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Lou Dobbs Tonight

President Bush Travels to Asia; Congressional Republicans Divided Over Immigration, Border Security

Aired November 14, 2005 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody.
Tonight, President Bush is on his way to Asia as he faces plunging poll numbers and rising perceptions that his presidency has lost its way. We'll be going live to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, the president's first stop.

And congressional Republicans are more divided than ever over the president's policies on illegal immigration and border security. We'll have that special report.

And troubling new concerns about corruption in a government agency responsible for keeping illegal aliens and terrorists out of this country.

And former 9/11 commissioners strongly criticize the Bush administration's anti-terrorist policies. I'll be talking with a former 9/11 commissioner about that criticism and charges of a cover- up in the Able Danger scandal.

Also tonight, new fears the deadly bird flu is mutating quickly. My guest tonight is Dr. Donald Lowe, one of the world's leading authorities on the bird flu.

Tonight, President Bush is traveling to Asia, hoping to boost his image overseas as he faces the worst poll numbers of his presidency. The president's four-nation Asian tour will give him an opportunity to escape from a series of political setbacks in this country and dispel concerns his administration has lost its way.

President Bush will go first to Japan, our closest ally in Asia. He also then heads to China, the biggest threat to our global military and economic preeminence.

Suzanne Malveaux reports from Kyoto -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, we expect to hear from the president within an hour or so. He's making a stop at Anchorage, Alaska. He'll be speaking to U.S. troops. And he is hitting back hard.

His Democratic critics again speaking out, those who criticize him for twisting intelligence when it comes to going to the Iraq war. The president -- actually reading an excerpt from the speech -- will say that "Some Democrats who authorized the use of force are now rewriting the past. They are playing politics with this issue and sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. And that is irresponsible."

And of course, Lou, you mentioned all this coming on the heels of a trip that he's taking, trying to rehabilitate his image as a world leader, this seven-day trip tour to Asia.

He starts off in Japan. That's where he's going to be meeting with his closest ally, Koizumi. And this is all about beef here, Lou. We're talking about trying to lift that ban for U.S. beef. This that was imposed about two years ago after concerns about mad cow disease.

He's also going to be giving a major speech, talking about democracy and reconciliation after World War II.

He then travels to South Korea. Big meeting. As you know, the APEC summit, 21 nation leaders trying to get over the stalled trade negotiations, these trade talks. Don't expect much to come out of this. Even top officials, U.S. officials, say they do not expect any kind of agreement over these particular talks.

What is important, however, Lou, is the meeting with the South Korean leadership. He is going to be trying to push North Korea, essentially, to move back to those six-party talks, to commit to actually giving up their nuclear weapons program -- Lou.

DOBBS: Suzanne, the president, as you say, after he leaves Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, goes Kyoto. But talking about beef with Japan is, it seems, the smallest part of our trade deficit with Japan, an intractable trade deficit.

Is there a sense that the White House and those traveling with the president, that he has to come back with some real achievements from this trip?

MALVEAUX: Well, Lou, I have to tell you, talking with White House officials, what they expect is that they are not going to come back with any kind of agreements. What they're doing is setting the tone for additional meetings in the future, whether or not it's with the World Trade Organization, whether or not it's kicking the can forward when it comes to these six-party talks and nuclear proliferation.

One thing you mentioned, however, is China, which is very important. As you know, the president trying to move forward when it comes to reforming currency. Also, of course, when it comes to those violations of copyright laws, trying to push forward.

We did hear from Chinese leadership in New York just last month. He was talking about the possibility of making that happen.

This is all about tone, it is all about symbolism. It is all about moving this forward -- Lou.

DOBBS: When most, I think, Republicans and Democrats in this country would say it's time for achievement. Thank you very much. Suzanne Malveaux from Kyoto.

As President Bush left Washington, a new opinion poll gave him the lowest approval rating of his presidency. The CNN "USA-Today"- Gallup poll, in fact, has very little good news at all for President Bush, reflecting widespread discontent with his performance on a wide range of key issues.

Bill Schneider has the report.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice over): How bad have the polls gotten for President Bush? Thirty-seven percent job approval in the latest CNN "USA-Today"-Gallup poll, his lowest rating ever. His fellow Republicans are still there for him, 80 percent.

One-third of registered voters call themselves Independents. Two-thirds of them now oppose Bush. The president's support among Democrats is near the vanishing point, 7 percent.

It looks like former Georgia senator Zell Miller may have been the last Bush Democrat.

The country's economy seems to be in pretty good shape.

SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), KANSAS: If you look at the economy, it's somewhere between 3.1 and 3.4 percent. So we still have a strong economy. People don't think so.

SCHNEIDER: Not with these energy prices. Bush's approval rating on the economy is just 37 percent. Almost as bad as Iraq, where 35 percent approve.

But the economy and Iraq are not the president's worst issues. That distinction goes to federal spending and immigration. On those issues, President Bush gets a dismal 26 percent approval.

Republicans in Congress have been complaining about federal spending, but most rank and file Republicans still support their president on spending. On immigration, a different story. Congressional Republicans are in revolt against President Bush's immigration policy.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: The fact is that we have somewhere, we think, between 10 and 12 million illegal immigrants in this country. And it's going to require more than speeches and technical proposals to really address this issue.

SCHNEIDER: Immigration is the one issue where President Bush has lost his party. A majority of Republicans say they disapprove of the way Bush is handling immigration.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER: And for the first time ever, most Americans say they do not consider President Bush honest and trustworthy. Nearly half say they trust Mr. Bush less than they trusted Bill Clinton -- Lou.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider, that is an extraordinary litany of negatives for the president. Is there any outright positive in this survey for the president?

SCHNEIDER: Well, the one that I reported, which is his party is still there with him. When previous presidents have hit lows in the 30s, like Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter and his own father, they tended to go down even among their own party, with bare majorities. This president still has pretty good support, 80 percent among Republicans. He's just tanking with the rest of the electorate.

DOBBS: All right. Bill Schneider from Los Angeles. Thank you.

In Iraq today, U.S. Marines say they killed at least 45 insurgents in the latest phase of their offensive near the Syrian border. Another 25 insurgents were captured by the Marines.

Meanwhile, in Baghdad, a car bomb exploded near the entrance to the heavily guarded so-called Green Zone. Two western security contractors were killed. The contractors were South African citizens working for a company providing security for the U.S. State Department.

Tonight the revolt within the Republican Party over the president's illegal alien guest worker program is growing. Senator Arlen Specter, a moderate in the Republican Party, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has become the latest congressional Republican to break ranks with the Bush administration and to take a far harder line on this key national security issue.

Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It may be the latest step in the distancing dance. Senator Arlen Specter offered draft immigration reform legislation that puts him at odds with the White House.

The bill calls for millions of illegal aliens already in the United States to leave the country before being eligible for any guest worker program and embraces tough new border security measures. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at a recent hearing...

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: For the first time in our nation's history, the number of illegal immigrants coming into this country exceeds the number of legal immigrants. So we have a major, major problem on our hands.

SYLVESTER: Specter's proposal is in line with a bill sponsored by senators John Cornyn and Jon Kyl that puts the emphasis on immigration enforcement. The Bush administration has been lobbying for a more generous guest worker program in addition to the enforcement measures.

MARK KRIKORIAN, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: This letter from Senator Specter is pretty clear evidence that the White House does not have a grip on what's going on in Congress with regard to immigration.

SYLVESTER: In that letter, Specter says the draft legislation is only a starting point for discussions and doesn't endorse every provision. But a recent poll shows 65 percent of Americans disapproving of the Bush administration's handling of immigration. And with an election around the corner, more lawmakers appear to be willing to push back from the White House and speak their own mind.

AMY WALTER, SR. EDITOR, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: They're much more emboldened. Part of that is it's their name on the ballot in 2006. The president's name isn't on the ballot in 2006. They know their own political future is at stake.


SYLVESTER: Now, there's more consensus among Republicans in the House, who say enforcement has to come first before discussing a guest worker bill. They look back to the amnesty in 1986, when tougher enforcement was promised but never delivered. And this time around many lawmakers say, show us the border security first, then we'll talk guest worker program -- Lou.

DOBBS: And as you reported, border security is the first requirement under the Cornyn and Kyl proposal.

Thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester.

Another major issue in Congress is the president's nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Tonight, newly released documents are giving new insight into the judge's views on both abortion and other controversial issues.

John King reports from Washington.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Judge Samuel Alito's own words from a job application 20 years ago are the latest evidence he opposes abortion and the latest exhibit in his increasingly bitter confirmation battle.

"It has been an honor and a source of personal satisfaction to help advance legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly," Alito wrote in 1985 as he sought a promotion in the Reagan Justice Department. "I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect the right to an abortion."

Abortion rights groups were already on record opposing Alito's confirmation and now hope the new documents released by the Reagan Presidential Library strengthen their argument that Alito is the wrong choice to replace abortion rights supporter Sandra Day O'Connor.

