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End of the Line for Alberto Gonzales?; New Iraq Warning: U.S. Losing Patience?

Aired April 19, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is struggling to save his job. Has the White House had enough?
We'll have complete coverage for you.

Also tonight, Defense Secretary Robert Gates flies to Baghdad. There to tell the Iraqi government the United States is becoming impatient.

We'll have a special report from the Pentagon.

And the commander of our troops in the Middle East, Admiral William Fallon, tells his staff to stop using the phrase "the long war".

We'll examine the Pentagon's changing language and position about the conduct of this war.

And we'll have the very latest for you on the aftermath of the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech. Students and staff today holding more ceremonies to honor and remember the victims.

We'll have a live report from Virginia Tech, all the day's news, much more, straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Thursday, April 19th.

Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

New questions tonight about the future of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. President Bush declared Gonzales has his full confidence, but one White House insider telling CNN that Gonzales went down in flames, as he put it, when the attorney general gave his testimony on Capitol Hill today.

Gonzales faced a barrage of tough questions from senators about the abrupt, controversial dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys. Gonzales strongly defended his role, but senators from both parties were skeptical.

Dana Bash tonight reports from Capitol Hill on the Senate Judiciary Committee grilling of Gonzales.

Suzanne Malveaux reports form the White House on rising doubt within the Bush administration about the future of Gonzales.

And CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins me to assess whether it is too late for Gonzales to save his job.

We turn first to Dana Bash -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, you know, whenever would you ask a Republican lawmaker whether or not the attorney general could survive, the answer was always, that depends how he answers questions before Congress. Well, in this hearing room behind me today, Republican after Republican made clear, and even more so in private to CNN, they were frankly surprised by how poorly Alberto Gonzales performed.


BASH (voice over): He came to save his job. But for a loyal Republican senator, it was too late.

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: It was handled incompetently. The communication was atrocious, it was inconsistent. And I believe you ought to suffer the consequences that these others have suffered. And I believe the best way to put this behind us is your resignation.

BASH: The tone was testy from the start, when the attorney general's credibility in question and job on the line, angered the committee's top Republican.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I know you've been preparing for this -- this hearing.


SPECTER: Do you prepare for all your press conferences? Were you prepared for the press conference where you said there weren't any discussions involving you?

GONZALES: Senator, I have already said that I misspoke. It was my mistake.

SPECTER: Were you -- I'm asking you were you prepared?

You interjected that you're always prepared.

Were you prepared for that press conference?

GONZALES: Senator, I didn't say that I was always prepared.

BASH: Alberto Gonzales told skeptical senators he only had a limited role in firing eight federal prosecutors, saying he left it up to top aides to make judgments about dismissals.

In some cases, he knew why he signed off on firing someone.

GONZALES: Mr. McCain, when I accepted the recommendation on December 7th, generally, I recall there being serious concerns about his judgment.

BASH: In others, he did not.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: Margaret Chiara of the Western District of Michigan.

GONZALES: The same issue. She is the other person, quite candidly, Senator, that I don't recall remembering -- I don't recall the reason why that I accepted the decision on December 7th.

BASH: The disbelief among loyal Republicans was stunning.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Most of this is a stretch. I think it's clear to me that some of these people just had personality conflicts with people in your office or at the White House and, you know, we made up reasons to fire them.

BASH: Senators were openly frustrated that the attorney general's testimony was peppered by three words.

GONZALES: I don't recall.

But I don't recall.

I don't recall.

BASH: GOP senators were baffled by Gonzales's inability to remember key facts, like whether he attended a high level meeting in November, where the firings were discussed.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: I guess I'm concerned about your recollection, really, because it's not that long ago it was an important issue. And that's troubling to me.


BASH: At the end of the day, the committee's ranking Republican, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, said that he thinks the attorney general mismanaged the situation of these fired federal prosecutors. He said he believes that Alberto Gonzales' credibility has been impaired, and he says he plans to call the president to tell him just that -- Lou.

DOBBS: Dana, thank you very much.

Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.

For its part, the White House tonight saying President Bush is pleased with the attorney general's testimony today, and that President Bush still has full confidence in Gonzales. But the view within the White House may be turning against Gonzales. Some sources in the Bush administration now telling CNN that Gonzales could be in trouble after today's performance.

Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House -- Suzanne.


What we're getting from this White House, a very robust defense of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. This from the deputy press secretary, Dana Perino, releasing a statement saying, "President Bush was pleased with the attorney general's testimony today. After hours of testimony in which he answered all of the senators' questions and provided thousands of pages of documents, he again showed that nothing improper occurred. He admitted the matter could have been handled much better, and he apologized for the disruption to the lives of U.S. attorneys involved, as well as for the lack of clarity in his initial responses."

And again, the White House reiterating that the president himself has full confidence in Gonzales.

Now, Lou, you mentioned a very good point, which is, privately, the story is very different from sources inside this building, outside the building, people involved in discussions regarding Gonzales. Very discouraged, very disappointed by his testimony.

Some even saying that -- two senior White House aides describing this as Gonzales going down in flames, that he wasn't doing himself any favors, predictable. One prominent Republican described the testimony as this way: "watching clubbing a baby seal."

Now, all of these people, say, of course, they don't know what's going to happen. They say that it's certainly up to the president. They say it all hangs on one guy, that being the president.

But they were clearly shocked today, Lou, about how Gonzales performed. And they simply say that the White House is kind of in a wait-and-see mode to see how the public and how the Congress is going to respond to see whether or not he keeps his job. But as you know, it's up to the president -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, with the dressing down that he took from Senator Arlen Specter, it is hard to imagine much support within any wing of the Republican Party.

Is there great concern about Arlen Specter's reaction to the attorney general today?

MALVEAUX: Well, I asked them about that. They insist officially and publicly that, look, it's all up to the president here.

But one person who I spoke with, who is involved in these discussions, said that the problem with Gonzales' testimony is that every senator except for Orrin Hatch was not helpful. Even Senator Cornyn was frustrated, and that is not good. Those are people who would generally have his support, and they lost it today.

DOBBS: And Senator Cornyn directly addressing the attorney general over the prosecution of Ramos and Compean, the two U.S. Border Patrol agents prosecuted by the U.S. attorney in Texas, asking him directly about that. The U.S. attorney, of course, giving immunity to a drug dealer to testify against U.S. law enforcement agents. Suzanne, thank you very much.

Suzanne Malveaux.

The battle over the attorney general's future has raised new questions about the hiring policies and practices of the Bush administration for key government jobs throughout the administration. This controversy indicates that people with the greatest loyalty to the president have the very best chance of securing administration posts.

Lisa Sylvester has the story from Washington.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Since President Bush took office, numerous key posts have been filled by graduates of conservative Christian schools -- Pat Robertson's Regent University Law School; Jerry Falwell's Liberty University; Patrick Henry College; and the Mormon university, Brigham Young.

Critics insist there is a pattern of the White House filling department and regulatory agencies with political operatives.

BARRY LYNN, AMER. UNITED FOR SEP. OF CHURCH & STATE: I think the administration and a lot of key people who were early appointees to it in a very systemic way want to make sure that more of the graduates of these conservative, religious colleges get into positions of real power.

SYLVESTER: Religious views appear to be not the only litmus test. Democrats pounced on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, accusing him of allowing politics to trump performance.

Prosecutors who went after key Republicans, like Duke Cunningham, may have been labeled as non-team players. On the other hand, critics say Bush loyalists are being protected.

Johnny Sutton, the U.S. attorney for the western district of Texas, has been sharply criticized by some lawmakers for his prosecution of two U.S. Border Patrol agents, but his job appears safe. He's a long-time ally of the president.

DAN STEIN, FED. FOR AMER. IMMIGRATION REFORM: Johnny Sutton is a political animal, a political operative. His entire existence, professional existence is attributable to his loyalty and allegiance to the president. You have to assume that his prosecutorial priorities reflect the views of the president, and probably do so in this case.

SYLVESTER: Sutton worked for Alberto Gonzales when Gonzales was then-governor Bush's general counsel, and he worked on the Bush-Cheney transition team. He now heads the Justice Department's advisory committee of U.S. attorneys.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SYLVESTER: Previous administrations have also filled their ranks with supporters, but one political analyst said the difference now is in scope. No other administration has done it so routinely and has sought to exhibit so much control in the executive departments and making sure everyone is on the same page -- Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much.

Lisa Sylvester, from Washington.

Joining me now for more on the attorney general's testimony today, our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeffrey, first, your impressions of the attorney general's performance today?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: There were two questions on the table today -- who fired these people, and why were they fired? I watched all day. I still don't know. He didn't answer -- he didn't answer the most basic questions, which was why were these people fired?

He kept saying over and over again, well, I asked my chief of staff to go find a general consensus about who should go. But who he asked, what the standard was, why these people were chosen, nobody knows.

DOBBS: The frustration was palpable, to say the least, on the part of the senators on the Judiciary Committee. But the high-minded, if you will, sort of arrogant interjection on the part of the attorney general to someone presumably trying to be absolutely objective and neutral, Senator Arlen Specter, the ranking member on that committee, I mean, it was obvious Specter was ready to slap the man out of his chair.

