Return to Transcripts main page
Lou Dobbs Tonight
Special Report: Lethal Weapon; Bush Arrives in Argentina to Attend Summit of Americas
Aired November 03, 2005 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody.
Tonight, after more than two years of war in Iraq, and more than 2,000 Americans dead, the Pentagon still doesn't know how to defeat the insurgents against their most lethal weapon. We'll have a special report from the Pentagon tonight.
The vice president's former chief of staff, Scooter Libby, today went to court for the first time in the CIA White House leak case. My guest tonight is John Dean, a former White House official who served during the Watergate scandal.
And broken promises on Capitol Hill. Members of Congress too busy fighting partisan politics to address issues of vital importance to you, me and to this country. We'll have a special report.
And a global bird flu pandemic that could kill millions of Americans appears to be certain. I'll be joined by one of the world's most knowledgeable doctors on the bird flu. He'll tell us how to protect ourselves from the deadly virus.
And President Bush has just landed in Argentina. We're looking at live pictures as Air Force One moves up into the light. There for the Summit of the Americas. We'll be going live to Mar del Plata for the very latest.
And for the first time the Pentagon admits it's failed to develop an effective strategy against roadside bombs in Iraq, the insurgents' most deadly weapon. IEDs, or improvised explosive devices, have now been responsible for 60 percent of all American deaths in Iraq. Two thousand thirty-seven Americans have been killed in this war. The Pentagon is now considering making the effort to develop new tactics and technologies against these bombs its top priority.
Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): With roadside bombs the number one killer of U.S. troops in Iraq, and with the bombs dubbed IEDs by the military becoming more sophisticated and more deadly, the Pentagon is considering putting a higher ranking general in charge of its Anti-IED Task Force.
LT. GEN. JAMES CONWAY, JOINT STAFF OPERATIONS DIRECTOR: There's no shortage of funding to the effort. There's no shortage of emphasis coming out of theater that encourages us to come to a solution. And it has been discussed, at least.
A decision has not been made, but it has been discussed. Perhaps adding a three star oversight to the effort might further enhance its ability to get things done.
MCINTYRE: Currently a one star, Brigadier General Joseph Votel (ph) heads the effort. And while the Pentagon says he's been doing a good job, a three-star general would have more juice in seeking ideas and expertise from other government agencies and the private sector.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The problem is, as fast as the U.S. comes up with solutions, such as heavier armor and jamming devices, the insurgents develop new tactics, such as shaped charges that can penetrate the thickest armor and infrared triggers that can't be jammed.
The fact is it's an evolving challenge. And we're learning, and the enemy's learning. And as we continue to learn we'll apply more knowledge to it.
MCINTYRE: The Pentagon says it will also be adding more people to the 140-member task force that's trying to come up with innovative ways to defeat and defend against IEDs. And the Pentagon insists that the $1.5 billion it's committed to the project is enough for now -- Lou.
DOBBS: Jamie, there is something unsettling and disturbing that success might rest with whether we have a one-star or three-star general in charge of saving American lives in Iraq.
MCINTYRE: Well, I think what they're saying here is that particularly when it comes to coordinating with other agencies, that a three-star might command more respect. What they're doing is trying to look at every possible way that they can energize this effort to try to figure out the best and most creative ways to defend against these bombs.
And, you know, part of the answer is technology, but part of it is also the tactics that they employ in trying to root out the insurgency.
DOBBS: Jamie McIntyre. Thank you for that sobering report.
Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.
Joining me now, General David Grange.
General, let me ask you the same question. The difference in success, a one star or three star, I find that stunning.
BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it is stunning, because it really doesn't matter. It depends on the capability of that particular general. It doesn't matter if you're a one or a four-star general. If you don't have the resources and support from all the governmental agencies that can contribute in this effort, from the highest levels, it doesn't matter.
DOBBS: My god, Dave. The fact is you have served this country with distinction, you've served in the Pentagon, commanded our troops in battle. The idea that 60 percent of the deaths of young Americans as a result of these IEDs, and for the Pentagon to suggest that the insurgents are adapting as quickly as a superpower, the only superpower or this planet, I find that just staggering.
GRANGE: It is staggering, but just like booby traps in Vietnam, after 10 years of looking how well they're developed, they continue to improve constantly. And it's counter-tactics techniques on both sides.
And the problem is, in a war like this, a foot soldier's war, it's a weapon of choice by the bad guys. What's important is training in the human factor to solve the problem, really not so much technology.
DOBBS: General David Grange. Thank you, sir.
GRANGE: My pleasure.
DOBBS: New developments tonight in the CIA White House leak case, a case that could reveal new information about the decisions that led us into war against Iraq. Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Scooter Libby, pleaded not guilty to charges of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements.
Bob Franken has the report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Libby, it's your day in court. How do you feel?
FRANKEN (voice over): Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who so liked to work in the background as the vice president's chief of staff, was now on public display as he left the courthouse, free on personal bond after he had his mug shot taken and he was fingerprinted by U.S marshals. His new lawyer promised Libby was ready for battle.
TED WELLS, LIBBY'S ATTORNEY: He has declared that he intends to fight the charges in the indictment, and he has declared that he wants to clear his good name.
FRANKEN: Inside the quiet, orderly courtroom, facing the judge, Libby spoke for himself. "With respect, your honor, I plead not guilty."
The charges: obstructions of justice, perjury, making false statements. They're the outgrowth of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the leaks that identified Valerie Plame as an undercover CIA operative at a time when her husband Joseph Wilson was challenging the administration's claims about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.
WELLS: And he wants a jury trial. We do not intend to try this case in the press. Mr. Libby intends to clear his good name by using the judicial process.
FRANKEN: Lawyers for both sides agreed. There will be a tedious, time-consuming pretrial period. And the Democrats made it clear this case will not just be legal but highly political.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: There's got to be a house cleaning top to bottom.
FRANKEN: Adding even more complexity and politics is the unresolved questions over whether Fitzgerald will seek an indictment against the president's chief political adviser, deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove. Rove's lawyer says that's being negotiated.
FRANKEN: All of which makes it very clear that the CIA leaks controversy already more than two years old will be around for a long time to come -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much. Bob Franken from Washington.
Congressional Democrats today launched one of their strongest attacks so far in their showdown with Republicans over the issue of intelligence and the war in Iraq. However, some say Democrats are escalating their criticism of the war because they're split over the president's Supreme Court nominee, Samuel Alito.
Tonight, there is word that the confirmation hearings for Alito will not begin until January.
Ed Henry reports from Capitol Hill -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, as CNN first reported, those confirmation hearings will start on January 9, with an aim towards getting the confirmation vote on or about January 20 of next year. That's a bit of a blow to the president, as you know.
He had said he wanted this done by the end of this year, not into next year. Conservatives also, this will rankle them as well, because -- for two reasons.
Number one, they're concerned about moderate Sandra Day O'Connor staying on as the swing vote on the Supreme Court through the end of the year with some high-profile cases coming up. And secondly, this will now give Democrats more time to try to mount opposition to Judge Alito.
But for now, putting aside the process, Judge Alito's prospects on Capitol Hill look really good.
DOBBS: Ed Henry, I want to interrupt you just for a moment here.
The president and the first lady have arrived at Mar del Plata International Airport in Argentina, as they walk down the steps from Air Force One. Mar del Plata, the site, of course, of the fourth Summit of the Americas. It's going to be under way over the course of the next couple of days, and our White House correspondent, Dana Bash, traveling with the president, now live in Mar del Plata -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Lou.
Well, you said it. The president is here. It's actually his first trip here to Argentina, and tomorrow, the Summit of the Americas will get under way. He's going to be meeting with 33 other world leaders from the entire Western Hemisphere.
And on the agenda is trade. And the concept, according to the White House, is to push trade as a job creator. But that is something, Lou, that is not necessarily a positive thing from the point of view of many people in Latin America.
And if the president thought perhaps he was going to escape some political troubles back home, being 5,500 miles from Washington, he certainly may understood that he's going to facing massive protests here tomorrow, on Friday. People who totally disagree with his trade policy, not to mention Iraq. And, of course, his nemesis, Hugo Chavez, the leader from Venezuela, he is going to be here at this summit, out front and center, and probably going to be making some typical bombastic comments, if you will, as probably he would like to call them, about the president and his policies -- Lou.
DOBBS: As he has done frequently, and with increasing frequency here over the past -- the past year.
Thank you very much, Dana.
Dana Bash, traveling with the president in Mar del Plata, in Argentina.
Turning now back to you, Ed Henry, I apologize for interrupting you. The president, as we just reported, arriving in Argentina.
Ed, the confirmation vote, return to the issue of why the leadership of the U.S. Senate, which is, of course, Senator Bill Frist, the Republican -- it's the Republican Party in control. If the conservatives are upset, who is being served by this rather lengthy period from nomination to the beginning of confirmation hearings?
HENRY: Well, in part, Democrats are, because they have been pushing to delay this until January to get more time to look at Judge Alito's background. So that is going to make conservatives even angrier, and I think also senators.
As you know, in December, they like to take foreign congressional delegation trips. They have a lot of them scheduled. There's a big delegation of senators, for example, I've heard going to China in early December. And so they want to actually take these trips, and I think there's going to be a lot of anger about the fact that it's being delayed until -- until January -- Lou.
DOBBS: Does this represent in any way a further split between the more conservative members of the U.S. Senate and, if you will, the more moderate members of the U.S. Senate, all in the Republican Party, of course?
HENRY: Well, to an extent. I just spoke to conservative Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama from Judiciary. He wanted the hearings to start in December, but he told me he's not angry at Senate leaders for this.
But I can tell you, outside conservatives, outside the Senate, this will make them very angry, and this will increase the split from them and potentially the Republican leadership. Because you're right, Lou, they wanted this done by the end of this year, and they're not going to get that -- Lou.
DOBBS: And I would guess that the American people, irrespective of their position on whether Samuel Alito should be confirmed or denied that confirmation, would expect their government to work at a more efficient rate.
Thank you very much.
Ed Henry from Capitol Hill.
Well, as Ed just reported, senators want to hold that confirmation vote on Judge Alito, and the full Senate to reach confirmation perhaps by late January. January 20, for example, would be 82 days from the day President Bush nominated Alito to the Supreme Court.
If, in fact, he is confirmed, and by the 20th, it would still be well beyond the average number of days required for the Senate to confirm the last 13 Supreme Court justices over the course of the past 35 years. The average time during that period for the process from announcement to confirmation, just a little over two months.
Still ahead here, the federal government is failing, absolutely failing in its duty to protect this country from another terrorist attack. We'll have the special report for you on what is nothing less than a shocking series of missed deadlines for homeland security.
And one of the most powerful figures in Congress tonight is calling for an unprecedented increase in border security. I'll be talking with Congressman Duncan Hunter next.
And what in the world is Congress thinking? Lawmakers putting off debates on critical issues as they focus on nothing less than partisan petty politics. That may surprise you? We'll have a special report.
Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Tonight, broken deadlines and broken promises by our nation's homeland security officials. The U.S. government pledged to all of us, to the American people, that it would move quickly to improve homeland security after September 11. But our government is missing key congressional deadlines, and members of Congress say this nation is shockingly vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
Christine Romans reports.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Deadlines to secure our nation are consistently missed, and the Department of Homeland Security is woefully behind in a significant number of reports and plans to protect against terrorism.
REP. KENDRICK MEEK (D), FLORIDA: It's unacceptable for us to not receive reports as it relates to cargo containers, where nuclear bombs can be placed in these cargo containers. It's just truly unacceptable.
ROMANS: Rules to protect airplane cargo from terrorists, 13 months late. A plan to defend ports and ships, 10 months late. Perhaps the most important, a plan to coordinate the DHS with first responders and the private sector in the event of a terrorist attack, now 11 months late.
DHS gave a status update this week, but a final report isn't expected until next February.
JAMES CARAFANO, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It really reflects a lack of adult leadership on both sides. In some cases, it's just the department really just not having its act together. In some cases, they're just not -- things they haven't had time to get to.
ROMANS: Some Democrats are quick to blame the Bush administration and invoke FEMA as an example of chronic failure of the federal government. But a DHS spokesman says it is making progress on securing our nation's infrastructure, and points out just this year it's responsible for 256 reports to Congress. It has participated in 144 hearings and given 1,700 briefings to Congress.
DANIEL PRIETO, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: I think the reality is that a number of people have overestimated the ability of the department to deliver on meeting those deadlines and achieving its missions.
ROMANS: Depending on who you ask, Congress is either too demanding or DHS is too disorganized. But members of Congress say missed deadlines mean Americans are at risk.
MEEK: They have to report to Congress on reports that we've asked them for. It's not just for our health. It's to protect America.
ROMANS: DHS says it's doing the best it can.
ROMANS: It's remarkable. At least 80 committees and subcommittees are responsible for oversight of our national security. And Congress continues to demand answers and analysis while DHS, many say, struggles to adjust to new leadership, figure out its priorities, and accomplish a pretty straightforward mission to secure America.
DOBBS: I've said it before, I'll say it again. It's embarrassing that Congress, charged with its oversight responsibilities, would permit these missed deadlines. It's embarrassing and to me extraordinarily frustrating that the Department of Homeland Security, with the most basic responsibility for all citizens, would miss these deadlines with a huge staff, the number of people they have working there, and for us to even refer to this as the Department of Homeland Security when our ports remain insecure and our total lack of border security for this country -- I mean, homeland security without border security is an absolute sham.
ROMANS: Pretty much everyone here agrees that there is a lack of an ability to prioritize what's urgent, what's just a report, and what is something that needs to be done immediately to save lives.
DOBBS: Incredible. Thank you very much. Christine Romans.
A public middle school in South Carolina is segregating its classrooms. Not by race or ethnicity, but by gender.
The Ronald E. McNair Middle School in Lake City, South Carolina, has decided to separate sixth grade boys and girls in certain core classes such as English, math and science. Their reason? School officials say that boys and girls learn more effectively which when they're not so distracted.
The school says its students are not achieving at the level they should be. The guidance counselor for the school told us they base their decision to separate those students on the basis of gender on research that suggests male and female brains learn differently.
That theory is, of course, just that, a theory, a controversial one. And in my opinion, the practice is about as wrongheaded and suggests that the administrators of that school are the ones who require both remedial education and perhaps a review of the values, the core values of this country.
That brings us to our poll question tonight. I've given you my opinion. Share with us yours.
Do you believe boys and girls should be separated and taught in different classrooms, for crying out loud? Yes or no? Please cast your vote at LoudDobbs.com. We'll send the results of this poll to the school down there.
And just ahead tonight, securing our southern border with a double-strength fence. Congressman Duncan Hunter, the chairman of the House Armed Serviced Committee, says it is worth whatever it costs. He's my guest here next. And then, what has Congress accomplished this year? We'll give you a hint. It's not a long list.
Stay with us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Tonight our border with Mexico is simply wide open. The entire southern border is some 2,000 miles long, but amazingly only 75 miles of it, or less than 4 percent, is fenced. That includes a 14- mile stretch on the western end of the border which is a double layer of fences.
Tonight, one of the most powerful congressman is demanding similar double fences be erected along our entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico.
Louise Schiavone reports.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The U.S.- Mexico border, 2,000 unruly miles of on-again-off-again fencing and regulation and gateway to millions of illegal aliens.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: Today, if you're in the world community and you want to get into the United States illegally, you no longer fly through L.A. International Airport. You come across the land border between the U.S. and Mexico.
SCHIAVONE: House Armed Services Committee chairman Duncan Hunter is leading the charge for one continuous and unforgiving barrier, two layers of fence from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico featuring 21st century detection, lighting the major border zone on the U.S. side and 25 new ports of entry. While the Bush administration wants to reinforce gaps in the existing barrier between the U.S. and Mexico, and strengthen the U.S.-Canada border, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff says it's not a final solution.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We can't absolutely, perfectly and hermetically seal 7,000 miles of land borders and keep out 100 percent of illegal crossers.
SCHIAVONE: Besides beefed-up enforcement of all kinds, President Bush also favors a guest worker program, enabling officials to identify migrants entering the U.S. for work.
TAMAR JACOBY, THE MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: Putting a fence on the border is like trying to enforce prohibition.
SCHIAVONE: Hunter and his backers, though, say this is no longer a problem of illegal immigration, it's a critical national security issue.
DAN STEIN, FED. FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: Legislation like this, not an amnesty, not a complicated, unenforceable guest worker program, but true, real enforcement is what's going to do the job.
SCHIAVONE: Lou, Congressman Hunter's people don't have a price tag for a border fence, but some supporters expect it will cost $8 billion. That's still far less than the $70 billion taxpayers spend every year for health care, education, jobs, housing, and other costs incurred by illegal aliens -- Lou.
DOBBS: As a result of U.S. employers who employ those, for the most part, hard-working people illegally, and exploit not only that labor, but exploit hard-working American taxpayers in the process.
Louise Schiavone. Thank you very much.
I'll be joined here by Congressman Duncan Hunter. He's the powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. We'll be talking more about this proposal later in this broadcast.
Our quote of the day is from an e-mail released today by members of Congress investigating FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina. This e-mail, as you might suspect, is from then-FEMA director Michael Brown to another FEMA official on August 29. That, the day Hurricane Katrina made landfall.
Brown said, "Can I quit now? Can I come home?"
He, of course, was later able to leave and go home. And as you know, Brown resigned from FEMA in September. However, he is still on the federal payroll while FEMA's response is under investigation. His salary is $148,000 of your money.
Still ahead here, the people's representatives failing to do the people's business. We'll have the special report ahead.
And John Dean is my guest tonight. The former Nixon White House counsel speaks out on the indictment of Scooter Libby and what the Bush administration should be thinking about.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: This just in. The United States Senate has approved a budget reconciliation bill that will cut benefits and programs including Medicare, Medicaid and farm subsidies. This measure also permits exploratory oil drilling in the Alaska wilderness.
This bill barely passed the Senate by a 52-47 margin. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives where there are divisions among Republicans over whether to cut across a broader range of social programs. The Senate passing that legislation just now.
Congress promised action this year on a series of critical, critical pieces of legislation. But with only six weeks left to go in the congressional year, Americans still await action. From immigration reform to stem cell research, Congress is putting off work on key issues until next year at the earliest. Critics say Congress is simply dodging its responsibility.
Bill Schneider reports.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Social Security reform, stem cell research, immigration reform, tax reform -- what's Congress doing putting those issues off until next year? But Congress has acted on gun manufacturers' liability, Terri Schiavo, bankruptcy reform, and hurricane relief. What's the difference?
Is gun manufacturers' liability more important to Americans than immigration reform? Not hardly. Congress acts under two conditions. One, when an issue is a high priority for an influential special interest and the public does not care that much. Congress acted in the Terri Schiavo case with amazing speed because it was a high priority to religious conservatives.
REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), FMR. MAJORITY LEADER: We promised the Schindler family that we will not let Terri die in vain.
SCHNEIDER: Public opposition never got a chance to mobilize. Same with limiting liability for gun manufacturers. High priority for gun rights activists, low importance to most voters.
President Bush spent months campaigning all over the country for Social Security reform. The more he campaigned, the more public opposition grew, so it's been put off. Congress will also act in a crisis when the public demands action, like Hurricane Katrina.
SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: Our government will respond aggressively and expeditiously.
SCHNEIDER: Stem cell research? Immigration reform? Those issues split the Republican majority of Congress. What will force Congress to deal with them?
SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: And the number of aliens residing illegally in the United States stands between eight and 12 million, an alarming figure given the terrorism threat that confronts our country.
SCHNEIDER: Answer? A sense of public crisis, which is growing.
SCHNEIDER: Congress' approval rating, as we've reported, 29 percent in last month's Gallup poll. Think of Congress as a rusty, creaking machine. What's the lubricant that can get it to work? An overwhelming sense of public urgency -- Lou.
DOBBS: Or just simply a broad, profound attitude to throw the rascals out. How about that, Bill?
SCHNEIDER: Well, that will create a sense of public urgency for members of Congress.
DOBBS: Thank you, Bill Schneider.
As we reported earlier here, Lewis Scooter Libby today making his first court appearance in the CIA White House leak case, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff pleading not guilty and promising a vigorous defense. Jeffrey Toobin joins us now, our legal analyst. Jeffrey, the judge in this case does not seem to me to be, as Bill Schneider would have it, acting with great urgency.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: I was shocked. I mean, here you have a case that is, admittedly, very complicated. You have classified information issues, you have many legal motions. He has scheduled the next time for a court appearance February 3rd, three months from now. That means very little can get done because there is no judge pushing to get things done. I'm amazed.
DOBBS: Both of these events are occurring in Washington, that is the court process for Libby as well as the hearing for Samuel Alito. Is the same person running the docket in the Libby case that is running the calendar for the Senate?
TOOBIN: I was thinking about that as you were doing the story. What's -- I mean, there's obviously a political imperative behind the Alito story. The Democrats are trying to push it later. Here I think it's not really political. It's just one judge -- federal judges have very little oversight -- who is moving at a stately pace. And there is no way ...
DOBBS: Stately or snail-like?
TOOBIN: Well, we'll see. I mean, this is the first time for a big case, he's a relatively new judge. We'll see how he's going to do.
DOBBS: Well, let's hope the on-the-job training works out for everybody.
TOOBIN: I hope so.
DOBBS: I don't mean any disrespect to a federal court judge. We know how powerful they are. Mr. Libby is certainly keenly aware of that. The Alito nomination, the Gang of 14 has met, is this going to be filibustered or is this going to move ahead>
TOOBIN: It certainly looks like it's going to move ahead. Sure, the delay is uncomfortable for Alito and his supporters, but the real point is there has been no organized opposition to him in the Senate that's mobilized yet, and that suggests he's headed towards confirmation.
DOBBS: Outstanding. Thank you very much. Good to have you with us, Jeffrey.
Former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, joins me now with his thoughts on the CIA leak case and the effect on the Bush White House. You say you would be shocked if Scooter Libby is the only one indicted in this case. Why is that, John?
JOHN DEAN, FMR. NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, I think there were several clues dropped in the indictment. I don't know if it was intentional, that they were sending signals or even a mistake from paring back from what was a larger indictment in a larger case. But when I parsed that indictment closely, I found more there than I thought I would.
DOBBS: Now, you said that you think that Dick Cheney should be tossing and turning at night. Why so?
DEAN: Well, one of the things that -- normally, Lou, federal indictments are very tight, they're bare bones. You mention nothing but the key offenses that are -- been charged and no more. In this instance, the prosecutor put in there a reference to the Espionage Act, which is a very broad statute. It is a statute that everybody thought he might use.
It's a statute that he actually defended in his press conference and it suggests that he is, indeed, very much looking at the espionage law at this point.
DOBBS: You have some experience with watching a White House deal with scandal. Give us your best judgment as to whether or not the Bush administration will be significantly distracted, making no comparisons whatsoever between this and Watergate, but by the first indictment of a White House official in 130 years.
DEAN: I don't think it's the indictment. That brought finality as far as Scooter Libby is concerned. It did not bring finality as far as the investigation is concerned, however, and that's got to be what's still troubling them because they don't know if another shoe is going to fall.
DOBBS: The latest -- John Dean, the latest CBS News poll puts the president's approval rating at a shocking 35 percent. That is a record low, matched by the president you served, Richard Nixon. Do you think the president can rebound from the scandal, rebound from these low approval ratings?
DEAN: Presidents always can rebound. There are a number of things they can do. Some of them are -- they control, some of them they don't control. For example, if he were to capture Osama bin Laden, if there were to be another terrorist attack, people would rally around the president again and that would change his -- the whole dynamics, but the things that he can control are not really helping him right at this minute.
DOBBS: And the reminder to everyone the president now in Argentina at Mar del Plata for the Summit of the Americas. John Dean, thank you for being here.
DEAN: Thank you, Lou.
Still ahead, the H-1B visa program is hurting hard working Americans, and Americans who want to work in corporate America, and just about everybody in the Democratic party sitting in the United States Congress couldn't be happier. We'll have a "Special Report" for you coming up next.
And one of the world's most knowledgeable doctors joins me, one of the most knowledgeable doctors on bird flu, and he says there is no question a pandemic is coming. We'll be talking with him next.
DOBBS: Many American companies just love our federal government's H-1B visa program. Under that program, corporations are able to hire foreign workers for jobs that should be going to American workers, and it just gets better for U.S. firms. A new study says 85 percent of those foreign workers who are receiving H-1 visas are paid well below what Americans would be making for the same job. It is just further evidence that the federal government is failing to protect our hard working middle class, as if we needed more evidence. Bill Tucker has the report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): H-1B workers in computer occupations were paid, on average, $13,000 less than Americans doing the same work last year.
In a soon-to-be released study by the Programmers Guild, 85 percent of H-1B workers are paid less than the median wage of an American worker. Not only that, those H-1B computer workers are at the bottom of the wage scale. Lobbyists argue that American businesses can't do without more H-1B's.
JOHN MIANO, PROGRAMMERS GUILD: We're being told that these are people that are highly skilled and that their skills are so important that the nation's economy depends upon it, yet they're being paid wages that are the bottom of the barrel.
TUCKER: The conclusion is easily drawn. H-1B's are cheap foreign labor, and Congress is ready to increase the number of H-1B's issued by another 30,000. The current cap is 65,000 new Visas a year.
However, there are exemptions, such as there are no limits to the number of visas issued to universities and research institutions. And up to 20,000 are reserved for foreign workers with graduate degrees from American colleges going to work for U.S. companies. Critics say American companies save jobs for H-1B workers and deny American workers those positions.
REP. BILL PASCRELL, (D), NEW JERSEY: I'm going to introduce legislation next week that says American workers should have the first crack at these jobs and regardless of what GE does and regardless of what Wal-Mart does and regardless of what Lucent does, give them the first opportunity at these jobs and train them.
TUCKER: And today, the Senate had the chance to say no to more H-1B's, but they didn't. Senator Byrd of Virginia (sic) offered an amendment to strip out the proposed visa increase out of the budget reconciliation bill. Lou, his amendment failed by a vote of 14-to-85.
DOBBS: That is appalling, absolutely appalling. And we thought it would be interesting to you to see who those 14 senators were who had the guts to say enough on this issue. Standing up for our middle class.
Bill, tell us about these folks.
TUCKER: Well, what's interesting is, it's a bipartisan list. It tilts toward the Democrats -- three Republicans, 10 Democrats, one Independent. But only one state Lou, where both senators voted to take the bill out, and that was Louisiana, where you had Landrieu and you had Vitter, Democrat and Republican, voting to take it out and debate the issue independently of the bill.
DOBBS: Appalling, and good for those 14, perhaps their number will swell if courage becomes contagious and concern for working men and women in this country becomes at least, if not contagious, some people can awaken to the interest of the national interest there.
Thank you, Bill Tucker.
While U.S. companies love our government's Visa program, illegal aliens love our broken borders. As we reported, only 75 miles of our 2,000 mile long border with Mexico is protected.
That means an astonishing 96 percent of our entire southern border has no barrier. My guest, next, wanted to change all of that.
Congressman Duncan Hunter wants to build a double-layer of fences along the border. And he joins us tonight from Capitol Hill.
Congressman, good to have you here. Two-thousand miles of border you want to protect it. How much do you think it's going to cost?
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER, (R), CALIFORNIA: Well Lou, we've actually built the double fence in San Diego, as you may know, and that 14 miles between the coastal hills and the Pacific Ocean were one time the nation's worst drug smuggling --
DOBBS: Smuggler's Gulch.
HUNTER: There it is, right there. It was the worst in the world. We built 12 miles of that, and nobody is able to get through that double layer with a border patrol road down the middle.
We can build this, we've had proposals from private companies for about a million bucks a mile. It may cost a little more than that in the tough geographic areas, but we think we can do it between $2 billion and $6 billion.
We're spending billions of dollars every year to handle this flow of illegals, especially the criminal aliens who are clogging up the court system. DOBBS: We can start look very specifically. You're the chairman of the very important House Armed Services Committee. What we're spending to protect this country, yet leaving our southern border and our northern border absolutely vulnerable. It is extraordinary, I think, to most people watching and listening to you, Congressman.
To find that we would not spend considerable money and effort to protect this country from what last year, three million people crossed that border illegally, to protect them from the potential of a terrorist entry.
HUNTER: Lou, you know, the world has changed. Lots of people, especially in Texas and New Mexico. When I started building the border fence in California, I asked those folks if they wanted to build fences and they said no, we want a friendly border.
The friendly border has now evolved into a border, No. 1 through which terrorists can come. We've caught North Koreans coming across, Communist Chinese.
DOBBS: In the past year?
HUNTER: Absolutely. In the past year, people from Yemen, lots of countries that sponsor terrorism, including Iran. So, it's no longer just an immigration issue. It's a national security issue, and I think we had a ton of Republicans sign onto this thing today, we're going to get this thing up and moving and I think we'll get it passed.
DOBBS: Let me ask you something, Congressman. Does the leadership of the House, the Republican leadership of the House, the Republican leadership of the Senate understand?
Do they look at same polls the rest of us do? I mean, the American people are fed up with this issue of illegal immigration. They're fed up with the fact we even have a Department of Homeland Security when we don't even protect our borders. Do they understand that?
HUNTER: Lou, the Republican leadership is on board with this thing. They pushed the legislation, as you know, behind Jim Sensenbrenner, that got Smuggler's Gulch closed. We had to hangup for six years on environmental issues and we now have a waiver for the entire border, north and south, where we can waive environmental issues, build the fences. Let's do it.
DOBBS: Quick test, Congressman. How soon can you get this legislation passed and how soon can you get it done?
HUNTER: I think we're going to get it done quickly, Lou. We got Smuggler's Gulch closed up fairly quickly. I think we'll get a -- it's got a lot of critical mass, I think we'll move it through very quickly.
DOBBS: This year?
HUNTER: I think so. That's my hope and we got the -- we got Smuggler's Gulch closed faster than I thought we would.
DOBBS: Fourteen miles down, 1,986 to go. Congressman.
HUNTER: Bring your pole vaulting team, Lou.
DOBBS: You got it. Thank you very much.
Appreciate it. Congressman Duncan Hunter.
Take a look now at some of your thoughts. Many of you writing in about the so-called diversity Visa Lottery program that our State Department uses, that of course, would allow potential terrorists to enter this country legally because it's a lottery after all.
Why would we want them to use care and judgment? Wieslaw Pogorzelski of San Francisco, California, said, the visa lottery is brilliant. I have another idea, let's elect our president by having the candidates play Russian Roulette.
Darla Howard in Tennessee Ridge, Tennessee, this so-called land of the free is a joke. Let's just give it to the illegal aliens and the terrorists. They get more help from our president and his people than the Americans do.
Jeff Gullikson in Wakonda, South Dakota, the more illegals, the cheaper the labor, the bigger the profits. The only thing about illegal immigrants that concerns the Bush White House is how to get more of them in, and the faster, the better. Security and America, be damned.
And Elisa Writesel of Columbus, Ohio. Lou, as members of the liberal middle class, by husband and I live under a darkening cloud. Thanks for always brightening our day with your no B.S. allowed broadcast.
Jim Speed of Pensacola, Florida. The rule 21 stunt dragged the Senate to a new low with the Congressional equivalent of a fraternity food fight. We have big problems and the Senate Dems are wasting time looking for a Republican, any Republican, to blame for political purposes. Senators have replaced used car salesmen as the ultimate bottom feeders.
And Carl, in Las Vegas. My opinion of Republicans is so low. My opinions of Democrats is just as weak. Where do I go, Lou?
We'll work on that answer for you over the next little while, as they say, down in Washington, D.C.
We'll get back to you on that. We love hearing from you, send us your thoughts at loudobbs.com. Each of you whose e-mail is read on this broadcast receives a copy of my book, Exporting America.
And a reminder to vote in tonight's poll. The topic? A middle school in South Carolina that separated sixth grade boys and girls in classes such as English, math and science because they've read some research that suggests young men and women learn differently. So we asked, do you believe boys and girls should be separated and taught in different classrooms? Yes or no. We'll have the results coming up. Thanks for your vote.
Just ahead, President Bush's plan to stop a bird flu outbreak. One of the most knowledgeable doctors in the world on the bird flu says his plan doesn't go far enough. He's our guest next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Tonight, many critics are calling key parts of President Bush's bird flu pandemic plan completely unrealistic. The Bush plan calls for states, many of them in financial distress, to pick up the tab for anti-viral drugs, for example. The plan is calling for voluntary quarantines, preferable if a pandemic strikes, and it makes no mention of the role that the military would play in a pandemic.
Dr. Nils Daulaire, the president and CEO of the Global Health Council, joins me now, one of the world's leading authorities on avian flu. He says the Bush plan contains some critical mistakes.
Doctor, it's good to have you with us.
DR. NILS DAULAIRE, PRES. & CEO, GLOBAL HEALTH COUNCIL: It's nice to be here, Lou.
DOBBS: I suppose the first thing is the good news, that the president, our government, is dealing with this issue, has begun to take it on quite seriously at the highest level. What do you see as the critical lapses or perhaps oversights?
DAULAIRE: Well, absolutely, Lou, it's a great thing that this is finally getting the attention it's deserved for decades.
We know that it's not a question of if; it's a question of when there's going to be a global pandemic of influenza. We think we've got some years left, but it's high time that we got to it.
What do we need to do? Well, this is an administration that has focused its energies in the terrorism front on fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here. That couldn't be truer with avian influenza, or any influenza.
We need to be doing far more in those places where it's coming from. It's not going to come out of Iowa or Kansas. It's going to come out of parts of the developing world, and that's where we need to be helping them preposition.
Secondly, we're kind of betting the farm on Tamiflu, and that's not a great idea. Tamiflu is (INAUDIBLE)...
DAULAIRE: ... the anti-viral drug. That's not what's going to save us. We really need to make sure that we're moving very rapidly, which the president's plan, to its credit, does on developing new vaccine technology, so instead of using a 1950s model technology for developing influenza vaccine, we move much more rapidly into the 21st century.
DOBBS: Doctor, a couple of concerns arise, and the first among them is the fact that we don't have American pharmaceutical companies capable of generating a vaccine or sufficient anti-virals to protect our population, period, and we're dependent upon the principal anti- viral for foreign companies. How in the world should this -- you know, I -- some days I wonder how we're described as a superpower when we haven't that capacity. What can we do?
DAULAIRE: Well, I think part of what we're talking about here, in terms of making it reasonable for drug companies to put major investments in, dealing with liability, I would say we also have to deal with the possibility of harm to people, so the plan needs to be strengthened in terms of any downside of any vaccine that's developed. Those people shouldn't be left on their own.
But the fact is, there hasn't been profit and there's been very high risk in vaccine development. In spite of that, several American companies are still in the vaccine business, but it needs to be greatly strengthened.
DOBBS: Can the president take responsibility, assume leadership to do that?
DAULAIRE: I think that's why we elect the president.
DOBBS: And in terms of the flu itself, you've worked on avian flu for years. We started reporting on H5N1 just about 20 months ago here as a looming threat, an emerging threat. How soon do you think we will know what we face in the specific instance of H5N1 in this country?
DAULAIRE: If we're lucky, it will be five to 10 years. It probably won't be this year or next year, because it takes a while for those mutations to take place.
We've got time, if we've got five to 10 years, to develop this new technology and to preposition, but we've got to be doing far more to detect the disease and to respond to it in the places where it's emerging.
DOBBS: What's concerning when it comes to government is that we've had 25 years since Opec II, to create alternate energy sources. We find ourselves a quarter century later having wasted those years. We can't afford to waste these years.
DAULAIRE: We can't afford it. And this is a good start. We need to make sure that it really moves.
DOBBS: Dr. Nils Daulaire, we thank you very much for being here.
DAULAIRE: Thank you, Lou. DOBBS: Still ahead, we'll have the results of our poll. Please stay with us.
DOBBS: Now the results of our poll tonight. Fifty-three percent of you, an amazing split in our poll tonight, 53 percent of you saying that you believe boys and girls should be separated and taught in different classrooms. And 47 percent obviously saying you do not agree with that premise.
We'll be following up on this story, obviously, and we thank you for your vote.
Thanks for being with us here tonight. Please join us tomorrow, when our guests will include the producers of a new documentary on our border crisis. And we'll have our weekly salute to our men and women, serving this nation in uniform. "Heroes" tomorrow night.
Please join us. For all of us here, thanks for being with us tonight. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" starts right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com