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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
White House Battles to Save Attorney General Nominee; Hillary Clinton Under Fire Over New York Plan to Give Driver's Licenses to Illegal Immigrants
Aired October 31, 2007 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, startling new evidence that our defenses against dangerous imports have utterly collapsed, a last- minute recall today of tens of thousands of tainted Halloween toys from communist China. We will have complete coverage.
Also tonight, Senator Hillary Clinton having trouble deciding whether she is for or against giving driver's licenses to illegal aliens. Just how important will the issue of illegal immigration be in the outcome of the presidential election? We will have that report.
And ferocious new criticism in the New York State Senate of the governor's outrageous plan to give away those driver's licenses to illegal aliens. New York State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno joins us.
And we will have all of that, all the day's news, a lot more right here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Wednesday, October 31.
Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
The White House tonight battling to save the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey as the next U.S. attorney general. Democrats in the Senate are blasting the judge for his refusal to say that a controversial interrogation method called water-boarding is outright torture.
The White House today declared it remains confident that the Senate will confirm Judge Mukasey as attorney general, but some senators who had supported the judge's nomination two weeks ago are now, apparently, reconsidering.
Jessica Yellin has our report from Capitol Hill -- Jessica.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, despite some new defections and plenty of hand-wringing over the fate of Michael Mukasey's nomination, one senior Democratic senator on the Judiciary Committee tells CNN, the president's nominee will ultimately be confirmed.
YELLIN (voice-over): Two more Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee now oppose the confirmation of Michael Mukasey over his response to a question about water-boarding.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: He has failed to recognize that water-boarding is clearly a form of torture.
I will oppose this nomination.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), MAJORITY WHIP: When you have a number of Democratic senators who have already publicly come out against Judge Mukasey, it creates a problem for him. I think that he could have resolved this so easily, so clearly and so simply with a straightforward answer: Water-boarding is torture, period.
YELLIN: Still others say they're undecided.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, the first thing is I need to think more about it.
YELLIN: At issue, when asked whether water-boarding is torture, Mukasey offered his personal view of the controversial interrogation technique, writing, "These techniques seem over the line or on a personal basis repugnant to me." But since he was never briefed on U.S. interrogation programs, he insists say whether the practice is legal or not.
That was enough for one key Republican.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I feel more comfortable voting for him after the letter than I did before. There's A couple issues I would like to flesh out, but I think he will get all the Republican votes.
YELLIN: But key Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are defending the nominee and insist Democrats are just looking for an issue.
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: My Democratic colleagues cannot insist that Judge Mukasey be independent toward a Republican president, but compliant toward a Democratic Senate. What kind of a crazy, topsy-turvy confirmation process is this?
SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: What this debate boils down to is politics.
YELLIN: These Senate Republicans and the White House insist Mukasey will be confirmed.
One person who's staying unusually quiet, the generally outspoken New York Senator Chuck Schumer, Mukasey's chief Democratic sponsor. He now tells reporters he's still reviewing Mukasey's answers and won't comment on how he plans to vote.
(END VIDEOTAPE) YELLIN: And, today, Lou, three Republican senators, John McCain, John Warner and Lindsey Graham, sent this letter to the White House in which they tell the president they support Mukasey's nomination, but call on him to renounce water-boarding, should he become attorney general -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Jessica Yellin from Capitol Hill.
Turning to the war in Iraq now, new indications that the level of violence have fallen. The Iraqi government reporting that 758 Iraqi civilians were killed in the war this month. That is the lowest monthly total of this year. The decline in Iraqi civilian deaths coincides with a large reduction of the number of our troops who have been killed in the war, 37 of our troops killed this month, the lowest monthly total since March of last year.
The number of U.S. and NATO troops killed in Afghanistan, however, has risen and risen sharply. More of our troops have already been killed in Afghanistan this year than the entirety of last year. Today, NATO troops supported by American forces fought with hundreds of insurgents outside Afghanistan's largest city, Kandahar.
Barbara Starr has our report from the Pentagon.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Afghan villagers, their vehicles piled high with possessions, are on the run from a new wave of fighting, as hundreds of Taliban fighters have suddenly regrouped near Kandahar, once a safe haven for Osama bin Laden.
One NATO official in Afghanistan confirms to CNN that troops are moving through the area where the Taliban have taken up fighting positions inside homes, drawing NATO forces into a house-to-house firefight. The coalition cannot drop bombs for fear of civilian casualties.
Canadian and British forces are on the attack. Officials say U.S. troops may also be called into action. The fighting comes days after Defense Secretary Robert Gates pressed NATO allies to do more in Afghanistan.
ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The mission still requires more maneuver elements and fewer restraints on how forces can be used.
STARR: One solution? More contractors. To free up military choppers for combat duty, NATO is hiring a fleet of privately-owned helicopters to start hauling cargo around the country. But NATO and U.S. officials warn it will still take years of commitment and more than just troops to establish enough security in a country where the poppy crop and warlords still reign.
BRIG. GEN. RODNEY ANDERSON, U.S. ARMY: There's evidence of corruption throughout the government in almost every activity.
STARR: Even the CIA director agrees Afghanistan is now much more than a military challenge.
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, CIA DIRECTOR: It's not solely a tactical issue. If it were, this would be a lot easier.
STARR: But, Lou, make no mistake, Afghanistan is plagued by IEDs, suicide bombers and endless attacks. In this latest fighting, the goal, however, is to try and keep the Taliban from reentering Kandahar, a city the coalition where they drove them from power some six years ago -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Barbara -- Barbara Starr reporting from Pentagon.
Well, the Pentagon today said Defense Secretary Robert Gates will be going to communist China, Japan and South Korea next week. His tour to first China comes as Beijing continues its aggressive military buildup. Secretary Gates says he doesn't believe China is a strategic adversary of the United States, but China is rapidly modernizing its military forces, buying sophisticated Russian weaponry, all, most analysts believe, to challenge U.S. interests in Asia.
One of the president's closest advisers, Karen Hughes, is, once again, leaving his administration, leaving her job at the State Department. Hughes will quit her post as undersecretary for public diplomacy at the end of the year to spend more time with her family in Texas. Secretary of State Rice praised Hughes' role at the State Department.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Karen has been a contributor to the war on terror, having created the Counterterrorism Communication Center that is staffed by people from around the government so that we are able to work to counter the message of terrorists and to spread, instead, a message of hope and democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Hughes doubled the public diplomacy budget to nearly $1 billion. Polls, however, showing clearly that Hughes failed to shift public opinion in Muslim countries closer to the American point of view, an all-but-impossible task, no matter the size of the budget.
A surprising outcome today in the largest-ever terrorism trial held in Spain. Spain's national court convicted three defendants of mass murder in the Madrid train bombings three years ago. But that court convicted four other leading suspects of lesser charges, acquitted one suspected ringleader altogether.
Families of the nearly 200 people killed in those bombings are simply furious. The terrorists convicted of the most serious charges will serve no more than 40 years in prison. Spain has no death penalty or life imprisonment. And all of those accused of being ringleaders were set free. Coming up next here, consumer groups and Congress say the Bush administration has no idea how to protect Americans from dangerous imports.
Christine Romans will have that report -- Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, on Halloween, more recalls today of dangerous toys and Halloween trinkets made in communist China, of course, even as Congress rushes to fix our broken consumer safety system -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thanks, Christine -- that report coming up.
And fury in the New York State Senate over New York's governor, Eliot Spitzer's plan to give away driver's licenses to illegal aliens. I will be joined by the majority leader of the New York State Senate, Joe Bruno.
And Senator Hillary Clinton dodging questions about whether she agrees with prince Eliot's plan. Is Senator Clinton playing politics with national security? What's the deal here? Is her candidacy going to survive the waffling? We will have that report and a great deal more.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton under attack tonight because she dodged a controversial issue at the Democratic debate last night.
Democratic presidential contenders lambasting the senator for first supporting New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's outrageous proposal to give away those driver's licenses to illegal aliens, then saying she was against it.
As our Bill Schneider now reports, Clinton's dodge comes as opinion polls show the vast majority of Americans of both political parties are opposed to Governor Spitzer's plan.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has decided to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. So, the question was raised at the Democratic debate:
TIM RUSSERT, MODERATOR: Does anyone here believe an illegal immigrant should not have a driver's license?
SCHNEIDER: Only one hand went up.
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A license is a privilege, and that ought not to be extended, in my view.
SCHNEIDER: Hillary Clinton is the senator from New York. What is her view?
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it.
SCHNEIDER: Her Democratic rivals were quick to pounce. The charge? Evasiveness.
JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Unless I missed something, Senator Clinton said two different things in the course of about two minutes just a few minutes ago.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was confused on Senator Clinton's answer. I can't tell whether she was for it or against it. SCHNEIDER: What's his position?
OBAMA: I think that is the right idea.
SCHNEIDER: Democrats are likely to have a bigger problem with this issue. By better than 3-1, the public opposes giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Republicans are more than 80 percent opposed. Independents are right there with Republicans.
And Democrats? They don't much like the idea either. The Republican National Committee was quick to attack the Democratic front-runner on this issue. Mitt Romney's spokesman accused Clinton of being "both dismissive of efforts to enforce our nation's immigration laws and entirely unwilling to offer a straight answer to a very direct question."
