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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Former CIA Officer Says Torture Saves Lives
Aired December 11, 2007 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Wolf.
Tonight, new questions about the CIA's interrogation methods; a former officer says water boarding probably saved lives. But declares at the same time, water boarding is torture. We'll have all of that, all the day's news, and much more, straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Tuesday, December 11. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Top Bush administration officials today faced a barrage of new questions about the CIA's destruction of videotapes, videotapes that show harsh interrogation techniques being employed. Senators ordered CIA Director General Michael Hayden to Capitol Hill to explain the CIA's actions in private testimony. Meanwhile, new Attorney General Michael Mukasey tried to deflect questions about whether or not he considers water boarding a form of torture.
Ed Henry has our report from the White House. Ed?
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, today's hearing lasted only 90 minutes, because General Hayden was not in charge of the CIA when the tapes were made and destroyed. He emerged from this session vowing to send out more CIA officials who were involved to answer tough questions about these tapes.
HENRY (voice-over): Behind closed doors the CIA's director, General Michael Hayden, was grilled on Capitol Hill for the first time about those destroyed videotapes.
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, CIA DIRECTOR: I'm great, delighted to going down and laying out the facts as we know them and we'll be very happy to let the facts take us where they will.
HENRY: But a new fact emerged that may explain why the CIA did not want the public to see those tapes. A former CIA officer revealing the agency did use water boarding, which simulates drowning on Abu Zubaydah, an al Qaeda suspect shown wounded after his capture in this photo obtained by ABC News.
JOHN KIRIAKOU, RETIRED CIA AGENT: With Abu Zubaydah they worked very well, and we were able to corroborate the information that he provided after the water boarding. And it turned out to be accurate.
HENRY: John Kiriakou believes the tactic provided intelligence that prevented terror attacks in America. But he now feels the tactic did amount to torture.
KIRIAKOU: I struggled with it morally, and I -- it's easy to say, and it may even be a little bit hypocritical, but it was an important -- water boarding was an important technique, but I personally didn't want to do it. I didn't think that it was right in the long run.
HENRY: Different from how President Bush presented it last year when he publicly confirmed al Qaeda captives were in CIA custody and subjected to alternative interrogation techniques.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to be absolutely clear with our people and the world, the United States does not torture.
HENRY: At the White House Tuesday, spokeswoman Dana Perino stuck to that line.
DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: All interrogations have been done within the legal framework that was set out after September 11th, and they are measures that have been tough and limited, they are safe, and they've been very effective in helping prevent terrorist attacks on this country.
HENRY: Even when confronted with the contradiction from the former CIA officer.
(on camera): You are saying water boarding is legal?
PERINO: Ed, I'm saying I'm not commenting on any specific technique. I'm not commenting on that gentleman's characteristic of any possible technique.
HENRY: Now, in an interview with ABC News today, the president repeated, he only found out about the destruction of these tapes last week. He said he's not going to comment much beyond that because of all these swirling investigations. Lou?
DOBBS: Always a swirling investigation in Washington, D.C., amounting to what, Ed?
HENRY: Well that is going to be the big question. Will there really be any answers? A lot of time when there are these swirling investigations you have competing investigations on Capitol Hill alone, one in the House, one in the Senate. You have the Justice Department working with the CIA. You end up having a lot of investigations, a lot of heat. Not always a lot of light, Lou.
DOBBS: And you know even the heat is sort of low grade stuff. This is sort of an insult to everyone's intelligence, and yet, the politics, the political theater goes on. And we're supposed to take it seriously, I suppose, to complete our role in the kabuki theater that is now national politics.
Ed, thank you very much; Ed Henry from the White House.
President Bush today declared Iran continues to be a danger to world peace. President Bush demanding to know why Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program until 2003. Meanwhile Iranian President Ahmadinejad today refused to say whether he will hold unconditional talks with the United States, but the Iranian president said he's optimistic about the future of U.S./Iranian relations, after U.S. intelligence agencies declared that Iran had abandoned its nuclear program four years ago.
Al Qaeda terrorists in Algeria today killed as many as 76 people in two separate car bomb attacks; those car bombs exploding almost simultaneously in the capital of Algiers, the targets of the car bombs, the United Nations headquarters in Algeria and a court building. More than 175 people were also wounded in those attacks.
Disturbing charges tonight that a Texas woman was gang raped by civilian contractors in Baghdad. Jamie Leigh Jones says she was attacked in the so-called green zone by her coworkers from a former Halliburton subsidiary. Jones accuses Kellogg, Brown and Root, the subsidiary of allowing what she called a sexually charged atmosphere in the work place.
Brian Todd has our report.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jamie Leigh Jones was only 20 years old and in Iraq only a few days when she claims her nightmare began. Jones was an employee of Kellogg, Brown and Root, one of America's best-known private contractors in Iraq, a former subsidiary of Halliburton. She claims several men, firefighters who also worked for KBR, drugged and gang raped her at her quarters at Camp Hope in Baghdad.
