Return to Transcripts main page
LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
House Passes Spending Bill; Judge Looks into CIA Torture Videos; People Throwing Rocks at Border Patrol
Aired December 18, 2007 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KITTY PILGRIM, GUEST HOST: Tonight, members of Congress are at it again, lawmakers adding nearly 10,000 earmarks for pet projects to a massive government spending bill. We'll have all of that, all of the day's news, much more straight ahead tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Tuesday, December 18th. Live from New York, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Kitty Pilgrim.
PILGRIM: Good evening, everybody. Members of Congress can't shake off their addiction to pork. They have stuffed a new government spending bill with thousands of earmarks that will cost taxpayers more than $7 billion. The House voted in favor of the bill in the dead of night. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill this evening. Brianna Keilar has our report -- Brianna.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kitty, some of the things these earmarks pay for, a bike trail, quite a few museums, and there's even money for getting rid of a rat problem.
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: I just think that this represents the most failed Congress in history.
KEILAR (voice-over): It's a $500 million bill to fund almost the entire federal government. Republicans say it is chock full of pork, close to 9,000 earmarks.
REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: One of the reasons voters made a change in the control of the Congress was because they wanted Congress to change the way we spend the people's money. The more things change in Washington, D.C., the more they stay the same.
KEILAR: But Democrats insist they have been more forthcoming about who requests federal money for local projects. And they say, compared to the last budget Republicans passed, their bill has far fewer earmarks.
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MAJORITY LEADER: We have had a 40 percent reduction, a transparent process. And we believe that there has been as careful a vetting of projects in this Congress as has ever occurred.
KEILAR: Still Republican Senator Tom Coburn, well-known for waging war on earmarks, has singled out Republicans and Democrats alike. GOP Senator Ted Stevens gets $113,000 for rodent control in Alaska. A Stevens aide says it's necessary to curb a rat infestation that's wiping out sea birds.
Democratic Congressman Jim Oberstar put in for almost $700,000 for a bike trail in his home state of Minnesota. Oberstar's office says it's an alternative transportation over an environmentally sensitive area. And it could be a model for the entire nation.
The watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense says that the rush to get this budget passed before Congress breaks for winter recess means there is not enough time put earmarks under the microscope.
RYAN ALEXANDER, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: People have slipped earmarks in. There are changes to policy and program spending. And people have to vote on it without knowing what those changes are.
KEILAR: And that is really the complaint of some Republicans. These so-called "airdropped earmarks" that are dropped into this big spending bill kind of late in the game so they aren't subject to as much congressional scrutiny -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Brianna, what is the very latest on the political battle to pay for the war in Iraq? Will Congress give the Bush administration the money that it's asking for?
KEILAR: They're expected to, Kitty, but not before Senate Democrats yet again attempt to change the president's Iraq War policy. However, they are not expected to succeed in that attempt tonight -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Brianna Keilar.
Well, the House of Representatives today voted in favor of a sweeping energy bill. The president will sign the legislation into law tomorrow. The bill includes the first increase in automobile fuel economy standards in more than three decades. Democrats wanted to eliminate tax breaks for oil companies. But Republicans blocked that proposal.
Now a federal judge today intervened in the controversy over the CIA's harsh interrogation methods, demanding a hearing on Friday. The judge wants to know whether the Bush administration violated a ruling to preserve videotapes destroyed by the CIA.
Ed Henry reports from the White House.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a White House version of political hot potato.
DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY.: I think that's a question that is best put to the Justice Department. HENRY: Ask spokewoman Dana Perino about a federal judge ordering the Bush administration to answer questions about the destruction of interrogation videos.
PERINO: (INAUDIBLE) referring to the Justice Department.
HENRY: Is the White House making sure the CIA does not destroy any other tapes or potential evidence in terror cases?
PERINO: I'm going refer you to the Justice Department.
HENRY: But in fact, the Justice Department is not commenting on the judge's order either, and is not being cooperative with congressional investigations to see if any laws were broken in the destruction of the CIA tapes.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey is refusing to provide any information to the House and Senate intelligence panels charging that would interfere with his own preliminary inquiry.
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA (R-MI), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We -- in Congress, we have a job to do and we're going to do it. You and the executive branch, you have got a job to do. You go do your job, we're going to do our job.
HENRY: The top Republican on the House intelligence panel says it's not good enough for the executive branch to investigate itself. And he may support congressional subpoenas to force answers.
