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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Democrats Launch Ethics Package; Lobbying Scandal and Loopholes; Army Recruiting Goals; Cactus, Texas, More Illegal Than American Citizens; Angry Protests In Costa Mesa, California, After Plan To Allow Local Police To Enforce Immigration Laws; Trent Lott Interview; Administrations Says Wiretapping Lawsuits Frivolous

Aired January 18, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody.
Tonight, the Democrats, the Republicans racing to overhaul Capitol Hill ethics as both sides try to come out of the Abramoff corruption scandal ahead of the other. We'll be going live to Capitol Hill. I'll be talking with former Senate majority leader Senator Trent Lott about what needs to be done to clean up the mess.

And critics blast the Republican and Democratic reforms alike, saying they will do nothing to end what is outright corruption in our political system. We'll have a special report on whether the reforms will actually do anything.

And the U.S. Army declares it is not a broken force and insists recruitment back on track, t coming at a very high cost. We'll have that report from the Pentagon for you.

And the Catholic Church aggressively defending its support illegal immigration and its opposition to border security legislation. My guest tonight, one of the Catholic Church's leading authorities on immigration.

And the invasion of illegal aliens swamping one small community in Texas to such an extent it now looks like a town in Mexico. We'll be in Cactus, Texas, for that exclusive report.

All of that and a great deal more coming up here tonight.

We begin with the lobbying scandal on Capitol Hill. It's not get anything better.

Democrats today launched their version of broad proposals to reform lobbying abuses. The Democrats' proposals come one day after Republicans announced their own idea of reform. Critics say both parties are simply competing to offer headline-grabbing reform proposals to win political advantage and do little to clean up the mess.

Ed Henry reports from Capitol Hill -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, you're right. The stampede is on to see who can clean up Congress faster. Yesterday, Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert, under heavy political pressure because of the Jack Abramoff scandal, came out and declared that he wants to ban all privately-funded travel. He also wants to limit gifts to $20.

Democratic leaders coming out today, trying to up the ante a bit, saying they want to ban all gifts. Not just limit them, but ban meals, sporting tickets, all the like. And as they rolled out their plan, Democrats stole a page from the Republican playbook circa 1994, the Contract with America.

They basically signed a pledge to clean up Congress, clean up the government. They're hoping, just as it did in 1994 for the Republicans, this issue will propel them to victory in November. Nancy Pelosi saying that Democrats want to make sure that they can now declare the independence of Congress from lobbyists.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: For a long time now an ethical cloud has hung over the Capitol. For years, Democrats have called for an end to the Republican culture of corruption.

Yesterday, House Republican leaders unveiled a vague and insufficient set of so-called reforms. What is important about their list is not what it does do but what it doesn't do.


HENRY: And watchdogs point out and raise questions about how effective this really is, raising questions about how lawmakers can no longer accept $50 steak diners from lobbyists but then can turn around and accept thousand-dollar contributions from those very same lobbyists who are trying to influence Congress. Also, watchdogs pointing out that without enforcement mechanism, this won't really amount to much. Because if you think back, there already are rules and regulations in place.

There have been lawmakers, some in both parties, who have not been following those rules. So watchdogs, reform groups point out that unless there's some sort of traffic cop here in some way to actually check up to make sure people are following the rules, it will be meaningless -- Lou.

DOBBS: Both parties making it pretty clear they think the American voter is a damn fool, wouldn't you say, Ed? No mention of stopping the practice of allowing lobbyists to outright write legislation, little matters like that?

HENRY: Well, clearly, we heard today from Democrats that they want to end the revolving door, at least crack down on it. But you're certainly right that there are limited pieces in this. And there's certainly a lot more that they have to get done. This might be the first step, but there's clearly a lot that needs to be cleaned up -- Lou.

DOBBS: Indeed there is.

Ed Henry from Capitol Hill.

Thanks, Ed.

Critics say the Republican and Democratic proposals to crack down on lobbying will have little affect on the culture of corruption on Capitol Hill. In fact, many doubt that Congress can actually be trusted to reform its own dealings with big money special interests.

Christine Romans reports.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): New lobbying rules mean absolutely nothing unless they're enforced.

SCOTT AMEY, PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT: The issue here is, do we trust Congress and do we trust the people that they rely on, the lobbyists, to fix the system? And the answer is, you know, no.

ROMANS: Watchdog Public Citizen calls the current system "legalized bribery" and says Republican and Democratic ethics proposals are "reform lite."

JOAN CLAYBROOK, PUBLIC CITIZEN: None of the proposals by the congressional leadership have any system for enforcing the rules for the new laws. And we don't believe that the ethics committees run by members of Congress have really shown that they can do this in an effective way.

ROMANS: What Public Citizen wants, no gifts, no subsidized luxury travel, no bundling of money from multiple sources, no campaign fund-raisers, and an independent watchdog with criminal sanctions for violators. After all, there are already plenty of ethics rules on the books and lax compliance.

The Center for Public Integrity found 84 percent of top lobby firms had failed to file all the proper documents and 14,000 documents that should have been filed with the Senate Office of Public Records are missing.

ALEX KNOTT, CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY: Most of the firms aren't filing all the stuff they are supposed to. And close to one out of five companies out there haven't filed -- hasn't filed the information that they're supposed to.

ROMANS: The number of lobbyists has doubled in the past five years, yet fewer than 50 people actually oversee the interaction between 14,000 lobbyists, 535 members of Congress, and thousands of their staffers. And it's not even their primary duty.

And then there is the definition of lobbyist. Some call themselves public relations consultants or researchers to avoid disclosure requirements.


ROMANS: You can write all the new rules you want, but many fear influence peddlers, they will always find a way around them.

Lou, Public Citizen is quick to point out it's not calling for a ban on lobbyists. After all, Public Citizen itself is a special interest. But their concern is that, without an airplane, private jet, a lot of money, and the ability to host big-dollar campaign dinners, you can't get your voice heard on Capitol Hill.

DOBBS: We're headed toward a situation, it seems to me, in which -- and it's interesting that no one has advanced the idea in this current scandal, but the public financing of campaigns may be the only answer. And it's one that's going to have to be taken a look at very seriously, I think, because no one has any faith in the nonsense that's being promoted by either party as "reform."

Christine Romans. Thank you very much.

Many members of Congress who received donations from Jack Abramoff and his clients have been trying to give the money away. And some of them are doing so, giving the money to charities and other groups. But one senator's offer to donate Abramoff-related money has been turned down outright.

Senator Conrad Burns tried to give the Montana-Wyoming Tribunal Leaders Council $111,000. But the tribe's council last night voted to refuse the money. Some council members said the money is taint. One council member said the tribes are tired of being used by politician, and they came up of with what I think is a pretty interesting idea.

They think the money actually ought to be given back to the tribes who gave Abramoff and his associates the money in the first place. Intriguing concept.

That brings us to tonight's poll.

Do you believe your congressman and senators are asking in the national interest, or B, primarily influenced by lobbyists and special interests?

Cast your vote at We'll have the results later in the broadcast.

Later here as well, former Senate majority leader Trent Lott. The senator will join us to talk about what many say is a culture of corruption on Capitol Hill, and we'll hear what he thinks about the future of the Republican Party and what should be done to clean up Congress.

In Iraq, two American soldiers have died from non-combat injuries. One soldier died in Baghdad. The other in a road accident in Mosul. Two thousand two hundred and twenty-two of our troops have now died in Iraq since this war began.

Insurgents today killed two American contractors when they attacked a civilian convoy in Basra. The Americans were Iraqi police trainers. And in Baghdad, insurgents killed 10 Iraqis and kidnapped two African contractors in another attack on a convoy.

Despite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the army today insisted it is not a broken force. The army's top civilian leader declared the army is now meeting its recruiting goals as well. But in order to do that, the army is paying a high price.

Jamie McIntyre has the story from the Pentagon.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): After missing last year's recruiting goal by almost 7,000 troops, the U.S. Army insists it's seen a dramatic turnaround with a re-enlistment rate that's the highest in five years and a surge in new recruits. The army's top civilian leader insists his service is now on track to make its goal of 80,000 new soldiers by next September.

FRANCIS HARVEY, ARMY SECRETARY: We have now made our recruiting objectives for the last seven months, and the future looks promising. The number of recruits who have signed an enlistment contract to date is almost 25 percent higher than it was at the same point last year.

MCINTYRE: A big recent soldiers (INAUDIBLE) is a sense of loyalty to their comrades in arms. Recruiting turnaround is also being fueled by generous enlistment bonuses that have just been doubled. Up to $40,000 for active duty troops and $20,000 for reserves. In addition, under a new law, the army is raising the maximum age for enlistment from less than 35 years old to less than 40 years old.

Despite the new incentives, the army conceded recruiting shortfalls will likely force the number of National Guard troops to stay at about 333,000 next year, roughly 17,000 below the authorized level of 350,000. That will require trimming an ambitious plan to increase the number of combat brigades in the Guard from the original goal of 34 to just 28.

HARVEY: Yes, but keep in mind when you say that, they're really coming from 15 to 28 rather than 15 to 34. So they're increasing. They're damn near doubling. Believe me, this is only time where growth is a cut.


MCINTYRE: The army secretary also defended the speed at which additional add-on armor is being provided to U.S. troops in Iraq and even offered his opinion that new side panels being shipped to Iraq should be mandatory for soldiers even though they add about five more pounds to the armor worn by troops. But with armor, some of the troops complaining they're weighted down with too much armor. army officials were quick to say that decision would be made by military commanders on the ground, not by their civilian boss back here at the Pentagon -- Lou.

DOBBS: Jamie, thank you very much.

Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.

Still ahead here, you'll love this, Cactus, Texas, it's a tiny town. It's far from the border with Mexico. It's a town that could be called the illegal alien capital of the United States.

We'll have that special report for you. You will meet some interesting people from Cactus here next.

And Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff appears to be in continuing denial over Mexican troops crossing the U.S. border.

And as we've been warning here for three years now, the Bush administration's so-called free trade policy has come at a high price. The United States is no longer the number one exporter of information technology.

That story and a great deal more coming up next.


DOBBS: Tonight, the remarkable story of a small town in Texas. The town is Cactus. It's a town nearly 600 miles from the border with Mexico.

Cactus could be as well the only town in this country where the number of illegal aliens actually outnumber the American citizens. Cactus government officials say they've been completely abandoned by federal government as illegal aliens have overrun their town, overtaken them, and overwhelmed them.

Bill Tucker reports from Cactus.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In the north of the Texas panhandle is a town that many might pass by on the highway and never notice: Cactus, Texas. One grocery store, two liquor stores, six bars and one meat packing plant. Cactus is a small rural town in Texas, but it looks more like a small town in Mexico.

TIM TURLEY, CACTUS POLICE DEPT.: We're not what you would call unique. The only thing unique about our numbers is the percentage. Fifty percent of our population is illegal aliens, minimum, 50 percent.

TUCKER: Officially, the population of Cactus is just over 2,000. Unofficially, the police chief puts the population closer to 4,500, considerably more if you count the cattle.

And how does the chief that most of his town is illegal?

TURLEY: They tell us. When we're interviewing them, when we go out, it doesn't matter what -- when we're visiting with them. We ask them their name, and a large percentage of them will tell us, my work name is this, my real name is this.

TUCKER: Their work names are taken off these IDs that are bought most often in Little Rock, Arkansas, and St. Louis, Missouri, using fake Social Security numbers purchased as part of the identity package. With those documents they gain employment at the Swift meat packing plant.

Ask the chief what he thinks of homeland security, and he's got a quick answer.

TURLEY: Homeland security is a farce.

TUCKER: But Turley is also quick to add, along with the mayor, that most of the people in Cactus are hard-working people.

MAYOR LUIS AGUILAR, CACTUS, TEXAS: Well, with the illegal aliens, we don't got any -- personally, I don't got any problems with them at all.

TUCKER: The mayor has a unique perspective on that. He once was an illegal alien who was granted amnesty in 1987.

(on camera): You might not suspect it to look at this community, but according to local officials, illegal aliens living here in Cactus are responsible for sending millions of dollars a year back home to Mexico and to Guatemala.

(voice over): There are complications. Crime is a problem because victims are reluctant to report crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're wanting to be here and work but they're wanting to stay under the radar screen. So they're willing to put up with some victimization. And they're afraid of deportation.

TUCKER: And in Cactus, the four-man police department is under- funded and understaffed, because half of the population is not officially counted as they are illegal. Normally a town this size would have nearly twice the number of officers.

TURLEY: The thing is, we're overwhelmed. We have such a volume. We have so many problems going on, it's every man for himself in our department.

TUCKER: Bill Tucker, CNN, Cactus, Texas.


DOBBS: Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff today acknowledged that the Mexican military is crossing our southern border and does enter U.S. territory about 20 times a year. But Chertoff tried to play down the significance of those incursions. The Homeland Security secretary said most of those incursions are what he called innocent, and he declared reporting on the issue has been overblown and not helpful.

Mr. Chertoff, may I say with all do respect, I disagree with you. And I think any time any military crosses our border is something perhaps you might want to pay something of a little attention to. After all, the job is homeland security. And the idea of telling the U.S. Border Patrol to maintain a low profile when those things occur, those minor incursions that you appear to want to downplay, says a lot about the way you're running your department and national security.

Still ahead, the Bush administration has put U.S. global economic preeminence at risk. We will have a special report for you.

And the Catholic Church will respond tonight to criticism of its support of illegal immigration and its opposition to border security legislation. My guest is one the Catholic Church's leading authorities on immigration.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Still ahead here, the Catholic Church and illegal immigration and border security. Father Rick Ryscavage is one of the leading voices of the Catholic Church on immigration issues. He's our guest.

But first, let's take a look at the top stories of this hour.

The European Union today announced that it is united with the United States and the Iranian nuclear standoff. The European Union today ruled out further talks with Iran over its nuclear program, saying the matter should be immediately referred and resolved by the United Nations.

On Capitol Hill today, Senate Democratic leaders announced their plan to toughen congressional ethics rules after the Abramoff scandal, claiming it far exceeds the plan presented by House Republicans just yesterday.

And a harsh sentence today for the couple who planted a severed finger in the bowl of Wendy's chili. Anna and Jamie Ayala were sentenced to at least nine years in prison for their effort to extort money from Wendy's, calling last year's scheme a "moment of poor judgment."

Angry protests erupted in Costa Mesa, California, again, two weeks after the town approved a plan to allow local police to enforce federal immigration laws. Protesters returned to the town making astonishing accusations, but border security activists were ready for the fight.

Casey Wian reports.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Illegal alien apologists would have you believe that anyone who supports increased border security is racist. They again made that charge at a Costa Mesa, California, city council meeting Tuesday night against Mayor Allan Mansoor. He's behind the city's plan to help the federal government enforce immigration laws.

This protester says, "Long live the workers and down with racism."


MAYOR ALLAN MANSOOR, COSTA MESA, CALIFORNIA: I'm used to name calling. My background is in law enforcement, and so I have been there, done that. It's a sign that they have no legitimate argument to make.

WIAN: Supporters of the mayor and increased border security trumped the race card.

ANGELINA IBBOTSON, LEGAL IMMIGRANT: This is not a race issue, everyone. This is an issue where we need to be protected.

WIAN: A rainbow coalition of border security activists spoke out in favor of local enforcement of immigration laws. Costa Mesa's in the process of joining a federal program that will train its police officers to identify illegal aliens among criminal suspects.

GEORGE REVERE, LEGAL IMMIGRANT: I'm a legal immigrant from Japan. We're not talking about rounding people up because they're brown or yellow or any other color. We're talking about criminals who commit serious crimes.

TED HAYES, BORDER SECURITY ACTIVIST: I recognize that it's illegal immigration essentially, Mexico, Central Americans, economic warfare on black people. As former slaves, we are appalled that poor brown Mexican people are being forced out of their country by their leaders and to this country to work for capitalists who are intoxicated with their power to enslave them, to have them working for slave wages.

WIAN: Border security activists praised Mansoor and his allies on the city council for their patriotism. The mayor himself is the son of legal immigrants from Egypt and Sweden.


WIAN: The issue of police enforcement of immigration laws wasn't even on the Costa Mesa City Council's agenda at last night's meeting, but it dominated the public comment period. City officials say they're surprised so much is being made over their decision to simply enforce the law -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. Casey Wian, reporting from Los Angeles.

Last night on this broadcast we reported on the aggressive new move by the Catholic Church to defeat tough border security legislation. The Catholic Church fears that if this bill passes, priests could be prosecuted for aiding illegal aliens, amongst other things. The Catholic Church is calling upon its members to do all they can to defeat the border security legislation. Joining me tonight to discuss the position of the Catholic Church, one of the leading voices for the church on immigration and illegal immigration. Father Rick Ryscavage is a Jesuit priest of Fairfield University. He's also served as regional head of the Jesuit Relief Service, an organization providing chaplains for immigrants held in detention by the United States.

Father Ryscavage, good to have you with us.


DOBBS: The idea that the church is openly supportive of illegal immigration, and openly hostile to particularly the Sensenbrenner bill on border security, doesn't that put the church in the exact position of being in politics and risking, in fact its tax-exempt status?

RYSCAVAGE: Well I really think to understand the church's position on migration, you really have to step back historically and realize that the church as an institution predates by about 1,500 years, the establishment of the national sovereign state.

DOBBS: Well, wait a minute, father. I appreciate history lessons, but let me give you one. And that is this country was established to provide freedom of religion and certainly not to allow for the establishment of religion.

And constitutionally and in every code of the federal government, it provides clearly for a tax-exempt status but not political interference on the part of a church.

RYSCAVAGE: Well, I wouldn't call what's going on right now political interference.

DOBBS: You're calling upon your worshipers to defeat legislation, you're supporting illegal immigration, Father.

RYSCAVAGE: The church is primarily a pastoral institution, concerned about the spiritual condition of people, not its citizens, not its citizenship. You now, St. Augustine used to say, "Our citizenship is not in this life. It's all -- you know, we're all migrants pilgrimaging to heaven." And I think the church's perspective is quite unique on this and from that perspective flows a difference perspective on public policy when it comes to illegal immigration.

DOBBS: Well you may have a different perspective, but again the laws of this land are quite clear. This is not Mexico, this is not Italy, this is not Senegal. This is the United States of America.

RYSCAVAGE: And the church supports the law. The church...

DOBBS: ... Well that's very kind.

RYSCAVAGE: The church has always believed that the government has a right and a duty to protect its borders and to protect its citizens. But it says that that right is not totally absolute. It has to take into consideration the human rights of people, the protection of children, the protection of families. That this has to be part of the public policy mix of any immigration policy.

DOBBS: Father, but what you're saying obfuscates the simple clear fact, the Catholic Church, your bishops in conference supporting the opposition of the Sensenbrenner bill and border security and putting migration -- illegal immigration at the forefront of your concerns in the relationship between Mexico and the United States. It's clear and unequivocal.

RYSCAVAGE: And why is it doing that? It's because the House of Representatives bill is very one dimensional. It isn't a comprehensive solution to the problem of immigration in the United States.

DOBBS: Oh my goodness father, you're also at the same time supporting the McCain/Kennedy legislation. That's a clear, clear statement by your church calling upon your worshipers to support it. That is outright -- I mean, it is no different to me, frankly than Pat Robertson or a radical Islamist holding forth on what shall be secular law.

RYSCAVAGE: I think, Mr. Dobbs, what the church is trying to do is to ensure that whatever legislation passes in the United States, it has protective pieces in it that allows for people to have their human dignity, their human rights and the protection of their life.

DOBBS: In what country, father, do you think that more attention and support and protection for human dignity is practiced than the one in which you and I are talking?

RYSCAVAGE: And that's exactly what church wants to protect, to keep. To keep, not to see it criminalized and to see become more restrictive.

DOBBS: Excuse me father, but isn't it illegal to cross our borders, illegally?

RYSCAVAGE: Of course.

DOBBS: Then why does the Catholic Church support illegal immigration?

RYSCAVAGE: If doesn't support.

DOBBS: Why do you oppose border security?

RYSCAVAGE: It's doesn't oppose illegal immigration. It's calling for a just immigration policy, not opposing illegal immigration. It believes -- I mean, there has to be enforcement of borders, there's no question about it. But the comprehensive solution has to include humanitarian concerns about people not being sent back to countries for abuse or to protection their children and families.

DOBBS: You also very clearly in several statements from the various immigration arms of the church have laid straightforwardly and clearly, particularly the joint statement between the church and Mexico and the United States, saying the United States was responsible for the deaths of Mexican citizens and Catholic -- members of the Catholic Church.

You put that squarely on the United States. There was not one mention in that statement of the failure of the Mexican government to provide for its people, to attack poverty, to provide security at its border, its corruption, its disgusting performance in human rights. Why is that?

RYSCAVAGE: Well, I think if you looked at the statements...

DOBBS: Oh I did.

RYSCAVAGE: ... of the Mexican bishops and the church in Mexico, you'll find sufficient criticism of the Mexican government. It's not a -- it's isn't a one-sided issue. There's a clear recognition that there's a problem on both sides of the border.

DOBBS: There is a problem to both sides of the border. But my question to you is how does the Catholic Church rationalize its bold outright entry into politics in the United States?

RYSCAVAGE: Well, it's not a new issue for the church. The church has always stood up for the human dignity and the protection of individuals who are migrating. This is an old tradition in the Catholic Church, it goes back into the 19th century in the United States. So this is simply building on a tradition of the church to protect the immigrant that was launched, you know, centuries ago. So I don't see it as any new twist, in a sense, in the church's involvement in politics at all.

DOBBS: Father Ryscavage, we thank you for being here to help us understand the position and whether we agree with it or not, we hope you'll come back to further discuss the issues that will be with us for awhile, it appears.

RYSCAVAGE: Thank you, Mr. Dobbs.

DOBBS: Tonight, Republicans supporting tough border security legislation are stepping up their attacks on the Bush administration's guest worker proposals. These Republicans fear senators tied to big business interests, however few there may be, will succeed in their efforts to make guest worker provisions, law. Tonight Bay Buchanan and members of her Team America political action committee are planning to take action. Bay Buchanan joins me tonight, she's in Phoenix, Arizona. Bay, good to have you here.


DOBBS: Let me ask you, what are you so concerned about the Senate? It is a deliberative body, a gentlemanly, in really all respects, progress. You're not suggesting that they would be in any way duplicitous or underhanded in their dealings on this issue.

BUCHANAN: Unfortunately I'm suggesting exactly that, Lou. You know, that Senate -- the Republicans in the Senate know well, just as the Republicans in the House did, that the American people are very opposed to any amnesty whatsoever.

They want their borders secure, they want their laws enforced. It's very simply. And yet right now, we have the U.S. Senate looking in February to take this enforcement bill, sell it as an enforcement bill, and slip what they call a guest worker program on it.

The reason they call it guest worker is because they know it's amnesty, but they know the American people know what amnesty is and they're opposed. So they just call it by another name. That is duplicitous. It is nothing but amnesty.

They are going to force it on the American people. And the reason they are going to do it, go against the will of the American people is because their corporate friends are desperate for this. And that is what's wrong.

Lou, this is a terrible, terrible thing we're looking at and unless Americans get involved and start calling their U.S. senators, especially the Republicans, we're going to be facing amnesty for 15 million immigrants in this country and expect a lot more coming over that border.

DOBBS: But the House of Representatives has passed legislation that calls for border security, enhanced border security. Congressman Duncan Hunter, chairman the Armed Services Committee, putting forward a fence bill -- provide a fence for at least 700 miles of our 2,000- mile border with Mexico. There's such strength here. You're suggesting that the Senate would work against the will of the American people? Bay, I am shocked!

BUCHANAN: Lou, we both know exactly what they're up to. They have to make a decision. Who are they beholden to most? The American people or their corporate clones? Their corporate friends, those guys who are financing their big campaigns.

This is indeed the culture of corruption. And if they know, and we all do know, the Americans do not want amnesty, do not want guest workers. They want a secure border and the laws enforced. They cannot go against that and that's what Americans have to start getting on the phone and stop it, Lou.

DOBBS: Bay, I want to ask you a quick question, we're out of time. You just heard Father Ryscavage, and the issues with the Catholic Church and support of illegal immigration, opposition to border security. What is your reaction?

BUCHANAN: Well, it's outrageous. We have a nation here and we have laws. And you have to obey them and I have to or we're prosecuted. It's very simple. Corporations should be required to also keep the laws of the land or they should be enforced against them.

What the Catholic Church is suggesting is some people can break the laws, it's OK. It's OK for corporate America to illegally hire cheap labor and to undercut Americans. That's all OK and they want us to give them amnesty after they do so. That is not the position of Americans across this country.

DOBBS: Is it your sense that Americans had a belly fold, Bay?

BUCHANAN: Oh, there's no question. It is the hottest issue in this country but the key is, it's kind of quiet right now and I believe the U.S. Senate's going to try to slip this little thing right through and we're going to wake up one day in February and say, "My gosh, 15 million illegals. All of our efforts gone out the window." Americans have to get involved, Lou.

DOBBS: Bay, thank you very much for being here. Bay Buchanan, the chairman of Team America political action committee. Thanks for talking to us. Still ahead, corruption on Capitol Hill. I'll be talking with the former majority leader of the Senate, Senator Trent Lott. We'll be talking about cleaning up the political system.

And then red storm -- we've have the latest for you on an issue that I've been warning about on this broadcast for three years. The future has arrived.


DOBBS: In Washington, Republican and Democratic lawmakers announcing new proposals over the course of the past 24 hours to clean up a mess of their own making. There is a growing bipartisan belief that ethic rules need to be strengthened after the Abramoff lobbying scandal. Critics, however, say both parties are just trying to appease the public and gain political advantage, while in reality trying to change nothing.

Senator Trent Lott, former Senate majority leader, is urging caution despite the intense political pressure to deal with the issue, and joins us tonight from Capitol Hill. Senator, good to have you here.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), FORMER MAJORITY LEADER: Glad to be with you again, Lou.

DOBBS: Democrats and Republicans, as I said, over the last 24 hours, just really trying to outdo one another with their proposals. But have you heard anything on the part of either party that would really change anything?

LOTT: Well, first of all, what has happened here was illegal, what Jack Abramoff and one of his other aides or assistants did, and the law prohibits that. However, there is no question that there is going to be some reform coming out of this -- lobbying reform, ethics reform and rules reform.

Some of probably is overdue and needs to be done. All I'm saying is, you know, let's don't just go crazy here. Let's look at what we're doing. People still have a right to contact and seek redress from their elected officials. Some of these things would be ludicrous. You know, OK, we're going to cut meals to $20 a meal. Where are they going to eat? McDonald's? And secondly, you know, who want another meal in Washington anyway? My argument there would be, be reasonable or abolish it completely. I don't want to have to go to another dinner ever in Washington if I don't have to.

So all I'm saying is we need to follow what's going on with our leaders and try to come up with a package does do some things that needs ...


DOBBS: Senator, I have a funny reaction to what you said about McDonald's because it's perhaps altogether too obvious to viewers of this broadcast, I'm a man who likes food in nearly any form, including fast food. I just think ...

LOTT: I love McDonald's.

DOBBS: I just think a lot of those senators there could do well by going to McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King -- whatever it might be. But I'm hearing you say -- and I understand your idea about caution, but we've never had a situation.

You've served this country long and well. You have not seen till the last -- really the last 10 years the situation where lobbyists are walking in writing legislation. We've reached a ridiculous position in this country, don't you think?

LOTT: I do think it's gotten ridiculous and we need to find ways to deal with it. You know, the image of former senators now working as lobbyists, being able to come on the floor of the Senate -- that doesn't happen very much, but it shouldn't happen. There's -- you shouldn't have a lobbyist writing legislation.

Senator John McCain is right. This earmarking thing has gotten out of control. And we need to have some way of keeping light on what's actually happening. We need to make sure that you don't have something added late in a conference in a bill that was not in the House or the Senate. There's an example. I mean, you're not going to prohibit all earmarks. I'd be opposed to that but there are some limits that we do need to apply.

DOBBS: Well, Senator, from my remote observation post, let me say to you, I am not so sure I would be opposed that anything that distances our lawmakers and our representatives from those lobbyists and special interest groups.

Because it looks to me, for all the world, Senator, like corporate America, special interest, just own our Congress, lock, stock and barrel, while the middle class in this country just getting hammered.

LOTT: Well, who are lobbyists? You know, the owner of a McDonald's or a Wendy's in Jackson, Mississippi? Nurses that come up to express their concerns? You know, a laborer? DOBBS: Well, we could start with the two lobbyists for each member of Congress who work for the pharmaceutical industry. We could start there. I think you're well enough acquainted with who they are.

LOTT: Yes.

DOBBS: But, I mean, you know, it's a pretty straightforward thing. Let me ask about -- this is straightforward. And that is, what is the Senate going to do? You heard Bay Buchanan -- I believe you heard her, on this broadcast.

She'll say that she believes -- and a lot of other people I have talked with believe -- the Senate is going to turn upside down all of the efforts in enhancing border security, establishing border security and push through the president's amnesty program or guest worker program, as he likes to call it. Is she right?

LOTT: No, I think she's wrong. I think border security is an issue whose time has come. The Senate's going to have to act that area. The House has already acted. So no matter what we do we're going to go to conference and we're going to come up with a bill that is going to be very strong on border security.

As a matter of fact, the idea of putting more funds in border security this year came from Senator Judd Gregg. He put it in his appropriations bill. But, number one, we have got to address this issue.

We need to bring it to the floor of the Senate, have a debate, have amendments. Let the people see how we vote. I do think we're going to probably have some sort of guest worker program. Where the disagreement begins ...

DOBBS: Whoa!

LOTT: Where the disagreement begins is what do you about the illegal aliens, people that are here illegally, that came here illegally? Millions of them. And I don't think that they ...

DOBBS: Do you really think, Senator -- may I ask?

LOTT: Yes.

DOBBS: Do you really think that the Senate after -- with the House of Representatives up for election in November, a third of the Senate, do you really think the House is going to sit there while the Senate basically says your job is over, we're throwing you to the wolves in November.

LOTT: No. No, we're going to do that. I won't do that.

DOBBS: Well, if you pass the guest worker program ...

LOTT: Now, wait a minute. You don't -- one is not mutually exclusive of the other. We need border security, no question about it. But there is a need and an opportunity for workers to come into this country and work in a variety of areas -- the poultry industry, landscaping -- but it needs to be with controls and limits and requirements and ...

DOBBS: And legality.

LOTT: ... and I don't think they're exclusive.

DOBBS: I couldn't agree more. Which would you give -- what should be primary?

LOTT: I give border security first priority. You cannot long survive in a country that cannot control its borders.

DOBBS: Right.

LOTT: That's the highest priority but it's not to say that you shouldn't have some legal, controllable program in the future.

DOBBS: Senator Trent Lott, as always, good talking with you.

LOTT: All right, thanks, Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you.

Coming up at the top the hour, THE SITUATION ROOM, and that means Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou. We're live in Baghdad where the fate of a reporter for the "Christian Science Monitor," Jill Carroll, is in the hands of kidnappers. I'll talk with a friend of Jill Carroll's who has written a book about her own experiences in Iraq and they were pretty frightening.

Plus, forgotten and freezing in Pakistan, earthquake refugees in desperate need of aid. You won't forget these faces you're about to see.

And the dramatic 911 tapes from a teenaged girl trapped in a sinking car in Hawaii. Tell you what happened. Al; that, Lou, coming up right at top of the hour.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Wolf. Look forward to it.

And a reminder to vote in our poll tonight. Do you believe your congressmen and senators are acting in the national interests, or primarily influenced by lobbyists? Cast your vote at We'll have the results for you in just a few moments.

Still ahead, suing the federal government for using wiretaps on American citizens? I'll be talking with a former federal prosecutor who says the government is doing what is appropriate and lawful. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The White House says the two lawsuits now challenging the federal government's secret wiretapping of some Americans are frivolous.

The ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed those lawsuits because they say President Bush has exceeded his Constitutional powers. Joining me now, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Andrew, good to have you here.

In your judgment, obviously you believe this is a legal approach?

ANDREW MCCARTHY, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think the approach of doing this surveillances is definitely legal. I think the lawsuits, as the White House says, are frivolous. The subject matter is now frivolous. I think it's perfectly appropriate for Americans to be concerned about domestic surveillance, but there is plenty of authority in its Constitutional authority in the president's portfolio under Article II.

DOBBS: Let me ask you this. Under FISA, they have the ability to spy on Americans with a warrant. To go before FISA court and simply get that permission. Due process, as it seems to us layman.

And those of us who are concerned about our rights in this country. Why not just do that?

MCCARTHY: Lou, due process is really actually oddly enough the process that's due. And the process that's due in wartime is not the same as the process that's due the rest of the time. There is an awful lot of things we can do in war time we can't do the rest the time. We actually kill people on the battlefield, destroy homes. Seize people.

DOBBS: Presumably we're killing the enemy. We're not intruding on the rights of the Americans.

MCCARTHY: Americans are the people we need to worry about. Don't forget, we're dealing with an enemy that, unlike many the enemies that we've confronted in wars we've fought before, actually wants to hit us in this country in our high population centers. They can't do that without the help of people in the United States. It's simply a fact.

DOBBS: And how much of an advantage is it not to go to a FISA court? Even under FISA you can even retroactively win a warrant, an approval for that wiretap.

MCCARTHY: Under the terms of FISA you don't even have to go to the FISA court every time.

Because, for example, if an American citizen's targeted but doesn't have an expectation of privacy, you don't have to go to the FISA court.

DOBBS: Let me just ask you this, is what I'm hearing you say that basically the Bush administration has handled this in an absurdly clumsy way. They could have gotten there the same way by going through FISA? MCCARTHY: No, I don't think that's so.

I think what we ...

DOBBS: I wasn't sure if I heard you say that.

MCCARTHY: I wasn't sure that I had. I am glad that you straightened me out. Ultimately what we may have found is that there may have been some monitoring that may have been done without probable cause. Under some circumstances is inappropriate but in wartime, it may be perfectly appropriate and indeed necessary. And there may be things that don't comply with the letter of FISA.

DOBBS: In your judgment, what's the disposition of the suit?

MCCARTHY: The suit is a frivolous suit because they don't have standing to bring it. So I assume the suit, if rule 11, which is the frivolous rule, means anything, they should be tossed out.

DOBBS: Andrew McCarthy, thanks for being here to give us your views and we appreciate it.

Still ahead the results of our poll tonight. We'll have some more of your thoughts and we'll take a look at what's coming up tomorrow. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The results of tonight's poll.

Ninety-six percent of you say that your congressman and senators are not acting in the national interest, but rather, influenced primarily by lobbyists.

Some more of your thoughts now. Many of you writing in with passionate views about the Catholic Church's political support of illegal immigration, opposition to border security legislation.

Woodrow in Oregon said, "Maybe the only source for new supporters of the Catholic Church in America is the illegal immigrant, born and raised Catholic from south of the border."

Arthur in Virginia says, "I am surprised at your nearsightedness. The position of the Catholic Church on illegal immigration, most of whom are Catholic, makes perfect sense. Since corporate America is capitalizing on these people, the Vatican would be remiss if it didn't fill it's coffers, too."

Alvin in Texas: "Everybody knows that most illegal aliens are of Catholic affiliation and a great source of revenue for the American Catholic Church. By the way, Lou, I'm a Catholic myself and I don't approve of it's position of meddling in our country's politics."

Edward in Indiana: "Lou, if the Catholic Church no longer wishes to abide by the rule of the land, i.e. the separation of church and state, then they should not be accorded any special treatments." And finally Judith in Indiana wrote to say, "Six or seven years ago, I could barely stand to listen to Lou Dobbs speak. I thought he was a big blow hard. But thankfully, he has proven me wrong. I am now a strong supporter of Lou Dobbs and totally agree with his broken border reporting. You rock, and thanks."

Well, thank you for forgiving me and I want to remind all you watching this broadcast, whether you agree or disagree, please let us know your thoughts. And I mean that sincerely. And if we read your email, we'll even read those that disagree, you'll receive a copy of my book, "Exporting America."

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. For all of us thanks for joining us. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins right now with Wolf Blitzer.