Return to Transcripts main page

Lou Dobbs Tonight

Bush's Warning; Nuclear Blackmail; Nuke Appeasement; General Byrnes Stripped of Command; Pacific Northwest Wildfires

Aired August 11, 2005 - 17:59   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody.
Tonight, President Bush declares it would be a terrible mistake to withdraw from Iraq, as he puts it, prematurely. But President Bush offers no new strategic vision to defeat the insurgency.

Also tonight, the United Nations fails in its duties to hold Iran accountable for its escalating nuclear challenge. Kofi Annan, China and Russia all moving to block strong action against Iran. We'll have that special report.

And what could become the most expensive ballot initiative fight ever. Big pharmaceutical companies pouring tens of millions of dollars into California, trying to block what would be deep price cuts for medicines in that state.

And political correctness gone crazy. It's now spread to the top of the Pentagon. Why the U.S. military command responsible for defending our skies has dropped all references to American Indians in another example of Orwellian politically correct madness that is gripping the country.

We begin tonight with the escalating insurgency in Iraq and the Bush administration's insistence that our troops must stay in Iraq until their mission is complete. President Bush today met with his top national security advisers at the ranch in Crawford, Texas. Afterward, President Bush declared he will not bring our troops home prematurely, as he put it, because to do so would send a terrible signal to the enemy.

Elaine Quijano reports from Crawford.


ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At the annual Crawford gathering of his defense and foreign policy teams, President Bush continued to defend his Iraq strategy and made clear he thinks the Iraqis can meet a deadline next week to put together a draft constitution.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm operating on the assumption that it will be agreed upon by August the 15th.

QUIJANO: The president says the constitution is a critical step, a benchmark showing Iraqis are moving ahead. And he insisted U.S. forces are succeeding in training Iraqis to handle their own security. BUSH: As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.

QUIJANO: But a CNN "USA-Today"-Gallup poll shows 56 percent of people said they believe things are going badly for the U.S. in Iraq. Cindy Sheehan is one of them. Her son Casey was killed in Baghdad last year. And she wants U.S. troops out immediately.

She's camping out a few miles from the president's ranch until she can tell him in person.

CINDY SHEEHAN, MOTHER: He's on vacation here for five weeks. I don't understand why he can't take an hour to speak with somebody whose life he has devastated.

BUSH: Listen, I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan. And I thought long and hard about her position.

I've heard her position from others, which is get out of Iraq now. And it would be a -- it would be a mistake for the security of this country and the ability to lay the foundations for peace in the long run if we were to do so.


QUIJANO: And despite reports about plans to decrease troop levels in Iraq, President Bush said today no decisions have been made. And as he has said before, Lou, the president said he looks to his commanders on the ground for those recommendations -- Lou.

DOBBS: And Elaine, no sign whatsoever that he will speak with Cindy Sheehan, at least to commiserate with her loss and sacrifice?

QUIJANO: No sign of that. Interesting to note, though, Lou, the White House today produced a list of all of the meetings President Bush has had with family members of fallen troops. And we should also mention that over the weekend, in the initial day when Cindy Sheehan first camped out, the White House sent out the national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, as well as a deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin, to talk to Mrs. Sheehan.

Mrs. Sheehan has also spoken with President Bush before, shortly after her son's death in June of 2004. But she says at that time she was still very much in a state of shock. She did not have the questions then that she has now -- Lou.

DOBBS: Elaine, thank you very much.

Elaine Quijano reporting from Crawford, Texas.

In Iraq, a U.S. Marine has died of wounds he received in a roadside bombing earlier this week. The Marine was taking part in combat operations near the town of Ramadi in Al Anbar Province, west of Baghdad. There has been heavy fighting in Ramadi between U.S. troops and insurgents over the recent days.

Forty-four American troops have now been killed in Iraq so far this month. 1,842 Americans since the war began more than two years ago.

Iraq not the only major foreign policy crisis facing this country. Iran's escalating nuclear challenge is also a rising danger.

Today, the U.N.'s Atomic Energy Agency refused to send Iran's nuclear challenge to the U.N.'s Security Council. Instead, the agency simply called upon Iran to suspend its nuclear program. Earlier this week, Iran threatened to push global oil prices even higher.

Walt Rodgers reports from Vienna.


WALTER RODGERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors grappled with the Iran problem, even with cameras rolling. But in the end, the European Union delegates, the German, the French and the British, backed up by the Americans, got their resolution: a reproach to Iran for restarting its uranium conversion program, removing the IAEA seals from the Isfahan nuclear plant.

GREG SCHULTE, U.S. AMBASSADOR: The board has expressed serious concern at Iran breaking the Paris Accords and breaking this organization's seals.

RODGERS: Two days after threatening to push oil prices higher and cause problems in Iraq if western nations forced the issue of their nuclear program, the Iranians were contemptuous of the resolution passed by the IAEA.

CYRUS NASSERI, IRANIAN HEAD OF DELEGATION: It is absurd. It does a disservice to the agency and the safeguard system as a whole. That we regret. The operation in Isfahan will continue under full scope safeguards.

RODGERS: Harsh language aside, the IAEA director general said there remains a diplomatic window of opportunity to diffuse the confrontation, though he acknowledged there are more than a few loose ends to be tied up.

MOHMADED ELBARADEI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IAEA: We still are not in a position to say that there is no undeclared nuclear material or activities in Iran.

RODGERS: And a way out of this crisis has yet to be charted.

(on camera): This is the seventh resolution on Iran's nuclear plan approved by the IAEA in the past two years. It is only a political document. It is not legally binding. So if the Iranians press ahead with their nuclear program, as they say, there is little the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency can do about it.

Walter Rodgers, CNN, Vienna.

(END VIDEOTAPE) DOBBS: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is also refusing to put the Iranian crisis before his body. Annan is not alone in his determination to avoid offending the Iranians. China and Russia are also resisting any effort to refer Iran's nuclear challenge to the Security Council. Both countries, of course, have close economic ties to Iran.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Today, President Bush calling on allies to support the United States' position Iran must stop its nuclear activities.

BUSH: Our strategy is to -- is to work with the EU-3, the -- France and Great Britain and Germany, so that the Iranians hear a common voice speaking to them about their nuclear weapons ambitions.

PILGRIM: The big threat is taking Iran to the Security Council.

ADAM ERELI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: If Iran doesn't take the steps described in the resolution, we would expect that the next step would be referral to the Security Council.

PILGRIM: But some U.N. officials and some key member countries are signaling they want anything but that. They want to keep negotiating in Vienna.

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: I believe that the best way to break the impasse is to continue the discussions, the EU-3 with the Iranians at the table.

PILGRIM: Experts say Iran is counting on Russia and China to keep it out of the Security Council. Russia has extensive commercial ties with Iran's nuclear program. The Chinese ambassador clearly said China opposes taking Iran to the Security Council, saying it's not the proper place for it.

WANG GUANGYA, CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I think that at least it would not be helpful. I think we all want a peaceful solution to the Iranian issue. So I think the best place is the efforts between EU and Iranians or IAEA.

PILGRIM: China is looking out for itself. Its booming economy needs all the energy it can get.

RICHARD FISHER, INTERNATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND STRATEGY CENTER: China is scouring the world for petroleum sources and reserves. It views Iran as a very solid and valued source of petroleum. China simply cannot be expected to challenge Iran.

PILGRIM: China already imports some 15 percent of its oil from Iran, and wants to step up imports of Iranian natural gas.

(END VIDEOTAPE) PILGRIM: Now, China is using a variety of excuses to keep Iran out of the Security Council. Just this week the Chinese ambassador said the council has too many things on the table. And previously, the Chinese foreign minister said, "Referring Iran to the Security Council would only make things more complicated" -- Lou.

DOBBS: It's hard to imagine they could be any more complicated. Kitty, thank you very much.

We'd like to know what you believe about the Iranian threat to global security. The question tonight, do you believe the United Nations has the authority, will and competency to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons? Cast your vote at We'll have the results later in the broadcast.

The new Iranian president appears likely to receive a U.S. visa to go to the United Nations next month after all. President Bush today said the United States has an agreement with the U.N. that allows world leaders to attend those meetings. President Bush said the United States is still investigating reports the Iranian president took part in the kidnapping of Americans at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979. U.S. officials began that investigation back in June after former American hostages said the Iranian president was one of their kidnappers.

As the world focuses on Iran's nuclear challenge, Pakistan, an Islamic country with nuclear weapons already, has test-fired a new cruise missile. Pakistan says its new missile is capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads. Officials say that missile has a range of 300 miles, which means it can easily strike targets in neighboring India, which also has nuclear weapons.

Still ahead here, why big pharmaceutical companies are spending tens of millions of dollars trying to block what would be deep price cuts for drugs in the state of California, perhaps setting off a national trend. We'll have a special report for you.

And how the United States is being left behind in the battle to develop the next generation Internet. It's a battle this country can't afford to lose. That special report coming up.

And a possible Republican presidential candidate will be here. He says traditional values in this country are under threat. He's our guest next.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: No good news tonight on energy prices. Oil prices today soared to another all-time high. Prices settling at $65.80 a barrel. Prices reached as high as $66 during the day. Another record.

Meanwhile, record gasoline prices squeezing Americans at the pumps. Gas prices hit a record high as well today. According to the AAA, the average price, $2.39 a gallon nationwide. Prescription drug prices also continue to soar, and now many states are trying to reign in those costs. In the state of California, citizens will soon vote on two ballot initiatives. Both of those initiatives would slash drug prices for millions of working families. But there is a key difference. One ballot is sponsored by the drug companies, the other by labor unions, making this one of the most expensive ballot initiative battles in history.

Casey Wian reports.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Millions of working families in California may soon get relief from high prescription drug prices. In November, they'll vote on two ballot measures that share the same goal, and little else.

Proposition 78, sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, would lower prices for uninsured patients with annual incomes up to three times the poverty level. That's $58,000 for a family of four. About five million Californians would qualify, but drug company participation would be voluntary.

JAN FAIKS, PHRMA: It's about a discount card program that will bring needed discounts to Californians who are uninsured and need that extra help to afford their medicines.

WIAN: The competing plan sponsored by labor unions and consumer groups is far more generous. Proposition 79 covers anyone making up to four times the poverty level, or $77,000 for a family of four. It would include 10 million Californians. Drug company participation would be mandatory.

STEVE BLACKLEDGE, CALPIRG: We're hoping 40, 50, 60 percent savings on prescription drugs, again, for some of the poorer Californians who are uninsured and very much need these type of savings from soaring prescription drug costs.

WIAN: Drug companies claim the union and consumer plan would encourage frivolous lawsuits. Supporters of the other plan say the pharmaceutical company initiative is a smoke screen to protect profits. Drug makers are on pace to spend a record amount of money in support of their plan and opposing the other, so far raising $58 million.

BERNIE HORN, CENTER FOR POLICY ALTERNATIVES: The drug manufacturers are spending more than any group has ever spent for an initiative, because it would cost too much to offer fair drug prices.

WIAN: One thing seems certain, voters are likely to be confused because the ballot initiatives sound so similar. In fact, the latest poll shows voters approving both proposals.


WIAN: Now, on Election Day, if both are approved, the initiative with the most votes would become law. And as it stands now, that's the pharmaceutical industry's plan -- Lou.

DOBBS: Casey, thank you very much. Casey Wian.

There are new fears tonight that American technology companies and their highly-skilled workers are being left behind in the race to modernize the Internet. South Korea and communist China now attracting a huge inflow of technology investment at the expense of U.S. firms. American technology dominance is at risk.

Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The average South Korean student has 1,000 times the bandwidth of a student in the United States. That means Korean students can access school courses broadcast from a studio, right to their home computer, or to a mobile phone.

And South Korea has more wireless hot spots per capita than anyplace else. So studying on a laptop can be done from almost anywhere.

The technology is giving Korean students an edge over American students.

ALEX LIGHTMAN, IPVS SUMMIT: You have broadband anywhere and everywhere that you go that's well in excess of five to 10 times of what you would have for the average student in America. And that gives them an advantage, and it shows up in the test scores.

SYLVESTER: The United States, once the Internet leader, is lagging behind in high-speed connections, and also in developing the next generation Internet. Korea, Japan, Europe, and China have spent more than $800 million developing the newest Internet architecture. It offers a vast abundance of new Web addresses, increased security and greater mobility. But the United States has spent only $10 million on the new technology.

REP. TOM DAVIS (R), CHAIRMAN, GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: Ultimately, it's all about job creation and wealth creation. If the rest of the world has signed up to a new protocol, and we have lagged behind, the new innovations that are coming will be off that protocol. Not the ones that our companies are working with. And we're just going to be -- they'll be at the 50-yard line and we'll be starting at the goal line.

SYLVESTER: That could turn the United States into a net importer of online services within a couple of years. And waiting in the wings to take the competitive advantage, China.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: China is going to basically copy all these innovations, and it's going to make China, as well as Korea and Japan, but China is the big concern, a service export superpower.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SYLVESTER: And china is a concern, because unlike South Korea and Japan, which are U.S. allies, it is a communist country whose interest don't line up with those of the United States. And the U.S. is already running a huge trade deficit with China in manufactured goods -- Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much.

Coming up next, sensible policy or PC madness? We'll have a special report on the Defense Department's latest efforts to demonstrate cultural sensitivity to Native Americans, and to pursue political correctness to an extreme.

Also tonight, severe drought and crop damage ravage the country's heartland. And environmental catastrophe strikes Malaysia.

Those stories and more are coming up here next.


DOBBS: Earlier this week, this program reported on a stunning new mandate from the NCAA on college sport mascots. The NCAA says American-Indian mascots are too offensive for some sports, but only during parts of the sports season, and only for certain sports. Amazingly, the NCAA's Orwellian, politically correct madness has spread to the top of our nation's military command structure, to NORAD.

Christine Romans has the story.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Deep within Cheyenne Mountain, NORAD, North America's Strategic Air Defense, will no longer use American-Indian names in its readiness exercises. Beginning October 1, all American-Indian references will be deleted.

Instead of "warrior," "chief," "brave" or "Indian," NORAD will now use the terms "phantom," "arrow," "dart" and "sabre" after retired fighter aircraft names. NORAD says it's not responding to specific complaints, but it is making the change to avoid offending Native Americans.

Tribal advocates say it's not a matter of political correctness, it's a matter of racism, and it's about time.

VERNON BELLECOURT, COALITION ON RACISM IN SPORTS AND MEDIA: Well, we're a people that were almost wiped out. And now for the military, particularly the Pentagon, who insists on continuing with this practice, well, it's simply outrageous and unacceptable.

ROMANS: Still unacceptable, he says, are elite Army helicopters named for tribes and their leaders: the Apache, the Black Hawk, or the Kiowa. An Army official says he knows of no plans to change those names.


ROMANS: NORAD has been using the Native American names at least since the 1970s, but says now it's time to drop them in the spirit of government regulations to avoid offensive or derogatory language against groups, individual sects.

DOBBS: What idiot at NORAD decided that it is offensive for NORAD to be headquartered at, for example, at Cheyenne Mountain to be using names that -- I mean, we put forward with great honor these names in our military aircraft. The Black Hawk, I mean, it's utterly nuts.

ROMANS: Apparently the concern is not that something is named after Indian tribes, or Indian leaders, like Cheyenne or the state of Iowa, for example, or Illinois, it's naming machines of war and war games after people who were essentially, you know, the victims of American aggression. That's what the Native American advocacy groups have to say.

DOBBS: I would just have to say they're completely idiotic. I suppose we should remove the names Eisenhower and Nimitz from our aircraft carriers as well. Should they not take offense as well?

ROMANS: An interesting point. An interesting point.

DOBBS: And the sports -- sports mascot nonsense, I understand Florida State has taken a position against Dr. Miles Brand and his brand of political correctness at the NCAA.

ROMANS: They certainly have. In fact, today the FSU board of trustees held an emergency meeting and came out and said, NCAA, we dare you. We are going to defy this ban. They hired a team of lawyers, and they think that the Seminole name is a proud tradition in Florida, and with the backing of the Florida Seminolel tribe, they would like to keep it.

DOBBS: That's just too reasonable for words. And good for Florida State for having the intellectual honesty and the guts to stand up.

Christine Romans. Thank you.

Coming up next here, Republican Senator Rick Santorum's fight to spread his version of traditional American conservatism. Senator Santorum is our guest here next.

And a sex scandal at the highest levels in the Pentagon. We'll have a live report for you.

And a dangerous drought is sparking massive wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. We'll have the latest on this nation's summer of fire.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Republican Senator Rick Santorum has been promoting his new book and his version of conservatism this summer. The book is called "It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good."

In his book, Santorum compares abortion to slavery, he finds fault with two-income families and couples who lived together before marriage. The book has become a best seller. It is provocative, and Senator Rick Santorum joins us tonight from Pittsburgh.

Senator, good to have you with us.

SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Thank you, Lou. Thanks for having me on.

DOBBS: You've taken some quick and direct fire on basically asking women to return to the care of children. How do you react to that?

SANTORUM: Well, I've actually taken fire for asking parents to parent their children. And it's not -- nothing in the book says that women should get out of the workforce, or, you know, abandon professions. Quite the opposite.

What I say is that society should be more affirming of women and men as roles as mothers and fathers as much as we are affirming of them as U.S. senators or broadcasters. To me, we have sort of gotten away from the important role that mothers and fathers and husbands and wives play in building a stronger society.

DOBBS: I don't think too many people will argue with that perspective. But at the same time, you say both the left and right, the Republicans and Democrats, have failed the family in this country. How so?

SANTORUM: Yes. I make the argument that Republicans, you know, really have not done what they need to do in putting public policy in place to be more nurturing, particularly of families who are on the margins of society.

We've seen a tremendous breakdown of the family among the poor. Upwards of 75 to 80 percent of children in poor neighborhoods are born out of wedlock. And we candidly for many years didn't provide an alternative vision of how we're going to remedy that situation and rebuild the nuclear family among the poor.

And I make the argument on the other side that the left, while they've cared about it, liberals have certainly shown their concern to help the poor, a lot of the policies that they put forward actually did more to destroy the family than almost anything else out there. And a lot of the great society programs are very destructive of the nuclear family.

DOBBS: Well, you wouldn't, for example, say that aid to families with dependent children and Social Security had failed. Those are two of the most successful welfare programs -- if I can use that word in what is becoming a politically correct wave in this country -- those have been immensely successful programs.

SANTORUM: Well, certainly Social Security has been, but I would take issue with Aid to Families with Dependent Children. In fact, I make the argument in the book and I -- that the way that Aid to Families with Dependent Children was handed out, really was anti- family. If you were a single mom and you were at a certain income level, you received aid from the state. If you were that -- a married couple with the same income level, you didn't get help from the state under AFDC. It really did focus on helping single mothers at the expense of trying to do something to nurture and help keep families together and that, to me, is not a pro-family policy.

DOBBS: Perhaps not pro-family and could be amended further and improved, but again, without that -- those two particular programs, so many millions of Americans would be without support in this country. I think you would agree.

SANTORUM: No question about that, Lou. And in fact, in 1996, I was one of the authors of the welfare reform bill, which changed aid to families with dependent children to what's called TANF, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. And the idea was families and try to focus more on trying to rebuild the infrastructure around children and including mothers and fathers.

DOBBS: You know, I was struck by -- because you talk about no- fault freedom in the context of liberals in this country. I was also struck by the fact there is sort of a no-fault freedom that is, frankly, swamping both parties.

SANTORUM: Absolutely.

DOBBS: And the idea that there is a lack of responsibility in certain philosophies...

SANTORUM: Yes. Absolutely.

DOBBS: the Libertarian philosophy that has taken hold of both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, which basically says, you know, "I should have unfettered freedom from government intrusion. Government should be small and has no responsibility to care for those who cannot care for themselves." That's sort of a sad corrosion of two parties with important values that are traditional and historic, don't you think?

SANTORUM: Absolutely and that's why I wrote the book, because you know, I have a real concern about conservatism, you know, and the direction that it's heading. And in fact, the subtitle of the book, "It Takes a Family, Conservatism and the Common Good," the idea that we have a responsibility beyond ourselves, that freedom is not a freedom from any kind of government interaction or responsibility to society, it's a freedom for doing what is best, not just for you, but for your community, your family and your country.

And so it's -- it is, where, I think you mentioned, where the far right or the Libertarian right or many in the Libertarian right, and the left, sort of come together in this idea of radical individualism and self-centered freedom, which I think is very destructive to the community of America.

DOBBS: Senator, we're out of time, but I was thinking that one aspect of your book that deserves some attention, too and that is, the policies that have been pursued in this country that means that so many of our families must be two-income families just in order to survive. That's an issue of trade policy, economic policy on the part of both policies.

SANTORUM: And tax policy.

DOBBS: And hopefully you will be able to influence that outcome.

SANTORUM: Thank you.

DOBBS: Are you running for president?

SANTORUM: No. I have no intention to run. I'm running for reelection of the U.S. Senate in 2006.

DOBBS: Senator Santorum, thank you very much. The book is, "It Takes a Family."

Texas has become the fourth state in the country to have a majority of minorities, if you will, just over 50 percent. The Census Bureau, saying a growing number of Hispanics moving to Texas is driving that trend. Texas is joining California, Hawaii, and New Mexico as states with majority-minority populations. Five other states, Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi and New York are close with about 40 percent minority population. A demographer at the University of Texas at San Antonio says it's expected the entire country will be more than half minorities by 2050, making minorities the majority.

A reminder now, to vote in our poll: Do you believe the United Nations has the authority, will and competency to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons? Please vote yes or no, at LOUDOBBS.COM. We'll have the results in just a few minutes.

Still ahead here: New questions being raised about our strategy in Iraq. I'll be talking about that and a great deal more with General David Grange, on point.

And why one four-star Army general has been stripped of his command. We'll have a live report from the Pentagon.

And base battles: Why some say the federal government overstepped its authority in trying to close several of our military bases around the country. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The Pentagon and a number of state governors are, tonight, on a collision course over possible military base closings. Governors say the Pentagon overstepped its authorities, because the federal government can't close Army and Air National Guard bases without their approval. Bill Tucker has the story. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here in Pennsylvania, Willow Grove Air Force Base is to be closed down according to a Pentagon recommendation. Pennsylvania's governor and its senators have sued the Defense Department to stop the closing.

They argue that the United States Constitution provides in part, that a National Guard unit may not be changed, relocated or withdrawn without the approval of the governor in the state in which the unit is located. Governor Ed Rendell has not approved the base closings. Illinois has filed its own separate suit.

GOV. ROB BLAGJEVICH (D), ILLINOIS: The Pentagon has violated the law, and from the standpoint of homeland security, again, I would make the argument that the purpose of the Air National Guard base in Springfield is not only about our national security, but it's also about homeland security.

TUCKER: So far, those are the only two states that have sued, but others are angered. New Mexico's governor, Bill Richardson, publicly disputes the Pentagon's figures used to justify closing Cannon Air Force Base in his state.

The governor, angry that he had no role or say in the evaluation, points to the fact that the base is one-third of his state's economy. In Idaho, Governor Dirk Kempthorne stands to lose an entire Air National Guard base, which is home to C-130 cargo planes used to fight western forest fires. It's a concern that the commander of the National Guard understands.

LT. GEN. H. STEVEN BLUM, NATIONAL GUARD BUREAU: ... And when it's not at war overseas, it's back here available to the governor to do exactly those things: Communications, medical, engineers, transportation, security, intelligence, the whole full gamut of command and control and be part of a joint capability to respond in homeland defense and homeland security.

TUCKER: And he made this promise to the governor...

BLUM: I will discharge my responsibilities and ensure that the commanders-in-chief of the -- of each state have a capable, competent Air National Guard with a flying unit.


TUCKER: Those are welcome words to be sure, but those words may come as something of cold comfort to many of the governors, who after having been left out of the process, Lou, now have little reason to suddenly beginning to believe in the process.

DOBBS: Well, in combination with the governors and the delegations in nearly every state where anybody's talked about closing a base, this is the first time I've ever seen this broad of a reaction to base closing. We went through this with the sizing-down, if you will -- sort of a Pentagon speak -- after president -- the first President Bush's term, when he started that.

TUCKER: Right.

DOBBS: It looks like we have a revolt on our hands here.

TUCKER: We do, as a matter of fact.

DOBBS: Probably. It's a country where revolution got the whole thing started. It served us pretty well. Bill Tucker, thank you.

New information tonight, in the case of a four-star Army general stripped of his command. The attorney for General Kevin Byrnes says a consensual adult relationship with a woman who is not in the military apparently cost the general his job. Barbara Starr reports from the Pentagon -- Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, General Kevin Byrnes, the four-star Army general, stripped of command on Monday. Apparently, was stripped not just because of an adulterous affair, but because in 2003, when the allegation was first made, he was ordered to end the relationship with this woman. When the inspector general investigated, they found that General Byrnes had continued the affair, even after being ordered to stop it. That word has been confirmed by both General Byrnes' military defense attorney and senior officials at the Pentagon. So it is a couple of things now that have cost this man of previously unblemished career, by all accounts, the relationship with someone outside his marriage, which is against military regulation, the failure to obey an order -- all of that resulting also in conduct unbecoming an officer.

Lou, the Army is clearly making some of this information known, because it has taken so much public criticism this week from people who wonder why the Army got into the business of investigating this matter. The affair, by all accounts, was with a woman who was not in the military, and it did not directly affect General Byrnes' chain of command in his own organization -- Lou.

DOBBS: It is remarkable in that respect, Barbara, certainly as you have reported. It is also remarkable that the U.S. military should take this focus on this four-star general, a man by all accounts who has had a distinguished career, obviously, or he would not be a four-star general. Is there another part to this story? In fact, is there someone he upset mightily that created such a focus upon him?

STARR: By all accounts, from everyone we have spoken to who has been involved in this matter, no. What did the general in, so to speak, was his failure to obey an instruction. He was given an instruction, we are told, by the highest levels of the Army leadership. When the investigation began, they called him. They said, if this is going on, stop it until you are divorced. That is military regulation. And it has been confirmed by both Army officials and his military defense attorney that that simply did not happen. And it is failure to obey instructions that throughout the military they simply do not tolerate, Lou.

DOBBS: What is next?

STARR: Well, he is a four-star, and so that is a -- you know, there are not many four-stars out there. His retirement will be one that will be considered. He could, in fact, retire at the last rank in which he served honorably. That may be something that happens to him. And also, the Army simply may let him retire at his four-star rank, and let him simply go away quietly.

General Byrnes was scheduled previously for retirement in November, and his successor has in fact already been named. So this is likely to all be fairly quietly resolved, Lou.

DOBBS: It's certainly not quiet at this point. Barbara Starr, thank you very much.

STARR: Thank you.

DOBBS: Reporting from the Pentagon.

The insurgency in Iraq has taken on deadly new momentum this month. Nearly as many American troops, 44, have been killed in Iraq in the first 11 days of this month than in all of July. The rising number of American deaths raises new questions about the direction of U.S. strategy and tactics in Iraq.

Joining me now, General David Grange. General, good to have you here.


DOBBS: There is, of course, nothing more upsetting to the American people than the death of an American service member. We're watching an increasing number of those in Iraq. And at the same time, the Pentagon is talking about the enemy as now brutal, lethal and adaptive. What is, in your judgment, going on, and is the top brass in the Pentagon doing the right thing here?

GRANGE: I think the leadership is doing what they have to do to defeat the insurgents. We don't really see obviously what's reported in the full picture. But what's key about this adaptation, both sides are adapting. It happens in combat all the time. And the enemy truly is adapting. They're becoming much more savvy at the tactics used by coalition forces. And they're also leveraging technology and information to get advantages as well.

DOBBS: General, all I can recall at this point as you speak, is Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Myers, saying that these are thugs and dead- enders over the course of the past two years. And over the course of the past six to nine months, the language has changed to adaptive and brutal and lethal. This does not inspire confidence in the leadership at the Pentagon, the men and women who are responsible for the safety and security of our American troops in Iraq.

GRANGE: Well, maybe then we need a more comprehensive lay-down of the details of these capabilities. I mean, the capabilities of some of the foreign fighters, they're very good. The capabilities of some criminals are very good as well, just like criminals here in the United States. Some are pretty tricky. But overall, the coalition are defeating -- and the Iraqi forces are defeating the insurgents. It's going to take a while. And we just better sit back and understand that.

DOBBS: General, Barbara Starr, from whom we just heard, last night reported here that there is simply no U.S. strategy to win the war against the insurgents and terrorists in Iraq. Does that shock you? Does that dismay you?

GRANGE: Well, I don't believe that statement. I mean, I know there is a strategy. Has it been briefed to everybody? No, probably not. There is a strategy, and the strategy is not a military strategy; it's an interagency strategy, looking at the political, economic, diplomacy, as well as the military objectives to establish rule of law, democratic governance and a market economy. And it takes all. And I can assure you that many of these agencies involved are not outfitted, are not robust enough to meet all the ends that they're supposed to do as a unity of effort to accomplish the thing. But it is a national strategy there in place.

DOBBS: General, I also understand you served with General Byrnes, who has been relieved of his command. What did you -- what was your experience as you were both division commanders? You served with him in the Pentagon. What are your thoughts of the man and his contributions to the military?

GRANGE: My experience with Kevin Byrnes is he's a professional soldier. He was great with troops. The division commanders I served with, he was one that I would trust with my life, on my right or left flank. Regardless of the situation now, looking back when I served with him. And he was a capable soldier. Good man.

DOBBS: As are you. Dave Grange, thank you.

GRANGE: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Tonight's quote of the day comes from President Bush. As we reported earlier, President Bush met with his top national security advisers in Texas today. The president talked about our mission in Iraq and the escalating insurgency. He said, and we quote, "The recent violence in Iraq is a grim reminder of the brutal enemies we face in the war on terror. And we are a nation at war."

At the top of the hour here on CNN, "ANDERSON COOPER 360." Here's Anderson to tell us all about it -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Lou, thanks very much. Yeah, tonight on "360," the cabby who called the cops on the convict and his wife talks exclusively to "360." What exactly happened in those final hours on the run and why did the cabby help the fugitive check into a hotel under his own name?

Also tonight, Tom Cruise and Scientology. We take a close look at the secretive religion; former and current members speak out. That's ahead at "360," in about 13 minutes -- Lou.

DOBBS: Sounds good, Anderson. Thank you.

Still ahead, the government office that conducts background checks on Border Patrol agents responds. Here on this broadcast, after hiring an illegal alien, the deputy associate director of that office is our guest.

And fire, drought and smog. We'll show you dramatic pictures of the dangerous weather around the globe. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Massive wildfires spreading tonight in the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rockies. In Montana, a 3,000-acre wildfire forcing officials there to shut down a major power line. The power emergency could trigger blackouts in neighboring Washington state as well.

In southwest Washington, firefighters are battling a slow-moving 41,000-acre blaze that's already destroyed dozens of homes. That fire has burned out of control now for almost a week. Washington's governor tonight declaring a state of emergency for the entire state.

There are 33 large wildfires burning tonight in nine states. Most of them in the drought parched northwest. This region has received little or no rain over the past three months. Severe drought conditions are also spreading now through the Midwest, through Illinois, which is suffering its worst drought, in fact, in almost two decades. Crop damage in Illinois is severe. Nearly all of Illinois' 102 counties have been declared federal disaster areas.

Overseas, an environmental emergency gripping Malaysia tonight. These are before and after pictures of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, which is suffering through its worst pollution crisis in a decade. Man-made forest fires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra are triggering dangerous smog conditions. That smog could persist until Malaysia's monsoon season, that begins in October.

Tropical Storm Irene is strengthening in the Atlantic tonight. It could pose a threat to the east coast next week. Irene is packing winds now of around 50 miles an hour. It could, of course, strengthen to hurricane force over the next few days. On its present course, Irene could pose a threat to the south or the mid-Atlantic states by Tuesday.

Meanwhile, at the Kennedy Space Center, rain and technical problems postponing the launch of an Atlas V rocket that's carrying NASA's Mars orbiter probe. NASA will try to launch again tomorrow. A software glitch to blame.

And NASA tonight is ruling out a September launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. A top NASA manager says there is virtually no chance that engineers will be able to fix the shuttle's fuel tank problems in time for the scheduled Atlantis launch date. Last night we brought you the story of a border patrol agent who was, of all things, an illegal alien. Prosecutors allege that while serving as a border patrol agent, he smuggled other illegal aliens into this country. In our report, we outlined how the office of personnel management, which is responsible for employee background checks, uses a third party to conduct those background checks.

Tonight, we are giving that office a chance to respond. And joining me is Kathy Dillman. She's deputy associate director of the office. Center for Federal Investigative Services.

Miss Dillman, your office handles the background checks for all the border patrol agents. Wouldn't you agree that in this instance the process obviously failed?

KATHY DILLMAN, CENTER FOR FEDERAL INVESTIGATIVE SERVICES: Overall, I do believe the process failed, Lou.

DOBBS: The idea that the office of personnel management -- it's my understanding here -- you know, the government is like every other organization. It will make mistakes. But the fact is, there were two opportunities here when this fellow entered the United States Navy with apparently fraudulent documents, and then entered the Border Patrol Service with fraudulent document. How is it that those could not be discovered?

DILLMAN: Well Lou, first, you have to understand the overall process. And please understand that I cannot discuss the specifics of Mr. Ortiz's background investigation.

DOBBS: Sure.

DILLMAN: But I can confirm that my office was asked to conduct a background investigation at the request of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 2002.

The process itself requires first that the agency identify the individual and confirm their qualifications. That would also include confirming their citizenship status. And that's true for any employer, public or private. Whether you're government, an employing company or an individual employer.

Once that's been confirmed -- and I can only speculate on how it was missed in that process -- the request for the background investigation was forwarded to my office. We've reviewed the background investigation, conducted by our contractors. It was complete. It was thorough. And there were no deficiencies.

The results of the investigation was returned to an Immigration and Naturalization Service. And it was their responsibility to determine whether or not that individual was suitable for employment.

DOBBS: So I hear you saying is, that you said there were no deficiencies, therefore, that report had to come back saying this man is not a U.S. citizen.

DILLMAN: And again, Lou, I can't talk about the specific results.

DOBBS: OK. Well, let me ask you this, overall, because there are so many employees, of course, of the federal government, this work is being contracted out. Why in the world -- it used to be the Federal Bureau of Investigation did -- whether you're going into the military, whatever it was. The FBI was there to check out your background.

DILLMAN: OPM has been a background investigative agency for decades, Lou. It's not just the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They do some background investigations, but there are other government agencies who conduct background investigations. My agency conducts about 90 percent of the background investigations for federal employment.

DOBBS: And in the idea, if you will, of outsourcing these to private contractors, overall they must do a good job or you certainly would not be using them.

DILLMAN: They do a terrific job, Lou. And also, they are cleared and trained to the same level and standards as your federal counterparts. These agents did the job.

DOBBS: Kathy Dillman, I want to say, thank you for being here. We appreciate you bringing your perspective.

DILLMAN: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Still ahead, the results of our poll tonight. We'll take a lot at what's coming up tomorrow. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight: 86 percent of you say the United Nations does not have the authority, will or competency to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Taking a look now at your thoughts on the broadcast. Mary in Denver, Colorado saying, "the constitution provides for our military to guard our borders. Where does it provide for our military to go to other countries and guard theirs?"

And Patricia in Lake Mary, Florida, "there are days when I think the Mad Hatter's famous tea party reflected more sanity than the halls of Congress. Keep telling it like it is, Lou. And perhaps one day those movers and shakers will listen."

And Paula in Columbia, Mississippi, "Kudos to the Minuteman. Volunteerism is the only way this will be done. The ACLU needs to pull its head out and remember the A stands for American."

We love hearing your thoughts. Send them to us at Each of your whose e-mail is read on the broadcast receives a copy of my book, "Exporting America." And if you want our e-mail newsletter, you can sign up on the same Web site, Judith Miller, the Pulitzer prize winning "New York Times" reporter has now been in prison for 36 days for protecting her confidential sources in the investigation of the White House CIA leak case.

We thank you for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. The governor of the state of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, will be here to talk about his new initiatives to both secure the border with Mexico and to curtail illegal immigration in this country.

The vice chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee is also our guest. We'll be discussing a critical question: did U.S. government officials ignore intelligence about the September 11 hijackers.

Also, the state of Kansas sparking a national debate over the origins of life. Two school board members on opposite sides of the issue will be our guests.

And in "Heroes," our salute to our men and women in uniform, the story of a soldier who struggled to recover from his wounds after a devastating insurgent attack in Iraq. Please be with us.

For all of us here, good night from New York. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now -- Anderson.