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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Bush's Hard Sell; Is DHS Outsourcing Security?

Aired January 15, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, the United States and Iran appear to be on a collision course over Tehran's dangerous nuclear weapons program and rising support for insurgents in Iraq.
We'll have a special report from the Pentagon. One of the world's leading authorities on Iran's nuclear and terrorist ambitions join us.

And troubling concerns tonight that a new port security initiative to stop terrorists will actually do very little to protect Americans. Is the federal government outsourcing some of our most vital security checks?

We'll have that special report, a great deal more, straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Monday, January 15th.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates today accused Iran of playing a very negative role in Iraq and the Persian Gulf region. The defense secretary's comments come one day after the president and vice president declared Iran must stop interfering in Iraq. The United States is holding five Iranian revolutionary guards suspected of helping insurgents.

Meanwhile, the first U.S. reinforcements sent to Iraq by the president have now arrived in Baghdad. The top U.S. Commander in Iraq, General George Casey, today said it would take at least six months for those troops to improve security.

Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon on Iran's efforts to destabilize Iraq.

Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House on the president's P.R. offensive.

And Andrea Koppel reports from Capitol Hill on the divisions among Democrats and their response to the president's plan.

We turn first to Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon -- Jamie. JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the question facing the Pentagon tonight is, how do you send a message to Iran to back off? The answer seems to be, in part, send in an aircraft carrier.


MCINTYRE (voice over): U.S. aircraft carrier John Stennis is still at its home port of Bremerton, Washington, but a month from now, when it's scheduled to be plying the waters of the Persian Gulf, it's meant to send a message of strength. That's the explanation for sending a second carrier to the Gulf offered by Robert Gates in Brussels at his first NATO meeting as U.S. defense secretary.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We are simply trying to communicate to the region that we're going to be there for a long time.

MCINTYRE: Ditto the extra Patriot missile defenses pointedly deployed to the region to reassure America's jittery Gulf allies the U.S. can still protect them from Iran, even as it struggles to get Iraq back on track.

GATES: The Iranians clearly believe that we're tied down in Iraq, that they have the initiative, that they're in a position to press us in many ways.

MCINTYRE: But for now, the offensive against Iran is being pressed on the ground in Iraq. U.S. troops are targeted Iranians like the five men arrested in a raid last week who are suspected of being members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Al-Quds Brigade.

ZALMAY KHALILZAD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: That is the organization that has a role, a direct role in the transfer of weapons and working with extremists that target coalition forces.

GEN. GEORGE CASEY, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL FORCE: We have statements made by people in detention. And we have records that give us great confidence that these are in fact intelligence operatives.

MCINTYRE: The U.S. says its show of force aimed at Iran doesn't mean the U.S. is planning to attack Iran. Although last week, neither the State Department nor the Pentagon would totally discount the possibility.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Obviously, the president isn't going to rule anything out to protect our troops, but the plan is to take down these networks in Iraq.

GATES: Any kind of military action inside Iran itself would be a very last resort.


MCINTYRE: The U.S. wants to make clear to Iran that it doesn't have a weak spot simply because it is tied down in Iraq. But Iran, for what it's worth, Lou, doesn't seem to be paying much attention to the U.S. saber rattling. It is moving ahead with its nuclear program, announcing that it is installing thousands of centrifuges in one of its central facilities to proceed with the full-scale enrichment of nuclear uranium for nuclear fuel -- Lou.

DOBBS: Jamie, thank you very much.

Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.

Later here in the broadcast, one of the world's leading authorities on Iran's nuclear and terrorist threats, Alireza Jafarzadeh, will be joining us. We'll also have a special report on Iran's new anti-American alliance with leftist leaders within Latin America. Alliances designed to thwart what our enemies are calling U.S. domination in the region.

In Iraq, the U.S. ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, today strongly defended President Bush's troop increase in Baghdad. The U.S. ambassador said Iraq faces what he called a defining moment. Khalilzad declared that there will be no sanctuary for criminals or murderers, as he called them.


KHALILZAD: While some question the Iraqis' resolve to rise to the occasion and take the hard, necessary steps to break the cycle of sectarian violence that's tearing Baghdad apart, I'm encouraged by what I have seen in recent weeks. And I'm confident that the Iraqi leaders understand the gravity of the moment.


BLITZER: Standing next to Khalilzad there, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General George Casey. He said he's confident the new security plan will work by the summer, or the fall, provided the plan receives sustained political support.

In Iraq, insurgents killed three more of our troops over the weekend. Sixteen of our troops have now been killed in Iraq this month. 3,020 of our troops killed since war began. 22,834 of our troops have been wounded, 10,191 of them so seriously, they could not return to duty within three days.

President Bush says he is determined to push ahead with that plan to raise the number of our troops in Iraq, even if Congress opposes the deal. The president says he's made his decision. He's moving forward.

Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As violence threatens to plunge Iraq into all-out civil war, President Bush continues to sell his unpopular new plan to send in more U.S. troops. As part of Mr. Bush's P.R. offensive, over the weekend he appeared on CBS News' "60 Minutes." He said Iraq's leader, Nouri al- Maliki, had been put on notice that his government could no longer restrict who troops could go after.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A killer is a killer. And we expect them to go after both Shia and Sunni murderers in order to provide the security for Baghdad.

MALVEAUX: Mr. Bush also issued a stern warning to Iran's leader, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that U.S. forces in Iraq would not hesitate to go after any Iranians aiding the militias.

BUSH: If we capture people in the country harming U.S. citizens or Iraqi citizens, you know, we will deal with them.

MALVEAUX: Faced with fierce opposition to his Iraq strategy, the president described the stakes in familiar dire terms.

BUSH: If we do not succeed in Iraq, we will leave behind a Middle East which will endanger America in the future.

MALVEAUX: But President Bush is now beginning to take more responsibility for some of his administration's past failures. A move his aides say they hope will lend him more credibility.

BUSH: The temptation is going to find scapegoats. Well, if the people want a scapegoat, they've got one right here in me, because it's my decisions.

MALVEAUX: Decisions President Bush's former chief of staff Andy Card says have carried a unique burden.

ANDREW CARD, FMR. WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The job is very lonely because the decisions are lonely decisions. And they're not decisions that are based on theory or philosophy or politics. They end up being decisions that re quite frequently very personal.


MALVEAUX: And Lou, of course expect that we'll continue to hear President Bush talk about those decisions, what went behind them. White House aides acknowledge this is going to be a tough sell. That is why part of the strategy is to go around members of Congress, take his message directly to the American people.

Tomorrow he will grant another interview, "News Hour With Jim Lehrer." He will also host the new secretary-general of the United Nations here at the White House to try to garner international support as well -- Lou.

DOBBS: International support. Our allies in the so-called coalition of the willing opposing the president's plan. In fact, Britain withdrawing its forces. The Iraq Study Group, this is exactly counter to what the Iraq Study Group recommended. Obviously, there is the opposition of the Democrats in Congress and many within the president's own party.

These are indeed significant obstacles to proceed.

MALVEAUX: Well, Lou, you're absolutely right. And one of the things that White House aides are certainly hoping is that they believe he's much more effective if he's one on one with these interviews, if he communicates directly with the American people, as opposed to in front the teleprompter. They're certainly hoping that those telecommunications skills at very least will convince some rather skeptical folks -- Lou.

DOBBS: Suzanne, thank you.

Suzanne Malveaux from the White House.

Nearly one week after the president announced his new approach for the conduct of the war in Iraq, Democrats are insisting they're United in their opposition to any troop increase. But those very same Democrats are still unable to reach agreement on how they should respond.

Andrea Koppel reports from Capitol Hill.


ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Senate, Democratic leaders are putting the finishing touches on a symbolic resolution, to be introduced this week, expressing opposition to Mr. Bush's plan.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: I think that will send a message that, in fact, there is great skepticism within Congress and certainly among the American people for this plan.

KOPPEL: But a handful of Democrats in the House and Senate believe that won't be enough and are pushing their party to go further and vote to restrict money for the war.

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE: No one wants to undercut the troops, but there's ways to put conditions on the funds and we do have control over the purse strings.

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: What -- I think we build a case, and we'll build a case which shows we cannot continue down this road. We're spending $8 billion a month.

KOPPEL: Even Democrats no longer in Congress, like former Senator John Edwards, a presidential hopeful in 2008, are weighing in.

FORMER SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Silence is betrayal. Speak out and stop this escalation now. You have the power, members of Congress, to prohibit this president from spending any money to escalate this war. Use that power. Use it now.

KOPPEL: Still other Democrats, including the new chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, say cutting off money would be unwise.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I don't support using the power of the purse because I think that sends the wrong message to our troops. We're going to continue to support our troops, although we disagree with the policy.

KOPPEL (on camera): Republicans accuse Democrats of having no alternative plan to offer, while Senator John McCain, a likely presidential hopeful in 2008 is looking to call the Democrats' bluff, saying, "If they really oppose the president's plan, they should vote to cut off funds. Simply supporting a symbolic resolution," he says, "is nothing more than a political ploy."

Andrea Koppel, CNN, Capitol Hill.


DOBBS: Coming up next, Iran's president and leftist leaders in Latin America forming dangerous alliances against the United States and U.S. interests in the hemisphere.

We'll have that special report.

And charges that the federal government is outsourcing some of the most critical defenses against radical Islamist terrorism.

That report.

And new protest in the case of two former Border Patrol agents are who scheduled to be sent to prison this week for doing their jobs.

We'll have that report, a great deal more still ahead.


DOBBS: New concerns tonight about exactly who is in charge of screening cargo before it reaches the United States. The plan to inspect cargo before it leaves for the U.S. is a key component of the Department of Homeland Security's anti-terrorism efforts. But there are serious questions about one country, Pakistan, where critics charge we have outsourced our security.

Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Department of Homeland Security is launching a pilot program to scan foreign containers overseas, inspecting character for radiation to prevent a terrorist weapon from ever reaching the American home front.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We are not satisfied that our security concerns have been met overseas. We will not allow that particular container to be loaded on a ship or to come into the United States of America SYLVESTER: The program will officially begin later this year, but Senator Byron Dorgan has concerns with how it's being implemented in the testing stage. He says U.S. Customs officials have been leaving the real inspection work to foreign officials.

In a letter to Secretary Michael Chertoff, Dorgan says the State Department has informed him that American Customs officers "... are under instructions from the U.S. embassy to stay away from Pakistani ports due to security concerns."

SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: But with respect to Pakistan, you can't have a country involved unless you have U.S. inspectors on the dock taking a look at what's being put on these ships and foreign ports.

SYLVESTER: A DHS spokesman denies U.S. Customs officials have been told to stay away in Pakistan, but adds U.S. inspectors have the ability to examine containers remotely, using a video link that transmits live images. And the ultimate decision whether cargo is cleared to leave for the United States rests with U.S. officials.

Critics say this is not sufficient and worry DHS is "outsourcing security."

MICHAEL CUTLER, FMR. INS AGENT: The only people who we can really 100 percent trust, unfortunately, are our own Customs officials. They should be doing this, not somebody else. And if we can't get our people to do it over there, then certainty the cargo needs to be screened once it gets here.

SYLVESTER: Adding to the debate is the fact that the Pakistani port is managed by Dubai Ports World. Late in 2005, DPW was the center of a political firestorm over its attempt to take over several U.S. ports. DPW is controlled by the government of the United Arab Emirates.


SYLVESTER: The Department of Homeland Security says that the cargo can be screened again when it arrives in the United States, but the U.S. government signed a trade security agreement known as the IC3 with Pakistan last year. That calls for the joint screening of U.S.- bound cargo, but under those terms, U.S. Customs will not subject the cargo to reexamination -- Lou.

DOBBS: So, in other words, the State Department has advised Customs that the situation at the port is too dangerous for them to inspect cargo?

SYLVESTER: That's what Byron Dorgan is saying, is that he has heard from the State Department that it's too dangerous, because of security concerns. So those U.S. Customs officials are not doing the hands-on inspections -- Lou.

DOBBS: And someone at Department of Homeland Security feels that it is adequate to have a video camera relaying the pictures of the loading process. Perhaps they could outsource the entire customs process. Just put Web cams up everywhere. I suppose that'll be under consideration soon.

Lisa, thank you very much.

Lisa Sylvester.

Coast-to-coast rallies this weekend in support of two former Border Patrol agents, Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos. The two agents were convicted of shooting a Mexican drug smuggler as he fled to the border. The smuggler was given immunity by the Justice Department for his testimony against the agents.

Compean and Ramos tonight are facing their last hours, perhaps, as free men.

Casey Wian has their story.



CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Hundreds of Americans rallied in cities across the country over the weekend in support of former Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos.

STEVE EICHLER, MINUTEMAN PROJECT: Ladies and Gentlemen, we have come here to notify Capitol Hill that we're not going to take it anymore!

WIAN: Ramos and Compean were convicted of shooting and wounding an illegal alien drug smuggler and sentenced to 11 and 12 years in prison. In Los Angeles, the father of deputy David March, who was killed by an illegal alien, joined the protest.

JOHN MARCH, FATHER OF SLAIN DEPUTY: If we let this happen to Ramos and Compean, every one of the Border Patrol agents is going to be afraid, afraid to pull their weapon.

WIAN: Ramos' father-in-law choked back tears knowing the agents are scheduled to report to prison Wednesday.

JOE LOYA, FATHER-IN-LAW OF IGNACIO RAMOS: These border patrolmen fired in self-defense.

WIAN: In Phoenix, supporters demanded a presidential pardon.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Full pardon now! Full pardon now!

WIAN: And former agent Ramos joined a motorcycle rally.

IGNACIO RAMOS, FMR. BORDER PATROL AGENT: If next week comes and we don't hear anything, and Wednesday, you know, I have to surrender myself, I just have to believe that it's for a little while. I mean, this fight's not over WIAN: The agents await a federal judge's ruling on their request to remain free while their convictions are appealed. And they're hoping for a pardon. Despite the fact that President Bush pardoned five drug dealers last month, the latest word from the White House is not encouraging.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You know, at the time this happened, they did not know if he was an illegal. They did not know that there were 700 pounds of marijuana. They didn't know any of those things.

WIAN: In fact, the agents did know the smuggler's vehicle activated a sensor near the border at a well-known drug trafficking crossing point. And they did know the smuggler refused to stop when they tried to pull him own over and instead fled back toward Mexico.


WIAN: The smuggler, of course, was given immunity from prosecution and brought to the United States to testify against agents Ramos and Compean. The smuggler's a free man with a $5 million lawsuit pending against the U.S. government. And the agents less than 48 hours away from prison, possibly -- Lou.

DOBBS: Casey, thank you very much.

Casey Wian, from Los Angeles.

And if you would like to voice your opinion about the way in which agents Ramos and Compean have been treated, you can e-mail the White House directly at, or the U.S. attorney general,

If you prefer to call, you can reach the White House at 202-456- 1111. The attorney general's office number is 202-514-2001.

All of this information and the direct route for your comments and suggestions to our government can always be located at our Web site. And it's a very easy process,

Coming up next here, anti-American rhetoric as Iran's president meets with Latin American's leftist leaders.

We'll have that special report on new alliances in the hemisphere.

Iran continues to work on its nuclear weapons program, stirring violence in Iraq as well. We'll hear from the author of the new book, "The Iran Threat."

And a deadly winter storm has hit the nation from Texas to Maine. Dozens of people have died. Hundreds of thousands are without power tonight as that storm is now headed eastward.

We'll have the latest for you. Stay with us.


DOBBS: A perhaps dangerous meeting of anti-American minds tonight. Iran's president meeting with the newly elected leftist leaders of Latin America. What they have in common is their anti- American rhetoric, at least. President Ahmadinejad planning to form an anti-American alliance with what he calls the revolutionary countries of Latin America.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A cozy pair with a common goal. The leaders of Venezuela and Iran vowed death to American imperialism. Both leaders are pledging to spend billions to fight U.S. influence in Latin America and have entered a joint $2 billion fund to finance investments in countries who "liberate themselves from the U.S. imperialist yoke."

The Iranian president is on a U.S. hate tour of Latin American, hopscotching thousands of miles from Venezuela to Nicaragua to Ecuador. Glad-handling newly elected leftists as he goes. Embraced by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, he is also meeting with Rafael Correa, the new leader of Ecuador, and Bolivia's Evo Morales, all members of a leftist populist movement that swept elections in seven countries in the region last year.

IAN VASQUEZ, CATO INST.: Part of the ideology of populism is an anti-Americanism, a fierce anti-Americanism, a blaming of everything that's wrong on the United States.

PILGRIM: For the Iranian leader, the trip is also a South American soapbox to attack U.S. policy in Iraq. Iran is also bragging about its involvement in Latin America, calling for an "alliance of revolutionary countries against the United States."

PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (through translator): Look at the people from South America. These people hate the United States.

MICHAEL SHIFTER, INTER-AMERICAN DIALOGUE: There's a lot of frustration in Latin America. That was revealed by the number of elections that were had in the region. The governments don't want to be seen as the backyard of the United States, as been the case traditionally.


PILGRIM: It's a weird alliance built on the single common theme of anti-U.S. sentiment. And these countries have had little in common with Iran up until now.

Well, today, Ahmadinejad vowed to reopen an Iranian embassy in Nicaragua which has been closed for more than a decade -- Lou.

DOBBS: U.S. policy in the region, and response?

PILGRIM: Well, it's been a bit incoherent.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim. Appreciate it.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight.

Do you believe the United States should have a policy response to the alliance between Latin American countries and Iran? Yes or no?

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

And in another move against U.S. interests, Honduras will take temporary control of foreign-owned oil storage terminals in that country. The move part of a government import program meant to drive down fuel prices.

The Honduran president ordered the move after failing to reach a deal with ExxonMobil and Chevron to rent the terminals. The president says it is not a nationalization, it's a temporary use of the storage tanks through a lease and payment of a reasonable price.

Time now for some of your thoughts.

Joe in Iowa, "Lou, our family, composed of hard rock conservatives, voted against our Republican representatives in November and we are now abandoning President Bush. The reason has nothing to do with Iraq. It has solely to do with the president's failure to protect our border and his call for amnesty for the illegal aliens. Siding with Mexico's illegal drug cartel and one of its big drug dealers against U.S. border agents, the last straw."

Shawn in Kansas. "Hi, Lou. The president expects us to pardon his mistakes, but he won't pardon two Border Patrol agents who should be getting medals, not prison sentences."

Send us your thoughtless at Each of you whose e- mail is read here receives a copy of my book "War on the Middle Class."

Up next, state-sponsored terrorism. A rising nuclear program just part of the growing threat to this country from Iran. I'll be talking with one of the foremost authorities on Iran, the author of an important new book, Alireza Jafarzadeh.

And what is going on right now with race relations in America? The Reverend Jesse Jackson will be here to share his thoughts as we honor Martin Luther King.

And a deadly winter storm. Dozens are dead, hundreds of thousands without power. We'll have the very latest on a deadly storm that is headed across the East.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Much of the nation tonight finds itself in the deadly grip of winter. Waves of freezing rain, sleet and snow have caused 36 deaths in six states and that front is now bearing down on the northeast. Bill Tucker reports.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Crews are working furiously to restore power to more than 300,000 homes in Missouri. The states governor declaring a state of emergency, and calling out the National Guard. Six people have died as a result of weather in Missouri.

In Oklahoma, the storms have been blamed for 15 deaths. Several communities have lost power. And President Bush has declared a state of emergency for Oklahoma.

In Texas, the governor's inauguration parade was canceled.

Across the country, celebrations of Martin Luther King day were canceled because of the weather. It's an el Nino winter, but meteorologists warn that doesn't mean it's not winter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a temporary reminder that winter of 2007 is alive and well and definitely plans to be with us. Statistically the second and third week of January is the coldest time of winter. And that's certainly going to be the case here.

TUCKER: California's also under a state of emergency. The state's citrus crop in peril. The citrus industry is calling this the worst winter since 1998, when the industry suffered $700 million in damages. An industry spokesman saying that the extent of the damage won't be known for a week.

If all of this weather seems -- extreme -- perhaps we should get used to it.

CLAUDIA TEBALDI, NTL. CTR. FOR ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH: Our climate is definitely changing. And we are seeing some very dramatic extremes like heat waves, and hurricanes in the past years. And these winter storms are definitely making the news for good reason.

TUCKER: Because, according to her research, we can expect to see a continuation of the change.

Bill Tucker, CNN, New York.


DOBBS: The anti-American government of Iran is escalating its global challenge to this country and U.S. interests in this hemisphere. And Iranian agents are financing, equipping and training insurgents in Iraq. Tehran is also moving forward with its program to build nuclear weapons despite international sanction.

Joining me now, one of the world's leading authorities on Iran, its rising nuclear and terrorist threat, Alireza Jafarzadeh. He's the author of the important new book, "The Iran Threat and the Coming Nuclear Crisis." He was the first to bring the true extent of Iran's nuclear program to the world's attention. It is good to have you with us.

ALIREZA JAFARZADEH, AUTHOR: It's a great pleasure to be on your show, Lou.

DOBBS: This book, this is actually your first interview on this book. Just out today.

JAFARZADEH: Absolutely, yes.

DOBBS: We're delighted to have you here. It is certainly, if nothing else, extraordinarily timely.

Let's go straight to the issue. Iran is moving ahead despite U.N. sanctions, somewhat tepid, some would say, but nonetheless sanctions. What do you expect to be the end result?

JAFARZADEH: I think ever since Ahmadinejad took office as the new president the Iran regime, I have discussed in details about his mission, his plan. He has been intent in getting Iran its first nuclear bomb any cost. So he's not going to buckle. He was not go to back down on his country's plan to get the nuclear bomb. And he was going to defy the international community. He just started installing as many as 3,000 centrifuges.

DOBBS: That report came out, 3,000 centrifuges, generally considered to be adequate to create one weapon at least in the last year. The United States has limited ability to respond. Europe's not responding at all. The United Nations, with Iranian -- the support of Iran, by both Russia and China. There's very little that we could expect to be done, right?

JAFARZADEH: Well, when it comes to international community, I think it was very important to have a resolution at the Security Council, not that because it will solve all the problems, but it lays a very important foundation for other measures to be followed up.

I think it's very important to, right along Security Council resolution, political pressure is imposed on Iran. And strike at the Achilles' heel of Ahmadinejad which is the internal situation.

DOBBS: His what?

JAFARZADEH: His internal situation, inside the country.

There are some 4000 anti-government demonstrations in Iran the past one year.

DOBBS: We have been hearing this for years, that there is dissent. That the containment Khomeini, Ahmadinejad is working on really borrowed time because of a rising upsurge in a young culture that's pro-Democratic. JAFARZADEH: Well, if you saw the shah with all of his military might, after 37 years of rule, he was eventually wiped out by Iranian people.

DOBBS: Believe me, I'm the last people to underestimate the popular will in any nation. But I am confounded if I can find any evidence of this anti-radical Islamist government, any rejection of it within Iran.

JAFARZADEH: Well, there's tremendous rejection against Ahmadinejad. As I said, when he spoke at the University of Tehran at the university, just last month. Despite all the pressure by the revolutionary guard, the students stood up, they shouted Ahmadinejad out of the student hall. They were rioting...

DOBBS: I would say to you that within this nation when you hear the name George W. Bush here in this nation you would think under way here as well.

JAFARZADEH: Well, this is very different. Because in the case of Iraq, those students once arrested, they could be tortured and executed. The riots down south in the Khouzistan (ph) province in the Kurdish area. There were various riots in northwest Iran. In Tehran, the Capitol, bus drivers were on strike.

So this is something that we have never seen in this scale before.

DOBBS: Let's be hopeful, but at the same time, forgive me I'm also very skeptical. The idea that the United States has any leverage whatsoever over Iran right now, and more bluster and more threats against a nation, roughly three times the size of Iraq in which we now have committed with the additional troops, would be about 150,000 American troops, without glaring success over the course of what has been almost four years of warfare. How effective, how significant is U.S. military power in the equation of Iran in its thinking?

JAFARZADEH: Well, I think there's a big difference between Iran and Iraq, not only in terms of the size and the population, but the overall strategy, impact, the population in Iran, the very defiant population that you really didn't have in the case of Iraq. A very organized opposition that exists in Iran. This is the same opposition with all of the nuclear sites of Iran. This is the very same opposition that revealed a terrorist network of the Iran regime. You did not have such a situation in the case of Iraq.

DOBBS: Correct.

JAFARZADEH: And I think this is something that has not been exploited before by the United States and the international community.

DOBBS: Now, the entrance of Ahmadinejad into Central and South America, hooking up with Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Bolivia. What should we make of this, what should be the U.S. response, if any.

JAFARZADEH: I think Ahmadinejad is taking any opportunity that he's facing to build a coalition against the United States, because he's facing a tough situation down the road. He's concerned what's going to happen at the Security Council. He's concern what the rest of the countries are going to do.

So it doesn't matter whether Islamic countries, or countries in the Middle East, even the Communist countries, he goes to and tries to build a coalition against the United States because he wants to protect a very chaotic situation that he faces down the road.

DOBBS: And the idea, let's go back to the idea that in the Middle East, we have to consider two possibilities right now, actually a third. One is that there is phase withdrawal, as the Democrats are urging, that there is a escalation, as the president seems headed toward, or the possibility of a military conflict with Iran.

What do you see as the outcome of the direction of which we're headed right now with these three clear choices at least presenting themselves to us?

JAFARZADEH: I think the military option is not really viable option. I don't think anyone's seriously thinking about that. But I think whether people go with the surge or the withdraw, the important thing is that you have to realize what real problem in Iraq is. I, as I've shown in the book, the main problem in Iraq is the Iranian regime's involvement supporting the...

DOBBS: The militaries categorically say that Iran is the leading killer of Americans in Iraq.

JAFARZADEH: Well, if that's the case, and that's established which it is, then you have to confront that. You have to confront the Iranian regime's involvement in Iraq. That has not been done so far. There are 32,000 of Iranian agents operating in Iraq.

DOBBS: How many?

JAFARZADEH: 32,000 on the payroll of Tehran. Iran has built a network of terrorist groups.

DOBBS: So what should be the U.S. response?

JAFARZADEH: I think the U.S. response should be to tell Tehran that any of your agents we arrest, we're going to hold them responsible. Every single -- the presence of the Iran regime, such as this center in Irbil, needs to be shut down. And Tehran needs to be held responsible at the same time.

DOBBS: Natanz, the nuclear facility.

JAFARZADEH: I'm not talking about the nuclear facility. I think that's off limits.


JAFARZADEH: I think we'll forget about the military operation. DOBBS: This is getting awfully complicated because the United States seems to be at the limit of its effective power right now in Iraq. Yet at the same time to urge a confrontation with Iran that is hollow without the capacity to bring the military to bear. I'm lost as to what United States leverage would be?

JAFARZADEH: I think it would be a hollow threat if you only talk about the military option, that they more or less know is not going to happen. And if you only talk about negotiations, the mullahs are going to win. The third option, which is reaching out to the Iranian people, empowering the Iranian opposition, who are already calling for regime change in Iran. This is the option the United States needs to pursue. And this is something that has not been done.

DOBBS: Alireza Jafarzadeh, he's the author of the brand new book, "The Iran Threat and President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis." A very important read. We thank you for being here.

JAFARZADEH: Grateful to be on your show, Lou, thank you.

DOBBS: Coming up next, as the nation honors Martin Luther King, we'll be talking about race relations in this country with Reverend Jesse Jackson. He was present, if you will, at the creation of civil rights movement in this country. And "Heroes," the incredible story of an army staff sergeant whose leadership under attack unheard, one of the military's top honors.


DOBBS: The nation today honoring Dr. Martin Luther King and his work on behalf of racial equality in this nation. And from the pulpit of the Atlanta church where Dr. King was once pastor, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin reminded that congregation of the doctor's work for peace and justice, all of which remains unfinished.

Joining me now to discuss Martin Luther King's legacy, Reverend Jesse Jackson, founder, president of the Rainbow Push Coalition and who worked alongside Martin Luther King in the earliest days of the civil rights movement in this country. Good to you have here.

REVEREND JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW COALITION: Good to be here and happy Martin Luther King day.

DOBBS: And to you. Let me do this, let me just ask you, if you would, as we begin, we've got a number of things to discuss. But I would just -- and I think our audience would like to know, what your reflections are when you think back to 1960, 1965, that period in which the civil rights movement moved all the way to success from outright conflict.

JACKSON: You know, the day that Dr. King gave that speech in August, we were under the rigid laws of racial apartheid from southwest Texas across to Florida, up to Maryland. Blacks would not use a single public toilet. Our money was counterfeit. We could not buy a Howard Johnson ice cream, we could not rent a hotel room at the Holiday Inn. We didn't have the right to vote. We were not citizens in our own country, though veterans of foreign wars. And so one public dream, he talked about his kids being able to use the Stone Mountain Park. We won the public bill after nine years of struggle. Then we won the right to vote. Then won open housing.

And so the dream continues to unfold but on his last birthday, Lou, he focused on the needs to address the issue poverty and war, a multiracial coalition of whites from Appalachia, where a coal miner dies every six hours from black lung disease, even today, I might add. The Native Americans, Jewish Americans, they're organizing a massive march to Washington to focus on reinvesting America and put America back to work.

And then of course the rest of the focus is how to end the war in Vietnam. So he evolved from purely the racial justice to the end of the South to a more national and more multiracial and more global view.

DOBBS: And I look, because it is Martin Luther King day, I look back at the numbers on something that's important to both you and your organization, and I think every American in this country.

And that is, how far we've come? And there are a lot of ways to define that. And certainly the success and the strides have been tremendous, but there are areas where there seems to have been Dr. King talked about the promise land. And in so many ways, that's been achieved.

But for young black men and women, it hasn't. But I look back to see the number of unemployed, 16 to 19-year-olds in 1965 versus today. It's just about the same. How do you react to that?

JACKSON: Well, that's why when Nancy Pelosi said we're going to raise minimum wage, that's good, but it doesn't deal with unemployed, young, black and brown youth. It doesn't even deal with the need for a job. She didn't mention Katrina, which is only New Orleans, but it is a metaphor for abandoned urban policy.

We must reinvest America's run into the trade policy. Lou, we lose 55,000 Ford jobs, 55,000. You know, it sinks the middle class and the tragedy (inaudible) that can build plants here. And Ford cannot build a plant in Japan. So our quest for racial justice takes us in the economic justice and social justice for all.

DOBBS: Now to what degree do you believe, and let me say what I think first, so we that can either debate or concur with one another. I think racial justice has been achieved for the most part. There is no question that there is -- there remain issues.

But we have such a complex society today, buffeted by such changes in the economy, some statism in our society as well. That this is really, when we talk about equality now, Jesse, do you think we're talking about equality for all Americans or do you see it more as a still racial issue? JACKSON: Well, it's the mention of the racial justice. People of color still have high infant mortality rate and shorter life expectancy and fight more discrimination between birth and death. That is still very real.

The same is true for gender and equality, but Lou, when you abandon urban policy and leave with us second-class schools and first- class jails, why our kids do not get computer training or cannot get skilled training, then they're recycling. Guess what? End up becoming wars of the state or trapped in the jail industrial complex.

So we all have an interest. When we're red lining, the red lines limit the growth of the red liner, the development of those who are red lined. I hope we will see the vision of a renewed vision of a commitment to share the economic security of all Americans. That was Dr. King's last mission. Share the economic security of all Americans and end unnecessary wars.

DOBBS: Those words, Jesse Jackson, we thank you for being here...

JACKSON: Thank you very much.

DOBBS: And we'll end it where you started it with me.

Happy Martin Luther King Day.

JACKSON: Keep hope alive.

DOBBS: Coming up at the to the hour, the "SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

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

Bungled hangings: Saddam Hussein's half-brother is decapitated during his execution. We'll get an eyewitness account from "New York Times" reporter John Burns in Baghdad.

Plus, John McCain versus the religious right. Why one influential and powerful figure now says McCain will not get his vote under any circumstances.

Also, Arnold Schwarzenegger and a run for the White House. Find out why a former foe now wants to bend the rules to let him run.

And kidnapped boys rescued. A look at why one the children stayed even when he had a chance to run. All that coming up, Lou, right here in the "SITUATION ROOM".

DOBBS: Looking forward to it, Wolf. Thank you.

Up next here -- and heroes, our weekly tribute to the servicemen and women who put their lives on the line for this country every single day all around the world.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: And now this week, our tribute to the men and women who serve this nation in uniform. Tonight the story of Army Staff Sergeant Andrea Sandoval.

Kitty Pilgrim has her story.


PILGRIM (voice-over): Former Army Staff Sergeant Andrea Sandoval wasn't supposed to see combat in Iraq, but she ended up leading 18 young men for a fight for their lives. Nearly 20 years their senior, she was the ranking officer of an equipment transport unit.

STAFF SGT. ANDREA SANDOVAL, U.S. ARMY (RET.): They would say, "Sergeant Sandoval, we can't you have lead because you're a woman." You know, they were like, "Sergeant Sandoval, what do we do?"

PILGRIM: In 2003, Sandoval was assigned to move supplies from shipyards in Kuwait to a base near Baghdad. Her unit was accidentally separated from a larger convoy en route and mistakenly made a wrong turn into a hostile neighborhood. Things grew tense quickly. Then one of the vehicles in the convoy broke down.

SANDOVAL: All of a sudden you hear fire is being shot.


SANDOVAL: My soldiers were getting really upset, especially the ones in the rear.

PILGRIM: Then things turned from bad to worse.

SANDOVAL: All of a sudden I have vehicles circling us, the little cabs, the orange and white cabs. And my soldiers are like, "Do we shoot? Don't we shoot? We shoot. We don't shoot."

PILGRIM: Eventually her unit made its out of that Baghdad neighborhood and moved forward without taking any casualties.

But moving forward personally from the experience has been perhaps the greatest challenge yet.

SANDOVAL: I had a lot of anger, a lot of anger with the stuff that happened, a lot of anger about what I thought leadership was.

PILGRIM: While serving in Iraq, Andrea found she had a skill for photography and now pursues it as a full-time career since her discharge. But she remains modest about her valor and believes there are other soldiers who make better award candidates.

SANDOVAL: There's other soldiers out there doing better things than I am, more extraordinary things. I think those people are really deserving of what I have.

PILGRIM: Kitty Pilgrim, CNN.


DOBBS: Coming up next, the results of our poll tonight and more of your thoughts.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight. Three quarters of you say the United States should have a policy response to the alliance between Latin American countries and Iran.

Time now for some of your thoughts.

Jim in Massachusetts: "State and local police having to arrest illegal aliens is just another example of the federal government NOT doing their job. The states should band together and slap the federal government with a class action lawsuit for not doing their job."

Don in North Carolina: "Lou, remember the Boston Tea Party -- taxation without representation? Now representation without taxation (for illegal aliens, of course)."

And Beverly in New York: "Dear Lou, I think I missed it... When did 'We, the people' become 'Me, the president'? Perhaps we should all be pondering this."

And Malcolm in South Carolina: "Lou, the biggest threat to our democracy is not the e-voting machine. It is our government."

And David in New York: "Lou, the county just voted for a change in policy, I thought. It appears nothing has changed."

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts to

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow, when among our guests will be Congressman James Clyburn, the new Majority Whip, the highest ranking African-American in the House of Representatives.

For all of us, thanks for watching.

Good night from New York.

The "SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer begins now -- Wolf.