TOOBIN: You know, this is the most partisan committee in the Senate. You have the most liberal liberals and the most conservative conservatives. And out of 19 members on that committee, 10 Democrats and 9 Republicans, one senator, Orrin Hatch, came to his defense.

You had hard-core conservatives like Jeff Sessions and Tom Coburn who called for him to resign just appalled. I have never seen that kind of bipartisan consensus on that committee.

DOBBS: You are a former federal prosecutor. The Justice Department here is clearly being dragged into a broad number of charges of political involvement. And White House involvement in the Justice Department seems clear in the discussions between Karl Rove and the attorney general.

Is this normal practice?

TOOBIN: You know, Senator Whitehouse, the new senator from Rhode Island, really got to this issue very well, I thought. He said, you know, there's a tradition about U.S. attorneys that, yes, they are presidential appointees, but they are somewhat insulated from politics. And that has been true.

I mean, it's not in the written law, but it's been historically true through Democratic and Republican administrations. And that clearly is a tradition that seems to have been violated, and the attorney general didn't really explain why it should be.

DOBBS: And before I ask you the final question, how many times did the attorney general say "I don't recall," "I don't remember" today?

TOOBIN: It seemed like -- one senator said over 100 times, and this in a hearing that we had been told he had been preparing for and cramming for, for weeks.

DOBBS: Does he survive?

TOOBIN: You know, before the day started I would have said yes, because I thought this was just going to be sort of a partisan thing. Today, I would say less than a 50 percent chance he survives.

DOBBS: Jeffrey Toobin, thank you.

One of the congressman at the center of a federal corruption investigation says he will temporarily give up his seat on the House Appropriations Committee. Republican Congressman John Doolittle's ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff has been the subject of a lengthy investigation.

The congressman accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Abramoff. Doolittle's resignation comes just days after an FBI raid on his Virginia home.

Coming up next, a new warning to Iraq by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Is the Bush administration finally losing patience with the Iraqi government? We'll have a special report.

Also tonight, an explosion of drug violence in northern Mexico spreading across our border. Has Mexico lost the war against the violent drug cartels?

We'll have that story.

And new ceremonies at Virginia Tech to honor and to remember the victims of the worst shooting rampage in American history.

We'll have live reports from you from Virginia Tech and much more straight ahead.

We'll be right back.


DOBBS: One day after the deadliest bomb attack in Baghdad since the beginning of the war in Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert Gates today said the United States commitment to Iraq is not open-ended. The defense secretary flew to Baghdad. There he demanded the Iraqis make a much better effort to achieve political reconciliation.

Jamie McIntyre has our report from the Pentagon.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In Iraq, a speeding ambulance carries a victim from the scene of the latest deadly suicide attack less than a half a mile from the Baghdad home of President Jalal Talabani. The bombing killed at least a dozen people and follows the deadliest day since the surge began. Upwards of 198 people were killed in six separate bombings Wednesday.

It was an unwelcome welcome for the U.S. defense secretary, Robert Gates, who as he left for his unannounced inspection tour, warned that American patience is not unlimited.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I'm sympathetic with some of the challenges that they face, but by the same token, to pick up General Petraeus' theme, the clock is ticking.

MCINTYRE: Gates met with General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander, who has been given what some see as mission impossible, getting the Sunni and Shia to stop fighting while defeating al Qaeda forces whose strategy is to keep the civil war raging.

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, MULTINATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: Clearly, these sensational attacks can't be anything other than viewed as setbacks and challenges. And it does show that the enemy has a vote.

MCINTYRE: Meanwhile, the Pentagon continues to put the best face on the effort, releasing statistics that purport to show attacks and civilian casualties are actually down over the past six weeks, 50 percent down in Baghdad, with casualties across the country down 24 percent, and attacks countrywide down 17 percent.

But the Pentagon briefer did not mention that U.S. casualties are running at an all-time high, with more than 80 deaths a month.

MAJ. GEN. MICHAEL BARBERO, U.S. ARMY: I meant to present a balanced picture in that we are seeing, as I said, some early indicators of some progress. However, we should have -- we should realistic expectations. These high-profile attacks are going to continue.


MCINTYRE: Now, the Pentagon is battling not just the reality of Iraq, but also the perception. So the new CENTCOM commander is dumping the phrase "the long war".

Admiral William Fallon has directed his staff not to use that description anymore, because he says it sends the wrong message; namely, that U.S. troops are going to stay in Iraq at this level for a long time. A characterization that he says is not helpful -- Lou.

DOBBS: So many characterizations in the conduct of this war that have not been particularly helpful.

Thank you very much.

Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.

The military today announced the deaths of three more of our troops in Iraq. Two killed north of the Iraqi capital in a roadside bomb attack, another killed in Baghdad by small arms fire.

Sixty-eight of our troops killed so far this month, 3,315 of our troops killed since the beginning of the war. 24,764 of our troops wounded, 11,064 of them seriously.

Joining me now for his assessment, General David Grange, one of the country's most distinguished former military commanders.

Good to have you with us, General.


DOBBS: Admiral William Fallon, he's starting to sound like the real deal. He's getting rid of the favorite expression before he got there of "the long war," and he's saying quite honestly that it seems not a day goes by that we don't lose ground.

What's your -- what's your reaction?

GRANGE: Well, the phrase "the long war" is like some of the other phrases. They are very confusing to people. They're used too much. Congress, we know, doesn't like the phrase now, but, you know, in this case, it's not a long war.

And the best way to explain it, it's an irregular war. It's an unconventional war. It's counterinsurgency.

But, historically, those type of fights to be won take 10 years. Is that a long war to the Americans? Probably so.

DOBBS: It would be, it seems to me, a long war for anyone, particularly since it is a civil war amongst at least three groups, and the United States military is caught in the middle of the entire mess.

At what point does the general staff -- and I'm not talking about either General Petraeus or Admiral Fallon -- at what point do they say, what in the world is this? Is it a long war, a short war, is it a war, and is the United States military command capable of winning it?

GRANGE: Well, I think we're capable of winning it. Absolutely. I think that the American GI thinks it's definitely a war since they are in the thick of things, and it's a very confusing, complex environment not knowing friend or foe.

DOBBS: Right. GRANGE: But, you know, the point is...

DOBBS: Then why in the world have we put our troops -- you and I have talked about how great these troops are. These are the best we've ever put in the field of combat. How in the world is it that our generals don't comprehend what's going on, that our civilian leadership doesn't comprehend what's going on?

We hear Secretary Robert Gates saying to the Iraqi government we don't have unlimited patience in this country. We seem to have unlimited patience with generals who have not been able to get the job done, perhaps because this job can't be done.

GRANGE: Well, now, I can't use the word "can't," Lou, in this. I'm sorry.

Very tough, but we have the right general officers in there, there's no doubt about it. I believe in Petraeus, I believe in Fallon.

I don't know if his comment is losing ground, meaning one step forward, two back, or two forward and one back. I don't know. But I do believe General Petraeus. I do believe that the reason these attacks are up by the enemy is because progress is being made.

DOBBS: In all due respect, Dave, and I say this to you as a friend, we've been hearing more excuses, whether it be an election, upcoming election, whether it -- any number of reasons why the attacks continue to mount at various points over the course of what has been a war that's lasted longer than World War II. I frankly have to say to you just straight up, I am no longer comfortable with an explanation about why attacks are up.

What I want to understand, and for the sake of our troops, and I think for the country, is if we're so good at what we're doing in terms of our general command, why are they permitted to be up? And why have we not resolved this conflict?

And if we can't, if we haven't, are we capable of it? And if we're not, why aren't we out?

GRANGE: Well, we are definitely capable of it. We lost a couple of years I believe because of some inadequate decisions in leadership.

This is not like World War II. This is not a conventional war. This is irregular warfare, very confusing, very tough. And I'm sure that anybody in charge of executing this war would love to have any type of advice that would work that they could get their hands on.

DOBBS: General Dave Grange, as always, good to have you here.

GRANGE: My pleasure.

DOBBS: Tonight's poll tonight, our question, should Attorney General Gonzales resign? Yes or no?

Cast your vote at We'll bring the result to you here later.

Coming up next, escalating drug cartel violence in Mexico spilling across our border. We'll have that report.

And the latest developments in the Virginia Tech massacre. We'll have reports for you from the campus.

And did school officials and law enforcement miss key warning signs ahead of Monday's deadly rampage? Should -- should there be all of this second-guessing?

We'll have that special report.

And we'll be joined by a panel of sociologists and psychiatrists, a panel of experts to examine what happened in the years before the gunman arrived at Virginia Tech.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The victims of the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech are today being remembered. Makeshift memorials have been set up around the campus, remembrance services and vigils taking place. Virginia's governor, Tim Kaine, this afternoon announced the formation of an independent panel to review the shootings and the university's response.

Brianna Keilar has our report -- Brianna.


Reaction here at Virginia Tech today surrounding that multimedia manifesto that Cho Seung-Hui sent to NBC News. Police say it unfortunately didn't add anything to their investigation, it just confirmed what they already had.

And we heard from the chief of Virginia State Police saying he was disappointed in NBC News' editorial decision to release those images, that video. Also disappointed in the decision by television stations and networks to air that video.

And, of course, we should mention CNN is included in that group.

Now, NBC News responded to this in part saying they justified the decision because "We believe it provides some answers to the critical question: 'Why did this man carry out these awful murders?'"

Well, we talked with a lot of students here at Virginia Tech University. All of them told us they are really tired of seeing this video, seeing these images.

They blame Cho. They say this clearly was a calculated effort for him to get some notoriety. But the did concede that it has served some purpose.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought it was terrifying to stare down the gun -- the barrel of the gun that killed so many of our -- our classmates. And, I mean, I think it was useful to -- you know, to see it. We're all curious to see him and how, you know -- how this all began, but I think it was -- it was also terrifying to just see them.


KEILAR: We've learned more about one of the weapons Cho used in Norris Hall. Apparently, he purchased the.22-caliber pistol from an online gun dealer.

The president of that company, the, coming forward today saying that it was shipped from his company in Green Bay, Wisconsin, to that pawn shop here in Blacksburg where Cho picked it up, where he underwent that background check, which of course he did pass.

And Lou, I also want to bring you up to date on the wounded here, the people who did survive this attack. At this point, last count, two people were released today. Nine still in the hospital. One in serious condition, six in stable condition, two in good condition -- Lou.

DOBBS: Brianna, thank you very much.

Brianna Keilar from Virginia Tech.

The final names of the 32 victims of Monday's massacre at Virginia Tech today were released.

Austin Cloyd, an active member of her church and community. Austin was an international studies major from Blacksburg, Virginia.

Twenty-four-year-old Matthew C. Gwaltney finishing his graduate degree in civil and environmental engineering. Matthew was planning to return to his hometown of Chester, Virginia, to begin a new job and to be near his parents.

Thirty-four year Partahi Lombantoruan of Indonesia came to the United States to achieve a doctoral degree civil engineering, his goal, to become a teacher in this country.

Twenty-year-old Lauren McCain, an international studies major. Lauren was an avid reader who was learning German. Her hometown, Hampton, Virginia. Twenty-six-year-old Minal Panchal, a first year building science student from Mumbai, India. She wanted to become an architect, like her father.

And Julia Pryde, graduate student from Middletown, New Jersey. Julia was described by one professor as one of the nicest people you ever met. And 32-year-old Waleed Mohammed Shaalan, a doctoral student in civil engineering from Egypt. He was married, the father of a year old son. Twenty-year-old Nicole White, a junior from Smithfield, Virginia. Nicole, a lifeguard and high school honor student. She was majoring in international studies.

Virginia's Governor Tim Kaine today named an independent panel to review all aspects of the Virginia Tech tragedy, including the events that preceded the tragedy. The path that led to the massacre at the school was an intersection of law, bureaucracy and in some cases indifference, a path that ended when a deeply disturbed young man embarked on a suicidal rampage. Christine Romans has our report.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): November 27, 2005, a female student so unnerved by Cho Seung-Hui's stalking, she called police, but did not press charges.

December 12th another female student asked police to make Cho stop his instant messaging to her. Again, no charges filed. Soon after, police were notified that Cho might be suicidal. Cho went to the police department. He was evaluated by a counselor. A special justice ruled he quote, "presents an imminent danger to self or others."

CHIEF WENDELL FLINCHUM, VIRGINIA TECH POLICE: Based on the interaction with the counselor, a temporary detention order was detained and Cho was taken to a mental health facility.

ROMANS: Earlier that fall one English professor was so disturbed by Cho, she refused to teach him. The head of the department tried to intervene.

LUCINDA ROY, CHO'S FORMER ENGLISH PROFESSOR: I contacted the Virginia Tech police and student affairs and counseling and the college, and the Virginia Tech police, they did feel that their hands were tied, because he hadn't made an actual threat. And that was difficult for me to accept.

ROMANS: This was long before the violent scripts he submitted to a play writing mass that terrified the teacher and fellow students. All the while, he was allowed to live in the dorms. His roommates called him quiet, odd, a loner, but not threatening.

KARAN GREWAL, CHO'S FORMER SUITE-MATE: It seems like now he was just trying to fool us, trying to put on an act to hide what he was planning the entire year.

ROMANS: Federal privacy laws prevent universities from putting mentally ill students on leave, forcing their treatment or warning their parents without the school's consent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe if something had been done, 32 students would be alive.