(on camera): Republicans finally have an issue where they believe they have Democrats on the defensive. They're not likely to let it go, no matter who the Democrats nominate.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.
DOBBS: And our Candy Crowley was there reporting on last night's debates.
Candy, Hillary says she is for Spitzer's proposal and against it. What in the world is this Democratic front-runner trying to do here?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I can tell you her rivals think she's trying to split the difference here.
CROWLEY: They're, you know, talking about -- I mean, look, the larger picture is what Bill referred to. And that is her opponents saying she dodges these tough questions. She tries to have it both ways. She said last night she thought the Spitzer plan makes sense, but that didn't mean that she supports it. We now have a statement that they put out today. And let me show it to you on the screen and then read it.
"Senator Clinton supports governors like Governor Spitzer who believe they need such a measure to deal with the crisis caused by this administration's failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform."
CROWLEY: You know, I mean, I think...
DOBBS: Does Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, both of whom, Senator Obama, an original co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, which would provide amnesty for about 1.3 million illegal aliens, plus several more million, at least, their families, I mean, they -- the Democratic candidates, to a person, with the exception of Chris Dodd last night, as we reported here, I mean, they have lined up on the open borders, amnesty side.
They are locked up in '60s liberalism on the issue of border control, controlling and securing our ports. What in the world are they going to do to extricate themselves from what is obviously a very unpopular position, both as a party and as candidates?
CROWLEY: Well, and I think that's what you're trying to see go on here with Hillary Clinton. I mean, I'm not sure how they extricate themselves. They clearly...
DOBBS: They may want to go down to defeat. They may be willing to just simply -- because they have been able until now to avoid public focus on their positions on illegal immigration.
CROWLEY: And they have also been able to avoid it on the campaign trail, I can tell you, because it does not come up as often on the Democratic side as it comes up on the Republican side.
But I think you're right. This becomes really sticky, particularly when they get to the general election. I think what they have done is, they have made a calculation at this point that, within the Democratic primary, they are now on the right side of this issue, or the correct side of this issue, however you want to look at it.
CROWLEY: So, you know, I think, when they get into -- you're right. When they get into the general election...
DOBBS: They will change position. They will change position, right?
CROWLEY: Well, I think they will clarify their position.
DOBBS: There you go.
DOBBS: You have been out there on that campaign trail a while. We may have to give you a day or two off extra here.
CROWLEY: That's right. That's right, drinking the Kool-Aid.
DOBBS: Candy, as always, great to have you here. Thank you very much for your excellent reporting.
Tonight's poll question is, do you believe it is time to elect a president who will represent the interests of the American people and not the interests of special interest groups and corporate America? About time? Yes or no? Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We will have those results upcoming.
Time now for some of your thoughts.
Mark in Montana said: "After just watching the Democratic debate last night, I do declare that the prince, prince Eliot, has found his new princess. Her name is Hillary."
And Bryan in Georgia: "Prince Eliot? How about prince of darkness? I'm a former New Yorker and am ashamed to tell anyone."
Dave in Iowa: "Since Spitzer has proclaimed everyone that doesn't agree with his scheme to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens an outright racist, would the governor be so kind as to explain all Americans just exactly what race is illegal alien?"
We will have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast.
Up next: New York officials trying to sell Governor Spitzer's driver's license plan to first the state legislature and particularly the state Senate. It is a hard sell. We will have that report.
More children's products, including a Halloween toy recall, today, on Halloween Day -- good going, regulators -- for excess lead content.
Why are products contaminated with lead still turning up in our stores? We will have a report on a government that just doesn't work.
Stay with us. We will be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: The Consumer Product Safety Commission today recalled three more children's products because of high levels of lead, one, an 11th-hour recall for fake scary Halloween teeth, the products all manufactured in communist China, consumer groups and Congress finding stores that carry tainted or dangerous products.
And, as Christine Romans reports, Congress is now moving to do what the Bush administration has not, try to at least begin to clean up the marketplace.
ROMANS (voice-over): The safety of our imported products, downright scary, an 11th-hour recall of Halloween products, tens of thousands of fake toy teeth, excessive levels of lead found in these military toys sold at Toys 'R' Us, and these pieces of a frog board game, all of these toys made in China.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Parents are scared today, on Halloween, about what is lurking in their children's toy boxes.
ROMANS: These Frankenstein mugs were recently recalled also for lead.
But don't just think avoiding recalled toys makes your home safe. Consumers Union tested toys right off store shelves and found lead in this Fisher-Price doctor kit, and in dishware, jewelry, Elmer's glue stick caps, vinyl backpacks, and children's tea sets.
KIM KLEMAN, CONSUMERS UNION: Lead is used as a cheap stabilizer in plastics. There are far safer alternatives. So, we don't think that lead should be allowed in many products, especially children's products.
ROMANS: She calls for a stronger Consumer Product Safety Commission with more people and more resources.
Democratic senators want to double the budget of the CPSC, increase its staff, and toughen rules and fines against companies that put dangerous products on store shelves.
SEN. MARK PRYOR (D), ARKANSAS: Given the fact that it is about to be the holiday season and purchasing consumer goods is really on everyone's mind right now, we need to really send a signal to the American people that Congress can take care of its business.
ROMANS: Senators accused the acting chief of the agency of pushing back against reform.
At the White House today, an admission the agency could use more resources, but praise for its track record and its embattled leader.
DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is no way that we can inspect every single item that is coming to our shores from overseas, as we have such strong trading numbers around the world.
ROMANS: Therefore, the White House says, it is important for parents to be aware.
ROMANS: Aware especially this Halloween of children's jewelry, says Kim Kleman at Consumers Union. She warns parents that her firm's testing has found those little trinkets, rings, necklaces, dress-up jewelry, they are particularly dangerous, Lou, with high levels of lead, something to think about with those costumes that are going to end up in the toy box.
DOBBS: You know, the comments about this country with its dysfunctional government, is dependency on so many other countries now, whether it's for our clothing, whether it's for computers or consumer electronics, the nation becoming a Third World country.
When we're having to deal with lead-contaminated products, in fear for the safety, the well-being, the lives of our children, I mean, where in the world are we headed?
ROMANS: And there's some disagreement here. Consumers Union is concerned about this Fisher-Price medical kit that is a very popular toy. But Fisher-Price says that medical kit -- and, technically, they're right -- that medical kit meets federal and international guidelines.
So, you have the advocates saying, and Consumers Union, which is nonprofit and nonpartisan saying, we think parents should take this toy away from their children. But you're not seeing any federal or corporate action on that.
DOBBS: Well, this is going to surprise somebody. This administration, that has cut the budget, the staffing of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has done nothing, which talks about commerce ahead of the safety of American consumers each and every day, I mean, this is a disgusting situation.
ROMANS: I wonder if it can persist like this all the way through Christmas and the holiday shopping season.
DOBBS: Well, how is it going to change?
ROMANS: But we're told by some of the CEOs that: This is behind us now.
You know, Mattel's CEO has said this is behind them.
DOBBS: Let me say something to the Mattel CEO.
If your division, Fisher-Price, wants to argue over lead content with Consumers Union and other consumer activist groups, you're a fool, sir, because this is about the safety of our children. And your profits don't really mean a damn thing to us, because this is really -- first, before it's a marketplace, Mr. CEO, it is a nation. And, by God, our people have to have some respect, at least, from a government that wants to ignore them in nearly every other -- in every other regard.
ROMANS: At least the surveys by Consumers Union says that 84 percent of Americans are aware of these recalls. And, in some, more than a third say that they're going to check labels and might buy less this year.
DOBBS: Well, my God. I don't know how a parent -- a parent has to be scared to death right now to buy anything, because, with all of these thousands and thousands of recalls, I mean, it is truly frightening.
ROMANS: Grandma and grandpa can buy a savings bond for Christmas, and not a toy, plastic toy, made in China or someplace where we don't know that the company had control of the supply chain.
DOBBS: Well, it's probably not a bad idea, and maybe we can figure out some other things to do. This country has become a runaway consumer society. Maybe this is the beginning of some people really taking a look at the kind of lives we're creating for ourselves, our children and for generations to come.
Thank you very much, Christine Romans.
Coming up next, new charges -- the federal government's latest effort to protect our ports from a terrorist attack, well, they may be deeply flawed. I can't imagine that. But we will have a special report.
And the state of Oklahoma tomorrow will begin enforcing one of the toughest laws against illegal immigration in the entire nation. Advocates with opposite views on this issue join me.
And New York State Senate Majority Leader Senator Joe Bruno joins me. He says Governor Eliot Spitzer is ignoring the will of the people. He is among my guests.
And we're going to be right back. Stay with us.
DOBBS: New York state senators today pounded Governor Eliot Spitzer's outrageous proposal to give illegal aliens driver's licenses in the state of New York, senators hardly convinced or persuaded that that plan would permit the state to provide security and there is, of course, the issue of massive voter fraud.
Kitty Pilgrim now reports senators also have a number of other serious concerns, as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The DMV testimony was a sales pitch on how New York driver's licenses would be more secure.
DAVID SWARTS, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK DMV: We will continue to present a secure and sensible plan that will allow immigrants to come out of the shadows and to become fully licensed, promoting road safety and law enforcement security.
PILGRIM: The DMV commissioner claimed the Department of Homeland Security secretary, Michael Chertoff, fully endorsed the tiered license plan. That sparked bitter debate.
SWARTS: And voicing his support for New York's policies because it will become the most (INAUDIBLE) in the nation.
MARTIN GOLDEN (R), NEW YORK STATE SENATE: He voiced his support of the enhanced license and the tier-two license. He did not support tier-three. Do not play semantics in this room.
PILGRIM: In fact, Chertoff didn't endorse giving licenses to illegal aliens. Among critics, a big concern was New York would now draw illegal aliens looking to blend into the legal population.
VINCENT LEIBELL (R), NEW YORK STATE SENATE: This driver's license you propose for those who are here illegally, could that be used for identification to purchase a gun?
SWARTS: It will give an individual the opportunity -- an individual -- yes, I guess it proves who they are.
THOMAS LIBOUS (R), NEW YORK STATE SENATE: How do you verify the documents of an undocumented individual?
SWARTS: What you do is you verify...
LIBOUS: What do they give you?
PILGRIM: The New York State Sheriffs Association is also against licenses for illegal aliens.
SHERIFF MICHAEL AMATO, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, NEW YORK: We do not agree with the licensing of illegal immigrants. They shouldn't be here to begin with.
PILGRIM: Despite the debate, the chairman of the hearing found the issue very clear cut.
LIBOUS: Your department is granting a license to someone who is here illegally. And, quite frankly, I believe -- and I think a lot of other people believe -- that's wrong.
PILGRIM: Recent polls indicate the majority of New York residents do not agree with the governor's actions.
(END VIDEO TAPE) PILGRIM: Now, Republican assemblymen also don't agree. They're filing a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Albany, charging the governor's plan violates law by not requiring a Social Security number for a license. And the public interest group, Judicial Watch, also filing a taxpayer lawsuit against the governor for the very same reason -- Lou.
DOBBS: This -- it's incredible that this governor has chosen to simply act as if there is no constitution in the State of New York, that there is no state law and that the state assembly and the state senate have no role in government.
PILGRIM: The lawsuit charges that there's no involvement of the legislature and that's wrong.
DOBBS: Oh. Well, there's so much wrong with this that it's absolutely incredible.
I'm curious, though, what are those documents that undocumented workers -- so-called -- would provide?
PILGRIM: It's fairly nebulous and the ability to verify them...
PILGRIM: ...is even more nebulous, Lou.
DOBBS: Nebulous. Nebulous. Nebulous. There's nothing nebulous about the reaction to this governor and his ridiculous proposal. The state senate majority leader, Senator Joe Bruno, joins us now.
Senator, good to have you with us.
You have been outspoken in your criticism of the governor's plan. This governor, I have said, Senator, that this proposal from the outset made no sense. Yet he stood up and said that director of homeland security had approved it.
What's your thinking?
JOE BRUNO (R), NEW YORK STATE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Well you know that that's not right. It's not accurate. The secretary of homeland security very directly said they do not approve of giving illegal aliens licenses -- period.
Now, we're told -- and I can't prove it -- that when they went down, sort of behind closed doors, to make a deal, the governor with them, they were coming out publicly against him. And he compromised, he thought, in the way that he did with the three-tiered pricing. But they made it clear that illegals should not have licenses.
So the governor really went from a situation, as you described, that's irresponsible and a disinterest to the safety and the best interests of the people of New York State to something even worse -- a total nightmare, a bureaucratic nightmare. He had a hearing today, as you reported.
BRUNO: And the DMV people came in and they're vacillating and backpedaling all over the place. It really is -- it's tragic that a million -- 19 million people -- we have a governor that's as irresponsible, unresponsive to the wishes of the people, talks a good game and then never steps up and does anything that that's really of consequence.
DOBBS: Well, I have to say, Senator, that we -- given your criticism of the governor and my criticism of the governor -- as usual, we have invited the governor -- or any of his now --you know, I frankly feel so sorry for the people of this state having to endure this that we'll take anybody from this governor's office to try to defend this idiotic plan. But we have asked this governor to come before our cameras, talk to the people of New York; also to the people of America.
This will not only affect New Yorkers, it will affect Americans.
And to hear...
BRUNO: You've got that right.
DOBBS: And to hear Senator Hillary Clinton last night in the debate...
DOBBS: And Tim Russert asked her on this issue. And I mean, for the life of me, I had no idea what she was saying.
Why should there be any confusion in the State of New York or any other state in this union that illegal means illegal?
BRUNO: Why shouldn't Senator Clinton, who is running for the highest office in this country and in the world, why shouldn't she say I support this program -- this three-tier of Governor Spitzer's or I don't. I support the three out of four people in New York State who are against it adamantly, three out of four in the United States who are against it.
Why can't she say I'm for it or I'm against it?
BRUNO: It's very unbecoming a person in high office, such as Senator Clinton. She's experienced.
DOBBS: Well, I want to be clear, Senator...
BRUNO: This is not, you know, she's not an amateur.
DOBBS: She may not be an amateur -- and she certainly is not. But -- and I'm not sure how I would describe professional and amateur as associated with this White House. But let's be very clear so that we -- because, as you know, Senator, I'm not a Republi -- I haven't got a dog in this hunt.
DOBBS: I'm not a Republican, I'm not a Democrat, I am an Independent. And as far as I'm concerned, this White House hasn't got any bigger clue than Senator Clinton. So I mean the Republicans have got some issues here, as well.
The American people are desperate for leadership. So are the people of the State of -- obviously -- of New York.
What is going to be the outcome in the case of the State of New York on these driver's licenses?
Is this governor going to be able -- as I styled him, Prince Eliot -- is he going to be able to rule by fiat like King George and move ahead with this or will you and your colleagues in the senate and the assembly be able to stop him?
BRUNO: I don't believe that this -- he's going to be able to get away with this. He has done this all by himself unilaterally, conferred with no one. It totally disenfranchises 212 legislators. And a legislature, Lou, as you know, is an equal branch of government -- one of three constitutionally in New York State.
Never had a hearing. Never had public discussion. Never talked with the leaders, any of the members. Just went ahead and did it. But that's his style.
He has said publicly he doesn't need the legislature. He doesn't need anyone else. He will be dictatorial in the way he governs.
Well, he's finding out the hard way that it doesn't work. He is not a chief executive. He doesn't know how to be a chief executive. I have said from January and February that this man needed to go to governor school and he just doesn't get it. He just keeps making one mistake after the other and making matters worse. What he has done is worse.
DOBBS: Senator Joe Bruno, the senate majority leader, we thank you for being with us here on this very important issue.
Well, as you know...
BRUNO: And thank you for your coverage.
DOBBS: Thank you, Senator.
As you know, we have been very critical of the governor's proposal. We'd like you to take a look at some other criticism, if you will. This one a cartoon published by the "New York Post," if we can show that. It shows Governor Spitzer treating illegal aliens this Halloween by rewarding them with a New York State driver's license. But what Spitzer is really doing is tricking the vast majority of New York voters, of course, who oppose giving licenses to illegal aliens.
Well, let's put it another way -- he's trying. And that's why you should see the driver's license that I personally believe Governor Spitzer should have in his wallet at all times -- a New York driver's license, but stamped boldly and loudly with the words "learner permit," so that whenever he runs into a mess of his own making, such as this one, he can look down and remember perhaps just a little humility could work and a little concern for the people he was elected to represent.
The governor is on a steep learning curve right now when it comes to listening to the will of the people, consulting with the people and the representatives in the state assembly, ramming through policies and directives in a way that has shown his complete disregard so far for any other view other than his own. Perhaps this governor will mature, but I'm not ready to bet on it.
Coming up next here, NASA makes a U-turn. It will release the results of an air safety survey it wanted to keep away from you -- away from the public. We'll have that report.
And six years after September 11th, the federal government's plan to secure our ports -- well, it's been delayed again. Six years and counting. We'll have a special report.
Stay with us.
We're coming right back.
DOBBS: NASA today came to its senses, reversed its position and now says it will release the results of the Airline Safety Survey. That survey finding that aircraft near collisions and other safety problems occurred far more often than publicly reported. NASA had previously refused to release details of this survey, saying that it would scare travelers and hurt the airline industry.
Good grief, does this administration have any comprehension of the perspective, the proportion, the balance, the relationship between commerce and the public safety?
Apparently, at least NASA administrator Michael Griffin has come to his senses. He told a Congressional hearing that NASA would release those findings: "I regret any impression that NASA was or would in any way put commercial interests ahead of public safety."
Mr. Administrator, talk to your friends in this administration, because they sure need to hear your voice.
NASA spent more than $11 million on the survey. They talked with about 24,000 pilots and hope to release that survey by year's end.
A federal government program to help secure our nation's ports is still not in place. Six years after September 11th, equipment to check secure identification cards for port workers, in fact, may not be ready for another two years. And the cards, of course, could be subject to fraud.
As Lisa Sylvester now reports, Homeland Security officials today outlined the program's failures to Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wilmington, Delaware is one of only a handful of U.S. ports where truck drivers now have to sign up for a new biometric I.D. card called the Transportation Worker Identification Credential. The Government Accountability Office says the program that was mandated five years ago has faced key challenges.
Congressional critics point out it has fallen way behind schedule.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D), MISSISSIPPI: We owe the American people security. We owe them accountability. And, most importantly, we owe them freedom from fear. We are here today to find out why the Department of Homeland Security has failed in its mission to improve the maritime security.
SYLVESTER: In back to back hearings, the House Homeland Security Committee outlined failures in our nation's port security -- high tech readers used to check those new port I.D. cards are not expected to be installed for another two years. DHS grossly underestimated the number of identification cards it would need. In the port of Houston, DHS concluded they needed 30,000 cards, but port officials say the number is actually 10 times that amount. And DHS missed a deadline under the Safe Port Act to develop new federal regulations for securing U.S. bound shipping containers.
Federal officials, on the defensive, said they have made headway -- screening cargo for radiation and nuclear devices.
VAYL OXFORD, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: At select seaports, scanning now covers 100 percent of all containers and vehicles. By the end of 2007, 98 percent of all containerized sea cargo entering the United States will be scanned for radiological and nuclear threats.
SYLVESTER: But critics say the efforts are still falling short. Other concerns -- the possibility that the new port security I.D. cards, which are supposed to be tamper-proof, could be counterfeited. The chair of the Homeland Security Committee cited a Coast Guard advisory that warned that gang and organized crime members could be looking for ways to bypass the new port security system.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SYLVESTER: Now, the Coast Guard says it believes the cards are highly resistant to tampering or counterfeiting. But right now, without the machines to read the cards, many workers will have to flash the pass, creating a potential vulnerability -- Lou.
DOBBS: I mean this is just insane.
Chairman Thompson -- what is the next step here, to have Homeland Security say it will be another two years before this system works?
And not a single person be fired?
No reaction, no outrage, no anything?
SYLVESTER: Congressional lawmakers have been essentially been telling the DHS, in not so many words, but you need to get your act together. But you're right, no one has lost their job over this issue so far. And it is six years and counting -- Lou.
DOBBS: You know, this president, whatever his legacy would be, I cannot believe that he will leave office with anything other than a sense of horrible embarrassment at the dysfunctional nature of his entire -- almost entire administration. This is -- this is crazy, in my humble opinion.
Thank you very much, Lisa.
Lisa Sylvester reporting from Washington.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted today to support ratification of an international treaty that opponents say is a serious threat to our national sovereignty. The so-called Law of the Sea Treaty will put the world's oceans under the control of an unaccountable group of international bureaucrats. One of the treaty's leading critics is Senator Jeff Sessions, who tonight said: "It's unthinkable to yield so much of our sovereignty to a large international body."
The full Senate is expected to consider this treaty over the next few weeks, the Senate trying to sneak this treaty through. It has the support, by the way, of the U.S. Navy. It is utter madness and it is being -- this one -- this one is, thanks to both parties, you can love a Republican and you can love a Democrat for this one. It is utter nuts and madness.
Up next here, a tough new illegal immigration law goes into effect in Oklahoma. We'll hear from the author of the law and a key opponent of the law when we continue.
Stay with us.
We're coming right back.
DOBBS: An Oklahoma law cracking down on illegal immigration goes into effect tomorrow. That law could well be the toughest in the nation. It also stops businesses from hiring illegal aliens. It makes it a felony to transport or harbor illegal aliens.
Late today, a federal judge said he would consider a move to block that law, but he didn't indicate when he would issue a ruling.
Joining me now, both sides of the issue. Oklahoma State Representative Randy Terrill, who is the author of legislation. RANDY TERRILL (R), OKLAHOMA STATE HOUSE: Always good to be with you, Lou.
DOBBS: Good to have you here.
And Reverend Miguel Rivera, president and founder of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, opposed to the law, obviously, and the plaintiff in the suit.
Good to have you with us, Reverend.
REV. MIGUEL RIVERA, COALITION OF LATINO CLERGY & CHRISTIAN LEADERS: Thank you, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Let me start...
RIVERA: Thanks for having me.
DOBBS: Thank you.
DOBBS: Let's start with this law. Randy, the idea that this law would be stopped -- a lot of people thought it would be, because that's been the case in nearly every other jurisdiction. What's your stance?
Is this law going to go into effect?
Is it going to be enforced?
TERRILL: Lou, I think the bill will go into effect tomorrow as intended and as planned. You know, this is actually the second amended petition that they had. The first one was dismissed last week, suesponte (ph) by the court, on its own accord. That certainly isn't the first time that that's ever happened, but it's the first time it's ever happened with regard to a challenge brought in federal court against a state level immigration reform measure.
I suspect that they'll have about as much success in this second challenge as they did in the first.
DOBBS: Reverend, your thoughts.
Why are you objecting to it?
As we've just put up on the screen for our viewers, showing what the four primary components of the legislation are.
RIVERA: Well, basically, we understand that the 1804 legislation here in Oklahoma preempts the federal statute. As we understand it, or our attorneys understand, all matters pertaining to immigration are only to be addressed by members of Congress in Washington, D.C.
So, basically, we are very pleased that at least Judge Payne gave us an opportunity today -- and our attorneys -- to present our case. And we are waiting, as you said before, for a decision from the judge.
DOBBS: All right, at this point, why is this an issue for a Latino group in -- Reverend?
Why is it a Latino issue?
RIVERA: First of all, let me explain. Number one, we understand the concerns that states and cities -- like the case of Riverside, New Jersey -- are addressing where when members of Congress irresponsible. They didn't take into consideration the reality of bringing up a law that would change the situation right now, the laws of immigration right now, which is the problem. The main problem is that Congress didn't address this issue.
So we understand the concerns of state legislators like Mr. Terrill...
RIVERA: ...and also cities and municipalities. But the reality is that instead of legislating and bringing these type of law, that polarizes our communities, divide our neighbors and...
DOBBS: Mr. Terrill?
TERRILL: Lou, it's...
RIVERA: ...bring fear to our community...
TERRILL: Lou, it's not an issue about whether or not you're for or against immigration, or even for or against immigrants. It's whether or not you're for or against illegal immigration. And this isn't a Latino or Hispanic issue, necessarily, other than the fact of majority of illegal aliens who are present here in Oklahoma are of Latino or Hispanic descent. In fact, this bill...
RIVERA: Yes, but in reality...
TERRILL: ...this bill is nationality neutral...
RIVERA: But in real...
TERRILL: It doesn't target any particular race, ethnicity or national origin. In fact, there are specific...
RIVERA: Mr. Terrill...
TERRILL: ...safeguards in this bill that prevent any sort of discrimination or racial profiling. We don't care what your skin color is. We don't care if you speak with an accent. What we do care about is whether you're in this country legally or illegally.
RIVERA: Mr. Terrill, I can understand your concern and I can say that you're trying to be as fair as possible with your words. But the reality is...
TERRILL: You know, Reverend (INAUDIBLE)...
RIVERA: ...that racial profiling... (CROSSTALK)
DOBBS: Mr. Terrill, let him finish...
RIVERA: Racial profiling...
DOBBS: Mr. Terrill, let me...
RIVERA: Racial profiling...
DOBBS: Let the Reverend finish.
RIVERA: Thank you, Mr. Dobbs.
Racial profiling and flagging was used by members of the sheriffs department here in Tulsa County and over 25,000 Latinos have left the Tulsa County in the last six months, just because they are afraid. Definitely, they are undocumented. And I want to stress the issue. Latinos, undocumented, they would like to legalize themselves, but the problem is that we don't have the law that will bring them out of the shadows, register themselves and be legal in this country.
All right, Mr. Terrill, you get the last word.
TERRILL: Well, obviously, Lou, we're very pleased about the effect of the bill, which is to cut off access to jobs, as well as public assistance benefits and give our state and local law enforcement the ability to enforce the law.
DOBBS: All right, Randy Terrill, thank you very much.
DOBBS: Reverend, very quickly. Ten seconds.
RIVERA: I can say that we are waiting for a prudent decision of the judge and I will believe that it will give us more time for every side to address this issue and legislate in behalf of real solutions.
God bless you and thanks for having me, Lou.
DOBBS: Gentlemen, thank you very much.
RIVERA: Take care.
DOBBS: Appreciate it.
DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour, "THE SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Thanks, Lou.
She's one of the last of President Bush's inner circle from Texas. Now Karen Hughes is calling it quits. She was supposed to win hearts and minds of the Muslim world.
Has anything, though, really changed?
Another Republican lawmaker now involved in a gay sex scandal. Tonight, what forced a state senator to resign.
Plus, on our political roundtable, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame. What he has about an emerging battle between Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton.
All that and a lot more coming up, Lou, coming up in "THE SITUATION ROOM".
DOBBS: We're looking forward to it.
Thank you, Wolf.
And coming up here next, the results of our poll.
We'll be right back.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: The results of our poll -- 99 percent of you say it's time to elect a president who will represent the interests of the American people and not the interests of special interest groups and corporate America.
Thanks for being with us.
Join us here tomorrow.
On November 5th, in less than a week -- that is, this coming Monday -- we will begin at a new time, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
Please join us.
For all of us here, thanks for watching.
Good night from New York.
"THE SITUATION ROOM" begins right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
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