Face-Off on Capitol Hill over Illegal Amnesty Issue; Bill Would Increase Visas for High-Tech Workers; U.S. Soldier Who Lost Arm Receives Purple Heart

Aired March 23, 2007 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, Iran captures 15 British marines, holding them captive. Will this crisis escalate and will our troops become involved?
We'll have the very latest for you.

Also tonight, insurgents trying to assassinate one of Iraq's most powerful leaders. A suicide bomber breaching security in one of Baghdad's most heavily guarded compounds.

We'll have that special report for you from Baghdad.

And the Democratically controlled House of Representatives has set a deadline for the withdrawal of our combat troops from Iraq. President Bush says the political theater is not going to work. He'll veto it all. Democrats say that's nonsense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: We're willing to take care of the troops. We put more than the money than he requested in this supplemental. We put $4 billion more. But he can't have it all his way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Friday, March 23rd.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

The House of Representatives today voted to order President Bush to withdraw all our combat troops from Iraq by the fall of next year. Congressional Democrats won that vote 218-212, but only after adding more than $20 billion of extra funds to an emergency spending bill.

President Bush said the bill has too much pork, too many conditions and an artificial timetable for withdrawal. President Bush said he would veto the measure if it ever reaches his desk.

Andrea Koppel reports on the Democrats' new challenge to the president's conduct of this war. Suzanne Malveaux tonight reports on the president's determination to defeat any attempt to set a timetable for withdrawal of our troops.

And Michael Ware reports from Baghdad tonight on a new illustration of the insurgents' bold tactics in Iraq, an effort to assassinate an Iraqi deputy prime minister.

We turn first to Andrea Koppel -- Andrea.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, just weeks after passing a symbolic resolution opposing the president's plan to send thousands more troops to Iraq, House Democrats today took the first real step towards forcing President Bush to change course in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: The yays are 218. The nays are 212.

KOPPEL (voice over): From start to finish, their own party deeply divided, Democratic leaders fought an uphill battle filled with raw emotions to get the votes needed to win.

REP. DAVID OBEY (D), WISCONSIN: And this is the best we can do, given the tools we have, and I make absolutely no apology for it.

MURTHA: We're going to make a difference with this bill. We're going to bring those troops home. We're going to start changing the direction of this great country.

KOPPEL: For Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose prestige was on the line, the narrow victory was sweet.

PELOSI: I stand here with great pride on this historic day. This new Congress voted to bring an end to the war in Iraq.

KOPPEL: But 14 Democrats, conservatives and liberals, defied their speaker and sided with Republicans to oppose the bill's September 2008 deadline for combat troops to leave Iraq. Among them, anti-war presidential candidate, Ohio's Dennis Kucinich, whose against spending more money on the war and wants troops out now.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: I believe you cannot say you are for peace and vote to keep this war going.

KOPPEL: Two Republicans crossed the aisle to support the bill, but most fought unsuccessfully to defeat it.

REP. GRESHAM BARRETT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I cannot do enough to protect you. Men and women halfway across this world, laying their life on the line for me and my family and my children and my country, and everything I believe in.

KOPPEL: Republicans also argued Democrats were trying to micromanage the war. REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: Our troops march to the order of one commander in chief, not 535.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOPPEL: But at the moment, a majority of the 435 House members have decided to support a deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw. And next week it will be the Senate's turn to take up a similar measure which sets a goal of March 31st next year for all U.S. combat troops to leave Iraq -- Lou.

DOBBS: Andrea, thank you.

Andrea Koppel from Capitol Hill.

President Bush immediately accused the Democratically-controlled Congress of abdicating its responsibility. President Bush said today's vote in the House was simply political theater. The president declared he would veto the spending bill if it ever reached the White House.

Suzanne Malveaux has our report -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, what you're seeing here is a president who is really trying to set the terms of this debate. He is trying to paint the Democrats' actions today as betrayal of the troops, that it's politically motivated, that it involves theater. And what the president's message also today was meant to do is really a preemptive strike to those in the Senate who are going to be taking up this spending measure next week, essentially saying to them, it is a futile effort here, because I'm going to veto it anyway. So, really, kind of a dare to the Senate.

The strategy behind all of this is, despite the fact that it would be the president who would actually veto the spending legislation if it came to his desk, they are trying to pit this fight as Democrats versus the U.S. troops.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The purpose of the emergency war spending bill I requested was to provide our troops with vital funding. Instead, Democrats in the House, in an act of political theater, voted to substitute their judgment for that of our military commanders on the ground in Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: And Lou, so far the White House is not worried about the spending legislation, about these bills, because they figure as long as it's veto-proof, that you don't have a mass exodus of Republicans going to the Democrats' side, that they can still hold on here -- Lou.

DOBBS: And the fate of the spending bill necessary to support the troops? MALVEAUX: Well, we really don't know what the fate of the spending bill is. But I'll tell you one thing, this is just the first of many battles, because after this, they also have to deal with the fact that they have to fund the spending for the Pentagon for next year, as well as another appropriations bill for Iraq and Afghanistan. So, this is a test case, Lou, to see just how both sides are going to deal with this.

DOBBS: Suzanne, thank you.

Suzanne Malveaux from the White House.

President Bush today also blasted Democrats for loading that spending bill with pork in order to win enough votes to pass it. Some of the examples of that pork include $75 million in peanut subsidies, including peanut storage in Georgia, $120 million for shrimp fishermen, and $238 million in milk subsidies. Democrats also added almost $3 billion in additional Gulf Coast hurricane relief and almost $2.5 billion for social programs.

As the White House and Congress fight over the president's conduct of the war in Iraq, insurgents killed three more of our troops today. Sixty-seven of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month, 3,233 of our troops have been killed since the beginning of the war. 24,187 of our troops have been wounded, 10,772 of them seriously.

Insurgents today made a bold attempt to assassinate an Iraqi deputy prime minister. A suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside the official's compound in bag. Moments later, a second bomb exploded outside. The Iraqi government said the deputy prime minister was slightly wounded.

Michael Ware has our report from Baghdad -- Michael.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, in the midst of an intensifying al Qaeda bombing campaign, we've now seen one of Iraq's two deputy prime ministers survive an assassination attempt by a suicide bomber who penetrated his heavily-protected compound today in Baghdad. The bomber, wearing a chest vest packed, as we so often see, with thousands of ball bearings, actually got inside not only the perimeter of the deputy prime minister's compound, but inside the building itself.

Nine people are known to have died, and at least 15 have been wounded in the attack on deputy prime minister Salam al-Zubaie's compound.

Whilst the investigation into this incident is continuing, and we know that the deputy prime minister was wounded and is currently being treated in an American military hospital, what is most likely to emerge is that this will fit into a broader pattern of conflict as al Qaeda is striking out at Sunnis cooperating with American forces and the Iraqi government. I'm sure there's much more to emerge from this incident -- Lou.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: Michael Ware reporting from Baghdad.

Still ahead here, British marines taken prisoner by Iran in the Gulf. Is there a link with the capture of Iranian operatives by U.S. troops in Iraq?

We'll have that story.

Also tonight, shocking new evidence of the federal government's complete failure to enforce immigration laws and secure our borders, even when Border Patrol agents apprehend illegal aliens.

And we'll have a special report for you on March madness. Not of the basketball kind, but the rush of presidential candidates to raise as much money as possible by the end of this month.

We'll tell you why.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The United States and Britain tonight are demanding the immediate release of 15 British marines taken hostage by Iran. Those marines were taken hostage by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf after they inspected a suspicious Iranian ship.

Jamie McIntyre has the report from the Pentagon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The last time Iran captured British seamen back in 2004, it paraded them blindfolded on television and made them apologize before releasing all eight after just three days. Then, as now, the Iranians claim the British navy violated their territorial waters near the Iran-Iraq border.

This time, the British frigate HMS Cornwall stopped a merchant ship suspected of smuggling cars and dispatched 15 Royal Marines in two small boats to inspect the cargo. The British commander on scene insists it was a routine boarding.

COMMODORE NICK LAMBERT, BRITISH ROYAL NAVY: They stay normally inside their territorial waters doing their business, and we stay inside Iraqi territory, which is doing our business.

MCINTYRE: But what happened next in the northern Persian Gulf took the marines by surprise. As many as six vessels from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, not the regular Iranian navy, captured the Marines and took them away. Experts say Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps is only loosely controlled by Iran's central government and often has its own agenda, such as smuggling arms or oil. JONATHAN ALTERMAN, CSIS, DIRECTOR OF MIDEAST PROGRAMS: But there certainly are economic interests that the IRGC has in smuggling that they are very, very jealous about protecting.

MCINTYRE: After hours of silence, Iran state television eventually claimed the British marines were captured in Iranian waters. That was long after the British Foreign Office lodged a formal protest with Iran's ambassador.

MARGARET BECKETT, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: I understand the meeting with my permanent secretary was brisk, but polite. But, as I say, we have left them in no doubt, we want our personnel and equipment back.

MCINTYRE: Iran's provocative action comes as the U.N. Security Council considers new sanctions over Tehran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, but the U.S. insists that is unrelated.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: We're not -- we're certainly not connecting those dots, and we support the British in their efforts to have their personnel and their equipment returned to them immediately.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: The U.S. is flexing its military muscle in the Gulf as well, dispatching a second aircraft carrier within striking distance of Iran and holding in Iraq at least five members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps suspected of aiding Shia militias in Iraq.

Is this a tit for tat reaction by Iran? The U.S. says at the moment they see no evidence of it, at least not yet -- Lou.

DOBBS: Jamie, thank you. Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.

Iran accused the British marines of illegal entering what it called Iranian waters. The capture of those marines comes as Iran has stepped up its confrontation with the rest of the world over its nuclear weapons program. Iran also facing charges its helping insurgents kill American and British troops in Iraq.

Aneesh Raman reports from the Iranian capital of Tehran -- Aneesh.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, good evening.

Iran, late Friday, confirming that it has arrested a number of British military personnel for, in Iran's view, trespassing into Iranian waters. There was no information as to how many British personnel were in Iranian custody or where they are being held.

We do understand though earlier today, the British charge d'affairs, the top British official in Iran since the ambassador is out of the country, was summoned to Iran's Foreign Ministry. She was told that Iran does not accept the British explanation for what took place and was told that this should not happen again.

On Iranian television, reference was made to a previous incident similar to this. That was June 2004, when a number of British military personnel were seized by Iran. They were held for some three days. Images of them, chilling images broadcast on Iranian TV, showing them blindfolded.

Iran contended they passed into Iranian waters. The British military contended then, as it does now, that they were in sovereign Iraqi waters.

That area they were taken a key area for smuggling. It is why the British military were there. Again, though, no information from Iran as to when these British military personnel will be released -- Lou.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: Aneesh Raman reporting from Tehran.

Iran's president is not coming to New York, as expected, to defend his nation's nuclear program before the United Nations Security Council. Iran's U.N. ambassador says flight crews did not receive their visas from the United States in time to fly President Ahmadinejad to New York to address the council. The Security Council is expected to vote tomorrow to place new sanctions against Iran for its refusal to acknowledge that the time has come to end its nuclear weapons program.

Up next here, we'll have a special report on a financial deadline that makes this month March madness for presidential candidates.

And outrage tonight over the latest scandal coming out of the Justice Department. How many times can an illegal alien cross the Mexican border into the United States? Well, the answer puts three strikes and you're out to shame. This just gets better and better.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The first presidential caucuses and primaries won't happen until next January, but a financial deadline at the end of this month may decide which presidential candidate runs ahead of the pack, or has a fighting chance, at least. And that deadline, as our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, now reports, is generating a political dash for cash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): It's March madness. Basketball? Well, that, too.

SHEILA KRUMHOLZ, CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS: This is truly the March madness of campaign funding.

SCHNEIDER: Presidential candidates are racing around the country, trying to raise huge sums before the deadline.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope you will send in a contribution and support her campaign. And, please, do it by the March 31 deadline.

SCHNEIDER: That's when the first quarter ends and fund-raising totals come out, the campaign's first official scorecard. In the first quarter of 1999, George W. Bush's $7.5 million beat all the expectations. This year, Hillary Clinton hopes to do the same thing.

THOMAS MANN, SENIOR FELLOW IN GOVERNANCE STUDIES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: This is her opportunity to demonstrate this awesome, formidable political machine's ability to put her ahead of the pack.

SCHNEIDER: Barack Obama has been raising a lot of money online.

KRUMHOLZ: We will see whether that adds up to enough to topple the big fund-raising that...

SCHNEIDER: John Edwards?

KRUMHOLZ: Senator Edwards has to prove he's of the same level of fund-raising as Senators Clinton and Obama.

SCHNEIDER: On the Republican side, John McCain faces the highest expectations.

MANN: John McCain will reestablish himself as the -- at least the fund-raising front-runner. If he doesn't, it's another blow to his candidacy.

SCHNEIDER: Rudy Giuliani?

KRUMHOLZ: We will see if -- if he can prove a good showing with this first-quarter report. That will tell us a lot, as far as his strength and attraction.

SCHNEIDER: And Mitt Romney?

MANN: He is a formidable fund-raiser and could well challenge McCain.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Campaign spokespersons try to low-ball expectations. "Oh, we don't expect to do very well." You know, "We got a late start." Yadda, yadda. Then when the figures came out, they will say, "Hey, you know, we raised a lot more than we expected."

Lou.

DOBBS: And where do you think they'll get most of that money, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: Well, the money has to come in limited amounts. The law says you can only give $2,300. So, where is the money coming from? It's coming from bundlers, well-connected people who know a lot of other people, each of whom who can give $2,300, and those bundlers as they're called, become very influential in the campaign.

DOBBS: And corporate America's role in all of this?

SCHNEIDER: Well, the corporations have limit -- they can't give that much money to individual candidates. All they can do is bundle the money in these amounts. That's why there's such a scramble, because you've got to make contact with a lot of different people, given the limit on individual contributions.

DOBBS: Sounds almost like a clean election.

SCHNEIDER: Well, it's going to be a very tough election, because all the money has to be raised fast. The primaries start early and they end very quickly. There's no time to raise money once they start.

DOBBS: You know, the idea of them all running out of money and just having to deal with the issues, I don't know, that sounds pretty attractive to me, Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Well, we'll see.

DOBBS: Appreciate. Thank you.

Bill Schneider.

SCHNEIDER: OK.

DOBBS: White House Press Secretary Tony Snow will undergo surgery to remove a small growth from his lower abdomen Monday. Snow said there is no sign of cancer in the growth. He was treated for colon cancer in 2005.

Snow's announcement comes the day after Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, revealed that her cancer had returned. Elizabeth Edwards called Snow today to offer her support.

Tony Snow is saying that he is going in for this procedure out of aggressive caution.

We wish him the very best.

And coming up next, the federal government's assertions that it's abandoned its policy of catch and release for illegal aliens. Well, it's not only plain wrong, it's an outright lie. Imagine that, your government lying.

We'll be telling you about that and a great deal more.

And corporate elites trying a new tactic to convince you that amnesty for illegal aliens is in the national interest. And to do so, well, they thought the biggest business lobby in the country might help out.

We'll see. We'll have that special report, a great deal more.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Shocking new evidence that shows federal prosecutors have repeatedly refused to bring charges against illegal aliens crossing our border with Mexico. The outrageous official policy allows illegal aliens -- are you ready -- at least six strikes before they're finally prosecuted. The memorandum among the many documents released in the controversy over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Casey Wian joins me now and has more on this incredible story -- Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, six to 10 strikes and you're out. Maybe. That's been the official policy of federal prosecutors regarding apprehended illegal aliens.

The documents you mentioned show that in Texas, prosecutors would not charge an illegal alien with a crime unless he or she had been caught six to eight times before. In New Mexico, the threshold was 10 previous apprehensions.

In Arizona and California, the decision was based not on how many times an illegal has been previously caught, but on the seriousness of any other criminal convictions.

Now, we've reported how Border Patrol officials are frustrated that the Justice Department refuses to prosecute all but the most egregious illegal immigration crimes, but this is the clearest evidence on how pervasive that policy has been.

In a statement, the Justice Department says, "In the latter half of 2006, the department sent 30 additional prosecutors to the southwest border districts to help them handle a greater number of cases." They're clearly needed.

According to a study released this week by Syracuse University, this track (ph) immigration project, federal prosecutions of immigration crimes fell 18 percent last year, while convictions fell 11 percent. The Justice Department says it cannot discuss its present prosecutorial guidelines for law enforcement reasons.

This, of course, follows a report last week by our colleague Ed Lavendera that some federal prosecutors only charge marijuana smugglers carrying loads larger than 500 pounds -- Lou.

DOBBS: Casey, we have been reporting on this broadcast for a number of years that our borders are simply out of control, that this government and the Department of Homeland Security are an outright sham. But I guess we have to thank Alberto Gonzales for his ham- handed handling of his 110,000-person department, or otherwise we wouldn't have the official statement. We've had the anecdotal statements from border patrolmen, but official documents showing that this idiotic policy is the policy of the U.S. government.

WIAN: Yes. And it took members of Congress to get these documents released. It would have been nice had those members of Congress been interested in finding out this information previously to the political situation that's ongoing right now in Washington -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, you know, I'm one of those people, Casey, I think, as you know pretty well, I think this is political theater, this confrontation between this -- this White House that is fundamentally incompetent, and the Congress trying to make a political advantage in this. Understandably.

But if we can get more -- more transparency as a result of this investigation, I say let's go for it. Because the American people should know what these incompetents and these sham artists in our federal government are doing. I mean, this is absolutely absurd.

WIAN: Perhaps that transparency would be a good first step toward an absolute commitment to border security -- Lou.

DOBBS: Yes. And forgive the expression, perhaps a firm commitment to justice and the national interest. Wouldn't that be an intriguing approach?

Casey, thank you very much. Casey Wian.

WIAN: Sure.

DOBBS: And now our poll question tonight. We thought we would just put it in simple terms for our simple federal government, at least two departments of it. Should the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department simply surrender publicly and outsource or border security to someone capable of actually achieving it? Yes or no. Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com.

And while you're there, we would welcome any of your suggestions that we could send along to the government about to whom the government might outsource that job. Maybe the government of Mexico, maybe -- maybe Halliburton, whatever you think. We'd love to hear your ideas. We'll bring you the results here later in the broadcast.

An unmanned aircraft helped customs and border protection agents arrest a suspected child rapist.

The drone was flying along, one just like this, flying along the Arizona border with Mexico this week when its surveillance camera and the people operating it spotted six illegal aliens. And after arresting and fingerprinting those six illegals, border agents that realized one of those men, a Mexican citizen, was wanted on child rape charges in the state of Washington.

Federal officials say that unmanned aircraft has flown nearly 2,000 hours along our border, directly contributing to nearly 4,000 arrests of illegal aliens. Probably no prosecutions, but at least an arrest. A likely debate on the amnesty agenda in the nation's capital today. On the one side, prominent radio talk show hosts and immigration policy experts. On the other side, corporate America and business lobbyists. In fact, the biggest business lobbyists.

And as Lisa Sylvester now reports, the two sides are a little bit apart on the legislative proposal that would give amnesty to as many as 20 million illegal aliens.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Talk show radio hosts on the left and the right are talking up immigration. In Washington they tangled with each other and corporate representatives at a forum sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

MARTHA ZOLLER, WDUN IN GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA: Go ask any county commission across this country, where do they have the biggest stress on their services by illegal immigrants? It is the detention center, which is paid for by the county. It is the school and it is the hospital.

LIONEL, WABC IN NEW YORK: If I could snap my finger right now, hypothetically, and every undocumented illegal Mexican laborer just vanished right now, how much would an apple be? Or Applebee's? How much would gardening be?

SYLVESTER: The U.S. Chamber and other business groups make no bones about it. They want a steady, guaranteed flow of low-skilled foreign workers to enter freely into the United States for years to come. Claiming they did not get guest workers when Congress passed the 1986 amnesty.

LAURA REIFF, ESSENTIAL WORKER IMMIGRATION COALITION: What didn't happen was there was no program allow -- that would allow workers to come in at a reasonable rate. No program at all for what we call essential workers, the lesser skilled workers, workers that have less than a bachelor's degree.

SYLVESTER: Corporate groups want Congress to allow in 400,000 new workers. That's the number they've estimated is needed to offset the current number of illegal aliens coming into the United States.

But many others do not want to see a guest worker program. The AFL-CIO doesn't want it, and conservatives don't want it. Several talk show hosts say many in the public do not back a guest worker program either.

DOM GIORDANO, WPHT IN PHILADELPHIA: There's a reason why Lou Dobbs show is so hot. There's a reason why that show has taken off. And it's not fear. It's because the average American is bonding with that.

SYLVESTER: Americans increasingly believe illegal immigration has slipped out of control, even as employers push for more cheap labor. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce argues that businesses need a guest worker program to replace an aging U.S. population and to, quote, "fill jobs Americans won't do."

But the reality, Lou, as you well know, is that there are several guest worker programs already in place. H2B program brings in 6,000 unskilled workers every year, the H2A program that brings in thousands of agricultural laborers annually, and the H1B program that employers use to hire professional skilled foreign workers -- Lou.

DOBBS: At typically a discount of about 20 percent to U.S. wage -- wages. You know, Lisa, by the way I'm kind of hurt. The Chamber of Commerce didn't invite me. Did they invite you?

SYLVESTER: I did not get an invitation either to the forum. I'm sorry to say that.

DOBBS: Yes, because let's look at a couple of facts here, if we may, that maybe the chamber forgot to mention.

We have 2 million people legally admitted to the United States each year. The fact is, 400,000 H1B visas and others are granted each year, specifically for that work.

Nine hundred thousand other employment visas are issued. And we have the L1 visas, students brought into this country, 600,000 students issued, as well.

Now, if some -- some idiot -- I mean, there's almost half a million temporary employment transfers. Folks, we're talking over 2 million people a year.

And no country, no three countries can come close to us on our immigration, legal immigration levels. And we should be very proud of that. I am.

But big business is lying through its teeth. This president is lying through his teeth, and Senator Kennedy is lying through his teeth, and Senator McCain is lying through his teeth on the issue of illegal immigration. They are pandering to big business. Big business is demanding something it doesn't need.

And you know, Lisa, one of the other things, did anybody there at that little forum, did anybody mention that the four areas in which illegal aliens are most typically employed, landscaping, leisure, hospitality and construction? Did anybody mention that wages in all four industries have declined?

SYLVESTER: They did not mention that, Lou they did have representatives from those industries, too. But that's a point that often is glossed over and people don't necessarily focus on.

DOBBS: They don't want to focus on the facts. They don't want to focus on the facts that this country is bringing in millions of people lawfully every year.

These are some of the most scurrilous, disgusting, deceitful people ever involved in a national public debate. I mean, I am just disgusted with the lack of both the absolute demand for honesty and accuracy in reporting and the numbers and the facts. Because the American people can always make a great decision, so long as the facts are put before them.

Lisa, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Lisa Sylvester from Washington.

Turning now to the war on our middle class. Big business demanding Congress make it easier for foreign workers to take American jobs. Kitty Pilgrim reports now on how that demand is putting our working middle class at risk.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The nation's business lobby wants to give visas to more foreign high-tech workers. They instituted language in a bill introduced by representatives Gutierrez and Flake to increase the number of high tech visas available to foreign workers. They say putting a cap on the H1B visas would force U.S. companies to outsource jobs.

ROBERT HOFFMAN, COMPETE AMERICA: When you talk about offshoring, the problems of offshoring, this visa cap is promoting offshoring. And that's why we want to reform it.

PILGRIM: Congress limits the number of H1B visas to 65,000 a year. But USCIS approves thousands more than that. Twenty-seven thousand five hundred more are allowed in for non-profits and educational institutions, another 20,000 for foreign students at U.S. universities to stay and work after graduation.

Even with that staggering number of visas, some claim there should be no limit on the number of foreign tech workers who can come to live in the United States.

BILL GATES, MICROSOFT FOUNDER: Now we face a critical shortage of scientific talent. And there's only one way to solve that crisis today: open our doors to highly talented scientists and engineers who want to live, work and pay taxes here.

PILGRIM: But some say there's absolutely no shortage of American workers, because jobs are scarce and wages are flat. In fact, a recent GAO report says companies pay H1B visa holders less.

PAUL ALMEIDA, AFL-CIO: U.S. tech workers are out of work twice as long as they have been in the past. The average tech worker is out for work upwards of ten months. If there was truly a shortage, this duration would be a month or less for them to find work.

PILGRIM: The bill proposes increasing the limit of H1B visas to 115,000, with a 20 percent raise each year, and would allow foreign students with advanced degrees in math, science or technology to work without a visa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, this bill pays lip service to helping American workers, saying employers must search for U.S. workers first. But business groups like Compete America admit it really would help them recruit foreign students as they graduate from U.S. colleges and allow them to stay and work in the United States -- Lou.

DOBBS: Those here legally and who could be given work visas, that's great. But what these companies are really doing, whether it's on our border, on Capitol Hill, they're really saying to this Congress and this president, who listens, of course, that regulation doesn't matter. Public policy doesn't matter.

That corporate America has a better idea of what this nation should be than the rest of us fools who make up the body politic. This is elitist arrogance of the worst sort.

PILGRIM: Well, it's very clear that they want no limits whatsoever. And they're trying to get that.

DOBBS: And yet we have the most generous legal immigration policies in the world, by far.

Kitty, thank you very much. Kitty Pilgrim.

Coming up next, President Bush standing firm on his vow to veto the House war funding bill. Three of the country's leading political analysts join us. We'll be talking about that and that little controversy between the White House and Congress over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys and a few other issues, as well.

And this week in our tribute to our men and women in uniform, "Heroes". We introduce you to specialist Alroy Billiman. Severely wounded in Iraq. He's our hero. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Word tonight that what probably killed at least 16 pets nationwide was something entirely unsuspected, that canned pet food. The food laboratory of New York state and the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University saying a chemical used in rat poison was found in that pet food.

The pet food, millions and millions of units, since has been recalled. The manufacturer, Menu Foods Incorporated, pulled 60 million cans of its cuts and gravy pet foods off the shelves last week. Again, rat poison now the suspected source of that poison.

I am joined by three of the country's leading political analysts now: Ed Rollins, former White House political director, Republican strategist; Michael Goodwin, "New York Daily News", Pulitzer Prize winning columnist; Democratic strategist Democratic National Committeeman Robert Zimmerman.

Robert, let's start with you. Because you walked in here just -- I thought we were going to hear "Yankee Doodle Dandy".

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Any moment now. Historic day on Capitol Hill.

DOBBS: Right.

ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely.

DOBBS: Well, I have to give -- I have to say, the Democratic leadership of the House achieved something substantial and real and not a non-binding resolution. They stepped forward.

One can argue the merits of the legislation, its correctness, its appropriateness, whether you're for or against it. But the fact is, they did something real.

ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely. Think about what was at stake here. In just eight weeks in office, the Democratic majority, under Nancy Pelosi's leadership...

DOBBS: I know who she is.

ZIMMERMAN: I thought she deserved the plug. The Democratic majority was able to -- was able to form a coalition to send a message to President Bush and also to the prime minister in Iraq that the mission -- mission in Iraq must change.

DOBBS: What do you think, Michael?

MICHAEL GOODWIN, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Look, you do have to give Nancy Pelosi credit.

DOBBS: Absolutely.

GOODWIN: In a sense that not winning this vote would have been worse than winning it, in terms of, I think, the stature of her leadership. But I think the content of the bill, the pork that was required...

DOBBS: Getting rid of that non-binding resolution nonsense.

GOODWIN: Right.

DOBBS: This is a real piece of legislation.

GOODWIN: That's right. But I think the content of the bill is troublesome, the pork that you've talked about.

DOBBS: Sure.

GOODWIN: The price to buy the votes. I mean, that's a form of corruption, if ever there was one. It's wasteful.

Secondly, I think that, in the long-term, this could come back to bite the Democrats. Because I think that they're eventually -- this is not going to pass the Senate probably. And if it does, Bush would veto it anyway. So this is not going to become law.

So I think eventually the Democrats are going to have to pass a clean funding bill for the troops. Otherwise, they will be guilty of defunding the troops in the field of battle. So I don't think they want that on their heads.

So this is just really, I think, the first step, and how this thing gets worked out is long from concluded.

DOBBS: And of course, the peanut storage in Georgia is critically important to the national interests, as well.

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Two hundred and 18 votes is what it takes to get a majority in the House. And they barely got their majority, certainly not enough to deal with a veto, and certainly not enough to basically deal in the long term.

I think it's better than a non-binding resolution. And I think at the end of the day, there will be a lot of those people about six, eight months from now who will be regretting it.

DOBBS: And I think Pat Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, here last night told me, point bank told this audience that he's going to use those subpoenas that have been approved.

What do you think about this? Is it going to be a full-blown political confrontation leading to something akin to a constitutional crisis?

ZIMMERMAN: Not a constitutional crisis, but a constitutional confrontation and one that the Democrats cannot back down from. This is an issue about whether our Department of Justice is going to be held open to political -- be held open to political manipulation. It's going to be a test of whether the Democratic...

DOBBS: Manipulation?

ZIMMERMAN: Manipulation, absolutely.

DOBBS: Political manipulation? You mean, just because it does the bidding of the Mexican government, just because it believes that torture is appropriate, that warrantless wiretapping makes sense? Wait a minute. I don't understand. Suddenly, it's a big deal if I fire eight U.S. attorneys?

ZIMMERMAN: The big deal here is we have a Democratic majority, and their commitment was to provide the scrutiny the Republican Congress failed to in the past.

DOBBS: Right.

ZIMMERMAN: And the reality here is that these U.S. attorneys, who were dismissed the way they were, truly was a miscarriage of justice. GOODWIN: Look, this is clearly just a political fight. And I think if the Democrats think this is how they're going to win the country, this is how they're going to keep Congress and win the presidency in 2008, I think they're wrong.

This is very much just politics. If there's an issue here, I think it's beneath the radar for most ordinary Americans. And so I think that the Democrats have put a lot of chips on pleasing their left-wing base.

ROLLINS: Some day, Robert, if your team ever wins the presidency again, you may get one of these presidential commissions that points you to something and says right at the top, serves at the pleasure of the president.

I think it's stupid to have this fight. I think it's stupid on the Republicans' side to have this fight, certainly within their prerogative. And I would not basically let Karl Rove, or Miers or anybody else in the White House go up and have a free for all.

ZIMMERMAN: The interesting point here is that the White House has already said they will send them to Capitol Hill. All the Democratic Senate wants to do is make sure they testify truthfully under oath. And that's where the White House draws the line. And I think that tells the story by itself.

This is not about executive privilege. It's about obstruction of justice.

GOODWIN: There is a public element to a subpoena.

DOBBS: Wait, wait. Nobody has alleged obstruction of justice.

ZIMMERMAN: I think when you see -- excuse me. I'm sorry.

ROLLINS: I mean, there's no evidence of this whatsoever. Basically every single one of these people they've tried to put -- and I think it's stupid to have done it. I think they've got lots bigger fights to make. I've watched...

DOBBS: You're Republican.

ROLLINS: I've been around that town for a long, long time. And I've watched Bill Clinton basically not want to put his people up there. I've watched other presidents not to want to put their people up there.

And you take someone like Karl Rove, who no one has any evidence that he had anything to do with this, and you want to demand that he come up there and basically be open for free for all under oath. I think it's -- I would not want to be in that situation.

ZIMMERMAN: But you know, under the Clinton administration, 47 Clinton administration officials testified under oath, according to the Congressional Research Service. So there is a precedent for this happening. And the president has already said he will send his people to Capitol Hill. Democrats are making the case that, when you start dismissing U.S. attorneys while they're pursuing serious investigations over Republican corruption and these people are terminated, those are issues...

ROLLINS: No one made that allegation.

DOBBS: They were actually investigating, as well, Democratic corruption.

ZIMMERMAN: They were investigating Jack Abramoff. They were investigating Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney.

ROLLINS: They are both convicted and in jail.

ZIMMERMAN: That's my point. These U.S. attorneys were held for -- determined to be non-performing by the Department of Justice and by the attorney general.

DOBBS: Not performing. Just didn't say what they weren't performing, right?

ROLLINS: The bottom line is if we move forward on this -- we're going to spend the next three or four months. This is going to be a long, drawn out process. And there's a lot at stake.

What's at stake is if the White House loses this battle, then basically the Democrats can drag them up on any given day and argue with anybody that I want to have you before a hearing and the president will have the ability to have a private conversation.

But if the Democrats lose this thing, they're going to get no cooperation for the next two years.

DOBBS: Boy, that would be a heartbreaker. No cooperation between this Congress and...

ZIMMERMAN: I suppose it's already existed.

GOODWIN: I think it's important, Lou, to make it clear that this is not about whether any member of the administration can testify before Congress. Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general, should be called before Congress and be required to answer all these questions.

It's about really whether the president's staff can be called, as opposed to cabinet secretaries. And I think -- so it's a very inside the beltway argument that Robert has just made up on the charges, that the Democrats in Congress are not making themselves, that these were corruptions, that there were reasons why they were terminated.

ZIMMERMAN: Quite to the contrary.

ROLLINS: You remember, Robert, when you guys all went crazy when the FBI wanted to serve a subpoena on William Jefferson, who had $100,000 in cash in the refrigerator. ZIMMERMAN: And they were right to do so. Let me just make a point, though.

DOBBS: The last word. You and Ed are not...

ZIMMERMAN: One quick point.

DOBBS: You're violating our agreements here.

ZIMMERMAN: OK, well, thank you for the indulgence. Let's remember, the attorney general did testify. He said misleading and inaccurate statements, and that leads to questions.

DOBBS: Some people say he just outright lied. But I don't know who all those people were.

ROLLINS: Democrats are to be congratulated. They worked on a Friday.

DOBBS: And with that -- with that, Robert, thank you very much.

Michael, thank you.

Ed, thank you. As always, giving Ed the last word.

Up next at the top of the hour, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

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

Democratic congressional John Murtha, he's all fired up over the war in Iraq. I'll talk to him about the House Democrats' new deadline and the president's threat to veto it.

Also, British marines seized by Iran. We're going to show you exactly what kind of training they've had to prepare them for an ordeal in enemy hands.

Plus, one Florida city official finds out tonight if he can keep his job after he becomes a she.

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

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Wolf.

Heroes, the men and women who serve this country in uniform tonight. An Army specialist seriously wounded in Iraq. His story is next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Now "Heroes", our weekly tribute to our men and women who serve this nation in uniform. Tonight's hero, Army Specialist Alroy Billiman. Four months ago, Specialist Billiman was seriously wounded when his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Casey Wian has his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Specialist Alroy Billiman at the front of the pack in a 5k race at the naval medical center in San Diego. Remarkable, because just four months ago, Billiman was fighting for his life in the battlefield in the al Anbar providence in Iraq.

SPECIALIST ALROY BILLIMAN, U.S. ARMY: I felt the glass. I knew right then it was an IED.

WIAN: After ten months in Iraq, Billiman says he'd seen about everything. Always on alert, he was behind the wheel of an up-armored Humvee on a convoy mission the day his service there came to a violent end.

BILLIMAN: When an IED goes off, everyone says, "Are you all right?" That's when I felt the pain. I told them, I said, "No, man. I'm not all right." I reached over with my right arm, and I realized my arm wasn't there.

WIAN: A fellow soldier stopped his bleeding with a tourniquet.

BILLIMAN: And I was laying there, waiting for a chopper. And I was conscious. A lot of things were going through my mind, you know. Man, am I going to die? I knew deep down inside then, that's when I made the decision that I wasn't going to die, that I was going to stay awake and continue fighting for my life.

WIAN: Thirty painful, terrifying minutes later, a helicopter arrived to carry him back to base.

BILLIMAN: And I knew that, you know, my -- my war days were over. And that's what I told those guys as they were medevacking me -- medevacking me on the chopper. I told all my battle buddies that were there on the scene, I told them that they were all great Americans, that I was proud of them.

WIAN: Billiman is now reunited with his family and recovering in San Diego. Naturally right-handed, he says he's adjusting.

BILLIMAN: It took a week for me to get over the fact that my arm was gone. But once I -- I said, "I can't be like this, man. This ain't me." I told my wife one day, I said, "I'm done crying." I said, "I'm done feeling sorry for myself." I said, "I've got to get better and get back on my feet and raise my family."

WIAN: Just last month, Specialist Billiman received a Purple Heart at an emotional ceremony in Long Beach, California.

BILLIMAN: It's one of them awards you don't want to get. And now that you got it, it feels really good that you got it.

WIAN: Casey Wian, CNN, Long Beach, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: A few weeks ago, we also brought you the story of another hero, Corporal Jason Dunham. Corporal Dunham was killed saving his fellow Marines in Iraq. And today, the Navy named a warship after him.

The U.S. Navy has a long tradition of naming its ships for our war heroes, but it usually happens many years after their death. Corporal Dunham threw himself on an insurgent grenade. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery.

We'll be right back in one minute. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight: 53 percent of you say the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Justice Department should just simply surrender and outsource our border security.

I'm a little undecided on this one, so what we're going to do here is at least keep trying to demand this government actually do its job. We're going to stay optimistic at least, and idealistic and hopeful, as long as we possibly can.

Now for some of your thoughts. Bill in Indiana said, "I was wondering, if Congress can impeach a president, can the public impeach congressmen? Apparently, the Democrats and Republicans didn't get the gist of the last election. They're failing hard working Americans miserably."

And Mike in Ohio: "Millions of manufacturing jobs lost to China, technical jobs lost to India, domestic jobs lost to illegal immigrants and Congress wants to debate the loss of eight political positions? Democrats wake up. Pick some real issues."

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please joins us here tomorrow. For all of us, thanks for watching. Have a great weekend. Good night from New York.

"THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Lou.

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