ROMANS: A strong of warnings tied together too late.


ROMANS: A remarkable series of events involving the university, the police, the courts, and the mental health system going back at least as far as the fall semester of 2005.

DOBBS: And leaving as well amongst the many, many unanswered and troubling questions. What happened in this young man's life in elementary school, in high school? Where were teachers, his family? And those who had to have seen something, one would think, in frustration of not being able to answer that question and the tragedy at Virginia Tech, really all of us. We have got to get some answers. We'll try to do some of that later in this broadcast. Christine, thanks.

Christine Romans.

Up next, Oklahoma, one of a number of states taking action on their own against illegal immigration. Forced to by the inaction of the federal government. I'll be talking with Congressman Randy Terrill about his legislation.

Next, a deadly crime wave in Mexico once again spilling over our borders.

We'll have that report and more details on the troubled mind of the campus killer. Did school officials and law enforcement miss clear warnings signs? Our panel of experts have some of the answers, and also, some of the answers about what's gone wrong in a society that permit this to happen. Stay with us.


DOBBS: New outbursts of brutal violence in Mexico, warring drug cartels have taken their deadly fights to tourist reports and hospitals in Mexico. And as Casey Wian now reports, these killing sprees are routinely spilling across to our side of the border. We want to advise you, some of the following images may be disturbing.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of terrified patients, family members and medical personnel fled a Tijuana hospital Wednesday after a gunman stormed the facility and shot it out with police. Mexican authorities say six to eight masked men with alleged ties to a drug cartel attacked the hospital in a brazen attempt to free a prisoner undergoing surgery.

Two police officers and one gunman were killed. Two others were apprehended in the Tijuana riverbed, yards from the U.S. border.

Also this week, the body of dozens of drug cartel shooting victims discovered on the street and in cars throughout Mexico. This man was killed in the resort city of Acapulco. These bodies were found in Cancun. It's a clear counteroffensive to Mexican President Felipe Calderon's battle against narcoterrorism. PRES. FELIPE CALDERON, MEXICO (through translator): Organized crime is putting at risk the security of the state, but my government will return the rule of law.

WIAN: There have been successes. Mexican agents captured a Gulf cartel kingpin and two associates Tuesday. Federal troops also arrested more than 100 police officers allegedly working for drug cartels in the northern border state of Nuevo Leone.

Just across the border in Texas, a gun battle between rival groups of illegal alien smugglers at a busy Houston intersection.

EDWARD ALLISON, WITNESS: When I got out of the car, I was getting something out of my trunk and one of my co-workers was talking to them. We heard all the gunfire, and walked over to see if it was somebody I knew and this guy, he was laying dead in the street.

SGT. LARRY SATTERWHITE, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: It was possibly five males involved. As far as we know, given the information we have coming in right now. This vehicle over here, ended up in this parking lot. There were several gunshots into the vehicle.

WIAN: One suspected illegal alien died. Another is in critical condition, eight fled the scene. Hijacking loads of illegal aliens is a growing problem along the Mexican border, as alien drug smugglers react to increased law enforcement efforts on both side.


WIAN (on camera): This week the "Houston Chronicle" reports Mexican drug cartels are recruiting and training gang members, American born teenagers in many cases, to act as hit men north of the border.


DOBBS: Casey, thank you very much. Casey Wian.

The State Department tonight warning U.S. citizens of the deadly violence in some regions of Mexico. These warnings highlight violence in Nuevo Laredo and other areas where drug cartel violence is prominent. And the alert advises American citizens traveling in Mexico to exercise what the State Department calls extreme caution.

President Bush today voiced his support for what he called a temporary worker program. Speaking in Ohio, President Bush said current laws have created an underground network of smugglers and others who prey on those who cross the border to find work.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And so these guys don't know what they are getting. Some card that looks legal, sure, let's go. Work in my nursery. Or go help me pick my lettuce. And they don't know whether they are looking at somebody legal or illegal.


DOBBS: The president continues to lobby for support for his so- called comprehensive immigration reform plan. A plan that would give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens.

Up next, the Oklahoma state legislature is considering a bill that would control the cost of the illegal alien crisis in that state at least. I'll be talking with the state representative who authored the legislation.

And we're still struggling to understand why Cho Seung-Hui went on a shooting rampage at Virginia Tech. What are the lessons for other schools and what can our society do to prevent a recurrence? I'll be joined by two leading sociologists, a clinical psychologist. We will, like you, struggle for answers. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The Oklahoma House today considering legislation to control the state's financial crisis caused by illegal immigration. Oklahoma, one of a rising number of states taking action on their own, because the federal government is not taking action. Joining me now, the author of the legislation, Oklahoma State Representative Randy Terrill. Good to have you with us.

RANDY TERRILL, (R) OKLAHOMA STATE HOUSE: Glad to be with you this evening, Lou, thanks.

DOBBS: I understand you are reconciling this with the Senate. It's basically going to be a done deal. Now, will the governor sign it?

TERRILL: Boy, that's the million dollar question. We negotiated the bill through the Senate Judiciary Committee, it got off the floor of the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, and all that's left are for the Senate amendments to be accepted in the House and on its way to the governor's desk. We think next week, but certainly by May 3rd, which is our deadline.

The million dollar question is will the governor sign the bill? Certainly, it was a huge issue in the last elections. Governor had one entire campaign commercial that dealt exclusively with that issue and yet he failed to mention in the state of the state address. We just don't know, Lou.

DOBBS: The president today, I would like you to hear what he said on comprehensive immigration reform or the amnesty legislation he's seeking.


BUSH: My position is not legal automatically. I'm realistic enough to know -- and it may sound attractive in the political sound bite world, just kick them out. It is not going to work. (END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Your reaction?

BUSH: Well, kicking them out is not necessary. What I've always said is that people try to make this problem more complex than what it is. It's real simple and what House bill 1804 is simply cut off the jobs and government benefits and empower out state and local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law. So it's just that simple. They don't need to be any mass deportations. They will self- deport if we do those things.

DOBBS: We appreciate you being with us here, Representative Terrill.

Thank you very much.

TERRILL: You bet. Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: A reminder to vote in our poll. Tonight's question, should Attorney General Gonzales resign his post? Yes or no. Please cast your vote at Those results coming up here later.

Up next, we've seen his pictures, his videotape. But how much do we know about Cho Seung-Hui. How much does anyone know? We'll be joined by a panel of experts to help us understand at least his actions. And perhaps what we as a society should be doing to assure at least a lower chance that this will never happen again. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Tonight, we're all struggling to understand what could have driven a young killer to take so many innocent lives. For some possible answers, we're joined again tonight by Katherine Newman, professor of sociology at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, also the author of the book "Rampage."

Richard Arum, professor of sociology and education at New York University. Professor Arum, the author of "Judging School Discipline." And from Tennessee, Dr. Paul Ragan. Associate professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University. Thank you all for being here.


DOBBS: Let's start with the 27 videos, the portfolio, as some described it, a multimedia portfolio. Should we have, in the media, broadcast those tapes, that video?

KATHERINE NEWMAN, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY: These are difficult ethical judgments, and the feelings are very raw in the community where this happened and that's very understandable. If you want to know whether I think there is an important purpose for us to understand the interior of this young man's mind, I would have to say categorically yes. Because prevention will come from understanding the deep interior of a twisted mind. But it is a very sensitive time. And I do understand why people might disagree.

DOBBS: Professor Ragan, this man killed 32 people and himself. That is a -- that is a crazy, distressed, troubled, mad human being. What more can we learn?

RAGAN: Well, I think that the type of madness is obviously what people are interested in. Both I think the general public and experts. The ...

DOBBS: You have looked at the videos, right?

RAGAN: Yes, yes. This is not an ordinary madness and what are all of the different threats that came together. What I have sort of described as a perfect psychological storm. All of the threads that have come together in this man's delusional, twisted mind that he rationalized in his own mind, justified in his own mind doing these killings.

DOBBS: Can you as a psychiatrist comprehend how at some point in this young man's life, within his family, within the people he associated with, students from elementary school through high school and -- and ultimately to Virginia Tech, that someone did not reach out to him to help him, or find a way to help him or to protect the rest of society from him?

RAGAN: I think, unfortunately, we -- we actually can understand. Probably what he was smart enough -- his level of intelligence, he was smart enough towards the end, I think, to figure out not to talk. And we have to remember that people don't read minds, and I've not heard anything that described any kind of imminent danger that he was telegraphing in recent days or recent months. The ...

DOBBS: So how ...

RAGAN: The psychiatric evaluation was back in December of '05.

DOBBS: Right. And one should be disturbing to anyone we would think to anyone in which, as we learned yesterday, he was -- after psychiatric evaluation, it was clear that he was mentally ill, an imminent danger to himself or others according to the finding. How is it that we don't have a follow up there? There was apparently no action taken to either treat this young man, Professor Arum, or to protect society.

RICHARD ARUM, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Well, I think the problem we face in our colleges today, but also in our elementary and secondary schools is that educators are constantly second guessing themselves around regulation and fear of litigation and not using common sense professional judgment in dealing with these kids' needs. We ...

DOBBS: Common sense is not widely practiced, I think is a fair statement, in any part of so many segments of our society. Is there anything that we can do to help educators? Families, parents, our community, our society?

ARUM: Educators and others need to approach these troubled kids with fairness, consistency, in proactive ways, in dealing to help them. We don't have that in our schools today, because schools, educators and schools are fearful of litigation, and suits if they act in those ways.

DOBBS: The fear being that schools can be sued either way. Either they take action and are sued, in the case of George Washington University last year, or they don't take action and hold themselves liable.

Your counsel to schools and all of us in this society?

NEWMAN: I think if we look at what people did at Virginia Tech, we actually see evidence to the contrary. They reached out, they tried to provide him counseling, the police took him to a mental health facility.

The details of what went on within those facilities and why the treatment terminated, I think we still have much to learn about. But the evidence in the Virginia Tech case is of a responsible institution exercising every -- every effort to try and make a difference.

I think we have got a very, very sick individual and we would like to think we can fix every problem we put our hands to, and, unfortunately, sometimes we can't, but I don't think it was for lack of trying in this instance.

DOBBS: I'm not in any way suggesting a witch hunt against the administrators of Virginia Tech, this is tough enough without that. But what I'm trying to get to is, I don't think it's satisfactory for us to say that it's impossible to understand it. Or the three of you would be out of work.

Because we're here to try to comprehend. But that comprehension does us no good in society if we cannot take steps as a society, in our schools, in our families, as members of a neighborhood, a community to help one another and whether one looks in terms of helping him or protecting society.

We have to do better than to have a bunch of psychiatrists and sociologists sitting around and saying this is a complex and difficult problem. We all live with these problems. We need some help in creating an environment ...

NEWMAN: I think we need a better institutional framework for dealing with kids this troubled. There is no way he should have been left in that school. The limitations of the legal restrictions which professor Arum had talked about that make it difficult for that to pull that off, need to be examined.

They are there for good reasons but we can go overboard in that direction. I just think we have to recognize this is not a case of people sitting around twiddling around saying there is nothing we can do. DOBBS: You mustn't be defensive, if I may use the expression.

NEWMAN: On behalf of Virginia Tech, where I don't work.

DOBBS: I understand.

NEWMAN: I think they made a lot of effort.

DOBBS: I don't think any of us wants to be critical of that institution. It's going through a bloody awful tragedy. But we have to also be honest about -- and I'm talking in the macro sense if you will, in the interest of all of us, understanding from this for the grief and tragedy that's befallen them.

Professor Ragan, help us out here. You have seen the videos, you have tried to understand this young man. Professor Arum brings up the issue of steps that can be taken.

What counsel do you have to all of us in this society so we can help one another?

RAGAN: Well, I think one of the things what kind of follow-up occurred with this particular individual. I think that as my colleagues said, I think a lot was done right. And I know it's frustrating for you, Lou, but one of the things that's really important is that we look at this from the -- we're looking at this from a retrospective point of view. And hindsight is 20/20. These mental health specialists, the clinics, the universities, when they are looking at this prospectively, this is one person out of tens of thousands, and to pick out that one person that's going to go on to this ...

DOBBS: Professor, I have to correct you. I'm not looking at this retrospectively. I am hoping we can all divine something to understand from it. I am actually locking at it prospectively, asking for your guidance prospectively to all of us in this society who bear great responsibility when our community breaks down, our institutions fail?

RAGAN: Well, I think two things. On a macro level, as has been said by many people before, we're a very violent society and we have to really learn how to tone that down. And number two, I think paying attention to details and the sensitivity and de-stigmatization of the mentally ill, understanding this can happen to anyone and to really reach out when we see people with bizarre behavior.

DOBBS: Professor Ragan, thank you very much. Professor Newman, thank you. Professor Arum, thank you.

Coming up next, we'll have the results of tonight's poll, should the attorney general resign his post? Stay with us.


DOBBS: The results now of the poll. Ninety seven percent of you say Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should resign his post. Let's take a look at some of your thoughts this evening.

Patricia in North Carolina said, "With all these shootings going on for years, why haven't our gun laws been changed? Our government is to blame for this."

And Wally in Indiana, "I wonder what Alberto Gonzales has been doing for the past month. He was supposedly preparing for this hearing, but 'I don't recall' was his only answer."

Don in Florida, "The attorney general would be well-advised to seek medical assistance with his memory problems. Obviously he is not well."

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts at Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. For all of us, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. THE SITUATION ROOM begins now with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?


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