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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Top U.S. General In Iraq Admits Insurgent Activity Spiked Recently; Bush Will Meet With Karzai, Musharraf; Will the Democrats Take Over Congress?

Aired September 27, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight insurgents have killed six more of our troops in Iraq. A top U.S. commander says it has been what he calls a tough week. We'll have a live report for you, from the Pentagon and Baghdad.
Communist China's dangerous new threat to this country. Is China trying to blind U.S. spy satellites with lasers? We'll have that special report. And the question as to whether the administration is trying to play down this new threat.

A great deal more as well, straight ahead here, tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Wednesday September 27. Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

A top U.S. military commander in Iraq, Major General William Caldwell today acknowledged that insurgent and terrorist attacks in Iraq are rising. The general's admission came as insurgents killed another six of our troops; 2,709 American troops have not been killed in Iraq.

President Bush tonight will focus on another escalating conflict, the war in Afghanistan. President Bush meeting with the Afghan and Pakistani presidents, he will try to end differences over strategy to fight radical Islamist terrorists.

Barbara Starr, tonight, reports on the escalating number of insurgent attacks in Iraq. Michael Ware reports from Baghdad on U.S. and Iraqi strategy to try to win the battle. And Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House on the president's efforts to strengthen the anti-terror alliance with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

We turn first to Barbara Starr at the Pentagon -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: Well, Lou, U.S. military officials say even with all of this violence, more U.S. troops are not the answer, that it is Iraqi troops who must begin to pick up more of the burden.


STARR (voice over): Just a few days into the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, attacks have risen in Iraq, as predicted, especially in Baghdad where most of the sectarian violence is occurring.

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, U.S. ARMY: In terms of attacks, this week's suicide attacks were at their highest level with any given week, with half of them targeting security forces.

STARR: In Bakuba four women were killed in a firefight. The military said it is rare to encounter Iraqi women in violent situations. No one is sure if they were involved with the insurgents. The U.S. continues to emphasize what commanders say is the ineffectiveness of the attacks; 66 U.S. troops have now lost their lives in Iraq during the month of September.

CALDWELL: Almost 50 percent of the vehicle-born improvised explosive devices were suicide attacks. The clear intent of these high magnitude attacks are to produce mass casualties. But while we are seeing this increase in overall attack numbers, their effectiveness has not increased.

STARR: The threat of IEDs remains significant. It is now believed insurgents alter their tactics about every three weeks, changing how they place the bombs, and how they detonate them. Troops on foot patrol are the most vulnerable. The Pentagon is now spending $80 million to by 4,000 jammers that troops can wear and activate to keep IEDs from exploding around them.


STARR: But, Lou, all of this comes during the same week that the Defense Department awarded a contract worth millions of dollars to a private firm to monitor news organization's coverage of the war in Iraq and CNN is going to be one of those organizations that the government monitors, Lou.

DOBBS: Let's make it easy for them here tonight; 4,000 jammers? Does that mean that those troops do not have them now?

STARR: Let's explain a little bit further. This is a very interesting program that's just getting started. But what they've been going is trying to work on technology so troops, soldiers, Marines on foot patrol, in Iraq , have some kind of device they can hold in their hand, put on their vest, that would jam an IED, basically jam the radio frequency on which an IED is detonated.

This is something that's been a problem for U.S. troops. They have some shelter in their armored vehicles, but once they get out on foot patrol, of course, they're very, very vulnerable. So, this technology is actually just beginning to evolve and an $80 million contract was given to a U.S. defense contractor, actually a division of British Aerospace here in the United States, to begin to manufacture those. I think one can expect more in the pipeline, Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.

The Iraqi prime minister today met with tribal leaders from Al Anbar Province, trying to win their support in the war against Al Qaeda. The meeting reflects rising concern about the direction of the military campaign in Al Anbar Province. A recent Marine Corps intelligence report saying the United States has already lost the political battle to defeat the enemy there. Michael Ware, who has been recently with the U.S. Marines in Al Anbar now reports from Baghdad -- Michael.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: Lou, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has met with the leaders of 16 tribes vowing to fight against Al Qaeda domination of the western province. Whilst this is being hailed as a step forward, this has been seen before. And these 16 tribal figures only represent relatively powerless sub-tribes, which are already the subject of an intense assassination and car bomb campaign by Al Qaeda.

However, this is the model that the U.S. military is hoping will work to drive a wedge between Sunni insurgents and communities in this province and Al Qaeda. A senior coalition military intelligence official today said that this template has worked in other western towns. By empowering the local tribes, this official says, the U.S. has seen the towns reclaimed by the Iraqis and retaken from Al Qaeda.

And there has since been a campaign launched by these tribes of targeted assassinations against Al Qaeda leaders in their area. Nonetheless, with 30,000 troops in this province, the Marine general command says he does not have enough men at his disposal to win against this Al Qaeda-lead insurgency at this point -- Lou.

DOBBS: Michael Ware reporting from Baghdad.

President Bush tonight to meet with the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan trying to ease rising strains in their alliance against radical Islamist terrorists. Terrorist attacks in eastern Afghanistan have increased sharply since a recent truce between Pakistani troops and tribesmen who support Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: Well, Lou, in about two hours or so we expect to see President Bush in the Rose Garden. He'll be with the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan. He's going to try to reassure us that all three leaders have the stomach for this dinner. Not clear if they have the appetite for it, but certainly it is an important meeting.

What has been happening just over the last week or so, what we've seen is these two leaders publicly trading accusations, the Afghan leader, Karzai, accusing Musharraf of allowing the Taliban, essentially, to use his country as a safe haven across the border and conduct these daily raids in Afghanistan.

Now, Musharraf has turned around and basically said that he believes Karzai is blaming Pakistan for everything, all of its problems, the drug trafficking, as well as the increased violence and the resurgence of the Taliban.


PRES. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTAN: He is not oblivious. He knows everything, but he's purposely denying, turning a blind eye, like an ostrich. He doesn't want to tell the world what are the facts, for his own personal reasons. That is what I think.

PRES. HAMID KARZAI, AFGHANISTAN: He's right to say that I know the facts. I, indeed, know the facts. But I also know a lot of facts in Pakistan. And that's why I'm pleading with President Musharraf, that for the sake of security for all of us, and for our allies, it is extremely important to pay serious attention and take action against some of the places, called madrasas (ph), that are not madrasas (ph) -- that are training extremists full of hatred for the rest of the world.


MALVEAUX: So, Lou, what we've seen is these two leaders trading accusations most of these interviews on CNN, over the last week or so, the bottom line here is President Bush is really going to be confronting the situation with Pakistan trying to make sure that Musharraf is doing everything in his power to crack down on the Taliban. These two leaders see it in very, very differently in terms of who's responsible for the resurgence.

Another thing the president is going to try to do is reassure both of the leaders that the United States is going to make both of them stronger. They ultimately believe that they've got to cooperate in order to do things that the United States really wants done, and that's finding Osama bin Laden and cracking down on Al Qaeda -- Lou.

DOBBS: Suzanne, thank you. Suzanne Malveaux from the White House.

Later this evening, President Bush, President Karzai, President Musharraf will be speaking to reporters at the White House. We'll have live coverage of their comments here on CNN, beginning with "The Situation Room", at 7:50 p.m. Eastern, this evening.

A political victory for the president on Capitol Hill tonight. The House approved legislation to give the Bush administration authority to interrogate foreign terror suspects and put them on trial. Congressmen backed the legislation by votes of 253 to 168; that bill know goes to the Senate, which is also expected to approve the measure.

Several leading Republicans originally opposed the legislation, but they reached a compromise with the White House late last week.

Still ahead here tonight, last minute haggling in the Senate could kill efforts to build a new 700-mile fence along our 2,000-mile border with Mexico.

Also, should state and local law enforcement agencies help enforce our nation' immigration laws? We'll have that special report.

And Communist China, testing new technology that could threaten U.S. military superiority, is the White House ignoring this dangerous new threat? And if so, why? We'll have that special report and a great deal more, straight ahead. Stay with us.


DOBBS: On Capitol Hill tonight, senators fighting to build that 700-mile fence on our 2,000-mile long border with Mexico are failing to bring the important measure to a vote. As time is running out to pass border security legislation local law enforcement officials are refusing to take on new responsibilities to fight our worsening border crisis.

We have two reports tonight. Lisa Sylvester reports from Washington on pressure from Senate Democrats and the Catholic Church to stop the building of a fence on our border. And Bill Tucker reports on the rising split among local law enforcement over their role in fighting illegal immigration at the local level. We begin tonight with Lisa Sylvester in Washington -- Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: Lou, the Senate was supposed to take up the border security fence bill on Monday. That was then pushed back to today. Now it's questioned if there will be a bill at all before Election Day.


SYLVESTER (voice over): The House of Representatives has already passed a measure to build a 700-mile border fence, the Senate was expected to follow suit this week. But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist may not have the 60 votes needed to cut off debate and call up the border fence bill.

SEN. BILL FRIST, (R) MAJORITY LEADER: There has been signs sent from the other side of the aisle, the Democrats, that have implied they're going to oppose securing our borders through this physical structure.

SEN. EWARD KENNEDY, (D-MA): Voting for fences may be good politics for some, but it's bad policy for America. It's a feel-good vote that will do more harm than good.

SYLVESTER: The Catholic Church is among the groups demanding amnesty for illegal aliens and opposing a border fence.

BISHOP JAIME SOTO, CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF ORANGE CO.: This is not a time for making political points, but for seeking a humane solution.

SYLVESTER: Orange County Bishop Jaime Soto is making the rounds on Capitol Hill. And in an editorial on Catholic Online, said, quote, "The church wants immigrants, including the undocumented, to become full members of our society," end quote.

But amnesty for people who don't play by the rules is not an option for senators like Jeff Sessions. The Alabama senator does not want to reward law breakers and is emphasizing border security. But time is one of the biggest obstacles to approving a border fence. Congress is set to adjourn this week and the clock could run out. SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, (R) ALABAMA: It's very much a danger. A lot of people would like to see that happen so they don't have to vote on these issues.

SYLVESTER: If the border fence bill comes up for a vote, Democrats could throw up additional roadblocks in the form of amendments.


SYLVESTER: And the border fence is just one item on the Senate's to do list. The Senate has other issues on it's agenda that the Republicans leadership wants wrapped up by the end of this week, including the detainee legislation and appropriation bills, Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, is it, in your judgment, pretty clear that we're not going to see passage of this legislation?

SYLVESTER: It's going to be very difficult. Because they could just simply run out of time, Lou.

DOBBS: Interesting political situation here, which we're going to take up with three of the very best political analysts in the country, here later in the broadcast. This divide that is now manifesting itself, making it very clear between Democrats and Republicans going into the midterm elections.

Lisa Sylvester, thank you very much.

Local law enforcement officials whose job it is to protect communities are split over whether they should be involved in enforcing immigration laws. Many of this country's major law enforcement associations are now rejecting pleas from their citizens to apprehend illegal aliens. Bill Tucker has the report.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT (voice over): Herndon, Virginia is stepping into the fray surrounding immigration enforcement.

Tuesday night, the town council voted to apply to a federal program known as 287-G; it is a program which trains police in checking arrested individuals against the database maintained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The sheriff of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina already participates in the program. Since he began in May, he's identified 550 individuals for deportation.

SHERIFF JIM PENDERGRAPH, MECKLENBURG CO., N.C.: Is what I'm doing making a difference? Well, I can tell you for sure it's making a difference in this county because it's making it uncomfortable for people here illegally committing crimes to be here, because they know I can identify them. TUCKER: It puts him at odds with the police chief of Charlotte, his county seat, who is the vice president of the Major City's Chiefs, a law enforcement group that opposes involvement in immigration enforcement.

The group says it would, quote, "significantly detract from the core mission of the local police to create safe communities." The head of this group is Harold Hurt, chief of police in Houston, where Wednesday they buried a 12-year veteran of the force who was allegedly killed by an illegal alien.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police also raises concerns about getting involved in immigration enforcement, stating, quote, "state and local police do not have the training or expertise to enforce immigration laws." Their position is that it is up to local authorities, whether they do get involved. Some argue, they have to.

HEATHER MACDONALD, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: There's no question, given the number of illegal aliens in this country and the possity (ph) of federal ICE agents the only way we're going to get a hold of the situation is by deputizing the entire range of law enforcement.

TUCKER: Sheriff Pendergraph has some thoughts on that as well.


TUCKER: He says that if every sheriff just in North Carolina started doing what he's doing it would completely overwhelm the federal authorities. And, Lou, he goes on to give his rather blunt assessment, saying that this is an issue he believes the Congress and the president are looking to avoid.

DOBBS: I don't think that it requires great analysis to come to that conclusion. And I think that it's interesting that these law enforcement agencies, Chief Hurd of Houston, just watching one of his officers be murdered, to be in that position, with his national association, I mean, that's got to make him gut sick.

TUCKER: I'm sure that it does. He's been unavailable for comment, Lou. This was a statement that was put out in June and the position of the organization.

DOBBS: And the idea that local law enforcement, for whatever reason, would not be involved in protecting the community, using the laws, whether they be federal or whether they be involved with drugs, or human smuggling, whatever the case may be -- terrorism. You know, that's a federal matter, but it's certainly -- enforcement has to be local.

Thank you very much, Bill Tucker.

As Bill just reported, Officer Rodney Johnson was laid to rest today in Houston, Texas. More than 4,000 people turned out to say their good-byes, and give their respects to the 12-year veteran of the Houston police force who was murdered while on duty last week.

The illegal alien who has confessed to killing Officer Johnson has already been convicted of a sex crime against a child. He had been deported back to Mexico, but he returned to the United States. He never served time for his sex molestation charge in this country. Officer Rodney Johnson was 40 years old, and he leaves behind a wife and five children.

Up next, the U.S. government appears to be once again playing down the military threat from Communist China. This time, that threat that China poses is to this nation in space. We'll have that special report.

And Congress makes a last-minute attempt to prevent a possible e- voting debacle at polls nationwide this November.

And did Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens try to kill himself? And what makes the national media thinks this incident, this event in his life, is far more important than a story of heroism and loss that only one newspaper reported today? We'll have that story next.


DOBBS: Communist China now has the technology to blind U.S. spy satellites with laser beams. A report in the authoritative military affairs newspaper, "Defense News", says China has already fired lasers at our satellites. Incredibly, the bush administration appears determined to play down this new Communist Chinese threat. Critics say, that in order to avoid angering Beijing and in any way jeopardizing U.S./Chinese trade relations. Christine Romans is here tonight with a report -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: Lou, "Defense News" quotes senior U.S. officials who say China not only has the capability to develop this, but has tested a high-power, ground- based laser to blind U.S. reconnaissance satellites as they fly over China.


ROMANS (voice over): Powerful ground-based lasers in China, firing a beam of light to blind or dazzle U.S. satellites as they pass. Lower Earth orbiting reconnaissance satellites, like these, are apparently the target.

JOHN PIKE, GLOBAL SECURITY.ORG: The Chinese understand how incredibly dependent the United States military is on these low Earth orbit reconnaissance satellites. They also understand the things are only a few hundred miles up. They are the size of a city bus, fairly easy to track. It would only make sense for the Chinese to be developing a capability to destroy those reconnaissance satellites, to put our eyes out at the beginning of a war.

ROMANS: In its annual report to Congress, the Pentagon briefly mentioned the threat, quote, "At least one of China's satellite attack systems appears to be a ground-based laser designed to damage or blind imaging satellites."

What's new here is that according to "Defense News," China has been using them, showcasing serious weaknesses in America's intelligence gathering and space defense.

RICHARD FISHER, INT'L. ASSESSMENT & STRATEGY CTR.: By my estimation, China has had the capability to do significant damage to our satellites for about a decade. And what is to stop them from putting high energy lasers in Cuba or potentially in Venezuela.

ROMANS: Security experts say China quietly building a ground- based laser system, with its own military engineers, Russian hardware, and likely stolen or black market U.S. technology. All aimed, security experts say, to freeze out the U.S. in any conflict in the region.


ROMANS: Richard Fisher says it's a national scandal that Washington is downplaying this threat from China. "Defense News" says the Pentagon is keeping quiet on this as part of a White House policy to avoid angering the Chinese because Beijing is needed to help with Iran and North Korea -- and because -- of the very important trading relationship the United States has with China. Don't want to make the Chinese mad.

DOBBS: No, you would not want the Communist Chinese to get upset in any way, and diminish that more than $200 billion trade deficit we have with them each year.

Thank you very much, Christine Romans.

Time now for some of your thoughts.

From John in Arkansas, writing about our special reports we call "The Best Government Money Can Buy".

"Lou, I must correct you. It is the WORST government money can buy."

You have a point.

And from Anthony in Texas, "Lou, you are always saying we have the best government that money can buy. If that is the case then we are not getting our money's worth."

And on that, I agree with you 100 percent.

From Georgia, in Texas: "The Republican administration and Congress have been ducking the issues of illegal immigration, job outsourcing, job outsourcing, no bid contracts, cronyism, the health care crisis, corporate greed, ethics reforms, campaign financing reforms, voting system problems and so many other problems.

When asked about those issues, all you get from those politicians is quack, quack, quack! If it talks like a duck, walks like a duck, could it be a duck? Well, November is duck season. Let's go hunting! (But watch out for Dick Cheney). From the Democrats you get a lot of gobble, gobble, gobble on many of those same issues. They'd better watch out because turkey season is also coming up, and so is Thanksgiving."

I just happened to like that analysis of things very much. I hope you did, too.

From Murray in New York, "Dear, Lou, There is a middle class wage problem in this country because there is a middle class wage problem in this country. Next year everyone earning less than $100,000 gets a 20 percent increase, problem solved."

Diane in Pennsylvania, "I'm sick and tired of the Mexican government trying to tell us how we should run our country. Why don't they start putting more of their energy into fixing their own country and then their own people might stick around?"

Frank in Mississippi: "Migrants, immigrants, tell it like it is? They're illegal aliens. That means no rights in this country. Get it?"

Send us your thoughts at We'll have more of your thoughts later.

Next up, Congress tonight trying to rush through legislation to avoid an electronic voting catastrophe in November. We'll have that special report.

In communities across the nation, fighting back against the illegal alien crises. I'll be talking with a fierce opponent of these new local ordinances trying to stop illegal immigration.

And the very latest on a tense hostage drama tonight at a Colorado school. We'll have the latest for you. Stay with us.


DOBBS: A hostage situation at a Colorado high school has now ended. Police have stormed the high school in Bailey, Colorado. A CNN affiliate is now reporting that the gunman who took two female hostages is dead.

One of the women he was holding hostage has been injured, and apparently critically injured. She was flown out of the area by a medical helicopter. The gunman entered that school earlier today and opened fire. He took six people hostage initially. He later released four of those hostages.

There is no word yet on the identity of the gunman or his apparent motive, other than the fact that he is dead, apparently killed by police gunfire.

Erratic weather conditions are making life miserable for those battling a huge southern California wildfire. The fire jumped fire lines not once, but twice over the past 24 hours. Still, fire crews were able to save hundreds of homes from the fire. People in several communities west of Interstate 5 are being urged to evacuate, however.

The Texas-based 7-11 chain today announced it is dropping Citgo gasoline. Citgo is the Venezuelan government-owned supplier of gasoline to 7-11. The announcement comes after Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, called President George Bush the devil and an alcoholic. 7-11 says there is no connection to its decision. The company says their decision was made before the speech, because 7-11 wants to sell its own brand of gasoline.

Dallas Cowboys' Terrell Owens denies he tried to kill himself with an overdose of painkillers. The flamboyant and controversial football star is recovering from a broken hand. He went to practice yesterday. Later in the evening, a friend said Owens was unresponsive. She found an empty bottle of pain pills and called 911.


TERRELL OWENS, DALLAS COWBOYS RECEIVER: There was no suicide attempt. I think I went home yesterday after I left the facility, and I took a couple of pain pills and then I had some treatment. I had a physician over treating my hand. And I think after that, I was kind of groggy a little bit and I kind of took some extra pills with my supplements.


DOBBS: Dallas police and rescue workers say, however, Owens told them he was trying to harm himself.

While national news organizations across this country are reporting extensively on Terrell Owens, we would like to bring you a story of a woman who has received considerably less attention. She was the focus of a "Washington Post" story today, a story that we think is profoundly important, representing a remarkable woman and a remarkable life and a sad and tragic loss to this country.

Second Lieutenant Emily Perez, a true American hero. Lieutenant Perez, the first female graduate of West Point to be killed in Iraq. She died two weeks ago, the victim of a roadside bomb in Baghdad. She was buried at a West Point cemetery with full military honors.

Her class was called the class of 9/11, because the terrorist attacks occurred just weeks into the students' freshman year. Lieutenant Perez was 23 years old. She was the highest ranking black of Hispanic woman cadet in West Point history. A remarkable woman, a terrible loss to the nation, as are so many of those who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2,709 of them.

Senate Democrats tonight are demanding Congress pass last-minute e-voting legislation before November's election. The new legislation could help avoid what many fear now will be an outright e-voting debacle when Americans head to the polls now less than six weeks away.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Less than six weeks until the November election, and still utter confusion over the hastily purchased and problem-riddled electronic voting systems across the country. At least 31 million voters will use touch screen electronic voting machines for the first time on November 7th, many without a paper record.

Some in Congress say it is better to have backup, paper ballots but those ballots are expensive to produce, costing up to 92 cents per ballot. Senators Barbara Boxer of California, Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Russell Feingold of Wisconsin have proposed a $15 million emergency spending bill to reimburse states for the price of printing paper ballots.

The bill states election officials must post "a notice stating that contingency paper ballots are available at the polling place, and that a voter may request to use such a ballot at the voter's discretion.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: I really have lost a lot of faith in these machines and it's expensive. Why not just go back to the simple paper ballot, at least until we're really sure that we've resolved all the problems?

PILGRIM: Also on Capitol Hill today, Senators Russell Feingold and John Kerry introduced a resolution calling for states to have a backup system to deal with any failure of electronic voting equipment. New York University's Brennan Center has a new study on electronic voting.

LAWRENCE NORDEN, NYU BRENNAN CENTER: This was implemented so quickly that we didn't put the right procedures in place. And I think if we do put the right procedures in place, we do put the right security measures in place, that electronic voting can be a great benefit.

PILGRIM: In recent months, machines used during the primaries have crashed and poll workers have been befuddled with running and understanding the machines.


PILGRIM: Now, a quick update on Colorado. Last week, activists sued to have the state go to an all-paper ballot. The judge refused to decertify the electronic voting machines, but today the court issued 10 pages of detailed rules on operating, testing and securing the machines for the elections and the activists we spoke to call it a victory. Lou.

DOBBS: Well, it sounds like it is and certainly a victory for the people of Colorado. The fact that anyone would even contemplate going into this election without standards and without training and without a paper trail is just completely mindless. Thank you, judge. We don't get to say that very often around here, do we? Kitty, thank you very much. Kitty Pilgrim. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats tonight continue to obstruct legislation that would help prevent illegal immigration and illegal aliens from voting in our elections. Senator Hillary Clinton, fellow congressional Democrats are blasting the Republicans in the House of Representatives for passing a bill that would require voters -- of all things -- to present a ballot identification before being allowed to register and vote.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: The House Republicans have forced through a partisan, disgraceful bill that undercuts the integrity of our electoral process. Instead of tearing down the remaining barriers that too often stand in the way of people exercising their right to vote, the cynical Washington Republicans are trying to build new walls between millions of eligible, senior, minority and low income Americans and their civil right to choose their own leaders.


DOBBS: Senator Clinton has a way with words, some would just call it rhetoric. Some would suggest it's offensive. Some would suggest it's not the entire truth. You could put me in that list of people who would say that. It's not clear whether the voting ID will ever come up for a vote, by the way, in the Senate this year. Not much apparently will.

That brings us to the subject of tonight's poll question. Do you agree with Senator Clinton when she says the voter ID bill "undercuts the integrity of our electoral process"? Yes or no. Please cast your vote at We'll have the results coming up here later.

And still ahead, communities all across this country fighting back against illegal immigration, but some people say tough new ordinances are unfair, even racially motivated. I'll be talking with an attorney in Missouri who's siding with the illegals. She says these new ordinances are offensive.

The midterm elections now just six weeks away, how big will the Democrats win? Will the Republicans retain control of Congress? Three of the best political minds join us to give us their absolute finite answers to those questions and more. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Tonight communities all across the country are passing tough new ordinances aimed at punishing employers and landlords of illegal aliens. One of these ordinances is in Valley Park, Missouri, it's a small community. And it's being challenged by business owners and some town residents. The ordinance would make it a crime to hire or rent property to illegal aliens. Opponents say it promotes racial profiling, will hurt business.

Joining me tonight is attorney Linda Martinez. She is representing opponents of the ordinance and joins us tonight from St. Louis. Good to have you with us.

LINDA MARTINEZ, ATTORNEY: Nice to be here, thank you.

DOBBS: A temporary restraining order granted this afternoon against that ordinance. As you know, ordinances like it are being passed all across the country and it looks like it is a rising tide that is going to reach critical mass fairly soon.

What is your objection to having an ordinance that -- in a nondiscriminatory fashion would prevent landlords from renting to illegal aliens and hiring business owners, hiring illegal aliens?

MARTINEZ: The power to control immigration issues is addressed by the Constitution and delegated solely to the federal government. It's not to be administered on a local basis by cities and states. It's supposed to be mandated on a national basis -- a consistent national policy so there's not a patchwork of ordinances.

DOBBS: You're the attorney. But if I may, the Constitution does reserve that right to the national government. But this isn't about immigration, deciding who can or cannot be a citizen, but determining and it seems clear, that both constitutionally and in law, it's anticipated that law enforcement officers, whether local, state or federal can examine citizenship of any suspect of a crime.

MARTINEZ: Well, I'm not disagreeing with that, but this law specifically provides for enforcement methodologies that are contrary to the immigration statutes. They violate the Missouri law, the city of this type can't regulate these type of issues. It promotes discrimination and housing, contravention of the Fair Housing Act. It violates their own state's statutes with regard to landlords and tenants. Tenants are supposed to get notice before they're evicted. The city is asking for people to be evicted on three day's notice.

DOBBS: And what notice would satisfy you?

MARTINEZ: Well, it's not really a question of what notice would satisfy me, but it's clearly contrary to what the state law has at this point in time.

DOBBS: The idea that this city is trying to eliminate what it determines to be a threat to the well being of the community as a number of other communities have determined employers hiring illegal aliens, putting a great strain on local services, state, local and federal services whether they be welfare, medical, social services -- whether it be infrastructure as in the case in Stillmore, Georgia, which an overwhelming number of illegal aliens there were crowded into residences, something from which that little town will never recover. How do you deal with that issue if the federal government is not going to do its job?

MARTINEZ: Well, I think that we can't give the federal government the pass. The federal government is supposed to set national policies both to implement the rules with regard to immigration and merely because they haven't done so, doesn't mean the city should take up the issue. I understand the city's frustration, but this is a national issue. Specifically, the issues with regard to have they incurred expenses, is it challenging their school system, is it putting a burden on the system in Valley Park, is obviously an issue. But there's been no evidence that has placed a burden on Valley Park.

Specifically, Valley Park said on the "Nightline" program last week that they didn't know they had illegal immigrants, and they made no findings when they adopted this law. They basically just wrote exactly almost verbatim what was in the Hazelton law, refer to a hospital they don't even have in their city. And I think just kind of wholesaley adopted the Hazelton provisions.

DOBBS: As you know, the challenges to Hazelton were mitigated considerably when they finished a revamping of that ordinance in a careful consideration of the language of that ordinance. Do you expect this to continue for sometime in Valley Park?

MARTINEZ: I do expect this to continue and I do think there were some modifications that addressed some of the issues that were raised by the first ordinance that was adopted in Valley Park. But actually the second ordinance creates additional issues. Specifically, if a complaint is filed against a landlord, and Mr. Baker, one of our co- counselors came up with this argument today said, a complaint is filed, a landlord has to respond.

You essentially have to give up your 5th Amendment rights if you aren't sufficiently able to prove that a person is a citizen and therefore able to stay on your property. Three days later, no hearing, no judge, no administrative law proceeding. You have no business unless you get rid of the person in violation of Missouri law.

DOBBS: And we will be watching what evolves there in Missouri very carefully, indeed around the country. Linda Martinez, we thank you very much for being with us, appreciate it.

MARTINEZ: Thank you so much.

DOBBS: Still ahead here, more of your thoughts. A preview of the midterm elections. Three of the country's best political analysts join me to tell us right now how they think this election will turn out. All of this and more. Stay with us as we march ahead.


DOBBS: Coming up shortly, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou. Right at the top of the hour, we're tracking a developing story. In a few moments, the White House will try to mend a major rift in the war on terror. At stake, the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Has it been sidetracked by bickering between the presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan? In an exclusive interview, the Afghan President Hamid Karzai shows us what's making America's allies drift apart. And why do most Iraqis want U.S. forces to pull out of their country within a year? We're taking you to Baghdad to get the story on the ground from CNN's Michael Ware. And he compared Senator Hillary Clinton to the devil. But is the Reverend Jerry Falwell sorry? Will he apologize to Mrs. Clinton? All that coming up right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

DOBBS: I can't wait to hear the answer to that question, Wolf. Thanks you very much, we'll look forward to it.

A reminder to vote in our poll tonight. The question, do you agree with Senator Hillary Clinton when she said today the voter ID bill currently working its way through Congress, quote, "undercuts the integrity of our electoral process?" Yes or no, cast your vote at We'll have those results coming up in just a moment.

Joining me now, midterm election, six weeks away, our esteemed political panel is here now. Former White House political director, Republican strategist Ed Rollins. Ed, good to have you here.

Michael Goodwin, from the "New York Daily News," columnist extraordinaire. Good to have you here, Michael. And Robert Zimmerman, Democratic strategist, friend of the Clintons.

What in the world is former President Clinton doing, what in the world is President Bush doing as they point at each other trying to say which failed the least?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, George Bush said he wanted to make terrorism the key political issue in this campaign. And Democrats are taking a page out of Karl Rove's playbook because we're going to make terrorism and the Bush administration policies the seminal issue in this midterm election. And I think the tactic is going to work well, because at the end of the day, this administration's record and lack of accountability is going to come full force and you're going to see Democrats win on the issue of keeping America safer.

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: hey have a new slogan, remember the Cole.

DOBBS: Well...

ZIMMERMAN: And remember Condoleezza Rice saying it would be unwise to reciprocate for it on the 9/11 Commission.

DOBBS: Well I suspect that there are a lot of people who wish they had not testified quite as they did in the 9/11 Commission gathering process. The fact is, we haven't caught Osama bin Laden. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are moving in the wrong direction for this country. How important will it be in your judgment, the conduct of the global war on terror, Michael?

MICHAEL GOODWIN, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: I think very important. I think it should be the most important issue. I think it's an existential thing. I mean our entire existence is caught up in it. I do wonder however how badly this national intelligence estimate hurts Bush. I think the way it's being played in certain circles does make the American efforts look not so good. But the fact is, I think the question is what are we going to do about it. Not what happened before but what are we going to do now?

And I think this sober assessment that terrorism is spreading at the cells or growing around the world -- we all know that's correct. What are we going to do about it? And we don't hear a lot of great answers on that.

ROLLINS: I think Democrats had a tremendous opportunity in this election and I think they may have blown it. I really think that the country was disgusted with this war -- they were disgusted at the way the war's been conducted.

But I think the Democrats have come at the Republicans for such a period of time, that they got their guard up. They're now dragging it back to make it about local issues, which they always do well. They're now basically out beating the daylights out of local new candidates about things that aren't very relevant in the big picture. And I think at the end of the day, in order to beat 15 incumbents, you've got to have candidates who can do that.

ZIMMERMAN: There's only one candidate on the ballot in this midterm election and that's George W. Bush.

ROLLINS: You and I argued that.

ZIMMERMAN: We have a difference on that point.

ROLLINS: We argued that and there's never been a period -- you go -- no one's going to find George Bush's name and no one walks into...

ZIMMERMAN: ... But they're going to find Republican Congress, Congress looks good with him every step of the way.

ROLLINS: I've been doing this for 40 years. No one walks in and says, "Oh, I've got to find the Republican to vote against George Bush." There's no poll that will indicate that. The bottom line is...

ZIMMERMAN: ... Look at 1994 as a good explain.

ROLLINS: They didn't walk in and vote against Bill Clinton.

DOBBS: In 1994 -- I want to go to something else, but let me ask you this. In 1994, the Republicans -- only to see poll numbers this low for Congress, you have to go back to 1994 in poll numbers for a president this low.

But the difference is, it seems to me, in part is that the Republicans came with a contract, a plan, the contract for America. I don't hear that coming from the Democrats and I wonder if it's too diffuse to be helpful. I have no strong feeling one way or the other as to which party will prevail here But I don't see that kind of coalesce, clear strategy on the part of the Democrats.

ZIMMERMAN: Well I think it's clearly a tactic of the Democrats to make George W. Bush be the focal point of this election. And I think that that's clearly the tactic. And I think in terms of the strategy, you're seeing Democrats through their local candidates articulate strategies for redeployment and changing the status quo in Iraq.

DOBBS: Let's listen to something that Bishop Soto today said on the issue of illegal immigration, if we could put that up.

Bishop Jaime Soto of Orange County sang today, the church, "The Catholic Church wants immigrants, including the undocumented, to become full members of our society, to assume all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship."

The good bishop on Capitol Hill pushing it. It seems right now that the Democratic Party and Ted Kennedy also expressing his support today -- it seems the Democrats have chosen to take the amnesty that the president's failed to push through and make that their claim of going into this midterm election. Republicans led by the House seem to be saying, we're going to talk border security. Which do you think will resonate better with voters?

ZIMMERMAN: Obviously to me, I think border security is the key issue and the lead issue. And I think Democrats -- if they don't make border security the focal point are going to miss the opportunity -- miss an important opportunity. But immigration is only one of the issues. I think without a doubt, the war in Iraq and the way this administration has put us in this tragic situation is going to be the defining issue.

GOODWIN: I think really one of the problems for Democrats, Loud, across the board, they are far more liberal. Their leaders in Congress are far more liberal than the American people as a whole.

Charlie Rangel this week, who stands in a position to be head of House Ways and Means if the Democrats take the House, said he would look at all kinds of tax increases.

You have talk of impeachment, you have the border issue. And in Iraq, there's this sense of we're going to redeploy. Redeploy is another word for retreat. I don't think the American people are there yet.

DOBBS: How -- go ahead, Ed, I'm sorry.

ROLLINS: I think the bottom line is, Americans are very dissatisfied with this war. They don't know what the answer is. You look poll after poll, they think we got in there for all the wrong reasons. But they are very, very worried if we do pull out immediately that serious things could happen.

And I think they're very worried about terrorism and they don't feel safe. Many Democrats and certainly a lot of Republicans are still very concerned about Israel and other things in the Middle East. So I don't think the Democrats have very effectively made their case. And as I said, I think everybody is confused about this issue. They may not like it, but it's going to go back to local issues and I think we end up -- I don't think we're going to lose the House. I really -- I say it on this show. I don't think we're going to lose the House. I think we have a better chance of struggling to hold onto the Senate than we do losing the House.

ZIMMERMAN: There's one bottom line though if I may.

DOBBS: You get the last word.

ZIMMERMAN: There's one bottom line in defining this midterm election.

DOBBS: But you have to stay on message.

ZIMMERMAN: With you I can never stay on message. And that is, you're going to see the Iraq war and what it represents in terms of whether America's safe -- be the defining issue and in fact, according to Donald Rumsfeld's test, are we making more terrorists or beating the terrorists? That's the issue and Bush's own national intelligence makes it clear. We're losing by Donald Rumsfeld's measure.

DOBBS: And when we pick this up Friday, Michael Goodwin, we're going to start with you examining the issues that may be closer than all of these issues to most folks, and that is, where are they standing in terms of energy policy? Where are they standing in terms of the housing costs, health care costs and wages that have been stagnant for some time?

Ed Rollins, as always, good to have you. Michael Goodwin, Robert Zimmerman, thank you, sir.

Still ahead here, we'll have the results of our poll. Please stay with us.


DOBBS: Results of our poll, just about three quarters of you do not agree with Senator Clinton's assertion the voter ID bill undercuts the integrity of our electoral process.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf?