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Lou Dobbs Tonight

FBI Breaks Snooping Rules; Getting Out of Iraq; Challenging Chavez: President Bush Visits Latin America

Aired March 09, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, fury in border states about the federal government's failure to secure our borders. Now lawmakers in one those states, Arizona, they've had enough. They want National Guard troops in their state to arrest illegal aliens.
We'll have the special report.

Also, as President Bush prepares to visit Colombia, we'll have a special report on that country's war against illegal drugs.

The United States and you are paying for that war. The drug cartels, however, are winning and winning big.

And "The War Within." You won't believe how much we are spending on illegal drugs in this country. A colossal $65 billion every year. Enough to provide four million Americans with a four-year college education, each and every year.

We'll have that special report and much more, straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Friday, March 9th.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

Government auditors today reporting the FBI seriously misused powers to secretly obtain private information in terrorism investigations. The Justice Department's inspector general said the abuses were improper and at times illegal.

Meanwhile, the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives is struggling to prevent a major split in the Democratic Party after announcing a plan to withdraw our troops from Iraq. Many Democrats are expressing serious doubts about the plan just 24 hours after it was announced.

Kelli Arena reports on the FBI's abuse of power.

Dana Bash reports on the disarray in the Democratic Party.

And Ed Henry, traveling with the president in Latin America, reports on U.S. efforts to combat the rising influence of Hugo Chavez.

We turn first to Kelli Arena -- Kelli.

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Congress mandated the inspector general report when the Patriot Act was reauthorized a year ago. If it hadn't, some critics wonder whether we would ever know what we know now.


ARENA (voice over): The FBI is under heavy fire improperly and at times illegally using powers under the Patriot Act.

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: The question should and must be asked, how could this happen? Who is accountable? And the answer to that is I am to be held accountable.

ARENA: But this time, sorry may not be enough.

Senator Arlen Specter, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the FBI has gone too far and is threatening action.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Perhaps take away some of the authority which we have already given to the FBI, since they appear not to be able to know how to use it.

ARENA: The anger is over the FBI's so-called national security letters used to get bank, phone and Internet records without first going to a judge. The inspector general says the FBI issued many more of these letters than it reported, that the bureau issued improper requests and sometimes gathered information on the wrong individuals. And when agents broke the rules? Well, the FBI didn't always report it.

MUELLER: I should have provided the appropriate training, education and internal oversight.

ARENA: The report did not find any criminal misconduct, just a lot of sloppy work. But it provides fuel for critics already concerned that our civil liberties are being trampled.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We all want to stop terrorists, we all want to stop criminals. But the FBI work for us, the American people, not the other way around.


ARENA: Lou, Robert Mueller says that he's already started making improvements, and the attorney general is urging patience. He also asked the IG to do a follow-up report on those improvements in another four months. But there's a trust issue here, Lou, and it's going to be very hard to overcome.

DOBBS: And the FBI and its director, Robert Mueller, have been struggling to overcome that lack of trust over the years.

Thank you very much.

Kelli Arena, from Washington.

This is the second time this year that the FBI has been blasted for its bungling. Last month, the Justice Department's inspector general challenged the accuracy of FBI statistics in the war against radical Islamist terrorists. The inspector general then said the government had significantly overstated some terrorism statistics and significantly understated others.

President Bush tonight in Brazil expressed what the White House calls significant concern about the FBI abuse of power. The White House said the president has directed the attorney general and the FBI director to take immediate action to prevent these problems from recurring.

Democrats tonight appear to be as divided as ever on the issue of the war in Iraq, one day after announcing a plan to withdraw our combat troops by August of next year. Conservative Democrats say that plan goes too far, liberal Democrats say it just doesn't go far enough.

Dana Bash reports.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): House Democrats may now have a plan to bring troops home from Iraq by fall of 2008, but the big question is will they have the votes to pass it?

REP. RAHM EMANUEL, (D), ILLINOIS: There's nothing guaranteed in life. But I feel very good, based on the conversations that the leadership in the House has had with a cross section of the caucus.

BASH: To find votes in a divided Democratic caucus, House Democratic leaders are trying some good old-fashioned horse trading, adding sweeteners aimed directly at disgruntled Democrats on the left and the right, things that have nothing to do with the war. To rally conservative Democrats in rural districts who worry about micromanaging the war, $4.3 billion for an agriculture assistance program. To lure the left flank, who want troops home now, leaders even added a hike in the minimum wage to a war funding bill.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY WHIP: To do those things on the backs of our men and women in uniform on an emergency military appropriations request is the worst kind of, you know, activity, I think, in the Congress.