In a lawsuit against KBR, she claims the attack never would have occurred, but for the "boys will be boys" attitude at its work place in Iraq. Jones' attorneys told CNN that when she reported the incident to her bosses at KBR, they held her without food or water for 24 hours. The lawsuit also alleges KBR did not let her call anyone, but she convinced one of her guards to let her call her father, who frantically called his congressman, Ted Poe of Texas.
REP. TED POE (R), TEXAS: At the time that she called she was in one of these large sea-going steel containers that we've all seen, shipping containers and that she had been -- she says she was held hostage in this environment.
TODD: Poe called the State Department. He says they sent people to get Jones out of the container. KBR officials would not go on camera with us, but in a letter to the government provided to CNN, KBR says "the holding area was a secure unlisted living container where she could rest, and that another KBR employee did ask her if she would like to call her family and offered counseling."
The company says it did give her food and water. KBR also denies Jones' claims of sexual harassment prior to the alleged rape and disputes her allegation that they allowed a sexually charged environment. Neither Jamie Leigh Jones nor her attorneys would go on camera, but her lawyers gave us permission to use her name and pictures.
The State Department says it investigated and passed its findings on to the Justice Department. But despite more than two years passing since the alleged rape, no criminal charges have been filed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What has happened? Where are the people who allegedly did this to her? Let's get some resolution to this.
TODD: Justice Department officials tell us this case is still being investigated, but no charges are imminent. In speaking with Jamie Leigh Jones' attorneys and one other lawyer, we have been told that other women are coming forward with similar lawsuits against KBR. Lou?
DOBBS: A disgusting story. Brian, did Kellogg, Brown and Root investigate the case on its own? Did the company carry out any discipline against those accused workers?
TODD: Well we spoke to the company about that. They said that they did start their own investigation but they were instructed to stop that, because the government was taking over. When I asked a company official if any of those accused had been disciplined, she would not comment on that directly, but she did say that none of the accused work for them anymore.
DOBBS: Quite a culture that Halliburton created in its time, KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, a company that through and through bears investigating. And, we will be -- first Brian, I just want to thank you for your reporting on this story, a terrible story, Brian Todd, and we're going to be talking with Congressman Ted Poe of Texas, who is looking into this, who is carrying out the investigation and demanding answers. We'll be talking with him tomorrow evening.
Still ahead here tonight startling new details of the federal government's battle to stop teenagers from abusing drugs in this country, the war on drugs, some progress to report tonight. Louise Schiavone will have the report for us -- Louise.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the latest federally funded survey shows teenagers are becoming less interested in marijuana and amphetamines but more interested in prescription drugs. We spoke to someone on the front lines of this war.
DOBBS: Louise, thank you.
Also, a Texas homeowner using deadly force to protect his neighborhood now receiving death threats. We'll have a special report.
And I'll have a few words for the left wing Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the country's most pitiful fund-raising organizations, once again, at it with its open borders agenda, an activist organization that has lost its way. We'll have more to say about that fine group of folks, and their concept of justice and the law.
We continue in just a moment. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Well, if you doubt that the Bush administration and both political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, are not intent upon opening our borders, you have no farther to look than our southern border with Mexico, and the Mexican trucks crossing it each and every day now.
Casey Wian has the report.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Stop Mexican trucks. Stop Mexican trucks.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Teamsters protested at the border this month, outraged that a pilot program, giving a limited number of Mexican trucks unlimited access to U.S. highways is moving forward.
JIM HOFFA, PRES., TEAMSTERS: George Bush is playing Russian roulette with the American safety on our highways. And we got to stop it.
WIAN: This fall, the Bush administration began allowing more Mexican trucks to travel beyond restricted zones near the border. So far, Mexican cargo carriers operating 55 trucks have been cleared to participate. Another 37 are approved pending proof of insurance. Critics say the pilot program is too risky.
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: In Mexico, we don't have adequate data banks on drivers' records, on vehicle inspections, on accident reports. If all of that existed, then I wouldn't have any difficulty at all with long haul Mexican trucks coming into our country.
WIAN: Supporters of Mexican trucks say the United States is only now living up to its obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement, which also allows U.S. trucking companies to haul cargo into Mexico. And they say Mexican long haul trucks and drivers already operating here have better safety records than their American counterparts. At the California Highway Patrol truck inspection station in San Diego, officials say Mexican trucks are scrutinized more carefully than American big rigs.
HECTOR PAREDES, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL: We find that there's a vested interest with these Mexican carriers to comply with our standards, first of all because of commerce. They don't want to be held up here. They don't want us placing them out of service and holding up their load.
WIAN: The Teamsters Union says the White House is pushing an unpopular program that could cost American jobs and lives. It is challenging the Mexican truck deal in federal appeals court.
WIAN: The House has already passed a transportation bill that would deny funding to the Mexican truck program. If the Senate follows as expected, President Bush is expected to veto the bill. Lou?
DOBBS: And American truckers on Mexican highways, the point of that being?
WIAN: Allowing American goods to go into Mexico, the limited amount of American goods that go there and allowing American truckers to pick up goods from Mexico and bring them back to the United States.
DOBBS: The idea that it's reciprocity, is that valid?
WIAN: In the eyes of the supporters, it's very valid. The Bush administration says, we just got a statement a little while ago that trucks and drivers from Mexico participating in this program are the most inspected, most regulated and most monitored trucks and drivers operating anywhere on our roads. So, they say it's an opportunity for new savings for U.S. consumers and gives U.S. truck drivers' new opportunities, at least that's what the Bush administration is saying, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, if American consumers aren't running every time they hear this administration talk about lower costs, they also know that usually means lost jobs in this country. We're going to continue to follow this, in particular, Casey, let's find out just the number of American trucks on those Mexican highways and how far they are moving into Mexico, if indeed they are.
WIAN: The number is about 47 right now, it's smaller than the number of Mexican trucks that have been cleared to come in to the United States, but there are some American trucks that are going into Mexico with the same access that Mexican trucks have here.
DOBBS: With an eye toward in the part of this administration to increasing, of course, commerce at our borders. All right, Casey, thank you very much, Casey Wian.
Time now for some of your thoughts; Tom in Kentucky said, "Lou, last night when talking about President Felipe Calderon, Mexico's president, his trip to the United States, you facetiously said 'good job over there at the White House' and gave them a thumbs up. I would suggest you raised the wrong finger." I take your point.
And Bob in New York; "Lou, one thing is for sure, you sure ask good questions. Now if we could only get straight answers to those good questions." Well, we are sure trying. And Jim in New Jersey; "Lou, why is it that the people running for president are grand standing with celebrities? Is it so that the American people don't see how badly they have done their jobs as senators and governors? Do they think the American people are that stupid? I'm glad to be a card carrying member of the Independent party. Thanks for waking the American people." And yes, they do think the American people are that stupid.
And George in Illinois, "Lou, here is wishing you a politically incorrect but heartfelt Merry Christmas!" and Merry Christmas to you.
We'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of the book that the Republican Party and the Democratic Party don't want you to read, and corporate America certainly would take off the shelves if it could. "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit."
Coming up here next, the Texas homeowner who shot and killed two suspected burglars, says he acted in self defense. Will he now face charges?
And, is there progress in the war on drugs? Not all good news, but some. We examine the nation's drug czar's report on teenage drug use. Some reason for optimism.
And the Southern Poverty Law Center, some reason for just contempt of what this once, once historic law center is doing. Distorting the truth now, attacking me, and the very concept of American justice. I'll have a few words for those fine folks.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: The government of Mexico seemingly can't get along with anyone. The attorney general of Mexico now saying Cuban-Americans are helping smuggle Cubans from Cuba through Mexico into the United States. And he blamed the illegal trade on U.S. policy that grants Cubans asylum if they can reach dry land here, the so-called wet foot, dry foot policy.
As many at 10,000 Cubans a year flee to the United States by going to Mexico first, then heading to the border to avoid Coast Guard patrols around the state of Florida; I wonder if that means that the attorney general of Mexico is a racist against Cubans since he wants to stop that practice. It's a curious time for the government of Mexico.
U.S. Customs and border protection officials have seized some very unusual holiday candles at the El Paso border; a drug sniffing dog alerting the officers to a box of candles in a taxi bringing a 17- year-old boy back from Mexico. They discovered 30 pounds of marijuana hidden within those candles. The boy said they were a gift from his grandmother to his mother; Merry Christmas.
And the left wing liberal Southern Poverty Law Center, an activist group that pretends it is some royal of watchdog in this country is at it once again, distorting the truth to advance its agenda of socio-ethnocentric special interest and utter disregard for law and order in this country. This time, the Southern Poverty Law Center is targeting me again, and other supporters of the imprisoned former border patrol agents, Ramos and Compean, who are fighting against an outrageous miscarriage of justice.
The Southern Poverty Law Center in a commentary called Nativist Extremism, well the Southern Poverty Law Center accuses me and others of, quote, "making heroes of what it calls two felons". They claim -- the Southern Poverty Law Center does -- they claim no one has offered any proof that the two are innocent.
First of all, the Southern Poverty Law Center should take law out of its very name because point of fact, in this country, there is a nativist tradition that says people are presumed innocent until proved guilty. What the Southern Poverty Law Center doesn't seem to understand is that in this country the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, not the defendants.
And in this case, the prosecutors hid the fact that the illegal alien drug smuggler who was giving testimony by the prosecutors was fleeing Ramos and Compean, was given immunity before the trial began and in fact broke the law again before that trial began. But the Southern Poverty Law Center doesn't seem to want to pay attention to those rather inconvenient facts for their fund-raising efforts. If you support them, go for it. I think they are an absolute disgrace.
Coming up next here, death threats against a Texas homeowner who shot two criminals protecting his neighbor's property; we will have a special report on what is now a very controversial case.
Also a major new study with some good news for this country, some refreshingly and unusual good news about drug use among our teenagers. We'll have that story.
And the candidates on the stump in Iowa, who are some of the winners and the losers on the campaign trail, and how do you tell the difference? We'll have the answer when we return in just one moment. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The Texas man who shot and killed two suspected burglars is now receiving death threats; the shooting sparking a protest and much debate in the town of Pasadena, Texas outside of Houston. It is far from clear whether Joseph Horn will face charges for those shootings. As Bill Tucker now reports, under Texas law a person can use deadly force to defend not only his own property, but also the property of others.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The tape of Joe Horn's 911 call on November 14th makes it very clear he was witnessing a burglary. OPERATOR: Pasadena 911. What is your emergency?
CALLER: Burglars breaking into a house next door.
TUCKER: That same call also makes it clear that Mr. Horn wasn't going to sit by and let it happen.
CALLER: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) they just stole something. I'm going to go out the window...
CALLER: I'm not going to let them get away with this (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
CALLER: They stole something. They got a bag of something.
OPERATOR: Mr. Horn, stay in the house.
CALLER: I'm doing it.
OPERATOR: Mr. Horn, do not go outside the house.
CALLER: This ain't right, buddy.
TUCKER: He went out, and according to testimony from a plain clothes police officer on the scene, Mr. Horn carrying a shotgun confronted the suspects on his front yard. He gave them a simple command.
CALLER: Move, you're dead.
TUCKER: Those shots killed the alleged burglars. One shot in the back, the other in the side and the back. Both men were Latino. The police expect to hand over to the Harris County district attorney the results of their investigation on the incident next week. From there, it will be up to a grand jury to decide whether to indict Mr. Horn. If he is charged, Texas law might be his best defense as it provides broad latitude for the use of force in protecting property.
PROF. GEORGE DIX, UNIV. OF TEXAS LAW SCHOOL: What it amounts to is essentially a right to use deadly force if it's necessary to prevent a thief who committed burglary in the process of committing theft from escaping with the proceeds of that crime.
TUCKER: Section 931 provides for self-defense. Section 941 provides for protecting personal property. Section 942 allows for deadly force in protecting any property and specifically to prevent, quote, "fleeing immediately after committing burglary". And Section 943 allows for the protection of a third person's property. The shooting sparked a protest with a mix of Horn supporters and activists who believe Mr. Horn went too far.
QUANELL X, NEW BLACK PANTHER NATION: You have so many people in Mr. Horn's community who are calling him a hero. How could you call a man a hero that goes outside and will shoot two unarmed men in the back, one twice and one once? And they were fleeing and running from him. When someone is running from you, and you shoot them in the back with a shotgun, and they are unarmed, you are not a hero.
TUCKER: The New Black Panther Nation promises that if Mr. Horn is not indicted, there will be massive protests.
TUCKER: Now, Wednesday night, the group will be holding meetings with community activists to organize more protests. No word on when those protests might occur, it could be a few weeks before a grand jury hears the case and makes a decision, Lou, about whether to indict or not.
DOBBS: Now we want to make clear. We asked Mr. X, Quanell X, to join us here on this broadcast, and he was unable to make it. We hope he will be with us soon. The idea that this would create protests, this shooting, which is under -- obviously, envisioned under Texas law, is really remarkable.
TUCKER: Well, it's very interesting. Mr. X's position is he shouldn't have gone and acted as judge, jury and executioner in this case.
DOBBS: Well what is Quanell X doing? He's making -- he's coming to a determination that he acted wrongfully.
TUCKER: Well it is interesting when you talk to him because he does say -- Mr. -- in this case he was being a good neighbor and called the cops in turning this guy in. He just shouldn't have gone as far as he did in terms of going out and shooting the unarmed men. But you know, Texas law is -- we went through in the peace, looks like it's pretty firmly on this guy's side. So, this will be interesting as this case moves forward.
DOBBS: Well it is interesting, but at the same time, I mean, the idea that Texas law envisions precisely this, makes allowances for it, in fact, encourages, through this law, protection of property, you know, you can hear it in Mr. Horn's voice. He says, you know, this ain't right, buddy, and you know what? He's living in a city where the burglary rate is up considerably. You got to wonder about a man who has the guts to walk out that door. He doesn't know whether they are armed or not.
TUCKER: No, he doesn't and it is refreshing when you listen to it. Here is a guy who is not going to sit there. He is going to go out, and he's going to do something. 61 years old. He goes out and confronts two men he just has witnessed burglarize his neighbor's house, and he doesn't know what's going to happen.
DOBBS: The shame is, these two men, suspected of being part of a serial ring of burglars, correct?
TUCKER: They are suspected of it. Police say, they don't have any evidence that firmly ties them to any of that. They do know that one of the men who was shot and killed was carrying false identification ...
DOBBS: You referred to the fact they were Latino. And point of fact, in broadcast standards, I would say, the standards of this broadcast, it would not be relevant to bring up a person's race in reporting on a burglary or a shooting of any kind, but this has become a racial issue, in the Houston area.
TUCKER: It has, and you are right. It was immaterial, but it is part of the case and it is part of the protest, saying this is a white neighborhood and a white guy that went over the edge and went too far because they weren't white.
DOBBS: According to the protesters.
TUCKER: According to protesters.
DOBBS: Right. And, other protesters who say --
TUCKER: Well, his neighbors think he's a hero. Wouldn't you like it if a neighbor protected your property?
DOBBS: I think that is the question, and the community standards what will apply, if the law is followed here in the state of Texas. That saying, don't mess with Texas, it sounds pretty apt right now, doesn't it?
TUCKER: It does seem to fit, doesn't it?
DOBBS: The idea that he would be gets death threats and you know protests at his home, people are really getting - this country is really getting so deep in group an identity politic that as people can't think straight. Appreciate it. Bill Tucker, thank you. We'll have more.
We want you to consider this, and we want to know what you think in our poll question tonight. We're asking, do you believe Americans are entitled, not just in Texas, but do you believe Americans are entitled to use deadly force to protect their homes and the homes of their neighbors from burglars? Just as a general proposition. Yes or no? We'd like to know what you think. Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.
Straight ahead, the White House drug czar on a report about the war on drugs, and it's a good report, at least in part. Illegal drug use dropping along teens in some cases, but it's only part of the story.
And republican candidates squaring off, Huckabee and Romney heading head-to-head over new TV ads on, of all things, illegal immigration. Yes, they have discovered that that's important to you and your follow Americans. Imagine that. We'll take you live to Iowa for two reports. Three top radio personalities join me with their assessments on the war on drugs and other top issues facing all of us.
Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: President Bush today rolled out some good news on our so- called war on drugs, a dramatic decline in illegal drug use among teens. But while the statistics may seem at first encouraging, Louise Schiavone reports now, it's only part of the story. And the rest, extremely troubling.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pot and speed are losing their attraction to teenagers, but prescription drug abuse is rising among American youngsters from eighth grade through high school. The survey was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
DR. NORA VOLKOW, NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DRUG ABUSE: While we are seeing decreases, we still have a very high rate of abuse of illicit substances. For example, if you look at 12th graders, 47 percent of them have abused an illicit substance through their lifetime.
SCHIAVONE: University of Michigan researchers surveyed 50,000 teens in the U.S. Among the conclusions, marijuana use over the past year was reported by roughly 32 percent of 12th graders surveyed, roughly 25 percent of 10th graders, and a relatively small 10 percent of eighth graders. While not desirable, the statistics represent a decline over recent years.
Similarly, abuse of amphetamines and methamphetamines is declining. Of growing concern, however, the abuse of prescribed medicines, often accessible at home and traded among users. Researchers say that this year, more than 15 percent of teenagers used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes, with abuse of the painkiller Vicodin especially problematic. Reflecting on the overall downward trends, President Bush embraced the results as encouraging.
PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: Communities are safer. Families are stronger. And more children have the hope of a healthy and happy life.
SCHIAVONE: Optimism is scarce though among those on the front lines.
DR. DAVID DIETCH, PHOENIX HOUSE FOUNDATION: All I can give you is the reflection of the trenches, which shows us a continuation of all of the drugs that we see, that the claims are diminishing, still being used and people getting stuck.
SCHIAVONE: Dr. David Dietch is affiliated with Phoenix House which daily served 7,000 patients, teens and adults, nationally.
SCHIAVONE: Lou, Dr. Dietch says for the elite, there are few worries about having the money it takes to fight abuse, addiction, and their aftermath, but for the middle class, lacking those funds, that need continues to exceed government resources. Lou?
DOBBS: Absolutely, to deal with what is an absolute epidemic, despite the good news today, addiction in this country. Louise, thank you very much, Louise Schiavone.
America's drug czar joining us now. John Walters is the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. It is good to have you here. These are encouraging numbers. The idea that we can see this decline about 24 percent over the course of six years, that's -- that's definitely good news.
JOHN WALTERS, OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL: Yeah, it shows that we pushback. It doesn't happen overnight. You know this is hard, Lou. You've looked at this problem. I know you talked about the problem that we need to be more aggressive here. And we set a goal of 25 percent reduction over five years, which people thought it was too ambition. We have gotten 24 percent, 50 percent reduction in ecstasy use, 64 percent reduction in meth use. That's all good. We have to continue to push on both supply and demand. Prescription drugs have become a substitute as your report correctly points out. But it's a different problem. It's a problem that's uniquely susceptible to getting information out that can change the problem for the better. That's why we need your help in reaching the American people.
DOBBS: Well, the American people need a lot of help here, as you say, and as Louise gave on her report, it is one thing for reasonably affluent people to pay for addiction treatment, to seek out treatment. But our middle class, and people who aspire to it are often the victims of this -- of terrible addiction, either to controlled substances, or to alcohol. What more can we do to help people whole are already victims of addiction?
WALTERS: Yeah, I think we've done a couple of things that really revolutionized the changes. First, the president's first request was to expand treatment in states that have unmet need through expanding capacity, allow for reimbursement of individuals that needed it. Some states have used this for meth treatment, for example. Some states have used it for treatment for teenagers, which is an unmet need in some places. We have done special grants to Native American communities.
But the other is, we are learning to use this into the medical system, to screen people where they come for health care, as we have done with hyper tension, with diabetes, and we can find people before they get to the most acute stage as well as refer them to specialty treatment.
And I think the other thing the president talked about that we are seeing happen in larger numbers is random student drug testing in schools. Once the Supreme Court determined it can't be used to punish, we can do what we've done in the military, help families identify young people in trouble and change the dynamic that's allowed us too often to look the other way. DOBBS: Let's share some numbers with our audience here, John Walters, that Joe Califano, the president, chairman of the National Center on Addiction and Abuse at Colombia University used. Let's look at teen illegal drug users in this country over the past 30 years. In 1979, it was breathtakingly high. 3.3 million at the highest level. Dropping in 1992 to 1.1 million. But even though we've seen an improvement over the course of the five years, as you document, the reality is, it's -- it is a considerable gain oaf the previous decade. At the same time, we are dealing -- you talked about the president's efforts in terms of addiction. We are now facing the largest source of methamphetamines, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana is Mexico. And yet we refuse, this administration refuses to secure that border. Why would this administration not deal with that issue straight up, hard, and shut it down?
WALTERS: Well, again, we may have a slight different view on this. But I think we are doing that. I think Mexico is a center of gravity here. But I think that President Calderon has taken steps to change the opportunity for these criminal cartels to operate. We're not there yet. We are asked for additional resources. I think we are strengthening the border. I think we are seeing changes in the ability of these groups to pen strait the border.
We just had a recent report that showed going back to March of this year, we now have 37 cities that as are reporting cocaine shortages. We now have cities reporting meth shortages. Those are flows that have come through Mexico. With the combination of efforts in Columbia, in the transit zones, the air space, in the ocean zones, that we have done with our forces and with international partners, and what Mexico is now doing, we are seeing changes in the availability. In 30 years of this problem, we have never had as many dynamic forces working on both supply and demand. We're not saying this is the end. This is, I think, try to get people, as you know, this is the lost cost. We can't make any headway on supply and demand. We can when we do the right things.
DOBBS: I couldn't agree with you more. My view of anybody who says we can't make head period way, get them out of the way, and get it done. And we are all pulling for you to get it done soon, because, this remains even with the progress that you can report here tonight, and we appreciate it, it is such a crisis, as you well know. Thank you very much for your service. Thank you very much, John Walters.
WALTERS: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: Coming up next, republican presidential fight is escalating. The front-runners battling over an issue they wouldn't acknowledge a year ago. Something called illegal immigration and border security. And three of the nation's most popular radio talk show hosts join me here next. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Illegal immigration, the defining issue for republican presidential candidates in Iowa tonight? The front-runners, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee launching new attacks, battling to win the nomination with just three weeks to go before the caucus. We have reports, two of them, from Des Moines tonight. We begin with John King and the Romney campaign. John?
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Lou, Governor Romney believes illegal immigration is the issue he can use to halt Governor Mike Huckabee's momentum here in Iowa and get his campaign back on track. But we tried to ask Governor Romney about just why he thinks so today. He wouldn't talk to us. If you want to know, you have to watch his TV ads.
KING: Call this the sky walk scrum. Mitt Romney courting votes and avoiding questions.
GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Going to get together with the media to chat in a moment.
KING: It was a promise he repeated. But ultimately, did not keep.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going to be able to sneak a minute?
ROMNEY: We have to find the guys that are in charge here. Where's Matt?
KING: As the candidate as his wife took their lunchtime stroll, aides insisted this was a photo op only. When pressed, Governor Romney would not discuss his new attack ad or the reaction of its target.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You care to respond to what the Governor Huckabee said today?
ROMNEY: I haven't seen him yet.
KING: It was an odd even event for a candidate top eight's promised would be much more aggressive in Iowa this week. It's just three weeks until Iowa votes, and while some campaigns are in jovial moods, the value of Romney's big investment is in question. $20 million of his own money, including nearly $4 million on TV ads here in Iowa yet the lead he built here this summer is suddenly gone.
ROMNEY: Vote at the caucus now, okay?
KING: Trying to turn things around requires digging deeper. More TV ads. This, the first direct attack ad of the 2008 campaign cycle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The difference? Romney stood up and vetoed in-state tuition for illegal aliens, opposed driver's licenses for illegals. Mike Huckabee supported in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants.
KING: Glossy new mailings in Iowa and other early battleground states. Huckabee is priority number one in this new Romney South Carolina mailing. Supports de facto amnesty, is Romney's charge.
KING: And critics, Lou, see some hypocrisy in that Romney mailing. He says de facto amnesty is Governor Huckabee's position. Those critics note that just two years ago, he gave an interview in which he said the so-called Bush-McCain approach to immigration, that included that path to citizenship, back then, Governor Romney called it, quote, reasonable. Lou?
DOBBS: Everyone seems to be having a little trouble, sorting out their past here. Thank you very much, John. If you would, stay with us just for a moment. We are going to talk to you in a second.
Today, Mike Huckabee received the endorsement of the Minutemen, a group calling for tighter border security and an end to illegal immigration. Dana Bash has our report.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a big endorsement?
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, we do.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Huckabee has one word for Mitt Romney and his new ad against him. Desperate.
HUCKABEE: The more desperate and frantic campaigns get when they see how much money they've spent and we're winning, I mean, that causes people to do some sometimes desperate things.
BASH: The come from behind GOP candidate insists he's flattered.
HUCKABEE: I seem to be the recipient of the first negative attack ad in the republican primary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two former governors.
BASH: Huckabee is trying to turn a negative ad into a positive event. Insisting it will remind voters he's trying to run in above the fray campaign. He warns the ad will turn Iowans off to Romney, but carefully gets his own digs in Huckabee style.
HUCKABEE: As the tattle tale in the third grade, let me tell you what this guy's doing. We didn't like it when we were in the third grade, I don't think we like it electing a president.
BASH: Is he acting like a third grader?
HUCKABEE: No, I didn't say that. I said what I said. It is like. I use a lot of metaphors. You should know that by know, Dana. You've covered me a while.
BASH: That Huckabee showed up here in treacherous weather, despite canceling other Iowa events is a sign he knows he can fall as fast as he climbed. Aides hastily arranged a news conference to tout the endorsement of Jim Gilchrist the founder of the Minutemen, a private group that patrols the border and tries to keep illegal immigrants out.
HUCKABEE: It is a real pleasure to have Jim with me today. Because I think that there are some who want to move away from the fact that the federal government has completely and miserably failed in dealing with this issue.
BASH: And Huckabee tried to use that blessing he got from the head of the Minutemen as a counter punch against Romney's new ad against him on immigration, because, for all of Huckabee's bravado on Romney's desperation, he also admitted today that immigration is the issue he hears most about from republican voters here in Iowa and around the country. He's trying to neutralize some of the positions he had as Arkansas governor by putting forward his plan on what he would do to stop illegal immigration, Lou, if he were president.
DOBBS: Dana Bash, I would like to ask both you and our colleague John King, if I may, is this kind of thing, is this a strategy that works in Iowa, or is ultimately Giuliani or some other candidate the beneficiary when two front-runners, as these gentlemen are, square off like this in media? John?
KING: Well, in the past, Lou, most people say, if you have negatives attacks, often a third candidate benefits. If you talk to any of the campaigns in the state, the McCain or the Thompson, Giuliani campaign, they say the race for number one and probably number two here comes down to two candidates right now, that is Romney and Huckabee, with Huckabee in the lead right now. There's a big republican debate tomorrow, still three weeks left, plenty of time for that to change, but as of now, everyone says it's a two-man race.
DOBBS: Dana, your thoughts?
BASH: Exactly. It definitely does seem to be a two-man race between these two. And it is quite interesting, Lou, that Mitt Romney decided to use the issue of immigration for a negative ad. He could have picked a host of issues. But he realizes, everybody realizes there is a specific reason for that. I got to tell you, just being here on the ground in Iowa, that issue is absolutely enormous. The candidates admit they can't get away from it and they really don't want to if they want to win this caucuses.
DOBBS: There's something you might guess, rather gratifying about the fact that everyone is discovering that issue is important with the voters, in Iowa and around the nation. As I recall, it was years in the making before we could get folks to take that issue seriously, the elites, while the people were concerned about it. It even took this network awhile to figure out it was an important issue. But not you two, our best and our brightest, thank you very much, Dana Bash, John King, thank you very much folks.
Joining me now, three of the best radio talk show hosts in the country. From Seattle, nationally syndicated radio talk show host and my perennial critic, Michael Medved in D.C. bureau, Wilmer Leon of XM Radio, kind soul that he is and friendly face. Good to have you with us. And here in New York, Rachel Maddow, of Air America, liberal and absolutely elegant in her kindness to me. That may end tonight. But I want to get it on the record up until this point.
Let's start with this attack ad, Michael Medved, between Romney and Huckabee, in Iowa. Who is it going to work for?
MICHAEL MEDVED, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED TALK SHOW HOST: It's going to work for Giuliani and McCain. I mean, look, this is classic. Last time, in 2004, a month before the Iowa caucuses, and we're three weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses now, the clear front-runners in Iowa were Gephardt and Howard Dean and then they started attacking each other. They ended up finishing third and fourth respectively. This is very bad for both candidates.
And I think frankly, Huckabee is handling it a little bit better than Romney is. Romney has his own problems on the immigration issue, the problems of the Guatemalans on his front lawn. My question for you, Lou, for anybody, is if Romney is at all serious about what he's saying, and he wants a big crackdown on any company that knowingly hires illegals, why did he go back to a company that he now says is criminal, to continue to provide service for his front lawn?
DOBBS: Yeah, it's -- it's -- the reality is that taking care, eliminating one company will not change a thing, as you know, Michael.
MEDVED: Of course.
DOBBS: The fact is, nearly every landscaping company, every major beef packing plant in the country has hired illegal aliens. It's the disingenuous aspect of this that should trouble everyone. We have to have a public policy that shuts this down, and we have to find a congress with courage, a president who is not a complete weak-kneed servant of corporate America.
Wilmer, your thoughts?
WILMER LEON, XM RADIO: Well, I think that Romney is very fortunate that Giuliani isn't in Iowa because Giuliani was the one that raised that issue of the illegal workers on Romney's front lawn during one of the debates. And I think, also, what this really highlights, to Mitt Romney and to others is that you can't vote and take positions for political expediency on the front end, and then change your position, and try to claim the moral high ground on the back end. Romney has spent $20 million in Iowa, and is losing his lead. If he would have spent half as much money, he might have gained more points.
DOBBS: In other words, he could have spent some of that money on American labor to mow his own lawn. Is that what are you say?
LEON: He could have paid his sons to do it.
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA: He could have generated some spine and spiritual interest in any of his positions. Lou, I think what's going on here the story that this tells me is, how weak the republican field still is this late in the game. I mean, for Romney to be picking abortion and immigration as issues on which he is going to attack other candidates, when he has such personal problems with those issues in his record, shows that he doesn't have a stronger leg to stand on, if he's picking that weak leg to stand on.
Also Mike Huckabee, turns out, is very bad at responding to attacks on him. His record is full of stuff for other candidates to attack him on. And his responses thus far to all of these little scandals have been Bush league politics. He's not playing this like a national candidate.
DOBBS: We know some people who are playing very professional politics, those democrats and Rachel, we are going to see if you find anything where the stand might be leaking from their sack, any of these candidates next. I'm just like ...
MADDOW: With Huckabee --
DOBBS: With Huckabee. I love those metaphors, similes and (inaudible). We'll be back with our panel in just a moment. First, coming up in a few minutes, "OUT IN THE OPEN" and Rick Sanchez. Rick.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hi Lou. We're going to do a little bit more reporting on that situation we were talking about in Houston where a neighbor saw a neighbor's house being burglarized. He shot and killed two illegal immigrants. It's a big controversy. Now there's a threat, and we have details we're going to be providing on that story.
And also, look that video, Lou. This is a subway attack that's going on in New York City. We've just learned that there may be charges filed in this case. We're going to break it down for you.
And then, Dana Perino says she doesn't know about the Cuban missile crisis. She doesn't know Bay of Pigs, so -- so, I'm going to go out and ask people on Times Square whether they know about the Cuban missile crisis. I was doing an interview with a colleague of ours on CNN Espanola Lou, and he said, do they teach this, you know, in the public schools in the United States? It's interesting he would have to ask, isn't it? Back to you.
DOBBS: Well, it's interesting that very little of our history has been subject to more revisionism than the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban missile crisis. Thank you Rick.
SANCHEZ: Always a pleasure.
DOBBS: We'll have more with our panel here next, plus the results of our poll. Stay with us.
DOBBS: We're back with Michael Medved, Wilmer Leon, Rachel Maddow.
Rachel, what do you think? Is Oprah helping Obama? MADDOW: Oprah is helping Obama because she got that many thousand people out to an event for him which is necessarily going to drive volunteerism. It's going to put energy into his campaign. People who don't go to those events won't necessarily be inspired by her endorsing him but those people that came to that event are fired up.
MEDVED: Yes, sure. Of course Oprah helped Obama. She'd help anybody. I think the surprise candidate in Iowa for Democrats could be John Edwards, for the same reasons we're talking about with the Republicans. With Obama and Hillary sniping at each other and increasingly bitter, and Edwards saying I'm going to take a more positive tack -- he got 32 percent in the Iowa caucuses last time. If he does that well this time, he wins.
LEON: Well, Oprah definitely helps by bringing bodies into the stadium. Obama still has to convince those individuals to vote for him, and it will be interesting to see what impact the gain of ground by Obama in Iowa has over the national polls.
DOBBS: In Houston, in Pasadena, outside of Houston, the shooting of two men, a burglar, state law in Texas, in fact, encouraging it, not just permitting it. Your thoughts, Wilmer?
LEON: The gentleman should have stayed in his home. The fact that he went outside of his house in pursuit of those gentlemen, said, in fact, "I'm going to kill those guys," and shot them in the back, to me it's murder.
DOBBS: And do you think there should be demonstrations and protests?
LEON: Well, I think whenever anybody...
DOBBS: You see it as a racial issue?
LEON: Oh, I don't think it's a racial issue as much as when people in a community are dissatisfied with what goes on in the community, I always support their right to protest.
MEDVED: Well, Lou, you know that you and I disagree on just about everything. We agree on this one. The guy is a hero. He was trying to help his neighbor, and he was under the confines of Texas law.
DOBBS: Rachel, you get the last word.
MADDOW: The only good news out of this, if we take your take on it, Michael, is that we could just disband police forces around the country and have everybody take up arms to defend themselves, and get rid of the authorities. Vigilantism should not rule the day.
DOBBS: Thank you very much. You get the last word, as I said. Rachel, thank you very much. Michael, Wilmer, thank you very much.
And the results of our poll tonight -- 94 percent of you say Americans are -- are you listening, Rachel -- are you listening, Wilmer -- are entitled to use deadly force to protect their homes and the homes of their neighbors from burglars. Just 94 percent. I don't want you guys to in any way question yourselves.
Thanks for being with us. For all of us here, thanks for voting, and good night from New York. "OUT IN THE OPEN" with Rick Sanchez begins right now.
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