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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Defending Donald Rumsfeld; Stalled Agenda; Hometown Heat for Senators, Congressmen; Omaha, Nebraska Divides Schools Along Racial Lines; Bill Owens Interview;

Aired April 14, 2006 - 17:59   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, President Bush has declared his full support for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Can the defense secretary resist the growing pressure to resign?
We'll be going live to the White House for coverage. We'll hear what Rumsfeld himself is saying about the revolt by some retired generals.

Also tonight, President Bush has run out of political capital. His agenda has stalled. His poll numbers are at the lowest levels of his presidency. Is the president officially a lame duck? We'll have that special report, and we'll be discussing that issue and many more with three of the country's top political analysts.

Also tonight, race, politics, and education. Nebraska dividing the Omaha school system into three districts and dividing those districts by race. Critics say it's nothing less than segregation. The state senator who proposed the idea is our guest here tonight.

And as many as 20 million illegal aliens live in this country, many of them in the state of Colorado. My guest tonight, Governor Bill Owens of Colorado, who says illegal aliens are transforming the culture and the character of his state. And he has some solutions. He'll be here.

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

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Friday, April 14th.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

President Bush today strongly defended his defense secretary from a barrage of criticism from retired generals. President Bush broke his Easter break at Camp David to declare that his defense secretary has his full support and his deepest appreciation. The president's intervention comes after six former generals demanded Donald Rumsfeld's resignation for the way in which he has handled the war in Iraq.

Ed Henry reports from the White House on the president's attempt to squash speculation that Rumsfeld could be forced to resign.

Barbara Starr from the Pentagon on what Rumsfeld himself is saying about an escalating revolt by retired generals.

We begin with Ed Henry -- Ed.


A rather remarkable defense of the defense secretary. Unusual that President Bush decided to issue this vote of confidence himself, not through his press secretary. But instead, the commander in chief weighing in, deciding he needed to intervene.

That's obviously because the chorus of criticism has been growing and it's no longer just coming from Democratic senators. As you mentioned, it's coming from retired commanders, respected military men. And the president decided then to call the secretary of defense today, as you mentioned, from Camp David, and then issued this public statement, saying, in part, "Secretary Rumsfeld's energetic and steady leadership is exactly what is needed at this critical period. He has my full support and deepest appreciation."

Also noteworthy, this statement came out on the very first day of the tenure of the new White House chief of staff, Josh Bolten, taking over for outgoing chief of staff Andy Card amid all of this speculation about whether there will be more of a shakeup among the White House staff and the cabinet. People reading the tea leaves here are getting some clues as to perhaps what might happen next.

Whenever we ask White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan about the future of embattled Treasury secretary, John Snow, we always get the line that basically they do not comment on personnel matters. Well, today, the president obviously very publicly and loudly did comment on a personnel matter, backing Secretary Rumsfeld in a way with a full-throated defense, the kind that he has never given Secretary Snow.

Also, a lot of talk about the fact that the president is weighing in at this point in defense of the defense secretary, one of most obvious potential candidates for somebody who could go in a shakeup. That could lead some Republicans who have been calling for a major overhaul to basically think that maybe the president is digging in, maybe he does not want a major overall because, in part, obviously, firing Rumsfeld would be an acknowledgement there have been mistakes made in Iraq. And we know this is a president who does not like to admit mistakes -- Lou.

DOBBS: Ed, thank you very much.

Ed Henry from the White House.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld today insisted he will not resign under pressure from former generals. Rumsfeld said the number of critics is small compared with the thousands of generals who've served on active duty and those who are retired.

Barbara Starr reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: For the first time, the secretary himself, in an interview on an Arab news channel, addressed the latest controversy.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I intend to serve the president at his pleasure. And the fact that two or three or four retired people have different views, I respect their views. But obviously, if out of thousands and thousands of admirals and generals, if every time two or three people disagreed we changed the secretary of defense of the United States, it would be like a merry-go-round.

STARR: But the question now is whether all of this has led to some new chapter in bad feelings between the uniformed military and the civilian leadership that controls them. The recently retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, in an exclusive interview with CNN, talked about his concerns about where all of this could be headed.

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, FMR. CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I think one of the things we have to understand, or at least my -- my whole perception of this, is that it's bad for the military. It's bad for civil military relations. And it's potentially very bad for the country, because what we're hearing and what we're seeing is not the role the military plays in our society under our laws -- for that matter, under our Constitution.

STARR: Generals who remain on active duty are not expected to speak publicly unless it's in favor of the administration. Still, three Army generals on active duty who will not allow their names to be used tell CNN they do have concerns about the prosecution of the war in Iraq.

Some in Washington say the question may now be one of perception. Can Rumsfeld still lead the Pentagon effectively, given what has happened?

Barbara Starr, reporting from Washington.


DOBBS: In Iraq, insurgents have killed two more of our Marines. The Marines were killed in Al Anbar province yesterday, 22 other Marines were wounded. Two of the Marines are in critical condition -- 2,370 of our troops have now been killed in Iraq.

The rising criticism of the president's conduct of the war in Iraq is one of a series of escalating political problems facing the White House. The administration is struggling to win support for a wide range of policies from so-called immigration reform to economic policies that fail to address the concerns of most middle class Americans.

Bill Schneider reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Newton's third law of motion says, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That could be Bush's first law of politics. For every action the president takes, the American public has an equal and opposite reaction.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will achieve victory in Iraq.

SCHNEIDER: Reaction: 65 percent of Americans disapprove of the president's handling of Iraq.


BUSH: Any effective immigration reform must include a temporary worker program.

SCHNEIDER: Reaction: 62 percent negative marks on immigration.


BUSH: This economy of ours is good. It's strong.

SCHNEIDER: Reaction: 58 percent disapprove of the president's handling of the economy.


BUSH: ... pursue the enemy until we bring them to justice.

SCHNEIDER: Reaction: 51 percent negative on terrorism. Since 9/11, Bush's core issue.

Now, for the president's reaction.

BUSH: I didn't come to Washington, D.C., to try to, you know, chase -- chase political opinion.

SCHNEIDER: Maybe not, but he certainly didn't come to Washington to have political opinion chase him.


SCHNEIDER: When the public's reaction to everything the president says is negative, well, it suggests he has a credibility problem -- Lou.

DOBBS: A credibility problem, certainly, Bill Schneider, but also some real serious questions about the policies being pursued by the administration, as well.

SCHNEIDER: That, too.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider, thank you very much, from Washington. As the president tries to tackle his political problems in this country, Iran is sharply escalating its nuclear threats against the United States and Israel. The Iranian president today blasted the United States and other countries for trying to stop Iran from conducting its nuclear weapons program.

The Iranian leader also said Israel is what he called a permanent threat to the Middle East that will be annihilated. The State Department described the Iranian president's comments as reprehensible.

North Korea is also making new nuclear threats against the United States. North Korea's deputy leader declared North Korea will strengthen what he called its military deterrent force, saying U.S. policy toward North Korea is becoming, "... ever more vicious." The threats come as six country negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program remain deadlocked.

Coming up here next, illegal aliens have their chance to speak this week. Now it is the turn of American citizens. A special report on what Americans are telling their lawmakers who are back home about the illegal immigration crisis and what they want them do about it.

Illegal aliens and their supporters are planning more massive protests for the 1st of May. But many in the Hispanic community are refusing to support the agenda. We'll have that story.

And after 42 years after the Supreme Court ruled against racial segregation in our schools, students may once again be taught separately according to race.

We'll have that special report as well, and a great deal more.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Congressmen and our senators on vacation this week. They're back home. They're spending time in their home districts. And this is, after all, an election year.

Those senators and congressmen are listening to constituent concerns. And guess what? Illegal immigration and border security are at the top of the list of concerns on the part of those constituents.

Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senator Tom Coburn, like his colleagues, has left Washington and his now back in his home state. He's holding town hall meetings, where the issue of illegal immigration is at the forefront.

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: I don't' believe the American people trust the Congress on the issue of immigration.

SYLVESTER: The hometown crowd in Norman, Oklahoma, overwhelming supports tough border enforcement measures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're taking jobs away from American citizens right now. Something needs to be done about that. And don't tell me they're not, because I know lots of people who have lost their jobs because of illegal aliens.

SYLVESTER: Many taking issue with the notion that there are jobs Americans won't do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After McCain says that our men cannot do the work that Mexicans do in Yuma, Arizona, that we could not do that, he says that to a union group, that we could not do that, that is a betrayal of our citizens.

SYLVESTER: It's not just in Oklahoma. But senators like Sam Brownback, from Kansas; Ben Nelson, of Nebraska; and Jeff Sessions, of Alabama; are hearing from Americans who rank immigration reform as their top current concern.

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, THE AMERICAN CAUSE: We are talking about an outcry from this country so great and so across the board from all Americans.

SYLVESTER: Illegal Hispanic residents say amnesty sends the wrong message to people who play by the rules.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to see that -- for it to be fair. These people have been on the list for nine years to 25 years, and yet, there's nothing done for them. But yet, we're going to -- the Congress is coming out that they're going to give it to illegals?

COBURN: I want to tell you, there isn't going to be a bill come out of the Congress that has amnesty in it. It isn't going to happen.

SYLVESTER: Senator Coburn wants borders secured with more agents and new technology, but many of his constituents are pushing for U.S. military troops on the border.


SYLVESTER: Senator Coburn opposes having military troops on the border, but he voted against the amnesty bills and he acknowledged that the presence of illegal aliens puts downward pressure on wages and middle-income Americans are the ones who end up paying the price -- Lou.

DOBBS: "The Wall Street Journal" today, in a survey of economists, reported broad agreement among those economists that, guess what, Lisa? That those at the lower end of the wage scale in the country do have their wages depressed by illegal immigration.

We thank you.

Lisa Sylvester from Washington.

The government of Colorado, Bill Owens -- his state has one of the fastest growing illegal immigrant populations in the country -- is our guest here later in the broadcast. So stay with us for that.

And the illegal alien amnesty movement tonight appears to be split over massive new protests that are being planned for the 1st of May. Some amnesty supporters are coming to the realization that paralyzing the American economy, if indeed they could do that, and disrupting schools is certainly not best way to gain broad sympathy for their cause.

Casey Wian has the report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Latino advocacy groups often try to portray the debate over border security and immigration reform as an attack on their community. Now it appears that community is splintering over whether to support the planned May 1st national economic boycott, the so-called "Day Without an Immigrant."

Southern California boycott organizers are furious about an e- mail distributed to Spanish language media that implores broadcasters not promote the May Day boycott of work, school and commerce. Activists read the e-mail at a planning meeting Thursday night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "We should not let or be influenced by extremists groups, agitators or leaders. And we must be very sure that this boycott will not bring -- bring about consequences that are even more serious, such as increasing hate towards our people."

WIAN: It's unclear who sent the e-mail, but it appears to have come from a Spanish language radio consultant. Boycott organizers blame Univision and are now threatening to boycott the Spanish language broadcasting giant.

MARIA ANNA GONZALES, NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: If they don't think we're a good idea, then they wouldn't have thought that Cesar Chavez nor Martin Luther King were good as well, because they always carried out their demonstrations by way of a march and by way of a boycott. And I say, if it was good for them, it should be good for us. And I say the only ones that we should be boycotting in addition to everything else is starting out with Univision.


WIAN: Univision would not comment on that threat.

Meanwhile, the National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Latino advocacy group, is also not supporting the May Day boycott. Neither are some of the local union leaders in other groups who sponsored Monday's nationwide protest marches.

ARMANDO NAVARRO, PROFESSOR, U.C. RIVERSIDE: We're not a monolithic, homogeneous community. We don't think alike. Unfortunately, we have always in our history have had organizations or leaders that are not in tune, they're detached from the realties of the people that you are experiencing here.

WIAN: Despite the growing opposition, boycott organizers say they are confident there will be widespread participation on May 1st.


WIAN: Pro-illegal alien amnesty groups continue calling their effort a new civil rights movement and say even the tactics of Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez were criticized within their own communities -- Lou.

DOBBS: It's unfortunate there was also not a great deal of context in the comparison to Martin Luther King and certainly to Cesar Chavez. Cesar Chavez, for example, as we have reported on this broadcast, absolutely opposed to illegal immigration.

WIAN: And they were both advocating for rights for American citizens, not illegal aliens.

DOBBS: Absolutely. Context critically important.

WIAN: Absolutely.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Casey Wian.

This May 1st protest against the United States is now spreading to Mexico. Mexicans living in Mexico are being urged to boycott all U.S. products and businesses on the 1st of May, as illegal aliens, at least some of them, will be trying to paralyze the U.S. economy up north.

The rallying cry for these Mexican activists and the boycott is "Nothing Gringo." Major U.S. companies such as McDonald's, Starbucks, Sears and Wal-Mart are being singled out for this boycott, by the way.

The boycott organizers say, "People shouldn't buy anything from the interminable list of American businesses in Mexico." The American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico points out that those firms topping the list of companies that the Mexicans would boycott are among the strongest supporters of guest worker amnesty, the very goal of these upcoming demonstrations and boycotts.

There's nothing complicated about these demonstrations, their supporters and the efforts on Capitol Hill, and who is behind them.

Still ahead here, devastation in Iowa. After deadly tornadoes ripped through that state, a state of emergency is in place in Iowa City tonight.

And I'll talk with the state senator from Nebraska who has come up with a controversial proposal to split the Omaha school district along racial lines. Is it segregation? What is the reason?

We'll be discussing that and a great deal more straight ahead.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The governor of Iowa today declared a state of emergency in Iowa City and surrounding areas hit by deadly tornadoes. The severe storms swept through Iowa City last night. At least five tornadoes touched down.

One person was killed, thousands left without power. Damage to homes is severe. Some describing it as a war zone. The National Guard has been called in to help clear up the wreckage.

In northeastern New Mexico, a massive wildfire burning out of control tonight. The fire is being fueled by strong winds. Some 17,000 acres of brush have already been destroyed. The wildfire is, we're told, only about 20 percent contained as of tonight.

The governor of Nebraska tonight has signed into law a measure that critics say could set back race relations in this country significantly. Under this new law, the Omaha school district will split into three separate districts. One will be mostly white, one mostly Hispanic, and one predominantly black. The new law is being called by some nothing less than state-enforced segregation.

Bill Tucker reports.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like many problems do, the dispute over schools in Omaha began about money. Omaha's public school system wanted to increase its funding base, and it touched off a full-blown controversy.

The state will now create three school boards with three new school districts. Three essentially racially segregated school districts.

NANCY OBERST, OMAHA SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: It is shocking to me that we would decide to carve out the district in a way because the residential situation in Omaha is such that we do have communities where, in the north, it is heavily African-American and in the south Latino, and the west is Anglo.

TUCKER: The action has sparked outrage.

PAT BOURNE, NEBRASKA STATE LEGISLATURE: I just think it's a dark day for Nebraska. I truly believe that we set race relations back here 20 years. I don't think any state has done what we did in a long, long time. And I'm discouraged and disappointed.

TUCKER : Under a bill signed into law by Governor Dave Heineman, parents of children in a school district will have a greater say in the governance of their schools because the school board members will be from the neighborhoods the schools are in. It doesn't seem like an especially controversial idea. But it certainly is distinctive.

ERNIE CHAMBERS, NEBRASKA STATE LEGISLATURE: Every proposal made by the white people has failed. Nothing has altered the situation in these schools. I offer a plan. And because it is going to work, white people have gotten alarmed because when we do have control of our schools, the parents will be interested because they have a stake.

TUCKER: Chambers says nothing about the racial makeup of the schools will change. He's the first to admit they are segregated and the first to point out that this is the first time many opponents have admitted it.


TUCKER: Now, it's important to point out that, under this law, if parents of a child in an Omaha school doesn't like the school, they have the right to move the child to another school where they think they'll get a better education -- Lou.

DOBBS: Just because they don't like it?

TUCKER: Well, they don't have to. If they think their child is being served poorly in the school, they're not getting a proper education, they can petition and move the child to a different school.

DOBBS: Well, we're going to be talking with state senator Ernie Chambers, as you know, later here in this broadcast. I'm looking forward to hearing his thoughts and digging a little deeper into the issues that are confronting him. When he talked about the idea that the schools aren't working the way they are, it's an issue that is nationwide. It's not, unfortunately, just Nebraska.

Hopefully he'll be able to give some -- shed some light for all of us.

Bill Tucker, thank you.

Taking a look now at some of your thoughts.

Ray in Pennsylvania wrote in to say, "Lou, I was shocked by comments from Senator McCain, who said American workers are not willing or able to pick lettuce for an entire season, even for $50 an hour. Do all these senators who favor guest workers have such a low opinion of American workers? My immigrant grandfathers who worked in the coal mines for 50-plus years would roll over in their graves."

Marco said, "The only lettuce I'm having trouble picking is the stuff that should be in my wallet."

Tom in Florida, "My dad had a 40-hour-per-week job and my mom didn't work. We made out just fine. I work 56 hours per week at two jobs and my wife works more than that at three and we are barely getting by. What happened?"

Andy in South Carolina, "Lou, maybe we should change the name of the USA to the CSA, Corporate States of America. After watching the president and the Senate deal with our border problems recently, I've concluded that our democracy is mostly fictional."

Send us your thoughts at We'll have more of your thoughts later here in the broadcast.

Donald Rumsfeld say his will not step down as secretary of defense even though six retired generals are calling for his resignation. We would like to know what you think on the issue.

And our poll question tonight is, do you believe replacing Donald Rumsfeld as the secretary of defense will change the outcome of the war in Iraq? Yes or no?

Cast your vote at We'll have the results later here as well.

Coming up, the growing leadership crisis at the White House. We'll have a special report. And commentary from three of the nation's most respected political analysts.

And our middle class, working men and women in this country, again hit by rising gasoline prices. We'll tell you where some of that money is going.

And Colorado has one of the fastest growing illegal alien populations in this country. The governor of Colorado is Bill Owens. He's among our guests next.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: New opinion polls this week show President Bush unable to lift his approval ratings from the lowest levels of his presidency. But the American people now believe the substantive concerns at the White House should be more about policy than polling.


BUSH: I tell people the job of the president is to confront problems and not to pass them on to future presidents and future Congresses.

DOBBS (voice-over): That's what the president said his job is all about. But this is what the president said when asked when our troops would be withdrawn from Iraq.

BUSH: That, of course, is an objective, and that will be decided by future presidents.

DOBBS: Three years ago, President Bush told the American people...

BUSH: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.

DOBBS: Since those words, 2,200 of our soldiers have been killed. And to date, $268 billion have been appropriated to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2004, President Bush promised what he called comprehensive immigration reform.

BUSH: I propose a new temporary worker program to match willing foreign workers with willing employers when no Americans can be found to fill the job.

DOBBS: The president and Congress also promised border security. The same year, Congress passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. It called for 10,000 border patrol agents to be added over five years. So far, only 1,500 positions have been funded. For example, the state of New Mexico was promised an additional 269 agents this year. None have materialized on New Mexico's border with Mexico.

In 2005, President Bush told the American people ...

BUSH: We must pass reforms that solve the financial problems of Social Security once and for all.

DOBBS: And a year later ...

BUSH: Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security.

DOBBS: While the president likes to talk about the economy doing well and points to the number of jobs being created, the reality is that many of those jobs are in sectors that face no competition from outsourcing or imports.


DOBBS: Not all of those critical problems facing the nation are of the president's making, of course. But their solutions are certainly not part of current public policy.

Joining me now with their thoughts on what is nothing less than a troubled Bush agenda and the deepening political crisis within the Bush White House, former White House political director Ed Rollins, Michael Goodwin of the "New York Daily News," from Washington, senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

Ed, let me turn to you. These policy gaps and rhetoric gaps are mounting. Josh Bolten, it's his first day as the chief of staff, is there hope that he would be able to say, Mr. President, you know, the American people want to see some happen here?

ED ROLLINS, FMR. WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIR.: Well, I think he can give any speech he wants to, but just as the American public would like to see Donald Rumsfeld -- who's the most unpopular cabinet officer -- go away, as the military in public is started to say, the president says, no.

These are the president's policies, these are the president's intentions. And I think, to a certain extent, they're diluting themselves if they think they can come out of these holes. These are numbers that are as severe as any that I have seen. He doesn't have the support of the Congress, he doesn't have the support of the public, and to a certain extent, the only avenue he has left is certainly as commander in chief, he can make certain steps. And as a president with the veto pen, he can make certain steps even though he's not done that to date.

DOBBS: Michael Goodwin, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- calls now by six generals for him to resign. Your thoughts?

MICHAEL GOODWIN, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Well, I think it's pretty clear that the war is not going well and he clearly is the man in charge. He set the policy, he's the one who wanted a slimmed, a faster army, who didn't put enough troops in there according to all these critics now.

I think the issue, though, is if Rumsfeld were to go now, there are two main questions. Number one is, what would the policy be? Would it be the same policy? Because I think it's not clear what we're trying to do right now. And I think a new person would not necessarily be better at doing that.

And then, secondly, I think we have to be concerned about the effect of morale on the troops if we were to change right now. Certainly, giving some doubt to the troops would not be in their interest, would not help the mission. So I think that if we're going to change with a new secretary, we're going to have to change policies as well, otherwise it makes no sense.

DOBBS: One of the prospects, Bill Schneider, is that this White House looking at education, looking at a crumbling infrastructure, looking at the war in Iraq, looking at the immense competition now for our working middle class men and women in this country from cheap, foreign labor, what are the prospects that this White House is going to awaken to the fact that this is not going to be tolerated, in all likelihood, in polling booths in the upcoming midterm elections?

SCHNEIDER: Well, the seniors in the Republican Party have to make it clear to the White House that their party is going to pay a terrible price, that his legacy will be tarnished. They've got to give him a wake-up call.

And this is not an administration that has shown a lot of flexibility on policies. The president prides himself in resolve. But there's a fine line between resolve and stubbornness.

ROLLINS: I just want to add what I have to say about Rumsfeld. We buried a man two weeks ago, Cap Weinberger, who was secretary of defense. And Cap Weinberger, 20 years later, his legacy is he rebuilt the military. He rebuilt the military that fought in Kuwait and what have you.

Donald Rumsfeld I think will be looked back by history as a man who destroyed the military. I think the ineffectiveness of this war and the war planning, and I think his arrogance and the inability of him to deal with the Congress or the public makes his job totally untenable at this point in time and he should resign and do the right thing.

GOODWIN: Lou, I mean, I don't disagree at all that Rumsfeld has done the war very badly. I think it's absolutely obvious, and somebody should be held accountable. But I think that if you take the six generals -- retired generals who are now criticizing him, I have not heard a clear idea from them about what we should do next.

And so, let's get rid of Rumsfeld. By all means, if that will make everybody happy. But what are we going to do in Iraq? How are we going to win the war or extricate ourselves safely if that's the plan? But we need a plan, and right now I don't think -- I have not heard one from Rumsfeld's critics.

DOBBS: Isn't that absolutely infuriating, Bill Schneider, that those of us who are responsible, this news organization and others, can't turn to our audiences and say this is what -- with American lives being lost in Iraq, thousands of our young men and women in uniform being wounded, that this is precisely what the goals of the United States military are, this is precisely what the benchmarks of success are?

We can't do that. That is a failing policy but it's also a failure of the national media, isn't it?

SCHNEIDER: I think it is. I think it definitely is. And that's what a lot of people are worrying about. They're saying, well, what's the road ahead? The president doesn't seem to have one. He keeps reassuring Americans that there's victory in sight because Americans do not like to fight an unwinnable war, and getting rid of Rumsfeld would suggest that we're not winning.

But it's up to the media and other voices -- and we're not hearing it from the opposition party either -- to say this is the way out of this mess. We haven't heard any answers. And people are intensely frustrated by that.

DOBBS: I don't know if moving Rumsfeld out as defense secretary would solve it, but the president obviously believes that if he could get rid of Senator Harry Reid, his comprehensive illegal alien immigration reform guest worker amnesty program would just be ducky.

ROLLINS: Only the voters of Nevada can get rid of Senator Reid, and the Democrats that elect him as the leader in the Senate. You know, I think this issue is one in which -- it's not about going in a back room and finding a compromise. The public is very angry about this issue.

And every time they go home or they think they find a compromise -- I think it's one of these issued that the public is bombarding them. Just as you find out in your e-mails, this is an issue that is really cutting to the core and there's an awful lot of Americans who are very unhappy about this, do not want an amnesty, want these borders closed, don't feel safe until they are closed and don't hear anything coming from the politicians.

DOBBS: Well, as Casey Wian reported on the issue of this upcoming call for a boycott on May 1st, there is no lack of diversity in the Hispanic community in this country and these organizations, these open borders, illegal alien supporting organizations, I mean, they're trying to connect this to a 40 million Hispanics in the country as if they were one monolithic group. They're just like the rest of us, they're folks and they've got different ideas.

GOODWIN: Well, I think there is clearly a silent majority out there on the immigration issue. And I think it does include many of the legal immigrants from all backgrounds who have come to this country. And I suspect that as Senator Coburn, you showed earlier -- was getting an earful I suspect a lot of Congresspeople are getting an earful during this recess.

Because I know from my e-mail, I know from what you're getting here, it really seems to be a very strong group of people in the country who believe amnesty or even any kind of a guest worker program is not the way to go, that you've really got to seal the borders first. And I think that's where this is going to end up.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider, these people in Washington, I'll just call them these people in Washington ...


DOBBS: I'm talking about the ones that got sent there by accident, mistake, and occasionally by good fortune were elected to office. They know the constituents they represent but they're acting like all Americans are damn fools. It's -- why?

SCHNEIDER: Because they're getting cross-currents on issues like this. Yes, they're getting a lot of sentiment against amnesty and for tougher border controls, but they're also seeing those protesters out there.

And they're getting a lot of angry voices on the other side of this issue that says we don't want to have harsh punitive measures taken against people who are already here. They're hearing it from both sides. And when they hear that, you know what they do? Nothing.

DOBBS: Well, that's a shame because the fact of the matter is, if the only response there is to have 280 million Americans march to demonstrate their interest, we're in a lot of trouble. We may be in a lot of trouble, anyway. We'll see how this goes over the next few months.

Bill Schneider, thank you very much.


DOBBS: Ed Rollins, good to have you here.

ROLLINS: Nice to be here, thank you.

DOBBS: Michael Goodwin, thank you, sir.

Still ahead, Omaha schools adopt a plan that some call de facto segregation. I'm joined by the man who wrote that plan, Nebraska's state senator, Ernie Chambers.

And Colorado's governor, Bill Owens, will be here. He says illegal aliens are transforming the culture and the character of his state. He will also be joining us here next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Americans taking a beating at the gas pump will get an even more severe beating, it appears, in the months ahead. AAA reporting a gallon of gas jumping to $2.74 a gallon on average in the nation, nearly 40 cents more than just a month ago. Prices even higher in some parts of the country.

Drivers are paying more than $3 a gallon in California and parts of the southwest. Prices are expected to continue climbing as the peak summer driving season approaches. And if you're wondering where the money's going, well, we can account for about $400 million of it. Exxon giving Chairman Lee Raymond a $400 million retirement package. That's on top of the $51 million paycheck that he took home last year.

As we reported earlier, Omaha's school system will be split along racial lines into three separate districts, one mostly black, one mostly white, another predominantly Hispanic. The plan, written by Nebraska state Senator Ernie Chambers. He joins us tonight from Omaha.

Senator, good to have you with us.


DOBBS: What -- before we get into the specifics of what you've proposed and what will happen, why is it necessary to change any part of the Omaha school system, about 45,000 students?

CHAMBERS: I'm interested in quality education for children in whatever building they attend school in. Down through the generations and decades since I've been in this world, all of my children went through and graduated from OPS. I attended there myself.

The same problems that I was fighting then exist now because of segregation that was created and is maintained by policies of OPS. So there has to be a way to change this. And the only way that I know of is the plan I suggested.

DOBBS: That plan would give greater local community control over the schools. Apparently the way in which Omaha is organized, you don't have that right now, is that correct?

CHAMBERS: Right. It would just give us what white people have always had and taken for granted.

DOBBS: What's that?

CHAMBERS: The right to determine what is going to happen in the schools where their children are educated. And when you have an administration, which not only does not care for our children, but in some cases is hostile to them, we must bring about a change. And my plan will do that.

DOBBS: You know, the critics of what you're doing are focusing on the fact that there would be a segregation on racial lines across these schools. But you maintain that Omaha is basically segregated right now?

CHAMBERS: Yes, it is, and it always has been. And about five years ago the current superintendent, while there was a busing plan in place and children could go to different schools, he was trying to float a quarter of a billion dollar bond issue. He promised the people of Omaha that if they supported it, he would do away with busing, return to a neighborhood school concept, which guaranteed segregation. So that is the condition that exists now and ideal with the reality as I find it.

So in drawing boundaries, we under this plan would follow lines that have already been drawn by OPS for what they call attendance areas for the high schools. And we will simply call those attendance areas by the term district, so if those attendance areas right now are not violative of the law, they will not become so simply by referring to them as districts.

DOBBS: And those districts will have roughly proportionate amounts of funding and a tax base from which to draw to fund those schools, is that correct?

CHAMBERS: Exactly. There is the OPS, then there are surrounding wealthier suburbs, they will all put into the pot based on their means. The money will be distributed according to the needs of the individual districts.

DOBBS: Now, nationwide -- and lots of states and local school districts don't want to be very honest about these numbers, but the honest numbers are that about a half of all black students in high school in this country are dropping out. About half of all Hispanic students are dropping out. Is that the situation in Omaha, as well?

CHAMBERS: Probably so. And many of those who remain in school are not achieving well. And it has nothing do with genetics.

DOBBS: It has...

CHAMBERS: So let me make this point. As statistics are released by OPS every year, the schools in these communities that I'm concerned about are failing. There has been no appreciable change in the gap.

DOBBS: And that's where I was going, senator. And will you have a way to measure to see the impact? Because, as you said, if you're going to have community control here -- and frankly I think, no matter what the situation around this country, public schools are the great equalizer in the society, and if they're not working this country isn't working.

Are you going to have benchmarks? And I mean not 10-year benchmarks or 20 year because you lose an entire generation in that time, how quickly will you know whether your idea is working or not? CHAMBERS: I cannot predict with exactitude what will happen or how soon. But as soon as people are aware that their input counts, that teachers view their children and the parents as humans and will respect them, there will be a participation and improvement that will not come overnight but very rapidly. And as we close that gap, and this is what the public schools fear, it will show that what we said was true.

There was a deliberate neglect or an intent to keep these children as low achievers, and I don't care what anybody says or what their objection is, I'm going to fight for this because of an experience I had in the lower grades in OPS scarred me for life. And if they had not mistreated me as a child, they might not have to deal with the Senator Ernie Chambers that you see sitting before you today.

DOBBS: Well senator, you don't strike me as being such a bad fellow. And it may turn out. As you say, it's always impossible to forecast, maybe they'll be saying thank you for having a fellow named Ernie Chambers in their Senate. We thank you for being here tonight.

CHAMBERS: Oh, they will. And thanks for the opportunity.

DOBBS: Thank you. And good luck.

Coming up next, Colorado has the fastest growing population of illegal aliens in the country. I will be talking with Colorado's governor, Bill Owens about border security, illegal immigration. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Colorado Governor Bill Owens says his state has the distinction of leading the nation in the growth of its illegal alien population. And in a letter to the editor of "The Wall Street Journal" this week, governor Owens wrote, "Perhaps the most significant transformation of our state's economy, culture and character is the extraordinary growth in the number of illegal aliens." In response to this, the governor is endorsing a new guest worker program.

Governor Bill Owens joins us here tonight.

Good to have you with us, governor.

GOV. BILL OWENS (R), COLORADO: It's good to be back with you Lou.

DOBBS: Well, when you say they're changing the character and the culture of your state, what do you mean?

OWENS: You know, we have school districts in Colorado, which now have a majority of illegal youngsters or kids out of illegal parents. We have two out of every three new people moving to Colorado in the last five years are coming from other countries. There is a way to fix this problem. I am aware and very much concerned with the impact on social services and all of the other impacts of this new wave of immigration.

DOBBS: Right.

OWENS: And that's what I hope we're doing at the federal level.

DOBBS: What's happening at the federal level? You better have more than hope, governor, because it isn't pretty, as you well know.

OWENS: And it's not easy. And I guess the approach that I think we need to do is build that security barrier where it's needed, build a wall to start to protect that border. But we also -- and this is where I differ with you -- we also do need to have a program to match willing workers to the jobs that simply aren't being filled by Coloradans or Americans.

DOBBS: Yes, I'm not -- you know, if you and I can agree on the fact that -- and if you can convince your party's leader, President Bush, that we need to secure our borders four and a half years after September 11 with three million illegal aliens crossing every year and secure our ports before anyone wants to get too excited about amnesty then we've got something to talk about, is that what you're saying?

OWENS: I am saying that. And I'm not in favor of amnesty. I do think we need to secure the border. I think that any program, such as the one I've suggested, which is guest worker, needs to have a border. Otherwise people are going to walk right around that program.

DOBBS: Do you know how many people, governor, when I have said you cannot -- it's a very simple syllogism -- I have said you cannot reform immigration, and I don't care what phony in Washington says otherwise of either party -- you cannot reform immigration law if you can't control immigration and if you can't control immigration, without securing the border.

OWENS: I don't say this all of the time, but I agree with what you've just said. We do need to secure the border. None of these plans will work without a secure border. After we secure the border, you can have a program that allows people to come in legally for certain jobs, which aren't filled by Americans.

DOBBS: Now, when you say illegal aliens -- you have the fastest growing population of illegal aliens in your state. I mean you've got some stout competition around the country right now. Why are they being attracted to Colorado?

OWENS: Well, having Colorado, it's obvious to anybody who's been here why people want to move to Colorado. And I know you had the Nebraska state senator on and you know what their license plate says? What their license plate says is Nebraska, gateway to Colorado. They are coming to Colorado, though, you've had the first wave to Texas and California and Arizona. And the second wave is starting to come more to the interior.

We have a vibrant job market and a lot of opportunity. We need to figure out a way to secure the border and provide a legal way to get the workers we need. DOBBS: And, you know, in one form or another, this problem is being shared in every state in the union, almost every state in the union, the cost in terms of social services, health care, law enforcement, as well. Nearly a third of all incarcerated people in our prisons are illegal aliens.

How are we going to get to that issue? And why in the world are you in Colorado? I mean, you make a pretty good Chamber of Commerce statement about your state. But if you've got that many folks there, you've got a lot of illegal employers. Don't you think we need to hammer those people?

OWENS: I do. I do. I think that we need to...

DOBBS: And, by people I mean don't you think we need to hammer those companies and the people that run them?

OWENS: I think we need to have a legal way to match willing workers to the jobs that we need to fill. I would disagree that a third of our prisons have -- that a third of the prisoners in our prisons...

DOBBS: It's about 30 percent.

OWENS: I never have seen that number. In Colorado, it's five or six or seven percent. But nevertheless, we need to have a system that protects the border, and we also need to have a system, though, that puts willing workers with companies legally to employ them.

DOBBS: And that's why you want the guest worker program?

OWENS: Absolutely.

DOBBS: All right. Well, we've got a host of issues. We thank you for putting forward your solution. I am glad we agree on something. There's so many we don't agree on, governor.

OWENS: That's true. But good to be with you. And enjoyed the discussion and the occasional debate.

DOBBS: You got it. Good to have you here. Come on back. Governor Bill Owens from Colorado.

Still ahead, heroes. Our weekly salute and tribute to our men and women in uniform, serving the nation around the world. Stay with us.


DOBBS: In "Heroes" tonight we recognize and salute Lieutenant Colonel Todd Desgrosseilliers of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Philippa Holland with his story.


PHILIPPA HOLLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tack force Bruno December 2004.

LT. COL. TODD DESGROSSEILLIERS, U.S. MARINE CORPS: We had about 100 or so Marines out there that day. We were clearing behind the rifle companies and we were searching the buildings for arms caches, explosives, things that make the improvised explosive devices out of.

HOLLAND: Lieutenant Colonel Todd Desgrosseilliers heard gunfire. He ran toward the building.

DESGROSSEILLIERS: I heard a lot of chanting. It sounded like about maybe 15 or 20 people up there chanting in unison. They started throwing hand grenades down on top of us, and that's where I got wounded the first time.

HOLLAND: Desgrosseilliers was hit, fragment wounds to his head and face. He was briefly knocked unconscious. But he and his Marines kept up the fight.

DESGROSSEILLIERS: We went in. We moved up the stairs. Immediately, people started coming down after us. So we had a little trade-off, a little gunfight there inside the building. Some hand grenades were thrown back and forth.

HOLLAND: They called for reinforcements.

DESGROSSEILLIERS: It was pretty close quarters fighting. About four or five hours before we could drop some air, drop some 500 pound bombs on the building through the course of that time.

HOLLAND: Just 11 days later Desgrosseilliers found himself back in a similar battle.

DESGROSSEILLIERS: And they were going to start to repopulate the city. We had some -- a couple areas we needed to go back over because we weren't real confident that they had been finished and cleared.

HOLLAND: Again, the Marines ran into insurgents holed up in a building.

DESGROSSEILLIERS: There was an ornamental screens that were made out of wrought iron over the windows. I mean, they had picked a good spot. And it was hard to get to.

HOLLAND: Again, fragment wounds. This time to his legs. Once again, he was briefly knocked unconscious. The fighting went on all day and well after nightfall.

DESGROSSEILLIERS: We dropped 15 bombs from aircraft. We fired four tanks completely empty. I certainly shook some hands at the end of that day.

HOLLAND: Desgrosseilliers returned from Iraq last month. He was awarded both the bronze and silver stars, two of the military's top honors.

Philippa Holland, CNN. (END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: Outstanding colonel.

The results of our poll tonight, 50 percent of you say replacing Donald Rumsfeld will change the outcome of the war in Iraq. Fifty percent disagree.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Have a great weekend. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins right now with Heidi Collins -- Heidi.