BASH: Even if the war funding bill, with a deadline for a troop withdrawal, gets through the House, it almost certainly won't pass the Senate, where Democrats have a narrow majority.

Regardless, Democrats insist the constant Congressional debate will put pressure on the Iraq government and President Bush.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We believe the more it is debated and discussed, the more the difference between the parties is apparent to the American people, the less flexibility the president will have in maintaining this course. (END VIDEO TAPE)

BASH: Senate Democrats have their own resolution on Iraq to bring troops home quite soon, but they also have a problem, because Republicans who were with them before, Republicans like Senator John Warner and Norm Coleman, they told CNN today, Lou, that they won't support this. That means it almost definitely will not pass -- Lou.

DOBBS: So what next? This non-binding resolution, these failing strategies on this issue, what are the Democrats going to do?

BASH: Well, on these particular -- both of these issues -- they are binding. And that is part of the problem for Democrats.

On the House side, it is a really big question at the end of the day, Lou, what is going to happen, because they are dealing with the funding for the war. So it's going to go through the entire process, which is going to take a very long time to go from the House to the Senate.

At the end of the day, they're going to have to figure out how they get the money for the war passed in a way that the president is going to sign it. So it is really unclear how this is going to end up here.

DOBBS: Dana, thank you very much.

Dana Bash, from Capitol Hill.

Insurgents in Iraq have killed two more of our troops. A Marine killed in Al Anbar Province and a soldier died of his wounds in hospital.

Twenty-six of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this months month. 3,189 since the beginning of this war have been killed. 23,924 wounded, 10,627 of them seriously wounded.

We have repeatedly asked the Pentagon, by the way, to provide us with complete information about the number of our troops who have been wounded and who could not return to duty. So far, the Pentagon has not been able to give us those figures.

The U.S. commander in northern Iraq, Major General Benjamin Mixon, today said he needs more troops to fight insurgents in his region. General Mixon said reinforcements are urgently needed in Diyala Province, north of Baghdad. U.S. commanders say insurgents are using that province as a base for attacks in Baghdad.

Nearly 30,000 additional American troops are headed to Iraq. Most of them being deployed, however, in Baghdad.

President Bush tonight is focusing on another part of the world, Latin America. President Bush today concluded his visit to Brazil, and there he declared the United States is not ignoring the Western Hemisphere's issues and problems.

Ed Henry reports from Sao Paulo -- Ed. ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, at a press conference today, President Bush sidestepped a direct question about Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez' latest insult, "Go home, Gringo." The White House does not want to be drawn into a one-on-one with Chavez. They think that just brings him more attention. But it's clear that this shadowboxing, if you will, has become front and center during this tour.


HENRY (voice over): Touring a biofuel plant with his Brazilian counterpart, President Bush took a stab at what might be called ethanol diplomacy, inking a deal with Brazilian president Lula da Silva that Mr. Bush hopes will toke off some of Hugo Chavez' power by cutting in to the Venezuelan strongman's oil riches.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm particularly anxious to work with the president on helping Central America become less dependent on oil, become energy self-sufficient. And one way to help spread prosperity in Central America is for them to become energy producers, not become -- not remain dependent on others for their energy sources.

HENRY: Whipped up by Chavez' anti-American rhetoric, protests against Mr. Bush are building all across Latin America, with Chavez himself planning boisterous anti-imperialist rallies in Argentina aimed at overshadowing the American president's seven-day tour.

HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This is a new imperial offensive. As I'm used to saying, it's like a wolf in sheep's clothing. But it's too late now. This saying came from Fidel Castro. In these countries, the genie is already out of the bottle, and never will an empire put them inside the bottle again.


HENRY: U.S. officials are now privately charging that all of these protests are not happening spontaneously. They charge that Chavez has been paying people to show up in order to bolster the crowds and try to show up Mr. Bush -- Lou.

DOBBS: Ed Henry reporting from Sao Paulo.

Well, despite the standoff between presidents Bush and Chavez, we have a complicated relationship with Venezuela, principally because of the U.S. need for Venezuelan oil. There are 13,000 Venezuelan state-owned CITGO gas stations across this country. One million people in 16 states are taking President Hugo Chavez up on his offer for lower-cost heating oil. But that dependency does work both ways.

We import three-quarters of Venezuela's oil. And one reason, location. Cheaper for Venezuela, of course, to ship oil here rather than distribute oit elsewhere in the world.

