Return to Transcripts main page

Lou Dobbs Tonight

President Bush Due to Give Iraq Speech Next Week; Military Shakeup; Strategy Under Fire In Iraq; Jesse Jackson Interview

Aired January 05, 2007 - 17:59   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, President Bush replacing the generals responsible for fighting the insurgency in Iraq days before he is to announce a new strategy for the conduct of this war.
We'll have live reports for you tonight from the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill.

And the Democrats make a bold beginning in their battle to roll back corporate and special interests in Washington. Will they succeed?

We'll have that special report. Three of the country's best political minds join us.

All of that and a great deal more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Friday, January 5th.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

The White House today announced a shakeup of the military commanders responsible for fighting the war in Iraq. The commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East, General John Abizaid, will retire. The commander of our troops in Iraq, General George Casey, becomes Army chief of staff.

Those announcements came as President Bush prepared to announce a new military strategy. President Bush is considering sending between 20,000 and 40,000 additional troops to Iraq.

Ed Henry tonight reports from the White House on the president's changing strategy for the war in Iraq.

Kathleen Koch reports from the Pentagon on the new commanders who will take responsibility for success in this war.

Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill on the Democrats' opposition to any troop increase in Iraq.

We turn first to Ed Henry at the White House -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the president plans to reveal his latest Iraq strategy next week in a prime-time address to the nation, expected to be Wednesday, though it could slip to Thursday, based on how the final details are worked out. As you noted, the president looking towards a surge in the neighborhood of 20,000 to 40,000 more U.S. troops, though we're told it's likely to be at the lower end, more towards 20,000 U.S. troops.

In advance of that speech, the commander in chief has now finished a complete overhaul of the command structure of the war in Iraq. Of course, as you know, Donald Rumsfeld pushed out the day after the election results, replaced by Robert Gates.

Then today, as you noted, White House spokesman Tony Snow confirming that, in fact, General John Abizaid, central commander, has been replaced by Admiral William Fallon. Also, General George Casey, the lead U.S. commander on the ground in Iraq, will be replaced by Lieutenant general David Petraeus. Also as you noted, Casey, though, will stay on, an elevation of sorts, to Army chief of staff.

Now, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid charged today that the president is pushing out generals who are privately opposed to a surge in U.S. troops and that the president only wants people around him who will be "yes" men, essentially. That was sharply rejected by White House spokesman, Tony Snow.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That's inaccurate. It's just flat inaccurate.

General Casey is now going to be the chairman -- I mean, he's going to be the Army chief, the chief of staff for the United States Army. General Abizaid is somebody whose counsel we will continue to value and we'll listen to.


HENRY: Now, Snow added the president wanted to get these changes done now so that the president could get the new players in place to implement this new policy that will be unveiled next week. That's why the president today also made official what we already knew, that John Negroponte leaving the office of director of National Intelligence, moving over to be number two at the State Department. He will be replaced. The president officially nominating retired vice admiral Michael McConnell to replace Negroponte -- Lou.

DOBBS: Ed, thank you.

Ed Henry from the White House.

The president is nominating Admiral William Fallon to replace General Abizaid. It is an unexpected appointment, as Admiral Fallon has no direct experience in the war in Iraq. Admiral Fallon will undoubtedly rely heavily on the advice of the new commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, General David Petraeus.

Kathleen Koch has the report from the Pentagon.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They call him the "Silver Fox." Admiral William Fallon, a surprise choice, will be the first Navy officer to serve as head of Central Command, replacing retiring General John Abizaid. Fallon is seen as a Pentagon troubleshooter, over the years dispatched to tough duties, always excelling. The admiral has gotten high marks for his current job heading the massive Pacific Command and dealing with sensitive situations in China, Taiwan and North Korea.

Another plus, Fallon comes with a clean slate on Iraq.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think the main thing that he will bring that is different is a completely set of fresh eyes. In other words, he has no investment in what has happened in the past in Iraq. And so he's going to approach this in a very realistic, clear-eyed manner, much as the new defense secretary has had to approach it.

KOCH: Lieutenant General David Petraeus will be the new commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, taking the place of General John Casey, who becomes Army Chief of Staff.

An Oxford graduate, Petraeus is known as a brilliant thinker, but the general is also described as a tough warrior, leading the 101st Airborne during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and overseeing its occupation of Mosul. On his watch, forces restored and maintained order there while the rest of the country was still struggling. Petraeus was later charged with leading the effort to train Iraqi security forces.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think General Petraeus is absolutely the most qualified general officer we have to undertake a change of mission and strategy in Iraq. Irregular warfare is very different. There's not a lot of predictability. And there's a lot of uncertainty.

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: He has a tall task ahead of him, but he's the kind of soldier that will be able to take that on if he's given the empowerment and resources to do so.


KOCH: And many point out that's key. Without a functional, well-thought-out plan for Iraq and the means to execute it, it will be very tough for the new commanders to make a difference, no matter what their qualifications -- Lou.

DOBBS: Kathleen, thank you very much.

KOCH: You bet.

DOBBS: Kathleen Koch from the Pentagon.

The new Democratic leadership in Congress is already declaring its opposition to any troop buildup in Iraq. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying the idea of sending reinforcements to Iraq has already been tried, and it's already failed. Some Republican lawmakers also oppose and question any so- called surge of troops.

Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the question of the day, the new House speaker had a simple answer...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you support a surge in U.S. troops in Iraq?

BASH: Day two in power, Nancy Pelosi joined the new Democratic Senate majority leader, warning the president in this blunt letter not to raise troop levels in Iraq. They called surging troops a "serious mistake" and "... a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed."

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: The surge is a bad idea. The president has said he was going to listen to his commanders. If he's listening to his commanders, he can't do this. I know he's shuffling some in and out, obviously because they are not telling him what he wants to hear.

BASH: The Democrats told Mr. Bush his urgent focus should be on troop withdrawal starting in four to six months. A clear reminder the White House war strategy will now face heightened scrutiny in Congress.

Not just from Democrats. Republican senator and likely president candidate John McCain warned reported plans of a temporary surge of about 20,000 troops won't work because it's not enough.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It has to be significant and sustained. Otherwise, do not do it. Otherwise, there will be more needless loss of American lives.

BASH: McCain favors committing 35,000 additional troops. And even then...

MCCAIN: There is no guarantee for success in Iraq. From everything I witnessed on my most recent visit, I believe that success is still possible, but it will be very difficult.

BASH: Senator Joe Lieberman won re-election as an Independent after losing his primary to an antiwar Democrat. He supports a troop surge, too, and said the president should ignore demands from the new Democratic leadership.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: I think this is a time for the president to be president and Congress to respect that part of the authority of the commander in chief. And all hope that it works.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BASH: Senators from both parties did get a chance to directly ask the president questions about his Iraq policy at a meeting at the White House today. Lou, I spoke with a couple of senators who were at that meeting. Both said that there was skepticism and concern coming not just from Democrats, but from Republicans.

One senator said that they made clear it is was a "big act" to ask the president and, more specifically, to ask these senators' constituents to send more troops into Iraq, and made clear to the president that if he does that, he's going to have to explain that very carefully and with a lot of detail -- Lou

DOBBS: Dana, Senator Harry Reid committed, along with Nancy Pelosi, to bipartisanship. There was to be a honeymoon.

I supposed that ended today when he accused the president of making these changes simply to provide "yes" men around him. An extraordinary charge from the Senate leader who had declared partnership in all of this.

BASH: You know, I interviewed Harry Reid a couple of weeks ago in his hometown of Searchlight, Nevada, and he said that on the one hand, he was going to try to be as open and cooperate with the president as much as he could. But he also said that he is going to be as candid as he possibly could when it comes to big issues, including Iraq. And Lou, that's what we saw today.

DOBBS: Candor is one thing. That was a clear -- a clear shot, wasn't it?

BASH: It was a clear shot, and he's a man who is known to say what he means, and today he definitely did that. When it comes to Iraq, Lou, no matter what anybody says in terms of bipartisanship, we are going to see a serious discussion, a serious debate, and probably even a policy fight that's just beginning here in Capitol Hill and all across all the way down Pennsylvania Avenue, no question about it.

DOBBS: Four years almost since its beginning. Perhaps some would say -- and perhaps accurately -- it is past time.

Dana Bash, thank you.

The Bush administration doing everything possible to avoid creating the impression that any troop buildup in Iraq would be permanent. Those efforts even extend to the language the administration has crafted to describe such actions. That's why officials are using terms like "troop surge."

Bill Schneider reports.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The first official use of the sword came when the new defense secretary went to Iraq last month. ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We've discussed the possibility of a surge and the possibility -- and the potential for what it might accomplish.

SCHNEIDER: The same day, President Bush was asked if he supports a surge in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq.

BUSH: I'm just interested in the Iraqis' point of view and then I'll report back to you, as to whether or not I support a surge or not.

Nice try.

SCHNEIDER: Why surge? Why not escalate?

Because surge sounds temporary. Waves surge and decline. Escalation sounds long-term.

President Lyndon Johnson escalated the deployment of U.S. troops to Vietnam in 1965. That war did not end for another 10 years. Whatever you call it, sending more troops would provoke a political firestorm.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), MAJORITY WHIP: I'm afraid that, in many instances, we are only sending targets, and not troops.

SCHNEIDER: Only 11 percent of Americans favor sending more troops. A majority wants to withdraw U.S. troops, either immediately or within a year.

President Bush said...

BUSH: There's got to be a specific mission that can be accomplished with the addition of more troops before, you know, I agree on that strategy.

SCHNEIDER: Two military strategists defined that mission this way: "bringing security to Baghdad, the essential pre-condition for political compromise, national reconciliation and economic development is possibly only with a surge of at least 30,000 combat troops, lasting 18 months or so. The surge must come from the Iraqis, too, a point the president says he made to the Iraqi prime minister.

BUSH: I said that you show the will, we will help you.


SCHNEIDER: A State Department official has been quoted as saying, "Instead of a surge, it is a bump." Well, to quote the president, "Nice try" -- Lou.

DOBBS: Yes, I would argue with you, Bill, I don't think that's a particularly nice try. I would probably argue with the president as well. These are silly word games at a time when we have men and women in uniform being wounded and killed. Is it fair to say, if we may extricate ourselves from the games that are often played there, no matter how serious the issues around the world facing our men and women in uniform, is it fair to say that it's a time for honesty and straightforward discussion of these issues and less of this nonsense and artificial language?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, lives are at stake. The future of Iraq, the credibility of the United States, there are enormous stakes here in this -- in this policy. And no one has an easy answer.

That's the problem. Politics is filled with easy answers, and I think the message of the Iraq Study Group was, there are no easy answers to this problem.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

Bill Schneider from Washington.

Coming up here next, congressional Democrats introduce bold, new measures trying to roll back the awesome influence of corporate American special interests.

We'll have that report.

And a political showdown over one community's refusal to work with the federal government to tackle illegal immigration and our border security crisis.

We'll have that report here next.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: One Midwestern city is bucking what is a national trend that has seen local communities fighting illegal immigration. Law enforcement in St. Paul, Minnesota, says, no more borders from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Lawmakers there moving to declare St. Paul a sanctuary city, just like its twin city, Minneapolis.

Bill Tucker reports.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ramsey County, Minnesota, doesn't want any more detainees from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That, despite the fact that the contract with ICE is worth almost $2 million a year.

For the sheriff and the county commissioner pushing for ending their contract, it's not a money issue. It is a moral issue. And what they call an inhuman immigration system.

RAFAEL ORTEGA, RAMSEY COUNTY COMM.: The issue is more that people come here for the dignity of work. We need to treat them with human dignity. We need to address this issue.

It does impact not only these families, it impacts all our families in our small towns and cities. And in the state of Minnesota.

TUCKER: While Commissioner Ortega is admittedly opposed to the jailing of illegal aliens on moral grounds, he also opposes them on a practical basis, saying his county jails are full, and that by his estimation there are currently five or six ICE detainees who have been held for more than 200 days, denying them speedy due process.

The move by St. Paul to declare itself a sanctuary city, like its twin city, Minneapolis, disturbs the state's governor.

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY (R), MINNESOTA: It also underscores how flippant large segments of our society have become about illegal immigration. It's kind of a, you know, "so what" kind of attitude. We are built of a nation of laws, and if people get to pick and choose off an a la carte menu as to which laws they want to follow and which ones they don't, it can lead to disorder and it can undermine the very pillars and foundations of our rule-of-law society.

TUCKER: Even as St Paul and Ramsey County are reviewing their options, other neighbors counties have existing relationships with ICE and are happy the arrangements.


TUCKER: Now, ICE responds to the question of the lengthy extended stays by saying that these small number of detainees being held are themselves complicating their removal process. They file multiple appeals and they refuse to fill out forms needed to allow the return to their home country.

Lou, ICE says it is committed to providing due process to all of these detainees.

DOBBS: Well, they may be, but 200 days seems extraordinary. Certainly ICE and the U.S. Justice Department, the federal government, could figure out something that would make more sense than that.

TUCKER: Well, part of the problem is they can't return these detainees to their home countries unless they fill out the forms. And in many of these cases, they are refusing to fill them out, or fill them out partially.


DOBBS: Well, that's idiotic, because they'll be there for much longer than 200 days.

TUCKER: Exactly. Exactly.


DOBBS: You know, we often say on this program that Vicente Fox and now Felipe Calderon are in charge of U.S. immigration policy. It turns out the detainees are.

I mean, that's -- that's silly beyond belief. The idea -- is anyone in St. Paul, a good councilman, Ortega, the good sheriff, do they care about the fact that they are fighting federal law by creating a sanctuary?

TUCKER: No. No, they don't. And in fact, Governor Pawlenty has moved to try and declare sanctuary policy illegal in the state of Minnesota.

DOBBS: Well, it's a federal law now.

TUCKER: And I pointed that out to him as well. I said, "You know, it's against federal law as well." And he said, "But I'm trying to drive the point home with these cities," and Lou, unfortunately he's not getting there.

DOBBS: You know, we laugh when we cross the penumbra of the absurd. And this is -- this is an absurdity.

The arrogance of that councilman to decide to -- he understands the moral basis of what is law in this country, he's only -- he's only violating probably four or five laws by taking the position -- would violate four to five laws by taking the position he has, should he succeed.

Bill Tucker, thank you very much.

The nation's immigration agency tonight is unprepared, lacks the resources to handle millions of applications for legal residency. That is exactly what I pointed out when the Senate passed the so- called comprehensive Immigration Reform Act that would add, oh, about 20 million more immigrants into the system.

A new report by the very inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security says the Customs and Immigration Service has failed to modernize its computer systems. Millions of cases are still being handled by pen and paper.

Among other issues at that dysfunctional agency, within that dysfunctional department, the development of a new nationwide computer network that's been halted because the agency lacks the $72 million required to pay for it. Fourteen immigrations offices have lost more than 111,000 files. No problem. They went ahead and passed them along anyway and approved the citizenship applications.

A new visa program dropped because of, yes, cost and timing problems, and they say it's going to get worse. Proposed amnesty legislation that is expected to add millions of new applicants to the system will break what is already broken.


ROSEMARY JENKS, NUMBERSUSA: It would be absolutely irresponsible of Congress to pass any law that increases the workload of this agency before these fundamental problems are addressed, because it will increase the illegal immigrant flow.


DOBBS: Well, there are a lot of problems here, and even the Citizenship and Immigration Service now finally admitting, yes, it does have something of a problem.

In a statement, deputy director John Scharfen says, "We acknowledge that we still have a great deal to do."

By the way, this is the agency providing incentives for their employees to expedite these applications and overcome the hundreds of thousands of cases of backlog.

Armed gunmen approached a Border Patrol observation post in Arizona manned by National Guard troops. And in line with their policy, those National Guard troops withdrew. The incident took place Wednesday night along the stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border that is known as a drug smuggling route.

Mike Watkiss of our affiliate KTVK in Fresline Park (ph), Arizona, reports.


JIM HAWKINS, BORDER PATROL: Well, last night, a group of armed individuals approached an entry identification team, which is a National Guard observation post, basically.

MIKE WATKISS, REPORTER, KTVK (voice-over): They have become a familiar sight along the border in recent months, National Guard personnel making up what's known as an entry identification team, or EIT, positioned along the international line looking for illegal crossers. And according to a supposeman with the Border Patrol, last night, just such a team was confronted by a group of armed individuals.

HAWKINS: At this time, the situation is still under investigation. We don't have a positive identification on these individuals, or what their intent or purpose was.

WATKISS: The National Guard, of course, deployed along the boarder last year to serve primarily as lookouts. And according to one source, last night, the guard personnel in question were "briefly overtaken" and then retreated from their armed assailants without a shot being fired.

The guard personnel then called in the Border Patrol for help. A response team, including aircraft, was then dispatched to the scene. But by the time they got there, the armed bad guys had disappeared into the night.

HAWKINS: To date, there haven't been any similar incidents of this nature concerning the National Guard. We have had armed encounters before, of course, with the Border Patrol. It's something we're used here in the Tucson sector. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is another reminder this is dangerous work.

HAWKINS: It is very dangerous work, and the National Guard, they are prepared to defend themselves and they are well trained to do this mission.


DOBBS: That's Mike Watkiss reporting from our affiliate KTVK in Fresline Park, Arizona.

One has to wonder just how dangerous it is if they have orders to retreat whenever armed gunmen advance. It doesn't sound particularly dangerous to me, nor does it seem to make much sense at all. But that's just my opinion.

Our poll question tonight is: Do you support a policy of withdrawal and retreat when our National Guardsmen are confronted with Mexican gunmen advancing across the border? Yes or no?

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

State government officials in Mexico tonight are proposing a new plan to help those illegal aliens cross into the country. Those officials, those government officials in Mexico, may well give illegal aliens GPS locators.

Supporters of the idea say the locators would help illegal immigrants call for help should they become lost while illegally crossing the U.S. border. What those supporters don't say is those locators could, of course, also help the illegal aliens evade U.S. Border Patrol agents and even the National Guard troops when they are in position on the border.

And illegals crossing the border today received a vote of support from a movie star, Sylvester Stallone, "Rocky VII or VIII," whatever he's in. In Mexico, he's there promoting his latest movie, "Rocky Balboa."

Now, this actor had the courage to stand in the heart of Mexico and scream out his support for Mexican illegal aliens, saying he supports Mexicans that work in the United States. He also said the idea of a border fence was crazy and ridiculous.

More courage from Rocky Balboa as he panders to his Mexican audience.

Coming up next, House Democrats moving fast and tackling ethics right out of the gate. We'll have a report on the new rules of the game in D.C. The Democrats off to a good start.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson says it's time for Congress to push for a change in urban policy. He'll be here with us to discuss that.

And the hunt for radical Islamist terrorists intensifying in east Africa. We'll have a special report to you tonight from Nairobi.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: As they promised, congressional Democrats are taking aim at the cozy relationship between lawmakers and lobbyists. Public disgust with corruption on Capitol Hill prompting today's tightening of ethics rules, but whether it's enough to keep members from being bought and sold is still in question.

Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kentucky congressman Hal Rogers and his wife spent a week in Kona, Hawaii, last January. Airport executives picked up the $7,000 tab. They also paid for his visits to Dublin, Ireland, and San Francisco.

Under newly-adopted House ethics rules that passed 430-1, lobbying groups can no longer pay for such trips, meals and entertainment.

REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: When the speaker's gavel comes down, it intends to open the people's House, not the auction House.

SYLVESTER: In the opening hours of the new congressional session, House Democrats have kept a pledge to clean up the swamp of corruption in Washington. House lawmakers are banned from flying on corporate jets at reduced prices. Congressional travel financed by outside groups must be approved in advance and immediately disclosed.

November's elections spurred the House to take quick action. Voters demanding change after a string of lobbying scandals.

REP. BETTY SUTTON (D), OHIO: Today we sever the links between those who would buy influence on Capitol Hill and those who would willingly sell it.

SYLVESTER: Public watchdog groups are now pressing Congress to create an independent enforcement office to hold lawmakers to the new standards. They also say pensions of convicted lawmakers should be taken away, but overall, they are praising the new rules.

FRED WERTHEIMER, DEMOCRACY 21: What the new rules do in the end is challenge the culture of entitlement on Capitol Hill, whereby members had become used to having their lifestyles paid for by lobbyists and other influence-seekers.

SYLVESTER: Congress for so long has operated on a pay-to-play system, where those with the deepest pockets have the loudest voice. That could now be changing.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SYLVESTER: The Senate is expected to take up a similar ethics package Monday. Now, the one House member who voted against the ethics rules was Representative Dan Burton because he claims it does not go far enough.

However, Burton, like many other members of Congress, has gone on a few junkets, including a week-long visit to Taiwan with his wife last fall that cost $15,000, paid for, Lou, by business interests -- Lou.

DOBBS: A business interest. Well, $2 billion spent by lobbyists in Washington, D.C., and I think just about everyone would agree that they have certainly made a good investment over the past decade. The idea that this could be ending is something to rejoice.

Now, we'll see what the Democrats do in the Senate, and hopefully we'll be able to test it all with a decision on whether the president would sign such legislation.

SYLVESTER: Well, you also have to make sure that they enforce these new rules as well, Lou.

DOBBS: There is that issue in this country right now. We have a lot of laws, a lot of them not being enforced. We'll watch and see. We can do that part, our part, anyway, right, Lisa?

SYLVESTER: Absolutely, Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you, Lisa Sylvester.

Time now for some of your thoughts.

Jeffrey in Texas said, "I'll be personally delivering a box of rocks to the doorstep of my local Chamber of Commerce here in Mansfield, Texas this morning. I'll be attaching a note printed in an extra-large font which displays an American Flag and Tom Donohue's comment." Referring to Tom Donohue, the head of the National U.S. -- the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the business lobbying group saying anyone who supports a guest worker program "dumb as a box of rocks." People apparently didn't like that comment.

Elliott in Utah: "Anyone who thinks the middle class is going to sit around and let Congress and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce allow illegal immigrant amnesty legislation to pass is dumb as a box of rocks."

Andy in Washington: "Hey, Lou, instead of swearing in our legislators by having them place their hand on a Bible, or as one of your viewers suggested, on the Constitution, why not have them place their hand in a steaming pile of bull manure since that's all we get from the anyway."

That's an intriguing suggestion. I still prefer that hand on the Constitution of the United States. But we appreciate the thought, nonetheless. Send us your thoughts to Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my new book, "War On The Middle Class."

Up next here, one of the country's leading black leaders demanding Congress focus on urban policy.

And three of the country's smartest political analysts join me to discuss the change of course in Iraq. Is it a change of course?

And the day's and week's political developments. Stay with us.


DOBBS: House Democratic leaders have promised to push for big changes in their 100-hour program that begins Tuesday. That agenda includes issues contributing to the war on the middle class in this country, including an increase in the minimum wage, cutting interest rates on student loans, cutting prescription drug costs.

My guest tonight says that's not enough. Reverend Jesse Jackson is calling on Congress to focus on urban neglect and to create a new modern urban policy.

Good to have you with us.


You know, Lou, trade policy is critical to it all. You know, I was in Dearborn and Detroit, Michigan two weeks ago. They are losing 5,500 Ford jobs. They say we can't make cars? No. Toyota can build plants in America, but we can't build plants in Japan.

We are playing with one hand behind our back when we negotiate a deal where it is illegal, negotiation a cheaper price for America's seniors to get medicine. And so part of it is to even the playing field. We didn't know how good baseball could be until everyone could play. We do well on the even playing field, so part of our issue here is the even playing field.

DOBBS: You've talked with the Democratic leadership. The focus on urban policy is not one of the priorities, per se, that they are focusing on. How do you feel about where they are headed?

JACKSON: I'm concerned that in the -- this first 100 hours, they didn't mention Katrina, which is a metaphor for the neglected urban policy. In neglected urban policy, you have first-class jails and second-class schools. That's retarded.

There must be a plan not just to raise the minimum wage because for those who have no job, that means nothing to then. Or if you were going to take interest off of tuition, which is a good thing, for those who can't get to college, that means nothing to them.

There must be an commitment to job creation, infrastructure investment, and formal education. Those are the keys to a sound urban policy.

DOBBS: Three keys to a sound urban policy, do you believe that the Democrats in either the House or the Senate are going to embrace it and come up with an approach?

JACKSON: They'll have to be pressed to do it, because there is now a focus on -- it's the issue of bipartisanship as a noble thing, or as bold leadership and a new course. Some old wine skins (ph) don't want to fit -- new, old wine skins don't want to fit in the new wine jug, and so the idea of jobs and tying tax cuts into reinvestment, they may not want to go. We need new direction and boldness in that direction, and those who have ears to hear are in the bipartisan way, hear.

DOBBS: Are you excited, though? I mean, they have already passed -- Pelosi's Congress has already passed ethics reform, pushing back. They begin their 100-hour countdown next week. It seems to me...

JACKSON: Well, there is a new atmosphere, and there is a certain level of collegiality. And the idea of asserting women in leadership, putting all our leadership in the -- the idea of a family women, with children and grandchildren, there's something that smells good about that.

But I think now I'm concerned, Lou, that the impact of 50 million without health insurance, that's a big deal. It must be on the agenda. You can't quite be against the war and keep funding it and don't ask Britain and the Persian states to pay their part of the bill of that war. We've got to have some of that money to reinvest in America.

I would hope in this week we're going to have -- Congressman Rangel and his leadership will be there on Sunday...


JACKSON: Yes, Senator Hillary Clinton will be there, and Chris Dotson, "the Dot," will be there. We'll have other leadership. How can you meet with these big bankers who are now flushing in money to incentivize green lining, red lining America?

They have overseas OPEC. When America is on the free (ph) markets, in fact, have more money, safe and more secure. Let's reinvest in America.

DOBBS: Investing in America's a novel concept, whether urban, suburban or rural.

JACKSON: Whether it's Appalachia or urban America, it's something universal. That's the one victory in America where all of us can share, the big American dreams. And this Sunday, the 7th or the 10th, we'll have our Rainbow/Push 10th Economic Summit Conference.

DOBBS: Jesse Jackson, good to have you here.

JACKSON: Thank you, sir.

DOBBS: Good luck.

Coming up next, three of the country's best political minds and their insights on today's top-level shakeup in the Bush administration and what the future holds in store for Iraq.

And this week in "Heroes," our tribute to our troops serving this nation around the world. The Air Force didn't give Kevin Davis the job he wanted, but he quickly distinguished himself in the duty he was assigned. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Joining me now, Democratic strategist, Democratic National Committee man, Robert Zimmerman, New York Daily News columnist, Michael Goodwin, syndicated columnist, Miguel Perez. Gentlemen, good to have you here.

Well, let's start off with the shake-up. You have got to be excited about the fact that first, Nancy Pelosi has begun to live up, and the Democrats in Congress, has begun to live up to that 100-hour Congress, a good start. And you've got to be, I hope, excited about the fact that President Bush actually got rid of a few generals who hadn't been able to deliver.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well first, on Speaker Pelosi's front, these have been the most sweeping reforms since Watergate both effecting ethics in Congress and lobbying. So it's very encouraging in this respect.

DOBBS: Absolutely.

ZIMMERMAN: And what the media, I think, will learn in the next couple of days is the reforms she put in place regarding the conference committees and how they address earmarks will also be very important in terms of shedding more light on that.

DOBBS: In other words, requiring that those parochial interests on the part of Congressmen have to be disclosed, those earmarks.

ZIMMERMAN: As far as the military, though, very frankly, as far as what I can see, President Bush has already reached his conclusions. Now he's trying to find the facts and personnel to justify them. And I still don't see a plan in place from this president. And I'm still very concerned.

DOBBS: Well, Robert's anticipating next week, isn't he?

MICHAEL GOODWIN, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Next week we'll get to that. But I just want to, if I could, on Nancy Pelosi, and I hate to be the skunk at the garden party, but I think there are two problems to what Nancy Pelosi has done so far. The first is, she had a fundraiser as part of her swearing-in process, $1,000 ticket. Now, Republicans did worse, but that is no way to begin with a fundraiser in a sense, here we are, I'm in charge... DOBBS: Government isn't cheap here, come on.

GOODWIN: $1,000 a ticket, not exact the people's House.

The second thing is, I think this will be a challenge for her, will she get an independent council, an outside independent group to look at Congress' ethics, because as long as it's done in-House, it will not be done vigorously.

ZIMMERMAN: It's never been done out of house.

GOODWIN: So, this is the challenge, this is what she's promised. Let's see if she can pull it off.

ZIMMERMAN: It's the difference between reform and unilaterally disarm. I'm glad Nancy Pelosi is raising funds and protecting the Democratic majority.

DOBBS: Miguel, are you thrilled?

MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I'm not thrilled. I think I just saw one little move that she made that is kind of effective, it's still up to the Senate to see if they go along with it. It's still up to president to see. If they will agree with it. And it's up to the president and the others to see if they will agree.

I think the pressure is now on the Senate and the president to make those changes.

But in answer to your other question, the president is playing with musical chairs. He's just shifted a few people around. And what needs to change is the policy, not a few heads. He is the guy in charge. He could have done the same thing with the same people he had before.

DOBBS: You guys are making me feel like a Polly Anna here. I'm excited about the fact that he got rid of a general amongst a host of generals who haven't been able to do anything, it seems, correctly in Iraq from the beginning and Nancy Pelosi, I'm kind of excited, at least she's begun a process positively to try to push back the awesome power over $2 billion of lobbying money.

PEREZ: The question is how long are we going to be excited about this? And I think we have to deal with reality pretty soon.

GOODWIN: I think the reality about Iraq, Lou, the president as well as a lot of members of Congress are hiding behind the generals, whatever the generals want, the generals, the generals, the generals.

DOBBS: You're right about this, I am so sick about hearing this president and the previous defense secretary, say whatever the commanders say is what we'll do. There was a chain of command.

GOODWIN: It wasn't true in many cases. But ultimately the commander in chief is supposed to decide. I'm reminded of Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War. He was firing people left and right until he got the people he wanted to do what he wanted.


GOODWIN: Wait. There's a downside to it, of course. You could end up micromanaging the war, as Lyndon Johnson did picking bombing targets in Vietnam, you don't want to do that. But the commander in chief should put people in place to carry out the strategy he sets. We'll have to wait until next week to see what the strategy is.

ZIMMERMAN: We've already seen what that strategy is. We've seen this president misjudge the reasons for going to war, misjudged the troop levels that were required, misjudged the cost of this war, misjudged the response we've received to this war. This administration has sacrificed any credibility and any right to confidence of the American people.

DOBBS: What are they going to do about it now? And what are they going to do about it now?

ZIMMERMAN: What the Democrats are going to do is hold this administration accountable. And by that I mean you've seen the Iraq study group come forward with recommendations, you've seen Republicans and Democrats in Congress come together with recommendations. We just don't see the administration having the courage or the vision to pursue bold new agendas. This troop surge, which is an escalation, is nothing more than stay the course with more soldiers.

PEREZ: I hope what the president has already leaked out that the president is about to do next week is not enough. I think that it has -- he has to do a lot more. He has to come up with specifics, and things that are going to produce results. If he doesn't come up with things that he can actually convince the American people, I'm going to do this, and this is going to be the result, we won't go along with it.

DOBBS: We just received word, by the way, I just want to bring everybody up to date, including you, gentlemen, but certainly the audience first, Sam Brownback has -- as we have confirmed at CNN, will be running for president. And we'll have an official announcement on the 20th.

Which bring us to the subject of -- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, excitement building?

GOODWIN: Slowly.

I think it's a long way to go. I think Barack Obama is clearly stirred the whole race. I think he has upset it. And I think he's a real threat to Hillary Clinton. I think John Edwards is not a threat.

ZIMMERMAN: I think the premise is wrong, Michael, when you assume that Hillary Clinton is in fact the frontrunner. The reality is, there is not a frontrunner in either party. The concept itself is political obsolete.

This is a wide-open race on both sides. And I think when you see the fact when you see Barack Obama is generating the interest he is, Joe Biden is generating the interest he is, Edwards is generating a great response.

DOBBS: What about John McCain?

ZIMMERMAN: On the Republican side, McCain, Giuliani.

DOBBS: You get so locked up on those Democrats.

ZIMMERMAN: It's a force of habit. But the point is, you have a number of credible candidates from both sides running and a wide open race.

DOBBS: Let's turn to the issue of illegal immigration, Nancy Pelosi referring to it yesterday, a little half an hour into her tenure. They said they want it. What do you think, Miguel?

PEREZ: I think all the problems will be solved. The GPS people coming to the border, all the problems will be solved if we finally came up with an immigration reform plan that includes legalization. It definitely has to include a stop to illegal immigration from that point on. We have to get serious about stopping future illegal immigrants, but not without a legalization plan.

ZIMMERMAN: You can't do it that way, until you begin -- until you put in place a program to secure the borders, then you can't pursue an effective, comprehensive immigration reform. And what concerns me most is you have 27 Democratic senators vote for that fence along the Mexican/American border and 64 House members vote for that fence, and they are going to be held accountable.

PEREZ: It's interesting to hear a Democrat talking that way, though. Tougher than a Republican.

GOODWIN: I think what's interesting too is the campaign is over now. The Democrats picked up seats in both houses. The president...

DOBBS: Well, the congressional campaign is over.

GOODWIN: And I think it's time, though, we're going to have to come up with some ideas, some real solutions. And so attacking, attacking, attacking just isn't going to work. And on Iraq, I think we have to give the president a chance to put out a new strategy. And then let's see if it makes any sense.

DOBBS: It's time for some grown-up work from all quarters in Washington, D.C. Gentlemen, thank you very much. Appreciate it as always.

Up at the top of the hour, THE SITUATION ROOM with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.

As the president plans a new Iraq strategy, there's a shake-up in the top ranks of the U.S. commanders. Will it make a difference? I'll ask Tom Ricks, the veteran reporter for "The Washington Post," the author of "Fiasco." And I'll also speak with the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, since he suggests the Bush administration may already be waving the white flag on Iraq.

A solo sailor runs into serious trouble on an around-the-world voyage, then a dramatic rescue. We'll have the latest as he finally heads toward land.

And the kissing Congress. Is the new leadership bringing a touchy-feely style to Capitol Hill? Jeanne Moos standing by to take a look. All that, Lou, coming up right here on "THE SITUATION ROOM."

DOBBS: Wolf, thank you very much.

Coming up here next, "Heroes," our weekly tribute to this nation's men and women in uniform. Tonight, the story of Master Sergeant Kevin Davis, honored for his courage. Stay with us.


DOBBS: And now our weekly tribute to the men and women who serve this nation in uniform around the world. Tonight, we introduce you to Master Sergeant Kevin Davis, who entered the Air Force to better himself, and two decades later, as a tactical air controller in Afghanistan and Iraq, honored for risking his life to save the lives of others. Casey Wian has his story.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Master Sergeant Kevin Davis enlisted in the Air Force more than 20 years ago as a self-described fraternity guy in need of discipline.

MASTER SGT. KEVIN DAVIS, U.S. AIR FORCE: I went into the recruiter's office, and he asked me what I wanted to do. I explained to him what I wanted to do. I wanted to be an air traffic controller.

WIAN: Davis thought he'd be looking at radar screens in a tower somewhere. Instead, he fights the war on terror from the ground, calling in air support for Special Operations forces. The job has placed Davis in the middle of firefights. He was among the first deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11.

DAVIS: They only picked a handful of us to go over there at the beginning, and I was happy to be one of the few that were picked.

WIAN: Davis was awarded a Bronze Star for his efforts there.

DAVIS: It was very satisfying to get that Bronze Star, because being one of the first guys, you know, to -- to start the whole war on terrorism was -- is a good feeling.

WIAN: When the United States invaded Iraq, Davis again was one of the first called. He's completed two tours there. During the second, Davis survived one particularly long firefight. DAVIS: I was the only Air Force -- Air Force guy attached to a Special Forces team, and our mission was to go down and assist guys in -- in Karbala, and flush out some of the enemy.

WIAN: For 12 hours, Davis battled from the back of a Bradley fighting vehicle, controlling air support while dodging rocket- propelled grenades. His adrenaline kept him focused.

DAVIS: I'm more worried about doing the job correctly and protecting the guys that I'm with that I'm worried about myself.

WIAN: Last month, Davis received his second Bronze Star for valor on that mission.

DAVIS: There's guys that I wish that could be here. But it's a satisfying feeling to know that you did the job that you were supposed to do, and you did it as well as you could do it.

WIAN: Casey Wian, CNN, reporting.


DOBBS: And after two decades of service, Master Sergeant Davis says he's more committed than ever to the U.S. Air Force and has no plans to retire anytime soon.

Coming up, the results of our poll tonight. More of your thoughts. Please stay with us.


DOBBS: The results of tonight's poll: 96 percent of you do not support a policy of withdrawal and retreat when our national guardsmen are confronted with Mexican gunmen advancing across our border.

Time now for some of your thoughts. Jennifer in Ohio saying -- "These stuffed shirt people who are paid by us keep telling us about how many jobs there are out there. They're right. Trouble is, they only pay $8 to $10 an hour. Can any of them feed their families, pay insurance and send their children to college on that?"

And Lou in Missouri -- "No wonder Social Security will be broke by 2024. If they keep giving it to those illegal immigrants, it will be broke sooner than that."

And Andrew in Missouri -- "It's interesting to see that President Bush and our own government can take away the rights of U.S. citizens by claiming they're protecting us from terrorists. But when it comes to big business, it's a double standard. I guess when you have the money to buy your own rights, anything goes, even if that means our own government selling out America."

Charles in Oklahoma -- "I find the current atmosphere of frivolity and celebration amongst the now majority Democrats to be appalling and unsettling. Against the backdrop of our young men and women losing life and limb, their mood should be somber, sober and introspective."

Thanks for being with us tonight. For all of us here, good night from New York. Have a very pleasant weekend. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.