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Lou Dobbs Tonight
Senate Intelligence Committee Releases Report Accusing Bush Administration of Misleading Public on Saddam's Links to Al Qaeda; Radical Islamist Terrorists Killed Two More Troops in Kabul; New Study Says U.S. Senate Will Decimate This Nation's Technology Workforce With Immigration Reform Legislation; National security Number One Issue in Election Battle
Aired September 08, 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, scathing new criticism of prewar intelligence on Iraq, and the way in which it was used by the Bush White House. U.S. senators saying Saddam Hussein had absolutely no links whatsoever with al Qaeda. We'll have complete coverage of the controversy. Three of the country's top political analysts join us here.
And an illegal alien trying to avoid deportation to Mexico, once again, still inside a Chicago church after more than three weeks, insisting that she has a right to remain in this country, using her son as a human shield.
The standoff could last weeks, possibly months, more. We'll have that special report, here, tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Friday, September 8. Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
The Senate Intelligence Committee today blasted one of the Bush administration's principal justifications for going to war in Iraq. The committee said White House assertions that Saddam Hussein had link with al Qaeda were simply wrong. The White House and Republicans, however, insist the Intelligence Committee report contains no new information at all.
President Bush is making a determined new effort to convince Americans his policies are helping defeat radical Islamist terrorists. Andrea Koppel reports from Capitol Hill on this blistering new reports on the failures of prewar intelligence.
Kathleen Koch traveling with President Bush reports on the administration's intensifying effort to win this election-year debate on national security issues. And Anderson Cooper tonight reports from Kabul, Afghanistan on a deadly suicide bomb attack that killed more of our troops today. We begin with Andrea Koppel -- Andrea.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the vote to approve this report among the eight Republicans and seven Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee were split, and today both parties were accusing the other of playing politics. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
KOPPEL (voice over): The bipartisan Senate report concludes that Iraq's former president, Saddam Hussein, had no relationship with terrorists Abu Musab al Zarqawi and did not provide al Qaeda with either chemical or biological weapons.
It also says there is no reliable evidence that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta ever met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague. All claims by the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq. Democrats called it a devastating indictment of the White House.
SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D-WV), VICE CHMN., INTEL. CMTE.: The administration, in its zeal to promote public opinion in the United States for toppling Saddam Hussein, pursued a deceptive strategy prior to the war of using intelligence reporting that the community -- intelligence community, warned was uncorroborated, unreliable, and in critical instances fabricated.
KOPPEL: The report also concludes that Iraqi exiles, including the former head of the Iraqi national congress, Achmed Chalabi deliberately misled the U.S. intelligence community about Saddam Hussein's efforts to develop WMD. Democrats accuse the Bush administration of continuing to mislead the American people, pointing to President Bush's remarks in August.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Imagine a world in which you had a Saddam Hussein, who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who had -- who had relations with Zarqawi.
SEN. CARL LEVIN, (D), MICHIGAN: Just two weeks ago, the president said in a press conference that Saddam Hussein, quote, "had relations with Zarqawi," close quote. Our Intelligence Committee report demonstrates that statement made two weeks ago by the president was false.
KOPPEL: But in a written statement, the Republican Chairman of the Intelligence Committee Pat Roberts accused Democrats of playing politics.
Saying, "Unfortunately my colleagues continue to use the Committee to try to rewrite history, insisting that they were deliberately duped into supporting the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. That is simply not true. And I believe the American people are smart enough to recognize election-year politicking when they see it."
KOPPEL: But what is potentially the most explosive part of this investigation remains unfinished, that's the statements, the public statements, made by members of the Bush administration about the war justifying the invasion, and comparing that with the intelligence that was available to them at the time. Here too, Lou, Democrats accuse Republicans of playing politics, saying that they are waiting to release that report until after the midterm election -- Lou.
DOBBS: Andrea, the truth of the matter is that the Bush administration did admit that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and September 11th. And the facts are that -- simply put, prewar intelligence was wrong. What is new about this report, the discredited intelligence of the U.S. government leading into the war is well documented.
KOPPEL: I think it's an exhaustive look, Lou, at the various evidence intelligence that was available to the Bush administration, not just before the war, but what is continuing to happen since the invasion of Iraq.
And it is showing statements, for instance, that George Tenet, who came before this committee, just this summer, he was asked about a comment that he made after President Bush made a speech in Cincinnati in 2002, talking about the link between al Qaeda and Iraq, and George Tenet, for instance, said at that time that the CIA conclusions were not in direct contrast to what the president said. It's comments like these, Lou, that are coming out since this investigation began.
DOBBS: Andrea Koppel, thank you. Andrea Koppel reporting from Capitol Hill.
A CNN poll this week reveals voters remain deeply divided and confused about whether or not Iraq was involved in the September 11th attacks. The poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, showing more than 40 percent of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the attacks. Just over 50 percent say Saddam Hussein was not involved. The difference of opinion comes despite White House admissions, that the former Iraqi leader had nothing to do with September 11th.
The White House immediately blasted the Senate Intelligence Committee report, saying it contains, quote, "nothing new." Meanwhile, President Bush will deliver a prime-time speech Monday to mark the anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
It follows four other speeches by President Bush, defending his conduct of the war on terror over the past two weeks. Kathleen Koch is traveling with President Bush and reports tonight from Kansas City, Missouri -- Kathleen.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, President Bush right now is speaking at the second of two closed private fundraisers for Republican senatorial candidates here in the Midwest, so we got no reaction from him today to the Iraq report, but Tony Snow's short answer to it --- well, it's nothing new.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: In 2002 and 2003, members of both parties got a good look at the intelligence we had. And they came to the very same conclusions about what was going on. And it's one of the things that -- that I think drew Americans together. It's one of the reasons why you had overwhelming majorities in the United States Senate and the House for taking action against Saddam Hussein. Both sides were looking at the same intelligence and coming to the same conclusions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOCH: Now, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow added that the administration would, quote, "let people quibble over three years ago, the important thing to do now is to figure out what you're going to do tomorrow to win the war on terror."
And the White House says all politics will be set aside come Monday, the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The president will be attending solemn ceremonies in New York City, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and also at the Pentagon.
He won't be making any formal remarks until a prime-time address at 9:00 p.m. Monday night. It's expected to last some 16 to 18 minutes. And Snow says it will not be a political speech, that it will, rather, be reflective. He said that the president will be looking back on what 9/11 has meant, and how the United States has moved forward since then -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you, very much. Appreciate it.
Radical Islamist terrorists killed two more of our troops today in a suicide bomb attack in the Afghan capital of Kabul. That attack is the worst in Kabul since the overthrow of the Taliban regime nearly five years ago. One NATO general today said the intensity of the fighting in Afghanistan now, far greater than in Iraq. Anderson Cooper reports from Kabul.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Today's blast shattered the early morning calm of Kabul. A vehicle laden with explosives slammed into a U.S. military convoy, killing two U.S. soldiers and wounding one other. As many as 10 Afghans were killed and some 27 were wounded according to Afghan government officials.
It's just the latest example of the resurgence of the Taliban and their adoption of al Qaeda style tactics. Suicide bombings used to be very rare in Afghanistan. This year there have been some 70 attacks, in this year alone. Intelligence sources I've spoken with blame several factors on the rise of the Taliban. They say increased dissatisfaction with the government of Hamid Karzai here in Afghanistan. Also the rise of this year's opium crop and the money that the Taliban makes off that crop from taxing it.
Also intelligence sources also point the finger at Pakistan. They say that Pakistan has not done enough to try to curtail the Taliban operating inside Pakistan. They, in fact, say, intelligence sources I spoke with, say that the Taliban's leader, Mullah Omar (ph), the blind cleric who disappeared in December of 2001, a man who has a price on his head from the U.S. is, in fact, living in Pakistan.
Intelligence sources say he is living in Kreta, or the surrounding areas. Pakistan says they are doing everything they can to hunt down Taliban leaders but a cease-fire agreement they have now signed with Taliban militants in north Waziristan has caused dismay among intelligence sources I've spoken with today. They say it will lead to more cross-border operations and an even greater rise in Taliban strength in southern Afghanistan.
DOBBS: Thank you, Anderson Cooper, reporting from Kabul.
Since this war in Iraq began, 263 of our troops have been killed in Afghanistan, while insurgents have killed two more of our troops today in Iraq. The soldier killed by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad, a Marine killed in Al Anbar Province, west of the Iraqi capital. And 24 of our troops have been killed in Iraq just in the past eight days; 2,667 of our troops have been killed in Iraq.
As we reported, according to a CNN opinion poll this week, 43 percent of those polled saying they believe that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks. That seemed to us here like a lot of folks. It made us question the accuracy of our own network's poll.
So tonight we thought we would ask the smartest audience in television news -- do you personally know anyone who believes that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11th attacks? We'd like to know, yes or no. Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have your answers coming up.
Still ahead, the battle to deport an illegal alien who has taken refuge in a Chicago church. The illegal alien is using her son as a human shield.
And Democrats and Republicans face off on national security issues as they fight to win votes in the upcoming midterm elections.
And the U.S. Senate put its loyalty to corporate America before the interest of the middle class? Imagine. New legislation that would allow nearly 2 million foreign high-tech workers into this country. We'll have that special report and a great deal more, straight ahead.
DOBBS: Tonight, an illegal alien hiding from authorities in a Chicago church is intensifying her fight to remain in the United States. This broadcast has reported on Elvira Arellano's (ph) three- week standoff with U.S. Immigration officials, and her efforts to avoid deportation. Her legal team tonight is trying to use her seven- year-old son to win this fight. Casey Wian reports.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT (voice over): Elvira Arellano remains hold up in this Chicago church tonight trying to avoid being deported. She's an illegal alien with a criminal conviction, for using a phony Social Security number to get a job at O'Hare Airport. She's also violated a previous order of deportation and has a history of document fraud.
But her son, Saul, was born in the United States and is a U.S. citizen. Their legal team is trying to use the seven-year-old boy as a human shield to block her deportation, filing a claim his constitutional rights would be violated if Arellano was returned to Mexico.
JOSEPH MATHEWS, SAUL ARELLANO'S ATTORNEY: Our analysis of the case law is that by deporting the mother of a seven-year-old boy, who has no other family in United States, is a constructive or de facto deportation of the boy.
WIAN: Federal prosecutors this week called those claims a legal fiction. The government's motion says the law is clear that United States citizen family members of illegal aliens have no cognizable interest in preventing an alien's exclusion in deportation.
The government's motion cites precedent that allowing a removable illegal alien mother to remain because she gave birth in the United States would be against the intent of Congress by permitting parents to gain continued residence by birth of children here. Legal analysts say that Arellano is unlikely to win in court.
MUZAFFAR CHISHTI, MIGRATION POLICY INSTITUTE: The case on a very personal level is obviously a very sad one, but as a legal issue I don't think it raises any complicated issues. I done think they'll prevail on the end of the day on the legal matter.
WIAN: The federal judge hearing Arellano's case won't rule until after more motions are filed by both sides later this month. Immigration officials have indicated they won't enter the church to apprehend Arellano. So the standoff is likely to drag on for weeks.
WIAN: And so will the effort to make the case an argument for illegal alien amnesty. Seven-year-old Saul Arellano, tonight, is on his way here to Los Angeles, supposedly to share his experiences with the National Latino Congress, Lou.
DOBBS: Remarkable. Casey, thank you very much.
At the same time, tragic in so many senses. Thank you very much, Casey Wian, from Los Angeles.
Tonight Hazleton, Pennsylvania, officials are more determined than ever to enforce their city's groundbreaking illegal alien crackdown. They are announcing important changes to the ordinance that they hope will help it stand up in court. Christine Romans is here tonight and has the latest for us -- Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the goal here is to make this measure more defensible to the inevitable legal challenges and provide more protections against discrimination of legal immigrants.
While the ordinance will still fine landlords for quote, "harboring illegal aliens," employers who hire them now have three days to respond to a violation, and discharged, a fired legal worker, now have the right to sue a business if they are unfairly let go.
But despite these changes, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund is still opposed to this measure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FOREST MAER, PUERTO RICAN LEGAL DEF. & ED. FUND: Immigration policy is something that should be set up, established and operated by the federal government, not by every little town in Pennsylvania and across the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: His group and the American Civil Liberties Union have promised to fight Hazleton's mayor in court, but Hazleton's mayor says it is precisely a failure of federal law enforcement that is forcing his town and dozens others like them to take immigration into their own hands.
The first reading of this measure will be tonight, there will be a second and third on Tuesday, at which point the mayor's office says they expect this become law -- Lou.
DOBBS: Christine, thank you very much. Christine Romans.
Still ahead here, the Senate appears more concerned with helping Internet firms hiring cheap foreign labor than in preserving good- paying American jobs. A special report tonight on the widening war against this nation's middle class.
And Democrats say they are finally ready to fight President Bush on national defense. Will their strategy work? That story ahead.
And a new Senate report, once again, weighs in over the debate on Saddam Hussein and 9/11. Was he involved? Was he not? He wasn't. We'll tell you what the Senate says, and more, still ahead. Stay with us.
DOBBS: A new study says the U.S. Senate will decimate this nation's technology workforce with its so-called comprehensive immigration reform legislation. That bill would give technology firms unprecedented ability to hire cheaper, foreign workers at the expense of, you guessed it, American workers. An entire generation of Internet technology jobs at stake. Bill Tucker reports.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Under the Senate's immigration reform bill, known as 2611, the door would be open to flood the market with foreign high-tech workers.
A new study done by Georgetown University shows that it could devastate the job market for American citizens. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a need for 1.25 million more computing and engineering workers over the next decade. The Georgetown estimate of how many new high-tech visas that would be created by the Senate bill in that time, is almost 2 million.
LINDSAY LOWELL, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: What is really troublesome, potentially, is we could really bring in many more that strict demand suggests we need. And when you do that, you set in play, potentially, a lot of consequences you don't want to see.
TUCKER: The most obvious consequence when supply exceeds demand is cheaper labor. But while that may be good for business, it's not necessarily good for America.
CARL MACK, NAT'L. SOCIETY OF BLACK ENGINEERS: A country who was built on technology, you know, that's how we became a world super power. Our solution to this shortage of engineers is to now bring in foreign-born talent versus to grow our own? I cannot for the life of me understand that.
TUCKER: Students weighing career choices do understand exactly what's at stake. And at a time when the president is promoting careers in science and technology, the Senate is sending those students a clear message.
VIN O'NEILL, INST. OF ELECTRICAL & ELECTRONIC ENGINEERS: Students are watching the job markets and are watching compensation, and engineering is a pretty tough row to hoe, so in many cases, bright kids, seeing what's going on might elect to go into business or medicine or law as an alternative to engineering.
TUCKER: The study by Georgetown was commissioned by the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers.
TUCKER: And, Lou, the engineering group is opposed to the Senate's so-called Immigration Reform Bill, because they say it contains no significant job protections for American workers.
DOBBS: I think the U.S. Senate and the Republican leadership of the U.S. Senate have a lot of explaining to do to the American people. Every senator who voted for that bill, Republican and Democrat, should be held accountable, in my estimation, at the polls.
Because it is absolutely the most, to me, absolutely negligent disregard of the interests of American workers and their families, that's ever been put forward. Senator Kennedy, Senator McCain, should definitely be held responsible.
Thank you very much, Bill Tucker. Appreciate it.
Time now for some of your thoughts. We get a lot of interesting responses here, and we love hearing from everybody, but we thought this particular response was interesting. And luckily, it represents a very small percentage of folks who believe this way, but it is something that is happening, and a response from one of our folks in the audience.
Dan Jose in Pennsylvania took the time to write this: "Lou, I am a proud Mexican living in the U.S., and I believe you owe the people of Mexico and my Mexican brethren here in the States an apology. You say that us Mexicans are invading? Well, let me put things in perspective for you. It was the United States that stole land by waging an unjust war on our Mexico. So half this country is our territory. Some stupid fence and a National Guard (read: armed thugs) are not going to keep us from reclaiming OUR LAND! Keep up the fight, Compadres! Let us reclaim the land the gringos stole from us long ago. Vive Mexico!"
Well, Dan Jose, I hope you are not a Mexican-American, because you said you're Mexican. I would hope that you would not be too intent on pursuing your perspective. It's very interesting. I want you to know, I hope it isn't shared by very many people out there.
Cliff in California: "Lou, I got an e-mail from California Senator Dianne Feinstein today and in a category of the top 15 most important issues, there was nothing about border security. I wonder if the senator is listening to the middle class or not. Apparently not."
Unfortunately, the senator is not alone in that regard either. Sends your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. We'll have more of them later here in the broadcast.
Up next, the Senate Intelligence Committee weighing in on one of the nation's largest national security controversies. That special reporting up.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on tape, and now apologizing, again.
And in tonight's heroes, the story of an Iraqi war veteran, providing invaluable service to his fellow wounded Marine, and to his nation. Stay with us.
DOBBS: In a moment our special report on the emergence of national security as one of the defining issues in these midterm election campaigns, but first the Senate Intelligence Committee today blasted prewar intelligence on Iraq.
The committee declared there were no links whatsoever between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda's former leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi. The committee's report challenges one of the Bush administration's main justifications for the war in Iraq. The White House declared there is nothing new in the intelligence committee report. NASA, to try to launch the Space Shuttle Atlantis again tomorrow morning. NASA scrubbed today's planned launch because of a fuel sensor problem, the third time that NASA scrubbed the launch of the Atlantis. If the shuttle isn't launched soon, NASA will have to wait until late October for another try. Astronauts are to perform construction work on the International Space Station once the mission is under way.
Israel has ended its two month naval blockade of Lebanon. Israeli warships began pulling back from the Lebanese coastline today. The Israeli military handing over control of the coastline to an Italian-led United Nations force.
Relatives of two Israeli soldiers taken hostage by Hezbollah say the blockade should have remained in place until those soldiers were returned.
The FAA says it's finally ready to crack down on air traffic controllers who nap on the job. The FAA says it's ending its policy of looking the other way when air traffic controllers fall asleep during down time on their shifts. Air traffic controllers found napping now could be suspended for up to ten days.
A new CNN poll tonight on what Americans think about the possible impact of a Democratic victory in the midterm elections and it's an interesting perspective. Seventy percent of those surveyed say the U.S. government would experience even worse gridlock if Democrats were to win control of Congress. Only 27 percent of those surveyed said a Republican White House and a Democratic Congress would lead to more government cooperation.
As we reported, the Senate Intelligence Committee today released a damning new report about prewar intelligence. Democrats and Republicans immediately seized on the report, trying to take political advantage. National security is now the number one issue in the election battle. Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You can't turn a corner on Capitol Hill without hearing a Democrat say something like this.
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MINORITY WHIP: We're not as safe as we should be.
BASH: Democrats returned from Summer recess determined to hit Republicans where they hope it will hurt most, their biggest strength, national security. And it has been a week of rapid-fire attacks. Monday senior Democrats wrote this letter, asking the president to consider changing the civilian leadership at the Defense Department.
Tuesday, a report on what they called Bush national security failures.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET), FMR. NATO COMMANDER: In plain language, invading Iraq was a mistake, a strategic blunder.
BASH: Wednesday, an ill-fated Senate resolution calling for Donald Rumsfeld to resign.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: And at the center of so many wrong calls, the missed judgments, the strategic blunders has been the Secretary of Defense.
BASH: Thursday, this response to the president's dramatic announcement, high-profile terror suspects should be tried by military commissions Congress must set up.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: He's had years to bring these murders to justice, and he's waited until now, two months before the election. It's a cynical, but typical, move from the campaigner in chief.
BASH: The dizzying number of Democratic events are aimed at competing with the president's election-year megaphone. He's telling Americans that Republicans, not Democrats, are going to keep them safe. But the Democratic party chairman says it's a strategy born out of past mistakes.
HOWARD DEAN, DEM. NATL. CMTE. CHMN.: To be honest with you, I think the Democrats used to run and hide when this kind of stuff used to came up.
BASH: And Republicans are making sure national security comes up.
SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: The bill before us now will provide the structure and resources necessary to strengthen our sea ports' vulnerabilities.
BASH: From port security to border security, to military commissions to NSA surveillance, September's calendar is filled with national-security measures Republicans hope to take back on the campaign trail as accomplishments, while they slam Democratic as obstructionists.
FRIST: Well, the defeatocrats is a pretty good name for the Democrats, I think, at this juncture.
BASH: Now, in the past Democrats did stall or even block security measures they didn't like and they paid a political price. Republicans beat Democrats by painting them as weak on defense. The strategy this year is to try to avoid that. So between now and election day, when security measures come up for a vote, Lou, expect most Democrats to vote yes.
DOBBS: Dana Bash, one would hope that they would always vote in the interests of national security, Democrat or Republican. Thank you.
BASH: Thank you.
DOBBS: Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.
Still ahead, national security and the midterm elections. Democrats say they can do a better job than Republicans. Three of the country's best political analysts join us here with their views.
And California's governor, why does he have to issue an apology? The Terminator creating new turmoil. We'll tell you all about it.
And in tonight's Heroes the Iraq war veteran who is helping his fellow Marines back from the battle field. Stay with us for that and a great deal more, straight ahead.
DOBBS: You can say lots of things about California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, but one of them is he's not afraid to speak his mind, nor to change it. He once called California legislators girly men. He once threatened to kick, nurse's, quote, butts, and tonight he's apologizing again for remarks he made about California State Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia. Schwarzenegger is caught on videotape wondering about Garcia's nationality. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: She's very Puerto Rican or the same thing as Cuban to me. They're all very hot. They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: The governor today appeared with Assemblywoman Garcia to publicly apologize, as he well should. Garcia, who is a fellow Republican, says no apologies are necessary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHWARZENEGGER: I apologized to her. She got offended but, I mean, she and her, we joke about all this many, many times, and she says, I'm a hot Latina, and my blood is boiling and, you know, I'm passionate about things.
BONNIE GARCIA (R), CALIF. STATE ASSEMBLY: I am not mad that he recognizes that I am passionate about the issues and I am not mad that he allows me to tell him exactly what I think and what's on the minds of people in my community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: The governor's statements were caught on tape during a closed-door meeting. The governor says the comments made him, quote, cringe when he read them in today's paper as may his explanation as well. Joining me now three of the very best political minds in the country to assess the governor's remarks and other matters of political import. Ed Rollins, White House political director and Republican strategist, Michael Goodwin, "New York Daily News" columnist, James Taranto, presidential historian, editor of the "Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com." Thank you all for being here.
Were you impressed with the governors aplomb in handling his gaffe?
JAMES TARANTO, OPINIONJOURNAL.COM: Oh, I guess so. I mean, I was more impressed by her aplomb. I think it's to her credit that she wasn't easily offended and overly sensitive about this.
DOBBS: Or at least said she wasn't.
MICHAEL GOODWIN, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: I think the governor will pay a price somewhere. I think, as Ed suggested off camera, perhaps a fund raiser for her, or something, but he owes her big time for the way she handled it.
ED ROLLINS, FMR. WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIR.: She handled it very classy. I mean the bottom line is Arnold is someone who has always spoken his mind and, as you said, he took on the nurses and they did kick his butt big time in a big referendum out there, so you sometimes have to be a little careful in what you think. The first rule of politics is don't think out loud.
DOBBS: And especially, you know, one would hope that he wouldn't even think that way or anyone would that way, in my opinion. Let's turn to this Senate intelligence report. The Bush administration admitted that there was no context in August, just a couple of weeks -- just a few weeks ago. The president saying that there was a connection, again. What is this -- what is this president doing?
TARANTO: Well, I'm not quite sure. Zarqawi was in Iraq before the invasion. I'm not...
DOBBS: Now, wait a minute. I'll take on anything, but with the Bush administration admitting there was no connection, finally, and the Senate Intelligence Committee concluding there was no connection, please, can we give it a rest? I'm asking you what in the world were they doing?
TARANTO: I said, I'm not quite sure.
DOBBS: OK. How about you, Michael?
GOODWIN: Look, I mean, I think that the only way to consider it is now -- forget then -- of course, there's absolutely no proof. I don't think there ever was proof of any serious Iraqi connection to 9/11.
I think the issue now is, is there connection to Iraq and the larger war on terrorism? And the Democratic argument that we can pull out of Iraq and not suffer any consequence in the larger war I think is wrong. I think right now, whatever happened in the past, Iraq is clearly part of the larger war on terrorism.
ROLLINS: And the more serious issue here is we have to fight terrorism on two fronts. I totally agree with Michael's premise. And I think one of the difficulties that we have is we're going to stay in Iraq, it's going to continue to go difficult for a long period of time. I think that more terrorists are going to come out of that than started, obviously. But it's a two front.
The more important thing here too is I don't know why this president is trying to nationalize this election, which is what the Democrats want to do, why he wants to nationalize it and fight it over his weakest argument, which is the Iraq war. The public is totally opposed to him on that. He's got to basically convince them of other things, and members of Congress are going to convince them that they can do things back home and not make the changes that are necessarily.
DOBBS: Well, at the same time, though, the president is trying to subsume the war in Iraq and Afghanistan into the global war on terror, driving again fear. I mean, I am personally, irrespective of whether one is a Republican or a Democrat, I want to hear the president talk to me in a way that's reassuring and lead the nation in a way that's reassuring, in which fear does not have to be the cornerstone of every comment he makes.
Four speeches in two weeks, another slated for the anniversary, that's obscene to call it an anniversary, of September 11th. What in the world is he doing?
TARANTO: I think he is facing up to a real problem that this country faces. Look, President Clinton didn't capitalize on fear, as you put it. We had -- we had...
DOBBS: Wait a minute. I'm not going to accept President Bill Clinton as the standard for presidential leadership here.
TARANTO: Well, I'm not setting him up as the standard. I'm setting him up as the negative standard. I'm saying, we let the good times roll in the '90s; we were a lot less afraid then, and we didn't realize how much we had to be afraid of. Terrorism is a real threat. Should we be complacent?
ROLLINS: No, I don't think it's a matter of being complacent. I think it's a matter of being honest. I think the critical thing here is, this president has made a decision to take this country to war for whatever reason, and I'm not opposed to that. I think he has to be very honest with the American public, and the worst case to try and be honest is in a political season.
And I just think by trying to escalate this to a national election about up or down on the war, up or down on terrorists, and if you're not for me, you're against me, and you're basically not a good American, is going to work against us, as Republicans. GOODWIN: Bush will never give a great, great speech. What he's given lately are some good speeches about the larger issues in the war on terrorism. The problem is what's going on in Iraq, and until we get that right, until we can show we are going to give Iraqi people a stable, secure society, anything he says is not really going to matter. And so, I don't know why he is not spending his time fixing Iraq.
DOBBS: We have the NATO commanding general, who happens to be a U.S. general, saying that we need reinforcements now in Afghanistan, five years later. We have a general staff in Iraq and a Pentagon and civilian leadership and a president who won't acknowledge that that is a civil war, whether it's a matter of sectarian violence or a civil war. We have as much violence today in Iraq as we did a month ago, and at the same time, the Pentagon is reporting that it was 50 percent less.
We have, after three and a half years, still disinformation. And I don't want to hear about the fog of war, because this is nonsense. These generals are not leading as well as our men and women in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan are serving this nation. And there is no accountability, and there can't be a good result until there is.
GOODWIN: Well, I think ultimately it is going to come down to, do we have enough troops there? I mean, the attempt to sort of pacify Baghdad one neighborhood at a time, and "The New York Times" had a very good story recently about we need to get seriously about one neighborhood is going well, but people are afraid when the troops move on to the next neighborhood, what happens? And I think that's been the history of Iraq. Every time we kind of secure an area and then move on, you know, the thugs and the militants and the criminals come back in and take it over again.
ROLLINS: We need -- I mean, the president made a statement a couple of weeks ago that we're going to be there for the rest of his term, at least two years. So we basically have got to figure out what it is we're going to do for those two years, and Michael's point is very valid, that whatever our troops need -- and some of these people being rotated for the third and fourth time -- we better get it to them and get it to them pretty quick.
DOBBS: And perhaps some reinforcements is your point as well, not perhaps, but certainly.
The idea that this is a do-nothing Congress, I want to address that if I may just for a moment, because I think it's an unfair charge, it's a remember charge, it's one that just cannot be substantiated and I want to prove my point, if I may. The Congress, the House, has brushed aside objections from horse doctors and the White House and voted to outlaw slaughtering horses for people to eat. That was a bipartisan effort. They stood up bravely to the White House. Aren't you impressed by that?
ROLLINS: Well, I am, because it's the French who basically are the ones that want to eat the horses. And I'm happy to send the French all the horses they want to eat. You know, unfortunately, this Congress hasn't passed the appropriations bills, still hasn't -- doesn't want to deal with immigration, doesn't want to deal with a whole lot of things. I think having them back for a week, if they could go home and basically start running for reelection, I'd be very happy.
DOBBS: What do you make of this, James? The White House says to permit such a ban would do more harm than good for horses? Is this sort of like the reasoning on free trade, on immigration, on border security, port security? Can you perhaps divine what they are really thinking there?
TARANTO: Well, this isn't an issue that I've looked at very closely, I must admit, but I will say I'm so hungry, I could eat a horse.
DOBBS: Well, putting yourself in perfect alignment with the White House.
As we go into these elections, the president's popularity holding stable right around 40, 41 percent. Congress, both parties in disrepute. We had a viewer write in this week, saying who do I vote for here? I want to throw these do-nothing bums out, but I don't want to put the other do-nothing bums in. Where is it going to break?
GOODWIN: Well, and I do think somewhere along the line, the Democrats are going to have to come up with some ideas and what they are standing for. I keep thinking that the election is not going to change anything unless the Democrats do that. I may be wrong, because all the polls are showing that the Democrats aren't going to pick up significant seats in both Houses. But I don't understand how people can vote for a party that's not proposing anything.
ROLLINS: But interestingly enough, all the polls show that on a national basis, and congressional elections are not national, they are seat-by seat, Senate seat by Senate seat, and the truth of the matter is we're down a few Senate seats, Republicans, but there's no evidence to me, at this point in time, that Republicans are automatically going to lose these 15 or 20 seats. What are you talking about? Nobody shows me House seats. They show me that races are competitive, but not the seats that are lost.
TARANTO: And of course, those competitive races could easily switch in the other director, so it's not inconceivable that Republicans could make gains, although right now I'd bet on the Democrats to make gains.
ROLLINS: Absolutely. No question about that.
DOBBS: So is just about everybody else, and about twice as many gains as people were suggesting just two months ago. And those were pretty devastating numbers for the Republicans to anticipate.
GOODWIN: You could see a tide. You could see a real tide sweeping through, but, you know, right now, I still think the Democrats are going to have to have some ideas to persuade a lot of the independent voters.
ROLLINS: The worst result could be we end up, you said a tide. I'm fearful of a tie, in which we end up with darn near equality in both Houses, the House and the Senate, and nobody can do anything.
TARANTO: Although if Joe Lieberman got to cast the deciding vote, that would be satisfying.
DOBBS: Well, it would be interesting and satisfying to you. To me, perhaps I shouldn't be so worried about a divided Congress and administration. Perhaps it would just represent balance. Is that a positive way to look at it?
ROLLINS: Well, if you can't -- if the Republicans can't do anything with the majority, they certainly can't do anything with the minority. And I...
DOBBS: That's the spirit.
ROLLINS: ... And I don't think Democrats have ever done much with an overwhelming majority, so if they have a bare majority, they are not going to do much either. Maybe we ought to just have a Congress every two or three years, come back and vote on the budgets, which is the most important thing.
TARANTO: Although a Democratic majority might force them to be more responsible than they are in the minority.
DOBBS: It would be interesting to see responsible government in this country for a while. I think the voting public is probably ready for that.
GOODWIN: You get the sense that the people in Congress are as sick of each other as we are of them.
DOBBS: Well, we are making progress then, by God. Michael Goodwin, Ed Rollins, James Taranto, thank you very much, gentlemen. Appreciate it.
In Portland, Oregon -- we don't normally do these kinds of stories, but this is simply -- this is just worthy of note. In Portland, Oregon, a 51-year-old emergency-room nurse returning home from work strangled and killed an intruder with her bare hands. Susan Kuhnhausen ran to a neighbor's house after she had strangled 59-year- old Edward Dalton Haffey. Haffey was armed with a hammer.
He was a convicted felon with what is described as a long police record. Kuhnhausen's size may have helped her defend herself. She's 5'7, 250 pounds -- Haffey two inches taller, but only 180. Under Oregon law, people may use reasonable deadly force when defending themselves against intruders in their homes. The neighbor who called 911 said everyone she spoke to in the neighborhood said, hooray for Susan. That's about all that needs to be said.
Coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN, "THE SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf. WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.
Coming up, a long-awaited Senate report on Iraq. Is it as devastating an indictment of the Bush administration that critics claim, or is there nothing new as the White House claims?
Also, the homeland security Secretary Michael Chertoff, would he fly on the upcoming anniversary of 9/11? I'll ask him.
And major new developments in the controversy over that ABC 9/11 miniseries. You're going to see them play out right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM." We'll talk about it with former 9/11 commissioner Tom Kean, who was a consultant on the movie.
And I'll speak exclusively with former Clinton national security adviser Sandy Berger. He objects to is portrayal and he wants Kean to get the movie canceled. This is Sandy Berger's first and only interview on the controversy.
All that coming up, Lou, right at the top of the hour.
DOBBS: Tom Kean consulting on a fiction movie, and an uproar it is. We'll look forward to it, Wolf. Thanks. Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" coming up next here in just a little less than 10 minutes.
Up next here, we'll have more of your thoughts on the war on the middle class, and we'll tell you who is winning.
And "Heroes," our weekly salute to our men and women in uniform. Tonight, the story of Gunnery Sergeant Mel Greer, a wounded Marine who is helping to lead his men and heal them as well. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Our weekly salute to this nation's men and women in uniform, serving the nation around the world. Tonight, the story of Gunnery Sergeant Mel Greer. After being seriously wounded in combat, he's worked tirelessly to open and run a new center for his fellow wounded Marines. Alex Quade has his story.
ALEX QUADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gunnery Sergeant Mel Greer is a Marine with a mission.
GUNNERY SGT. MEL GREER, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Make sure those are complete, and we just work out way down.
QUADE: He runs the new center at Camp Pendleton for wounded warriors.
GREER: How's the arm?
CPL. SEAN WEBSTER, WOUNDED MARINE: It's doing pretty good, Gunnery Sergeant. Still going through therapy. GREER: Gunshot?
WEBSTER: IED blast.
GREER: IED blast. Yes, how many surgeries?
WEBSTER: I've had 13 surgeries, Gunnery Sergeant.
GREER: Yes, I hear you, buddy. I hear you. I've hit number 10 myself, but they are all a pain in the butt.
QUADE: Greer pushed to get this barracks, only the second one in America, up and running, because he remembers what it's like.
GREER: Basically from my ankle down, I can't feel my foot whatsoever.
QUADE: We met him in Iraq two years ago, after an insurgent ambush in Ramadi. This is his video.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's hit the right leg.
GREER: Automatic weapons fire, it's less than, you know, a tenth of a second between rounds. It hit my pistol and hit my leg and knocked me down and hell's fury just unleashed.
QUADE: Greer was medevaced to Germany. He had leg surgery at Landstuhl, and then more surgery at Camp Pendleton.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need you to put your chin up, and take some nice deep breaths for me.
QUADE: Eighteen months and 10 operations later ...
GREER: I still have no feeling below my knee. I cannot move my foot.
QUADE: But that didn't stop Greer then from helping train troops. And now ...
GREER: So I'm like you. I use a cane all the time and I ...
QUADE: ...he's helping the newly injured.
GREER: Before anything else happens the today, I'll make sure you have a key so you can lock and secure your items.
I want to finish what I've started, take care of these marines and these barracks and these facilities and make sure they get what is deserving of them.
QUADE: Sixteen medals and the Purple Heart prove Gunnery Sergeant Mel Greer's valor in combat, but it's this fight, reminding the wounded that they are still warriors, that he's most proud of.
GREER: I still have a purpose in life, and even with my injuries and disabilities, I can still be a leadership to the young Marines and a mentor to these Marines and show them that the process works.
QUADE: Alex Quade, CNN, Camp Pendleton, California.
DOBBS: Sergeant Greer, an inspiration to us all. Thank you, Sergeant.
Next the results of our poll. More of your thoughts, coming up next.
DOBBS: Results of our poll tonight. Nearly 80 percent of you say you do not personally know anyone who believes Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11th attacks.
Time now for more of your thoughts. Susan in Florida: "Lou, to have a border crisis, we need to have a border. We don't have a border. We have a 2,000 mile-long welcome mat."
John in Maine: "Hey, Lou, I have a poll question. Which war will the administration win first, the war on terror or the war on the middle class?"
And Donna and Richard in South Carolina: "Dear Lou, the war on the middle class is making the American dream impossible. I think the American dream has turned into the 'Impossible Dream.'"
Not yet. We can keep the faith when we begin the fight. Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of Senator Byron Dorgan's new book "Take This Job and Ship It."
Thank you for being with us tonight. Have a great weekend. For all of us, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
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