Coming up next, former House speaker Newt Gingrich has a confession about his private life. Is it political maneuvering or is it contrition?

We'll have a report.

Also, an accused madam wants to tell all about Washington's secret affairs. But prosecutors want to hold onto to that little black book with some modest number of names.

We'll have the latest for you.

And lawmakers in Arizona fed up with the federal government. Well, everybody is just about fed up with this federal government. But they in particular, they want to give National Guard troops, their National Guard troops, the power to arrest illegal aliens.

We'll have that special report, a great deal more, all of the evening's news straight ahead.

We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is bearing his soul. Gingrich admitting to having an extramarital affair at the same time that he was among those blasting President Clinton for his sexual encounters with Monica Lewinsky.

Bill Schneider now tells us whether this confession is political damage control or contrition.



WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Newt Gingrich confesses in a radio interview with Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus On the Family.

JAMES DOBSON, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: I asked you if the rumors were true that you were in an affair with a woman, obviously, who wasn't your wife at the same time that Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky were having their escapade?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, the fact is the honest answer is yes.

SCHNEIDER: The confession makes Gingrich sound like a hypocrite, passing judgment on President Clinton while all the while he himself was engaging in adultery.

Gingrich says he was not passing judgment on Clinton's personal behavior.

GINGRICH: The president of the United States got in trouble for committing a felony in front of a sitting federal judge.

SCHNEIDER: Gingrich's confession could be damage control. He says he will decide whether to run for president this fall, after he surveys the Republican field. If he runs, he can treat his affair as an issue he has already dealt with.

Rudy Giuliani has also been married three times and he's the Republican frontrunner. A Southern Baptist leader condemned Giuliani's behavior, calling his break-up with his second wife "divorce on steroids."

RUDI GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm a human being. You know, I made mistakes. I'm not perfect.

SCHNEIDER: Gingrich, who just published a book called "Rediscovering God In America," confessed to a religious leader and he expressed repentance.

GINGRICH: There are things in my own life that I have turned to god and gotten on my knees and prayed about and sought god's forgiveness.

SCHNEIDER: Will religious voters forgive Gingrich?

Dobson seemed inclined to.

DOBSON: I think it's really important and will be for many of our listeners to know your responses to that point of disappointment back there some place and I really appreciate your willingness to do so.


SCHNEIDER: Critics may say they're all hypocrites. Religious conservatives make allowances for people they agree with politically, like Newt Gingrich, but not for Rudy Giuliani or Bill Clinton -- Lou.

DOBBS: Politics, a little ugly, isn't it?

SCHNEIDER: It is indeed that.

DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much, Bill Schneider.


DOBBS: Up next, tens of billions of dollars spent in this country on illegal drugs. That money heads right back to the drug cartels, most of them in Mexico.

We'll have a special report on "The War Within."

One state isn't waiting for federal action on our borders. The state of Arizona wants its National Guard troops to be able to apprehend illegal aliens.

And a victory for the second amendment in the District of Columbia. An appellate court striking down parts of a 31-year-old handgun ban in the nation's capital.

We'll have the latest and we'll tell you what it may mean for the rest of the country as well. Stay with us for that and a great deal more straight ahead.


DOBBS: An important win for supporters of the second amendment in the nation's capital today. A federal appellate court overturned parts of Washington, D.C.'s 31-year-old handgun ban.

The court rejected Washington's argument that the right to bear arms was limited to militias, not individuals. The district plans to petition the appellate court for a rehearing. If that case makes it to the Supreme Court, it would be the first case in 70 years to discussion the scope and the limitations of the second amendment.

Staggering amounts of money, some $65 billion a year, being spent in this country on illegal drugs. And as Christine Romans now reports, those billions of dollars are going right back into the hands of drug cartels.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Almost $3.5 million in 20s, tens, fives and ones. Money from American drug users' pockets recently seized on the way back across the border to Mexico.

JOHN GILBRIDE, DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMIN.: When an individual purchases drugs, whether that be on the streets of New York City, the streets of Los Angeles, they are in essence fueling a cycle of drug trafficking.

ROMANS: The DEA says drug traffickers use the same pipeline that smuggles in the cocaine, heroin, marijuana and foreign-sourced meth to move the Americans' drug money out. And those dollars fund more smuggling to meet insatiable demand.

Consider that Americans spent $17.6 billion a year outfitting their children for back to school and each year spend four times that, $65 billion, on their illegal drugs. A 2005 DEA study examines dollars in Mexico, subtracted legitimate commercial trade and remittances from Mexicans working in the U.S., and concluded at least $9.2 billion in 2003 was profit from selling drugs. In 2004, $10.2 billion.

Another analysis of the four major drugs smuggled from Mexico finds they generate $22 billion a year for the cartels. And for Canadian drug smugglers, pot and ecstacy reap billions. All money right out of the American economy.

ETHAN NADELMANN, DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE: The real waste here is the amount of money we're spending on locking people up and on misguided drug policies. People are going to buy drugs whether they're legal or illegal. The problem is how the government handles it.

ROMANS: He says the government criminalizes use when treatment is less costly. He advocates legalization, a position the government strongly opposes.

DEA has seized $3.5 billion worth of drugs and money in the past two years.


ROMANS: What Americans spend on their illegal drugs is enough to pay for a course of outpatient drug treatment for some 45 million people or a four-year college education at a state school for about four million Americans.

A U.N. report, Lou, found that the scope of drug trafficking in the global economy is worth about 5 percent of global gross domestic product. It is just a huge, entrenched business.

DOBBS: And the Drug Policy Alliance really believes the answer to meth, to cocaine, to heroin and to marijuana is to simply legalize it?

ROMANS: They say you can't incarcerate your way out of the problem, that drug treatment is a better idea, and people are going to use no matter what. People are going to use. That's sort of their -- their baseline assumption, and then you go from there. The government's baseline assumption is that -- is that this does not have to be an everyday part of American life.

DOBBS: You know, it's really remarkable that it wasn't an everyday part of American life until drugs started being supplied here. It's -- there's a lot of sophistry in this.

First, the idea that the demand created the drug supply. The drug supply was sent here and then exploded over the course of the last 40 years.

The second is that we can only do one thing at a time in this country. That we can only do drug treatment or that we can only incarcerate or that we can only rehabilitate, or that we can only secure our borders and interdict drugs.

We have to do all of the above, it seems to me. But perhaps that's just too simplistic a way to look at a problem that is nothing less than a national crisis.

Christine, thank you very much.

Christine Romans.

Sixty-five billion a year.

Coming up next, President Bush, he's about to go to Colombia, one of the world's biggest producers of some of those illegal drugs. He will find that the drug cartels there are winning the war and winning big. And one of the reasons among many that he might be interested is that American taxpayers are funding that war.

We'll have a special report for you from Colombia.

And a border state finally has had a belly full of this federal government's failure to even try to secure our borders. Now it wants its National Guard to be able to defend itself and to arrest illegal aliens, potential terrorists, drug smugglers, human smugglers, whoever crosses the border illegally.

How about that?

And American casualties in the war in Iraq are rising. One division tonight is mourning the loss of six of its troops in a single attack. The deadliest day for that division since the beginning of the war in Iraq.

We'll continue in one moment.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Arizona, tired of waiting for the federal government, today is taking new steps to secure its portion of our southern border with Mexico.

And President Bush will visit the country that supplies most of the cocaine that hits U.S. streets.

Casey Wian tonight reporting on Arizona's legislation that would allow its National Guard troops to apprehend illegal aliens and others crossing the border.

Karl Penhaul reports on the war on the narcotics trade in Colombia, and those drugs cartels are winning.

We begin tonight with Casey Wian. Casey?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, it's a sentiment we're hearing from a growing number of cities and states that are just not going to wait for the federal government to secure the nation's borders.


WIAN (voice-over): The Arizona state legislature Thursday night passed a law that could change the rules of engagement for some National Guard troops on the Mexican border. Lawmakers want Guard to be able to confront, arrest and transport illegal aliens.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT: Up to 6,000 Guard members will be deployed to our southern border.

WIAN: When President Bush made that announcement 10 months ago, he limited the role of National Guard to surveillance, building roads and fences and other support duties. Customs and border protection says it has helped, because apprehensions of illegal aliens are down by 30 percent since October.

However, one consequence of increased manpower at the border has been a sharp increase in violence with heavily armed smugglers hijacking drug loads and human cargo from each other. Border Patrol and local law enforcement are often outgunned, while the National Guard is prohibited from responding. WARDE NICHOLS, (R) ARIZONA STATE HOUSE: Right now, unfortunately, the drug smugglers, the human smugglers and all those people coming across the border right now illegally, they know what the National Guard are going to do. They know they are not going to defend their positions, that they are going to basically fall back to a safe position and call the Border Patrol. We could be so much more effective if these guys could actually stand and engage these guys and begin to stop them.

WIAN: Nichols' bill now moves to the Arizona State Senate where passage appears likely and it would then it would be up to Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano to deploy the Arizona Guard to the border. She has resisted many previous state border security efforts. But lawmakers point out she has already declared a state of emergency because of illegal immigration in Arizona, so they are hoping she'll cooperate this time.


WIAN (on camera): A spokesman for the governor's office says she won't comment on pending legislation. But she does have concerns that the bill would usurp the command of military commanders, Lou.

DOBBS: Which commanders? The National Guard is under the command of the governor of the state.

WIAN: Absolutely.

DOBBS: Unless nationalized.

WIAN: Right, and a lot of those -- The critics of the rules of engagement of the National Guard say those commanders are sending troops into harm's way without property resources and proper authority to respond to an increasingly violent border, Lou.

DOBBS: We're in a situation in this country right now, this administration refusing to enforce the laws, refusing to secure the borders, refusing to secure the ports, talking about a war on terror. At the same time, Congress is talking about amnesty. The Democratic led Congress is now talking about amnesty and doesn't have the wherewithal to insist upon the executive branch executing the implementation of law, and enforcing the law, and the American people right now are caught without an ability to file suit in any way to force the federal government.

It's just a -- it's a mind-boggling mess right now in this country, brought on by the people we put in Congress and put in the White House.

WIAN: Absolutely. And one of the things are you seeing in Arizona is every time they put an anti-illegal immigration measure before the government, she's vetoed it, every time they have taken it to the people, the people have overwhelmingly passed legislation, Lou.

DOBBS: And therein lies perhaps a solution, and the fact is that Governor Napolitano, no matter what she wants to do here, the fact is the initiatives of the people will prevail, as long as they are constitutional and most have been at this point.

But maybe that's what we need at this point is a national initiative which we, unfortunately, do not have. Casey, thanks very much. We'll be following that very carefully.


DOBBS: Casey Wian.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe all national guardsmen serving on the border should be armed with authority to defend themselves and apprehend anyone illegally crossing our border, including drug smugglers, human smugglers, illegal aliens and potential terrorists?

Yes or no. Please cast your vote at The results upcoming.

In southern Arizona today, federal agents their raided a construction company accused of hiring illegal aliens. Eight illegal aliens and three other employees were detained in those raids on two locations along the border with Mexico. Immigration agents have promised more checks on companies. They want to deter the hiring of illegal aliens and earlier this week, 360 illegal aliens were detained at a leather factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

President Bush heading to Colombia this weekend for talks on drug trafficking. Colombia, of course, is the primary source of cocaine in the United States, accounting for about 85 percent of it, most of it being transported through Mexico.

All of this, despite a lengthy eradication effort that's cost about three quarters of a billion dollars a year U.S. money for a very long time.

And as Karl Penhaul now reports, Colombian cartels are now involving countries throughout the region as they move their drugs to Mexico for distribution throughout the United States.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Reporter: this is a war, and the enemy is cocaine. Helicopter gun ships guard planes dumping toxic chemicals on plantations growing illegal drugs. Missions like these often take fire from communist guerrillas, groups the U.S. and Colombia call narcoterrorists. Groups tied to the drug trade.

Washington finances Colombias war on drugs and guerillas, spending about three quarters of a billion dollars a year since 2000. That's what the U.S. spends in Iraq in just three days.

"Without U.S. support in the drug war, the world would be flooded with cocaine and other drugs," Colombia's interior minister says. But a leading Colombian analyst says the fight cannot be won with the current strategy. "Nobody is winning the drug war, because the problem isn't one of fighting a war but of carrying out reforms to attack the reasons why this illegal industry exists," he says.

The United Nations narcotics' experts say many cocaine plantations have been destroyed. But, still, the amount of cocaine remains close to all-time highs, thanks to more productive strains of coca bush and more efficient processing.

SANDRO CALVANI, UNITED NATIONS: So we can now safely say that are 750 metric tons of cocaine being produced in Colombia.

PENHAUL: Much of Colombia's cocaine finds its way to the U.S., shipped through Central America, Mexico and Caribbean.

The trail starts here with impoverished peasant farmers like these producing a not so refined form of cocaine.

It's then sold at secret markets like this one, deep in the jungle. Traffickers test the purity of the powder and pay cash. Around $900 a kilogram.

On the streets of the U.S. that same kilo will fetch around $100,000. When I talked to this drug trafficker three years ago, he predicted the U.S. funded drug war in Colombia would not wipe out cocaine.

"They haven't been able to wipe it out coca here, because instead of investing in weapons and warplanes, they should be giving peasant farmers aid and loans," he said.

Since 2000, more than 80 percent of U.S. aid to Colombia went to the military. Both governments justify that, saying the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC for short, now controls up to 90 percent of the cocaine trade.

The UN's drug expert here says much more must be done to help poor peasant farmers switch from cocaine to legal crops.

CALVANI: It's necessary to balance these kinds of repression, rule of law, with other measures like socioeconomic measures.

PENHAUL (on camera: With such colossal spending on its war on terror, Washington is offering little prospect of boosting help to wage the war on drugs. Karl Penhaul, CNN, Bogota.


DOBBS: And as Karl pointed out, Colombian drug cartels once shipped their elicit cargo by sea to Louisiana and Florida principally, but they are now they are taking the land route through the United States, moving most of their product directly into Mexico for distribution into the United States.

Up next, here Congressman Obey's tirade against antiwar activists caught on tape. Lashing out against quote "idiot liberals." We'll have that story, and moral hypocrisy in Washington? No way, that's impossible. Three of the best political analysts join us. Including Robert Zimmerman, Errol Louis, Charlie Black. We'll be returning in one short minute. Stay with us.


DOBBS: House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey trying to stop members from leaking information about the Democrats' controversial war funding strategy. Chairman Obey set a trap and it seems some committee members fell right into it.

Congressman Obey reportedly gave some of his members of the caucus false information. When the false information then appeared in print, Congressman Obey says he knows the name of the leakers and will no longer allow them into meetings.

His office, however, isn't releasing any names and wouldn't comment on whether the chairman is serious or not.

Meanwhile, Congressman Obey also catching some heat for his angry tirade against a couple of antiwar activist. The congressman was secretly recorded on video calling those activists "idiot liberals." Monday's exchange on Capitol Hill posted on the Internet Web site YouTube. Obey, who himself is an antiwar liberal, attacked the activists for encouraging him to vote against that supplemental funding bill for the Iraq War. Here is what he had to say.


REP. DAVID OBEY, (D) WI: It's time these idiot liberals understand that there's a hell of a difference between defunding the troops and ending the war. I'm not going to deny body armor. I'm not going to deny funding for veterans' hospitals and defense hospitals so you can't help people who have medical problems. That's what you do if you vote against that bill.


DOBBBS: This afternoon, Congressman Obey offered this apology. "I am sorry I yelled at them. I respect their passion on the issue. I wish they would respect mine. We are both frustrated and that led us to have an argument we should never have had because we both want to see an end to U.S. involvement in that war. What divided us was the question of how."

And for me, I have to tell you it's nice to see an elected official showing that much passion. I'm joined now by three of the best in the country as political analysts and human beings. Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman, Errol Lewis, columnist, "New York Daily News" and Republican strategist Charlie Black in Washington, DC.

Let's start with you, Charlie. That's the idea that Iraq, the strategy, the Democrats want to put together here isn't coalescing.

CHARLIE BLACK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, they are having a hard time getting the act together, although it seems they all agree on some kind of a deadline. Congressman Duncan Hunter said it best that setting a deadline would be the first retreat in the war on terror. If we set a deadline for withdrawal, al Qaeda and the other bad guys go underground, wait for us to leave and then they have a wonderful safe haven, even better than they had in Afghanistan.

So I don't think this will pass and certainly if it did, the president will veto it.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think the first retreat on the war on terror was when the Bush administration outsourced our efforts in Afghanistan and moved our focus away from the Taliban and finding Osama bin Laden, retreated from that mission and focused instead on Iraq which proved to be, of course, a tragically mismanaged situation. The Democratic - at least the Democratic congressman and Speaker Pelosi's leadership is putting together a plan to manage this disaster.

DOBBS: Are they going to succeed?

ZIMMERMAN: They are going to get a program through that the Democrats will support, the Republican Senate will filibuster it, George Bush will veto it.

DOBBS: You think they will get it through the House.

ZIMMERMAN: I believe they will get it through the House and I believe ultimately the Republican Senate will try to shut down any debate except for staying the course with George Bush.

BLACK: Democrats run the Senate. We can't shut down debate.

ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely you can. If we don't have 60 votes, and we have a number of Republicans supporting this, including senior Republicans, but unless we have 60 votes you know very well the Republicans will continue to stonewall any alternative but the Bush stay the course agenda.

BLACK: If Senator Reid ever allows amendments you might be able to get legislation passed. He is the one that is shutting down debate.

ERROL LOUIS, The thing we know for sure is that as we saw with Congressman Obey, the Democrats are kind of wilting under pressure, they are getting hit from the left, they are getting hit from the right, they are afraid to get too far out ahead of the public when it comes to actually shutting down this war which I think the Congress is clearly committed to doing.

There is going to be, I think, more of these kinds of encounters that you've seen. I'm he's clearly under a lot of pressure.

DOBBS: Let's go to the issue of now a pardon for Scooter Libby this week convicted and already the calls coming out from Republicans, one juror, for certain, and the editorial pages of conservative -- editorial pages, calling for a pardon. Great idea?

ZIMMERMAN: You never hear anyone, you never hear anyone calling for an apology for Valerie Plame Wilson for destroying her career and jeopardizing her life, because of the White House tactics. Which were to smear Ambassador Wilson for telling the truth the false reasons of going to war. And so a Scooter Libby pardon would be a travesty of justice. Will it happen? Good chance in this White House/

LOUIS: Well, whether it happens or not I don't think the next soldier who decides to fall onto sword for his boss is going to be deterred in any way. I think the notion of a pardon actually makes some sense. This is not the guy who masterminded this. This is not the guy who decided to go around leaking. Clearly, all of the evidence that was available, I didn't sit through the entire trial, but it sure seems like he was doing somebody else's bidding. There is no particular reason why he should have to go to prison for that.

BLACK: Lou, Joe Wilson is a documented liar and he is the one that went public and brought his family out into the public here. Looks like they are going to do pretty go ahead for a career making books and movies, but the legal process must take its course. Scooter Libby could win this case on appeal. If he doesn't, there's an established process by which someone applies for a pardon. If he applies for it the president ought to consider it but that's way down the road.

DOBBS: Well, way down the road. It's -- it's sort of interesting. Our senior legal analyst here, Jeffrey Toobin says it best. It's a poor case for a retrial. It is a bad case for appeal. Do you think the president should, in point of fact, pardon him, if everything else is exhausted?

BLACK: I think the president ought to carefully consider it. I did not watch the trial, I don't all know the facts of the case. I know that Fitzgerald knew the first week on the job that crime was hired to prosecute did not happen, that no one committed the crime, so he spent his time interviewing people over and over and over.

ZIMMERMAN: (inaudible), Charlie.

BLACK: That's why we abolished the independent prosecutor statute.

ZIMMERMAN: I wouldn't minimize the fact that when the jury find the vice president's chief of staff guilty of obstruction of justice, and guilty of lying to a grand jury, that is not an issue to be taken lightly. This is a very important issue because it shows how the White House has conducted business and tragically misled the American people.

DOBBS: Another important piece of business here and I know you've got to be very concerned for some people down in Washington. The madam in Washington wanting her little black book, somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 names on it. The government doesn't want to relinquish that. It just seems like unfair confiscation to me, and I have a feeling that entire media in Washington, DC, even New York, would love to have that list of names.

LOUIS: The amount of panic over this thing, over whether or not these names will be released, push aside any concerns about free speech and so forth, it tells you a little bit about, I think, the character or the perceived character, the life-style that is going on inside the Beltway in Washington.

LOUIS: It's an active life-style apparently. Ten to 15,000 names, Charlie. That has got to cause a little consternation.

BLACK: If we all agree that we believe in free speech and the free enterprise system, she ought be able to sell her client list. Listen, there are 3 million people in the Washington, area, and 2,990,000 of them are getting a big kick out of this.

ZIMMERMAN: Charlie and I finally have an issue we agree upon.

I'm actually all for free speech and the enterprise system. She should be entitled to sell that book.

DOBBS: If only the court system could permit all of the rest of us to vote, it would get really interesting.

The other aspect of this is the president is sitting in -- tonight headed to Colombia and Brazil. It's sort of a boffo trip so far, wouldn't you say, Charlie?

BLACK: Well, listen, the president's trying to reach out to Latin America. The energy initiative that he announced along with the president of Brazil is very important. It could have a great impact on our ability to reduce our consumption of gasoline. Countries that he's going to like Colombia and Guatemala are U.S. allies despite the presence of Chavez and other anti-American leaders around South America. So this will advance the ball for the U.S. and for democracy in the region.

ZIMMERMAN: It took him six and a half years to get there. Unfortunately this Bush administration, we increased our dependence on foreign oil, we have cut back efforts to research and investigate ways to address global warming. This isn't a tour to deal with policy. This is a very desperate press hit. The president had to go to these countries to finally find foreign leaders who would talk to him.

LOUIS: And ethanol, whether it's based on American corn or Brazilian sugar cane is this magic elixir politically that always offers this way out foreign oil and somehow it never seems to work out economically or politically.

BLACK: It's working out so far, we just need more of it.

DOBBS: I would say more of that and a lot more on top of that. Charlie Black, good to have you here.

BLACK: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Errol Louis, thank you very much. Robert Zimmerman, thank you.

And a reminder to vote now in our poll. Do you believe all national guardsmen serving on the border with Mexico should be armed with the authority to defend themselves and apprehend anyone illegally crossing our border, including drug smugglers, human smugglers, illegal aliens, potential terrorists? Yes or no? Cast your vote at We'll have the results upcoming.

And up next, the 82nd Airborne Division mourns the loss of six of its paratroopers killed in a single insurgent attack in Iraq. Next, we'll have the story of those remarkable brothers in arms and heroes, next.


DOBBS: Now, "Heroes," our weekly tribute to our men and women serving this country in uniform around the world. Tonight, the story of six paratroopers, members of the 82nd Airborne Division. They were killed in a single bomb attack in Iraq.

Barbara Starr has their story.


BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, the 82nd Airborne Division is mourning. On Monday, six of its paratroopers were killed in an IED attack in Samarra, north of Baghdad. The deadliest day on the 82nd since the war on terror began.

While Washington debates the concept of a troop withdrawal and talks of a security crackdown in Baghdad for six families, the grief is personal.

In Texas, Marlon Kosters' 19-year-old son, Private First Class Cory Kosters graduated high school two years ago. Cory put off going to college.

MARLON KOSTERS, FATHER OF SLAIN PARATROOPER: He wanted to go out there and do something for his country, and he did.

STARR: In Virginia, 27-year-old Staff Sergeant Robert Stanley's family said Rob believed his fellow soldiers were not just comrades, but his brothers in arms, and the six men died as brothers, trying to save each other.

According to reports, they were in two armored humvees. After the first hit an IED, the second humvee moved in, trying to push the first to safety. It was blown up by a second roadside bomb.

The grief from just one incident felt in so many towns. In new Hampshire, teacher Kathy Hansen remembers the mischievous student that became 22-year-old Specialist Justin Rollins.

KATHY HANSEN, FRIEND OF SLAIN PARATROOPER: He would turn on his smile and his charm and it washed away anything else.

STARR: There is speculation the attacks in Samarra may be coming from insurgents who have already fled the Baghdad crackdown. It matters little right now.

MAJ. JIM BRISSON, CHAPLAIN, 82ND AIRBORNE: The most sorrowful grief that I have seen, the deepest painful grief I have seen has come from wives. I think soldiers band together, and say this is my brother this is my sister. STARR (on camera): The six men who died together are coming home together. Their remains are being returned to the United States on the same military flight. Their fellow paratroopers back on the front lines are planning a private memorial service for them back in Iraq. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


DOBBS: We'll continue in one moment.


DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight. Ninety-nine percent of you responding to say you believe all national guardsmen, all of our guardsmen serving on the border with Mexico should be armed with the authority to defend themselves and apprehend anyone illegally crossing our border, including drug smugglers, human smugglers, illegal aliens and potential terrorists.

Time now for some of your thoughts. Harold in Michigan said, "Lou, the facility used to house illegal immigrant families is cleaner and better maintained than Building 18 at Walter Reed Hospital. The ACLU seems to have misplaced loyalties and should reconsider its priorities."

Patrice in California. "Lou, why is the ACLU, defending illegal aliens and not Americans like Ramos and Compean?" The Border Patrol agents now in prison.

DeAnna in Nebraska, "Why is the ACLU not filing lawsuits on behalf of the Americans who have been forced into a lower wage scale doing the number of illegal immigrants accepting the same jobs for less pay?"

And Jean in Virginia, "I had a good laugh hearing Congressman Gutierrez suggest we build a fence around you and the Minutemen. He greatly underestimates the millions of Americans who would stand side by side with you on this issue."

And now the sweetest e-mail I have gotten in an awful long time. Mary Ellen in Massachusetts wrote in to say ,"I'm all for putting a fence around you. Our national treasures must be protected."

Mary Ellen, thank you very much. I can't tell you how much that means.

We love hearing from you. Send us your e-mails at We thank you for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. For all of us, have a great weekend. Thanks for watching. Good night for New York. THE SITUATION ROOM begins now with Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne?