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New Details on TB Patient Who Crossed Canadian Border; Rising Danger From Contaminated Seafood; Interview With Alan Simpson

Aired May 31, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, startling new details in the case of the tuberculosis patient who crossed into this country from Canada without being stopped on our border. It turns out Customs and Border Patrol agents failed to notice the man's passport triggered an alert on their computers. We'll have the report.
Also, new fears about the rising danger from contaminated seafood from Asia and Latin America, and the federal government's absolute failure to protect our food supply and consumers.

Members of Congress are receiving an earful from their outraged constituents while they're back home on that grand compromise, so- called, on immigration reform. Will these elected officials pay any attention to their constituents? We'll have that special report. All of that, all the day's news and much more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT -- news, debate and opinion for Thursday, May 31st. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

We begin tonight with a remarkable statement by the U.S. military's No. 2 commander in Iraq. Lieutenant General Ray Odierno today said the military hopes to reach cease-fire agreements with the insurgents. The general also declared it may not be possible to meet a White House deadline to say whether the so-called surge strategy is effective.

Meanwhile, new concerns tonight about security along our northern and southern borders after Customs and Border Patrol agents on the border with Canada ignored a warning to stop an American infected with a highly dangerous form of tuberculosis. Barbara Starr tonight reports from the Pentagon on the remarkable news conference held by General Odierno. And Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House on President Bush's struggle to defend the conduct of this war. Jeanne Meserve tonight reporting on what appears to be a shocking breakdown and failure in security along our border with Canada.

We turn, first, to Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, General Odierno put his marker down on the table.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STARR (voice-over): The No. 2 commander in Iraq warned he may not be ready by the September deadline to say whether the U.S. troop buildup is working.

LT. GEN. RAY ODIERNO, COMMANDER, MULTI-NATIONAL CORPS: I have to wait and see what happens. And if I think I might need a little more time, I will give an assessment and say, but I would like to have more time. If I don't think I have -- I need more time and I can make an adequate assessment that's accurate, I will do that.

STARR: Traveling in Hawaii, Defense Secretary Robert Gates offered his view.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We ought to be in a position to begin evaluating by the end of the summer whether or not the surge was working. So I think that, you know, late August, early September I think it's still -- I think it's all still in the same ballpark.

STARR: Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno spent an hour telling the Pentagon press corps there are signs of progress in Iraq, but also warning...

ODIERNO: It's not enough. We still have much more to do.

STARR: He noted civilian deaths are down in Baghdad. More weapons and IEDs are being found. But sectarian violence is again on the rise.

So a new strategy is unfolding. Troops will now talk to insurgents, tribal, and religious leaders.

ODIERNO: We're talking about cease-fires, and maybe signing some things that say they won't conduct operations against the government of Iraq or against coalition forces.

STARR: Odierno believes 80 percent of Sunni and Shia militants could be persuaded to give up the fight, but doubts many al Qaeda fighters would do the same.

Odierno says some insurgents are now surrounding themselves with IEDs buried deep underground, using them as a security shield. It's just the latest technique causing many U.S. casualties.


STARR: So, Lou, what about those cease-fire agreements? Well, General Odierno says they will be on a case-by-case basis, and yes, as you might expect, he says if insurgents are involved in the killing of U.S. troops, that might mean there won't be a cease-fire agreement with them -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, did it take more than four years for this idea to occur to the generals in Iraq and in the Pentagon?

STARR: Well, you know, that is an interesting question. Why are they just suddenly doing this now? There seems to be a real growing belief that this counter-insurgency basically is not going to be won by the traditional methods, and that they are going to have to reach some sort of accommodation with their enemy forces in Iraq and bring them into the fold, or at least that's what they hope, Lou.

DOBBS: Barbara, thank you. Barbara Starr, reporting from the Pentagon.

The number of our casualties in Iraq is rising. Insurgents have killed three more of our troops, two in Baghdad, and one northwest of the Iraqi capital. 122 of our troops have been killed this month. This is now the third highest monthly death toll of the entire war. 3,473 of our troops killed since the beginning; 25,681 of our troops wounded; 11,526 of them seriously.

President Bush today strongly defended his conduct of this war. At a meeting with the Iraqi president at the White House, President Bush declared that it is vital for the Iraqi government to meet benchmarks for political and economic progress. So far, the Iraqi government has failed to make any significant progress on those reforms. Suzanne Malveaux has the report from the White House -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, it really isn't surprising that these two leaders praised each other at the White House. President Bush calling Iraq's president's Jalal Talabani, that he admired him; Talabani saying that he actually was a hero for President Bush. Both of them also talking about these benchmarks that we have heard for months and months and months now, saying that they are committed to this, that they are confident, that they will carry through on some of them -- the provincial elections, sharing oil revenue, bringing back some of Saddam's loyalists into the fold, into the government.

But it was notable, Lou, that also, the president asked one of his top aides, this being Meghan O'Sullivan at the National Security Council, who was leaving the White House, to come back and to come to Baghdad.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She has been in Iraq before. She's going back to serve with Ambassador Crocker, to help the Iraqis and to help the embassy help the Iraqis meet the benchmarks that the Congress and the president expect to get passed.


MALVEAUX: So, Lou, it really underscores the seriousness of the situation there and the difficulty.

Also notable is Talabani said about drafts. He talked about these things that were happening, but he really didn't talk about when it was actually going to get done. He didn't give us any sense of that -- Lou.

DOBBS: Suzanne, any reaction to General Odierno's statement that he may need more time to meet the White House timetable?

MALVEAUX: I don't think that's a surprise to the White House. The White House has not responded to his statement, but they are looking to September. They keep saying General Petraeus is looking to September. But it would not be surprising, Lou, if they decide that it needs to be pushed back a bit.

DOBBS: As we have learned throughout this entire experience in Iraq.

Thank you very much, Suzanne Malveaux, from the White House.

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

General Grange, the White House may not be surprised, but I have to believe a lot of Americans are, and particularly the Democratically-led Congress, to hear the No. 2 general in Iraq say, you know, sure, the president and General David Petraeus have given us until September, but I think we may need more time.

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET), U.S. ARMY: I think they all realize they may need more time, and the benchmark accomplishments that are going to be put out in September may be a negative report. It may not be a positive report. I think it will be somewhat positive.

But, remember, Ray Odierno is only part of the assessment. It's not his assessment. It's his, it's Ambassador Crocker's, it's Petraeus, it's the secretary of defense. It's that package that's going to report.

DOBBS: Well, what about the idea of the commander in chief replacing that package? When he lays out a definitive schedule, his emissaries are telling the Iraqi government, the United States -- the American people have limited patience, while this president and this administration are asking the American people for more patience. Is it time for people to be accountable?

GRANGE: Well, of course. And all these commanders and these civilian leaders from the State Department are accountable. They're accountable not only to the president, but they're also accountable to the American people and the Congress. So we'll see what happens.

DOBBS: Who was the last general fired for the failure to achieve any success in Iraq?

GRANGE: Well, we both know that hasn't happened.

DOBBS: Right. And that seems like a necessary feature of accountability.

This is becoming a tortured experience for America on any terms, but the fact that this administration, the civilian leadership and the generals, are unable to do much more than ask the American people for patience and bluster about the need for political and economic resolution as the leaders of the military. I mean, it's becoming something of, at best, an Orwellian experience.

GRANGE: Lou, it has. And what we're going to see, I think, is, as these negotiations go on, to establish some collaborations with different vetted insurgent groups. Obviously, it's better than to kill people if you can do it. But don't forget, Iranians' influence in the equation when these negotiations with insurgent groups take place.

DOBBS: Well, you just mentioned one element of success that we can see as a result of the Iraq Study Group. At least this administration, this government, has now began to talk with Iran and open at least a beginning of dialogue with Syria. General David Grange, thank you very much.

GRANGE: My pleasure, Lou.

DOBBS: Turning now to homeland security and the failure of customs and border protection agents to stop an American with highly dangerous tuberculosis from entering this country from Canada. The agents allowed the man, Andrew Speaker, into the United States, despite the fact that his passport triggered an alert on their computer system.

Jeanne Meserve has our report.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Andrew Speaker and his wife arrived at the Champlain, New York, border crossing on Thursday, May 24th. According to a homeland security official, at 6:17 P.M. a customs and border protection officer swiped Speaker's passport through an electronic reader, and an alert displayed on the officer's computer screen.

But Speaker was not stopped. In less than two minutes he was waved across the border.

MICHAEL CUTLER, FORMER INS AGENT: If this guy could get through, who the question is who might also be able to get through? Whether it's someone with a communicable disease, whether it is somebody who is wanted because of being a suspected terrorist. The system has holes in it.

MESERVE: The Centers for Disease Control had informed customs and border protection on May 22nd, two days earlier, that Speaker should be stopped, isolated, and public health authorities notified. The information had been put out to all ports of entry, including Champlain, and the lookout for Speaker showed up on the frontline officer's computer screen instantaneously and in an obvious way, according to a homeland official.

Even the finest and most well-regarded law enforcement agencies in the world will experience human error, says the official. Our personnel understand they have to be right 100 percent of the time. The Champlain port of entry is the fourth busiest on the U.S./Canadian border, processing more than 10,000 people every day, and some believe the pressure on border officers to move people and products quickly could have been a factor in this incident.


MESERVE: Senator Charles Schumer says the incident shows that border officers are understaffed and overworked along the northern border, although investigations into exactly what went wrong and why have reached no firm conclusions.

In the meantime, the officer who cleared Speaker into the country has been moved to administrative duties. Lou?

DOBBS: And, Jeanne, your suggestion within that report, the suggestion of the customs and border patrol. The emphasis, let's be very clear, right now on our borders with Canada and Mexico are to expedite the movement of people and commercial goods, supporting trade over security.

MESERVE: Well, there are many people who feel that that is the case. The Department of Homeland Security would tell you something different. They say they're trying to balance the two.

DOBBS: Well, I don't see how one balances the preeminence of national security and border security against any other concern whatsoever. That may be my failure of insight.

Thank you very much, Jeanne Meserve, an excellent report.

Coming up next here, new concerns that the federal government is refusing to acknowledge the rising threat from the import of dangerous seafood products. We'll have that special report. We'll tell you what your government is doing. Or not doing about it.

Congress facing a backlash from their constituents. Those voters are furious with the elected official they put in office with a grand compromise on illegal immigration reform.

And are the United States and Russia headed toward a new arms race? Russia, aggressively modernizing its nuclear forces, accusing the United States of launching the arms race. That report and a great deal more straight ahead. Stay with us.


DOBBS: This may surprise you. This country now imports more than 80 percent of its seafood, and most of it originates in Asia and Latin America. Fish that was fed contaminated ingredients from communist China has already entered the U.S. food supply. But as Bill Tucker now reports, this country barely inspects a half of one percent of those imports.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): American consumption of seafood is near an all-time high. Almost all of it, 81 percent, is imported. And almost none of it is inspected. Less than two percent of imported seafood gets physically looked at, and just one-half of one percent is subjected to a lab test.

WENONAH HAUTER, FOOD AND WATER WATCH: It is dangerous. We're talking about things like salmonella, listeria, dangerous bacteria. There are veterinary drugs like, chloraphenycol an antibiotic that has serious health side-effects, that is banned in the United States. There are toxics, and there's just plain filth.

TUCKER: America's per capita consumption of seafood is 16.2 pounds. What's tested equals about an ounce and a half or about half a serving of fish. American consumers are vulnerable, and if the lack of testing isn't a big enough problem.

Domestic shrimpers suspect there's a more troubling practice. Where rejected seafood is simply moved to another port. They call it port shopping.

JOHN WILLIAMS, SOUTHERN SHRIMP ALLIANCE: They take it out of one port, relabel it, bring it into another port with a 99 percent chance of getting in.

TUCKER: The Southern Shrimper's Association has their own answer to the problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take heart. Now you have a choice.

Imported pond raised.

Not for me.

Or wild American shrimp.

Ask for wild American shrimp.

The shrimp you thought you were eating.

TUCKER: There is a choice. The European union inspects a minimum of 20 percent of imported seafood. And if a problem is found, they inspect 100 percent of the seafood from the country with the problem. The Food and Drug Administration has said it can only do what its budget will allow.

This year, the budget for inspecting foreign seafood processing facilities was zeroed out by Congress.


TUCKER: But we only know that because Food and Water Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request on the FDA's budget. The FDA did not return our phone calls today, Lou.

DOBBS: You know, that hurts my feelings. More and more of these federal agencies are not returning our phone calls.

TUCKER: I can't imagine why.

DOBBS: I can't either. You know, what kind of government, in this case ours, can't even keep up with the European Union, which has been -- there was a time that this country set the standard of consumer safety, consumer protection. We're setting the standard in just utter incompetence. Bill, thank you very much. Bill Tucker, we'll continue to follow this one, for sure.

Federal officials say melamine, from this country has now been found in animal feed, as well. The toxic chemical was used by Tembec, a Canadian-based company that has a small plant located in Toledo, Ohio.

Officials say Tembec used melamine in ingredients in ingredients that were used in feed for farm fish, shrimp, and livestock. Much as the Chinese did. The FDA says the levels found in Tembec's products are, however, far lower than the levels found in wheat flour from communist China.

That would be an improvement, I guess. We could take some silver lining from that.

Time now for some of your thoughts. Maria in Illinois said: "Lou you know they're serious about border security when they may use up to 200 border patrol agents to provide security for presidential candidates."

Stephen in Georgia said: "Hi Lou, there is nothing new about the Z visa since the last election the Congress and the Senate have been on a ZZZZZZ visa."

And Jay in North Carolina: "We should be worried that the terrorists will follow us home if we leave Iraq. They certainly won't have any trouble crossing our borders. I recommend the one with Mexico."

We'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast.

And a programming note to share with you tonight. Please join us this coming Sunday for our special edition of LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. We begin at 5:00 p.m. Eastern until 7:00 p.m. Eastern. We will be in New Hampshire for the Democratic presidential debate. We're something of a lounge act for the main event. We'll be examining where the candidates stand on the critical issues facing this nation. And we'll be back in New Hampshire Tuesday on June 5th for another special program just before the debate. Those debates air both nights beginning at 7:00 p.m. We hope you'll be with us.

Coming up next, the main suspect in the death of a former Russian spy in London now blaming the British government. And the war of words between Russia and the United States is escalating. Is this all about a new arms race? We'll have that report.

And the new grand compromise on illegal immigration is being compared, quite unfavorably, I might add, to the 1986 immigration reform bill. I'll be talking with one of the sponsors of the legislation, former Senator Alan Simpson. He will tell us what happened then, what he expects now. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Vladimir Putin and George Bush aren't getting along. The Russians, in fact, are accusing the United States of what they call "the uncontained use of hyper force." The United States calls that -- are you ready? Because the State Department is very strong on this. They call that statement "ludicrous." And as Katie Pilgrim reports, these tensions may, in the view of some, indicate the beginning of a new arms race.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Relations between the United States and Russia are at a low point. President Putin threatened to upgrade Russia's missile arsenal. He said Russia's missile test this week is a direct response to the United States starting a new arms race.

In Germany, Condoleezza Rice snapped in return.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: If the Russians are going to continue to upgrade their ballistic missile program, that's their choice.

PILGRIM: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested it's no accident that planned U.S. missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic is on Russia's border. "So far, the only thing we're hearing is, oh, no, do not be afraid. It is not aimed at you," he said.

In a speech this month, Putin compared U.S. power to Nazi Germany, saying disrespect for human life, claims to global exclusiveness, just as it was in the time of the Third Reich.

Rice has recently taken a confrontational approach with the Russians. Russians today leaked a recording of her private meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, in which she repeatedly interrupts and disagrees.

CLIFF KUPCHAN, EURASIA GROUP: We're at the point where the level of animosity could escalate into an uncontrolled spiral that neither intends, and certainly both would suffer from.

PILGRIM: On a recent trip to Russia, Rice also criticized Russia's backsliding on press freedom. She had a public meeting with the son of Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered after being critical of Kremlin policy.


PILGRIM: The relationship between President Bush and President Putin will be under a microscope in the next few weeks. They'll meet in Germany in early June for a G-8 session, and then President Putin is invited to Kennebunkport on the 1st of July for a less public meeting with President Bush, and that meeting is clearly designed to help mend some of these tensions -- Lou. DOBBS: A meeting in which I'm sure both men will look deeply into one another's eyes and come up with the architecture of a brilliant geopolitical relationship between the two countries.

Katie, thank you very much. Katie Pilgrim.

The man British authorities say poisoned a former Russian spy now claims the British government may have been involved in his death. Andrei Lugovoi says Alexander Litvinenko was working as a British spy. Lugovoi says the British may have murdered him because he was no longer useful. Litvinenko died of radiation poisoning in London, and Lugovoi is the principal suspect by the British.

Coming up here next, voters have had a belly full of the Senate's grand compromise on illegal immigration reform. They've had a belly full of not being represented by the people they put in office. They have had a belly full of the nonsense. They're hearing from their constituents while they hang out at home. We'll have that special report.

And will Congress learn anything from the failed 1986 immigration reform legislation? I'll be talking with former Senator Alan Simpson, one of the two sponsors of the '86 law. He joins us, and a former top Border Patrol agent will also be here to give us his perspective.

And former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. You're not going to believe this. These two high-powered Republicans are big supporters of that comprehensive immigration reform. Golly, I would have thought they would have broken ranks with the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable. Well, they're using statistics on tacos and hot dog consumptions to bolster their argument. We'll tell you about this new round and what they want to make into a food fight. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Another pro-amnesty lobbying group today demanding the federal government stop enforcing U.S. immigration law. You probably thought they weren't enforcing those laws. Most people have the same view.

But this lobbying group wants the government to wait until Congress passes legislation that would grant legal status to millions of illegal aliens before they enforce any kind of law.

Casey Wian has the story.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Proclaiming a new era of civil rights, the Quaker Church's American Friends Service Committee joined other pro-amnesty groups to demand that the federal government halt immigration raids and stop deporting illegal aliens.

WILL COLEY, AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE: As a person of faith, I'm concerned that we're not recognizing people's basic humanity and trying to punish people for a law that was -- is out of date, much like, you know, slavery was -- was legal at one point.

WIAN: These pro-amnesty advocates not only equate illegal immigration with slavery; they also say the Senate's proposed grand compromise immigration reform bill makes it too easy for the federal government to deport gang members.

And they're complaining the bill would allow indefinite incarceration of criminal foreigners whose home countries won't take them back. But, most of all, they want an end to the detention and removal of all but the most serious criminal illegal aliens.

JOHN AYALA, AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION: We're trying to solve the problem, but we're only creating more problems by enforcing, aggressively enforcing, the -- these -- the immigration laws, while a debate is -- an active debate is pending which would allow for legalization.

WIAN: There has been a recent increase in immigration law enforcement away from the border. But it's not as dramatic as pro- illegal-alien activists suggest.

During the first six-and-a-half months of fiscal year 2007, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported just over 125,000 illegal aliens. At that pace, alien removals will increase by about 19 percent this year. About a third of those deportations involved criminal illegal aliens.


WIAN: Now, assuming there are 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens in the United States today, the ICE removal statistics show noncriminal illegal aliens have about a 99 percent chance of not being deported -- Lou.


DOBBS: Say that one more time, because...

WIAN: Ninety-nine percent chance they will not be deported. We're deploying about 125,000 noncriminal illegal aliens a year.


WIAN: There's 12 million. I did the math a few times, and it works out to less than a 1 percent chance -- Lou.


DOBBS: Well, you can understand why the Quakers, or the Catholics, or anybody else would be pretty excited about that, because, when the government gets ahold of something by the tune of just about 1 percent, whether it's 1 percent in expecting food, about a 1 percent success ratio in a host of other areas, you know, it's time to really ask this government to slow down, isn't it?

(LAUGHTER) WIAN: In their view, it is.


DOBBS: Casey, thank you very much.


DOBBS: Casey Wian from Los Angeles.

The Senate is in recess this week, and those senators are back in their home states, hearing from their constituents, and explaining their grand compromise on illegal immigration to those voters who put them into office.

For some lawmakers, it's more than a hard sell.

Lisa Sylvester has the story.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There were plenty of "Just say no" signs. U.S. citizens, black and white, joined with legal immigrants to protest the Senate immigration bill.

SUE KING, RESIDENT OF GEORGIA: I think it's a really horrible piece of legislation. It's not even required. If they would just enforce the current laws that are on the book, we wouldn't be having this problem.

SYLVESTER: About 50 people gathered outside Senator Saxby Chambliss' Georgia office. Chambliss is one of a handful of Republican senators siding with liberal Democrats on the so-called comprehensive immigration plan.

The senator is now the target of angry constituents and political up-and-comers. DeKalb County County executive Vernon Jones is seeking Chambliss' Senate seat.

VERNON JONES, RESIDENT OF GEORGIA: If he had listened to what people were saying, and not a few people in Washington in the backroom, and craft legislation without people having some debate, I think they would have come across -- come down on a whole new different side of this issue.

SYLVESTER: Chambliss, along with Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Mel Martinez, Johnny Isakson, and Jon Kyl have faced a heap of criticism at home.


SYLVESTER: After protest in Kyl's home state of Arizona, he remarked to the Gannett News Service, "I have learned some new words from some of my constituents."

DAN STEIN, PRESIDENT, FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: We have overwhelming public opposition to this legislation. Senators are ducking, running for cover. They're looking for ways to avoid town meetings, looking for ways to avoid public appearances, because they don't want to hear what the voters have to say about this.

SYLVESTER: While protesters gathered outside Chambliss' district office, he was miles away in another part of the state at Fort Stewart.

Fellow Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson was also unavailable, due to a dentist appointment.


SYLVESTER: Senator John Kyl is safe in his home district. He was just reelected, and doesn't have to face the voters again until 2012. But Senator Saxby Chambliss and Lindsey Graham are up for reelection next year, a point their constituents like to remind them of -- Lou.


It -- as a matter of fact, Senator Kyl, it's no accident he took the lead here. He not only was safely reelected. He doesn't want to be -- he says he won't be running for reelection. So, he was a pretty safe bet.

But it's also the reason that his constituents back in Arizona are calling him nothing more than a turncoat, and they feel extraordinarily betrayed.

It's going to be fun to -- to watch what happens here. I love the dental appointment. Was that Chambliss or was that...

SYLVESTER: That was -- that was Johnny Isakson.

DOBBS: Johnny Isakson.

SYLVESTER: We called and asked for an interview, but they said he was having a dental procedure done, and would not be available today.

DOBBS: I -- I had one of those today, too, so I can at least commiserate.


DOBBS: But, you know, at least I think he should make some time for his constituents.

All right, Lisa, thank you very much.

Here we go again.


DOBBS: The Senate's immigration legislation is bringing into focus an earlier attempt at reform. Some of the same language, some of the same faces are debating this end of illegal immigration, they say, and this reform of a broken legal system, truly, echoes from the past.

Christine Romans reports now on the ghosts, the lessons, the specters and failures of the 1986 amnesty.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The stroke of a pen on November 6, 1986, was supposed to end illegal immigration in America.


RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Future generations of Americans will be thankful for our efforts to humanely regain control of our borders, and, thereby, preserve the value of one of the most sacred possessions of our people, American citizenship.


ROMANS: Workplace enforcement and stepped-up border security in exchange for amnesty for just under three million -- in the Senate debate, a sense amnesty could only be offered once.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, September 1986)

SEN. ALAN SIMPSON (R), WYOMING: Because you know, every one of you here, that we will never grant a separate legalization to these unfortunate people unless we know it isn't going to happen again.


ROMANS: And the suggestion that that bill was better than no bill at all.


REP. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: And the bill was a gamble. Nobody is certain it's going to work. Everyone was certain the present situation is just terrible. And, so, if it doesn't work, we will have to go back to the drawing board.


ROMANS: The concerns then, as now, businesses fearing cumbersome requirements, others saying there weren't enough teeth in workplace enforcement, and warnings of racial profiling.


REVEREND JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: The bill would stigmatize anyone with a foreign accent or appearance.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: More than 20 years and a new wave of illegal immigration later, the concern today:

REP. DAN LUNGREN (R), CALIFORNIA: What we do now, does it create a repetition of what we did in '86, with the idea that, instead of settling things, it acts as an encouragement for more people to come into this country illegally?

ROMANS: Lungren was a floor manager for the 1986 bill.


ROMANS: Even today, some of the architects of that 1986 amnesty insist it was a good effort, a good bill, but they complain successive administrations never enforced the law. Some of the same people today have the same concerns then, but a hope, Lou, that, this time, somehow, it will turn out better.

DOBBS: A hope?

This is -- let's be honest. I mean, the same names, whether it's Kennedy or whoever it is, these are the people who gutted enforcement from the '86 amnesty. This was the selling of a merchandisable and laudable idea in 1986.

But everything that was said then suggests that anyone who buys into this nonsense today is an abject fool.

ROMANS: The ties are a little wider. The lapels are a little different, the hairstyles and some more gray hair, but it's the same words. It's the same words.

DOBBS: And I love the language, the same language, coming in from the shadows.

You know, as George Will just mentioned in one of his columns, he talks about coming in from the shadows, making fun of that expression, and then refers to a CNN report in which we were talking -- interviewing a -- -- one of our camera crews and reporters interviewing an illegal alien, been in the country, I believe, 12 years. Some shadow that they're in.

The rhetoric is absurd, as is the legislation.

Christine, thank you very much -- Christine Romans.

Let's take a look at our poll tonight. Or poll is: Do you believe Congress has learned anything from the mistakes of the 1986 amnesty bill, yes or no? Cast your vote at We will have the results here later.

Up next, we will have two perspectives from veterans of that 1986 amnesty law, Senator Alan Simpson, one of bill's architects and sponsors, and Bill King, former chief Border Patrol agent. He was responsible for administering the results of that legislation. We will have his perspective on that and this current effort. And two leading Republicans, Ken Mehlman and former Governor Jeb Bush, related to the president, they make it clear why they want this Senate comprehensive immigration reform legislation to pass. You are not even going to believe what they said. Food fight, anyone?

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Two high-ranking Republicans today making a partisan appeal for support of the Senates' grand compromise on immigration reform.

Former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, brother to the president, in a commentary in "The Wall Street Journal" op-ed pages today said -- quote -- "The legislation will be good for the GOP. Hispanic Americans are natural Republicans. Hispanics are also the fastest growing segment of our population."

And to support all of that, they go on to say that salsa outsells ketchup, and tacos outsell hot dogs.

Just to interject one little problem with that, I eat more tacos than I do hot dogs, and I have every bit as much salsa as ketchup. So, I'm not sure they want to go with that, but there they went with it anyway.

But it's as good an argument as any other to support this legislation, I suppose.

The Senate's 1986 amnesty was known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act. Former Senator Alan Simpson joins me now.

He's here tell us about what he thinks of the Senate's current attempt at amnesty.

And, Senator, it is always good to talk with you. We're glad that you could take time to be with us.

SIMPSON: Well, I have been listening, and I heard you say you had a bellyful of this, and a bellyful of that, and a bellyful of this.


SIMPSON: So, I'm ready. Go ahead. Shoot.




SIMPSON: I used to have a belly, but not anymore.


DOBBS: Well, good for you. I'm -- I'm working on getting mine down a little bit.


DOBBS: But, here, I just want to quote something that Senator Alan Simpson said back in 1986.

You said: "There will be tremendous administration problems."

And we should put this up, so folks can see what the senator said.

And, by the way, I want to say, before anything else, I think Senator Simpson is one of the finest senators to ever serve this country. He said, "There will be tremendous administration problems, but it will sure as hell be a lot better than what we have got now."

Well, you know, we're hearing about the same thing for some folks right now.

What do you think of this new effort?

SIMPSON: Well, I have been watching it, but the bill we did -- and it was a bipartisan bill. That's -- that's what's being forgotten.

I was really quite disturbed at the last comments there about a Republican bill...


SIMPSON: ... or a Democrat bill, you are not going to have immigration reform.

DOBBS: Right.

SIMPSON: Mazzoli was a Democrat.

Rodino, one of the great respected members...

DOBBS: Sure.

SIMPSON: ... of the House, a Democrat -- this is absurd. You can't do this.

I never did -- I never got involved in a Republican immigration bill. You do something for the national interest...

DOBBS: Right.

SIMPSON: ... and forget parties.

But the reason the bill didn't work -- and I was the first to admit it after I saw what happened -- we never could get a more secure identifier.

DOBBS: Right.

SIMPSON: The last night of the session in the House, Ed Roybal, a wonderful guy, passionate guy...


SIMPSON: ... congressman from California, got up and gave the Nazi Germany speech. It also had tattoos.


SIMPSON: It talked about Nazi Germany. It talked about the Holocaust, and the -- and we -- and they removed from the bill, that night, just before midnight...

DOBBS: Right.

SIMPSON: ... the whole guts of -- of the more secure identifier.

And dear old Joe Moakley, a Democrat in Massachusetts, called a special meeting of the Rules Committee, and for me, a Republican, put some of it back in. That was all disappeared. There is no cooperation. It's who is diddling who. And I will tell you, it's disgusting to watch.

DOBBS: Yes. I -- as a matter of fact, the employee enforcement provisions, eviscerated.


DOBBS: Border Patrol enforcement, eviscerated.

SIMPSON: There are flash words. There are flash words, Lou. The flash words are national I.D.

DOBBS: Right.

SIMPSON: Anyone who uses that. The flash words are the Statue of Liberty. Anyone talking about honest, authentic, immigration reform that's true as a die and an arrow, will be called a racist, a xenophobe, and a bigot.

DOBBS: Oh, yes, absolutely.

And that -- that are the...


DOBBS: You know, those are some -- for some reason, I hear those familiar refrains...


DOBBS: ... because... SIMPSON: Yes.

DOBBS: ... what I have said, Senator -- and I want to ask you this, because I -- as I said, I have got great respect...


DOBBS: ... for your judgment, your wisdom.

I have said that you can't -- and let's put this in the context of the 1986 immigration -- the amnesty. I have said -- created just a straightforward syllogism. I have said, you can't reform immigration laws in this country if you can't control immigration.

And you can't control immigration if you don't control our borders and our ports. And I have said that, if anyone will defeat the logic of that syllogism, I will sign on to whatever the heck they have got to offer.

What do you think?

SIMPSON: Well, I will buy the -- I will buy the drinks at Cassie's Supper Club, too...


SIMPSON: ... because that is absolutely correct.

The first duty of a sovereign nation is to control its borders. This isn't about xenophobia and racism and all this ugly stuff. And, if you want to know about a little country in our northern hemisphere that really controls its southern border, check Mexico. They don't like anybody coming through there...

DOBBS: That's right.

SIMPSON: ... and then come to us...

DOBBS: Right.

SIMPSON: ... and tell us that we're not doing it right. Interesting stuff.

DOBBS: Well, Senator, we appreciate you taking the time to be with us. I hope you will come back here soon. We can talk a lot more about than immigration. And I always enjoy your views.

SIMPSON: Oh, we will. We will talk about your -- we will talk about your love of salsa vs. ketchup.

DOBBS: Well, I -- you know, in my weight class, I love them both.


SIMPSON: I do, too. DOBBS: Senator Simpson, good to have you with us.

SIMPSON: Take care.

DOBBS: Take care.

SIMPSON: It's a pleasure.

DOBBS: A reminder now to vote in our poll. The question is: Do you believe Congress has learned anything from the mistakes of the 1986 amnesty bill, yes or no? Please cast your vote at We will have the results coming here -- coming up here shortly. Easy enough for me to say.

Former senior Border Patrol agent and Immigration and Naturalization Service Regional Director Bill King joins us to tell us why the amnesty law of '86 didn't work, which he had to administer, and why this new one isn't likely to work much better.

Stay with us. We will be right back.


DOBBS: Two border state governors today complaining the Bush administration is shipping needed Border Patrol agents from their borders to Iraq to train Iraqi security forces.

Arizona's governor, Janet Napolitano, New Mexico's governor, presidential candidate Bill Richardson, sent a letter to the secretary of state, saying, "The administration needs to decide whose security is more important, America's or Iraq's."

Both governors are Democrats, Governor Richardson, of course, a candidate for the Democratic presidential election. That in no way diminishes, at least in my view, the logic of their statement.

Critics of the new amnesty legislation compare it to the failed immigration law of 1986. Bill King is one of those critics. King was senior Border Patrol agent and, later, regional director for the Immigration and Naturalization Service during the 1986 amnesty, joining us tonight from California.

Good to have you with us, Bill.

The -- the idea that 1986 -- let's -- first, your view. The 1986 amnesty legislation, did it create more problems or solve more problems?


And, in fact, going back to the '86 program, it was the largest program ever undertaken by the INS up to that point. Logistically, it was a nightmare. And that was just simply to process, roughly, 3.1 million people.

The size and magnitude of this current plan is, to me, unmanageable.

DOBBS: Right.

KING: I don't think the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services is in a position to handle it.

DOBBS: Well, you know, even the head of CIS has basically admitted as much. No one, of course, in the Senate, the Democratic leadership, or the White House wants to acknowledge that.

But let me ask you this. Why in the world, in your judgment, could the United States government not secure its borders from 1986 to the -- to current day?

KING: Lack of political will.

I have listened to promises for the last 50 years about how the border situation is going to be improved, how interior enforcement will work. None of it has ever happened. As you know, the employer sanctions bill in the '86 program was a dismal failure. I can see nothing more than the same thing happening again with this new program.

DOBBS: And, so, when this president, Senator Kennedy, the Democratic leadership in the Senate tell us that we are going to see 18,000 Border Patrol agents, you're not buying it?

KING: No, sir.

Look back to the last election cycle, when President Bush was promising 10,000 new Border Patrol agents, at the rate of 2,000 a year for five years. That didn't happen. I doubt that we will see 18,000 Border Patrol agents.

We have 6,000 National Guardsmen down there on the border now. They're serving -- serving in secondary roles. And, as far as I'm concerned, they should be trained to interdict both the drugs coming into this country and the illegal aliens.

DOBBS: Right.

And give us your best assessment, Bill, if you will. From your perspective and your experience, what would it take to secure that border and to secure our ports?

KING: Well, I will tell you, Lou, frankly, three years ago, I, along with another friend of mine, put together a petition to the president to put the military on the border.

We have the best-trained, best-equipped troops in the world.


KING: They do what they're told. They do it well. And that's...


KING: ... the only short-term solution available.

DOBBS: Well, instead, Bill, as you know, if I may use this expression, some bozo in this administration came up with a brilliant idea, instead of doing that, to send the Border Patrol agents to Iraq.

But you got to love government work, right?

KING: Well, I'm not sure I do...


KING: ... any longer.

DOBBS: Right.

KING: It's -- it's just totally out of hand.


KING: The American public is paying the price for all of it, and it will...


KING: ... only get worse.

DOBBS: And the idea of the nation's sovereignty seems to be not even in the top 10 of any priority on the part of most of our elected officials in Washington, unfortunately.

Bill King, a great pleasure to have you with us tonight.


DOBBS: We -- and we hope we can talk again soon.

KING: Well, thank you very much. It was a pleasure.

DOBBS: Bill King.

Coming up at the top of the hour, "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER" -- Wolf.


Relatives of the tuberculosis patient at the center of that international health scare are speaking out tonight, revealing some shocking new details. What kind of legal trouble could he be facing over his travels that put hundreds of people at risk?

Also, one U.S. governor demanding answers from President Bush before he sends National Guard troops from his state to Iraq, will he refuse orders to deploy his soldiers? And some major holes in the government's so-called doomsday plan that could -- some say, could leave the U.S. government without leadership in the event of another terror attack -- all that, Lou, coming up right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Wolf.

Coming up next: some of your thoughts on my -- my column today, in which I have a few choice words for a few of my critics. As they say, every dog has his fleas.

Stay with us. We will be right back.


DOBBS: The result of our poll tonight, 98 percent of you say Congress has not learned anything from the mistakes of the 1986 amnesty law.

Let's take a look at more of your thoughts. Hundreds...


DOBBS: ... of you e-mailed me about my column today, in which I answered my critics, in response to a nasty "New York Times" column run yesterday criticizing reporting -- some of the reporting on this broadcast, a couple of reports over the last four years.

Alan in Wisconsin said: "Lou, I would like to thank you and your whole staff for your efforts and straightforward, no-B.S. reports. And I assure you that the majority of the honest, hardworking, legal middle class really appreciate everything you do for us and our country. So, do your best, as we know you do. Forget the left and the right, and just do your thing right down the middle, with honesty, compassion and integrity."

We will sure try.

And J.C. in Maryland said: "As a recovering Republican, now independent moderate, I generally find your views and positions to be rational, supportable, and important to the nation. Please don't let them wear you down. We need you to wear them down.

I will sure try again.

And Patrick in Delaware: "Your column 'An Answer For My Critics' was excellent. It reminds me of something I heard before. While delivering a state on a whistle-stop tour in Seattle, a supporter yelled to President Harry Truman, 'Give 'em hell, Harry.' And Truman responded: 'I don't give them hell. I just tell the truth, and they think it's hell.'"

And Neil in Pennsylvania: "Lou, if you didn't repeatedly have to defend yourself from both the right and the left, then how would I know I could trust your broadcast? Keep up the good work."

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts to

And we thank you for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow.

For all of us, we thank you for watching. Good night from New York.

"THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER" begins right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lou.


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