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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
This is Change?; Air Pelosi; Domestic Terror Threat; Obama's International Policies
Aired March 11, 2009 - 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: Thanks, Wolf.
Tonight President Obama signing a massive spending bill containing thousands of earmarks, a clear break from his promise to deliver change you can believe in. We'll have complete coverage.
Also tonight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi striking back in the escalating controversy over reports she uses our Air Force as her private airline. We'll have that report.
And tonight, new charges that the liberal political orthodoxy is threatening First Amendment rights to free speech on college campuses. A filmmaker who's made a provocative documentary on this very important issue is among our guests here tonight. Please join us from all of that, all the day's news, and a great deal more, straight ahead.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Wednesday, March 11th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. President Obama today broke one of his principle campaign promises, to quickly slash congressional earmarks. What we call pork barrel spending. President Obama, behind closed doors, signed into law that $410 billion spending bill that includes almost 9,000 earmarks that are worth just about $8 billion.
President Obama, however, insisted this legislation marks the end of what he called the old way of doing business, the president's abrupt retreat, clear acknowledgement that he is struggling to push through his economic agenda. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is now offering a few more details of his plans to strengthen the banking system, but those details are just about as vague as the first set of proposals that he laid out.
The Obama administration is also pushing ahead with plans for a new world order on the economy, despite strong resistance from Europe. Candy Crowley with our report on the president's retreat on earmarks.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a campaign staple, getting control of the federal dollars lawmakers used for pet projects back home.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I pledge to slash earmarks by more than half when I'm president of the United States of America.
CROWLEY: Today, in a thread the needle approach, President Obama both broke and honored that pledge. At issue, old business, a $410 billion spending bill Congress did not pass last year. It is loaded with earmarks from Democrats and Republicans. Taxpayers for Common Sense is a centrist organization working to cut wasteful government spending.
RYAN ALEXANDER, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: And, you know, the $7.7 billion in earmarks in this bill, some of them may not be wasted. Some of those may be for worthy projects, but we don't know that.
CROWLEY: The president signed the bill behind closed doors.
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No reason other than the fact that some things are signed in public and some aren't.
CROWLEY: Though he made law in private, the president criticized in public.
OBAMA: I am signing an imperfect omnibus bill, because it's necessary for the ongoing functions of government and we have a lot more work to do.
CROWLEY: Technically, not true. Congress could have passed temporary bills to keep the government running, as it did last year with President Bush. But Democratic sources say as the president looked down the road at what's ahead, this was not a fight he wanted.
OBAMA: We can't have Congress bogged down at this critical juncture in our economic recovery.
CROWLEY: Before signing the pork-Laden bill, the president outlined measures to rein in earmarks. Republicans went at him.
REP. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: This gives voice to St. Augustine's lament give me sobriety, but not yet.
OBAMA: Thank you very much everybody.
CROWLEY: The president's anti-earmark plan expands the White House role in the earmark process. Federal agencies would be given 20 days to say whether a project is worthwhile. Any earmark to a for- profit company would have to be open to competitive bidding. A couple of weeks ago, as the White House signaled its intention to put together earmark reforms, House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters, "I don't think the White House has the ability to tell us what to do." Nonetheless, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Harry Reid put out statements today incorporating the president's plan with their own earmark reforms.
CROWLEY: Despite some Capitol Hill uneasiness about White House involvement in the earmark process, the president's going to get a pass on this one. There will be no grumbling here, one Democrat told me, this was one of his campaign promises. Lou?
DOBBS: No grumbling, as you -- a terrific report, by the way -- but no grumbling because I mean that's part of the family business there, isn't it?
CROWLEY: Well, this is certainly something that you could say lawmakers get hooked on pretty darn easily. I mean, let's face it. Regardless of whether the project is worthwhile or not, you send, you know, a bundle of hundreds back to the district, it does pretty well for you when you get re-elected. So it's very hard to take the politics out of the lawmaker. We will see going forward just whether these outline of things that the president wants to do will have any affect on those earmarks.
DOBBS: I have a funny feeling that Steny Hoyer's observation will ultimately prevail. Thank you very much, Candy. Candy Crowley.
President Obama reportedly has at least one earmark in the so- called omnibus spending bill. It's an earmark that no longer bears the president's name of course, the quarterly -- the "Congressional Quarterly" reporting that because the White House and the Senate Appropriations Committee insist the item is not technically an earmark.
"Congressional Quarterly" saying the president was one of a group of senators who secured nearly $8 million for vocational training in New Mexico and North Dakota. Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden and several cabinet members are big supporters of earmarks, nearly $20 million of them. The vice president, for example, won approval for over $4 million to help repair I-95 in Delaware.
The president's chief of staff, former Congressman Rahm Emanuel securing 3.5 million for street repairs in Chicago, of course. And another former congressman, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has written at least three earmarks for a museum in his hometown of Peoria, Illinois, earmarks worth more than $400,000.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner trying to provide some clarity on his so far confusing and incomplete and inadequate plans to tackle the banking crisis, the Treasury secretary telling the "Charlie Rose" show on PBS that he will announce a plan within weeks for a joint public/private fund to buy toxic assets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIMOTHY GEITHNER, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: What this plan will do is to make financing from the government available alongside public and private capital so that we can get these markets opened up again. The reason why these markets are not moving now is because there's no financing available and no confidence in people's capacity to make judgments about ultimate losses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: I love that. You just heard the Treasury secretary of the United States say that the reason there's no credit available is that there's no money available, that there's no credit available. It's a little confusing and the public/private partnership would be a private, public/private partnership, because let me put this in some context. Effectively if the Treasury were to loan Lou Dobbs $1 billion and then I were to invest that $1 billion, that would be a public/private investment and that's the kind of investment I personally would like to make, Mr. Secretary, anytime you're willing.
Treasury Secretary Geithner facing widespread criticism last month when he made his first effort to explain his efforts to shore up our banking system. The market was unimpressed as well. The Dow Jones industrials fell almost 400 points that very day. Today, the Dow posted a small gain of four points after a gain yesterday of a substantial nature.
You might think that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have more important things to do than worry about charges she's using the United States Air Force as her private airline, but it appears a report by Judicial Watch accusing the speaker of misusing Air Force planes has the congresswoman seething. Tonight, Speaker Pelosi's office insists that all decisions on whether she uses military aircraft for travel are made by the Department of Defense. Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence has our report.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of Congress need to fly on military planes, the Defense Department books their travel. But e- mails and documents show some military planners intimidated by congressional staffers. And no wonder they're afraid to say no. Look what one staffer writes when she's told certain planes aren't available.
(on camera): This is totally unacceptable. The speaker will want to know where the planes are. This is not good news and you will have some very disappointed folks as well as a very upset speaker. That sounds threatening.
TOM FITTON, JUDICIAL WATCH: When you have a representative -- the Speaker of the House of Representatives saying the speaker is going to be very upset because there aren't corporate jets available for either her or members of Congress I think you have an abuse of power.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Tom Fitton's conservative watchdog group documented hundreds of e-mails, including one where staffers discourage commercial flights because it would inconvenience the members' husbands and wives.
FITTON: But why do we have to take the members of Congress' spouses into account?
LAWRENCE: Officially, the Pentagon says it takes requests in good faith.
GEOFF MORRELL, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: I assume that everybody is very conscientious about the request they make to use government aircraft.
LAWRENCE: But e-mails show exasperated military planners griping about the cost of prepping the jets, cooking the meals, crews driving in, and then staffers waited until the last minute to call it off. "Two days in a row we canceled the mission after the crew is at the aircraft when there were clear signs there would be no travel."
In December, military planners argued over Pelosi's request to depart from an airport closer to her home. One wrote, "Whether it is the best use of assets is not the question, but instead is it worth upsetting the Speaker."
LAWRENCE: Now ultimately that flight did leave from its original airport, but it shows you that mentality of fear. And you know when I spoke with Speaker Pelosi's representative today, he said she is personally very appreciative of what the military does in making these flights available, but as the speaker, as the leader, somehow, that is not getting passed down the line to staffers, to go-betweens, because that is not the message that the military is getting.
DOBBS: Well, this is not her first run-in, you know, being criticized, certainly, on the use of Air Force aircraft. But one of the things, Chris, I'm curious about, if she wants to convey that appreciation, do we have any record or perhaps her office has provided us that record of, say, flowers, thank you notes to the fine pilots and staff that carry out these missions for the U.S. Air Force on the behalf of the speaker and other officials?
LAWRENCE: We do have some records that personally when she is dealing with some of the pilots and the crew and like that, that she is very gracious to them. But I think this speaks to a much bigger issue. Not one woman, not one instance, but a wider issue of this pressure that's put on some of these military planners in the way that some people almost treat the Pentagon like some glorified travel agent.
DOBBS: Yes and that being Judicial Watch's conclusion, but I was just curious as to whether or not she had ever conveyed any kind of appreciation in writing or made a point of saying, through some gesture, whether it be a small gift of flowers or candy or something, just sort of document that appreciation.
LAWRENCE: Yes, it's a good question, Lou. I'll have to figure that out and find out about that.
DOBBS: Well, you know one of the things we do want to do, you know I happen to be all for business using corporate aircraft and -- because corporate aircraft made in this country, whether they're Hawkers (ph) or Cessna's or Gulfstreams (ph), this is an important industry and business has an important tool in those private jets, those corporate jets. So I'm not against that kind of travel, but I am for high levels of transparency. So I hope that will be provided here by both the Air Force and the speaker's office and other officials using those military aircraft. Thank you so much, Chris. Appreciate it.
LAWRENCE: You're welcome.
DOBBS: United Nations secretary-general -- are you ready, Ban Ki-Moon (ph) today went to Capitol Hill. Now he may have astonished a few lawmakers who thought he would be civil and relatively well organized. Instead, the secretary-general called the United States, quote, "a deadbeat donor to the United States." This despite the fact that the United States is by far the biggest donor to the United Nations paying more than a fifth of its operating budget each and every year.
One lawmaker, Congresswoman Ileana Rosslea-Timmons (ph) declares that she takes great umbrage over the secretary-general's remarks. I'll do you one better. I think, personally, that we ought to tell the United Nations to find better real estate in a country somewhere east or west of here, I don't care where, but off this continent and let them have fun.
And we ought to tell them we're taking away the 20 percent because all they are is a nuisance and a joke. And by the way, it isn't going to get any better. So Mr. Secretary-General, take your insult and stick it. Meanwhile, the United Nations is forecasting a large increase in the world's population over the next four decades.
The U.N. says the world's population will rise to nine billion people by 2050 compared with just about 6.5 billion now. The United States is expected to take in more than a million immigrants every year between 2010 and 2050, according to the U.N. They haven't been apparently paying attention to how many we've been taking in for the last 20 years. They didn't say how many of those immigrants, by the way, will be legal, how many illegal, so it's a little tough to tell, as it usually is with the United Nations.
Up next here, the very latest on the deadly shooting rampage in Alabama that left 10 people dead. We'll be telling you about a shooting rampage in Germany, 15 people dead there.
And new concerns that some U.S. citizens are receiving terrorist training now overseas, preparing for attacks against this country. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Rising concerns tonight that al Qaeda has been recruiting American citizens for terrorist attacks against the United States. The FBI is now investigating claims that al Qaeda is sending terrorist recruits from the United States to Somalia to fight in the civil war there. Intelligence agencies say that there is a risk that those terrorists are being recruited to return after that fight in Somalia to the United States and here to launch further attacks. Jeanne Meserve has our report.
(MUSIC) JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A video on YouTube, which a Senate committee says was used to recruit young men to pick up arms in Somalia's civil war. Some have left a Somali community in Minneapolis to fight in the streets of Mogadishu. One, Shira Akman (ph), is the first U.S. citizen known to have become a suicide bomber. He conducted his terrorist attack in Somalia last October, but there is concern that others like him could use their American passports to come home and strike here.
PHILIP MUDD, FBI NATIONAL SECURITY BRANCH: I would talk in terms of tens of people, which sounds small, but it's significant because every terrorist is somebody who can potentially throw a grenade into a shopping mall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
MESERVE: The young men are recruited by a U.S. designated terrorist group called Al Shabob (ph), an Islamic group fighting for control of Somalia. Al Shabob (ph) has links to al Qaeda.
ANDREW LIEPMAN, NATL. COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER: These individuals could be indoctrinated by al Qaeda while they're in Somalia and then return to the United States with the intention to conduct attacks.
MESERVE: Officials emphasize there is no credible intelligence that any attacks are planned here, but one source says the FBI is investigating Al Shabob (ph) recruitment in Columbus, Ohio, San Diego, California, and in Minneapolis where Burr Han Hasan (ph) lived. He vanished last November, resurfacing in Somalia. His uncle believes he knows exactly where the recruitment took place.
OSMAN AHMED, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: He used to go to school, home and the Mosque (ph) and there is no way he could (INAUDIBLE) from this court or home.
MESERVE: Somalis say some young men in their communities are susceptible to recruitment because of difficulties integrating into American society and are likely unaware of exactly what they are signing up for.
(on camera): Law enforcement is trying to build bridges to the Somali community to find and/or dissuade young recruits, but officials say the real solution is to bring peace to Somalia, something that's been elusive since 1991 -- Lou, back to you.
DOBBS: Thank you, Jeanne -- Jeanne Meserve reporting.
In Alabama tonight, authorities say the gunman who killed 10 people had a revenge list of former employers. Police still do not know why Michael McLendon went on the shooting rampage in three towns in southern Alabama. The 28-year-old killed his mother, his grandparents and two other relatives. He also shot several other people, including an 18-month-old girl. McLendon led police on a chase through Geneva County before killing himself at a metal plant where he once worked.
A teenage gunman dressed in military gear went on a shooting rampage in Germany. He killed 15 people before he was killed by police. Police say 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer began his shooting spree at his former school in Winnenden (ph), Germany. Nine of the 15 victims were students. The gunman was injured in a shoot-out with police. Police tonight investigating whether he died of those injuries or whether he killed himself.
Residents of Saudi Arabia's capital tonight are cleaning up after they were hit by a massive sand storm which blanketed the city. A layer of thick, yellow dust covered cars and houses in Riyadh. The storm forced the closing of the international airport and the city's schools. Emergency medical teams had to treat dozens of people for breathing problems.
And coming up here next, free speech under assault on college campuses in this country. I'll be joined by the director of a provocative documentary. He'll be here to tell us whether liberals are trying to control what's said on college campuses. I can't imagine that, can you?
And President Obama contradicting himself again on policy. We'll tell you what he's changed his mind about this time. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: The Obama administration's international policies once again under some considerable criticism. The latest follows the administration's efforts to review our relationship with Cuba. As Ines Ferre now reports, it's just the latest misstep for an administration that is promising a lot of change and delivering very little.
INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Obama administration's latest go-to guy, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, in search of the necessary votes to pass the omnibus spending bill, Geithner wrote to two Cuban American lawmakers, including Senator Robert Menendez (ph) anxious that provisions in the bill would loosen sanctions against Cuba. Trying to soothe their concerns, Geithner wrote, "Only a narrow class of business would be eligible under a new general license to travel to Cuba to market and sell agricultural and medical goods"
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the letter wasn't intended to be a signing statement, a practice which critics says changes the intent of statutes. President Obama criticized their use by President Bush.
GIBBS: It's like a presidential signing statement, except it's not the president and it's not a signing statement.
FERRE: Critics say it suggests confusion. RAY WALSER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: A little bit of a circus, or a little bit of a dog chasing his tail here. And now they're sort of caught between those who want to go very slow and deliberately on changing Cuba policy and those who want to sort of rush.
FERRE: And the author of the Cuba amendment said the law was not subject to what he called creative interpretation. On trade policy, the administration has also softened the harsh criticism that then Senator Obama had for NAFTA.
OBAMA: What I oppose and what I will always oppose are trade deals that put the interests of Wall Street ahead of the interests of American workers. That's why I oppose NAFTA.
FERRE: Now the administration says it will meet with Canada and Mexico to determine if NAFTA, quote, "could be improved without having an adverse impact on trade."
ALAN TONELSON, U.S. BUSINESS AND IND. COUNCIL: Even though candidate Obama denounced NAFTA very harshly, President Obama's leading economic officials have been very careful to assure both Canada and Mexico that U.S. trade policy toward North America, toward this North American market that's been created by NAFTA would not change radically.
FERRE: When he went to Canada last month, the president said cautiously, "Now is a time when we've got to be very careful about any signals of protectionism."
FERRE: And that meeting between the Canadian prime minister and Obama took place during a time when there was much talk of the "Buy American" provision in the stimulus bill. Opponents of the administration said the president seemed to be backing off of the provision when stating that the U.S. didn't want to send any -- send out any protectionist signals, Lou.
DOBBS: There are times when this administration conveys the very clear possibility that they don't know what they're doing, or if they do, that they have no intention of doing what they say. To hear Robert Gibbs today say that this is like a signing statement, except it isn't the president, instead it's the Treasury secretary, and it's not a signing statement.
No, what it is, is absolutely dissembling. Putting into that -- into the -- into the record a statement that we don't really mean what we say here in legislation. It is remarkable when it comes to Cuba. And Robert Menendez (ph), the senator from New Jersey, is exactly right. This is absurd. What has been the reaction?
FERRE: Well, he actually referred -- he referred the reporter that had asked that question to Geithner. He said, look, Geithner sent the letter. You should talk to Geithner about it.
DOBBS: Well, a lot of people want to talk to Geithner, including the British government and their chief civil servant says they can't reach anyone at the Treasury, because Geithner has yet to put ahead -- put forward and put into place his 17 top deputies and it's been just about five full weeks. Thanks very much. We appreciate it. Ines Ferre.
In our poll tonight we'd like to know is President Obama's signature on a spending bill containing just about 9,000 earmarks worth about $8 billion, the kind of change you were expecting. Yes or no. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results here later.
Up next, a huge program to build foreign helicopters for our president could be on the verge of cancellation. Hallelujah.
And rising opposition across this country to the Obama administration's plans to restrict your constitutional right to bear arms. We'll have more on that story in one minute.
DOBBS: A rising backlash all across the country tonight against the Obama administration's efforts to restrict our Second Amendment rights to bear arms. Federal and state lawmakers are now demanding that Attorney General Eric Holder back off from his plan to ban certain types of firearms. Bill Tucker has our report -- Bill.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder struck a nerve with the Montana Coalition when he made this statement last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons. I think that will have a positive impact in Mexico, at a minimum.
TUCKER: Montana Senators Max Bacchus and Jon Tester fired off a letter to Holder's office with a very clear warning, saying, quote, we will strongly oppose any legislation that will infringe upon the right of individual gun owners. We value our outdoor heritage and a large part of that is our second amendment right to keep and bear arms. Passing this heritage down from one generation to the next is a sacred part of being a Montanan and something that we will always fight to protect. Support in the big sky country was quick and certain. Montana's governor and attorney general applauded the letter, but no comment from attorney general holder's office. Senator Tester says, we simply have no place sacrificing our constitutional rights.
SEN. JOHN TESTER (D), MONTANA: My bottom line is this -- we shouldn't be taking guns away from law-abiding citizens in this country because we're concerned about what's going on somewhere else.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TUCKER: The letter was a natural for Tester and for Baucus. Tester is the newly named vice chair of the Congressional sportsman of caucus and Baucus is a past chairman of the caucus.
DOBBS: If you're going to take guns away from somebody, you take them away from criminals and don't be talking about takes guns away, as senator tester said, from Americans because you want to do something in Mexico. I mean, we're getting about as ignorant as it gets. Just about the time you think an attorney general can't get any dumber. I mean, we've gone through some beauties here in the last three or four administrations, I mean, this is something else. And he gets that little passive aggressive kind of soft talk, just a few things we want to do with the second amendment. I mean, buzz off! It's our second amendment. It's not your job, Mr. Attorney general, and stay the heck out of our constitutional rights, I don't care which we're talking about.
TUCKER: Well, he is getting that signal from all quarters, Republicans and Democrats.
DOBBS: And I just want to applaud, again, senator tester and Senator Baucus. They said it right. The heritage that they're talking about, they referred to Montanans. Insert the word American and you've got it right. Bill Tucker, thank you very much.
The District of Columbia is moving in the opposite direction from states like Montana, at least some of their leaders are. After the Supreme Court overturned the district's ban on handguns, the high court deciding that that was unconstitutional, district lawmakers enacted new regulations trying to limit second amendment rights. Senator John Ensign introduced an amendment to the D.C. voting legislation that repeals those restrictions. Senator Ensign joins us now.
Senator, good to have you with us.
SEN. JOHN ENSIGN (R), NEVADA: Always good to be with you, Lou.
DOBBS: First, I've got to ask you, what did you think of the letter by your colleagues, Senator Baucus and Tester?
ENSIGN: Well, I obviously applaud that letter. In Nevada we certainly value our second amendment rights as well, and I think most people across the country value the second amendment rights. It's fundamental to our constitution. You know, our founders believed very, very strongly that citizens needed to be armed. It was one of the guardians against tyranny. So it's not just about protecting yourself and your home, it really is about having citizens armed well enough, because when you look at every government that's been a totalitarian type of a government that's ever existed, one of the first things they do is they take the guns away from people. I very, very strongly believe that the second amendment is fundamental to protecting the rest of our bill of rights.
DOBBS: I would recommend, in fact, following that, since attorney general holder is so concerned about accommodating the government of Mexico, that perhaps he could recommend to them that they provide their citizens with the right to bear arms so that they could respond against threats, including those of the drug cartels that is disrupting that country's civil order. What do you think of that idea?
ENSIGN: Listen, it goes right back to even what Washington, D.C., did. When countries take away, whether it's Washington, D.C., as a city that took away the right to keep and bear arms for their citizens, what do we see as far as crime rates? We know that the criminals are going to get the guns. They certainly, Washington, D.C., didn't become known as the murder capital of our country for nothing. It became known because they have the strictest gun laws in the country and yet the highest murder rate in the country. That's not by accident. It is because criminals still get the guns, but ordinary citizens didn't have their guns to be able to protect themselves. And the same thing in Mexico. We know that criminals, the drug cartels are going to have plenty of their own weapons down there. It is a question of whether somebody's going to have the right to be able to go up against those drug cartels.
DOBBS: You have obviously tried to provide for the second amendment rights for the citizens of the District of Columbia, should they be given further rights. What do you think the likelihood is that you will prevail?
ENSIGN: Well, I think that there's a very high likelihood that we're going to prevail because Al Gore, for one thing, blames his 2000 election defeat on his position on gun control. And a lot of Democrats understand that. So they're afraid of this issue. And that's why you saw 62 votes with a lot of Democrats that joined us as Republicans who voted to pass my amendment to restore the second amendment rights for the citizens in the District of Columbia.
You know, here they were -- they had a bill that was blatantly unconstitutional to give the District of Columbia a voting right in the House of Representatives, and yet what we wanted to attach a constitutional right to protect the second amendment to this bill, the Democrats in the House of Representatives, you know, threw up their arms and they went crazy. And it's kind of fun to watch, because a lot of -- you know, the moderate to conservative Democrats in the house, they want to be able to vote on this protection of the second amendment, and that's why this bill is now stalled.
DOBBS: Well, one thing that's not stalled e-verify. That's a big problem in your state as well. Tell us what's going on there. Why in the world is the Democratic party and the Democratic leadership in the Senate and the house not support a program that is so effective against illegal immigration?
ENSIGN: I thought the one thing we could agree upon is that we could hold employers accountable if they were not following the law and if they were hiring people who are here illegally. And what e- verify did, it allowed employers who really wanted to follow the law to be able to follow the law. It's a 99 percent plus accuracy and I thought it was pretty outrageous. The Democrats did not want to amend this big spending bill they had in any way shape or form, so they defeated every amendment we had, and for them to vote against the e- verify program, I thought, was pretty outrageous.
DOBBS: I think millions of Americans agree with you. Well, I don't think, I know. Senator Ensign, as always, good to talk with you. Appreciate it.
ENSIGN: Nice talking with you Lou.
DOBBS: Up next, free speech is being stifled in a place you would expect freedom of expression to be welcomed. We'll be talking with the director of a documentary on, well, those so-called university campuses that are a little fascist, really, and a little un-American.
The government is taking a second look at two high-cost aircraft projects. And guess what, that buy American provision that everybody's clucking about being protectionist, turns out it may be the right thing to do, which IS something I've been saying for years.
We'll be right back with that story and a great deal more.
DOBBS: Our federal government, don't you like to say it that way, our federal government -- well, the federal government is backing away from two very expensive aircraft projects, apparently. The navy says, quote, it isn't satisfied with the spiraling costs of the new presidential helicopter fleet and the White House is asking the air force to delay that refueling tanker project. As Lisa Sylvester now reports, American firms and workers could actually be the beneficiaries of this change in direction.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Connecticut- based Sikorski Company has been building the helicopter that shuttles the president since the Eisenhower administration, but that contract was given to a European consortium, headed by Lockheed Martin in 2005. Since then, the program has been plagued by problems. The cost has doubled to more than $11 billion and the program is behind schedule.
In a letter this week to lawmakers with, the navy acknowledged it's not satisfied and has launched an investigation. Members of the Connecticut delegation where the Sikorski was built are pushing for the Pentagon to re-bid the program.
REP. ROSA DELAURO (D), CONNECTICUT: We were concerned at that time that there would be delays, cost overruns, and the costs would spiral out of control. Well, low and behold, that's exactly what's happened.
SYLVESTER: The Pentagon is also reviewing another major acquisition, the next generation of refueling tankers. The Department of Defense has repeatedly said replacing the tanker was a top military priority.
JOHN YOUNG, DEFENSE UNDERSECRETARY: After seven years, it is critical that the defense department move forward with the purchase of a new tanker for our war fighters.
SYLVESTER: But that program too has been plagued with problems. The first lease/buy program ended in a scandal. The second bidding process the GAO found was so flawed the Pentagon was forced to issue a call for new bids. But now the office of management and budget is recommending delaying new tanker program as a cost-saving move.
GEOFF MORRELL, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: Every program imaginable is subjected to this very, very harsh scrutiny that is under way right now as a part of budget process. I wouldn't distinguish one from another.
SYLVESTER: Analysts say what has been lacking is oversight.
LARRY KORB, FMR. ASST. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Really, what you need to do is get top-level management attention. Until you do that, these things are going to continue to spiral out of control.
SYLVESTER: And Lou, as you know, we have been talking about the buy American programs for years, but you know who's hurt by all of this? It's the taxpayer and the men and women in the military. The taxpayer has already shelled out millions towards a new presidential helicopter program that may ultimately be scrapped and the men and women who need the new tanker planes to replace the ageing fleet may have to wait longer because of all the delays in the procurement process -- Lou?
DOBBS: As you point out, we have been calling here for no change in the program to build the president's helicopter fleet. I said it at a time that it was a mistake and very clearly why. It's also very clear that the Pentagon, for whatever reason, is being obtuse about one of the most straight forward possible recommendations that it might follow. And that is to reconfigure the Boeing 767 as a -- to the original plans for a refueling tanker. That is by most considered to be the most efficient, cost-efficient approach and one that would be the timeliest. So I don't know why that isn't being considered actively. Other than, perhaps, for the usual reasons, which is bigger and more expensive projects tend to get the more enthusiasm generated in the Pentagon.
Lisa, thanks so much. Lisa Sylvester from Washington.
The Obama administration today named a new drug czar. Seattle's police chief to head the nation's fight against illegal drugs and addiction. But the job is no longer, unfortunately, a cabinet-level position. The White House chose to downgrade the job while Mexico's out of control drug war rages just south of our border. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tried -- now listen to this -- to defend this demotion.
GIBBS: Well, I would say that there are a lot of people that work in the White House that the president wouldn't be nominating somebody that didn't have full and complete access to him and every apparatus in government in order to bring about changes in security and in our drug policy.
DOBBS: If you've got any idea what Robert Gibbs tried to say, let us know here, because we can't figure it out, because it sounds like a man who was just appointed to the post of drug czar was demoted in his first day as the designate to be the drug czar.
Mexico continues, of course, to be the principal source of marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine, and heroin being smuggled into the United States and the drug cartels themselves are operating now in more than 230 cities in this country. The drug czar will have a lot to do, even as the White House indicates he will be focusing more on addiction and treatment than on law enforcement and prosecution. Too bad it can't be comprehensive.
The Obama administration today saying it wants to create a new cross-border trucking program with Mexico. This just had to come. The announcement coming just moments after the president signed a bill that effectively killed the first cross-border program, which allowed some Mexican trucks unlimited access on American highways. The cross- border trucking program has been under fire since its creation by the Bush administration in the dark of night in 2007. Critics continue to contend the program will cost American jobs and creates, at the same time, a significant national security threat.
Mexico's government has deployed more than 40,000 of its federal troops to fight the country's deadly drug cartels, but many Mexican soldiers find working for the cartels pay far better than military service. Out of an army of 180,000 soldiers, 150,000 soldiers have deserted the army over the past six years. Imagine that. And many have gone to work for the drug cartels, some as bodyguards for cartel leaders. Mexico's increasingly violent drug wars are responsible for more than 7,000 deaths since the beginning of last year.
House judiciary chairman John Kahnier says he'll conduct an investigation next month of Joe Arpaio. He's under attack from all directions who have combined to claim his neighborhood immigration sweeps are an abuse of civil rights. Kahnier, for his part, says this hearing will also examine what he calls other abuses of the 287 g program. The justice department's civil rights division also sending a letter to Sheriff Arpaio this week, informing him he's under investigation for an alleged pattern of discriminatory policy. Is it some accident, one wonders, that all of these ethnocentric groups, all of these advocacy groups, the justice department and Congressman Kahnier's committee would all at the same time be converging, descending upon Sheriff Arpaio. One wonders, doesn't one?
Up next, the battle over free speech on our college campuses and why it seems extraordinarily liberal but fascist liberal voices are being allowed as the only sound on those campuses. I'll be talking with the director of a provocative documentary on this very important topic next.
DOBBS: We report here extensively about the efforts to stifle free speech in this country. A provocative documentary charges that first amendment rights are being stifled on college campuses all of the time, and only liberal voices being allowed to be heard. Conservative voices, well, they're trying to crush them. Here is, for example, what one professor at the Massachusetts School of Art had to say about the white race.
NOEL IGNATIEV, PROFESSOR, MASSACHUSETTS SCHOOL OF ART: It is a form of racial oppression, sure. The suggestion is that it is somehow possible to separate whiteness from oppression and it is not. There can be no white race without the phenomenon of white supremacy. If you abolish slavery you abolish slave holders. In the same way, if you abolish racial oppression you do away with whiteness, treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.
DOBBS: You know, I've got to say, the director of I've got to say, by any standard, that professor is a madman.
EVAN COYNE MALONEY, DIRECTOR, "INDOCTRINATE U": One of the reasons why I wanted to include it in the film wasn't so much to criticize him for what he's saying. I think that's self-evident. But really, to say that that's the kind of speech that's welcome on campus when much more mild speech from a different perspective is routinely suppressed.
DOBBS: Something that illustrated, and I can't remember the name of the young man. I believe it was a Cal Poly. I mean, this young man was hounded for absolutely nothing. But putting up a poster, the title of a book. Which, by the way, you did a remarkable job of whatever the title of that bureaucratic moron was. He was hounded for months.
MALONEY: Eighteen months. 18 months of his life. It had to go to federal court just for hanging a flyer announcing a speaker who was coming to talk about his book.
DOBBS: He recovered the legal fees. I know that. Did he ever get an apology from the institution?
MALONEY: No. He never did. And that was part of the legal settlement. The school never wants to admit that they were wrong. I mean, it's plain to you and me that they were wrong.
DOBBS: What is the full name of the school?
MALONEY: That's Cal Poly, California polytechnic. And it's a public university, so the taxpayers of California footed the bill for his legal fees.
DOBBS: Let me say this to Cal Poly, to the president, who apparently would never talk to you. I just want to say something to that president. You, sir, are a coward and a fool. As far as I'm concerned, just this side of a fascist. But cowardly foolishness is the part that really should bother you. You run a university with impressionable young minds, as you document so well. And mind that's are growing and should have a number of voices. A diversity of ideas, as you point out in your terrific documentary in the marketplace of ideas. I mean, how can institutions justify this kind of behavior? MALONEY: Well, you know, it seems to happen whenever a community of people begins to think so much alike they can't take it when other voices come in and start challenging the dominant thinking. And that's what we found time and time again. A group think settles in, and they begin to stifle other voices. So now universities all over the country have speech codes that they routinely use to stifle voices that run counter to the ideological dominant thinking on campus.
DOBBS: You know, lets go to -- as a college student at Bucknell, you were the editor of a political opinion paper, which you say was routinely stolen because it represented conservative viewpoints. Vanessa Weisman, a UC Berkeley student, talks about her experience while distributing that school's conservative publication.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The very first time Vanessa handed out "The Patriot," she found out just how tolerant her fellow Berkeley students could be.
VANESSA WEISMAN, STUDENT: A woman approached me. She was clearly not too happy, but I -- it was my first time passing it out, so I was excited. I came up to her, smiled and offered her a Cal Patriot. She blows her stack at that point and hawks a loogy (ph) at me. More people attempted to spit on me that day, too.
DOBBS: You know, I remember when Berkeley was the bastion of free dissent in this country, expression against, you know, the political order. To see that sort of thing today is, I mean, that's nauseating.
MALONEY: That's the irony of it. The campus free speech movement started at Berkeley and Columbia in the late '60s and they fought for a lot of the same ideas as folks running the universities now are a lot of the people fighting for free speech then. So it's ironic they're fighting against the free speech of students today.
DOBBS: You know, it's amazing. You also cite examples from protests against the army recruiting army corps of engineers. That's sad. It's sad we are permitting this in this society. There's no movement in Congress to deal with this issue. You talk about 200 administrators and university administrators who didn't even have the intellectual or moral principle or courage to talk to you. The documentary is "Indoctrinate U." I can't recommend it highly enough. "Indoctrinate U." Evan, we thank you for being here. We'll give you a link straight to your website, loudobbs@CNN.com. Get this documentary. It's extraordinary and certainly worth your time. Evan, thank you very much.
Up next, Campbell Brown, "NO BIAS. NO BULL." Campbell, what are you working on?
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there Lou. In just a few minutes we do have new developments to share with you about that deadly rampage down in Alabama. We're learning new details about the man who shot and killed ten people, then took his own life. We've got a live report just ahead. Also, what's really going on with all the tax dollars that are supposed to revive our economy. The president signed yet another massive spending bill today, but he's getting pounded for all the pork that has been stuffed into it. We're going to look at that.
Plus a "NO BIAS, NO BULL" look at the governor saying no to federal aid. Why he's not taking the stimulus money that could create new jobs. All that at the top of the hour, Lou?
DOBBS: Look forward to it. Thank you. Up next, the results of our poll.
DOBBS: Eighty percent of you say this isn't the kind of change you were expecting.
Thanks for being with us. Campbell Brown, "NO BIAS. NO BULL" starts right now.