Return to Transcripts main page
Lou Dobbs Tonight
Pentagon Charges Iran With Supplying Weapons to Shiite Extremists in Iraq; Accidental Drug Overdoses on the Rise
Aired February 12, 2007 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: New charges tonight that Iranian weapons are killing our troops in Iraq. The Pentagon now says Iran's government is supplying Shiite extremist groups with sophisticated weaponry. Iran denies that.
We'll have the report.
Almost 20,000 Americans died from accidental drug overdoses in 2004. Nearly double that of five years earlier. Researchers say abusive sedatives, prescription painkillers a principal cause.
We'll have those stories, all the day's news, and much more straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Monday, February 12th.
Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
American troops in Iraq are being killed by sophisticated weapons made in Iran, and the U.S. military says the Iranian government is behind it. Iran denies those accusations and, instead, accuses the United States of fabricating evidence.
House Democrats are trying to stop President Bush from sending more troops to Iraq. Can they force the president's hand? The powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Ike Skelton, will be here tonight.
And Michael Ware is reporting from Baghdad tonight on what the U.S. is calling a growing body of evidence that Iran is killing our troops in Iraq.
Suzanne Malveaux reporting from the White House, where Tony Snow says talk of war with Iran is just hype.
And Andrea Koppel reports on the proposed non-binding resolution opposing the administration's reinforcements to Iraq.
We begin with Michael Ware in Baghdad.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In a background briefing in Baghdad that could not be taped, by three officials who cannot be named, the U.S. escalated its campaign of accusation against Tehran. The U.S. officials laid out what they call a growing body of evidence that a largely covert Iranian special forces unit, arms, trains and advisers, Shia insurgents, attacking coalition soldiers.
That unit is an element of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Its elite Quds force which, the U.S. officials claim, takes its orders directly from Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself.
Insisting the Quds force is systematically funneling insurgents, a range of arms from mortars to sniper rifles, grenades to machine guns, the American officials highlighted one weapon in particular they blame the Quds force for supplying, a roadside bomb pioneered by Lebanese Hezbollah, so powerful it punches through the heaviest American armor with ease. Called an explosively-formed penetrator, or EFP, the officials say the device has killed at least 170 soldiers since it first emerged on the Iraqi battlefield in 2004.
But, like much of the declassified information released during the briefing, it's a claim U.S. officials have made many times before, insisting one of the bombs' key components needs fine machine tooling that could be traced back to Iran. As can markings on mortars and explosives found inside Iraq which show they were manufactured by Tehran.
While admitting there is no smoking gun of Iranian complicity, a Defense Department intelligence analyst says this is a sophisticated Iranian campaign being fought through a host of surrogate groups maximizing Iran's deniability. If so, it's precisely the same kind of proxy war techniques America's CIA used so successfully with Islamic allies against the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
WARE: And it's armaments like these that the U.S. military is hoping to stop. These are the tail fins of Iranian-supplied mortars that CNN has obtained. The U.S. military used several of these as examples of the kind of munitions that the Revolutionary Guard Quds force is supplying across the border to Shia militias -- Lou.
DOBBS: Michael Ware reporting from Baghdad.
The White House today responded to those reports. The president saying he has no plans to go to war with Iran.
Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, as you know, just how and when this evidence was released was really at the heart of the debate here for the last couple of weeks within the administration. Administration officials telling me last week that, look, on the one hand you had American diplomats inside of Iraq under tremendous pressure from the Iraqi and Iranian friends who say, look, give up the goods here, prove your case that Iran is meddling in Iraq's affairs.
On the other side, you have NSC officials, White House officials very much concerned to release this evidence. It actually leads to a lot of criticism in Washington, including that of warmongering. And really a lot of concerns among Middle Eastern allies, as well.
So, the compromise here was to release this information. No doubt, no names mentioned, of course, over in Iraq, not here in the United States. President Bush, as you can tell in the C-SPAN interview today, again, walking that fine line, the diplomatic dance he's doing regarding Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I guess I would just say that there is an endless chatter. A lot of people on TV expressing their opinion, which is fine, don't get me wrong. It's just part of the process.
After all, I'm on TV expressing my opinion with you. But it's just a lot of chatter in Washington. A lot of people expressing themselves on a regular basis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And really make no mistake about this. They may be releasing this evidence, providing more details, but the White House is under no kind of illusion here that people are necessarily going to take this at face value. They say, quite frankly, they know they have a credibility problem, and that is because of the faulty intelligence regarding Iraq -- Lou.