NANCY KEENAN, NARAL PRO-CHOICE AMERICA: There's no doubt that he would very much either overturn Roe or basically restrict Roe to the point that it's not even applicable in this country.

KING: But the White House and its conservative allies say Alito's personal and professional embrace of the anti-abortion agenda 20 years ago says nothing about how he would deal now with Roe v. Wade and other abortion questions that could come before the high court.

WENDY LONG, JUDICIAL CONFIRMATION NETWORK: The pro-choice extremists and other liberal extremists are out to defeat Judge Alito at any cost, and they will distort and misrepresent his record.

KING: In private meetings with senators, Judge Alito has voiced great respect for precedent. And Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter issued a statement saying that while Alito's comments 20 years ago are certain to come up at his January confirmation hearings, a review of his record as a federal judge for the past 15 years found a very heavy commitment to legal interpretation which might differ from his own personal views.


KING: Now, the White House encouraged by that statement from Senator Specter, the chairman of the committee. Perhaps not surprised, Lou, by more partisan statements issued by Democrats on the committee. Senator Edward Kennedy tonight saying that those Reagan administration era documents show Judge Alito to be too conservative for his liking. Senator Kennedy says the judge will have many questions to answer.

Senator Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the committee, saying these documents to him "show an eager and early partisan in the ranks of ideological activists in the party's extreme right ring" -- Lou.

DOBBS: I think it's fair to point out that there was very little likelihood that Senator Leahy or Senator Kennedy would be cheering on Judge Alito. Wouldn't you say that would be the case?

KING: Certainly correct. They were against now Chief Justice John Roberts. There were 22 Democrats voted for now Chief Justice Roberts. The White House is not expecting even to get that many Democrats to vote for Judge Alito.

DOBBS: John King. As always, thank you.

KING: Thank you.

DOBBS: Still ahead here, we're standing by for the president's remarks to our troops at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. We'll be taking you there for those remarks live. And charges of corruption in a U.S. government agency responsible for keeping illegal aliens and terrorists out of this country. That special report coming up.

And then I'll be talking with a former 9/11 commissioner about the Able Danger controversy over pre-9/11 intelligence.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: There are frightening new charges tonight of corruption within our nation's immigration bureaucracy. An immigration official, someone who had the responsibility of helping to protect our country from security risks and terrorist threats, is now being charged with helping a rejected green card applicant secure a green card.

Kitty Pilgrim has the report.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was an inside job. A supervisor at the immigration offices at 26 Federal Plaza in New York caught by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security for faking immigration documents. The complaint reads, "Loretta Wilhite, with immigration for 27 years, unlawfully, willfully and knowingly did falsify, conceal and cover up by trick, scheme and device material facts and did make materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and representations."

In short, it was laughably simple. She whited out "denied" and stamped "approved" on an application for a green card and removed and shredded the original denial letter, then sent it to an immigration center in a tiny town for approval, St. Albans, Vermont, population, 7,500.

A GAO report found immigration officials are under pressure to process cases quickly. A green card application can be reviewed in less than 30 minutes. That creates opportunity for fraud. Attorneys say the entire system is riddled with opportunities to tamper with documents.

ROSEMARY JENKS, NUMBERS USA: They're still using paper records at this agency. They're not secure, they don't have any way to verify who's messing with them. Whereas at least if they're on a computer, you can tell who's logging into change which documents. But there's nothing like that at USCIS.

PILGRIM: To an immigrant a green card is gold in this country. It is permission to work, it is permission to stay. Fake green cards can sell for up to thousand of dollars on the black market.


PILGRIM: Now, the court papers say Loretta Wilhite never got a dime for taking the application. We spoke to the FBI late this afternoon and they could not tell us if there will be further charges or any evidence that she tampered with other applications.

USCIS issued a statement saying they take that allegation very seriously and will cooperate with the federal authorities. But they add that the overwhelming majority of immigration employees conduct their professional duties with great integrity -- Lou.

DOBBS: Kitty, is this a widening investigation? What's the deal?

PILGRIM: There's a lot they're not saying about this case right now. She was with the -- for 27 years she was with immigration. They are looking into it.

DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much.

Tonight, members of our own military are being accused of helping deepen our nation's illegal alien crisis. The Justice Department today announced it's broken up a criminal ring operating under the U.S. naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, that arranged sham marriages for illegal aliens. Those illegal aliens had to pay $4,000 to gain U.S. citizenship through fake marriages.

An undercover operations ring broke up six current Navy personnel. Four other people are under arrest.

A diplomatic dispute is escalating tonight between Mexico and Venezuela, two of Latin America's most outspoken countries. At least their leaders are.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez starting it all, calling Mexican President Vicente Fox a "puppy of the U.S. government" for supporting U.S.-sponsored free trade. Fox spoke out here on CNN today, saying Chavez is way out of line. Fox, in fact, is demanding an apology.


VICENTE FOX, MEXICAN PRESIDENT: No other countries might accept his wording and the way he attacks everybody, and he attacks institutions. We are not willing to do that in Mexico. We have dignity in this country.


DOBBS: Well, both countries tonight are withdrawing their ambassadors from one another's capitals.

Still ahead, can this happen here? A chilling new report on how immigrant riots could one day hit the United States.

As well, a new terrorism update from 9/1 commission members. Does it say anything about Able Danger? And former 9/11 commission member Tim Roemer is our guest.

President Bush is on his way to Japan, and for a four-nation tour of Asia. Stunning new comments from the communist Chinese right here, coming right up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Tonight, French President Jacques Chirac says his country is suffering from what he called a "profound malaise." In his first speech to the nation after more than two weeks of major rioting by radical Islamist youths, Chirac vowed to take forceful action to end the violence. But the rioting in France goes on.

Those youths torching cars in France's third largest city, Lyon, last night. Suburban Paris and other towns across France also targets of new violence. More than 280 cars destroyed last night. As a result, Chirac has asked the French parliament to extend the state of emergency for the next three months.

And a stunning warning to the United States over our nation's immigration and illegal alien crisis. A new study says the failure of America's newest citizens to learn English and to assimilate into our society could one day spark the same kind of violent unrest now raging in France.

Bill Tucker reports.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): France is in the throes of an immigration crisis, a crisis brought on by policy and policy neglect. Many of those rioting are the children of immigrants brought into France as low-cost labor.

During the '60s and into the mid '70s, there was also a flood of unchecked illegal immigration into France, and no attempt has ever been made to assimilate them or their children into French society.

Sound familiar?

STEPHEN STEINLIGHT, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: If we don't wake up, the present tendencies that we have right now of huge mass immigration with no attempt to acculturate people, no attempt to move people along to citizenship, is going to inevitably produce the kind of nightmares we're watching in France.

TUCKER: There are lessons to be learned from France's experience, according to Steinlight, but Washington appears to be fiddling while Paris burns.

An immigration policy is urgently needed, national experts warn, and not one simply based on the economic expedience of cheap available labor.

FRANK GAFFNEY, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY: In light of the realities that we're confronting around this world, we are laying ourselves bare to various kinds of dangers, including outright attack from some of these folks who come here under false pretenses.

TUCKER: In France, French law is now under attack as Muslim groups ask that Islamic law be allowed in some sections of the country.


TUCKER: In America, that would be equal to saying that parts of this country, we would no longer be indivisible, with liberty and justice for all -- Lou.

DOBBS: Remarkable. Bill Tucker. Thank you.

Coming up next here, communist China's controversial comments to American government officials just a day before the arrival of President Bush.

And then, Arnold Schwarzenegger, well, he gets no respect in his home state. But it's quite a different story where he's finding his fans these days.

And new fears that a human avian flu pandemic is nearing. I'll be talking with one of the world's leading experts on the deadly virus here next.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: President Bush headed to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska for a short stopover before flying on to Asia at Elmendorf. The president is expected to launch a new attack against Democrats and their policies on Iraq, where the president will be talking to just about 5,000 of our troops. They're from Elmendorf.

President Bush is traveling to Asia for an eight-day visit to be in four countries, beginning with Japan. And of course, we'll have live coverage of the president's remarks at Elmendorf just as soon as he arrives there, and we're expecting him to arrive within the next 10 to 15 minutes.

Deep divisions within our government are blocking progress on critical issues of national security. That is according to a new report from former members of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

Members of that commission have released a new progress report as part of the 9/11 Public Discourse Project. They found that little or no progress has been made on some of the most important recommendation by the commission.

The panel found that the U.S. government's efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons have made what they term "insufficient progress." On the foreign policy front, efforts to bring reform to the Middle East also garnered a grade of only some or insufficient progress.

And on the challenge to improve public diplomacy and define the U.S. message to the world, only minimal progress has been made.

Former 9/11 Commission member Tim Roemer says these failing grades are an unacceptable response. He joins us tonight from Washington.

Tim, the threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons is so real. Why in the world doesn't this have more priority for this government for homeland security?

TIM ROEMER, FMR. 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: Lou, some of the highest priority items for our national security protecting the American people are getting the lowest amounts of attention. We're seeing failing grades here, Lou, across the board on trying to protect weapons of mass destruction from being consumed by Osama bin Laden and used on the United States, trying to make sure we have a new and better relationship with the Saudis, where 15 of the 19 hijackers originated, and trying make sure we have a detention policy when we get terrorists that is aggressive, that is forceful, that is original, but does not make us kind of sink down the slippery slope into the swamp of not being the moral leader in the world.

DOBBS: And the question really is, to what degree that relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia can be enhanced, improved, and still serve the interests of both nations? Is your judgment, absolutely possible?

ROEMER: Absolutely possible, Lou, and it needs executive and presidential leadership and bipartisan support in Congress.

We said in our 9/11 commission report, five Democrats and five Republicans, that we needed a new relationship with the Saudis, not just based on oil, but based on education reform, making sure that we have schools there that compete with the madrassas that just teach hatred and spill out vile to kill Americans and Jews.

That we need to see some electoral reform there in Saudi Arabia and municipal council elections there. And that we need to see better respect for some human rights there.

So, I think those new relationships can take place. We need to see executive level leadership on those.

DOBBS: Congressman Curt Weldon, as you know, is now calling for a criminal investigation of Able Danger, the Pentagon intelligence unit, that apparently had information about Mohammed Atta and some of the 9/11 terrorists a full year. What is your reaction to that call for a criminal investigation?

ROEMER: Well, Lou, I like Congressman Weldon a lot. By the way he talks about Able Danger these days, you think it would have prevented Pearl Harbor and maybe had Congress spend money responsibly or develop some kind of immigration policy.

We have looked at this problem, Lou, and if you would present, like we did, a report card, evidence, facts, that Atta was attached, associated with these attackers, these terrorists.

And you had the proof of that, Lou, I think the 9/11 commission would have put this evidence, if it was factual, on the front of our book. We would have said, government failed to communicate in the DOD or with the FBI.

It's yet another instance of not sharing information and communicating more effectively. And I just say this too, if Congressman Weldon had this information about Atta, why didn't he come three years ago to the Joint Inquiry of Members of Congress? Why didn't he take this to the FBI three years ago? Why wait until now, four years after 9/11?

DOBBS: Because Congressman Weldon, as you know, Tim, did not get involved until two -- well, actually five members of Able Danger had been basically squelched.

The two most important witnesses by the Department of Defense. Is it not reasonable at this point, and I would like to know your thinking and that of other commission members.

You know, to explain, to ask the Department of Defense to explain, and better yet, to simply permit these people to speak on this issue and to corroborate those statements, rather than squelch them or gag them?

ROEMER: Well, I think first of all, that the Congress performing its oversight function should have some hearings on this. Let's find out if Congressman Weldon gave this chart to Steve Hadley at the White House. Why does Steve Hadley say he hasn't seen it and doesn't have it?

Why doesn't Don Rumsfeld answer questions about what Able Danger was capable of doing and if they ever saw this chart at DOD, at Defense Department. And why, if Congressman Weldon claims that DOD had something like this, and that, in fact, is true. Why didn't they share this with the FBI?

I think Congress should get to the bottom of this, Lou. But we haven't seen any beef. Where is this chart? Have you seen it? Has Don Rumsfeld seen it? He says no. Has Steve Hadley seen it? He says no.

We need to see evidence that this exists, we need to get to the bottom of it. And I think I want to say this too, Lou. Able Danger, other organizations that to do this data mining at the CIA and other places. This is a valuable service for us to find out more about how we piece together what terrorists and jihadists are doing.

Let's see if this did, in fact, create some kind of a spider web that associated Atta with the terrorists. But, we haven't seen any evidence of it. We would have included it in this book if we'd had it ahead of time.

DOBBS: And as you know, Tim, the claim is, that the DOD destroyed that evidence, presumably, as a matter of routine. So, as you say, an investigation might produce some rather interesting revelations.

ROEMER: Let's get to the bottom of it Lou, let's do an investigation. The Senate Intelligence Committee has done a look at this. We enthusiastically encouraged them to come out with their findings. I think they have found no evidence of this so far.

DOBBS: Tim Roemer, thanks for being here.

ROEMER: Thanks, Lou.

DOBBS: Take a look now at some of your thoughts on the proposal to make Spanish mandatory for hundreds of thousands of Florida school children, from kindergarten to second grade.

Carolyn in Florida wrote, I live in Florida, and although I believe it will be useful to learn Spanish, this is the United States. Why aren't the Spanish speakers forced to learn English instead?

And Kenton in Michigan. Lou, if there needs to be a second language for U.S. citizens, as Les Miller of Florida, suggests, then it should be Chinese. We might as well, get ahead of the game.

And James in Texas. Howdy, Lou. If thousands of English- speaking U.S. citizens moved to Cuba, would Fidel change the Cuban national language to English? Hell no. Adios.

Many of you also wrote in about our poll question Friday. Should owners of business establishments that house illegal aliens face stiff fines?

Robert in Missouri, said, I voted against fining businesses that harbored illegal aliens because fines aren't good enough. The owners need to go to jail.

And David in Arkansas, the brave ice men are going to shut down mom-and-pop motels on the border for renting rooms to illegals aliens? When are they going to shut down the corporations, retail giants and mega-food producers who hire those illegals? Then, I'll be impressed.

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts at

Coming up here next, Communist China's modest proposal. We'll tell you China's thoughts on how to solve the growing U.S. trade deficit.

Also, a closely-watched study says the avian flu may be mutating into a more dangerous form for human beings. We'll be talking with one of the world's leading authorities on bird flu, here next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Tonight, Communist China is proving once again just how little it wants to repair its dangerous trade imbalance with this country. On the eve of President Bush's visit to Beijing, China, has the audacity to ask the United States to sell sensitive military secrets and technology to fix its trade deficit crisis with this country. China is hoping that the Bush visit will help it further its long-term military and economic goals. Christine Romans has the report.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As President Bush heads to China, China says the U.S. needs to do more about its monster trade deficit.

The solution, China says, sell the communist country nuclear equipment, satellites, and other sensitive high technology. The U.S. now restricts products that could be used for military purposes, but China's vice commerce minister says, quote, it simply won't work if we rely on Chinese efforts to expand U.S. exports to China. If the U.S. administration relaxes its export control against China, its exports would be effectively boosted.

Classic Chinese diplomacy. Using the record and growing trade imbalance as an excuse to achieve its own national security goals.

PETER LEITNER, CENTER OF ADVANCED DEFENSE STUDIES: It needs our technology in order to fuel its economic growth, but it also needs our technology in order to fuel its military expansion and modernization. And either way, we get hurt as a result. It's not in the U.S. interest, because either we lose jobs, or we lose sailors and airman. One or the other.

ROMANS: Getting sensitive technology is part of a clear and consistent Chinese strategy.

PAUL FREEDENBERG, FRM. REAGAN COMMERCE OFFICIAL: They have a plan to become our equal in manufacturing. and The best way to do that, if we're just leaving aside the military implication, is to get competitive with us on productivity and on the quality of their products. And that's what they're trying to do by getting American high-tech manufacturing equipment into the country.

ROMANS: No surprise that China is using the president's visit to further its goals.

BILL REINSCH, NATIONAL FOREIGN TRADE COUNCIL: They always on message. That's the neat thing about them. They have -- they always have a plan and a strategy. And they're very good at consistently reflecting the same message. They're setting the president up.

ROMANS: And as usual, setting the agenda.


ROMANS: China wants to dominate pacific militarily and economically, and every step it takes furthers that goal. The United States, many say, is playing defense while China is brilliantly executing its own strategies, Lou.

DOBBS: Christine, to be honest, I'd be thrilled if we are playing defense, but we're not even playing defense. And the idea, Premiere Win, just almost two years ago meeting with him in Boston said to me said that we want your high technology. He was straightforward about it. Their government is again being straightforward about it. When this administration continues to talk about free trade, yet permits the Chinese to peg their currency to the dollar. At the same time, puts absolute limits on the participation of U.S. companies and will not open its economy to U.S. exports. This administration, some of its members have called me an economic isolationist or a protectionist. I'm the farthest thing from it. All I want is China to open its markets to U.S. exports. If we still make enough things to export to China.

ROMANS: Well what we want it's dangerous, what they want, it's dangerous to export to China.

DOBBS: And one hopes that we will play limited defense in this administration. And one hopes that this president will come back from China with more than a symbol, perhaps real achievement. Thank you. Christine Romans

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. "Do you think President Bush must return from China with a substantial achievement in order to avoid political ridicule?" Cast your vote at We'll bring your results later here.

Fifteen U.S. senators are out with an urgent plea to finally get tough with China on trade during his meetings on Beijing. These senators say thousands of U.s. manufacturing jobs hang in the balance as both China and Japan are flagrantly violating global trade agreements.

U.S. senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan wrote the letter and coordinated the campaign. She's our guest here tonight.

Senator, just what are you and your fellow senators demanding from this president?

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW, (D) MICHIGAN: Well first, Lou, I want to say thank you to you for your statements about what you just said about playing defense. You know, when the president comes back from China and Japan, we want him to come back with something for American workers and American businesses. And that's what the letter is about.

Number one, right now, we can certify that China or Japan are involved in currency manipulation, which has cost us over a million and a half jobs in manufacturing alone, over 50,000 jobs in my home state of Michigan. We can't get White House to do that. We need the president to go there and also tell the treasury secretary to certify that it's happening.

We also have a counterfeit auto supplies business that costs us over $12 billion, which is the equivalent of 200,000 American jobs, 200,000 American jobs that we could gain if we simply enforced the rules. China's cheating. They're not playing by the rules.

DOBBS: They're not playing by the rules. This government, though, is also at the same time, it seems to me, senator, guilty of misfeasance if not malfeasance in not in any way insisting that when they talk about free trade that the other side in this trade relationship opens itself up for free trade.

STABENOW: That's right.

DOBBS: Twenty-nine consecutive years of trade deficits. $700 billion in trade deficit. Hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs still hang in the balance, but three million have been lost over the last five years. At what point, at what point does sense prevail in Washington?

STABENOW: Well, Lou, we're in a fight for the way of life right now. You know, we have to make things and grow things in our economy. We do that very well in Michigan. But our country needs to continue to make things and grow things so we have a middle class. And that's what is at stake. And it's that lack of sense of urgency that I'm so concerned about.

It's not that we have to say well, we're in a world economy, it's going happen. No. That's absolutely false. We can be tough with China and Japan and anybody else who violates the rules just like they're tough with us. It's a matter of attitude.

You know, this president basically says to American workers and businesses you're on your own. We know as Americans we're in it together, and that together America can do better. And that's the message this president needs to send.

DOBBS: Senator Stabenow, thank you very much. As always, good to have you here.

STABENOW: Thank you.

DOBBS: President Bush right now, as you just saw in those earlier pictures has arrived at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska on his way to Japan. This is his first stop in what will be an eight-day trip, taking him on from South Korea, Japan, China and Mongolia.

President Bush is talking with our troops about the war on terror. He's also expected to address Democratic charges that his administration misled the public on the Iraqi military threat in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Let's listen in.

BUSH: But they're not insane. Some call this evil Islamic radicalism, others militant jihadism, still others Islamo-fascism. Whatever we choose to call this enemy, we must recognize that this ideology is very different from the tenets of the great religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision. The establishment by terrorism, subversion and insurgency of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom.

We know this vision of the radicals, because they openly state it. They put it in videos and audiotapes and letters and declarations and on Web sites. These extremists want to end American and western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace and stand in the way of their ambitions. DOBBS: President Bush speaking from Elmendorf Air Force Base talking to about 5,000 of our troops and their families, there to greet president to listen to his remarks as you are hearing focusing on the war against radical Islamist terrorism, and setting forth his hopes for this upcoming trip to APEC and in four countries in Asia, beginning with Japan.

Well already in China, where the president will be arriving soon, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, he's escaping from his political troubles at home in California. Governor Schwarzenegger began his visit to China in Beijing and in style. The governor of California promoting California products and encouraging the Chinese to crack down on rampant piracy of American intellectual property.

Schwarzenegger's visit to China follows the crushing defeat of four of his initiatives -- we should say all four of his initiatives in a special election last week. And obviously, receiving a warm reception in China.

Coming up next, startling new fears about the spread of deadly bird flu. Dr. Donald Low, one of the world's leading authorities on infectious disease my guest here next.

And why Governor Schwarzenegger is preparing to ask for tens of billions of dollars for California. You might guess why. We'll have a special report next.


DOBBS: There are new fears tonight the avian flu is mutating into a dangerous new form that could make it easier to migrate into mammals, and that, of course, would make the virus much easier to transmit to humans.

The deadliest form of bird flu has now been detected in 18 countries. More than 60 people are known to have died from the disease. There are other deaths that are suspicious, but millions, of course, are at risk.

Joining me tonight from Toronto, Dr. Donald Low, the microbiologist in chief at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, one of the world's most respected researchers and microbiologists.

Good to have you with us.

Doctor, this mutation that is permitting migration into mammals, just how concerned should we be?

DR. DONALD LOW, MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL, TORONTO: Well, we don't know that these are actually the mutations that's going to make a strain of avian influenza able to go from human to human. Because that's what our real concern is.

But, what it does continue to tell us is that this virus is adapting. It is learning how to cause disease in animals, whether it's humans or tigers or cats. It's just continuing to change. And the fear is one of these days that a combination of these mutations will occur, which will, in fact, allow it to become the next cause, the next avian strain that causes the next pandemic.

DOBBS: As you know, researchers in Vietnam saying that they have, in point of fact, identified the virus or at least a related mutant of the virus that has moved, could move faster to mammals.

We know that there are eight cases now confirmed in Indonesia. Eighteen countries, just last week there were only 16 countries that had confirmed presence of H5N1 virus.

How quickly is this, in your judgment, going to spread from here?

LOW: Well, I mean, I think that we're continuing to see it spread throughout, remerge back, in fact, into China where they've caught millions of birds again, and they starting to report outbreaks that are occurring in domestic birds in both the south central and northeast part of China.

So this virus has become endemic in migratory birds throughout Asia, Eastern Europe. And the fear is, of course, that it could get down into Africa, where it would be even more difficult to control.

DOBBS: Is there anything, in your judgment, that would stop it from moving to Africa?

LOW: Well, I think that we're learning more about how this thing travels, and it suggests migratory birds are really important. And if that's the case, and it's very difficult to see how you could possibly stop it.

And as we just see this thing move across different continents in the world, it just seems to be a matter of time before that will happen.

DOBBS: Dr. Donald Low, thank you very much. We appreciate you being here, doctor.

LOW: My pleasure.

DOBBS: A reminder now to vote in our poll. Do you believe President Bush must return from China with a substantial achievement in order to avoid political ridicule on this four nation trip?

We'll bring you the results here next.

Also ahead, Governor Schwarzenegger wants an astonishing $50 billion for California. You'll never guess why after the governor just suffered a major defeat at the polls.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Well, as we reported, Governor Schwarzenegger is in China now. He is there promoting California.

But back at home, the state of California is in sorry state of political disarray. After suffering a crushing defeat on four ballot initiatives last week, the governor hopes to change the subject.

He's pushing for a record amount of money, in fact, to rebuild California's infrastructure, that he has just recently noticed, is crumbling.

Casey Wian has the story from Los Angeles.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The governator may soon have a new nickname. Governor pothole now that California voters have rejected his ideas to reform state government.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is promoting an extensive plan to rebuild the state's crumbling infrastructure.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: We need very badly the infrastructure. And we need to address the things that are falling apart, and we need to go and really build as quickly as possible.

We should not wait for another disaster, another earthquake, and let all of this happen.

WIAN: It could mean a bond issue of at least $50 billion. That's triple the size of the largest state bond measure in history. And even that may not be enough.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates L.A. County alone needs $50 billion in infrastructure improvement, including $2 billion to fix roads, $4.5 billion to relieve traffic congestion, $3 billion to repair aging water pipes and a minimum of $3 billion to deal with contamination from urban runoff.

But, convincing voters to pay through higher taxes or bond debt will be tough.

DON KNABE, L.A. COUNTY SUPERVISOR: In tight budget situations infrastructure becomes a vulnerable tool. I think here in California particularly with our growth over the last 30, 40 years that we need to spend more money.

WIAN: In 1960 California spent almost 20 percent of its budget on infrastructure. Today less than one percent. It's a nationwide problem.

Civil engineers estimate the United States needs to spend a stunning $1.6 trillion on infrastructure in just the next five years.

When the levees failed in New Orleans, America learned the tragic cost of delaying infrastructure repairs. HARVEY LOBES, AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS: If we had the money to fix these things today, it might cost, say, a dollar. Whereas if we wait until it deteriorates further, that same dollar today might cost five dollars in the future.

WIAN: One California construction industry lobbyist says infrastructure has moved to the top of the governor's agenda.


WIAN: Now, selling the idea of infrastructure improvements to skeptical voters and the state legislature could be Governor Schwarzenegger's last chance to salvage his political future--Lou.

DOBBS: Well, the governor is motivated, and that's good.

You know, I was just thinking if we put that number out there, $1.6 trillion for the whole country. We could pay for that in exactly two years with our over consumption and our trade deficit for a period of two years plus one year of the federal budget deficit.

Now, that gives you something to think about.

Casey, thanks a lot.

Casey Wian from Los Angeles.

Now the results of our poll. Eighty-eight percent of you say the president must return from China with a substantial achievement.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. For all of us here good night from New York.

"THE SITUATION ROOM" starts right now with Wolf Blitzer--Wolf.