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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Tom DeLay Turns Himself in, Posts $10,000 Bond; New Developments in CIA Leak Case

Aired October 20, 2005 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody.
We begin tonight with the extraordinary political battle that is raging tonight in Texas. It's a legal contest pitting a Travis County prosecutor against the former House majority leader. U.S. Congressman Tom DeLay today turned himself in at a sheriff's office in Houston one day after a court issued an arrest warrant for him on conspiracy and money laundering charges. DeLay was photographed and fingerprinted and then released on a $10,000 bond.

DeLay's attorney blasted Texas district attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat, accusing Earle of singling out DeLay for political partisan retribution.

Sean Callebs reports now from Richmond, Texas, on Tom DeLay's booking.

Dana Bash reports from the White House on new developments in another scandal, the CIA-White House investigation.

And Bill Schneider in Washington reports on the rising public disillusionment with holders of elected office, particularly those members of Congress.

We begin with Sean Callebs in Richmond, Texas, on the booking of Tom DeLay -- Sean.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, really, Lou, an extraordinary day, if you think about it. One of the most powerful Republicans in the United States today having his mug shot taken, as well as being fingerprinted. It happened in the Harris County Jail. Tom DeLay, as you mentioned, charged with conspiracy, as well as money laundering. Austin Democrat Ronnie Earle is accusing DeLay of violating a 102-year-old Texas election code.

Now, if it happened in Harris County, it begs the question, why are we here in Fort Bend County, Texas? Well, yesterday DeLay and his attorney cut a deal with the sheriff here to quietly surrender, to under the booking process here. But while all the media gathered outside this jail, DeLay quietly walked inside the Harris County facility.

Now, think about that, this influential Republican walking into be fingerprinted, undergoing this criminal procedure. But think about it all you want, because there are no pictures of.

Still, as Lou mentioned, DeLay's attorney is simply seething, saying this is all just a measure of partisan politics.


DICK DEGUERIN, TOM DELAY'S ATTORNEY: He wanted a mug shot so he could put it out to Congressman DeLay's political opponents, and he's got what he wanted. There's no reason for this. It was pure retaliation on the part of Ronnie Earle because we have not let him up. And we've exposed this prosecution for what it is.

So there it is. Take a good look at it.


CALLEBS: And Lou, today DeGuerin was asked what was it like for Tom DeLay? His answer, "A walk in the park" -- Lou.

DOBBS: Sean, a walk in the park. Tomorrow there will be not a walk in the park, but an appearance in court. What do we expect to happen?

CALLEBS: Well, what we expect is DeLay and his attorney will be in Austin, in the courthouse there. Basically a formality.

The walk-in, and DeLay will have a chance to hear the charges. He'll have a chance to proclaim DeGuerin as his counsel.

But the wildcard there, the judge could also rule on some of the motions that are before the bench. Perhaps the most important, the defense, which is saying this case should simply be thrown out -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. Sean Callebs.

You may have noticed that Congressman DeLay's so-called mug shot does not have a number on it, as do most. In Harris County, Texas, where DeLay was booked, they used digital cameras. Officials there tell us the number is record electronically, although they were quick to add not everyone smiles like Tom DeLay for the camera.

The Tom DeLay charges, of course, not the only political problem facing the Bush White House. The White House is also facing the possibility that at least one of its staff members could be indicted in the CIA-White House leak scandal.

Today it emerged that top presidential adviser Karl Rove may be pointing the finger at Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Dana Bash reports from the White House.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE House CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Rose Garden to talk Mideast peace, the president insisted he's not distracted by the slew of political problems coming at him at once.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's some background noise here, a lot of chatter, a lot of speculation and opining. But the American people expect me to do my job, and I'm going to.

BASH: The biggest question, is the special prosecutor investigating who leaked the classified identity of Valerie Plame about to indict anyone at the White House? New information about what top Bush aide Karl Rove told the grand jury added to the drama.

Rove may have first learned Plame worked for the CIA from Cheney chief of staff Scooter Libby during a discussion what they were hearing from reporters. According to an informed source sympathetic to Rove, that discussion took place before her name appeared in this column by Robert Novak, which outed Plame's covert identity. This further puts into question past White House statements neither Rove nor Libby had anything to do with the matter.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. BASH: Rove's attorney insists he did not leak classified information, but experts warn Rove's account is just his perspective.

DAVID SCHERTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: What the prosecutor's looking at are not exculpatory statements that Karl Rove may have given when he testified four times before the grand jury, but he's looking at other evidence that comes from other witnesses or other documentation.

BASH: And over two years, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has called dozens of witnesses, from the White House to the CIA. But the public might never get a full accounting. Department of Justice guidelines do not call for a final report in such cases. And Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who recused himself from any involvement, would not answer when asked by CNN if such a report is in the public interest.

ALBERTO GONZALES, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't want to be viewed in any weigh way influencing one way or the other what Mr. Fitzgerald does in connection with this investigation.


BASH: And there are a lot of unanswered legal questions, but one of the most intriguing may be a political one. And that is, why is that those close to Karl Rove are putting out his perspective, but those on Scooter Libby's side right now are stone silent -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, that is a central question with today's developments, the suggestion from those sources, obviously Karl Rove's sources, if you will. Is there any White House reaction, presidential reaction to the fact that obviously someone is leaking, now, within the senior staff?

BASH: No. I mean, the White House has been absolutely no comment about this for months. But when it comes to this grand jury testimony about Karl Rove or anything else, that is something that is really up to the people who know it to put out. That's probably not - not what some people would like, particularly those in the prosecutor's office, but it's up to them to put out if they like to.

DOBBS: Absolutely. But this has to be, one would think, coming with the approval of the president of the United States.

BASH: Don't be so sure about that, Lou. I'm unclear about that. But when it comes to this particular issue at this point, my understanding right now is that they are very careful inside the White House not to talk to one another about their testimony or what's going on, what goes on inside the grand jury.

DOBBS: OK. Dana Bash. Thank you very much, reporting from the White House.

The president's nominee for the Supreme Court, Harriet Miers, tonight facing new questions and rising opposition on Capitol Hill. President Bush today declared that Miers will answer all questions about her qualifications for the job, as well as her legal philosophy.

Miers again went to Capitol Hill today to meet with senators. Yesterday, the chairman and ranking Democrat of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Miers should revisit the answers she gave on a questionnaire from the committee because those answers are incomplete.

The rising public skepticism about the Miers' nomination only one issue responsible for plummeting poll numbers for the president. But Congress' approval ratings, it should be pointed out, and emphatically so, are much lower. Voters appear to believe that members of Congress are increasingly out of touch with reality.

Bill Schneider reports.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice over): Tom DeLay is in trouble. DeLay's public image, 18 percent favorable, 45 percent unfavorable.

Congress is in trouble, too. Congress' public image, 64 percent disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job. That's worse than DeLay.

Only 29 percent give Congress a good job rating. That's the worst rating for Congress since 1994, when voters overthrew the Democratic majority in Congress after 40 years.

Congress' problems are bigger than Tom DeLay. People are angry not just about indictments and investigations, but also about the direction of the country.

Only 31 percent say they're satisfied with the way things are going in the country. Sixty-eight percent are dissatisfied. When is the last time Americans were that unhappy? Again, 1994, just before the overthrow of Congress.

What are Americans so unhappy about? Scandals, mounting casualties in Iraq, the Katrina disaster, a huge budget deficit. The economy? Yes, even though economists say the economy is doing pretty well.

BOB SAMUELSON, "NEWSWEEK," "WASHINGTON POST" ECONOMIST: There is this discrepancy between the opinion polls and what people are actually doing in shopping malls.

SCHNEIDER: They're spending and they're worrying. Why?

SAMUELSON: I do think that it's quite plausible that if gasoline prices stay up, that at some point consumers will say, you know, this is a big bite into my take-home pay, and I need to cut back on something else to make up for it.

SCHNEIDER: Two-thirds of Americans expect gas prices to cause financial hardship for their families. And two-thirds say the federal government could do something about it.

It's not happening. But what could be happening is another political revolution.

Right now, when Americans are asked whether the country would be better off if Democrats or Republicans controlled Congress, Democrats have a 13-point edge. Halloween may be 10 days away, but there's a message for Republicans: be afraid, be very afraid.


SCHNEIDER: But maybe not yet. The election is still a year away. If the numbers look this bad for Republicans next Halloween, then it gets pretty scary -- Lou.

DOBBS: Bill, the numbers that you're reporting there are troubling certainly for Republicans. They may be the product of a pure snapshot in time. But they also have to be extraordinarily hopeful for the Democrats.

Why are the Democrats, at least in terms of who would be better to control Congress, doing so well?

SCHNEIDER: Because they're not in control of Congress right now. They're the out party. So they're the alternative.

Democrats aren't doing extraordinarily well. They're got a 52 percent favorable image, which is more or less in line with what it's been in the past. So I wouldn't say Democrats are prospering.

The fact is, Republicans are being penalized. But Democrats are just the only alternative.

DOBBS: And last year, in 2004, Congress, despite that horrible approval rating -- I mean, it's extraordinary, 29 percent, as you point out, the lowest since 1994, when there was a Republican sweep of what had been the Democratically controlled Congress. The fact is that no one in this country as we receive word back from our viewers, thinks that either party, anyone in Congress, is doing anything to represent the middle class in this country.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. They feel that way and they've felt that way for quite a long time.

But look what they do. They go out and they re-elect their member of Congress, because they say Congress, they're not doing their job, they're screwing everything up. But my representative, my senator, he or she, they're OK, I like them. So they go ahead and re- elect the same Congress over and over again.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider. Thank you.

