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Lou Dobbs Tonight

No Retreat; Broken Borders; Is Rove the Leak?; Iraq Successes

Aired July 11, 2005 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. Tonight, a special report on just how radical Islamists can easily infiltrate this country not only through our porous borders, but now directly through our airports and seaports from countries the United States government considers to be close allies.
Also, is presidential adviser Karl Rove the source of a leak about the identity of a CIA agent? The White House today faced a barrage of questions, and no answers were forthcoming. I'll be talking with a man who has served as adviser to four presidents. David Gergen is our guest.

And why is a nation of only 6.5 million people receiving more U.S. aid than any other country in the entire world? And why is that country asking for even more U.S. cash? Two billion dollars, in fact, even though it's one of the world's richest countries.

We begin tonight with a new call to arms by President Bush on the global war on terrorists and radical Islamists. President Bush declared America will not retreat in the face of terrorists and murderers after the bombings in London that killed more than 50 people and wounded 700 others.

President Bush tied the war in Iraq to the global war on terror. He emphasized there is only one course open to the United States and its allies, and that is to take the fight to the enemy.

Bob Franken reports.


BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The speech at the FBI Training Academy was scheduled before the London attacks. But it provided the president a new opportunity.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The attack in London was an attack on the civilized world. And the civilized world is united in its resolve. We will not yield. We will defend our freedom.

FRANKEN: Once again, President Bush outlined several controversial parts of his anti-terrorism policy, including, perhaps, the most controversial, the war in Iraq.

BUSH: And the war on terror in Iraq is now central front. The terrorists fight in Iraq because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake. FRANKEN: A new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows that in the time since the London attacks, there's been a sizeable jump in those who question whether the war in Iraq has made the U.S. safer from terrorism. And that is a point the president's critics continue to make.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: We spend more in Iraq in a single month than we spend on first responders all year. Failure in Iraq is not an option, and we'll continue to support our troops. But we must do more to support the war on terror here at home.

FRANKEN: Many of the domestic policies are also controversial -- a newly created anti-terrorism unit within the FBI, and renewal of sections of the Patriot Act which terminate at year's end, they provide expanded domestic investigative powers.

BUSH: The terrorist threats against us will not expire at the end of this year. And neither should the protections of the Patriot Act.

FRANKEN (on camera): The president's message? He will be unyielding to the terrorists and will yield as little as possible to those who challenge his policies.

Bob Franken, CNN, the White House.


DOBBS: While President Bush calls upon America and our allies to take the fight to the enemy, it is clear the Bush administration and Congress have failed altogether to secure our porous borders. And the U.S. government has also failed to close gaping holes in our defenses against radical Islamist terrorists at our airports and seaports.

Bill Tucker reports.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sixteen million people legally entered the United States last year from foreign countries without a visa. They came under the visa waiver program. That is half of all people entering America on a temporary basis. It's a program with massive vulnerabilities.

JAMES CARAFANO, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The terrorists know that if they can get an agent who is -- lives in one of these countries, that it's easier to get them into the United States because they don't have to get a visa.

TUCKER: We have visa waiver programs with 27 countries, including countries where there are known terrorist cells. Canada and Mexico, not on the list. They are included under a separate agreement.

MARK KRIKORIAN, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: If we're going to keep the visa waiver program, we have got to make doubly and triply sure that it's run tightly, and that we do a good job of knowing who is coming into the country before we let them in at our airports. TUCKER: But we don't do that now. We don't track when a person enters and leaves. So we don't know when a person has overstayed their welcome under the program.

Congress, three years ago, tried to tighten the visa waiver program, requiring that the United States and its visa waiver countries issue machine-readable passports with biometric identification. But Congress has extended its original deadline three times from October of 2003 until August of 2006. Some members are losing their patience.

REP. STEVE KING (R), SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION: Since 1990, there have been over 19,050 blank passports that have been stolen from Belgium. And they've been scattered around the world into the hands of terrorists and criminals of all kinds, drug dealers, people smugglers, you name it. This needs to be tied up and dried up.

TUCKER: Last month, the Department of Homeland Security announced that all U.S. passports issued after October 26 will have digital photographs in compliance with the biometric requirement.


TUCKER: But there's a problem. The machines used to read the biometric component of those passports are not available. And they won't be until next year, or at least so they say right now -- Lou.

DOBBS: This is extraordinary. The delays, purely the result of the U.S. government's bureaucracy and incapability.

TUCKER: Right.

DOBBS: Bill Tucker. Thank you very much.

The number of people confirmed dead in the radical Islamist terrorist attacks in London has now risen to 52. London police say the number will rise even higher.

Seven hundred other Londoners were wounded in the four attacks. Rescuers are still struggling to recover bodies from the wreckage of a subway train near King's Cross station. That train, one of three that were attacked Thursday. A fourth bomb exploded on a double-decker bus.

Prime Minister Tony Blair today acknowledged the evidence so far suggests radical Islamists were responsible for those bombings. But the prime minister gave no details of the progress of the investigation.

British and American officials today tried to end speculation that large numbers of troops could be withdrawn from Iraq as soon as next year. A confidential British assessment leaked to a London newspaper said more than 100,000 coalition troops, most of them obviously American, could be withdrawn from Iraq next year. British officials said no final decisions have been made. The White House, for its part, said any troop withdrawals would depend on circumstances on the ground, as it put it. Two U.S. Marines have been killed in the latest fighting in Iraq. Military officials said the Marines were killed in the town of Hith (ph), west of Baghdad, by what was termed indirect fire. That usually means rocket or mortar fire.

Insurgents also attacked Iraqi security forces today. Ten Iraqi troops were killed in two attacks northeast of Baghdad.

The war in Iraq not the main issue at the White House press briefing today. Reporters bombarded White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan about questions about the illegal disclosure of a CIA officer's identity now two years ago. The reporters want to know whether presidential adviser Karl Rove was the source of the leak.

Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, earlier today I spoke with Rove's attorney. This is Robert Luskin. And he does not dispute those e-mails that were in the "Washington Post," as well as "Newsweek," saying that essentially "Time" magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper did speak with Karl Rove, both of them, as Cooper calling him a super secret source. But what he did say, however, is that he does not believe there are any inconsistencies here based on what Rove has said in the past, based on what he has said in the past.

Essentially, the story is this. He says that Rove talked to Cooper and he told him essentially that the story he was pursuing about Joe Wilson, the former ambassador who went to Iraq, to take a trip to try to see if in fact Africa was trying to contain uranium from -- whether Iraq was trying to obtain uranium from Iraq was false. That it was not commissioned by the CIA, that it was not commissioned by the vice president, but rather it was commissioned by Wilson's wife, who he said at the time was a CIA operative, one who worked with the agency on weapons of mass destruction issues, who authorized that trip.

Now, Luskin said earlier today in our phone conversation -- he says it this way: "A fair reading of Cooper's e-mail suggests that what Karl was trying to do was to discourage "Time" from reporting allegations that proved to be false, not to encourage them to publish anything about Wilson's wife."

Now, he goes on to make a couple of points. First, he says that he did not name Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, that that came later by Bob Novak's report.

Secondly, he says that Rove did not realize she was a covert CIA operative. That being the second point.

However, saying all of that, of course, it was some time ago when Rove's name first came up in the investigation that the White House seemingly very quickly said they had spoken to Rove and other top officials who were at the time the focus of the investigation, saying that they were reassured that he was not involved in those discussions. Today, the White House taking a very different tone. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, those overseeing the investigation expressed a preference to us that we not get into commenting on the investigation while it's ongoing. And that was what they requested of the White House. And so I think in order to be helpful to that investigation, we are following their direction.


MALVEAUX: So, Lou, the White House changing its tone here, saying that they are going to be mum until basically the prosecution comes forward and makes its own conclusions on this matter. Speaking with Luskin, however, he did make a couple of points, as well as (INAUDIBLE), who say, look, what is -- what's the final result here? Did he or did he not commit a crime, did he break the law?

Well, they say no. They say because, first of all, that he was not aware that she was, in fact, a covert operative, and that he would have to be aware, and that he would have had to intentionally decide that he was going to disclose her name for it to be a federal crime -- Lou.

DOBBS: So, Suzanne, we have progressed from "It's absolutely ridiculous," said the White House just about two years ago, that Karl Rove or any other adviser would be involved in this leak, to parsing whether or not he used a name or simply described a covert CIA operative by her relationship to Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Is that correct?

MALVEAUX: And there are Democrats and critics who are actually saying, Lou, that what does it really matter whether or not they used her name or not, or whether or not he just simply gave a description, "Wilson's wife." There are already some Democrats, some critics, who are saying, look, they are calling for Karl Rove to go before congressional hearings, they are calling to strip his security clearance, even some for his resignation.

The bottom line here is, the prosecution is going to have to determine what next -- Lou.

DOBBS: And by my count, Suzanne, this investigation into this leak has now taken longer than Watergate at its entirety. Suzanne, thank you very much. Suzanne Malveaux from the White House.

Still ahead here, I'll be talking with an adviser to four presidents, David Gergen.

Also, nearly a million people are without power tonight after Hurricane Dennis. We'll have a report for you on the hurricane's massive trail of destruction. And the United States already gives Israel more foreign aid than any country in the world. Now Israel wants even more -- another $2 billion, in fact. We'll take a look at the economics and the politics of all of that money.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Hurricane Dennis today was downgraded to a tropical depression. That storm system is now progressing on a northeasterly course, but it is weakening quickly. Nonetheless, it's still dumping heavy rains over a wide area of the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys, and flash flood warnings are still in place for parts of the Southeast.

Dennis slammed into the Gulf Coast yesterday as a category 3 hurricane with winds up to 120 miles an hour. It caused, however, less damage than many had first feared. Nonetheless, Hurricane Dennis responsible for at least two deaths in Florida, one in Georgia.

More than 870,000 residents tonight there are still without power. That's over a four-state area. Early estimates suggest the cost of this storm could reach as much as $5 billion. And Florida, Alabama and Mississippi are all federal disaster areas tonight.

South Florida took the biggest hit from Hurricane Dennis, as it did last year when Hurricane Ivan slammed ashore.

Dan Lothian reports, as storm-weary Pensacola, Florida, begins yet another hurricane cleanup.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hurricane Dennis may not have been Ivan, but it did step on Pensacola Beach, leaving this footprint in the sand: small sailboats in a pile, light poles, power lines and trees knocked down, roofless buildings, and a mountain of debris. The scaffolding from a building that was being repaired from Ivan was sheered off and tossed into a nearby visitor center.

SANDY JOHNSTON, CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: We had a broken window, and scaffolding came down and punched three or four holes in the metal roof.

LOTHIAN: After being forced to evacuate, some residents were finally allowed to return to their homes. But along Pensacola Beach, there's a sense that Dennis could have been much worse.

JOHNSTON: We have roofs missing, yes, but we don't have whole walls missing. We don't have whole buildings gone. There are damages, but we can fix them. We've done it before.

LOTHIAN: One of the hardest-hit Florida communities was St. Marks, a fishing villages south of Tallahassee. This was St. Marks yesterday. This is St. Marks today.

ZOE MANSFIELD, CITY MANAGER, ST. MARKS, FLORIDA: Everything is -- has been under water in town. All the homes in town have been under water.

KEITH WARD, RESTAURANT OWNER: We sell oysters, fish, shrimp, stuff like that. And it's going to take a long time to get back in the swing of things after this, because I'm sure it wiped out people's boats everywhere.

LOTHIAN: The storm remained powerful as it moved inland, knocking down trees and power lines, and producing as much as nine inches in the Atlanta area. Streets were flooded. So were homes and businesses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Water inside, outside. Everywhere water.

LOTHIAN: The storm knocked a tree through the roof of a house in one Atlanta suburb, killing a man in his bedroom. The man's wife and children, who had gone to the basement, were unhurt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's as good as they come. He has two young kids, a beautiful wife. And just a tragedy.

LOTHIAN (on camera): There are 75 federal, state, local and private agencies doing damage assessment across the region. And more than a thousand power crews trying to restore power. They could soon be getting reinforcements. But officials say it could take up to two weeks before all power is restored.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Pensacola Beach, Florida.


DOBBS: Now after Hurricane Dennis, a new storm may be forming in the Atlantic. Forecasters say the season's fifth tropical depression is now gaining strength, and it is moving in the direction of the Caribbean.

This storm system has winds of 35 miles an hour right now. But it is expected to gain tropical storm strength either later tonight or tomorrow.

From flood emergencies in the South to raging wildfires out West, a state of emergency has been declared in southern Colorado, where massive wildfires are now burning out of control. Those fires have destroyed 8,000 acres so far.

Thousands of residents have been forced from their homes. Hundreds of houses are threatened by these fires. High winds fanning the flames, and the winds are, however, expected to lessen soon.

Some rain is even in the forecast for the area tomorrow. So firefighters are hopeful, and they're battling a blaze 150 miles south of Denver. That fire on the border of Pueblo and Custer counties.

Just ahead here, how much is enough? Israel asks the United States for billions more in economic aid. That's on top of the almost $3 billion we provide each year for a nation of 6.5 million people.

And "Red Star Rising". China's global ambitions, its quest for California-based Unocal. We'll have a special report on the American strategy.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Israel is moving ahead with a controversial plan to build a security wall through Jerusalem, the city that both Muslims and Israelis consider a capital city. The wall would cut off 55,000 Palestinians from the remainder of the city. Israel asserts that that security barrier in the West Bank that it's already built has been responsible for a sharp decline in suicide bombings.

Israel is now asking the United States for $2.2 billion in aid money. It is one of the largest Israeli aid requests ever. Israel wants that American money to help pay for the relocation of Jewish settlers from Gaza, but critics say the U.S. taxpayers shouldn't be footing the bill.

Lisa Sylvester has our report from Washington.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are 8,000 Israelis who call the Gaza Strip their home. Beginning next month, they'll be relocated to an underdeveloped area in southern Israel. But the question now is, who will pay for the cost of the withdrawal? The State Department acknowledged ongoing meetings between Israeli and U.S. officials, but provided no details.

TOM CASEY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: I think the assistance that we've offered to Israelis and Palestinians is all out there. And I don't really have anything new to add to that.

SYLVESTER: What is out there is a reported $2.2 billion price tag that Israel wants American taxpayers to cover. This is on top of the commitment the United States made last week to help the G8 fund a $3 billion aid package to the Palestinians. A lot of promises as the United States faces a record budget deficit.

PETE SEPP, NATIONAL TAXPAYERS UNION: Foreign aid is not a gigantic share of the federal budget, but when we're talking about deficits in the hundreds of billions of dollars, this kind of money still adds up.

SYLVESTER: Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, receiving more than $2.5 billion in annual assistance. Former Ambassador to Israel Phil Wilcox questions if filling this aid request will even advance U.S. interests, because there's no sign that Israel intends to pull out of the West Bank, a necessary step on the roadmap to peace.

PHIL WILCOX, PRESIDENT, FOUNDATION FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE: The current picture does not offer that promise. And I think, therefore, Americans would probably be reluctant to increase the already very major assistance we give to Israel, unless we had a greater assurance that this was going to lead to a real peace.


SYLVESTER: The resettlement aid, if this is approved, would be the largest supplemental assistance to Israel since 1992, when Congress approved $3 billion to pay for damage from errant missiles during the first Gulf War -- Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you. Lisa Sylvester, from Washington.

Which brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. And the question, should U.S. taxpayers be footing the bill for Israel's pullout from Gaza, yes or no? Cast your vote at We'll have the results for you later here.

Coming up next, is the man known as Bush's brain also the source of the White House leak? The White House is dodging questions about Karl Rove's role in the Valerie Plame case. I'll be talking with the former adviser to four presidents. He joins us with his insight into the politics and the journalistic issues involved.

"Red Star Rising". Our special report tonight, China's bid to take control of a U.S. oil company is part of a much bigger plan, a greater Chinese strategy. What is the American strategy? We'll have that report coming up.

And the supreme battle over the future makeup of our nation's highest court. I'll be joined by a senator who says it's time for a more conservative court, a senator who will play an important role in the process.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan today faced tough questions among the White House press corps about the leak of a CIA agent's name two years ago. Reporters demanding to know whether presidential adviser Karl Rove was the source of that leak. But no answers were forthcoming from the White House.

Joining me now for more on these developments, the former presidential adviser, David Gergen, who served four presidents. David Gergen is professor at Harvard University's School of Government, joining us tonight from Cambridge.

Good to have you with us, David.


DOBBS: This is a remarkable shift over the course of the past 10 days. On July 1, Lawrence O'Donnell says Karl Rove is it. Now, Ambassador Joseph Wilson had said that nearly two years ago, but Lawrence O'Donnell's comments spurred within 24 hours, reaction from Rove's attorney, and the issue was under way.

What do you make of it?

GERGEN: Well, Lou, I think that this is a complex case. And we shouldn't get caught up in our underwear so far.

DOBBS: We shouldn't get caught up, I'm sorry?

GERGEN: We shouldn't get caught up in our underwear about whether Karl Rove is in legal trouble.

DOBBS: Well, I don't think we -- I don't think we are.

GERGEN: I don't see -- well, I don't see what we know so far as indicating he's in legal trouble. There may be some political storm over this.

DOBBS: Right.

GERGEN: But what we know is that Karl Rove may have apparently told "Time" magazine that Joe Wilson's wife, who worked at the agency, might have been behind his trip to Africa. That's not illegal on its face.

I mean, if he didn't disclose her name and didn't know her, didn't know that she was covert, there's no violation of the law. That is what he has publicly said.

DOBBS: Before we even -- I -- neither you nor I blessedly is an attorney. I'm not...

GERGEN: I'm a fallen attorney.

DOBBS: I am not particularly interested in the legal aspect of this so much right now...

GERGEN: Right.

DOBBS: ... as I am in both the politics, and frankly, the forthright, honest character of the people who make statements such as, it's ridiculous to suggest that Karl Rove was behind this.

Ambassador Joe Wilson, the husband of Valerie Plame, the CIA operative named in the Novak column, said straightforwardly, within just about a week's time in 2003, just about two years ago, that it was Karl Rove. And the White House was dismissive, and is now saying things like, well, he didn't use her name.

We're hearing some parsing, aren't we?

GERGEN: Well, we are hearing some parsing, but, you know, the law and politics do turn on subtle distinctions. And it's one thing to say a guy's wife at the CIA has something to do with this; it's a totally different thing to out a covert agent. That's what the distinction here is.

Now, so -- so if he...

DOBBS: But while you do say -- while you do say law and politics may be nuanced and turn on subtle distinctions...

GERGEN: Right. DOBBS: ... character and judgment often have to be less than nuanced, have to be forthright and turn on basic principles. And the fact of the matter is, you have the most important adviser to the president of the United States talking to a reporter, or more reporters possibly, including Matthew Cooper of "Time" magazine. This is remarkable.

GERGEN: Well, Lou, I don't think it's all that remarkable. Listen, a lot of White Houses, you know, put stories out. And the question is whether Karl Rove did anything wrong. That's the basic question we're trying to ask. And in terms of telling somebody, hey, a guy's wife at the CIA might have been behind it, on its face, that's not wrong. If he put her name out and he knew she was a covert agent, that would be wrong.

Now, so in terms of what actually happened at the time, it's not clear to me at all that Karl Rove -- and I don't agree with a lot of his politics...

DOBBS: I don't mean -- again, I don't want you to have to defend Karl Rove here, because we're talking about what is obviously the appearance. What is concerning and what is troubling, at least to me, David, is, one, a lack of a forthright position on the part of the White House, did he or did he not, that's straightforward. Two, this investigation has now taken longer than Watergate, and it's not reached a conclusion. That in itself is remarkable. And thirdly, "New York Times," Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Judith Miller is sitting in jail tonight on this issue, and she never even reported it.

GERGEN: Look, the -- there is a scandal in this whole thing, and that is that Judith Miller is in jail on a story she never reported. That is ridiculous on its face, and that woman ought to be set free, because this has gone way beyond what is appropriate. I mean, she never -- if she had reported on the story, it would be different. She's not even a party to the story, original story.

So I agree totally with you on that.

I also agree, Lou, that in the two years that have passed, the White House could and should have been much more forthright and candid on what happened, so we didn't need to go through this monkey business of all this lawsuit and having Judy Miller go to jail over it.

So I do think that what happened since that time is, you know, is subject to a lot of serious criticism, because the White House should have cleaned this thing up right from the beginning. We shouldn't have this kind of legal probe. We shouldn't have to go through all this funny business.

On that, I totally agree with you. But if there's something here that Karl Rove did wrong in the initial instance, I don't see it yet. Did he lie to the grand jury? There's no evidence of that. So I don't think he's in legal trouble, but your point about what's happened since then I think is well taken. And I agree with you. I especially agree with you about Judy Miller.

DOBBS: Well, let's hope that we can get to the bottom of this.

GERGEN: We should get to the bottom of it.

DOBBS: With two years of investigative work by federal prosecutors, it's remarkable that we can't seem to reach a conclusion here.

GERGEN: I agree with that. And Karl Rove has a responsibility to help get this out. I mean, now that his name's in the middle of it, I do think he should come forward and say, listen, this is what I did, here is what happened, here's all I know about it, and we're going to get the rest of this cleaned up.

Somebody gave the name out. We know that. And we don't yet know who that is. And it's possible somebody lied to the grand jury, and we need to know that. But I do think Karl Rove has got a responsibility to Joe Wilson and to everybody else to help clear it up.

DOBBS: It's not even clear at this point who the heck sent Ambassador Joe Wilson to Niger.

GERGEN: That's true, too.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, David Gergen, always good to have you here.

GERGEN: Take care.

DOBBS: A new political war of words in Washington, as if we needed a new one. Democratic Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is under fire now from Republicans for her strong criticism of President Bush over the weekend. Yesterday, Senator Clinton compared the president to "Mad" magazine character Alfred E. Newman during her speech in Colorado. The senator saying -- quote -- "I sometimes feel Alfred E. Newman is in charge in Washington."

Senator Clinton said President Bush's attitude toward tough issues can be summed us, "what me, worry?" -- Newman's famous catch phrase. Republicans say Clinton's comments demonstrate she is part of a -- quote -- "angry and adrift Democratic Party."

Turning now to new concerns about China's unfair trade policies, and a clear geopolitical strategy. China today said its trade surplus with the rest of the world last month rose more than five-fold from the same period a year ago, that surplus reaching more than $10 billion in June. China, of course, hopes to raise its global economic power with its offer to buy U.S. oil company Unocal.

There are fears the United States has no reciprocal strategy to combat that rising Chinese influence -- well-founded fears as it turns out.

Christine Romans reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): China is on a mission to control the world's natural resources, become the global manufacturer of choice, and rapidly build its military power to rival that of the United States.

As part of its strategy, China has undertaken the conversion of hundreds of billions of American dollars into hard assets, including oil and gas reserves of Unocal.

And what is the strategy of the United States government? If there is any discernible strategy at all, it is to watch, wait and waiver.

SUSAN TOLCHIN, GEORGE MASON SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY: We have never had a policy about what strategic industries, materials we want to keep in this country, and we've never had a policy about what kinds of countries or how foreign investment relates to our independence of movement with regard to foreign policy.

ROMANS: Indeed, rather than take a stance on the issue of China's bid for Unocal, the administration has called it "hypothetical."

There is nothing hypothetical about negotiations now under way between CNOOC, Unocal, and its previous preferred partner, Chevron.

Any government review will come from a super secret Treasury Department committee headed by John Snow, a process that many fear puts so-called free trade above strategic American interests. There simply is no comprehensive strategy for how to deal with a rapidly changing China.

JING HUANG, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: We cannot afford to have this kind of wait-and-see at the heart of the policy-making process. But on the other hand, how can we have a long-term strategy and policy dealing with China when China itself has been changing so fast?

ROMANS: Changing fast, with a burning desire to turn its $700 billion in reserves into hard assets. All the more reason for Washington to wake up.


ROMANS: So, while Washington sleeps, and China goes after Unocal, many fear the United States has done nothing to prepare a strategy for the next time. And there will be more. China has bought IBM's PC division. It wants Maytag, and it just might pick up Unocal. After all, the government's secret review process has only blocked one deal since 1988 out of 1,500 foreign acquisitions -- Lou.

DOBBS: And the man who runs the CFIUS Committee, Treasury Secretary John Snow, he was rather certain, was he not, that they would be revaluing the yuan at his request?

ROMANS: Hasn't happened yet.

DOBBS: Much has not happened. Christine Romans, thank you. When we continue, the fight over the Supreme Court. Who will get the seat? How many seats will be vacant? My next guest says President Bush must choose a hard-line conservative. Stay with us.

And the Shuttle Discovery, on the pad, ready for Wednesday's launch. A critical test ahead for a space program, a proud space program, troubled by recent history. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Tonight, who will replace Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor? My guest tonight wants to see O'Connor's seat filled by a hard-line conservative. He recently asserted, "I would hope that President Bush's nominee will swing the court back toward the Constitution and away from an era of self-indulgent judicial activism."

Just what is self-indulgent judicial activism? My guest tonight, Senator Tom Coburn, will help define it. He is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joining us tonight from Capitol Hill.

Senator, good to have you here.

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Good to be with you, Lou.

DOBBS: As a member of that committee, a president faced with critical choices to move forward, to replace Sandra Day O'Connor and likely, one, perhaps more, other justices, what is a self-indulgent judicial activist?

COBURN: Well, I think what I would describe it is somebody who takes and finds something in the Constitution that's not there or promotes things. And I would actually clarify the quote. I never mentioned Judge O'Connor at all in my press release.

DOBBS: Right.

COBURN: I was talking about the court as a whole. And I think there's a lot of -- just this last Kelo case is a great example of what's happened. But I think, you know, we look at character -- you mentioned character in your earlier segment. That's probably the most important quality -- recognizing what the Constitution says, rather than try to find something new out of it. And I -- that's the thing that concerns me -- using international law as a basis to make U.S. Constitutional decisions. That concerns me greatly.

DOBBS: Judges with whom I've talked, Senator, attorneys who are -- whom I respect greatly, cannot for the life of them understand the Kelo decision, that is giving imminent domain power full vent for private developmental interests over the rights, the individual property rights of Americans. I understand what you're saying there.

But the issue of -- the two issues that are seemingly being used to excite both the base of conservatives and liberals -- that is abortion and affirmative action. Do you really think either of those issues should be a litmus test for any -- anyone who seeks to become a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court?

COBURN: Not at all. And I -- you know, this was a big issue in our campaign in Oklahoma, in terms of the judiciary. And I said that in that campaign and Oklahoma is an adamantly pro-life state.

It's character and quality of the individual. It's commitment to the Constitution. And it's a world view that says we understand what our founders had in mind.

And it's not our judge. It's not our obligation, nor our responsibility to change what that is. We're here to interpret the Constitution, rather than make new law. And I believe there's a big problem with creeping judicial activism where we make one little small step and the next case that comes over, we make it again. And when you try to tie that back to the Constitution, you can't find any basis for it.

And I think the American people are ready for people, that'll just -- not liberal conservative -- people who will say here's what the Constitution says and we're not going to take a new step, on a new area that isn't in the Constitution and that -- it should be left to the legislature.

DOBBS: Strict constructionism, if you will.

COBURN: Absolutely.

DOBBS: Senator, the issue of the nuclear option versus filibuster: Is it A: First your judgment -- is it your sense that the Democrats will filibuster against a nominee that they do not want to see on that court.

And secondly, should they filibuster should the Republicans -- the Republican majority respond with a so-called nuclear option? An unfortunate choice of names for basically changing the rules of the Senate?

COBURN: Well, Lou, first of all, we don't know who the president's going to nominate. So, we -- the speculation, I think, is not helpful right now in the process and it builds a frenzy up.

I think there ought to be a very peaceful and very cogent and manner-like process to this. And if the Democrats or even Republicans, for that nature, feel that they can't support this nominee, they ought to vote against them. I don't believe that they should be filibustered.

The filibuster has been changed several times. It wasn't in the original Constitution. The Senate ran for a hundred years without it and it's been changed most recently in terms of the Budget Reconciliation Act. So, you know, I don't want to go there specifically. I think that...

DOBBS: But you're willing to?

COBURN: Well, I -- look, if we have -- if in fact it's filibustered, I -- you bet. I'm all -- I'm for doing a Constitutional option that Senator Byrd did two times in recent history, to change the rules of the Senate. And that's what I believe the American people would like to see done.

But let's not have to go there. Let's not filibuster it. Let's do it in a proper way and...

DOBBS: Straight up and down vote.

COBURN: Straight up and down vote. And then, you know -- one of my Democratic friends, a congressman, said this. He said, if you don't like his nominees, win the presidency.

You know? Vote them down or vote them in and then, if you vote them down, let's have another one.

DOBBS: It sounds like a -- sounds like a very familiar process we have in this country. Senator Tom Coburn, we thank you for being with us.

COBURN: Lou, good to be with you.

DOBBS: Thank you.

A reminder now to vote in our poll tonight.

As we reported, Israel, seeking another $2 billion of U.S. money, even though Israel already receives more U.S. money than any other country. So, the question is, should U.S. taxpayers be footing the bill for Israel's pullout from Gaza? Yes or no. Cast your vote at We'll have the results here in just a few minutes.

In Florida today, NASA beginning its countdown for the first space shuttle launch since the Columbia disaster more than two years ago. The Shuttle Discovery is expected to lift off in less than 48 hours from Kennedy Space Center.

Sean Callebs has the report.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may look like the same spacecraft, but in many ways Discovery is a whole new machine. More than $1 billion in improvements to prepare for NASA's return to flight. After the fiery deaths of Columbia's crew in 2003, is everybody ready?

EILEEN COLLINS, DISCOVERY COMMANDER: We at NASA, I believe, are fully capable of saying we are ready to launch, because we're ready for situation, A, B, C, or any contingency that could possibly happen.

CALLEBS: Columbia disintegrated on re-entry after a 16-day mission. An exhaustive investigation determined a pound-and-a-half chunk of protective foam from the external fuel tank broke free and hit the leading edge of the wing. The contact caused a small crack in the wing, allowing hot gas to seep in on re-entry, destroying the wing and dooming the crew.

A new focus on safety is the prime mission of this crew.

STEPHEN ROBERTS, DISCOVERY MISSION SPECIALIST: Every single space flight is the most important space flight there ever was. If there's a major accident on it, it has the potential of stopping us in our tracks and we are all well aware of that.

CALLEBS: Over the last two-and-a-half years, NASA has worked on protecting the shuttle from debris during liftoff. The leading edge of the wings and the nose cone have been toughened and a 50-foot-long robotic arm equipped with two lasers will be able to take 3-D images of the shuttle. It will detail any damage to the spacecraft.

Mission Specialist Charles Camarda will be checking the black edges of the wings for any breach of the reinforced carbon-carbon or RCC.

CHARLES CAMARDA, DISCOVERY MISSION SPECIALIST: We have learned more in the last two years on the damaged RCC and damaged tile -- what causes the damage and how that affects the ability of the orbiter to land safely.


CALLEBS: A great deal has been made about the repair work astronauts could have to do in orbit. This is how it would work. This is an actual piece of RCC, reinforced carbon-carbon. ATK Thiokol has developed a product that goes around the edge called NOAX. And once in space, with all those odd shapes on the shuttle, they would go up, put this on, screw it down and theoretically, Lou, that is the way it would work. But it is still some time away from being proven.

DOBBS: And let's hope that it does not have to be proven.

Sean Callebs, thank you very much.

Still ahead here, the massive task of rebuilding Iraq. I'll be joined by the man in charge of that rebuilding effort. He is the general in charge of the Army Corps of Engineers, General Carl Strock.

An inspiring story tonight of survival in the mountains of Afghanistan. The lone Navy SEAL, who eluded radical Islamist terrorists after insurgents shot down the rescue helicopters. His incredible ordeal is next.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Two years after the war in Iraq began, much of the country's infrastructure is still in desperate need of repair -- water, electricity, fuel shortages, common in many, if not most, parts of the country.

The commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in charge of part of the massive rebuilding effort in Iraq. Lieutenant General Carl Strock joins us tonight from our Washington, D.C. studios.

And General, good to have you here. You've just returned from that trip. Give us first, your sense as to whether or not the progress -- you're satisfied with the progress that's been made in restoring the infrastructure?

LT. GEN. CARL STROCK, COMMANDER, ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: Well, thanks very much, Lou, for the opportunity to talk about this quiet effort that is going on behind the scenes, but is vital to our success over there.

Just a bit of context. I served there for six months with the Coalition Provisional Authority in the early efforts, and I go back periodically. So I have the opportunity to see the differences over time. So we are making steady progress there. It's not as effective as we'd like it to be, but I'm confident that we're going in the right direction, and at a reasonable pace.

DOBBS: General, it may not surprise you to know that one of the things that I and a lot of other folks were hopeful about was the United States, when removing Saddam Hussein from power, would move in, with the Army Corps of Engineers, the CBs, private contractors as well, and give the people of Iraq, for the amount of money we're spending, at least $200 billion a year, new hospitals, new schools, bring their oil infrastructure up to par, clean drinking water, give them power and electricity. We haven't done that, though.

STROCK: Well, sir, I think we have. And that's, as I said, some of the untold story we're dealing with here.

We're working in all of those sectors. We've finished over 600 schools. We've got about 80 clinics finished with about 90 more to go. Across all sectors of infrastructure, we are making a big difference. And it's not just the Corps of Engineers, it's U.S. Agency for International Development, it's NGOs and the military. In every sector, we're making improvements.

DOBBS: Crude oil production, for example, pre-war, 2.5 million barrels a day;. You've got that up to about 2 million -- 2 million barrels a day now. That's still short. We still have not seen the crude oil exports rise to the pre-war levels. The revenue certainly is far below what it was pre-war. Electricity still not generating the level of power and electricity in Baghdad, for example.

How quickly -- how quickly can that -- those elements be restored and improved, frankly, beyond the pre-war levels?

STROCK: Well, I think certainly with the effort that's afoot now, we can hit the pre-war levels, but we really must do more than that, because really, those were unsatisfactory. The provision of basic services throughout Iraq was very spotty. Those who favored Saddam, benefited; those who opposed him suffered.

And what we've done in our time there is to provide a more consistency of basic services to the entire country, not just those privileged few. In oil, I think we are about where we need to be. We had reached a peak capacity of about 2.5 million barrels. It's settled down now. Electricity is back to pre-war levels, at about 5,000 megawatts. But all these things have to improve, because the demands are also improving.

DOBBS: And increasing as well.


DOBBS: And the idea that we're spending so much money in Iraq, a country of just about $50 billion a year GDP pre-war, and the United States spending more than that just to preserve security. And I say just to preserve the security, it's the absolute necessity.

Is it your judgment that you're going to be able to get your mission accomplished, to reach the levels you want to in restoring electricity and water and power and oil export, improving the roads and schools, without a significant U.S. presence, if the idea of a significant withdrawal and draw-down of U.S. forces is as reported today?

STROCK: Well, sir, I can't really comment on our ability without the presence of U.S. forces. But I can tell you that I'm confident we'll accomplish our portion of the mission.

The World Bank, prior to the invasion, estimated that it's about a $60 billion effort to return Iraq just to its pre-1990 levels. The United Sates has contributed about $11 billion, so you can see right away we can only address about 20 percent of the needs. And that's what I'm responsible for. And we'll certainly achieve that result.

DOBBS: General Strock, we thank you. You have one of the toughest jobs, one of the most critical jobs, dealing with an elite and venerable element, not only of the current military, but of U.S. military history. You must be proud. We thank you for being here tonight.

STROCK: Sir, thank you very much. I am both proud and honored. Thank you, sir.

DOBBS: Still ahead, the results of our poll.

Also, an incredible story of survival in Afghanistan. A Navy SEAL in enemy territory, the only survivor among four SEALs, whose mission went horribly wrong. Stay with us.


DOBBS: New information tonight about the incredible story of survival of a Navy SEAL in the mountains of Afghanistan. The SEAL, the only survivor from a four-man reconnaissance team. Jamie McIntyre reports.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The outnumbered, outgunned SEAL team was in big trouble even before the rescue helicopter sent on a risky daylight mission was shot down. Only one of the four U.S. Navy commandos stranded on the ground would make it out alive.

REAR ADM. JOSEPH MAGUIRE, NAVAL SPECIAL WARFARE COMMAND: He was able to, after suffering his combat wounds, travel at least four kilometers through extremely mountainous terrain, engaging the enemy along the way, and avoiding capture.

MCINTYRE: In an exclusive story entitled "How the Shepherd Saved the SEAL," "Time" magazine says an Afghan herdsman named Gulab discovered the wounded U.S. commando and convinced him not to shoot.

"I remembered hearing that if an American sticks up his thumb, it is a friendly gesture, so that's what I did."

According to the "Time" account, Gulab lifted his tunic to show the American he wasn't hiding a weapon. He then propped up the wounded commando, and together the pair hobbled down the steep mountain trail.

For days, the U.S. military mounted a frantic search for any survivors, but so did the Taliban, who sent a terse demand to the Pashtun villagers who sheltered him. "We want this infidel." A firm reply from the village chief Shina (ph) shot back, "The American is our guest, and we won't give him up."

(on camera): CNN has learned that the SEAL wrote a note, which was delivered by a villager to the U.S. military, who then came to his rescue. He's now been reunited with his family in Texas. But because of the nature of his job, his name and the details of his mission will likely never be publicly acknowledged.

MAGUIRE: Secrecy is a way of life with us. And that's how we do things.

MCINTYRE (voice-over): At a memorial service last week, the sacrifice of the SEALs was marked by their fins, face masks and combat knives, weapons of frogmen who died 7,000 feet up the side of a mountain, more than 300 miles from the sea.

MAGUIRE: We are Naval commandos, we are warriors from the sea. But we were in the Kunar Province, up in the Himalayas, because that's where the enemy was, and that's where we go.

MCINTYRE: Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


DOBBS: And finally tonight, "New York Times" reporter Judith Miller has now spent five days in an Alexandria, Virginia prison.

We hope you will join us here tomorrow evening. We thank you for being with us tonight. For all of us here, good night from New York. ANDERSON COOPER 360 begins right now.