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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Search Intensifies for Missing U.S. Soldiers; 'War Czar' Chosen After Very Long Search; Power Struggle: Terror Surveillance Battle
Aired May 15, 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, the Bush administration and top lawmakers hold what are called make-or-break talks on so-called comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Will the Senate put the interest of the pro-amnesty lobby ahead of the national interest again?
We'll have complete coverage for you.
Also tonight, disturbing new evidence that one of the country's most powerful Catholics, Cardinal Roger Mahony, is hell bent on ignoring the principle of separation of church and state. The cardinal giving pro-illegal alien supporters a tutorial on how to sell their amnesty agenda.
We'll have that story.
And Reverend Jerry Falwell, one of the country's most forceful and foremost advocates of religion and politics has died. We'll assess his political impact, the impact of Falwell's so-called Moral Majority and his legacy.
We'll have all of that, all of the day's news, and much more street ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Tuesday, May 15th.
Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
We begin tonight in Iraq. Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops spending a fourth day searching for three kidnapped American soldiers. Troops have arrested 11 people, but there is still no sign of our missing soldiers, all members of the 10th Mountain Division.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration tonight faces new questions about its policy toward Iran. Teheran stepping up its defiance of the United States, the United Nations, and the world, by accelerating its nuclear weapons program.
Jamie McIntyre reporting from the Pentagon on the search for our missing soldiers and what happened when they were abducted.
Ed Henry reports on the rising concerns about the Bush administration's policy toward Iran. And Andrea Koppel reporting on new criticism of the Bush administration's domestic security policies from one of its own former officials.
We turn first to Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon -- Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Lou, tonight all the focus is on finding and perhaps even rescuing those missing soldiers. But even as that effort is under way, there are questions about whether the soldiers were left too vulnerable to attack.
MCINTYRE (voice over): The U.S. military says the predawn attack overwhelmed the eight soldier in two Humvees with superior numbers and a combination of rocket-propelled grenades and intense small arms fire. A U.S. Predator spy plane surveyed the scene after contact was lost with the soldiers who were manning an observation point looking for insurgents planting IEDs. But some of those bombs had already been planted, slowing the ability of nearby U.S. troops to respond.
The conclusion, it was a snatch mission from the get-go.
LT. COL. PAUL FITZPATRICK, 30TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION, FORT DRUM: It was planned by the enemy with the expressed design to attempt to kill and possibly, you know, capture some of our forces.
MCINTYRE: A massive search covers a large area near Yusufiyah about 20 miles south of Baghdad. More than 4,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops, including elite U.S. Special Operations commandos, are scouring fields and going house to house around the clock. The belief that captured soldiers may still be alive is partially fueled by the fact that no bodies have been found, but every minute they remain in the hands of a ruthless enemy their lives are in danger.
FITZPATRICK: As soldiers have been captured, they have not all turned out well. Now, we hope that this will be an exception.
MCINTYRE: The case raises some of the same questions that followed the brutal murders of privates Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker last June, who were captured while guarding a bridge in an isolated area with just one other soldier. The Army launched an investigation into why they were deployed in a small vulnerable three- man unit, but has not released the findings.
Commanders are now raising similar questions -- why two Humvees were so isolated at 4:00 in the morning an area of known insurgent strength.
MCINTYRE: The soldiers who were killed and captured were part of a larger operation in which the standard procedure is for U.S. troops to spread out and watch for terrorists laying bombs. But is often the case in battling a thinking enemy, those tactics may have to be adjusted -- Lou. DOBBS: Jamie, thank you.
Jamie McIntyre reporting from the Pentagon.
In Iraq, insurgents have killed another of our troops. The Marine was killed in Baghdad.
Fifty of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month, 3,401 of our troops killed since the beginning of the war. 25,245 of our troops wounded, 11,270 seriously.
Five U.S. embassy contractors were also wounded today during what the military called an indirect fire attack against the so-called Green Zone in Baghdad. Indirect fire usually means rocket or mortar fire. Insurgents also firing mortars at a U.S. air base in Taji, north of Baghdad. No report of casualties, but eight Apache and Black Hawk helicopters were damaged in the attack.
Iran tonight continuing to defy the United States and United Nations, supporting insurgents in Iraq and accelerating its nuclear weapons programs. Diplomats say international inspectors have discovered that Iran has solved most of the technical problems associated with the large-scale enrichment of uranium. That process a key step in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. The inspectors say Iran has already installed at least 1,300 centrifuges enriching uranium.
The White House today insisting diplomacy is the most effective way to stop Iran's nuclear program. The Bush administration today also tried to make its policy on Iraq more effective by selecting a war czar to oversee the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ed Henry has the report for us now from the White House -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the man who will fill that position is Lieutenant General Douglas Lute. He certainly comes with a very strong resume, currently director of operations for the Joint Chiefs. But as a three-star general, he will be outranked by others, raising questions about how effective he actually will be.
Democrats on Capitol Hill already charging that basically the president is outsourcing his commander in chief duties to another official, and wondering why it took more than four years for the president to realize he needs one point of contact to help manage both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now, the White House contends this person will basically do what Stephen Hadley would do if the national security adviser had more time. That in addition to helping them manage both wars, Hadley is also dealing with hot spots like North Korea and Iran.
And as you noted, reports today that Iran is enriching large amounts of uranium, larger than the international community knew, despite Tehran's claims that it does not have nuclear ambitions. The White House, meanwhile, is opening these diplomatic talks, allowing a U.S. official in the next few weeks to sit down to talk directly with an Iranian official.
That led White House spokesman Tony Snow to have to deny that the White House is going soft.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It does not in any way, shape or form confer upon the Iranian full diplomatic status, and it does not give them the things that they want, nor does it change the series of sanctions that have been ongoing, nor does it change ongoing diplomacy to firm up international resolve when it comes to the behavior of the Iranians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: But this new shot at diplomacy directly contradicts what the president himself said in December after the Baker-Hamilton report came out urging the president to open direct talks with both Iran and Syria. The president, on Iran specifically, said he would not allow such talks until Iran stopped enriching uranium.
Obviously they're still doing that anyway. But the U.S. is allowing these diplomatic talks to go forward on the narrow issue of trying to get Iran to stop sending these roadside bombs into Iraq. But you now have conservatives like Richard Perle saying that the White House is showing weakness at a time when it needs to be showing strength against Iran -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, and I assume that some people would consider it newfound flexibility on the part of this administration to begin to focus on the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton or the Iraq Study Group report. And recommendations.
But the idea of a war czar, who was the previous war czar, Ed Henry?
HENRY: This is a new position. Obviously, Democrats have been raising questions about why the president himself has not been fulfilling those duties himself.
It's a newly-created position. The White House trying to claim that they need somebody to cut through the bureaucratic red tape, but obviously after more than four years with the war in Iraq, questions being raised about that -- Lou.
DOBBS: And questions about the role of Admiral Fallon, who's in charge of CENTCOM. The idea that a war czar would be created, a national security adviser too busy to deal with the most urgent U.S. security interests in the Middle East, that's a remarkable -- a remarkable assessment and response to the situation.
Thank you very much.
Ed Henry, from the White House.
The Bush administration's domestic security policy facing new criticisms and challenge from former deputy attorney general James Comey. On Capitol Hill today, Comey described a power struggle within the Bush administration over the National Security Agency's terrorist surveillance program.
One of the key figures in that power struggle was White House counsel at the time Alberto Gonzales, now, of course, U.S. attorney general, facing questions about his own future.
Andrea Koppel has the report.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was March 2004 and Comey was racing to be at Attorney General John Ashcroft's sickbed before two senior White House officials, Chief of Staff Andrew Card and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, showed up.
JAMES COMEY, FMR. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I was concerned that, given how ill I knew the attorney general was, that there might be an effort to ask him to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that.
KOPPEL: Although Comey wouldn't publicly confirm it, the disagreement was over the president's controversial warrantless wiretapping program.
COMEY: They came over and stood by the bed, greeted the attorney general very briefly. And then Mr. Gonzales began to discuss why they were there, to seek his approval for a matter, and explain what the matter was.
KOPPEL: Comey, who, at the time, was serving as the acting attorney general while Ashcroft was in the hospital, was refusing to re-certify the surveillance program.
COMEY: I was very upset. I was angry. I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man who did not have the powers of the attorney general, because they had been transferred to me.
KOPPEL: Without missing a beat, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee compared it to one of the lowest points of the Nixon presidency.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: It has some characteristics of the Saturday night massacre, when the other officials stood up, and they had to be fired.
KOPPEL: Now, no one threatened to fire Comey or Ashcroft, but according to Comey, both men were ready to resign. That's before President Bush stepped in and ordered that changes be made to the surveillance program, changes that the Department of Justice wanted -- Lou. DOBBS: And a warrantless wiretap program that the now attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, was trying to drive ahead over the sick bed of John Ashcroft.
KOPPEL: That's correct. That's certainly what Comey alleges.
Now, we did try to reach the former attorney general, Ashcroft, the current attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, and Andrew Card to get their comments. They all declined to comment on the story -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much.
Andrea Koppel from Capitol Hill.
Coming up next here, Reverend Jerry Falwell dies at the age of 73. We'll be assessing his impact on the role of religion and politics, society and culture, and the Moral Majority.
And Cardinal Roger Mahony at it again, giving tutorials to pro- illegal alien groups on how to sell their amnesty agenda. And they have some rather interesting ideas about the use of language. We'll be sharing that with you.
And firefighters continue to struggle to control massive firefighters burning in nearly every county in the state of Florida.
That live report, a great deal more, coming right up. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: The conservative televangelist Reverend Jerry Falwell today died. He was 73. Falwell founded the Moral Majority in 1979, and he used the conservative Christian movement to turn the religious right into a major political force in this country.
Bill Schneider has our report.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice over): A key part of Reverend Jerry Falwell's legacy was to blur the line between religion and politics.
CHARMAINE YOEST, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Well, the Moral Majority really laid the groundwork for the pro-family movement and coalescing and establishing the legitimacy of having pastors speak out in the public square.
SCHNEIDER: When he started the Moral Majority in 1979, here's how Falwell described the situation to CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
JERRY FALWELL, FOUNDER, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: When we started Moral Majority, we were novices. And you could have gotten most of our preachers who were interested in public policy in a phone booth at the time.
SCHNEIDER: They got involved in politics because they felt threatened by court rulings and laws on issues like abortion, school prayer, gay rights, sex education, evolution, pornography, the public display of religion, and tax breaks for religious schools.
FALWELL: We were simply driven into the process by Roe v. Wade. And earlier than that, the expulsion of God from the public square, prayer schools, et cetera.
SCHNEIDER: At the same time, Ronald Reagan reached out to religious conservatives by endorsing their positions and arguing, as he did in 1984, that "Religion and politics are necessarily related..." and that liberals were "... intolerant of religion."
As a result, Christian conservatives have become the new base of the Republican Party, and religion has become a stronger and stronger influence in American politics.
In the midterm election last November, voters who go to church every week voted 55 percent Republican for Congress. Among those who do not go to church regularly, Republican support was nearly 20 points lower.
But mixing religion and politics carries a risk.
YOEST: Part of Dr. Falwell's legacy is helping to raise awareness of how best to be involved in politics. And there's a price to be paid in terms of political activism. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.
SCHNEIDER: Right now the front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination are Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romany. 2008 could be the first election in nearly 30 years when Republicans nominate a candidate not wholly in line either now or in the past with the views of Reverend Falwell -- Lou.
DOBBS: Reverend Falwell, his principal legacy bringing the power of religion into mainstream politics, the Moral Majority?
SCHNEIDER: The Moral Majority. That's right.
It's been done periodically in American politics. Churches have become involved in religion.
Look at the language of the anti-slavery movement, the prohibition movement, the civil rights movement. Churches have gone in and out of politics from time to time in the whole history of United States because evangelical churches tend to crusade on issues that are important to them.
DOBBS: And we have the Catholic church now crusading as well, Bill.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, we do.
DOBBS: Bill, thank you very much.
As Bill reported, Reverend Falwell led the current rise of religious influence into mainstream politics. Falwell's influence is seen today as religious leaders confront the separation of church and state in this country, some lobbying heavy for amnesty for illegal aliens.
The archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, has been giving advice to pro-amnesty, open borders advocates.
Christine Romans has our report.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Cardinal Roger Mahony on the language of illegal immigration.
CARDINAL ROGER MAHONY, LOS ANGELES: I have learned that certain words are not to be used. Never use the "A" word, "amnesty". But rather, find other words that don't convey the power of what we are about.
ROMANS: The "we" here is the Catholic Church and the National Council of La Raza, to whom he was speaking. What they're about, so- called comprehensive immigration reform.
MAHONY: We need and will get a comprehensive legislation passed.
ROMANS: And Cardinal Mahony has an urgent timeline.
MAHONY: Legislation must be passed by both houses and signed in to law by the time we get to the August recess.
ROMANS: Political observers say for Mahony, religious and politics are absolutely inseparable.
DAN HOFRENNING, ST. OLAF COLLEGE: The only thing he really cannot do is advocate for a particular candidate in an election or get involved in a specific campaign. Religious leaders are free to take stands on a particular pieces of legislation.
ROMANS: Mahony's office did not return calls seeking comment, but in a recent speech, he said his lobbying for amnesty is justified by the bible. "As a Christian, there are no prior commitments that can overrule, or trump, this biblical tradition of compassion for the stranger, the alien, the worker."
Indeed, Mahony says the church as a moral obligation to change American law, because he says, "Our current immigration laws are, in a word, unjust."
(END VIDEOTAPE) ROMANS: His position on reforming those laws Says the church as a moral obligation to change the law. Because our immigration laws is incredibly specific. Illegal aliens, he says, can "earn their green cards" through several years of work, paying a fine, taking English in civics classes, and getting in line behind those already here, Lou. Very specific recommendations.
DOBBS: It seems to matter not, the idea that religious leaders -- and I am being inundated, by the way -- I want to make this clear -- because of a column I wrote on CNN.com and the long-held view of mine that there should be separation of church and state, that this country is built in part around that relationship, the idea that churches are intruding in to political agendas, whether it be the Catholic Church, whether it be the religious right.
It's a peculiar period in the history. And, man oh man, the Family Research Council, they've got a -- they've got a letter-writing campaign, an e-mail campaign here. They're effective.