Turning now to the top story, Hurricane Wilma, this massive Category 4 storm is slowly moving towards Mexico's Yucatan peninsula with sustained winds of 150 miles an hour now. Tonight those winds are picking up in the Mexican resort town of Cancun, which could suffer catastrophic damage from this powerful storm.

After hitting Mexico, Wilma is now expected to slam into Cuba and then head on to south Florida. We will have a great deal more on what appears to be a very dangerous storm, and we'll have much more on its erratic path after this break, when we'll be joined by CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

Also ahead here, more on the rising political challenges that now face President Bush. I'll be talking with former presidential adviser David Gergen.

And then, a new hope for breast cancer patients and the high price that comes along with it.

And this country's biggest neighborhood watch program, the Minuteman Project. The movement to protect our borders is expanding. We'll tell you all about it, next.


DOBBS: Hurricane Wilma tonight is bearing down on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula and the Mexican resort island of Cozumel. Wilma tonight remains a powerful Category 4 storm. It has sustained winds of 150 miles an hour, and it could well be upgraded to a Category 5 storm, the National Hurricane Center says, as soon as tomorrow.

And it could hit the Florida coast now. The estimate is late Sunday. They had expected landfall sometime Saturday, but the slow- moving storm now pushing that landfall day back a full day.

Today, Florida Governor Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency as Florida residents are preparing for the approach of this massive storm. Mandatory evacuations of the Florida Keys begins tomorrow. And gas lines are already forming in southern Florida as residents prepare to head north. Florida officials are assuring residents that there is more than enough gasoline to go around during the evacuation.

There were chaotic evacuations today in Cancun, Mexico. Tourists rushed to the airports, and to get out even as rain from the storm began to fall.

In Cuba, 200,000 people have been evacuated as that nation awaits the arrival of Wilma.

The hurricane has already killed 14 people in Haiti.

Chad Myers is tracking this storm for us tonight at the CNN weather center -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Lou, expecting catastrophic damage in Cozumel, and also into Cancun. Winds there right at about Category 5, 150 to 155.

The storm 1,200 miles from cloud mass to cloud mass. That's how far it is across. The storm moving up toward the northwest now. It turned a little bit in the past couple of hours.

This storm headed right to the island right there. That is Cozumel.

We'll zoom in one more time and I'll make a line for you. I want you to see this, how the storm has moved away from the line.

It followed it, followed it, followed it, and in the past three hours the storm has turned to the right. That is not a wobble, not when it's that long. And that storm is going to be moving right on up to the tip top here of the Yucatan, and right up on top of there. That is Cozumel -- Cozumel and Cancun.

There is the center, there's the eye. It's 35 miles around right now. Winds 145 to about 150 from the hurricane center.

There's a plane in it right now, Lou. And it just found a wind where the planes fly, a few thousand feet high, 167 miles per hour.

DOBBS: Wow. Chad, thank you very much. Chad Myers. We'll be getting back to you for more as developments warrant on this hurricane, this powerful hurricane's path.

We will also be joined by NASA scientist Jeff Halverson, who is studying the unusual path of this massive storm, a storm that has many unique qualities to it.

Tonight, researchers are hailing a potential breakthrough in the treatment of breast cancer. A new study says the drug Herceptin can cut the risk of relapse in half for women with aggressive early stage breast cancer. Herceptin is already being prescribed for patients with advanced cancer, but it is an extremely expensive medication. A year's supply of the drug costs $48,000.

Turning to the avian flu, the death toll from the flu today rose. Thailand says a 48-year-old man who came into contact with infected birds has died of that disease. His 7-year-old son has been admitted to the hospital as well, and he also appears to be infected. This is Thailand's first bird flu death in more than a year.

Sixty-one people have now died from avian flu worldwide. And avian flu has been detected now in 16 countries.

China tonight says it faces a grave threat from avian flu. And U.N. officials say the disease could soon spread to East Africa, where they say it would be almost impossible to control.

There are serious questions tonight about just who is entering this country with visas and how well the government is keeping track of them. And we're talking about hundreds of thousands of people in this country.

Despite government mismanagement and inefficiency in the visa process, Congress is moving incredibly to grant even more visas.

Christine Romans reports.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Senate Judiciary Committee today paved the way for 30,000 more foreign workers a year to take American jobs . At the same time, the agency charged with regulating those visas is in disarray.

The Department of Homeland Security inspector general finds that too many temporary worker visas were given out this year. Senator Charles Grassley says the Citizenship and Immigration Service has broken the law by giving out 72,000 H1B visas this year instead of 65,000.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: And can you imagine an agency that can't count 65,000 people accurately? Right now some senators are asking for them to bring in a lot more people under the H1B program.

ROMANS: The inspector general found the citizenship office believes, "Any shortfall in visa approvals would be a disservice to the American business community." The agency acknowledges it did give too many H1B visas this year, but that it has fixed the problem.

Another remarkable report from the General Accountability Office blasted the State Department for poor oversight of its 300,000 cultural exchange visas. That report found examples of the J visas being sought for work in a topless bar and as kitchen help and wait staff. That report also found companies were using exchange visitors instead of hiring American workers.


ROMANS: And amid all this, there is concern that Congress is more interested in finding money for the budget than in demanding these problems be fixed immediately. As part of its budget reconciliation plan today, the Senate wants to charge $750 for each 30,000 more temporary worker visas for next year. A lot of folks are saying this is essentially selling American jobs to fix a budget problem even as the Senate recognizes that there are problems at the agency that regulates it.

DOBBS: So Congress is appropriating, is that correct?

ROMANS: The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to -- wants to put this in its budget reconciliation plan for 30,000 more H1B visas next year.

DOBBS: But they're not appropriating for funds for tracking the hundreds of thousands of visa holders of various descriptions that they can't even track in this country?

ROMANS: At this point they're more concerned about getting the $750 a head to close a budget gap.

DOBBS: This is -- you know, I don't know if there are words to express the fact that this government appears to be completely out of control. In one day, yesterday, we heard Elaine Chao, the secretary of Labor, say that she -- it was important, in her judgment, in terms of immigration reform, to serve the economy. No mention of the middle class American citizens, or higher values that made this country great.

And today, we have people talking about -- suggesting it would be a disservice to the business community without concern for anyone else?

ROMANS: That report found that the prevailing view over at the Citizenship and Immigration Service was you don't want to be a disservice to the business community. If you're going to err in the number of visas you give, make sure you give too many so they keep businesses happy.

DOBBS: And don't bother to track them. We're just kidding about being in a global war on terror, apparently.

Thank you very much, Christine.

Just ahead tonight, waiting for Wilma. A state of emergency has been declared in the state of Florida. We'll be talking with a NASA researcher tracking this powerful storm.

Also, a break in the case of powerful attorney's wife who was murdered. Who police say is responsible for her brutal beating death.

And America's middle class surround assault. Why it's becoming even more difficult for children of working Americans to go college in this country.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The assault on this country's middle class just doesn't quit. Turning to education, four out of five college-age students in this country attend our public universities. But nearly every state has cut funding for those public schools, forcing students to pay even more money every year for their public education.

Bill Tucker has the story.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The United States of America is no longer the most educated country in the world. We once were. Now it's not even close.

Canada, Finland, Japan, South Korea, Norway and Switzerland top the list. We're down at seventh, tied with Belgium, Australia and Denmark. And as we've fallen down that list some dramatic changes have taken place. Seventy-four percent of all kids in college come from the top one quarter income group.

RICHARD KAHLENBERG, THE CENTURY FOUNDATION: We are cheating our low income and working class kids. And we'll have a society where the very well off, the children of the very well off become highly educated, and then the rest of us don't have those same opportunities.

TUCKER: During those last five years, 48 of 50 states have cut spending to public universities by a combined 16 percent. In Colorado, the state covers just eight percent of its university's operating budget. The state pays for just seven percent of Michigan's public colleges. It doesn't take college math to understand that what the states take away, the schools must replace.

The university systems in Colorado, Kentucky and Michigan all announced double-digit increases this year. For middle class families that rely on the public college system to educate their kids, the tuition increases come at precisely the wrong time.

SANDY BAUM, COLLEGE BOARD: Increases in college tuition are cyclical. So that when the economy is not doing well and state appropriations for colleges and universities are down, then tuition rises rapidly.

TUCKER: Public colleges in need of funds are also sacrificing their independence in exchange for money.

KATHARINE LYALL, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: And then they discover that in that process, they now have not one or two masters, but they have six or seven different kinds of constituencies driving what they do.

TUCKER: Unlike the state, those private donors want something in return for their money, buildings and sports complexes with their names on them, generating higher operating costs and increased tuition.


TUCKER: Now, the problem has attracted the attention of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. This week she launched a commission on the future of higher education. The commission has a deadline of August 1 of next year for making recommendations on making colleges more affordable and, Lou, making them more accountable to policymakers.

DOBBS: That's great. We've got another commission. I suspect it will be made up of those university educators.

And we should be very clear here, as we report on the rising cost of those tuitions, in good times and bad, they have been rising faster, faster than the inflation rate. And frankly, there's absolutely no excuse for that, period.

TUCKER: And we've gotten so used to it that...

DOBBS: And that's a free message to the commission should Margaret Spellings wish to bail herself out.

Bill Tucker. Thank you.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. What is your opinion of the overall quality of public education in this country, K through 12, public universities? Do you think it's excellent, good, fair, poor? Please cast your vote at We'll have the results coming up here later.

We've told you about the Minutemen movement since it began six months ago, the volunteer movement that began on the Arizona border. Tonight, that volunteer program is growing, spreading to several states both to the North and the South, all in the name of protecting our borders, something that the federal government has refused to do.

Casey Wian reports from Jacumba, California.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When he first saw this stretch of border east of San Diego, Tim Donnelly was shocked.

TIM DONNELLY, MINUTEMAN VOLUNTEER: I mean, look at fence, it's wide open. You can hurdle over it, you could slide under it. You can drive a vehicle right up to it and throw things over.

WIAN: But not now, because several groups of minutemen and women are watching. The media frenzy that accompanied the start of their effort in April has passed, but the minutemen remain on the job.

Here minutemen discover a group of illegal aliens who've spent four days in the mid-90 degree desert, two without water. They're led to the Border Patrol.

In July, minutemen using night vision equipment tracked this group, called the Border Patrol, which captured the men. They turned out to be smuggling nearly 500 pounds of marijuana. Minutemen are now in every state bordering Mexico and several along the Canadian border. (on camera): After only six months, the Minuteman Project has spread from just a few hundred volunteers in Arizona to more than 4,000 people in 10 border states.

CHRIS SIMCOX, MINUTEMAN PROJECT CO-FOUNDER: I'm humbled by the participation and the volunteerism. And to see America get up out of its chairs and do something to send Washington, D.C. a message. And we followed through on our promises. A lot of people thought we would go away, that we were out for 15 minutes of fame. We're not out for anything except border security.

WIAN (voice-over): Meanwhile, Minuteman co-founder Jim Gilchrist is now running for Congress. He's forced a well-financed and experienced politician into a runoff election next month. Though still a long shot, he claims a wider victory.

JIM GILCHRIST, MINUTEMAN PROJECT CO-FOUNDER: We have won the battle politically. However, I will remain cautiously skeptical about Congress' intent until they actually do something and we actually see results.

WIAN: Minuteman volunteers say they'll remain on the borders until they're relieved by the National Guard.

Casey Wian, CNN, Jacumba, California.


DOBBS: Returning now to the very latest on Hurricane Wilma. This massive Category 4 storm is slowly moving towards Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Sustained winds of 150 miles per hour, but wind gusts of more than 165 miles an hour have been reported tonight.

Winds are picking up in the Mexican resort town of Cancun, which could suffer catastrophic damage from this storm. Wilma should turn east this weekend, the National Hurricane Center says, and head toward Florida. It could hit South Florida as soon as late Sunday.

Today, Florida Governor Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency.

NASA researcher Jeff Halverson joins us tonight. This has been one of the most unpredictable hurricanes on record, Jeff. It became powerful. How did it get so strong so fast?

JEFF HALVERSON, NASA: Well, that's one of the mysteries of hurricane science. You know, we do a very excellent job of predicting the track and the likely location of landfall, but our skill has really lagged behind in trying to predict the intensity.

This storm dropped 100 millibars in the space of 24 hours. We see here in this animation, if we can cut away the clouds and look at the rain structure, those red towers, those are very, very deep cloud, thunderstorms that release a tremendous amount of energy. These things went off before -- right before the storm went off the cliff, so to say. DOBBS: That quick, steep decline in pressure, if it turns out the calibration of the instruments on the aircraft checking that turns out to be accurate, this will be the sharpest plunge in pressure ever recorded in a hurricane, right?

HALVERSON: Well, I think there's probably one other storm out there that may -- may take the record, but this one is going to be very, very close, and it could be that it will be at least tie or become the record breaker.

DOBBS: Now, this storm yesterday was about 700 miles in breadth as we understand it, now approaching, our Chad Myers reporting, 1,200 miles across. That seems extraordinary.

HALVERSON: It's a monster storm. The interesting thing about this system is it started off with what we call a pinhole eye -- very, very tiny eye, no more than four, five miles in diameter. And that's the size of some of the rotating vortices in thunderstorms over the Great Plains. So this is a very intense, compact hurricane that's expanded all of a sudden. But it's going back up in intensity as well. So these are just some amazing feats that the atmosphere is doing.

DOBBS: Amazing feats. As best you can, give us a sense of what you expect to happen from here?

HALVERSON: Well, it certainly look like the storm is going to have a longer period of interaction with the Yucatan Peninsula, which means the winds that are going to turn it away from the Yucatan, there may be some delay in that. And that could take the punch out of the storm once it makes landfall.

Now, it could probably make landfall as a devastating Category 5. But like I say, the interaction with land could take it down a notch or two. But we'll have to see how it recovers once it gets back over that warm, luke (ph) current in the Gulf of Mexico.

DOBBS: And also, is it not unusual, because one of the things that I've noticed is that these hurricanes usually hit Cuba, which dissipated some of the energy, one would assume. But these most recent storms, including Rita, Katrina, have skirted Cuba with the eye at least, the greatest power of the storm. Does it appear that this storm will do the same?

HALVERSON: Well, it sort of looks like it's on track to thread the eye of the needle, kind of like the other two. But like I say, a little bit of deviation, by 50 or 60 miles either way, spells all the difference. That's a very narrow strait that that hurricane would have to move through to stay over very warm water.

DOBBS: We thank you very much for being with us, Jeff Halverson.

HALVERSON: Thank you.

DOBBS: Appreciate it. As Florida makes preparations for the arrival of Hurricane Wilma, a shocking look tonight inside FEMA's mismanaged response to Hurricane Katrina. One FEMA official, who was in New Orleans during that storm, shared his e-mails with a Senate committee today. Marty Bahamonde sent this then-FEMA Director Mike Brown e-mail, he sent the e-mail on Wednesday, August 31st.

Quote: "Hotels," he wrote to Director Brown, "Hotels are kicking people out. Thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water. Hundreds still being rescued from homes. Estimates are many will die within hours." End quote.

Several hours later, Brown's secretary send this e-mail, saying, quote: "It is very important that time is allowed for Mr. Brown to eat dinner. Given that Baton Rouge is back to normal, restaurants are getting busy. He needs much more than 20 or 30 minutes."

Bahamonde responded to a co-worker, saying, quote: "Tell her that I just ate an MRE and went to the bathroom in the hallway of the Superdome, along with 30,000 other close friends, so I understand her concern about busy restaurants." End quote.

We tried to talk with Michael Brown for his response to these e- mails. He hasn't replied to our request.

Coming up next -- President Bush under fire, attacked from seemingly all sides as his political problems worsen. Former White House adviser David Gergen is our guest.

And what could be a major break into the investigation of a murder of the wife of a high-profile defense attorney. We'll have a report for you coming right up. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Tonight, political trouble in Washington. One picture, a mugshot, evidence of deepening problems facing the Republican Party and the Bush White House as Tom DeLay turned himself into Texas authority. New speculation tonight about who may be charged in the CIA White House leak case, and there are serious new concerns about the qualifications of Supreme Court justice nominee Harriet Miers on the part of more than a few senators.

Former White House adviser and presidential assistant David Gergen joins me now. An adviser to five presidents, in point of fact. Professor now at the Kennedy School of Government. David, good to have you here.

Let's start out with the White House leak case, the CIA leak case. Your judgment, indictments inevitable?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Not inevitable. I don't think we really know yet, Lou. A lot of the facts aren't in. You know, one of the things we do know is that when the -- when the prosecutor and the judge were conferring about this, there was an exchange of materials, and a lot of this national security stuff was redacted. So there's some mysteries surrounding this. But certainly the sense in Washington is at least one, possibly two or three indictments are coming.

DOBBS: And with Karl Rove, sources close to Karl Rove suggesting that he talked to -- testified -- that he talked with Scooter Libby and another unknown source about the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. What is going on at that White House that it now appears, at least appears, that one presidential assistant is putting the finger on another?

GERGEN: Every man for himself. When things start happening like this. Lou, the larger problem here is that the wheels are coming off the wagon, and -- on this administration, and they've come off awfully fast in 10 months. And so we have a series of things in which as they -- as the troubles have mounted, the people have turned on each other. The FEMA person who testified today, that you just had on the show, you know, only person -- only FEMA man on the ground there until Tuesday, and these unbelievable e-mails. Colin Powell's chief of staff, last 24 hours, has ripped into Vice President Cheney and Don Rumsfeld for hijacking American foreign policy, and tore into Condi Rice as well. Now we got these indictments, these scandals. Boy, the wheels are really coming off the wagon. This is going to be very hard for this president to put them back on.

DOBBS: And as you described it, the wheels off on this administration, and quickly finding itself wheelless. What in the world can we expect in terms of governance? Because this administration began with the president talking about enormous political capital they've earned in winning the 2004 presidential election, taking on the issues of Social Security and privatization, private accounts, taking on a host issues that have all just simply blown up in their faces, and a Congress facing a 29 percent approval rating and probably earning every percentage of that.

GERGEN: Well, Lou, this is -- I think you put your finger on the right problem and that is we have a president that's got three more years in office. And he's disabled right, and a president unable to govern is not healthy for the country. You know, like or dislike George Bush, we've got to get some things done while he's president.

Example, as you well know, all the uncertainty in Washington, around Iraq, about the Harriet Miers, about everything else, is causing uncertainty in the markets. You know, as an economist said earlier today from Putnam Investments, he said, you know, wait and see -- the most dangerous three words in the English language when it comes to the investment community.

And that's the place we're in now as a country. Wait and see and how all these things resolve. And that has really negative impact on the economy, and our prospects for competing with these other nations and pulling ourselves together.

DOBBS: Well, let's go to the positive side. You've been a presidential adviser to five presidents.

GERGEN: Four, actually. DOBBS: Four presidents, and I've covered a few, and I've seen the second terms begin in nearly every case whether a Democrat or Republican, there is a level of arrogance that sets in on the part of the staff, that seems to be immutable. Is that what we're witnessing here, just an arrogance that has simply defied judgment?

GERGEN: I do think that that's part of it. I think there is a hubris that comes with the second term that is very dangerous. Every president, including Franklin Roosevelt, ran into it and made terrible mistakes. But I also feel that some things, decisions made in the first term are now unraveling and coming back to haunt them.

The decision of how they went into Iraq without any real deliberation about how to win the peace, and the decision about cutting taxes with no consideration about keeping spending under control -- both of those decisions have really boxed the president and it boxed the country in.

DOBBS: Boxed the country in, and also we have thousands of young Americans who have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just about 2,000 have died in Iraq.

GERGEN: That's right.

DOBBS: These -- the president said he's got a job to do and he's going to do it, but the fact is we're seeing, it seems to me, an erosion of the relationship between the White House and Congress.

There is a diffusion of interest rather than looking at the priorities, whether it be education, whether it be immigration, whether it be border security, or prosecuting a successful war and providing security for our men and women in uniform who are fighting this global war on terrorism. What should the White House do here?

GERGEN: Well, I think you're absolutely right that we owe it to the men and women in uniform to pull together and support them during this very difficult period. I'll tell you what Ronald Reagan did in a somewhat different circumstance, but as constructive. And that is, when the wheels came off for him on Iraq and the Iran Contra affair, halfway through his second term, and looked like he couldn't govern for a while, you know what he did?

He cleaned house. He brought in a whole new team. He brought in Howard Baker and Ken Duberstein and Colin Powell and some others to form and put together a new team in the White House. He got a fresh start. He essentially turned all his records over from everything that had gone wrong, and he made a clean grasp (ph) with things, and it was a cleansing on his part.

DOBBS: Well, a cleansing many critics would suggest is in order. The developments over the next week to week-and-a-half, certainly, will probably be the determinant as to whether or not that occurs. David Gergen, good have you here.

GERGEN: Thank you, Lou. Good talk to you again. DOBBS: Coming up next, an arrest in the murder of a well-known defense attorney's wife. We'll be live with the very latest for you from California.

And shocking charges of a cover-up in our nation's pre-9/11 intelligence community. Congressman Curt Weldon has some very interesting revelations and some questions that demand answers. He's our guest here next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Tonight, a major development in the murder of the wife of a high-profile defense attorney, the attorney Daniel Horowitz. Police have arrested a 16-year-old boy who they say beat Pamela Vitale to death. Ted Rowlands reports from Martinez, California -- Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, according to an official who is -- law enforcement official close to this case, this young man, they believe used a piece of crown molding to bludgeon Pamela Vitale to death. They also say that he carved a crucifix in her back.

He is at juvenile hall this evening in Martinez, California awaiting his first court appearance. Pamela Vitale died on Saturday, found by Daniel Horowitz. This afternoon, she was laid to rest at a private ceremony here. This investigation is ongoing -- Lou.

DOBBS: Ted, thank you very much. Ted Rowlands.

Turning now to the issue of national security, my guest tonight has created a firestorm in Washington over what he says is a cover-up of vital pre-9/11 intelligence. It is the highly classified Able Danger Program, and it identified Mohammed Atta and three other 9/11 terrorists as members of an al Qaeda cell in Brooklyn, New York more than a year before the attacks.

Congressman Curt Weldon says the man who blew the whistle on this intelligence, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer is now the subject of a smear campaign by the Defense Intelligence Agency. Congressman Weldon blasted the DIA in a fiery speech on the House floor just last night.


REP. CURT WELDON (R-PA), VICE CHMN., ARMED SERVICE CMTE.: This is an attempt to prevent the American people from knowing the facts about how we could have prevented 9/11, and people are covering it up today. And they're ruining the career of a military officer to do it, and we can't let it stand.

I don't care whether you are Democrat or Republican, you can't let a Lieutenant Colonel's career be ruined because of some bureaucrat in the Defense Intelligence Agency. If we let that happen, then no one who wears the uniform will ever feel protected because we will have let them down.

(END VIDEO CLIP) DOBBS: Congressman Weldon joins us from Capitol Hill. Congressman, what prompted your call for an immediate investigation?

WELDON: Lou, this is so outrageous it makes me sick to my stomach. As a loyal member of the Armed Services Committee supporting the military for 19 years, the Intelligence Agency took away Tony Shaffer's security clearance. They're now about to take away his health care benefits -- he has two children -- and his salary because he told the truth.

When they took away his security clearance, they said in September 23rd in a letter, you can never see any classified information or documents again. Over the weekend they sent this box, Lou, labeled Defense Intelligence Agency to his home.

In the box were five classified documents. They sent five classified documents mistakenly to Tony Shaffer at his home. The Defense Intelligence Agency is on a witch-hunt. They accused him of stealing pens. This is outrageous.

DOBBS: Congressman, why would the Defense Intelligence Agency want to destroy the reputation, as you point out, a decorated career member of the United States military?

WELDON: Lou, when the story is told, when the Able Danger story comes out, there's going to be embarrassment all over the place. The Defense Intelligence Agency spending hundreds of millions of dollars could not do what a 20 member special team did in identifying through data mining Mohammed Atta and the Brooklyn cell one year before 9/11.

Those DIA officials are still in the agency. They are still there working, and they don't want Tony Shaffer to tell the truth. They don't want commander Scott Philpott to tell the truth, because they are then going to have to answer the question, why did you ignore this, why did you not take appropriate steps? Why did this information not be passed to the FBI? Louis Freeh this past Sunday said on "Meet the Press" that if he had had the Able Danger information, the FBI could have stopped the hijackings. That's Louis Freeh saying that this past Sunday.

DOBBS: And to be clear, the suggestion is that the Pentagon stopped Able Danger from sharing that information with the FBI or any other agency that might have acted, is that correct?

WELDON: Absolutely. It was September of 2000 when it was stopped.

DOBBS: Now, the 9/11 Commission at first denied that Able Danger existed, that they had been told anything about this. That was the first remark from Lee Hamilton. It was the first response from the staff. Subsequently it turned out that, yes, they had heard about Able Danger on two occasions.

How do you feel about the commission and its reaction to Able Danger and the allegations that have been made? WELDON: Well, Lou, I supported the commission when it was established. I know some of the commissioners. I'm convinced that commissioners themselves were never briefed.

But what I have found out is Scott Philpott, an Annapolis grad, voluntarily went in and briefed a 9/11 Commission staffer in July of 2004, told the 9/11 Commission staffer about Able Danger. That 9/11 Commission staffer made a decision not to brief the commissioners. That 9/11 Commission staffer was working for Jamie Gorelick, who was a member of the commission who wrote the famous memo that said they could not transfer information between the military and the FBI.

DOBBS: The so-called wall.


DOBBS: Congressman Curt Weldon, we thank you for being here. We're going to follow this carefully, as are you. We would like you to come back with every development, and we will continue to follow this rigorously.

WELDON: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you, Congressman, and thank you for your concern on the issue.

Still ahead here, new violence in Iraq. More of our troops have been killed in combat. We'll have a report for you.

And is the United States planning to take military action against Syria to stop its support of insurgents? General David Grange will be here to answer those questions. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Four of our troops have been killed in the latest combat in Iraq. Three soldiers were killed when their patrol was hit by a roadside bomb near Balad, and a U.S. Marine was killed by a suicide bomber in the town of Karabila. 1,986 of our troops have now been killed in Iraq since the beginning of this war two and a half years ago.

The United States says one reason the insurgency continues to escalate is because Syria and Iran are supporting the insurgents. In testimony before Congress yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refused to rule out the use of force by the United States against Syria and Iran.

General David Grange joins me now. General, the idea that the United States would use force against Syria or Iran, is it one that you think makes strategic and tactical sense?

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Only if necessary, Lou. But the option must be there, and it may be that some type of limited use of force is necessary, in particular with Syria. DOBBS: And the idea that the United States cannot move Syria to shut down its borders, which obviously, insurgents and support for those insurgents are crossing seemingly at will. Is that the basis, is that sufficient provocation for, in your judgment, military action against Syria?

GRANGE: Well, I think that one of the conditions for success is, in fact, to control the border better than it's happening now. And I think that in this area, Syria itself has problems controlling the border. But something must be done by Syria more so than to date, in order to meet their obligations. They had agreed to control the border and they have not done so. So something must be done about it.

DOBBS: General, also the issue of Iran, the support for insurgency within Iraq. Is there, in point of fact, militarily, much that the United States could do about it, given the tremendous responsibilities of our armed forces around the world, but specifically within Iraq itself?

GRANGE: Well, a land option would be very difficult right now, but the United States always has an air and water option. But it would be tough. The forces are stretched to the limit, as you well know, and -- but it doesn't mean that the United States could not take military action. They in fact could, but it would be limited as well.

DOBBS: General David Grange. Thanks for being here.

GRANGE: My pleasure.

DOBBS: Still ahead, the results of our poll tonight. We'll have a preview of what's ahead tomorrow. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight. Only 1 percent of our audience says the quality of public education in this country is excellent; 15 percent say it's good. The rest of the numbers speak for themselves.

Thanks for being with us tonight, and please join us here tomorrow. We'll have the very latest for you on Hurricane Wilma and just how officials along the Florida coast are preparing, and how residents of Florida are getting ready.

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