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General Says Iraq Surge Necessary; GOP Senators Break Ranks with Bush; Appeals Court Throws out Wiretapping Lawsuit; U.K. Terror Suspects May Have Considered U.S. Attacks; Microsoft Circumvents U.S. Visa Restrictions; Secretary Rice Meets with Canadian, Mexican Counterparts to Discuss Partnership; Border Patrol Agents Recruited for Iraq Duty

Aired July 6, 2007 - 18:00   ET


KITTY PILGRIM, HOST: Thanks, Suzanne.
Tonight, Microsoft escalates its war against what's left of our middle class. The company planning a new software development center, not in the United States but in another country.

Also, new concerns the Bush administration is pushing forward with plans to create what amounts to a North American Union, what critics call a new America.

And wanted in Iraq, a few good men and women from our Border Patrol, even though there are gaping holes in our border security.

All that and much more, straight ahead tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion, for Friday, July 6. Live from New York, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Kitty Pilgrim.

PILGRIM: Good evening, everybody.

We begin tonight with the war in Iraq and a new warning about the potential consequences of a quick U.S. withdrawal. Another military commander, Major General Rick Lynch, today said an abrupt U.S. withdrawal would create, quote, "a mess" in Iraq.

He's the second general to issue a warning about a quick withdrawal in two days. Now, those generals apparently now on a collision course with congressional critics of this war.

Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon -- Jamie.


Two generals, two days two impassioned pleas not to pull the plug on the surge.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): Asked what will happen if the so-called surge is cut short and Major General Rick Lynch will mince no words.

MAJ. GEN. RICK LYNCH, U.S. ARMY: There would be a mess, Jamie. It would be a mess.

MCINTYRE: Lynch and his counterpart to the north, Major General Benjamin Mixon, are showing a united front in calling for more time to build on successful operations like this one.

U.S. paratroopers on a nighttime air assault clearly destroyed three al Qaeda safe houses near Iskandariyah.

LYNCH: We need these surge forces. They came in for a reason. They're being used for the reason they came in. It's going to take some time to mature the situation over time.

We can turn the area over to Iraqi security forces, and then we'll be ready to do something that looks like a withdrawal. But that's not going to happen any time soon.

MCINTYRE: That's not what many members of Congress want to hear, including a growing number of disenchanted Republicans. And they're not likely to be cheered by the Pentagon's latest quarterly Iraq progress report, due out in a week. It will show a mixed bag of small successes, tempered by big problems, especially the lack of Iraqi political reconciliation.

ANTHONY CORDESMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: The truth is that September is too soon. An honest assessment of the Iraqi police, of the Iraqi army, tells you that if you wish to really make this work, you have to be patient enough to at least test this well into 2008.


MCINTYRE: So what's shaping up here is a real disconnect between the Washington clock, what's been dubbed the Washington clock, which is creating real pressure to bring the troops home and the so-called Baghdad clock, which U.S. commanders say will require much more time to ensure success -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Jamie, are the views of General Mixon and General Lynch shared by other officers? Is there, like, 100 percent support for the surge in the Army and the Marine Corps.

MCINTYRE: I'm not sure that anyone has taken a poll of all of the officers. But if you talk to the ground commanders who are actually involved in the surge, they seem to believe that this is working and that the biggest threat to it is stopping it too soon.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Jamie McIntyre.

Two more of our troops have been killed in Iraq. One in combat, the other in a non-battle-related incident. Fifteen of our troops have been killed so far this month; 3,593 of our troops have been killed since this war began; 26,558 have been wounded, 11,559 seriously.

The rising number of casualties in Iraq is helping drive anti-war sentiment on Capitol Hill. Several leading Republican senators have broken ranks with President Bush over his conduct of the war. Now, the latest is Senator Pete Domenici, who faces a tough re-election battle next year.

Bill Schneider reports.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): To paraphrase Dr. Samuel Johnson, the prospect of having to pace the voters, like the prospect of being hanged, concentrates the mind wonderfully.

Twenty-one Republican senators have to face the voters next year. Notice what some of them have been doing this year.

January: John Warner introduces a resolution opposing President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq.

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: Mr. President, do you need 21,500 additional men and women of the armed forces in this conflict?

SCHNEIDER: Virginia is a red state, but Warner knows what happened to his Republican colleague, George Allen, last year.

February: Susan Collins of Maine and Norm Coleman of Minnesota vote for the resolution, both blue state Republicans.

March: Gordon Smith of Oregon, a blue state, votes for a resolution calling for a troop redeployment. Smith had broken with the president in December.

SEN. GORDON SMITH (R), OREGON: I am looking for answers, but the current course is unacceptable to this U.S. senator.

SCHNEIDER: April: Chuck Hagel votes for a war spending bill with a timetable for troop withdrawal. Nebraska is a staunchly Republican state, but Hagel says about President Bush...

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: He lost a third of the Republican base on this issue.

SCHNEIDER: June: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and John Sununu of New Hampshire co-sponsor a bill to adopt the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group.

July: Pete Domenici of New Mexico, a swing state, speaks out.

SEN. PETE DOMENICI (R), NEW MEXICO: I am calling for a new strategy that will move our troops out of combat operations and on the path of continuing home.

SCHNEIDER: Domenici recounted what he was told by a constituent who lost his son in Iraq.

DOMENICI: "Now I'm speaking for me, his father," said he. "I'm asking you if you couldn't do a little extra, a little more to see if you can't get the troops back. Mine is dead, but I would surely hope that you would listen to me and try to get the rest of them back sooner."


SCHNEIDER: A lot of senators are home this week, talking to their constituents, and many of them may be hearing the same thing -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Bill, are the red state Democrats who are up for re- election, are they moving the other way?

SCHNEIDER: Well, there are six red state Democrats up for re- election next year, and with one exception, none of them has broken with the Democratic Party or supported the president on the war, at least this year.

The exception: back in March, Mark Pryor of Arkansas voted against the resolution, calling for troop redeployment. So just one.

PILGRIM: Thank you very much, Bill Schneider.

Well, the Bush administration today won a legal victory in the battle over warrantless wiretaps. A federal appeals court in Cincinnati, Ohio, today ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the surveillance program. It was the first appeals court ruling on warrantless wiretaps.

Kathleen Koch in Washington reports -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kitty, this was a clear win for the White House. The appeals court basically saying that the plaintiffs in the case had no standing to sue, because they simply couldn't prove that they themselves had ever been subject to the warrantless wiretapping.

Now, the plaintiff in the case, the ACLU, as well as a group of lawyers, journalists and scholars, say that what this means is the White House if it so chose can go back and now begin -- or could now start monitoring the international calls and e-mails of American citizens without any kind of court oversight.

But after the blistering congressional criticism, the White House in January said that, while this wiretapping program would continue, any wiretapping would be overseen by a special federal intelligence court.

And the White House today has not indicated it has any plans to change that. The only response coming from spokesman Tony Fratto in a statement saying, quote, "We have always believed that the district court's decision declaring the terrorist surveillance program unconstitutional was wrongly -- wrongfully decided. We are pleased to learn that the court of appeals has ordered the plaintiffs' case dismissed."

So a win, Kitty, for the White House and a gift for the president on his 61st birthday.

Back to you.

PILGRIM: Kathleen, what is the reaction from Congress?

KOCH: There was very strong reaction from one lawmaker, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Patrick Leahy put out a blistering statement saying, quote, "The court's decision is a disappointing one that was not made on merits of the case, yet closed the courthouse doors to resolving it."

He goes on to say, quote, "I hope the Bush administration will finally provide the information requested by Congress regarding the constitutional and legal questions about the program so those of us who represent the American people can get to the bottom of what happened and why."

And that is a reference to subpoenas that Congress has issued for e-mails and other documents that basically support the administration's legal reasoning for the program -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Kathleen Koch.

Well, there are new concerns tonight that radical Islamist terrorists in Britain may be planning attacks against targets in this country. Two suspects in the failed car bombing in Britain made inquiries about working in the United States.

Separately, British police today charged one of the suspected terrorists with conspiracy to cause explosions.

Jill Dougherty reports from Washington.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): According to the FBI, two suspects in the British car bombings looked into the possibility of working as doctors in the United States, contacting the Philadelphia-based Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.

Apparently, however, they did not take the test for med school graduates, and never came to the U.S.

Muslim physicians in the United States, meanwhile, are condemning the U.K. attacks.

DR. ASMA MOBIN-UDDIN, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: I actually was shocked to hear about the plot. I was angry. I really felt sick -- a sick feeling inside that physicians, people from my own profession, could be guilty, suspected of being guilty of such heinous acts. I really couldn't believe it.

DOUGHERTY: The number of foreign-born doctors in the U.S. is growing because the country needs them. (on camera) The United States has a shortage of medical personnel. And about a quarter of all physicians working in the United States are international medical graduates, according to the American Medical Association.

(voice-over) In order to work in the U.S., foreign medical professionals must have an H1-B visa, which is meant for highly skilled professionals. The Department of Homeland Security says doctors get the same kind of screening that a computer specialist or lawyer would, including fingerprinting, and a face-to-face interview at the U.S. embassy in their own country.

Their names are run through what's called the Interagency Border Inspection System, crosschecking a number of law enforcement and security databases.

If they get a visa, they're checked by Customs and Border Protection and fingerprinted again as they enter the U.S.

Homeland security says it is not planning any changes to H1-B visa regulations at this time.

Dr. Khalique Zahir of the Islamic Medical Association of North America agrees the checks are thorough.

DR. KHALIQUE ZAHIR, ISLAMIC MEDICAL ASSOCIATION OF NORTH AMERICA: It's very difficult already for many foreign medical doctors to immigrate to this country and to get the training they need. It's because significantly different since 9/11.

Other than the basic backgrounds that they do, I don't know what more needs to be done.

DOUGHERTY: Dr. Zahir says the U.K. attack should not reflect on Muslim physicians in the U.S. Terrorism is contrary to Islam, he says, and contrary to Islamic medical ethics.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, Washington.


PILGRIM: Now more evidence tonight that radical Islamist doctors may be planning attacks in this country. A group of 45 doctors threatened to launch a terrorist attack against Mayport Naval Base in Jacksonville, Florida. That according to "The Daily Telegraph" newspaper in London.

British police found evidence of the plot while investigating the three so-called cyberterrorists in London. A British judge sentenced the three men to long prison terms yesterday for inciting terrorist murder.

Still to come: rising outrage over a federal program to take highly trained border personnel agents away from the borders and send them to Iraq. And Microsoft faces a new barrage of criticism for its failure to create highly paid jobs for middle class Americans. We'll have the story. Stay with us.


PILGRIM: Microsoft tonight is continuing its assault on American middle class workers. The company's efforts to expand the H1-B visa program in the U.S. have been unsuccessful, so Microsoft is opening a new software development center in Canada, where there are fewer restrictions on hiring foreign workers.

Casey Wian has our report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Now that Bill Gates has lost his title as world's richest man to a Mexican billionaire, his company is seeking to expand its fortunes across the border, the northern border.

Microsoft plans to open a software development center in Vancouver. The company's press release freely admits the move is an effort to recruit and retain highly skilled people affected by immigration issues in the U.S.

In other words, to get around U.S. restrictions on H1-B visas for high-tech workers from India, China and elsewhere, Microsoft is expanding in Canada, which has no such limits.

BILL GATES, MICROSOFT CHAIRMAN: We have to welcome the great minds in this world, not shut them out of our country. Unfortunately, our immigration policies are driving away the world's best and brightest, precisely when we need them the most.

WIAN: For months Gates has been trying to persuade the federal government to allow more foreign high-tech workers into the United States. One analyst says Microsoft's Canadian venture may be a form of blackmail.

RON HIRA, ROCHESTER INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Unfortunately, they've chosen to advocate for unlimited H1-Bs, when it's clear the H1-B program has been corrupted, both by outsourcing firms as well as by cheap labor.

WIAN: The United States grants about 85,000 H1-B visas for skilled, foreign workers each year. Most of them go to companies that either outsource jobs overseas or choose not to hire Americans.

Microsoft declined to be interviewed on camera but released a statement saying, "Microsoft is a global company, and our greatest asset is smart, talented, highly skilled people. Our goal as a company is to attract the next generation of leading software developers from all parts of the world, and this center will be a beacon for some of that talent."


WIAN: Microsoft plans to hire about 200 new employers in Vancouver this fall. Canadian reports say that could be expanded eventually to about 1,000 people -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Casey, why is Microsoft choosing Vancouver?

WIAN: As opposed to other places in Canada? Vancouver is close to Microsoft headquarters in Washington. And, also, Vancouver has a very large population of immigrants from India and China, the very pool that Microsoft wants to pull its future software engineers from, Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Casey Wian.

Well, a top Canadian official was part of a high-level meeting in Washington today and the plan for the next step for the security and prosperity partnership of North America.

Now officials say it's a program to reduce tariffs and other regulations between the United States, Canada and Mexico. Critics say it's a major threat to our sovereignty and our economy.

Lisa Sylvester has our report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Canadian and Mexican counterparts smile for the cameras.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never have enough pictures.

SYLVESTER: Then they headed behind closed doors to discuss the Security and Prosperity Partnership. Very view details about the partnership have been made public. Officially, the SPP aims to integrate key components of the economies of the United States, Mexico and Canada by 2010.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: It covers the whole waterfront of issues: like I said trade, security, border security, movement of people back and forth across borders.

SYLVESTER: Critics say the United States should be looking to strengthen its borders, in the face of new terrorist threats in the U.K., not trying to erase the borders with Canada and Mexico.

Opponents also worry about the cost to U.S. jobs. And the serious threat to U.S. national sovereignty.

MIKE CUTLER, FORMER INS AGENT: The problem is that the open border folks, the corporations and those who seemingly want to erase the borders, are apparently blinded by greed and all the other motivations that are behind their efforts to take down the border. SPP is a good example of it.

SYLVESTER: The State Department brushed aside those concerns.

MCCORMACK: I haven't heard that criticism. I mean, there are people who are still sort of think NAFTA is a bad idea. But you're going to get that for any given policy. There is always going to be somebody who doesn't like it and has a better idea.

SYLVESTER: Critics respond, saying U.S. national security should not take a back seat to corporate trade and globalization.


SYLVESTER: The Security and Prosperity Partnership has also been criticized in Canada. They worry about similar issues: sovereignty in jobs. But their No. 1 concern is their water supply. Critics there see the SPP as a corporate grab of this precious resource -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Lisa, one other point. What about the move by the Department of Transportation to allow Mexican trucks into this country as part of the SPP?

SYLVESTER: Well, the Department of Transportation had a comment period that just ended at the end of June. They seem to be rolling along with this program, despite the fact that Congress has been trying to put the brakes on it.

Congress passed legislation that was signed by the president, but still the Department of Transportation is moving in that direction, or at least appears to be moving in that direction, Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thank you very much, Lisa Sylvester.

Well, time now for some of your thoughts.

And Shane in Canada wrote to us, "The war on the middle class has come to Canada. Look how sneaky Microsoft has become."

And following a report on dangerous foods and products from China, David in Ohio wrote to us, "My gosh! Why in the world do we buy anything, anything at all, from China?"

Terry in North Carolina wrote to us, "Why in the world would anyone purchase an American flag not made in America? It's bad enough that we buy everything else made in other countries."

We'll have more of your thoughts a little bit later in the broadcast.

A scorching heat wave today continued to grip much of the western United States. The National Weather Service issued wildfire warnings in several states as triple-digit temperatures held on. Now, many people tried to find relief in pools and lakes.

In Phoenix, the mercury climbed to 111 degrees. That city has registered temperatures of 110 or more for 10 straight days. Las Vegas, Nevada, sweltering, 114-degree heat.

Boise, Idaho, 104.

And in Death Valley, California, the temperature stands at 113 degrees and is still rising.

Coming up, a first for Major League Baseball, as the New York Yankees sign two young players. Now, we'll have a report on what makes it a first later in this broadcast.

Also, our Border Patrol agents are in demand to patrol the Iraqi border. We'll tell you who doesn't think that's such a good idea.

Stay with us.


PILGRIM: The number of illegal aliens being caught along our nation's border is down, according to the Border Patrol officials.

Now, along the Mexican border, apprehensions have dropped 24 percent. The officials say that stepped up enforcement is proving to be a deterrent.

Almost 700,000 illegal aliens were stopped by the Border Patrol in the first nine months of the fiscal year. Now, according to the Border Patrol numbers, 92 percent of those apprehended were Mexicans.

The Border Patrol says the end of catch-and-release has led to fewer non-Mexicans attempting to cross the border.

The use 6,000 National Guard troops to patrol the southern border and other enforcement efforts have also contributed to the decline.

There are currently about 12,334 Border Patrol agents. President Bush has authorized an additional 6,000 to be added by the end of 2008, and some in Congress want even more agents added, potentially more than doubling the size of the current force.

Well, in the light of those claims of success, the last thing you would expect is the government removing Border Patrol agents from our nation's boarders. But that's exactly what one government program is trying to do.

Jeanne Meserve has our report.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With waves of illegal immigrants pouring across the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S. border agencies are stretched.

But in the midst of what some call a U.S. immigration crisis, veteran Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers are being asked to volunteer for temporary assignment in Iraq, training and advising Iraqi border officers.

In an April memo, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Ralph Basham wrote, "It is so important that we continue this work that is so critical to success in Iraq."

GOV. JANET NAPOLITANO (D), ARIZONA: That letter really illustrated a confusion of mission. His mission is not Iraq. His mission is the protection of the United States on our borders.

MESERVE: Governor Napolitano wrote Basham a letter, asking him to stop the recruiting program: "It is simply not possible for you to uphold your commitment to the citizens of the United States and residents of Arizona to secure our border while you are siphoning Border Patrol agents from their critical domestic security mission."

DAVID AGUILAR, U.S. BORDER PATROL CHIEF: Priority one is the border of the United States.

MESERVE: The head of the Border Patrol says that mission is not inconsistent with sending agents to Iraq.

AGUILAR: One of our goals is doing everything that we can to pushing out our borders, so that we can assist other countries, we can do everything that we can to keep the threats from coming at us. Because we know we're vulnerable.

MESERVE: While officers and agents in Iraq face difficult conditions, the financial benefits are attractive: 35 percent danger pay, a 35 percent post hardship differential, a lot of overtime.

Twenty-two officers found the offer attractive and are currently deployed in Iraq.

(on camera) The numbers are small, but Governor Napolitano says it is the principle that has her fired up. She believes quite simply that U.S. border agents belong on the U.S. border -- Kitty.


PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Jeanne Meserve.

Governor Napolitano isn't the only border state official concerned about this plan. New Mexico's governor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson is also concerned, and the two governors sent a letter to President Bush, asking that agents not be recruited for duty in Iraq.

Well, time now for tonight's poll: do U.S. Border Patrol agents belong on the Iraqi border or the Mexican border? Cast your vote at We'll bring you the results a little bit later in the broadcast.

And a new poll shows that most Americans believe the government is not doing enough to control who is allowed to enter the country. Seventy-seven percent think the government is not doing enough to screen people who cross the border into the country. Only 19 percent think the government is doing enough.

Coming up, three top political analysts and strategists will be here to discuss the GOP rebellion over Iraq, the Scooter Libby case and much more.

Also, the Yankees are struggling. So guess what? They're turning to communist China for help. We'll have the story.

And a rising threat to the safety of airline passengers and crews from Chinese pilots who don't speak English. We'll have a special report.


PILGRIM: The New York Yankees, arguably the most recognizable name in sports, is struggling this year. And the team is looking to develop new, young players. Well, today the Yankees introduced two new prospects from communist China. Richard Roth has our report.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The unveiling of a historic agreement between two sides rich in dynasties. Two baseball players from China signed by the New York Yankees, the team with the most championships in American professional sports.

RANDY LEVINE, YANKEES PRESIDENT: We consider ourselves the most recognizable sports franchise in the world.

ROTH: In the foot steps of famous Yankees such as Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle, it's pitcher Liu Kai (ph) and catcher Zhangzheng Wang (ph), both 19 years old.

LEVINE: We have a left handed pitcher right here that I'm shaking hands with right now and a catcher. And welcome to the Yankees.

ROTH: They are not jumping into the starting lineup. Next stop, the minor leagues, where they have to first prove they can really play. Still, Yankee fans are ready to embrace the newcomers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's great. It just brings more diversity to sports nowadays.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, tennis. One day maybe an East African guy, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Step off and then go.

ROTH: Baseball is in its infancy in China. Former American stars teach skills to players who did not grow up with a field of dreams mentality. China has a six team league and did play in the World Baseball Classic last year. Other sports such as basketball are way ahead, helped by the global popularity of Yao Ming on the Houston Rockets. But the opening pitch has been thrown. Two days after the Yankees announce their signings, the Seattle Mariners introduced two other Chinese players.

WANG GUNGYA, CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: Certainly this proves that China produces a number of talents in the area of sports.

ROTH: The Mainland Chinese players could one day take the field alongside star Yankee pitcher Chinmi Wong (ph) who is from Taiwan, called a renegade province by Beijing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We could actually get together very well. It will be a very good harmony together.


ROTH (on camera): The Yankees say work visas for the players still must be completed. China has even its share of iconic leaders such as Mao. They players will now be paid for by the Yankees 77- year-old owner George Steinbrenner, himself a legend in his own right in the sports world.


PILGRIM: Richard, the fans you talked to seem to like it. How do you think they will fit in with the team?

ROTH: I think they will fit in very well. It's a virtual United Nations in that locker room. Mariano Rivera, the best relief pitcher in baseball from Panama, they have players from the Dominican Republic, Hideki Matsui from Japan. If we leave now, we can get to the first pitch in a few minutes.

PILGRIM: And that sounds like a great idea, actually. And do you think they will help the Yankees? That's the real question.

ROTH: I think it's years before we will be able to tell with these players. But certainly there is no doubt you are going to see more players from the Pacific Rim and elsewhere in Major League Baseball that keeps increasing. A lot of Hispanic players already in the game.

PILGRIM: Well, after the show, let's head out. Thank you very much, Richard Roth.

More evidence of increasing links between communist China and this country. The number of daily passenger flights between the two countries is expected to more than double in five years. This has raised more concerns about air safety because of major communication problems between Chinese pilots and American air traffic controllers. John Vause reports.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Air China Flight 981 from Beijing touched down at New York's JFK Airport this past April, there was clearly a major communication problem between pilot and tower.

TOWER: Make the right turn here at Juliet. Join alpha and hold short on mike alpha. Air China 981.

PILOT: Air China 981. (inaudible)

TOWER: OK. I'll say it again ...

VAUSE: Three times the tower gave instructions but that wasn't the end of the confusion.

TOWER: Air China 981, have they cleared you into the ramp?

PILOT: Roger (inaudible).

TOWER: Have you been cleared into the ramp?

PILOT: OK. Go ahead to the ramp.

TOWER: No, that was a question. Have the ramp people cleared you into the gate?

PILOT: Roger to the gate. Air China 981.

TOWER: I'll try it again. It's a question. Hold your position. This is a question. An interrogative. Have you been cleared into your gate.

PILOT: OK. We hold here.

VAUSE: Frustrated the controller adds ...

TOWER: Nobody seems to speak English here today.

BARRETT BYRNES, JFK CONTROL TOWER OPERATOR: Is it something that happens every day? The little things happen every day but the major problems are there to cause yet another aviation disaster.

VAUSE: Barrett Byrnes from the JFK tower testified before Congress seven years ago warning pilots with poor English posed a serious problem and he says they still do today.

BYRNES: For nothing to have happened between now and then is a sin.

VAUSE: Air China admits there was an incident with Flight 981 but blames the control tower.

XU XIUKAI, AIR CHINA ENGLISH TRAINING: He didn't use the standard RKO language. That's why the pilot didn't catch the actual meaning.

VAUSE: Even so the airline said the pilot was sent to special English classes like this one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flying means that you work as a pilot to operate aircraft for peanuts. Peanuts. Little things.

VAUSE: By March next year all pilots flying internationally will be required to pass a verbal English test.

Huo Youlin, a pilot for more than 20 years, just passed that exam and yet had trouble talking to the tower.

HUO YOULIN, PILOT: Yep. We flew out to America, Europe, just pilots, usually speak English.

VAUSE: Of the 8,000 Chinese pilots who fly internationally, less than 800 have taken English tests. Just over 600 passed.

(on camera): Air China says many older pilots will struggle to meet the new English requirement, and the airline expects at least five percent will fail the exam. But in the meantime, those pilots continue to fly. John Vause, CNN Beijing.


PILGRIM: A new warning tonight about potentially dangerous toothpaste from communist China and other countries. Massachusetts Department of Public Health says consumers should not use any toothpaste labeled "made in China." The department is also telling people to avoid toothpaste labeled Coolgate that is made in South Africa and not to use any toothpaste without English labeling. Health officials say the Chinese toothpaste and counterfeit Coolgate may contain a chemical used in antifreeze.

And one major health food maker is taking steps on its own to protect Americans from contaminated products from communist China. Food for Health International says it will label its products "China- free" to indicate none of the ingredients are from China. The Utah- based company will use "China-free" stickers in advertisements and promotions.

Just ahead -- the rising GOP rebellion over President Bush's Iraq War policy. Three of the country's best political analysts will join me with their thoughts on the story and much more. So stay with us.


PILGRIM: Joining me now, James Taranto, editor of "The Wall Street Journal's", Errol Louis of "The New York Daily News" and Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman.

And thanks for being with us. We had a pretty interesting week with the Scooter Libby. Let's start with that. It really was discussed a lot, both in Washington and I think in sort of the general public, in that it is a sort of benchmark for the Bush White House. What do you think, Robert?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It really shows the arrogance and smugness of the Bush White House how to understand this resonates throughout the country. When you have polls almost topping 70 percent showing the public's objection to the way President Bush went back on his word when he said people who did not cooperate in this probe would be dealt with by the administration and reprimanded. Well, in fact what transpires? A high-ranking White House official in conducting his duties in the White House commits perjury, is found guilty of it, and this president commutes his sentence and now we find out he may not have to actually go into a probation hearings.

PILGRIM: Congress says they may have hearings on this. But there's really nothing Congress can do, right?

ERROL LOUIS, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": There is very little. If Congress tries to hold hearings, he will be able to say, Scooter Libby will, that look, I have not exhausted my appeals. I have been convicted of this crime. I am still going to appeal. I cannot endanger that. So even if he does appear before Congress, which is unlikely, there's not much he's going to say.

PILGRIM: But much political capital is being made and lost in this debate, right, James?

JAMES TARANTO, OPINIONJOURNAL.COM: I don't know how much it is going to end up make a difference in terms of next year's election. I know Scooter Libby. He's a good man. I'm glad to see he is not going to go to prison for what was a bogus investigation. There's still no evidence that Valerie Plame was a covert agent. The person who leaked her name was Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state. Somehow nobody is calling for him to be put on trial for this. This whole thing was political and I don't think a man should go to prison for it.

ZIMMERMAN: There is no question Richard Armitage should be accounted for leaking Valerie Plame's name but the issue here is that Scooter Libby in front of the jury of his peers and in fact with a Republican conservative judge upholding the verdict, was found guilty of committing perjury in front of an FBI agent, in front of the grand jury, obstructing justice and by all means, this administration gave this man a get out of jail free card, and that is truly a reprehensible act.

TARANTO: I'm sorry, Robert. I have a softer heart than you do.

ZIMMERMAN: No. I don't wish that on anyone but I believe this administration should be held accountable to their own words.

PILGRIM: In the sort of political discussion of this, the Clintons got involve and there was great discussion over President Clinton's record of pardons. It sort of turned into a political football for a while.

TARANTO: Well, it's so brazen for Hillary Clinton to come out and talk about cronyism. Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, whose wife was a big donor to his campaign and by the way, whose lawyer was Scooter Libby, coincidentally. He pardoned his own brother, he pardoned Susan McDougal, a Whitewater convict.

ZIMMERMAN: And there were grand jury investigations by the Republican Congress and nothing came of it. There was nothing to be held.

TARANTO: He also, by the way, pardoned John Deutch, his former CIA director, who was facing criminal charges for misusing classified information.

ZIMMERMAN: You can talk about where Jimmy Hoffa is today. It doesn't change the fact that to President Bush literally engaged in a cover up of a crime committed by one of his senior officials in the conduct of White House business.

LOUIS: Not just that. If you you're going to talk about hypocrisy, you have an administration who over and over again told its Justice Department to push in prosecutions for the maximum sentence, to push those sentencing guidelines, to put people away for a long time. There was a recent Supreme Court case, in fact, where somebody was in an eerily similar profile, had been in public service for 25 years, ended up in prison pushed by this Justice Department to serve hard time and yet when it comes to an insider, all of the rules change.

ZIMMERMAN: In fact they bypass their own Department of Justice and their own procedures on granting pardons to give Scooter Libby a commutation of a sentence.

TARANTO: The president's power is to pardon and commute sentences is a plenary power. He's under no obligation constitutionally ...

PILGRIM: And Congress cannot really do much. Let's move on to Iraq. Because I know this is riveting. And it's really been absorbing everybody all week.

But I want to move onto Iraq because we are seeing a dynamic there that's very intriguing to me how some Republicans breaking with the president on Iraq. We have the defense authorization bill coming up. Where do you think we stand on the support for Iraq and some general speaking out to stay the course, we really need the time? Where do you think we stand on Iraq? Especially with the American public? Let's start with you, James.

TARANTO: I'm very troubled by the Republicans backing away here. I think, look, there's an honorable anti-war position. There were people who were against the war from the start, Russ Feingold, Barack Obama, Robert Byrd, Ron Paul, people like that.

But I think to vote to send troops into war and when public opinion turns, to turn around and say we are not going to give the troops the political support they need to go to victory, I think that's dishonorable. And we saw first the Democrats do that. We saw John Kerry do it in 2004 and we've seen Hillary Clinton do it more recently and it's just as reprehensible when Republicans do it.


LOUIS: I mean, the reality I think is that after speaking with constituents, analyzing the situation and hearing from the folks back home, which after all elected representatives are supposed to do, they've decided the war cannot be won.

And the only question becomes, well, how long do we stay? Do we stay until we have conclusively proved when we have taken thousands more casualties? And folks are saying they don't want that to happen. And that's I think a good thing in a democracy but to have to face the public to explain their actions and so the defense authorization bill as well as the general budget when it comes up in the next few months, these are going to be places where it gets debated.

ZIMMERMAN: All that is dishonorable is watching this White House not change its course, not listen to the facts and commit our soldiers to a civil war. That's the travesty of what's happening in Iraq. And so I think it's really encouraging and hopefully these Republican senators stepping up today will put their votes where their rhetoric is and remove our soldiers from this civil war and focus on fighting terrorism.

PILGRIM: We had more developments though because an American general this week said Iran is training Iraqi Shiite militiamen to attack U.S. forces. We have Senator Lieberman saying perhaps it's time for the U.S. to consider military strike on Iran. We are seeing other dimensions to this debate being included now.

TARANTO: The idea that we can just pull out of Iraq and everything is going be fine is sheer escapism. This would be a show of weakness that would embolden our enemies, both al Qaeda and Iran and it would make more likely, not less likely, a wider and deadlier war.

ZIMMERMAN: In fact, one of the chief beneficiaries, James, contrary to what you're saying is that Iran has been a major beneficiary of the war in Iraq. And the Middle East region has been so severely destabilized by what transpired, that in fact Iran has become a major central player. And so in fact quite to the contrary, by pursuing the course that we are on, we are strengthening Iraq and I think the only way to address this is through Congress, through the appropriations process.

TARANTO: And you think that pulling out of Iraq and leaving it to its own devices is going to make it more stable? You are really making that case?

ZIMMERMAN: No one is advocating that.

TARANTO: What are you advocating?

ZIMMERMAN: What we are saying is a phased redeployment where we focus on demanding the Iraqi military to step up to fight this civil war and to have our soldiers focus on fighting terrorism. That's the strategy. That's the program. The Congress passed both the House and Senate and in fact we're finding more Republicans signing up to it.

TARANTO: OK. So you're against pulling out of Iraq. I'm glad to hear that.

ZIMMERMAN: It's not a question of that.

PILGRIM: Errol, do you want to weigh in? LOUIS: All I can say, going back to the original question, the politics of the United States and what's going to happen I think will be closely determined by the fact you have 23 Republicans who are up for re-election, only 11 Democrats. Republicans are I think sort of reading the tea leaves and seeing that they can't be caught out there throwing more money and throwing more lives into a burning bonfire. It's simply not going to happen.

And I think when somebody like a Pete Domenici, who is six term, four-term senator? He's been on the seat for quite a long time. He's not a cut-and-runner, he is not a pacifist of any kind. If he says we can't do this, we have got to pull back to the horizon, we have got to get the troops out of there, I think it has to be taken seriously. One begins to wonder who in this administration will hear anyone who is telling them something that they don't want to hear?

ZIMMERMAN: The Pentagon filed a report literally just this past month saying despite the surge the crisis and the violence has not abated. So it's not about this rhetoric of cut and run, which was deceitful and divisive, it is about recognizing this strategy failed and has to be redirected.

TARANTO: I think this is bad politics for the Republicans. I think the Republicans look like they are following in the footsteps - the Republicans who take this position look like they are following along the Democrats. If you want to vote for this, you might as well vote Democratic.

I think this is going to l hurt people like Domenici and Warner.

ZIMMERMAN: We are debating whether politicians are covering themselves instead of protecting our solders. And that should be the first ...

PILGRIM: Let's get into the political campaigns which are in full swing. We have the Clinton team in full swing. Hillary and Bill, plus or minus, to be dragging the husband along?

ZIMMERMAN: I don't think he's dragged along. I think she has got to hold him back. He is loving this.

I will say from my friends and I who I have spoken to on the ground and you know Hillary Clinton is a dear friend and I'm proud to support her, but putting that aside, he has really been a great asset on the campaign trail. But you know something. Barack Obama is drawing great crowds too and Michelle Obama is doing a great job for him.

PILGRIM: Trails Hillary in the polls but beating her in money, right?

ZIMMRMAN: He's done an incredible job in fundraising.

PILGRIM: Anyone want to weigh in the on the campaign?

LOUIS: They're trying to score a knockout blow, the Clinton's team is in Iowa. They were not in front. There were rumors they were going to even pull out and let the state go. They were only a couple of points now ahead of John Edwards, who is doing very, very well and had built quite an extensive organization there. So when you bring Bill Clinton out there, you're looking for a knockout punch.

PILGRIM: We are talking all Democrats here again.

TARANTO: Well, I think Mrs. Clinton is going to be tough to beat on the Democratic side. On the Republican side, it looks like -- it's kind of up in the air until we see what Fred Thompson is going to do.

PILGRIM: Yeah. And he didn't declare July 4th, as rumored.

TARANTO: He's actually made declaration? I'm sorry, I have been a little out of it.

PILGRIM: No, no, he did not.

TARANTO: Oh, he did not declare. I beg your pardon.

PILGRIM: Everyone expected him to. He did not. We are seeing a negative as tea leaves.

TARANTO: Yeah. I think - I mean, it looks like McCain is fading and it may be Giuliani-Thompson race or it may be a Giuliani-Romney race.

LOUIS: And Giuliani is just hoarding his money. He is not spending very much at all. If you look at it quarter by quarter, he's not spending much at all. He's got huge name recognition. He is going to start the year with quite a lot ...

PILGRIM: You know what's interesting, the Quinnipiac University poll found it Bloomberg entered the race, Giuliani would suffer. They had Giuliani-Clinton at 47-44. If Bloomberg comes in, they had Giuliani at 36, Clinton at 36 and Bloomberg at 18.

LOUIS: I think that probably changes, though, as people get to know Bloomberg better.

PILGRIM: That (inaudible)

LOUIS: He ran as a Republican in New York, but he did that out of convenience. He's basically a Democrat and very liberal Democrat.

ZIMMERMAN: What's interesting is the Republican Party has become such a captive of the extreme right wing, moderate Republicans who are disaffected could very well go to Mike Bloomberg in protest.

PILGRIM: Well, we shall see. Gentlemen, we shall see. Thank you for joining us tonight.

And a reminder now to vote in tonight's poll. Do U.S. Border Patrol agents belong on the Iraqi border or the Mexican border? Cast your vote at

We have much more ahead. Stay with us. We'll be right back.


PILGRIM: Now "Heroes," our weekly tribute to our men and women in uniform. Tonight we introduce you to Marine Sergeant James Wright. After losing both hands when his convoy was ambushed in Iraq, Sergeant Wright continued to lead his Marines to safety.

Philippa Holland has his story.


PHILIPPA HOLLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There was never any doubt that Sergeant James Wright would serve his nation in the military.

SGT. JAMES WRIGHT, USMC, (RET.): I just always wanted to be a Marine, as far back as I remember.

HOLLAND: In October 2000, he became a Marine. And two and a half years later, he was fighting the war in Iraq.

WRIGHT: You can be doing anything from searching people or clearing houses or buildings room to room or calling in air strikes over the radio.

HOLLAND: Sergeant Wright's first tour lasted four months. He was sent back to Iraq eight months later to what had become a far more dangerous combat zone.

WRIGHT: It was a different type of warfare also. Improvised explosive devices, the roadside bombs. In that short period of time they figured out and started implementing a new way to fight us.

HOLLAND: The biggest fight came in April 2004 when Wright and his men were ambushed by 60 insurgents.

WRIGHT: Used rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine gun fire, AK-47 and mortars and they just kind of hit us all at once with all of that.

HOLLAND: Wright was hit with an RPG and both of his hands were blown off.

WRIGHT: Bones were sticking out. It was all nasty. And I was like, great both of them. I looked down at my leg, and it was blown open and my femur was fractured.

HOLLAND: But Sergeant Wright didn't stop fighting. As his Bronze Star citation notes, "He calmly instructed others how to remove the radio, call for support and render first aid and he assisted in the demise of 26 enemies killed in action."

Sergeant Wright spent a year in rehab. He then became a martial arts instructor at the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia. Sergeant Wright retired from the Marine Corps last year. WRIGHT: I'm still excited to see what comes next, you know. I have not lost the will to live and have fun during my life, have a good time. And I look forward to seeing what the future brings for me.

HOLLAND: Philippa Holland, CNN.


PILGRIM: Sergeant Wright is active in the organization Operation Grateful Nation, which assists disabled veterans adjust to civilian life. And he's currently enrolled in Sam Houston State University, studying political science.

We will be right back. Stay with us.


PILGRIM: Here are the results of tonight's poll. Ninety-nine percent of you believe U.S. Border Patrol agents belong on our border with Mexico and that's despite the plan to send some of those agents to Iraq.

Time now for one last e-mail. David in Missouri. "Our illustrious lawmakers have graciously given themselves another raise when they never earned their base salaries. 'You're fired!' should be resonating trough the Senate and the Congress."

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts at

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us tomorrow. For all of us here, thanks for watching. Good night from New York.

THE SITUATION ROOM starts right now with Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne?