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Lou Dobbs Tonight
Senators Move Forward with Immigration Bill for Amnesty; Rumsfeld's Reaction to Withdrawal of Troops; Illegal Alien Lobby Tried and Failed to Organize Rally in Washington; Man Caught Stealing U.S. Military Secrets for China
Aired May 17, 2006 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, has failed to convince Republican congressmen to support the president's call for amnesty for illegal aliens.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Wednesday, May 17th.
Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
President Bush today sent his top political adviser to Capitol Hill in a new attempt to save his so-called comprehensive immigration reform proposals. White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove tried to persuade skeptical congressmen to support the president's amnesty program for millions of illegal aliens, but Rove failed to convince those congressmen to change their positions. They still insist that border security must be the president's and the government's first priority.
Elaine Quijano reports tonight from the White House on Rove's attempt to sell the president's amnesty agenda.
Lisa Sylvester reports on the intense battle in the Senate on immigration reform and border security.
And Juan Carlos Lopez reports on the illegal alien movement's failure to organize a major pro-amnesty rally in Washington today.
We turn first to Elaine Quijano at the White House -- Elaine.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, President Bush was eager to highlight a victory on another issue, tax cuts. So today that's just what he did on the south lawn of the White House.
There was an elaborate signing ceremony. President Bush was surrounded by Republicans, and there was no hint, really, of the deep division within the GOP over the issue of illegal immigration. But on Capitol Hill, the president's top political strategist, as you mentioned, Karl Rove, met behind closed doors with House Republicans.
After that 30-minute meeting, Rove described the House GOP members as open and optimistic, he said, to the administration's views. Here is how White House Press Secretary Tony Snow characterized the meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was respectful. People were obviously having exchanges of views on things, but I also think what members of the House appreciate is that the president said, OK, this is where I stand. It gives people a basis from which to proceed, because the House and Senate, provided the Senate does pass a bill, are going to have to sit down and reconcile their difference. The president can play a very important role on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUIJANO: But a very different view from some House Republicans, who say that meeting did nothing to change their views. Representative Steve King of Iowa said that Rove said pretty much the same things the White House has said before. He said he did not think Rove swayed any conservatives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: What's happened is that there's this confusion of the subject matter. And the argument that we need to develop a guest worker plan, but it's based upon a myriad of hypotheticals, then the hypotheticals are all based upon the assumption that there's going to be enforcement. There's not been enforcement in the last 20 years. The promise of enforcement is not the foundation on which to build a guest worker plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUIJANO: And tomorrow President Bush continues his push to sell his immigration ideas, including what he announced on Monday, sending thousands of National Guard troops to the border. He'll be traveling to the border town of Yuma, Arizona, to do that -- Lou.
DOBBS: And how long will he be in Yuma, Arizona, tomorrow, Elaine?
QUIJANO: We're not sure exactly how long, but obviously he wants to show that in fact he is on the front lines and able to understand as a former governor of a border state the problems that exist within these communities that are trying to deal with this problem of illegal immigration. But as we heard from some of these House Republicans, they are having a very difficult battle in changing minds.
DOBBS: Yes, and all 435 up for election while those in the Senate, of course the White House, are not. The schedule I'd heard, Elaine, is that the president would be in Yuma, Arizona, for about two hours to accomplish all of that. Is that what you are hearing?
QUIJANO: Yes. It's likely that it will be, in fact, a shorter period of time, although I have to tell you, we don't have the exact time frame yet on what he'll be doing and where.
DOBBS: Elaine, thank you very much. Elaine Quijano from the White House.
The White House appears to be having more success in convincing the Senate to support the president's amnesty agenda. A lot more success.
Senators, in fact, today moved forward with an immigration bill that would give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. But senators also voted to extend a border fence along our southern border.
Lisa Sylvester now reports on the immigration battle within the Senate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The amendment is not agreed to.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Senate rejected an amendment by a 33-66 vote that would have stripped amnesty provisions from the immigration reform bill. But not before a vigorous debate with much wrangling over the word "amnesty".
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The definition of "amnesty" is forgiveness. Forgiveness. We are not forgiving anything.
SEN. DAVID VITTER (R), LOUISIANA: I don't know of any single aspect of this bill before us on the floor of the Senate that has Americans more concerned than these amnesty provisions.
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: I find it astounding, astounding, that my colleagues, who are -- who are straight-faced would stand up and talk about amnesty.
SYLVESTER: Amnesty proponents prefer the euphemism "earned legalization". Illegal aliens will have to pay a fine of a couple thousand dollars, pay back taxes and study English. But those opposing amnesty point out that illegal aliens do not have to pay taxes for the entire time they've been here, only for a certain number of years. And they don't have to prove they learned English, only enroll in an English class.
And the fine?
ROSEMARY JENKS, NUMBERSUSA: This is not a penalty. Paying a $1,000 fine is not a penalty. You know, people pay more than $1,000 to become legal residents the legal way. You can drive a truck through the loopholes in this bill.
SYLVESTER: On the enforcement side, senators overwhelming voted to build 370 miles of fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the southern border.
Senator Jeff Sessions sponsored the amendment.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: To send the message to the world that our border is not open. Our border is closed. SYLVESTER: The Senate also passed a provision that would prohibit felons and those with three misdemeanors or more from being eligible for citizenship, with an exception carved out for humanitarian waivers.
SYLVESTER: Those on both sides of this issue are keeping a very close eye on the amendment vote margin. It will take 60 senators to vote for cloture to end the debate and pass the immigration reform plan, including these amnesty provisions. And if proponents are not able to reach that number of 60, then the discussion will carry over to after the Memorial Day recess, and then it will be a lot harder to get this comprehensive bill through -- Lou.
DOBBS: Difficulty, perhaps, but not certainly insurmountable. Has the Senate leadership, has anyone within the Senate explained why there is this urgency to push through the amnesty provisions rather than deal with the issue of border security four and a half years after September 11th, Lisa?
SYLVESTER: That's a very good question, Lou. There's not a whole lot of coming from the Senate why they have to get it through so quickly and why they have to do it as what they call this comprehensive measure. But we know it's something that the president prefers, and we also know that there's an election coming up, and that as it gets through the summer months, it's going to be a lot harder for the Senate Democrats and the pro-business Republicans to try to get this amnesty in -- Lou.
DOBBS: Absolutely, Lisa. It's going to also be far more difficult as the American public learns more and more the facts of this debate, the pertinent facts on illegal immigration and the absolute abdication of responsibility by this government to provide for the safety of the American people. A case in point.
Lisa, thank you very much.
Lisa Sylvester from Washington.
A case in point is new evidence that the Senate's immigration bill could lead to what is nothing less than a massive increase in the population of this country, and change, in fact, the character of the nation itself. The Heritage Foundation saying that the legislation as it is now laid out would not allow 10, 11 or 12 million illegal aliens to be given amnesty, but, rather, would lay the basis that would allow 103 million people to legally enter this country over the next 20 years.
That number, of course, excludes millions of illegal aliens. But the report says the number could actually be significantly higher, possibly as high as 193 million legal immigrants over the next two decades.
The Heritage Foundation report says that within the 20 years, the character -- "... the character of the nation would differ dramatically from what exists today." All those legal immigrants would be permanent residents of the country with a right to become citizens and to vote in our elections. Increasing at the high end of that estimate the population of this country by two-thirds in two decades.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today said the deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops to our southern border would not affect the Guard's ability to perform other missions. The defense secretary gave testimony to two Senate committees today, the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Rumsfeld's comments about the National Guard were supported by the Guard's top officer, General Steven Blum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. STEVEN BLUM, NATIONAL GUARD BUREAU: I have made a commitment to every governor that they will have sufficient forces left in their state to deal with their normal weather patterns and the ravages of Mother Nature or a terrorist attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Just to give you some sense of the burden that is already placed upon our National Guard, it is heavily committed overseas -- not just in Iraq and Afghanistan. Seventy-one thousand of our National Guard troops are in service and deployed in 40 -- 40 countries around the world. Nearly half of those troops are in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo, with many smaller deployments in the other parts of the world.
New doubts tonight that significant numbers of our troops will be withdrawn from Iraq this year. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld today said he can't promise, as he put it, that there will be large-scale troop withdrawals by the end of this year. Rumsfeld's comments appear to contradict reports that as many as 30,000 of our troops could be leaving Iraq this year.
Jamie McIntyre has the report from the Pentagon.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In Iraq, this was considered a good day. Only two Iraqis were killed and nine wounded in three roadside bombs and two drive-by shootings, while on Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Peter Pace faced increasingly skeptical members of Congress who want, but aren't getting, answers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Secretary, the American people want to know when our forces currently in harm's way in Iraq are going to be out of harm's way, redeployed to a safe location outside of Iraq. And you've said, no, it won't happen this year.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I did not. You're not listening carefully. I did not say it will not happen this year. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, speak clearly, and I will listen carefully.
RUMSFELD: I did not say it will not happen this year. I said I hoped it would happen this year, but I can't promise it.
MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld cited what he called truly significant progress in turning over greater responsibility and territory to the Iraqis, but still not enough progress to leave the Iraqis in charge.
GEN. PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Sir, there are 14 of the 18 provinces right now that are essentially calm, secure.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: General, in those 14, are they any one of them that the U.S. forces can withdraw completely in the next three months?
PACE: No, sir.
MCINTYRE: That answer is wearing thin with some lawmakers, especially critics like Representative John Murtha, who is renewing his call for the U.S. to redeploy out of Iraq.
REP. JOHN MURTHA (R), PENNSYLVANIA: It's not going to be any better. It's going to be the same. It's going to be the same six months from now as it was six months ago. It's going to be even worse. So -- and our troops are the ones paying the price for it, and the Iraqis have got to settle it themselves.
MCINTYRE: Since he first called for the redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq six months ago, Representative Murtha says some 370 additional American lives have been lost and that the number of violent incidents jumped from about 550 to 900 a week. Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says that with the new permanent government about to take power, Iraq is entering what he called a new, hopeful phase in what has been a long and difficult journey -- Lou.
DOBBS: And when does that phase begin?
MCINTYRE: The new hopeful phase? It's supposedly right when the new government takes place. But, of course, the question about those 30,000 troops that could be withdrawn from Iraq, it all depends on how things go. And so far, things have not been going as well as the Pentagon hoped in Iraq, and that's an understatement.
DOBBS: Absolutely. Thank you very much, Jamie.
Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.
Another of our soldiers has been killed in Iraq. The soldier died of wounds he received in a roadside bomb explosion earlier this month. 2,449 of our troops have now been killed in Iraq, 18,088 other troops wounded. Of those, 8,302 so seriously wounded they could not return to duty. Still ahead here, the illegal alien lobby is trying and has failed to organize a huge rally in Washington today. That demonstration, of course, in support of amnesty for illegal aliens. We'll have that live report.
Also, illegal immigration has a massive impact on public education in this country, no matter how much some elected officials want to deny that link. We'll have a special report for you tonight from Los Angeles.
And as the controversy over the government's domestic spying program is escalating, I'll be talking with a former director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Bobby Inman.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: In Washington tonight, illegal aliens and their supporters again trying to pressure Congress into granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens in this country. The amnesty supporters are holding a demonstration and rally on the National Mall. Although the numbers in this demonstration, far less and far fewer than had been both projected and expected.
Juan Carlos Lopez reports -- Juan.
JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ, CNN EN ESPANOL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, they had expected tens of thousands. We've only seen hundreds. There was a march program from the Mall to the Capitol. That was canceled.
Senator Ted Kennedy canceled. Only Congressman Luis Gutierrez from Illinois gave a speech here at this rally.
Rain was a factor. And organizers say that confusion over (INAUDIBLE) moved to Wednesday, the 17th.
They're also saying that it was a good day for them. They were able to lobby, to visit Congress, and are preparing for their next step. Starting July 1st, they want to help register at least one million new voters to have an impact on the November elections -- Lou.
DOBBS: Juan, thank you very much.
Juan Carlos Lopez reporting from the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight as we look at demonstrations and protests. Do you believe that our senators and congressmen are more concerned with meeting the demands of illegal aliens marching in our streets than they are with their own constituents?
Cast your vote, if you will, yes or no, at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results coming up here later in the broadcast. Last night on "THE SITUATION ROOM," I was talking with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on the impact of illegal immigration on our public schools. The mayor said that illegal aliens are not part of the problems of our failing schools. We decided to take a look today.
Casey Wian has the report.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): There's no doubt Los Angeles public schools are in trouble.
MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D), LOS ANGELES: I would not agree that it's because of the undocumented.
WIAN: A Harvard study last year found more than 60 percent of Latino students here failed to graduate high school, 43 percent of Los Angeles Unified School District students don't even speak English. Statewide, 1.7 million California schoolchildren, about one in four, are English-language learners, and as a result, less likely to succeed in school.
This teacher spoke Monday at a San Bernardino City Council meeting focusing on illegal immigration.
DIANNE DENNIS, TEACHER: I work at a school that is 96 percent Hispanic. Many of those student are illegals. It's difficult, because they are not taught any respect for our country. They don't even know what country they belong to.
WIAN: Perhaps it's no coincidence a survey found last month Californians believe the two biggest problems facing state government are immigration and education. Even so, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa refuses to acknowledge the connection.
DOBBS: Your schools are overcrowded. They are underfunded. You're in the lowest -- the lowest ranking in terms of funding of education. Education in California statewide is a disaster, but particularly so of southern California.
Do you disagree with that?
VILLARAIGOSA: I'll say this: some of what you've described is very accurate, but it's not because of the undocumented. In fact, many of the second-generation Americans in our urban schools are also failing.
WIAN: He's right about the fact that the overwhelming majority of English-language learners in California schools are U.S. citizens. But he's ignoring the fact that the overwhelming majority are the children of immigrants, including illegal aliens. It's a point emphasized by the mass walkout of 26,000 California school students in March, a protest in favor of unconditional amnesty for illegal aliens.
During the past two decades, the number of non-English-speaking students in California schools has grown six times faster than the overall school population.
WIAN: The Public Policy Institute of California says the large numbers of English learners in public schools means that a failure of this program will haunt the state, its economy, and its governance processes for generations -- Lou.
DOBBS: And to be clear, Mayor Villaraigosa is working very hard. There is no mayor in the country, in my judgment, who is facing more difficult challenges than Villaraigosa in Los Angeles. But as you talk about the fact that non-English-speaking students have risen six times faster than the student body itself, the fact is that we are -- we are encountering state bureaucracies -- it's not just federal bureaucracies, Casey, is it -- that are not being straightforward and honest with the people they are serving. The state -- the state Department of Education there in particular.
WIAN: Absolutely. The graduation rates that are published by the states are refuted by that Harvard Study we mentioned in our report.
You also mentioned Mayor Villaraigosa and the challenge that he faces. I should point out that he is trying to take over operation of the Los Angeles Unified School District. He's trying to get permission to do that from the state.
What's scary to a lot of folks, though, is the man who's leading his challenge is a former lawyer from MALDEF, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and he spent his entire career basically fighting for expanded rights for illegal aliens -- Lou.
DOBBS: Right. And this is a challenge that so many of the senators right now are ignoring in -- in Washington. The facts that they will not either learn or they will simply set aside for the convenience of a philosophy or an outcome legislatively is breathtaking. But if someone does not assert, and soon, of what is happening to our communities across the country, this -- and I'm not talking just on the issue of illegal immigration, but in public education, we're going to fail another generation of Americans. And it's the great equalizer in our society, and it just can't happen.
Casey, thank you very much for that report, as always.
DOBBS: Casey Wian from Los Angeles.
Coming up next here, illegal aliens are stealing Americans' identities to find work in this country. You'll be surprised to learn what your federal government is doing to stop it. Or maybe not. A special report coming up, nonetheless.
And a spy caught trying to send U.S. military equipment to communist China. He worked for an American arms maker. We'll have that story. And I'll be talking with Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who you may remember confronted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Stay with us for that and a great deal more.
DOBBS: The so-called lobbying reform bill is stalled on Capitol Hill right now, but it's having an effect. Lobbyists say they are sick and tired of being accused of trying to buy congressmen. So they will stop making campaign donations, by golly.
One lobbyist who stopped writing checks is particularly angry with House Speaker Dennis Hastert. He says Hastert asked him for a $2,500 contribution after he told House members to minimize their contacts with lobbyists.
Well, President Bush laid out guidelines for his so-called comprehensive immigration reform Monday night, but what he says now is a little different than what he was saying just two years ago, when he was getting some steam up behind the idea.
Back in 2004, President Bush said illegal aliens who seek American citizenship "... should be allowed to apply in the normal way." The normal way, of course, is to apply for documents at the American embassy in the country of origin. Now President Bush says illegal aliens should be able to apply for citizenship here, which is not even close to the normal way.
Two years ago, President Bush said he opposed giving illegal aliens a "automatic pathway to citizenship," but Monday he laid out just such a path, pay a fine, learn English, wait in line, or at least go to English class. And the line starts here, not back home, in front of that American embassy or consulate.
Well, times do change.
Take a look now at some of your thoughts.
Larry in Ohio wrote in to say, "I'm tired of hearing the comments about who's going to pick our tomatoes or grapes. I want to know who's going to enforce our laws."
And Manuel in Arizona, "Lou, please help me understand this. The president's plan on immigration is to 'Prove to me that you've been breaking our laws for two, five years, et cetera, and I will reward you with citizenship.' As always, a great plan."
And Kenneth in South Carolina, "Lou, I thought our armies are supposed to defend America. So far, we have defended every country in the world but our own. It is time for action against crimes committed against America."
And Bert in California, "Dear Lou, When they talk of giving amnesty to the illegals and giving our jobs away with a guest worker program, are they really also saying they're planning to pardon the illegals on the crimes of fraud and identity theft?"
Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. We'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast.
Coming up next, new evidence that communist China is intent on stealing this nation's most sensitive military technology. That special report.
And also, former NSA director Bobby Inman will be my guest to talk about what is the Bush administration doing with all of those telephone numbers? We'll be talking about domestic surveillance.
And President Bush still can't persuade congressional leaders to back his amnesty plans, even after Monday's address to the nation. Three of the country's most distinguished political analysts join me here.
Please stay with us.
DOBBS: Tonight, a Taiwanese man faces prison for spying for communist China. He was trying to buy advanced military technology hardware and ship it to communist China. Amazingly, the man worked for a major American arms maker.
Jeanne Meserve reports.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An AGM-129, an advanced cruise missile with stealth technology and the capability to carry nuclear weapons, just one of the military technologies U.S. officials say Ko Suen Moo (ph) tried to purchase and export to mainland China. U.S. officials said he also tried to obtain an f-16 aircraft engine, 70 Blackhawk helicopter engines and as well as AIM 120 air-to-air missiles.
JULIE MYERS, IMM. & CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: The persistence of this individual and the particular items that he was trying to obtain are of great concern.
MESERVE: According to court documents he was caught in a sting operation. Wednesday in Florida, he pled guilty to being a Chinese agent, trying to export the f-16 engine without a license to China, and offering a $500,000 bribe to try to get out of jail.
Although the U.S. government is calling Moo a covert agent, Moo's lawyer says he was not a spy, just a businessman. U.S. officials say this is not an isolated case, as China strengthens and modernizes its military.
PETER BROOKES, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Why spend the money on research and development, when you can steal it?
MESERVE (on camera): That simple? BROOKES: That simple.
MESERVE: The director of the FBI said the agency is redirecting resources to fight the theft of military technology.
ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: Whether it be China or other countries, the theft of our secrets leaves us more vulnerable and consequently it's a substantial concern to us.
MESERVE: Moo worked for Lockheed Martin for ten years in Taiwan, where he lives, raising concerns that he might have compromised Taiwan's secrets, too. Moo's lawyer says there is no evidence of that. Lou, back to you.
DOBBS: Thank you very much. Jeanne Meserve.
Today's case only the tip of the iceberg, as they say. The FBI saying there could be as many as 3,500 false-front companies in the United States conducting espionage on the behalf of communist China.
The Senate Intelligence Committee today heard closed-door testimony on the NSA's secret wiretap program. This is the first time the administration has agreed to hold a closed door briefing on the issue after five months of refusing congressional requests. Lieutenant General Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, conducted today's hearing and the administration hopes his testimony will improve the chances for Senate confirmation for General Michael Hayden as CIA director. Hayden, the architect of the NSA's surveillance program during his tenure as the NSA director.
The Senate begins confirmation hearings on the Hayden nomination tomorrow.
I'm joined now by a man who led the NSA as well, working hard to create congressional oversight of our intelligence agencies. Admiral Bobby Inman served as national director of the NSA and as deputy director of Central Intelligence. It's good to have you with us.
Let's start with the nomination of Michael Hayden. Is he the right man for the job in your estimation?
BOBBY INMAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, NSA: He's a good man. He is a man of the law. He's learned to manage civilians at NSA, and, of course, that's what he's primarily going to be doing at the CIA. I think he will focus on trying to improve the professionalism, career development for the people at CIA. They need that.
DOBBS: They -- the requirements and the needs are vast, as you know perhaps better than any. But the idea that a man who put together the warrantless wiretap program, of course, on the orders of the president, is causing great consternation and creating rising opposition to his nomination. What do you think is the appropriate perspective on that role?
INMAN: When I helped get the FISA court created in 1978 --
DOBBS: And you and I both know that a lot of people don't realize that the history is -- of the country's leading -- one of its leading intelligence officers, and executives, playing such an instrumental part in really working for that oversight.
INMAN: Well, I wanted to get a process where you didn't have to deal with politics back and forth or with the administrations change, questions of whether or not you were trying to trap the president. And I was persuaded that if you could create a court, where you could apply, have the court grant authority and then oversee what you did, the intelligence agencies were better off, and the country ought to be reassured.
DOBBS: Why, admiral, then now would not that be used?
INMAN: My fault. In '78, I did not envision a world where individuals would come in on visas, travel, train, move money, and conduct terrorist attacks. I never thought of it. And so I didn't design a process designed to do it. Also, I didn't contemplate in 1978 how fast we were going to have a shift from analog to digital.
DOBBS: It's good of you to take such responsibility, but a few folks have worked there since -- in the interim. And FISA, it would be no impediment to what the government is doing?
INMAN: You can design a change. There doesn't need to be a change in the law. The challenge here, I'm comfortable that Mike Hayden proposed considering changing the law. The vice president feels very strongly that it's not necessary, that the inherent powers of the president. In fairness to him, when he was chief of staff to President Ford, the president signed the warrants authorizing the surveillance, so he doesn't see the need.
I'm not a constitutional lawyer. I don't want to get into the question of whether the president has the authority. But what I do believe, strongly, is that the intelligence agencies are better off in performing what the country needs them to do, if clearly they are operating under clearly defined laws and there's court oversight.
DOBBS: And congressional oversight.
INMAN: And congressional oversight, yes.
DOBBS: As the saying goes, amen, brother. The co-equal branch of government is pretty special to all of us.
Before we let you go, the issue of the NSA databank, The "USA Today" report. We've had disavowals from two of the telecommunications companies, Verizon and BellSouth, saying that they had nothing to do with it. What's your reaction?
INMAN: Lou, the direct answer is I don't believe the database exists. I started to think, what's the purpose of it? NSA has no access to drivers license information, financial information. The things if you are trying to do an analytical job. They are collectors. What they need to know are telephone numbers from which calls are being made to foreign countries, where you might expect a return call. I don't believe such a database exists. The country's been whipped into great excitement, and candidly, I think this is going to turn out to for "USA Today" to be their version of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
DOBBS: You just put the burden on me to make sure we get "USA Today"'s response by tomorrow. We thank you very much for giving us your time and your thoughts. Admiral Bobby Inman.
Thank you very much.
Still ahead here, President Bush's prime-time speech has failed to sway House lawmakers on the issue of illegal amnesty. I'll be joined by three of the country's best political analysts.
And Ray McGovern, the former CIA analyst who confronted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the Iraq war intelligence and weapons of mass destruction. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern is urging the Senate to reject General Hayden's nomination to lead the CIA. He says Hayden's role in carrying out the NSA warrantless wiretap program makes him the wrong man for the job.
Ray McGovern is the former CIA official, you may recall, who confronted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during one of the defense secretary's speeches, that in Atlanta, two weeks ago. He accused Rumsfeld of lying about pre-war intelligence on Iraq.
Ray McGovern joins us here tonight.
Good to have you with us.
RAY MCGOVERN, FORMER CIA ANALYST: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: Let me ask you, first, we just heard a highly respected, in my opinion, one of the finest public servants ever, certainly in intelligence and in the military, Admiral Bobby Inman, say he thinks that Hayden is qualified and the right man for this job.
MCGOVERN: Well, it depends on what you mean by qualified. Clearly he's qualified as far as Vice President Cheney and Rumsfeld are concerned.
DOBBS: Well, I wasn't talking about his resume. I am talking about the man for the job.
MCGOVERN: Yes, well, I don't think he's qualified because he made one big error. He -- like me when I was an Army office officer, like Bobby when he was an admiral, we took an oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States. That means we were sworn to protect the law, and also we were taught that we were never able or willing or we should never -- we should never obey an illegal order, OK?
Now, General Hayden was -- had a terrific reputation at NSA. Largely because he focused on what they call the 11th commandment up there, thou shalt not eavesdrop on Americans. After 9/11, as we all know, everything changed. We have a new paradigm, as they say, not the U.S. constitution, but the paradigm of...
DOBBS: I get nervous when people start talking about paradigms.
MCGOVERN: OK. Now the paradigm now is when the president or the vice president says we have to do something and it's sort of not really according to the law, we go ahead and do it anyway. And he said, yes, and if we want a person as the head of the CIA who was a yes man and says yes whether it's legal or illegal, I think that disqualifies him.
DOBBS: You also heard, Ray, the admiral take considerable responsibility because of his role in setting up the FISA courts to create the oversight, which I think is remarkable, the role that he played in that, as the head of one of the major, if not the largest, certainly most technology-intensive spy agencies.
The idea that we did not have the ability to adapt, would you be comfortable had we, this president, simply gone to Congress and said, this is what we're going to do, and we're going to do it in a totally responsible way?
MCGOVERN: That's the deep, dark secret. This president did go to Congress. Gonzales admitted this. They took soundings, you know, and the reaction they got was, it's a no-go. Congress would never permit this.
Bottom line, this must have been such a mammoth, intrusive effort that even in the post-9/11 era, when the Patriot Act sort of whisks through, they still couldn't get Congress to approve that. And so I think that's proof positive that they decided to go along anyway. Why? Because they wanted to do this, and it didn't matter about what the law said.
DOBBS: So, you maintain, as do many others, that the law should have been changed and that would have been the direct and straightforward solution?
MCGOVERN: It would have been a piece of cake. Unless, you know...
DOBBS: Go ahead.
MCGOVERN: No, I was saying, it would have been a piece of cake if the law, which already allows the president to do whatever he wants for 72 hours. See, that law was constructed to be very flexible to our the civil liberties but also to give the executive the authorities he needs. So if there was to be a modification of that law and it was reasonable, it could have been done.
DOBBS: You've been criticized, not only for opposing the war in Iraq, but criticized for saying that you believe that the United States went to war in Iraq for oil, Israel and logistics. You've been criticized for being anti-semitic for throwing Israel in there.
MCGOVERN: Yes, one is not supposed to mention Israel in polite conversations, but I think anyone who denies that Israel is a main factor in this is really out of touch with reality. The oil and the logistical base, by which I mean the permanent military bases, now they are called enduring bases, OK, that's pretty much the same thing, because that's a key part of the world where the oil is.
Now, the Israeli factor can be argued either may. It seems to me that Scowcroft was very close to it when he said that Ariel Sharon has our president sort of wrapped around his little finger. That scares me to death because General Scowcroft knows whereof he speaks.
But there is another school of thought that says the U.S. is kind of using Israel to achieve politically here what it wants to do anyway in the Middle East.
DOBBS: The idea that the United States would go to war for oil -- in its strategic interests, one could argue it could be considered the coarsest real politic, because American lives are being lost there. Is there an exit strategy that you think would make great sense?
MCGOVERN: From Iraq.
MCGOVERN: Sure. Two basic choices, stay the course or withdraw. Stay the course, we know what that is. That's called Vietnam. There will be more violence next month, next year, and it will go up. And that's a non-starter. Withdraw, what we need to do is start talking.
Why don't we talk to people? Why don't we talk to the resistance? Why don't we disavow any intention to have permanent military bases? Why don't we disavow any intention to have permanent rights or special rights to the oil? Once we did those, then we could have the Europeans and others come in behind us and help us get out with some pressure of grace.
DOBBS: No concern for the fact that Iran, a principal supporter of al Qaeda and the insurgency in Iraq, wants to wipe Israel from the face of the earth?
MCGOVERN: A great concern there, but, you know, he said that he was going to bury the U.S. It doesn't have to do with rhetoric. It has to do capabilities. And if Ahmadinejad tried to do anything like that, Israel would wipe Iran off the face of the earth, because they have the capability.
DOBBS: I fear capabilities are not the only part of this equation that can be determined because the United States, a nation of 300 million with the most advanced technology and the finest military in the world, is now in Iraq for more than three years, losing lives to an insurgency that was supposed to be, according to the secretary of defense, about 10,000 dead-enders, bitter-enders, and dead-enders -- I think as the defense secretary put it.
All right. Ray, please come back soon. We can have more discussion. Appreciate it.
MCGOVERN: Thanks, Lou. Appreciate it.
DOBBS: Thank you sir.
A reminder now to vote in our poll. The question is do you believe our senators and congressman are more concerned with meeting the demands of the illegal aliens marching in our streets than they are with their own constituents? Yes or no. Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results coming up here in just a few minutes.
Up next, three of the country's best political analysts join us with their thoughts on the chances of immigration reform, border security, finding a change of direction, if you will, for the increasing number of Americans being surveyed who say this country is moving in the wrong direction. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf, tell us all about it.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Lou.
Immigration and arm twisting, President Bush sends Karl Rove to the Hill to help unite a divided GOP. Does Karl Rove have any magic?
Plus, Mary Cheney is coming out. She is the vice president's daughter and one of his closest advisers. She is now breaking ranks with the Bush Cheney administration. A behind the scenes look at her family, the White House. Mary Cheney is here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
Also, he calls himself a recovering politician. Al Gore is now back in the spotlight. He's in Washington tonight, amid new questions about his political future. Is he considering another run for the White House?
And "Da Vinci Code" strategy, religious groups capitalizing from the controversial film by spreading the gospel instead of boycotting the movie. All that, Lou, coming up right at the top of the hour.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Wolf.
Despite his record disapproval ratings, the president is demanding comprehensive immigration reform. Will Congress deliver? Joining me now, Ed Rollins, former White House political director under President Reagan, Michael Goodwin, "New York Daily News" columnist, Miguel Perez, syndicated columnist with "The Record" in New Jersey. Good to have you all here.
This is quite a situation. Miguel, what did you think of the president's performance? MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I was happy with it.
DOBBS: You were?
PEREZ: I thought that finally the guy took a stand on immigration. I thought he'd been walking the fence for years trying to play to both sides. This time he was more definitive. He actually said what I expected him to say for years, which is, "Look, you know, we have to deal with -- we have to find some way to rationally legalize the people who are already here, the illegal immigrants who are already here." He had not said that, he had said always, "I'm opposed to amnesty, I'm opposed to amnesty." This time he actually said there was a path.
DOBBS: Well as we reported here, he actually two years ago said that he would not support amnesty, and he would not support a pathway to citizenship for those who had broken the laws. Are you aghast at this change of direction, Michael?
MICHAEL GOODWIN, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Not really. I think the president is in trouble, and I think what's really interesting about it is I don't think his speech moved the needle at all.
And I think that's a fascinating moment, when the president of the United States gives a prime-time address and really there's no impact from it. And clearly the Senate was going to do its voting anyway. The president was trying to create some momentum. Karl Rove, as you reported, went to House Republicans today, apparently was not well received, trying to push this measure.
So I think it's kind of amazing that the president of the United States is so weak, even among his own party, that he can't get something that he has deemed so vital. I mean, a prime-time address is a very big deal for a president.
DOBBS: It reminds me of Social Security. It reminds me of so many failed initiatives. Why is there such a disconnect? Let's move to this one and get your judgment, Ed. Why is there such a disconnect?
ED ROLLINS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: He took sides in this battle and no offense to your point of view, but the battle is between the House Republicans and the Senate.
And he clearly took the Senate's side. And the house Republicans are the ones that are entrenched and they are the ones that first put something forward. There's no compromising from their perspective and he seemed to know all the branches from the Senate side. And the House Republicans are the ones that are entrenched, they're the ones who first put something forward.
There's no compromising from their perspective, and equally as important that they've seen no olive branches from the Senate side. The House is the ones who are very concerned about the elections this year. So I don't think there's any budging. I think the reality is as long as the majority of the majority rules in play, which means that the speaker doesn't bring anything up unless there's a majority of Republicans support it, there's not going to be any action this year and that may be a positive thing.
The more important thing that I think got exposed here is we do need to seal the border, as we all talk about that. We need to fund it. It can't be rhetoric. It can't be the national guards men going there for two weeks. We have to ask the border patrol what do they need to basically do the job and what it's going to cost?
DOBBS: It's interesting, apparently the White House didn't even ask the border state governors what they needed in regard to the National Guard. This is -- this smacks of such, if not desperation, expediency. And the suggestion that comprehensive immigration reform has to be passed by this Senate by Memorial Day. I mean...
PEREZ: But if it doesn't happen, what do we do? What are we saying, then? Are we saying basically, "Look, we're going to just sit around and keep the 12 million people, who we don't know who they are. We don't know where they live." And then the argument, we're not going to deport them. It's illogical to deport them. OK, so what the argument is then is that we are going to starve them out of the country. I wouldn't do that to an animal.
GOODWIN: I think there is an alternative, though. I think enforcement. The president has lots of authority to already do lots of enforcement. If he were to do that, I think -- and if the government really got serious about sealing the border, then I think this country would be ready for a conversation about the people who are already here. I think trying to do them together has become the problem.
ROLLINS: That's the point that's critical. To try and rush legislation of this magnitude through in 90 days means it's going to fail. I would argue you can get one piece of it and you can come back in the next year or two and get the remaining piece, but you're not going to basically convince the public going out and making speeches to buy the whole thing.
DOBBS: Isn't there something completely and utterly idiotic about attaching urgency to immigration reform when -- when this government has been ignoring the laws that are on the books? But...
PEREZ: ... But isn't national security a factor now? And if we're so concerned about national security, don't we want to know? Don't we want to give these people an incentive to come out of the shadow immediately so we know who they are?
DOBBS: Here's the other part of that irrationality to me in this whole debate in Washington, particularly, the American people have got this well figured out.
But the idea that there is greater urgency to immigration reform, because there are 12 million people, or whatever the number is no one really knows what the number is, could be as high as 20, who knows? But that there is some great urgency to get immigration reform for national security purposes. But there's no urgency to get the borders secured four and a half years after September 11th?
PEREZ: I think we need to get the border secured immediately. But I think we also have to deal with -- the president said, the president said we have to deal with both or there won't be anything. We have to have comprehensive immigration reform and that includes dealing with the people who are already here. Again, we are so worried about national security, let's deal with the people who we don't know who they are. We're so worried about terrorists.
GOODWIN: But I think the public is basically for that. The public is for securing the borders and for some path to legalization. I think it's a question of timing and order. If you do the borders first, then I think it's a whole different conversation about legalization.
ROLLINS: There's also a northern border. I mean, we should not -- if we're going to secure the borders and make this a national security issue, you got basically do both sides.
DOBBS: And both sides. The fact is if the Mexican government cooperated as the Canadian government does with those borders, this would be a far simpler resolution. Miguel?
PEREZ: The people who are coming in here and violating their visas.
DOBBS: Everybody's covered. We got the northern border, we got the visa overstays. We're completely fair and balanced here tonight. Miguel, thank you very much. Michael, thank you. Ed, thank you.
Still ahead here, the results of our poll, more of your thoughts. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The results of our poll, 96 percent of you say our senators and congressmen are more concerned with meeting the demands of illegal aliens marching in our streets than with their own constituents.
Taking a look at some more of your thoughts. Sam in Pennsylvania saying: Lou, President Bush assured Vicente Fox that he was not militarizing the border as Mexico is his friend. I don't know about you, but my friends don't come over uninvited, then never leave.
And Kevin in California: Political pundits say that if an amnesty does not pass, the American people will blame the Republicans. They've got it all wrong, Lou. We don't blame them; we'll thank them.
And Jack in Arizona: Lou, what good will the troops on the border do if they can't arrest, detain or apprehend illegal aliens? What do you they do, step aside and say, "Welcome to the United States?"
And Dave in California: Lou, if Representative Gutierrez can't speak for the Mexican government, how in the hell can he speak for millions of Mexicans illegally in this country? And Judy in Massachusetts: I just visited the White House Web site and had the option of English or Spanish. Now isn't that special?
Send us your thoughts to LouDobbs.com. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my book "Exporting America" and copy of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence as well.
And I want to apologize to our friends at "Roll Call." We reported a story earlier on about those unhappy Capitol Hill lobbyists withholding their campaign donations and I failed to credit the hard- working reporters at "Roll Call" and I apologize again to them and to you.
Thanks for being with us tonight. For all of us here, thanks for watching. Good night from New York, "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins right now with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?
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