HOEKSTRA: There were misleading statements that came to the Intelligence Committee from the community regarding these tapes. We have a constitutional responsibility to do our job and to hold the community accountable for the work that it has done or the work that it has not done.
HENRY: Will the White House comply with those subpoenas?
PERINO: I'm going to refer you to the Justice Department.
HENRY: Now in a letter to Senate leaders, the attorney general said he's just concerned that these congressional investigations may interfere with his own investigation. If, for example, Congress were to immunize witnesses, that could mess up a potential criminal probe. But the bottom line is if the administration continues to not answer questions, it could raise more questions about whether or not they are hiding something -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Ed Henry.
Let's turn to the war in Iraq. Two more of our troops have been killed, both in non-combat incidents, 15 of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month, 3,896 of our troops have killed since this war began, 28,711 of our troops have been wounded, 12,853 of them seriously. Turkish troops today launched an incursion into northern Iraq. Turkey says it inflicted heavy losses on Kurdish rebels responsible for cross-border attacks. The Turkish military operation took place as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
Barbara Starr reports from the Pentagon.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A few hundred Turkish ground forces moved into northern Iraq, pursuing Kurdish PKK rebels just days after Turkish jets bombed guerrilla positions on the Iraqi side of the border.
Officially the U.S. military isn't directly involved.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: This was a Turkish decision. We have made clear to the Turkish government that we continue to be concerned about anything that could lead to innocent civilian casualties or to a destabilization of the north.
STARR: But several U.S. military officials confirmed to CNN that before the air strikes, the U.S. gave the Turks the locations of the PKK positions.
PERINO: We have been coordinating and working with Turkey in order to -- and the Iraqis, in order to help eliminate the terrorist threat that exists there. We have asked Turkey to be very limited in its activities.
STARR: For weeks, the U.S. has been flying U2 spy planes and drones over the mountains to gather intelligence. U.S. military personnel are in Turkey analyzing the data gathered and handing it to the Turks.
The U.S. military, which controls Iraqi airspace, was informed by Turkey about the strikes according to a U.S. official. The U.S. didn't oppose it. The Bush administration hopes to keep Turkey from launching any full-scale invasion into Iraq, even though the U.S. agrees the PKK is a terrorist organization.
But some Iraqis are dismayed at the incursion into their country.
HOSHYAR ZEBARI, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER: We believe any unilateral actions to destabilize the situation will harm Iraq's interests and Turkish interests at the same time.
STARR: Now the Turks did tell the U.S. that they were launching the air strikes. But there are emerging questions about how soon the U.S. military actually knew Turkish planes had crossed into Iraqi airspace. It's all a very sensitive matter -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Barbara Starr. Still to come, Border Patrol agents face increasing danger along the border with Mexico. Casey Wian will have the report -- Casey.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kitty, nearly 1,000 Border Patrol agents have been attacked this year by smugglers and others throwing rocks, bricks and Molotov cocktails. Coming up, we'll explain how agents are trying to defend themselves -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Thanks, Casey. Also, one state refuses to allow the federal government to enforce laws against illegal immigration. We will have that story.
Also, where is Rudy Giuliani? He's not in the early voting state of Iowa. We'll tell you where Giuliani is two weeks before the Iowa Caucuses.
PILGRIM: Violent rock-throwing attacks against U.S. Border Patrol agents are on the rise. And most of these attacks are being launched from the Mexican side of the border. The Border Patrol has responded by firing pepper spray across the border in an attempt to stop the attacks.
Casey Wian reports.
WIAN (voice-over): From October to December, 90 Border Patrol agents in the San Diego area were assaulted from the Mexican side of the border. This video shows examples of what the Border Patrol says is a 500 percent increase in cross-border attacks compared to the same period last year.
JAMES JACQUES, BORDER PATROL SPOKESMAN: They're proactively going after our agents with rocks, with slingshots, we had flaming rocks, Molotov cocktails, any number of things directed at us to try to take us out.
WIAN: Agents are responding with non-lethal force, using paintball guns to fire pepper spray pellets, sometimes into residential neighborhoods, according to Mexican authorities.
JACQUES: We're trying to avoid shooting people who are trying to kill us.
WIAN: The Border Patrol says the attacks, which totaled nearly 1,000 nationwide in 2007, are part of a frequently repeated pattern. Whenever border security is beefed up with more agents, more technology or more fencing, violence escalates. Agents say some of the attacks are diversionary to allow drugs and people to move across, others are launched simply out of frustration.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They are losing millions of dollars per week, the smugglers are. And that makes them -- that pushes them to a very aggressive stance. As you know, we have discovered a number of tunnels, that has cut back the amount of narcotics they are able to smuggle through. They want money, and the way they get money is moving stuff across that border. And right now the Border Patrol is starting to really hurt them with respect to the smuggling operations.
WIAN: Hunter and other border security advocates are outraged that during a time when violence against Border Patrol agents is increasing, Congress voted this week to remove funding for more double layered border fence. Such a fence could have prevented an attack like this, where a Border Patrol agent was nearly killed by a 12-inch cinderblock hurled from the Mexican side.
WIAN: Mexico's acting consul in San Diego recently met with the Border Patrol to demand that they stop firing pepper spray onto Mexican soil. Border Patrol defends its tactics, saying Mexican authorities are slow to respond when agents are being assaulted from the Mexican side -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Casey, when you talk about rock-throwing, these are not trivial assaults, are they?
WIAN: Absolutely not. Some of these rocks, you know, are more like boulders than a small stone. And the small stones that are launched over the border or are launched by wrist rocket-type slingshots, which can be deadly. And Border Patrol agents are coming under assault from all kinds of projectiles being thrown across the border -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Casey Wian. Thanks, Casey.
Congressman Pete King, the sponsor of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 will join me later in the program. We will discuss the latest move by Congress to cut funding for the fence along the southern border.
States across the country are passing legislation cracking down on illegal immigration. The states are taking action due to the federal government's inability to control this crisis. Illinois though has been moving in the opposite direction. Illinois passed a law barring employers from using a federal database to check a worker's immigration status. But faced with a federal lawsuit, Illinois put the measure on hold.
Bill Tucker reports.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a compromise reached quietly. The attorney general of Illinois agreeing to postpone implementing a new law that would make it illegal for employers in the state to use the federal program eVerify to check on the legal status of new hires. The attorney general declined our request for a comment.
But a supporter of the eVerify program from Illinois welcomed the news by the governor's administration.
REP. PETER ROSKAM (R), ILLINOIS: They really had bad judgment when they signed this bill into law. And I think they're beginning to posture and realizing that they're on the wrong side of common sense and they are on the wrong side of public opinion on this.
TUCKER: Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff was pleased and said that DHS will "communicate with each of the Illinois employers enrolled in the eVerify, to let them know that they may continue to use eVerify without fear of state enforcement action on January 1st."
Homeland Security wants all employers interested in signing up for the program to know that DHS welcomes them. And there are employers who want to use the eVerify program, saying that it makes complying with the law to hire only citizens or legal immigrants easier.
One is Jason Speers of Quality Float Systems (sic).
JASON SPEERS, QUALITY FLOAT WORKS: We need a tool to comply with it. And it's hard. And this seems like a very easy solution to accomplish that.
TUCKER: DHS is emphasizing that the program has an accuracy rate of 99.7 percent, an error rate of three people out of a thousand. Critics of the program challenged those statistics. The department is stressing to employers as well as employees that a letter indicating a problem or a no-match with a Social Security number and a name is just that, a problem which needs to be fixed. It's not a letter ordering the employer to fire anyone.
TUCKER: Now the postponement of the implementation of the law does not mean that DHS has dropped its lawsuit against the state of Illinois. The lawsuit will proceed, but the state legislature is currently considering amending its law to allow the use of eVerify by employers, Kitty. So we will have to wait and see what happens. This is either going go to court and be resolved in court, or the legislature will take care of it.
PILGRIM: Well, just because Illinois put it on hold doesn't mean they're dropping it in any way?
TUCKER: No. No, not in any way at all. Right now, in fact, it is a 60-day stay. You know, they hope that they can get this resolved, perhaps, get the legislature back in session and have them amend the law to allow the use of eVerify.
PILGRIM: Bill, your interviews made a very good point that eVerify is a tool that companies can use to make their lives simple.
TUCKER: Right. Well, yes. The law does require, believe it or not, that you hire either citizens or legal immigrants. This -- eVerify is a tool to do that. People who are against it, Kitty, have frequently portrayed it as, you know, these no-match letters are firing letters. And DHS today, when I spoke with them, emphasized, this is not a letter to fire somebody, this is a letter to say that there's a problem, look deeper into it.
PILGRIM: Very interesting stuff. Thanks very much, Bill Tucker.
Let's take look at some of "Your Thoughts" now. We did hear from Clarence in Florida who wrote: "When Mr. Bush made the statement that wages are higher and paychecks are going farther, was he speaking about China or Mexico? It is rather obvious he wasn't speaking about middle class America.
Eric in Ohio wrote: "I've been watching the Hillary/Obama race very closely. I felt that Obama was pulling ahead until he attacked Lou Dobbs. What a serious mistake that was. I believe he just lost all the voters that stand behind Lou, including myself." Well, we thank you for that.
And Paula in Florida: "Lou, I've been watching your show for quite some time. Today was the day, I have switched my party from Democrat to independent. I thank you for keeping us informed on all issues. Keep up the good work."
We'll have more of your e-mail a little bit later in the broadcast. And each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of Lou's new book, "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit."
Up next, what about Rudy? Why the national frontrunner is essentially conceding the Republican race in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. And why he says he's OK with that.
And then buyer we beware, a week before Christmas, toxic toys still on the shore shelves. And we will tell you which ones to look out for. Stay with us.
PILGRIM: A well-known Republican candidate will be missing from the campaign in the early primary states. Rudy Giuliani is turning his focus away from New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina, is spending a lot of time in Florida instead.
Bill Schneider explains why.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): What's the big news in the Republican race? Huckabee versus Romney? McCain's endorsements? Ron Paul's money?
Question. Where's Rudy? He is still the national front-runner, according to a new Gallup poll, with four other candidates: Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney, essentially tied for second. But the action is in the early voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Giuliani is not leading in any of them.
His pollster say he's not worried.
ED GOEAS, GIULIANI CAMPAIGN POLLSTER: We decided to go after a national strategy. That's what we have been running since the beginning. I think that's what you will continue to see.
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you very much.
SCHNEIDER: The polls show Giuliani's standing has eroded a bit since the summer. That could have something to do with what's happening in the Democratic race. Hillary Clinton does not look quite so inevitable.
SCOTT HUFFMON, PROFESSOR, WINTHROP UNIVERSITY: I think a lot of the support in South Carolina behind Giuliani, behind Romney, was the concept of, this is the person who can knock off Hillary.
SCHNEIDER: If Clinton is less of a threat, some Republicans may be going with the candidate they agree with more. Giuliani's signature issue has always been terrorism. But terrorism is no longer the voters' top concern. Among all voters, terrorism ranks fifth out of five issues. Among Republicans, it is in third place, behind the economy and illegal immigration, and declining in importance. The agenda is shifting to domestic issues.
Is Giuliani worried? Not according to his pollster.
GOEAS: I think what you have seen is not just the terrorism fading as an important issue as much as there has been a layer added on to Rudy Giuliani, which is an understanding of the job he did as mayor, what he did to bring down welfare, what he did to bring down crime, what he did to cut taxes 23 times.
SCHNEIDER: Giuliani is a big-state man, Florida, New York, California. But those big states vote late. Giuliani would be happy to see the early states split, say, Huckabee win Iowa, then McCain winning New Hampshire, then Thompson winning South Carolina, because happiness in politics is a divided opposition -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: You can say that again. Thanks very much, Bill Schneider.
Hillary Clinton's campaign is working hard to counter the idea that she has become less of a threat. And they are adding another big name to her campaign. Today Magic Johnson joined President Clinton on the campaign trail in Iowa. And Johnson touted Clinton's experience and called her a woman of action.
Also in Iowa, Fred Thompson said, saddle me up, after a newspaper suggested he gives conservatives a "horse to ride" in the campaign. Thompson plans to spend the final two weeks before the Iowa Caucus crisscrossing the state.
Coming up, more on the presidential election campaign. Three of the nation's top radio show hosts will join me. Also new evidence that dangerous toys from communist China are still on the store shelves. We'll have a special report on that.
Also corporate elites refuse to acknowledge the rising hardship facing middle class Americans. We'll have that story.
And outrage on Capitol Hill, after lawmakers drop plans to secure parts of our southern border. Congressman Pete King will join us.
PILGRIM: It's just seven days until Christmas. There are still dangerous toys in the store. A coalition of environmental and consumer groups tested 1,200 toys and other children's products. And it found many contained toxic chemicals, including lead. But the toy industry is still standing by the safety of its products.
Christine Romans has our report.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Steel workers' kids telling parents to check where their Christmas presents are made. It is part of the steelworkers union campaign urging Congress to get the lead out of imported toys.
Now even after millions of toys already have been recalled, an environmental watchdog against warns there are still tainted toys in your shopping cart like these baby shoes, and these, and this doll.
JEFF GEARHART, ECOLOGY CENTER: We think that parents should be able the buy toys and feel that they do not contain lead or other chemicals of concern. And we think that the toy companies should take the position that they do not want retail products with chemicals of concern in them.
ROMANS: Healthytoys.org tested products right off store shelves and found 22 more toys it says contained dangerous chemicals, including lead. One of them, the popular Fisher Price Medical Kit, specifically, the red blood pressure cuff, Consumers Union has already urged parents to take this toy away from children.
A Fisher Price spokeswoman, though, again defended the toy: "The Fisher Price Medical Kits are safe for consumers." The company says the toy meets all federal and international product safety and lead standards.
But consumer groups they those rules are weak. And the Illinois attorney general is so concerned, she will not allow the toy to be sold in her state, telling us it's time "to find ways to review and tighten up the quality control process in order to eliminate these health risks."
The Toy Industry Association called the healthytoys.org review of toys "misleading." "The mere presence of inaccessible substances in trace amounts does not mean a product is harmful," the group says. But after so many toy recalls, these kids aren't so convinced.
The steelworkers' union says Washington trade policies have allowed companies to sacrifice safety when they outsource production. The group healthytoys.org is less concerned with trade policy and more concerned with chemicals in the house hold products.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN ANCHOR: What do they recommend, healthytoys.org recommends doing what?
ROMANS: Stay away from vinyl toys they say and they have a list of toys on their web site that they say they have tested that do prove to be safe.
PILGRIM: Well, there's a good source. Thanks, Christine.
Big business and the government continue to ignore the country's sluggish economy. Today the largest business lobby declared the U.S. is no longer or nowhere near a recession. This announcement comes just one day after President Bush tried to paint a rosy picture of our economy. Louise Schiavone has our report.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More bad but not unexpected news. Single family housing starts haven't been this low since 1991. But captains of industry are holding onto the hope that despite arguably worsening economic times, the nation is not headed into a recession.
MARTIN REGALIA, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: As long as personal income holds up the way it has, as long as we continue to create jobs, we'll see the consumer stick with the economy. The economy will don't grow as a result.
SCHIAVONE: Martin Regalia is chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Ever since former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan mentioned it over the weekend, the financial world has been abuzz with the word from the bad old days from of the 1970s.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My sense is that we have entered a period. We are in a period of mild stagflation.
SCHIAVONE: Stagflation, slow or no growth combined with rising inflation means the American middle class at best will be treading water until the punishment of skyrocketing energy prices at potentially a quarter of a trillion dollars worth of losses in bad mortgages lay themselves out. Most agree that will take at least a year and probably longer. President Bush finally conceding --
PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: There's definitely storm clouds and concerns. But the underpinning is good. We'll work our way through the period.
SCHIAVONE: The Dow closed 171 points lower that day and the jury is out whether the president's comments helped. FRED DICKSON, D.A. DAVIDSON & CO.: While his message was meant to reassure the country that we're not going into something more serious, into a more serious dip, it probably sends a signal that there isn't a lot to encourage a terrifically optimistic outlook.
SCHIAVONE: The chance of a recession is put at 40 percent.
SCHIAVONE: But Kitty, Dickson says there's already a recession for anyone in the auto industry, in the housing industry, and workers in related domestic manufacturing. Factories that are making lots of American consumers less optimistic. Kitty.
PILGRIM: That's certainly the case in many areas of the country that rely on manufacturing. Thanks very much, Louise Schiavone.
In tonight's poll, are you shocked that President Bush, his administration and the largest business lobby in the country do not think times are difficult for middle class families? Yes or no? Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll bring you the results later in the broadcast.
Still ahead, we'll discuss the president's optimistic outlook on the economy with three of the best radio talk show hosts in the country.
Also, Congressman Pete King says democrats are ripping apart a bill to secure the border.
We'll also talk to the lawyer of the Texas homeowner that shot and killed two unarmed burglars. Those stories, a lot more when we come back.
PILGRIM: In the dark of the night, behind closed doors, the democratic leadership of Congress undermined efforts to secure our nation's borders. As part of their effort to pass an emergency spending bill, congressional leaders changed some key provisions of the secure fence act of 2006. That law called for two-tier fencing to be installed at specific locations along our border with Mexico. Last night those requirements were removed from the spending bill.
Congressman Pete King was the sponsor of the secure fence act and he joins me now. We welcome him. I would like to first ask you about this bill. The bill was delivered in the middle of the night, released after midnight. It's the size of a major metropolitan phone book. It has 1,500 pages at least, 9,000 earmarks and then the secure fence act is removed. How do you find that and follow up on it? Aren't you outraged?
REP. PETE KING (R), NEW YORK: I really am. It's really disgraceful. We passed overwhelmingly last year. It past overwhelmingly in both houses. There was a major bill signing ceremony in the white house. It required a fence of 700 miles along the border, a two-tiered fence and to have this taken out, to be buried in an omnibus bill that has nothing to do with fencing. It really has nothing to do with spending either. This was strictly - and in fairness, it was originally proposed by a republican senator but it was the democratic leaders who put it in there. It violates the entire spirit of the law, the letter of the law and is a smack in the face to the American people.
When I ran for re-election last year, when we talk about our policy against illegal immigration, one of the first things we talk at is how important the fence is, how it's going to be constructed. The way it is now, it is limited to 370 miles. That's not definite. We're going have to restart the fight. I'm just hoping people watching tonight will take up the fight and continue it through next year because it's really wrong. If they wanted to have a debate on it and have a full fledged debate with committee hearings and a floor debate out in front of the American people and then congress voted to cut it in half, then that's fair play. That's the will of the people. That's the will of the Congress. But to sneak it in an overall spending bill is disgraceful.
PILGRIM: Despite your objections, you voted for it. Why?
KING: For instance, there was language in the bill that's going increase the amount of money for border patrol agents, immigration enforcement, veteran's benefits, things that were needed. In my mind this balanced out 51/49. There were more good than bad in it. That's why I voted for it. I can understand why people voted against. I just felt that on balance, there was enough good in there that it should be voted for. It was the entire program for the U.S. government and we did cut down the spending dramatically. This is $22 billion below what the democrats wanted to spend. So it did fit within the president's budget. As far as the spending part of it, I can live. There's items in there I'm not crazy about but on balance, it was satisfactory but to sneak that in about the fence was really disgraceful.
PILGRIM: Let's talk about a couple other immigration issues. The senate voted down the cloture vote. They'll continue debate on it but also put in is $10 million for lawyers for illegal aliens and also taken out was language that protected employers that required English only. How do you feel about that?
KING: I disagree on both counts and I feel strongly. I know for instance Congressman Tom Price I believe of Georgia has legislation which would reinstate the language as far as employers being able to require language - to require English as the language on the job site. As far as giving $10 million to lawyers to represent illegal immigrants, that's in the wrong direction. There are a number of issues that need to be addressed. Maybe being a presidency year and an election year will allow us to get this out to the American people.
PILGRIM: It's a disservice to the American people to have this sort of back door stuff going on with a spending bill of this importance. Representative Pete King, thanks for being with us tonight.
KING: Kitty, thank you very much.
PILGRIM: A reminder to vote in tonight's poll. Are you shocked that President Bush, his administration and the largest business lobby in the country do not think times are difficult for middle class families? Yes or no? Caste your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll bring you the results in just a few minutes.
Coming up at the top of the hour, "OUT IN THE OPEN" with Rick Sanchez, Rick.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Kitty, we've never seen so many people coming from Mexico at the same time and it's become a crisis in this country. The question we should be asking ourselves is why is this happening? Why are these people coming from Mexico into the United States? I traveled to Mexico and I found part of these answers. Will, show them the pictures, if we could. This is the place called the Lost City. It's in the outskirts of Mexico City. If you want to know why people go from the countryside to the city and then eventually to the United States, this is the place you have to go. It's an incredible journey. I'm going take you there. It's an exclusive report that we're going to bring you.
Also then we've got these prison stories that are going on today. Look at these pictures. Yu wouldn't live here. Look at this. These are prisoners in a riot. It's taking place in Cincinnati, Ohio. We've gotten our hands on the exclusive pictures as well. We're going to be sharing them with you and then we're going to be bringing you the very latest on these two prisoners who they're looking for in New Jersey.
And of course Cuba and what's going on there. We'll talk to an expert about the beginning of Raul as opposed to Fidel means an opening for this country, the United States. All of that and a lot more. Kitty, back to you.
PILGRIM: Thanks a lot, Rick Sanchez.
Coming up, does the right to bear arms include taking a life while defending property? A recent Texas incident brings that issue to light and we'll speak with an attorney in the case.
And is there a hidden message in the Mike Huckabee ad? We'll ask three of the nation's leading talk show radio hosts about that and much, much more so stay with us.
PILGRIM: The controversial case of Joe Horn. He's the Texas man that shot and killed two unarmed burglars. It's reigniting the opinion on gun ownership in the country. A new CNN Research Corporation poll finds an overwhelming majority, 65 percent, believe the constitution guarantees the right to own a gun; 31 percent disagree. Joining me is for more on the Horn case is his lawyer, Tom Lambright and he joins us from Houston tonight. Thank you for being with us.
TOM LAMBRIGHT, JOE HORN'S ATTORNEY: Thank you.
PILGRIM: At this point, your client has not been arrested, indicted or charged. Does Texas law protect him at this point?
LAMBRIGHT: The case has to be heard by the grand jury first. They can bind him to true billing or no billing. That's going be the process.
PILGRIM: Let's listen for a moment for the benefit of our viewers to the 911 call made by Mr. Horn. This happened at the time he sees suspects stealing from his neighbor's house.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOE HORN: They just stole something. I'm going to go out the window. I'm not going to let them get away with this (EXPLETIVE) they just stole something. They got a bag of something.
OPERATOR: Mr. Horn, stay in the house.
HORN: I'm doing it.
OPERATOR: Mr. Horn, do not go outside the house.
HORN: I'm sorry. This ain't right buddy.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
PILGRIM: Now, the operator clearly saying for Mr. Horn to stay in the house. How do you respond to the idea that this entire situation could have been avoided if he had done that?
LAMBRIGHT: I think it would have been better avoided if the two individuals had not burglarized the neighbor's house. Mr. Horn certainly had a right to go outside while had 911 on the phone to try to give them additional information.
PILGRIM: It's a fair point. They were burglarizing a house. Let's listen to another portion of the 911 tape and this is a part where Mr. Horn confronts the suspects in the yard.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HORN: Move, you're dead.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
PILGRIM: Did Mr. Horn believe his life was in danger? Isn't that critical to the whole situation?
LAMBRIGHT: I believe he did believe it was in danger. We have a Pasadena police officer that was in the process of rolling to the scene another at the time these individuals were out in the yard facing each other. He says that once Mr. Horn told him not to move, they rushed Mr. Horn. He's holding a shotgun.
PILGRIM: Where does Texas law stand on this?
LAMBRIGHT: Well obviously Mr. Horn has a right to be in his yard. If he believes they're trying to do him harm, especially serious bodily injury or death, he has a right to respond with deadly force.
PILGRIM: How does he feel about the whole incident?
LAMBRIGHT: He wished it never happened. He would like to go back and when he heard the glass breaking, not do anything.
PILGRIM: Since this incident, there have been protests for and against Mr. Horn's actions. He has received death threats. Joe Horn is also your personal friend as well as your client. How is he reacting to all of this?
LAMBRIGHT: I think he's taking the threats seriously. He doesn't know who the individuals are but I think any time somebody makes a threat to take your life, I think you have to take it seriously.
PILGRIM: I would like to listen to the man from the Bew Black Panther Nation. He made comments about the people that support Mr. Horn. Let's listen to that for a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUANELL X, NEW BLACK PANTHER NATION: You have so many people in the community calling him a hero. How could you do that if he shoots two unarmed men in the back, one twice and one once, they were fleeing and running from you. When someone is running from you and you shoot them in the back and they are unarmed, you are not a hero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PILGRIM: How do you feel about that comment?
LAMBRIGHT: I believe that the people supporting Mr. Horn are making a statement against crime. In general with regard to the particulars in this case, I don't believe one of the individuals were shot in the back. But once again, these two individuals knew what they were doing was dangerous wok. They could have simply gotten an honest job and avoided the whole situation.
PILGRIM: Tom Lambright, thank you very much for appearing on the broadcast tonight. Thank you, sir.
LAMBRIGHT: Thank you.
PILGRIM: Still ahead, three popular radio hosts on god, politics, tapped latest controversy on the campaign trail. We'll have that and much more still to come. Stay with us.
PILGRIM: Joining me now are three of the best radio talk show hosts in the country. We have Charles Goyette from KSNX in Phoenix, here in New York, we're joined by Mark Simone of WABC radio, and Roland Martin of WVON in Chicago. Roland is also a CNN contributor and gentlemen, thanks for being here. Let's start with the Huckabee Christmas ad. It's been generating buzz. Let's play it for our viewers for just a moment and Mike Huckabee appears to have a cross floating behind him. That's what's generating the controversy. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you about worn out of all the television commercials you've been seeing, mostly about politics. I don't blame you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PILGRIM: There you see it. The book shelf appears to be a cross. It seems to be a big problem for a lot of people. Roland, what do you think?
ROLAND MARTIN, WVON IN CHICAGO: It's a book shelf. Are books supposed to sit on a flat panel or something? This is ridiculous. Even if it is a cross, he's a southern Baptists preacher. So be it. It's a Christmas commercial. Christmas, Christ you know they kind of go together so this is ridiculous. People are trying to criticize. Deal with it.
PILGRIM: It's not like it's unrelated to the subject he was speaking on.
MARK SIMONE, WABC IN NEW YORK: Even if it was a cross, he's not afraid of being Mike Huckabee. He's proud of his religion and not afraid to talk about it.
PILGRIM: Is that the subject of the criticism though? You don't want to criticize Christmas but you might criticize the subliminal cross. Charles, what do you think?
CHARLES GOYETTE, KFNX IN PHOENIX: Kitty, I'm surprised you knew there was a cross in the commercial. I hadn't noticed. Look, here's what Huckabee is trying to do. He's trying to tread in the footsteps of George W. Bush who had speech writers evoking Christianity with warm lyrics from those great old Christian humans and they laid their judgment at his feet so that George W. Bush could make judgments in their stead. He went out and killed tens of thousands of people on the basis of misrepresented evidence. Huckabee threatens the same thing. It's a man of the cross. I wish he would talk a little bit more about the prince of peace at this time of year.
PILGRIM: You can read all of that into this ad?
GOYETTE: Yes, look. I mean Huckabee's a supporter of torture and waterboarding. Huckabee is a supporter of high altitude bombing, shock and awe. This is a man of the cloth. Not my cloth, Kitty.
PILGRIM: Let me play Mr. Huckabee's response just in fairness to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUCKABEE: I will confess this, if you play the spot back wards, it says Paul is dead, Paul is dead, Paul is dead. So the next thing you know, somebody will be playing it back wards to listen to the subliminal messages that are really there. You can't even say merry Christmas anymore without somebody getting upset object it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMONE: He's a guy with hardly any staff. He's barely spent a penny. He's from bottom of the barrel to the top of the pack in Iowa. Without the huge staff, I believe him. It was an accident.
MARTIN: It's a simple commercial. What about the red ball on the shelf? Was it something Putin in Russia? It's a book shelf. If you want to criticize Mike Huckabee, criticize him but it's a book shelf.
GOYETTE: So survey the producers, camera men and such at CNN. Is there any producer that wouldn't say, light it like this, get the cross. It's so transparent. I don't find his Christian stand to agree with his stand on war, war, war.
MARTIN: How about Jimmy Carter? Was he trying to become Mr. Rogers at president?
PILGRIM: Let's move onto the commercial. We're reading way more into it.
SIMONE: I have a flag behind me right now. What does that mean?
MARTIN: You're going off to war.
PILGRIM: Let's take a look at what America cares about. The economy is at the top, 25 percent, immigration 23 percent, terrorism, 17 percent. We have Iraq, 16 percent. And health care. Rudy Giuliani is trailing behind in Iowa, New Hampshire. Terrorism is one of his top selling points. How is that shaping up, Roland?
MARTIN: Well I see all this year, pocketbook issues are going come at the center of people's concerns when we get around to voting. It was Iraq and terrorism. That's what it boils down to. That's why I think Huckabee and those kinds of candidates are getting away from the Romney's and Giuliani's. They're saying I am losing my home. I don't have money.
SIMONE: He was good with the economy in New York. Remember economy, immigration, there is a lot of overlap in the issues. Isn't it fascinating that Iraq dropped to fourth place.
PILGRIM: That is fascinating to me. Charles, go ahead.
GOYETTE: I agree with the way you put it on the show last night, it was kitchen table economics. But I challenge the viewers to look at all of these pretenders to the thrown in both parties. It seems to me that it's chaos in both parties. Look at all these people. Is there somebody that thinks for example that Huckabee really understands anything in depth about the economy, how we got here and where we're headed? He's practiced wide-eyed innocence. He has no more depth or understanding than Bush did when Bush came to office. Are we going to go down the same path way?
MARTIN: How many economists do you see running for president since they know so much about the economy? Right.
SIMONE: Why does Mike Huckabee bother you so much?
PILGRIM: Let's talk about - OK. Go ahead Charles. One more comment.
GOYETTE: Well, Mike Huckabee doesn't bother me really any more than Rudy Giuliani but he's faded off the stage here for the time being in Iowa and New Hampshire. Those races are going be decided quickly.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com