I mean, I've seen some rather puny efforts. For example, one by the Southern Poverty Law Center on the left. I mean, we've got everybody annoyed on the left, everybody seemingly annoyed on the right. So, you know, it's a fun time, I think is a way to put it.
ROMANS: But God loves the First Amendment, right?
DOBBS: Amen, sister.
Christine Romans, thank you very much.
Time now for some of your thoughts.
Many of you responding to an e-mail from Tony Perkins at the Family Research Council asking you to voice your opposition to my opinion that the church should stay out of politics.
Dennis in Missouri, "Come on, Lou. I don't want to be quieted from expressing myself any more than I want you to be. As a pastor, I must speak my convictions of morality even when some deem it political."
Well, I've never said pastors shouldn't have political views. It's just the idea of everybody getting together and coming -- coming on with a national political agenda as a coalition, and a powerful one at that.
Linda in New York, "Pastors must retain their free speech rights." I couldn't agree more, by the way. "To stifle their voices would require that everyone think the same. That's the end of freedom."
And Michael in Maine, well, he at least agrees with me. And I've got to tell you, he's a rare voice on this issue based on the e-mails we're getting on this broadcast.
"Great job, Lou. Let's keep the church out of politics. If the church gets involved in politics, they should not be tax exempt. They should be considered a lobbyist group."
We'll have more of your thoughts on this topic and others later here in the broadcast.
Up next, the Senate's struggling to reach a last-minute deal on that so-called comprehensive reform legislation. We'll have the latest for you, and it's not pretty.
Federal authorities sealing a tunnel under the Mexican border just about a year and a half after they found it. What took so long? What about those other tunnels? Help!
Wildfires still spreading across northern Florida, parts of Georgia. We'll have the latest.
Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: Firefighters are still struggling tonight to gain control of those wildfires that have swept across the state of Florida. Hundreds of homes have been evacuated in northern Florida as fires continue to spread through woodlands there.
Rusty Dornin reports from Lake City, Florida -- Rusty.
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, in this part of northern Florida and southern Georgia in a normal year you would have the swamps and ponds and low-lying creeks that would provide natural fire breaks. But for this drought-stricken area, the weather is making things worse.
Low humidity, high temperatures and gusty winds continue to push this fire. It's burned nearly 250,000 acres so far. That's on private and public land.
And in southern Georgia, there are a lot of timber plantations. And our CNN crew drove on a scorched earth area that was formerly a plantation for young pines.
Those pines would be used to make wood and wood pulp. Of course millions of dollars lost there.
Seven hundred and fifty homes have been evacuated. Those people are either living in shelters, or as one evacuee told us, she's been living in a motel since Thursday. But she is very thankful that firefighters are standing by her home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACHSAH DEES, FLORIDA WILDFIRE EVACUEE: There's a tanker at my house. The tanker has been at my house.
They sprayed down my house. They've cut my trees. They are doing everything that they can possibly can for us out there. And they are there 24/7. There's somebody there. And I got faith they're doing what they can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DORNIN: They have some 50 engines, fire engines that are taking care of those houses. Of course, they have to shift from spot to spot to make sure wherever the fire might make a run that they will have an engine at one of those structures. And Lou, they are just hoping for a break in the weather, and that means rain.
DOBBS: Thank you very much.
Rusty Dornin from Lake City, Florida.
Coming up here next, Democratic leaders, have they sold out the middle class in this country, agreeing to the Bush administration's so-called free trade agenda? I'll be talking with a leading Senate Democrat, Senator Sherrod Brown here.
Also, the Bush administration efforts to impose amnesty for illegal aliens and American citizens facing some new difficulties on Capitol Hill. We'll have that special report.
And federal agents discovering a massive tunnel under our border with Mexico more than a year ago. They're filling it up now. What in the world took so long?
We'll tell you when we continue. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Gasoline prices at a record high now, but federal officials say there could be some relief from those soaring prices over the coming weeks. The administrator of the Energy Information Administration today told a Senate panel the price of a gallon of gasoline will average almost $3 a gallon this summer but prices are expected, he says, to drop slightly as the U.S. raises production and imports. The average price of gasoline now $3.10 a gallon nationwide on average. California drivers paying the most for gasoline, an average of 3.47. The cheapest found gasoline found in South Carolina, selling for $2.83 a gallon.
Also on Capitol Hill. Republican and Democratic senators could be working through the night trying to reach a last minute deal on the Bush administration's amnesty agenda for illegal aliens. Both sides remain apart on a number of issues on the eve of the Senate debates on immigration. Lisa Sylvester brings us up to date from Washington.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's billed as the grand compromise. An immigration agreement between Senate Republicans, Democrats and the White House. But the alliance is reportedly fraying. Republicans who have seen drafts say it's really an amnesty bill dressed up to look like it's not.
REP. MIKE PENCE, (R) IN: There is talk of a proposal that would allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in this country by merely paying a fine. Let me say emphatically, madam speaker, amnesty is no bargain for the American people.
SYLVESTER: The outline of the compromise would include employment verification. New sanctions against companies that hire illegal aliens. More border agents, a guest worker program and path to legalizing the 12 million plus illegal aliens after they return to their home country, known as the touchback. The sticking points are whether illegal aliens can petition to bring in additional family and should guest workers be put on a permanent track?
SEN. HARRY REID, (D) MAJORITY LEADER: And as far as the guest worker program that's not something that's been worked out in any detail at all. They're still working on that. There's a lot of controversy at this stage.
SYLVESTER: Selling it to Senate Republicans is difficult enough. Convincing House members, an even longer shot.
REP. ED ROYCE, (R) CA: I think going forward, anybody who learns what is in this bill is going to be against it. That's why they're going to try to pass this in the dead of night.
SYLVESTER: Representative Royce says 60 members of the Republican study group met to consider the draft version of the compromise that's still under negotiation. He said only four favor the so-called comprehensive approach. The rest of Republicans remained opposed.
SYLVESTER (on camera): Senator Leader Harry Reid still intends to start debate tomorrow on immigration. If senators can reach a bipartisan compromise, that will be the bill they will consider. Otherwise they're taking up last year's Senate bill which many Democrats and Republicans agree is going down a dead end. Lou.
DOBBS: And a year later, I would wager a lot of money that not more than two percent of all of those senators have even read at this point the 700 page bill that they passed last year that we still don't have from the United States government, a fiscal impact statement of amnesty for illegal aliens, that we still do not have funding, even contemplated in any of this legislation to beef up lawful immigration system, the citizen and immigration services and that this government still has no better idea than a year ago, how many illegal aliens are in this nation.
SYLVESTER: I think you're right on that point, Lou. So, I'm not going to take you p up on that wager. I'm pretty still that these senators have still not read that legislation, 700 pages or so.
DOBBS: It's amazing. And to think these men and women dealing with such a critical issue, our national security, border security, port security and of course reforms of our immigration laws. Every American, whether Republican, Democrat, pro-amnesty, anti-amnesty, should be very, very concerned. Lisa Sylvester, thank you very much. New evidence of the gaping holes in border security. Federal agents finally sealing a massive drug tunnel that had been dug along the border with Mexico. The tunnel was found more than a year ago. Casey Wian has our exclusive look inside the drug and alien smuggling tunnel.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This gaping hole under the U.S.-Mexico border was discovered in January 2006. It was an underground super highway for drugs, illegal aliens and potentially weapons and terrorists.
HECTOR MONTALVO, CUSTOMS & BORDER PROTECTION: Most likely this tunnel was done -- it was done by my miners. Because it took a lot of effort. They have a concrete floor. They have lighting along the tunnel. They have ventilation.
WIAN: Now, contractors working for the Army Corps of Engineers are filling it with concrete. This is what that looks like through a robotic camera. We were the only news crew ICE invited to view the tunnel it before it was filled.
(on camera): At 200 feet this is the longest tunnel ever discovered under the U.S.-Mexico border. At it's starting point in Mexico it began at 80 feet below the surface of the ground. When Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents discovered this tunnel more than a year ago they found two tons of marijuana on the Mexican side of the border and 200 pounds of marijuana on the U.S. side.
(voice-over): The tunnel ended in this warehouse, leased as a front for the Arellano Felix cartel. Drugs were moved out in produce trucks. More than two dozen smuggling tunnels have been discovered under the border since 1993 according to the new border tunnel task force.
FRANK MAYWOOD, IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: I would be astounded if there were not other tunnels out there. At any given time, the tunnel task force is working on multiple sites. I don't think we have an interstate system yet underground. I hope not.
WIAN: ICE says it took so long to begin filling the tunnel because it had to deal with private landowners, insurance companies, and other government authorities including the Environmental Protection Agency.
The tunnel likely cost drug smugglers hundreds of thousands of dollars to construct. Now U.S. taxpayers are spending three quarters of a million to fill it in.
ICE says it's 99 percent sure that no drugs or illegal aliens have moved through the tunnel since it was discovered.
WIAN (on camera): As for the other tunnels yet to be found, ICE says the tunne task force is working with the Mexican government. They hope one day to be able to uncover 90 percent of future tunnels before they reach the surface in the United States. Right now, Lou, they're discovering about half of them.
DOBBS: Well, at least that's a beginning. One would think that they have the technology to do a far better job of detecting those tunnels, Casey.
WIAN: You would think they would but one of the problems is there are so many storm drains and other underground structures underneath the border, legitimate things that are crisscrossing the Mexican border that it's difficult to differentiate the two. They are asking for more money, for more equipment to detect tunnels in the future.
DOBBS: All right.
Casey Wian, we thank you very much. Time now for our poll. Should Farmers Branch, Texas, bill the federal government for its legal expenses for defending its ordinance aimed at ending the impact of illegal immigration in that community? Yes or no? Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results coming up her later in the broadcast.
Up next, Democrats facing sharp criticism of what many consider a sellout of middle class working men and women and their families with their new so-called free trade agreement with the White House. I'll be talking with Senator Sherrod Brown about that and what the deal means for working men and women in this country. Sherrod Brown one of the leading opponents of the so-called free trade era.
We'll have that discussion and satellite radio suspending hosts Opie and Anthony for their insensitive comments made on their program. We'll be joined by a panel of radio hosts to talk about free speech, entertainment and the future of broadcasting. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed legislation to stop Mexican trucks on U.S. highways. That measured delays a Bush administration plan to allow those Mexican trucks full access to U.S. highways. Under this bill trucks from Mexico would have to meet safety and security standards and U.S. truckers would have access to Mexican roadways. Access to each country's highways part of the original NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. And it was an overwhelming vote, 411 to three. Remarkable. And as my next guest said, pretty good news.
The Democratic leadership in Congress turned its back on voters who put them in office. Many Democrats very concerned about the direction that this assortment of Capitol Hill Democratic leaders and Bush administration officials represent. Aligning as they did with the Bush administration and business interests, approving a compromise of what they call - so-called fair trade. Joining me now is Senator Sherrod Brown, a strong critic of the president's free trade policies and strong proponent of actually helping America's middle class working men and woman. Good to have you here with us.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN, (D) OH: Glad to be back. Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: Senator Brown, that deal has caught Democrats by surprise, it caught their followers and many who supported them in the mid term elections. How did that deal get cooked?
BROWN: The message was loud and clear from November in my state of Ohio, to be sure, I talked about trade a lot as you and I talked many times and in many other states, Senator Webb did in Virginia. Senator Tester in Montana and others. And it's pretty clear that voters want a very different trade policy.
Some would argue this is going in the right direction. It's labor standards, environmental standards. The question is does the administration enforce these? I see no sign yet that they want to enforce environmental standards. That's the key.
DOBBS: I will join you in that as one who has looked hard. I have seen absolutely no enforcement of any trade agreement period from the side of the United States by this administration. Secondly, in terms of labor and environmental standards I'm not sure anyone in the U.S. trade representatives office or this White House would even know what we're talking about. But when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauds this deal announced by the Democratic leadership and the administration. Do you find that as some skepticism about falling into line with the interest of American workers?
BROWN: I think the comment from some individual leaders in the Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers is that they're kind of getting a wink and a nod from Secretary Schwab - the U.S. trade rep Schwab saying and perhaps Secretary Paulson saying well, these standards look good, labor will be happy, environmentalists look happy, they are good in terms of the substance. But they know they are not going to be enforced. We went through this with Jordan in 2000. Congress passed a Jordan trade agreement.
It's one I voted for because it had strong labor and environmental standards. It has not been enforced and Jordan has become a sweat shop for that part of Asia. With Bangladeshi workers working there producing all kinds of apparel that ends up in our country, duty free, products of sweat shops.
DOBBS: It may not be the sweat shop capital of the Middle East but it sure seems to be vying for that title.
BROWN: Certainly has been.
DOBBS: Let's go to the issue of the idea that this Democratic Congress is already in trouble. Elected to represent the interest of working men and women in this country. Many people hoping. And frankly, I'm among them, that the Democrats might return to their traditional roots as representatives of working families in this country, working men and women. We have now seen Congress has in the most recent Gallup poll, a lower rating. Here we are in the midst of April -- midst of May. Lower than a president that's at historic low or near those historic lows. What is going on?
BROWN: I think - I mean, Congress has moved on some things, on minimum rage, on stem cell, increasing Pell grants. I think Congress is moving. But the Senate moves slowly because of the 60 vote rule. That's not an excuse. But I am hopeful -- I do believe with the tax program. Middle class tax cuts that Senator Schumer and a lot of the freshman Democrats have pushed that we're going to see some real action on fighting for the middle class. I'm disappointed in this trade agreement. I think they're -- it's a long way from passage for Peru and in Panama. I don't think we're going to see anything beyond that but I think there is some action on the Democratic side and this Congress moves in the right direction.
DOBBS: And the issue of lobbying reform. Over $2 billion spent a year by corporate America and special interests to influence the 100 of you in the Senate, the 435 members of Congress and that fellow in the White House. That's obscene. You guys have been talking about lobbying reform that was part of the Democratic national agenda during mid term elections. It looks like the Democratic leadership in both the Senate and the House are pulling back from that. Meaningful reform. Are you confident, not optimistic, confident that we're going to see meaningful lobbying reform pushing back those lobbying interests before 2008?
BROWN: Yeah, I am. I think some internal rules are better in the House and Senate than they were last session. I think that's a start. I hope we go further in lobbying reform. I'm concerned, though, that when I look what happened on the re-importation bill so people can go -- retailers and wholesalers can buy prescription drugs on the world market. Canada, those countries that we know the drugs are safe. When with almost all of the Republicans joining a few Democrats in voting it down in the Senate it concerns me. The House passed it. We keep at it.
Senator Dorgan and I have worked on it. And Senator Stabenow and others and we're going keep trying on that. Because there's simply no reason that we should pay two, three times for our prescription drugs what the Canadians or the French or the Israelis or the Germans are paying.
DOBBS: Senator Sherrod Brown, we thank you for being here, and here in New York City. We should point out, congratulations, your daughter Elizabeth graduating Columbia University tomorrow.
BROWN: Good week for the Brown family.
DOBBS: A great week.
BROWN: I'm just thrilled that Elizabeth has done so well at Columbia. Thank you for that.
DOBBS: Thank you. Good to see you, senator. Up next, Attorney General Gonzales at the center of a new controversy over his role in the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping. We'll be joined by a panel of radio show hosts across the country about that and all of the week's political developments to this point of which there are many.
And they're robust. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Wolf Blitzer is coming up at the top of the hour with THE SITUATION ROOM. Wolf?
BLITZER: Thanks, Lou. Homegrown terrorist is accused of taunting his victims from behind bars and trying to spark a new wave of deadly violence. We're going to show you exactly what confessed bomber Eric Rudolph is doing and why it may be within his rights.
Also, a controversial and mysterious church in a full-scale public relations battle with the BBC. Find out how they wound up at war.
Plus cycling legend Lance Armstrong has a deeply personal message for Congress. He'll join us right here at THE SITUATION ROOM. All that, Lou, coming up at the top of the hour.
DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf. Looking forward to it.
Joining me now, four of the country's best radio talk show hosts. In New York, Steve Malzberg of WOR, Laura Flanders, Air America, Roland Martin, WVON in Chicago and CNN, and from Denver, Peter Boyles, KHOW.
Peter you're out there in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. Let turn to you first. You're feeling the impact and legacy of Reverend Jerry Falwell.
PETER BOYLES, KHOW RADIO: It's interesting. Certainly in our business, looking back on media aspects, Jerry Falwell changed the face of a lot of what we do. I found myself oftentimes in disagreement with him about the rights of gays and lesbians. But he was a powerful force in all of this and it marks an end of an era, I think.
DOBBS: Roland, you talked with him just, what, about a month ago? His health, his attitude, his legacy?
ROLAND MARTIN, WVON RADIO: Well, he was operating like an old softy as he described himself later in his life. But he was still very clear.
What was interesting, though, is he me an interesting comment when it came to national security. We asked about is it important for a person of faith to be present. He said, look, what matters to me is do they understand national security. I would much rather have an atheist who understands national security than a Sunday school teacher who has no clue about how to protect the country.
DOBBS: That's an interesting ...
MARTIN: Yes, indeed. DOBBS: It diverges quite a bit from the take of most people. Laura?
LAURA FLANDERS, AIR AMERICA: I was just thinking about Jerry Falwell and national security. This is the guy that blamed 9/11 on gays and lesbians and feminists. So not sure what a judge of national security he is - he was.
DOBBS: Steve Malzberg?
STEVE MALZBERG, WOR IN NEW YORK: I think it's the end of an era as the first guest mentioned. I think this is going to continue. I think notwithstanding the Giuliani factor where people are starting to say as long as you protect the country, and this goes to what Roland said, we don't really care about abortion and gay rights, etc. I don't think that's the case at all. And I think Rudy is going to prove by not getting the nomination that this is not the end of an era of the Moral Majority by any means.
MARTIN: Lou, I think you also have to factor in something critically important. You talk about Falwell dying. But if there's no Jerry Falwell, there's no Family Research Council, no Conservative (ph) for America, no Eagle Forum ...
DOBBS: No Moral Majority.
MARTIN: Absolutely. So you have an entire infrastructure in essence, the children of the Moral Majority that still live today.
BOYLES: Along with the Bakkers and Oral Roberts and that entire group, in spite of what was just said, it's not the end of the era. Most of those guys aren't around anymore. It's the end of that beginning. What will happen next, who knows. But certainly they changed the face of the earth.
DOBBS: Well, if not changing the face of the earth, having a strong influence on the faces on radio is none other than Reverend Al Sharpton who said and since apologized to the Mormons as he pointed out to me here last night for saying, "As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways so don't worry about that. That's a temporary situation."
A little of the bravado of Al Shartpon there. Laura, you're reaction.
FLANDERS: I think there has been an awful lot of attention to what Al Sharpton had to say and I think there should be a little bit more attention, but there should be more to what James Dobson had to say. The head of one of those churches you're talking about, Focus on the Family, speaks to millions of people every week. He said basically the same thing. He agreed with Romney on the facts but he had the wrong religion.
DOBBS: They may agree on the facts but Romney said it's a form of religious bigotry. And I love Jerry - I love Reverend Al Sharpton's riposte was effectively to say if that is bigotry, I apologize to the Mormons, but he was not going to apologize to Mitt Romney because he was taking political advantage of the situation as if that were completely alien.
MALZBERG: Like he's never done that. I think you hit him with the right question, Al Shartpon. You said first you denied you were even talking about Romney and the Mormons. You said you were talking about Christopher Hitchens, the atheist, and then -- now he admits basically that he's apologizing to the Mormons.
So he's all over the place as usual. Al Sharpton is a bigot. He's always had racist things to say, he's called Greeks all kind of horrific names. David Dinkins he called the N word over and over. He called Jews names. "White interloper." His history is this long. It's not surprising.
DOBBS: Peter, I asked him if he could be moved to forgiveness for his run-in and subsequent firing of Don Imus, I think he should have been suspended for what he said and Roland Martin and I talked about this. But firing was an absurdity and suggested to the good reverend that he might consider forgiveness, proportionality and some perspective. And, Peter, Al Sharpton wasn't having any of it.
BOYLES: But the response to Al Sharpton always has been, so what you're Al Sharpton, you're expected to say these things. The fact he had influence on what happened to Don Imus is I think far more drastic than the kinds of things he goes around saying. I mean, the response to Al Sharpton is so what.
MARTIN: Let me say this again. We keep going back to this.
There were multiple voices speaking out against Don Imus.
MARTIN: Al Sharpton was not the only voice. He wasn't even the first voice. There was a number of people.
DOBBS: Roland Martin?
MARTIN: So, it's very good -- it's very good that those who don't like Al Sharpton to all of the sudden just single everybody else and say forget the other 50 voices, let's focus on one. But the point he brought, though, faith is going to be a significant part of the campaign. And we have to recognize that.
The fact that Romney's a Mormon, but look, Giuliani being a Catholic. Other candidates being Baptist. These are issues that are being talked about. Religion is going to play a major role in this campaign.
DOBBS: Should it?
FLANDERS: Well, I think it is going to play a role, no question. I don't think we believe in religious tests in this country, though, and there's a fine line. MALZBERG: I think you have to have faith. I wouldn't want a man or woman who doesn't have faith strongly to be president of the United States.
FLANDERS: That's a religious test.
MARTIN: We have a president with a lot of faith but we don't have much faith in the war.
MALZBERG: That's personal opinion.
MARTIN: About 65 percent of the American public agree with that opinion.
DOBBS: I have got a lot of trouble with faith-based economics, faith-based trade policies, faith-based national security initiatives. Peter we'll give you the last word here tonight.
BOYLES: I think that we're not looking for theocracy, and I would imagine there's a whole lot of people in public life that are either atheist or agnostics but are afraid to say it. I don't put much faith in the people who say they put faith in it.
DOBBS: One of the problems seems to me -- I said I'm going to give you the last word. Peter, I'm going to be as good as my word. I'm going to give you the last word and shut up. Peter, thanks very much for being here.
BOYLES: Thank you, sir.
MARTIN: Peter, we'll keep praying for you.
DOBBS: Roland, thank you.
BOYLES: I may need it.
DOBBS: Thank you, Laura. Thank you, Steve. Much success with your new broadcast.
MALZBERG: Thank you, sir.
DOBBS: Still ahead here we'll have the results of our poll. More of your thoughts. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The results of tonight's poll, 89 percent of you say Farmers Branch, Texas should bill the federal government for the community's legal expenses and for defending its ordinance aimed at cutting the impact of illegal immigration on that community.
Time now for some of your thoughts -- Don in Iowa said, "I oppose Lou Dobbs comments that church pastors should not be politically involved from the pulpit. Members of the church look for Christian moral guidance and that should include political guidance." Now, I never said that pastors shouldn't have an opinion or a right to express them I'm just saying idea of separation of church and state in this country works two ways.
William in Tennessee, "Mr. Dobbs, your recent remarks concerning ministers seemed to try to take from them the right of free speech. Nowhere in our Constitution is there anything about separation of church and state. This idea only exists in the feeble minds of the liberals that control your thinking. It's too bad you can't think for yourself and read our Constitution for yourself."
It may surprise you that I have read the Constitution and by the way, right now I've got the Family Research Council on the right after me. I've got the Southern Poverty Law Center on the - I guess they're on the left after me. So we're right in the middle. And let me tell you, it's a lot of fun.
We love hearing from you, even your critical thoughts. Send those thoughts to us at loudobbs.com. We thank you for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow, when among our guests will be the Southern Cover Poverty Law Center's president, Richard Cohen and executive director Mark Potok. They've made some outrageous claims about our reporting here and we'll be talking about that.
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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