DOBBS: Suzanne, it seems the White House is in a peculiar position. The -- I would think the conclusion would be that the White House is fully briefed and encouraging these reports. And at the same time, if these reports are true and if the previous intelligence that Iran has been helping the insurgency kill our troops over the course of the past year or so, why has there not been a response? Either way the White House is in a very difficult position.
MALVEAUX: And really, what the White House is trying to do, Lou, is build this case, to increase the rhetoric, make it hotter, and also to intimidate Iran. Essentially, to put as much pressure as possible so that Iran's elite and the young people in that country will ultimately say this isn't worth it. There is a public relations campaign that's against the Iranian administration that they don't want to deal any more with Ahmadinejad anymore, the Iranian leader, and that ultimately they turn their back on him.
That is the strategy of the Bush administration. At the same time, you bring up a good point, which is the White House does not want to be very closely linked to this evidence. They want to put that out in Iraq with the American diplomats and try to deal with the Middle Eastern allies first.
DOBBS: Suzanne, thank you. Suzanne Malveaux, from the White House.
Insurgents in Iraq have killed six more of our troops. They were killed on a number of separate incidents in Baghdad and Diyala Province.
Forty of our troops have been killed so far this month, 3,123 killed since the war began. 23,417 of our troops wounded, 10,397 of them wounded seriously.
The violence against civilians in Iraq is showing no signs of easing at all. More than 90 people were killed, nearly 200 wounded in multiple explosions today. Those casualties the result of several bombings in commercial districts of central Baghdad. The violence comes on the one-year anniversary of the bombing of the holy Shia shrine in Samarra.
Arwa Damon reports.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Thick, choking smoke, flames raging out of control after three car bombs ripped through the clothing and perfume sections at Baghdad's main wholesale marketplace. Firefighters battled the blaze for hours, black smoke filling the capital skyline.
The bombings coming shortly after a roadside bomb detonated in another crowded commercial area of the city. The four bombs killed scores of Iraqis and wounded more than 170 in just 20 bloody minutes.
The impact devastating, further paralyzing a society already living in fear. Imagine a trip to the marketplace, or heading out to work, and then sheer carnage.
"I have a shop at Keni (ph) building," this shop owner says, "a few meters away from the explosions. We felt the shock wave."
Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki also heard the blasts, exactly at the moment he was calling for unity, during a speech on the anniversary of the bombing of the Al-Askariya mosque in Samarra, one year ago on the Islamic lunar calendar. A grim event that catapulted Iraq's sectarian violence to new levels.
A second explosion heard. This time as Maliki was expressing his optimism about the new Baghdad security plan.
(on camera): On the streets of Baghdad, little optimism about this new plan. Its impact, if any, has yet to be felt. Hours after today's bombings, you can still see the smoke rising from the scene of the attack.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.
(END VIDEOTAPE) DOBBS: Democrats in the House of Representatives today proposed a non-binding resolution that disapproves the president's plan to send additional troops to Iraq. Democrats expect to have a vote by the end of this week.
Andrea Koppel reports.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Even before members debate the war on the House floor, the battle over the resolution is already well under way. Democratic and Republican leaders squared off over a decision by Democrats to block Republicans from offering an alternative measure.
REP. STENY HOYER (D), MAJORITY LEADER: We're going to continue to bring change, and we're going to give Republicans the opportunity to fully participate...
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (D), MINORITY LEADER: When? When?
BOEHNER: When? When? You've been saying that for a year.
KOPPEL: Instead, Democrats are pushing for a vote on their own resolution, which says simply, "Congress will continue to support and protect U.S. troops serving in Iraq." And that "Congress disapproves of President Bush's decision to deploy more than 20,000 combat troops."
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We disagree, and the president's commander in chief. And he has the obligation to do what he thinks is best to make this country safe, and that's what he's doing.
KOPPEL: Republicans concede the resolution will pass, but they're not giving up without a fight. Just off the House floor, they've staffed up a special room to offer members reports and speeches, talking points, as well as charts, graphs and visual aids. And during at least three days of debate, members will be encouraged to hammer away at key talking points which say the resolution weakens morale among U.S. troops and gives comfort to the enemy and that Democrats have no plan for victory.
Still, North Carolina Republican Walter Jones, who co-sponsored this resolution, predicts at least 15 and perhaps as many as 25 Republicans will follow his lead.
REP. WALTER JONES (R), NORTH CAROLINA: The AP ran a survey on the surge. Seventy percent of the American people said they were opposed to the surge. I mean, members of Congress have to do what they think is right, but they also -- certainly they do consider what the people back home want.
(END VIDEOTAPE) KOPPEL: And in an effort to tell those people back home that they've been listening and as a way to bolster their credibility opposing the president's plan to send more troops, Democrats plan to have a number of military veterans dating back to the Korean War kick off tomorrow's debate -- Lou.
DOBBS: There must be some sense of considerable embarrassment in the Senate. This debate is taking place in the House rather than the Senate, which failed to find a parliamentary process that would lead to a very important debate on this critical national issue.
KOPPEL: Well, if not embarrassment, there is certainly a great degree of frustration on both the Democratic and Republican sides -- Lou.
DOBBS: Andrea, thank you very much.
Andrea Koppel from Capitol Hill.
North Korea today tentatively agreed to shut down its nuclear weapons program. That deal still needs to be approved, of course, by officials of the six-country talks. That agreement would call for North Korea to end its production of plutonium in exchange for undisclosed amounts of energy aid. Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Christopher Hill said the talks would reconvene tomorrow.
Coming up here next, House Armed Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton joins me. We'll be talking about the Democratic plan to tell the White House not to send those troops to Iraq. And what will be the consequences?
Accidental fatal drug overdoses climbing at an alarming rate in this country. We're eating (ph) our young. We'll have a special report on what's behind this increase.
And the president says his policies have made the economy strong, but America's embattled middle class is still seeing quality jobs heading overseas.
We'll have a report for you and a great deal more straight ahead.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Former Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean have been in prison now for more than three and a half weeks. The agents, serving long prison sentences, jailed on the testimony of an illegal alien Mexican drug smuggler given immunity by the Justice Department.
Congressman Duncan Hunter sponsoring legislation for a congressional pardon for these men. Eighty-one Republican members of Congress have signed on to the legislation. The number of Democrats, zero. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher says if either man is killed in prison, there will be talk of impeaching President Bush for his inaction in this case and the Justice Department's decision to prosecute.
Congressman Rohrabacher will be here later in this broadcast.
And the government losing the war against drugs as smugglers cross our broken borders flooding this country with narcotics. But a new front is opening up in the war within involving legal drugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that accidental overdoses are now this country's second leading cause of accidental death, largely because of prescription sedatives and painkillers.
Christine Romans reports on the war within.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Dramatic increases in fatal drug overdoses almost doubling in this country. The Centers for Disease Control reviewed death certificates from 1999 to 2004 and found a spike in overdoses led by white females, young people and southerners.
The report's author.
DR. LEN PAULOZZI, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: Some of the increase we know in the 1990s was due to cocaine, some to heroin, but, really, overall, in the last 10 or 15 years, it's the prescription drugs that are driving this dramatic increase.
ROMANS: CDC researchers suspect sedatives and prescription drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin, they think that's why the overdose rate for woman, in particular, more than doubled. Women are more likely to be prescribed a narcotic by their doctor and more likely, they say, to abuse it. Middle-aged men are still the most likely to die of a drug overdose, but...
PAULOZZI: Women are closing the gap.
ROMANS: And according to the CDC, deadly overdoses at least doubled in 23 states, spiking in rural areas and the South. Up an astonishing 550 percent in West Virginia.
Meanwhile, fatal drug overdoses in teenagers soared 113 percent.
STEVE PASIERB, PARTNERSHIP FOR A DRUG-FREE AMERICA: The broadest, newest development in substance abuse in America is the intentional abuse of medicines. It's gone from being a subset to really being a whole tier of abuse.
ROMANS: Lower than marijuana, but higher than heroin, cocaine and ecstasy. He says among adolescents and teens, there's a growing belief that this kind of drug abuse is somehow safer.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ROMANS: Which may explain why more young people are overdosing at the same time the government reports declining drug use for teens. In general, the government says drug use is declining, but an estimated, Lou, 19.5 million Americans are still abusing drugs, illegal drugs, every month.
DOBBS: Abusing them, dependent upon them, and the drugs are last week hailing a decline in drug use. I mean, it is just remarkable.
We have been engaged in a three-decade-long war against drugs, this government. And we're failing.
And this broadcast is going to continue its series of reports which we began tonight on "The War Within," and we're going to focus on this, and we're going to try our level best not only to increase the body of public knowledge, but try to spur this government into some action to help twenty thousand young Americans who are being killed every year.
It's just -- it's disgraceful. It's horrible. It's tragic.
Christine, thank you very much.
That leads us to the subject of our poll tonight.
Do you believe we should commit to win the war on drugs in this country? Yes or no?
Cast your votes at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.
Also later, we'll be looking into the war within the United States over fatal drug overdoses. I'll be talking with one of the country's leading addiction specialists to talk about how widespread this deadly problem really is, what isn't being done about it and what we should be doing.
Up next here, the war on the middle class. Critics say a new economic report released by the White House is bad news for you.
It's attack and defense as the leading Democratic presidential contenders are staking out their positions on the war.
And a Republican congressman holding the president responsible for the safety of two former Border Patrol agents.
We'll have that, a great deal more, still coming up.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Big business groups tonight are urging Congress to renew so-called Fast Track Trade Authority for President Bush. Those leaders of those big business associations saying without it U.S. exporters would lose sales to Asia and to Europe.
Trade Promotion Authority, it's called, allows the president to negotiate agreements that Congress can approve or disapprove, but cannot change. The current authority expires on June 30th. Many Democrats in Congress, especially in the House, voted against the current Fast Track legislation when it was renewed in 2002.
The Bush administration today released its 2007 economic report. That report forecasts rapid gains in productivity, warned against rising protectionism, and the risk of raising taxes. Critics say that report signals continued off-shoring of jobs and stagnant wages for middle class Americans.
Lisa Sylvester reports.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The president's 2007 economic report card paints a rosy picture. The U.S. economy grew 3.5 percent in 2006, and unemployment dropped to 4.5 percent.
EDWARD LAZEAR, CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: We roll out the economic report of the president for 2007. My job is an easy one this year because the economy is strong.
SYLVESTER: The president's team says low taxes, open trade and rising productivity have led to those gains, but not everyone is sharing in the wealth boom. Labor economists say, peel back the productivity numbers and you'll find growth is being partially fueled by the off-shoring of jobs.
ALAN TONELSON, U.S. BUSINESS ECON. COUNCIL: We're not using, it seems, fewer and fewer total workers to produce a certain good. In many cases, we're only using fewer and fewer American workers.
SYLVESTER: U.S. workers are facing more job insecurity. They're working longer, an average of 47 weeks a year, up from 43 weeks three decades ago.
Wages have been stagnant, and middle class families are feeling squeezed. College tuition increased 35 percent in five years. Healthcare premiums are rising four times faster than workers' earnings. And consumer debt nearly doubled between 1998 and 2006.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Talk to a clerk in Toledo or a farm worker in western Ohio who simply hasn't seen the gains in wages, hasn't seen their small business do all that well because of this economy that's tilted so much towards the wealthiest taxpayers.
SYLVESTER: White House critics point out low taxes may spur the economy, but they also helped create a $700 billion budget deficit that's being paid for by borrowing from our trading partners, Japan and China.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SYLVESTER: Many Democrats in Congress do not agree with the blanket tax cut and free trade policy of the Bush administration. And instead of the "stay the course" mentality on the economy, they're looking to restructure the way trade agreements are negotiated -- Lou.
DOBBS: It is absolutely critical for the Democrats in this Congress to take a very, very close look at what they have brought with the renewal of this Fast Track Authority and the way in which this president has used it.
Thank you very much, Lisa Sylvester.
The war in the middle class rages on.
Time now for some of your thoughts.
Lee in Texas wrote in to say, "Mr. Dobbs, you're right on in your views in the war on the middle class. My father, a retired steel worker, once told me that if I worked hard, applied and devoted myself to the well-being of my employer, success and longevity would follow. Now, after many layoffs and forced career changes, I'm no better off now than when I flipped hamburgers 22 years ago."
"Good work, big business. You've created a generation who can't afford to purchase your overseas manufactured products."
And Cyndi in Virginia, "Well, if Karl Rove's son is too good to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas, then send him to the military to fight in the Iraq war his daddy started."
And Albert in South Carolina, "What a relief to watch a newscast that wasn't talking about Anna Nicole Smith. Thanks, Lou."
Send us your thoughts to loudobbs.com. We'll have more of your thoughts here later.
Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my book "War on the Middle Class."
Up next, a Republican congressman threatening the president with impeachment. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher joins us.
And jurors in the Scooter Libby trial hear the voice of the man who leaked the CIA agent's name in the CIA White House investigation.
We'll have a live report for you.
And upstate New York pummeled by up to 12 feet of snow. And guess what? There's more on the way.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Upstate New York may have broken a record after an astounding nine days of snow. The village of Redfield is buried under what is said to be 12 feet two inches of snow. If that's verified, it would be a New York State record. The old record, 10 feet 7 inches that fell in a week in nearby Montague five years ago.
Another winter storm, by the way, is forecast for the area by midweek, which could bring another foot of snow.
Attorneys for Lewis "Scooter" Libby today opened their case. They called two of the nation's best-known journalists to the stand. They're trying to prove that the name of a CIA operative was leaked by more than one source.
Brian Todd joins us now from Washington. He has the latest -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, indeed, a very dramatic day as the defense opened its case. As you mentioned, the defense trying to lay out a strategy, saying that there were journalists in this town who knew that administration critic Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and they did not get that information from the defendant, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
The most dramatic testimony coming from Bob Woodward, the Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the "Washington Post" testified about his conversation with the man now identified as the leaker in this case. Then deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage.
The conversation that Woodward testified about was on June 13, 2003, where he was talking with Richard Armitage about Joe Wilson's trip to Niger and Woodward saying that this is when he first learned that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. This audiotape was played in court today. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB WOODWARD, "WASHINGTON POST": It was Joe Wilson who was sent by the agency. I mean, that's just...
RICHARD ARMITAGE, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: His wife works in the agency.
WOODWARD: Thy doesn't that come out? Why does...
ARMITAGE: Everyone knows it.
WOODWARD: ... that have to be a big secret. Everyone knows.
ARMITAGE: Yes. And I know (expletive deleted) Joe Wilson's been calling everybody. He's pissed off because he was designated as a low-level guy, went out to look at it, so he's all pissed off.
WOODWARD: But why would they send him?
ARMITAGE: Because his wife's a (expletive deleted) analyst at the agency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Also today we heard from two sources to acknowledge this case that the current White House political adviser, Karl Rove, is not expected to testify in this case.
Still not clear whether Scooter Libby himself will take the stand. An attorney for all Mr. Libby said they have not made a decision as to whether he will testify in his own defense. They may not decide that until near the end of this case -- Lou.
DOBBS: Brian, this is at best, a peculiar case. The idea that they know exactly who leaked the name of Valerie Plame, that there was no effort on the part of Scooter Libby to disguise that anyway. It's unclear whether he knew that Armitage even knew the name.
Yet this prosecution is going ahead on the basis of obstruction of justice and lying to a grand jury. What is the thinking among attorneys there in that highly politically-charged town about the sense and the proportion of this -- this trial?
TODD: Well, it's really going to come down to the credibility of the witnesses. If Libby takes the stand, whether the jury finds him credible or whether they find people like Tim Russert credible.
Tim Russert is really debunking or trying to debunk a key claim by Scooter Libby that Libby claims that he never heard about Valerie Plame Wilson until Russert told him on July 10, 2003. Russert says that never happened. He never told Libby and that none of that ever came up.
It's really a credibility question, Lou, and it's going to come down to who the jury finds more credible between Scooter Libby, if he takes the stand, or people like Tim Russert, who are really kind of refuting a key claim that Libby is making in this case.
DOBBS: But with all those claims, either established or refuted, the issue is leaking. And we know who leaked. If there is to be a prosecution, shouldn't there be an establishment that, in some way Libby was involved in that or had some reason to maintain, to utter a falsehood to a grand jury? It is very peculiar, don't you think?
TODD: It is very peculiar. And what's interesting is that, as you mentioned, nobody's actually been charged with leaking this information. One of the reasons is as that we mentioned that Richard Armitage, now identified as essentially the first leaker in this case.
He has said and others close to him have said that when he told this to Bob Woodward it was essentially kind of in an off-hand manner, that he didn't really intentionally mean to leak this name. So, it really -- essentially they can't hang it on anybody.
So, what the prosecution is trying to prove that, still, Libby was involved in this campaign to discredit Wilson and was telling reporters, you know, this -- some of this information about Wilson and his wife at various stages.
Libby saying he never did that: "I simply forgot some of the key conversations and events." So, again, it is a credibility question: who do you believe? And that's really what the jury is going to be tasked with.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Brian Todd from Washington.
The president is under increasing pressure tonight to issue a pardon to two former Border Patrol agents. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher says if either of those agents were to be killed in prison there would be talk of the president's impeachment on Capitol Hill.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher joins me now from Capitol Hill. Congressman, good to have you.
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: Thank you very much, as you know that admonition was well founded when one of those Border Patrol agents was severely beaten. I sent one of my staff members down there to see that and apparently it was a severe beating.
DOBBS: Right. And the prison authorities declined, at least to us, to say that it was anything more than minor injuries.
ROHRABACHER: Well, it took a couple days for us, too, by the way. We were asking, and we were not getting a straight answer. And so, that's when I sent a staff member with Congressman Tancredo down there to take a look.
DOBBS: Well, Congressman, let's turn to the idea that you would want impeachment on this basis. You would -- are you contemplating that now?
ROHRABACHER: Well, to be fair about it, the -- bringing up the subject of impeachment was a way of emphasizing to the president just the magnitude of the importance of protecting these two Border Patrol agents' lives. I mean, they are in jeopardy, as we both know and everybody listening now knows, that they are being held in a cage with criminals who they put in that cage.
ROHRABACHER: And I just wanted to make sure that when I even mentioned that in passing that it got the president's attention so that he would not just -- again, he's been aloof from this issue, and these men may lose their lives.
DOBBS: Congressman, do you think there's any chance in the world that President Bush, whose Justice Department, who's U.S. attorney, who worked with him very closely as a criminal policy adviser in the state of Texas when this president was governor of Texas, do you think there's any way in the world he's going to intercede in the -- you know, on the side of justice in this case, proportionality?
ROHRABACHER: Well, there's only -- I used to work for Ronald Reagan, as you know, and he used to always say that politicians don't have to see the light; they just have to feel the heat.
And you, Lou, and other people have been getting the word out to the American people have -- the White House has been feeling the heat and, if we keep it up, I have no doubt if the American people continue at the level of activity and you, as you're having right now at this moment, having me on your show, I think that the president will have to face the fact that he is totally out of sync. And it will cost him too much to be so mean to these men.
DOBBS: He's being mean. There's also something as you put it, his Justice Department prosecuted these people with immunity given by the U.S. attorney, in this case, Johnny Sutton in the west district of Texas. He's told people that he had to give immunity. He didn't give immunity until six days after the drug smuggler, the illegal alien drug smuggler, was given immunity. So, that's -- that's not correct.
Further, he gave limited use immunity and never sought out any information about the drug cartel that was employing the illegal alien drug smuggler, did not find out anything about safe houses or techniques and approaches being used. Did nothing to prosecute the cartel. How in the world can the American people stand for this kind of nonsense?
ROHRABACHER: Well, it is rotten to the core, and it's been rotten since moment one. Remember this that Johnny Sutton, he could well have said, "Well, I'm going to grant immunity to the two Border Patrol agents who may have misfired their weapons" out of the code of conduct or whatever it is. But, instead, he gave the immunity and then go after the drug dealer.
He made that choice initially: we're going to go after the good guys, the guys who are protecting us, and then give immunity to the drug lord. And that is -- that is absolutely an unconscionable decision. He has been covering it up ever since.
DOBBS: Homeland Security in this case actually lied to Congress. Congressman Michael McCall, when he chaired the committee -- subcommittee on homeland security, requesting the investigation that began all of this.
The fact is that homeland security officials telling him and the committee that these, that these cops had admitted their guilt, that these agents had admitted their guilt, that they had made all sorts of outlandish statements. Skinner, the inspector general, had to admit he lied, in total saying that they were misled themselves.
The Justice Department still cannot produce a transcript ten months after that trial for anyone to have. There is sealed evidence. And amongst that evidence we're told, Congressman, as you know, there is the fact that their informer, while this was all under way had been, in fact, arrested for a second time, for a second time had been arrested with another load of drugs.
ROHRABACHER: Which they covered up.
DOBBS: Exactly. ROHRABACHER: And let us know also that when they lied to Congress the congressman asked for substantiation. For four months the Department of Homeland Security under President Bush lied for four months, saying, "We're going to get you the reports. We're going to get you the reports." It was a lie upon a lie upon a lie.
DOBBS: All right. Let me ask you this. Given that, why in the world isn't somebody fired at the sham that is homeland security or why isn't this president impeached?
ROHRABACHER: Well, the reason why that this is not -- no one has been fired is because these decisions, I'm sure, were cleared directly with the president of the United States. This is showing a side of George Bush.
We told him from the beginning. You are -- you are describing, you were painting your own picture. You are determining how the people will determine what type of a moral person you are.
ROHRABACHER: And he has shown us this evil side to him. And the reason why people don't talk about impeachment, you know, it is two men's lives. I think it's that important. That's why I even mentioned it. I want to save these men. I want to save them and impeach the president. But I know the outrage. If they die in prison, it will be the president's personal responsibility.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Thanks for being here.
Coming up next, should thousands more of our troops be going to Iraq? The powerful new chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, Congressman Ike Skelton, and the Democratic leadership of Congress, and many Republicans say no. He's our guest.
And the war within. One of our nation's top addiction specialists joins us here tonight. We'll be talking about the startling jump in the number of Americans dying of fatal drug overdoses. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Democrats today preparing to debate a resolution critical of the White House plan to send reinforcements to Iraq. One of the sponsors of the non-binding resolution is the chairman of the House Armed Service Committee. Congressman Ike Skelton.
Congressman, good to have you here tonight joining us from Capitol Hill. Congressman, let's put this non-binding resolution up, if we could on the screen.
REP. IKE SKELTON (D-MO), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Sure.
DOBBS: So everyone can see this. Joining Congressman Skelton are Congressman Lantos and Congressman Walter Jones. Seems straight forward. You will support our troops. You will, however, disapprove of the decision of the president on January 10.
SKELTON: That's correct.
DOBBS: What do you expect, first of all, to occur? Will we have full debate on the -- this. Will we have full debate on the issue of consequences of whatever policy is taken? Will we see greater depth of debate from our elected representatives than we have to this point?
SKELTON: Yes, Lou, think you'll see all of the above. The resolution itself is very simple. Do we support the troops, which is, of course, is -- goes without saying, we all do.
And secondly, do you approve or disapprove of the White House decision to increase the number of troops to 21,500?
Now, along with that, which was not mentioned, is the disagreement between what the Pentagon says on the one hand and what the Congressional Budget Office says on the other as to the number of support troops that are going to be necessary for the increase in troops of 21,500.
DOBBS: Explain that, if you would, Congressman Skelton.
SKELTON: If you send in boots on the ground, troops that are prepared to do combat, it means you have to have support troops all the way from...
DOBBS: We're talking about five combat brigades in this instance.
SKELTON: Five combat brigades. The Pentagon says only 2,500 support troops -- that is transportation, intelligence and the like -- would support them. Congressional Budget Office says minimum of 13,000, a maximum of 28,000 to support those 21,500 troops on the ground.
DOBBS: Well, Congressman, let's, if you will, listen to what White House press secretary Tony Snow had to say today about your resolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We disagree and the president's commander in chief. And he has the obligation to do what he thinks is best to make this country safe, and that's what he's doing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he have the obligation to weigh in on it?
SNOW: Congress has the option. Members of Congress can express themselves however they wish. (END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Well, I thought that was rather generous of the press secretary, to suggest the Congress does have a role in the governance of this nation. What's your reaction?
SKELTON: Well, Lou, that's what we're doing. We stand in the shoes of the people who send us here. This is a debate reflecting the American people, the American people's wish, quite frankly. And it does not appear that people are supporting the increase in troops. It didn't work back in September, October and why should it work now?
DOBBS: Let's -- one of the aspects of this, and critically important, of course, are the consequences of any policy decision. President is, as Tony Snow correctly observed, commander in chief, adding 20,000 or 28,000 troops to Iraq. The consequences of that have not been discussed or debated in Congress.
The debate on the policy consequences, whatever decision is made, how full do you expect that debate to be and how enlarging of the body of public knowledge?
SKELTON: Well, I think you're going to find a wide range of debate. There have been a number of strategic mistakes that have been made, in my opinion. Some of them are irretrievable mistakes and has gotten us where we are, such as the de-Ba'athification order.
SKELTON: Such as the dismissal of the Iraqi army, rather than giving them a paycheck and a shovel and have them part of the security arrangement, which is sorely needed today.
DOBBS: And this is my final question as we're out of time, Mr. Chairman, but, the Republicans say the Democrats have not offered up a plan. Will we see at least a suggestion of the direction the Democrats want to go in Iraq, the formulation at least in broad outline of a plan for Iraq?
SKELTON: Well, I think what we see right now is a reflection of the American people that do not agree with what's happening in Iraq. And quite honestly, we're going to have a full and fair debate on that very issue.
DOBBS: And one that I know that all of us are looking forward to. Thank you very much, Congressman Ike Skelton, chairman of the armed services committee.
SKELTON: Thank you for asking me.
DOBBS: Joining me next will be one of the country's leading addiction specialists. We'll be talking about the war within this country as deadly drug overdoses are sky rocketing in the United States. Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BECK: Coming up at the top of the hour, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" in New York -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Thanks very much, Lou.
North Korea tentatively agreeing to shut down its nuclear weapons program. Is that too good to be true? John Bolton certainly things so. We'll ask the former U.N. ambassador why he thinks his former boss, the president of the United States, might be making a huge mistake right now.
Also, John Murtha is coming out swinging against the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq, and Congressman Murtha isn't holding back. My conversation with the Marine veteran about the House resolution opposing sending more U.S. troops to Iraq. Will it have any real impact, though?
And newly announced presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama on the campaign trail in Durham, New Hampshire, right now. He's following in Hillary Clinton's footsteps, but will he end up first with the voters.
All that, Lou, coming up right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf.
And a reminder now to vote in our poll tonight. Do you believe we should commit to win the war on drugs in this country? Yes or no. Please cast your votes at LouDobbs.com. And the results coming up in a few minutes.
As we reported here tonight, in 2004 some 20,000 Americans died in the war on drugs. Joining me now to talk about what must be done is Dr. Wilson Compton, addiction specialist with the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Doctor, it's good to have you here.
DR. WILSON COMPTON, NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DRUG ABUSE: It's good to be here.
DOBBS: Let me -- two things, one the idea that just about 20,000 Americans are dying of drug substance overdoses. That is shocking. It is incredible.
COMPTON: Well, I agree with you. The numbers of persons who are dying from drug addiction every day is really a tragedy in our country. And we're really glad to see that the CDC is bringing attention to this important issue.
DOBBS: It's bringing attention to it, but we have been talking about a war on drugs in this country for three decades. What kind of fools are we to continue to allow our young people, all Americans, to have the prospect of being killed by these drugs? COMPTON: Well, absolutely. I appreciate your passion as we talk about this issue. And that's something that we're interested in understanding at the National Institute on Drug Abuses. How can we translate that passion into better research so that we can do a good job in preventing and treating addictions?
DOBBS: What is the principal cause of addiction in this country?
COMPTON: Well, the principal causes of addiction are multi- faceted. There's everything from individual factors -- addiction runs in families -- to environmental factors -- what drugs are available on the street, what drugs are available in your medicine cabinet can be some of the causes of what people are using and abusing in this country.
DOBBS: So as we look at this issue, by the way, let me ask you another question because I'm sure most of the people watching and listening to you tonight, doctor, are wondering. This study goes from 1999 to 2004.
DOBBS: We're in the digital age. Why can't our information be, certainly not real-time, but far more current than this?
COMPTON: Well, I think we appreciate that sometimes it takes time for death certificates to get registered even in this information age. And frankly, this study is groundbreaking, because it's just about the first time that we're really looking at nearly, nearly current data related to death rates.
DOBBS: Right. And the policy responses, as we look at meth, heroin, cocaine, let me ask you, doctor. I mean, we can talk about a lot of issues, the causes, the physiological causes, the physical causes, the psychological causes, but we know that the supply is primarily Mexico. We know it's anywhere from a $50 to $100 billion industry. Why in the world aren't we stopping the supply?
COMPTON: Well, I think one of the issues we should do is turn and look a little bit about what is it about our brains that make us attracted to drugs? Why is it that people continue to use drugs despite all the terrible consequences it causes?
COMPTON: Even knowing that thousands of people are dying, people will still abuse and become addicted to these drugs.
DOBBS: Right. But you mentioned that one of them was the availability of drugs.
COMPTON: That's right.
DOBBS: And this country has spent billions of dollars in what has turned out to be a, if you will, a phony war. Because the fact is last week the drug czar is sitting out telling everybody how drug usage is going down. With drug overdoses is going over and there are a lot of advocates in drug abuse saying, nonsense. Millions of our young people, nearly 10 percent of the population, have abused or are dependent on drugs right now.
COMPTON: Well, I think it's important that we do recognize that, overall, drug use has been declining among youth in America. And that doesn't take away from the fact that still there are millions of young people and adults abusing and becoming addicted to these drugs all the time. So that we need to look at both sides. Both some of our successes and also the terrible problems that prescription drugs, that drug overdose and that addiction cause.
DOBBS: Can we win this war?
COMPTON: Well, certainly, we're putting our best efforts into research to develop better prevention and better treatment, and I'm very optimistic that we'll continue to develop better approaches to prevent and treat these conditions.
DOBBS: Dr. Compton, on this broadcast, our special reports, which we've begun tonight, which are titled 'The War Within", we're going to focus on this and a phony war that it has been, in our opinion, based on the results. We're going to look at what's being done in terms of addiction, its cause and the struggles that so many people addicted to drugs are going through, as well as, frankly, a bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. At least, at the very best, indifferent to the result, and we need results in this country.
We hope you'll come back here, Dr. Compton.
COMPTON: We'd be delighted.
DOBBS: Thank you very much.
COMPTON: Thank you.
DOBBS: Still ahead here, the results of our poll. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Now the results, the interesting results, I think, of tonight's poll. Seventy-two percent of you say we should commit to win the war on drugs.
We thank you for being with us here tonight. Please join us tomorrow for all of us. Thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer here in New York -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lou.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com