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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Analysis of the Attorney General Controversy; Number of Immigration-Related Prosecutions on the Decline

Aired March 20, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you very much. Tonight, full analysis on the attorney general controversy. The president's news conference just ended, and a pro-amnesty group saying the Bush administration is conducting what it calls a terror campaign against illegal aliens. But that group's assertions couldn't be further from the truth. The number of immigration-related prosecutions is actually declining. We'll have that report.
And the chief of police in the small town under siege by the pro- illegal alien open borders lobby says his community is being overrun by criminal illegal aliens and drug gangs. We'll have the latest on Hazleton's courtroom battle for justice and adult illiteracy in the United States is an unrecognized and worsening problem. Another result of our failing public education system. We'll have that special report, a great deal more, all the day's news, straight ahead here tonight.

Good evening, everybody. The Bush White House and the Democratic-controlled Congress tonight are on the verge of a constitutional showdown. The Bush administration refusing to allow current and former officials to testify in public under oath about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Over the past few minutes President Bush, again, declared he has confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The president said he won't allow Democrats to go on what he called a partisan fishing expedition. He did, at least, concede that the attorney general and the U.S. Justice Department had provided incomplete and confusing answers to Congress. He did not admit inaccuracy.

Suzanne Malveaux tonight reports from the White House on the president's statement. Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill on the standoff between Congress and the White House over this issue. And Barbara Starr reporting from the Pentagon tonight on disturbing new insurgent tactics and success in Iraq.

A short time ago, the president declared he will resist any congressional subpoenas in what appears to be a showdown over the firing of U.S. attorneys that could lead to a constitutional confrontation. President Bush said he has given Congress extraordinary access to information about the firing of those attorneys.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The staff of a president operated in constant fear of being hauled before various committees to discuss internal deliberations. The president would not receive candid advice, and the American people would be ill-served.


DOBBS: Congressional Democrats rejected the White House's offer to allow those officials to talk about the firing of the attorneys not under oath. Democrats demand that current and former administration officials must testify under oath and in public. The White House offer of talks behind closed doors with no transcripts and not under oath, not satisfactory. Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Lou, just before the president came out into the Roosevelt Room and made that statement, we did get a formal statement from the Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, and he did flat out reject the White House proposal that came forward today on this whole issue of whether top Bush officials will testify. He said it's not constructive, and it's not helpful to be telling the Senate how to do our investigation. That came after back-to-back meetings. The president's top lawyer was here on Capitol Hill offer in hand.


BASH (voice-over): White House council Fred Fielding would not comment as he left a closed-door Capitol Hill meeting trying to navigate the crushing scene, but Democrats did.

REP. JOHN CONYERS (D), JUDICIARY CMTE: We are disappointed.

BASH: Clever but incomplete at best is how one top Democrat described the White House offer to make Karl Rove and other Bush aides available for a private interview, but not public testimony.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It's sort of giving us the opportunity to talk to them, but not giving us the opportunity to get to the bottom of what really happened here.

BASH: Democrats say their biggest problems with the White House proposal are that Bush aides would not be under oath and there would be no transcript of their answers about why federal prosecutors were fired.

SCHUMER: And with no transcript, with no oath, with private conversations that can be contradicted, recollections can fail, you're not going to get very far.

BASH: The demand for Rove, former White House counsel Harriet Miers and their deputies to testify came from Democrats and Republicans. One senior GOP lawmaker came out of the meeting and said he thought the White House laid out a fair deal.

REP. CHRIS CANNON (R), UTAH: I'm a very zealous guardian of the prerogatives of Congress, but I expect the president to be a zealous guardian of the executive branch as well, and I think it's a great offer.


BASH: Now, Democrats say they are going to regroup, try to come up with a counter offer. In the meantime, Lou, tomorrow morning the House Judiciary Committee, they are expected to vote to authorize the chairman there to issue subpoenas. They'll do the same thing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. That just in case these negotiations collapse. That is exactly the kind of thing that the president just said that the Democrats should not go forward and do.

DOBBS: Well the president has said what the Democrats shouldn't do. The Democrats are saying what the president shouldn't do. At the end of the day, we know why those people were fired, because the e- mails reveal much of the story.

We also know that this president was hardly candid in his comments just a few moments ago talking about incomplete and confusing statements from the Justice Department. They were flat inaccurate, if not outright lies. So what is the point of this partisan nonsense?

BASH: Well, you know, initially, Lou, it was Democrats and Republicans demanding that these White House officials come and talk to Congress. There has been a lot of anger here by, bipartisan anger, about sort of what you are alluding to there about the fact that they feel that they were not -- they didn't get truthful answers from top justice officials.

DOBBS: But what are they going to do about it if they didn't? The bottom line is there's not anything they can do about it, and there is no constitutional basis for them to do anything about it. This is partisanship of the ugliest sort from both parties, in the White House and in Congress. I mean, good grief. Congressman Cannon talking about he thinks it's a reasonable deal. He owes his political career to this White House. I mean, this is unseemly at best and not in the national interests at worst.

BASH: Well, I guess the only thing I can say to this is welcome to divided government, Lou.

DOBBS: No thanks. Thank you very much, Dana Bash.

As we reported, President Bush completed his statement about the standoff over the firing of U.S. attorneys a short time ago. Suzanne Malveaux joins us live from the White House with her report -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Lou, I just got back from that press conference, and it's very clear that there are two things the president is trying to do here.

First, he is essentially saying to both Democrats and Republicans this is our final offer here. It is the offer that we've put on the table, and we're not accepting anything else. He essentially is throwing down the gauntlet and saying to them, look, this is going to be something that he will fight and fight to the courts if necessary if the Democrats try to enforce a subpoena. Let's take a listen to what the president said just moments ago.


BUSH: These extraordinary steps are for the majority of Congress to demonstrate a reasonable solution to the issue. However, we will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants. Initial response by Democrats, unfortunately, shows some of those interested in scoring political points than in learning the facts.


MALVEAUX: Lou, the other point that the president is making here, as he is saying about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, this is my guy. This is the one, and I'm going to keep him in this administration.

There has been a lot of speculation, there have been reports, and quite frankly, Lou, a lot of people who we talk to are putting pressure on this White House to get rid of him.

The longer this thing drags out, they feel it will be quite a liability on this administration, but the president also made it very clear here, Lou, that he is not giving this up. A lot of people say, look, Alberto Gonzales doesn't have a lot of friends on the Hill. He is serving a constituency of one, that one being the president. He is the only person who can save his job. Today that's what President Bush said, in fact, he will do that -- Lou.

DOBBS: All right, he is going to do that. He has a track record of doing that, but point-blank, the attorney general of the United States casts himself as being totally unaware that his chief of staff was presiding over the dismissal, not he, of eight U.S. attorneys for what are obviously political and policy reasons within the Justice Department in relation to the White House. What is it -- is there in that that is worth the support of the president?

MALVEAUX: Well Lou, you are absolutely right. I mean, this White House surely has a credibility problem here. A lot of Democrats are saying that. There are Republicans who are quietly also saying that as well. That they really just do not trust Gonzales in this role. What the White House and particularly what the president is hanging on to is that this is a loyal friend from back in the Texas days and that he is not going to let him simply blow in the wind here and that ultimately, he does not believe that he has done something that is so wrong that would require for him to step down.

DOBBS: It sounds like a Texas sewing circle the way its cast by the White House. Suzanne Malveaux, thank you very much, from the White House.

Another Republican lawmaker, Congressman Tom Tancredo today joins several other Republicans who are demanding the resignation of the attorney general. Congressman Tancredo joins Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Senator John Sununu and Senator Gordon Smith in their calls for Alberto Gonzales to leave the post of attorney general. All four furious with Gonzales over his role in the dismissal of these attorneys.

The Senate today voted overwhelmingly to cancel the attorney general's power under the Patriot Act to appoint U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation. The Senate voted 94-2 to repeal that part of the act. Democrats say the Bush administration has abused its power in the firing of those eight U.S. attorneys.

Republicans and Democrats today warned the FBI that it is risking the loss of its authority to collect phone, e-mail, and financial records to hunt down terrorists. That threat comes as Congress holds hearings into the program that used so-called national security letters to authorize eavesdropping, which the FBI now admits was widely abused. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller have already apologized for the illegal collection of information from Americans and foreigners as well.

One of the U.S. attorneys who received only lukewarm support from the White House is reportedly Patrick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, of course, the special prosecutor who led the investigation into the CIA White House leak. That investigation led to the perjury conviction of Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby. According to the "Washington Post," the White House said Fitzgerald failed to distinguish himself during the Bush administration's first term.

As members of Congress battle the White House over executive power, the war in Iraq goes on, and two more of our troops have been killed in combat. The soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. A third soldier has died of his wounds in the hospital. Fifty-nine of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month; 3,223 of our troops killed in this war since it began; 24,187 of our troops have been wounded, 10,772 of them seriously.

Insurgents are using new tactics to kill our troops and Iraqis, even using children in their bomb attacks against our troops. The military says insurgents are also launching more attacks with truck bombs filled with chlorine gas. Barbara Starr has the report from the Pentagon.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the already violent streets of Iraq, the U.S. military was horrified by what happened at a busy eastern Baghdad marketplace on Sunday.

MICHAEL BARBERO, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We saw a vehicle with two children in the back seat come up to one of our checkpoints, get stopped by our folks. Children in the back seat, lower suspicion. We let it move through. They parked the vehicle. The adults run out and detonate it with the children in the back.

STARR: And in Al Anbar province in the West.

BARBERO: Over the weekend, we had three suicide bombers detonate trucks loaded with chlorine in Al Anbar province.

STARR: That makes six chlorine attacks since January and a very mixed picture whether the security crackdown around Baghdad is working. Sectarian killings are down, but suicide and car bomb attacks are not.

BARBERO: So brutality and ruthless nature of this enemy hasn't changed. I mean, they're just -- they are just interested in slaughtering Iraqi civilians.

STARR: There are signs of progress. Iraqi security forces are stepping up. For the first time units now arriving in Baghdad are fully ready to fight. But the man who oversees Billions of dollars of contracts to rebuild Iraq sounded his own dire warning on Capitol Hill that there are many threats facing that country.

STUART BOWEN, SPECIAL INSPECTOR GENERAL: Corruption within the Iraqi government is a serious problem inhibiting all progress in Iraq. We have called it the second insurgency in our reports.


STARR: You know, Lou, General Barbero said there are some other signs of progress in Iraq. Hundreds of Iraqi families are moving back to the country, and on the streets of Baghdad, soldiers now are getting a record number of tips from Iraqi civilians about insurgent activity. But, Lou, make no mistake. Every top U.S. Commander says there is a long way to go before there is enduring progress in Iraq - Lou.

DOBBS: Barbara, thank you very much. Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.

Still to come here, more on the showdown between the White House and Congress. I'll be joined by three of the country's leading talk radio show hosts and the disturbing truth about illiteracy in this country. The problem worsening.

We'll have the story. And this country is the most welcoming, most diverse nation in the world, despite what the illegal alien open border lobbies are all saying. We'll straighten them out. We'll have that information. We're going to do something kind of interesting for those folks who love those open borders and illegal immigrants. We're going to present some facts for them to chew on. We'll have that special report and a great deal more straight ahead.


DOBBS: Another health scare for Vice President Dick Cheney today. The vice president visited a hospital in Washington after experiencing discomfort in his left leg. The same leg the doctors discovered every discovered a blood clot earlier this month. The White House said ultrasound tests showed no new complications. The vice president returned to work later.

A startling number of Americans are now functionally illiterate, according to a new study out today. It shows that one in five Americans struggle to read a bus schedule or pay stub. Lisa Sylvester has our special report on the costs of this devastating crisis. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are adults back in school again in Washington D.C. Shirley Ashley is 58-years- old.

SHIRLEY ASHLEY, STUDENT: I can only read, like, small words. You know, like cat, bat, sat, you know. I wasn't a very good speller. Now I can read a whole paragraph.

SYLVESTER: In the United States, one out of every five adults is functionally illiterate, a total of 40 million, according to the National Coalition for Literacy. That means they cannot fill out a job application or understand the directions on a prescription drug bottle. In the nation's capital, the numbers are even more disturbing. One out of every three adults falls into this category.

RITA DANIELS, LITERACY VOLUNTEERS: They come to us because they need help with filling out applications. They need help doing homework with their children and just maneuvering through day-to-day life.

SYLVESTER: Forty million falling through the cracks. That has enormous implications for the U.S. labor market. American workers are now forced to compete globally.

PETER WAITE, NATL COALITION FOR LITERACY: Compared to many of our colleagues in Europe, particularly Scandinavian countries, for example, we are considerably below the literacy rates of those countries.

SYLVESTER: Illiteracy is high in the Black and Hispanic communities. Two-thirds of those lacking basic language skills were born in the United States and English is their native language. More than half of the functionally illiterate actually graduated from high school even though they could not read the words on their diplomas.

WAITE: Students who do fall behind have an enormous ability to fake and sneak their way through those cracks.

SYLVESTER: Many keep that secret in adulthood. Co-workers, friends, even spouses are not aware; making illiteracy one of America's hidden national problems.


SYLVESTER: Those 40 million people have the lowest level of reading proficiency, but millions more are just getting by. According to the National Institute for Literacy, only half, half of the U.S. adult population, has reached what's called level three proficiency. That's what many state organizations consider to be the minimum standard to be successful in today's labor market -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, this is both a crisis and a national shame. Lisa, thank you very much - Lisa Sylvester. That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe the United States can retain its status as the world's only superpower when 40 million of its adults can't read or write? Yes or no? Cast your vote at We'll have the results upcoming.

Year after year, millions of illegal aliens cross our broken border with Mexico. Millions more enter the country legally. When it's added up, the flow of people entering the United States is simply staggering. At Kitty Pilgrim now reports, the United States alone is the most welcoming, diverse, industrialized nation in all the world.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The population will grow not because of birth rates, but because of vast migrations of people. The majority of European countries are expected to have declining populations. The only way they can grow is through immigration, but restrictive policies will keep population levels flat or in decline.

DEBORAH MEYERS, MIGRATION POLICY INSTITUTE: They certainly accept people, who are seeking asylum, and there are some temporary workers, high-skilled workers that come to Europe, but they don't have the same kind of structure that proactively welcomes family-based immigrants and economic migrants in the way that the United States does.

PILGRIM: In the United States, birth rates above two children per couple are sufficient to replace current population, and immigration will contribute. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that one-third of all immigrants in the world come to the United States. A million people are given a green card or a permanent legal status a year, 604,000 citizens worn in last year.

Six million nonimmigrant visas and some six million people apply for legal residence each year. That has created an enormous backlog of more than 3.5 million applicants.

MATTHEW SPALDING, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The United States has always been a destination of choice for immigrants, largely for two main reasons. One is because the nature of Americans. It's important to realize that America is unique in this way. It's legal system, its cultural system; its society is open in a way that Europe has never been open.

PILGRIM: The surge will continue, 400,000 people are expected to leave Africa every year and more than a million from Asia.


PILGRIM: Europe's declining populations and low acceptance rates of immigrants will have a decided pull on economic growth and the United States won't have that problem. In the United States, legal immigration, relatively open birth rates considerably higher than other industrialized countries -- Lou.

DOBBS: So how many people do -- do we bring into this country legally every year?

PILGRIM: Well, a million naturalization, and more get citizenships. So millions, literally, and visas on top of that.

DOBBS: So somewhere around five million people a year.

PILGRIM: I would say yes.

DOBBS: Then what is all this nonsense about restrictive immigration policies we enforce our borders?

PILGRIM: You know, when you talk to the people who really study these demographics, they say we are the most open country in the world, and we get the most immigrants, and everyone wants to come.

DOBBS: Yes, or if you just sort of listen to this broadcast, you understand what a bunch of lying son of a guns that open borders group and those illegal alien lobbyists and activists are. There are just no resisting facts, and, you know, it would be nice if these people have the intellectual honesty and the common place decency and perhaps a loyalty to this nation to look at the facts and deal with the facts as they are rather than through their socioethnic interests and corporate America's eagerness to exploit illegal labor. Thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim.

Still ahead, we'll have the latest for you on Hazleton, Pennsylvania's fight to try to deal with the devastating effects of illegal immigration and a federal government that will not enforce U.S. immigration laws or secure our borders.

And two for the price of one: the Bill and Hillary campaign money juggernaut sweeping the country, and amnesty advocacy groups claiming the Bush administration is unleashing a terrorist campaign against illegal aliens. We'll see whether those accusations are on target. We'll have that special report next as we, forgive us, and just want to deal with the facts. Stay with us.


DOBBS: A very popular video posted on YouTube is injecting controversy of a sort into the Democratic campaign for president. That video uses the classic 1984 ad introducing the Apple Macintosh computer as a backdrop for attacking Democratic frontrunner Senator Hillary Clinton.

Clinton is portrayed in the video as a sinister, big brother figure, while her rival, Senator Barack Obama, is the symbol of a new generation. Now, this video was posted on YouTube anonymously. Obama says he knew nothing about the ad until it appeared on the Web.

Senator Clinton may be the most popular Democrat running for president and the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for now at least. The senator could also be the one candidate raising by far the most money. As Bill Schneider now tells us Senator Clinton may owe all of that to the former president of the United States. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Bill Clinton is suddenly front and center in the Clinton for President Campaign hosting fundraisers in New York and Washington. The Clinton campaign is reported to be using some muscle on contributors, telling them you can't give money to other Democrats, only to us.

ANITA DUNN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: They understand that campaigns were about choices and forcing people to make that choice early is a smart thing for them to do.

SCHNEIDER: It's also smart to use Bill Clinton to raise money. While Hillary Clinton is the most popular Democrat running for president right now, her husband standing among Democrats is in a class by itself. Are we talking about co-presidents here? When Bill Clinton first ran for president in 1992, he talked about two for the price of one. Not this time.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now that we changed places and I am in a nongovernmental world and she's an elected official...

SCHNEIDER: The senator is running on her own record.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Clearly, it is only because of what I've done the last six years, added to all my previous life experiences, that I feel ready to assume the position of president of the United States.

SCHNEIDER: Her husband certainly helps. As George Bush's popularity in the country has dropped, Bill Clinton's popularity has risen.

STU ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: Generally, time has been good to Bill Clinton. I think the prosperity of the Clinton years and the difficulties that George Bush has had, that's helped Bill Clinton's reputation, and that has to help his wife.

SCHNEIDER: But a presidential candidate has to make one thing clear: I am my own person. That's why vice presidents often have trouble getting elected. It may be easier for a spouse.

ANITA DUNN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: She is in an enviable position of being able to have the loyalty factor play for her while she has more space to be independent.

SCHNEIDER: Seeing the Clintons together reminds people of what they liked about Bill Clinton's presidency, but they have to establish their independence.


SCHNEIDER: To win the presidency, Democrats have to make the 2008 election a referendum on the Bush record and not on the Clintons -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, one thing about it, Senator Clinton has a lot of time in which to accept and follow your advice and put it to work. That's a great thing about having two-year-long presidential campaigns.

SCHNEIDER: That's exactly right.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider, thank you very much.


DOBBS: Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Senator John McCain may be reconsidering his position on illegal immigration.

Last year Senator McCain joined forces with Senator Ted Kennedy on the so-called comprehensive immigration reform legislation that President Bush and corporate organizations so fervently love.

Now Senator McCain appears to be, at least for the moment, distancing himself from that measure that he co-sponsored. McCain says he supports a proposal now by Republican Congressman Mike Pence that would force illegal aliens in this country to return to their countries of origin before they could apply for citizenship.

The senator previously favored legislation allowing most illegal aliens to become citizens without leaving the United States.

A pro-amnesty group tonight is threatening to form a human chain around the federal building in Los Angeles. All of that to protest what it calls the Bush administration's terror campaign against illegal aliens.

But as Casey Wian now reports, federal prosecution of illegal aliens is actually down over recent months.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The groups behind last year's pro-illegal alien amnesty demonstrations are organizing new marches and boycotts to pressure federal authority to stop deporting illegal aliens.

JAVIER RODRIGUEZ, MARCH 25 COALITION: We need 1,000 people to encircle the immigration headquarters, ICE headquarters, the federal building, to send our message clear, to push to the powers that be, to the extreme right, to the Minutemen, to everyone in this country that we are preparing for May 1 with a national boycott.

We are calling for the impeachment of George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for crimes against hundreds of thousands and millions of undocumented immigrants.

WIAN: Even the Los Angeles Teachers Union is demanding the effective end of immigration law enforcement.

MARC RICH, UNITED TEACHERS, LOS ANGELES: We demand full rights for all workers in the United States, documented or undocumented. WIAN: Organizers claim recent immigration raids have created an atmosphere of racist terror against immigrant communities. In fact, there's evidence the White House has backed off of immigration lawbreakers in recent months.

While the Justice Department's prosecution of immigration crimes is up sharply since 9/11, according to Syracuse University's TRAC Immigration Project, they're actually down 18 percent since 2005.

For most of that year federal prosecutors filed well over 3,000 immigration cases each month, peaking at about 4,500 in September 2005. Then they declined steadily to just 2,690 in November 2006, the last month for which numbers are available.

DAVID BURNHAM, TRAC IMMIGRATION: We just don't know whether there are more illegals or less illegals coming into the country or being picked up, but the prosecution on criminal charges is, in fact, down.

WIAN: The report does not include December's immigration raids at several Swift meatpacking plants, nor the sweep of hundreds of criminal illegal aliens weeks later in southern California.

But it's clear even those high profile busts aren't enough to reverse the recent downward trend in immigration prosecutions.


WIAN: The Justice Department did not respond to our request for comment on the decline in immigration prosecutions. Of course, they had their hands full today, Lou.

DOBBS: Yes, they do. And, I mean, that is absolutely unbelievable that they -- that group would stand there and call for the impeachment of George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney because of their position on illegal immigration. There's -- the two of the best friends these people ever had. What in the world are they thinking about?

WIAN: It's hard to figure out what they're thinking. I mean, what they're clearly advocating is the end to immigration law enforcement in this country. You know, even the most ardent supporters of amnesty in Congress wouldn't support that, Lou.

DOBBS: And the idea that these people have the sense of entitlement to break the law and then demand of the federal government and the American people rights that are only secured through lawful immigration. As I've asked before, how do you say chutzpah in Spanish? It's remarkable.

Casey, thank you very much. Casey Wian.


DOBBS: Some Mexican politicians have compared the fence along our southern border with Mexico to the Berlin Wall, failing to point out that it is to keep people out, not to keep people in.

It now appears one American politician may be doing exactly the same thing. New Mexico's governor and apparently presidential candidate Bill Richardson is promising to, in his words, "tear down the wall" if elected president.

OK, governor. I got to point something out. It's a little bit of a fence. There's no bit of a wall.

The governor made that statement to reporters while fundraising in Texas Monday night. Richardson went on to say, quote, "It's bad policy. It was done to get election votes, and the next president shouldn't build it. I wouldn't build it."

And it makes me wonder if the New Mexico Democrat is perhaps saying that for political reasons.

He's a long-time opponent of the border fence. Richardson wants to double the size of the Border Patrol, also wants to implement a policy of what he calls earned legalization. In other words, amnesty. In other words, we have a pretty clear track on the votes he's trying to find.

Coming up next, the police chief of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, says his town is overrun by criminal illegal aliens and drug gangs. We'll have the very latest for you on Hazleton's legal battle against the illegal alien movement in corporate elites.

And should current and former White House officials such as Karl Rove and Harriet Miers give public testimony under oath in the showdown over the firing of U.S. attorneys? That's one of the questions that three of the country's best radio talk show hosts will be telling us about next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: A Pennsylvania town under siege defending its efforts to stop the harmful effects of illegal immigration on that community and fighting in federal court.

Bill Tucker reports on day seven of the case pitting the town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, against the federal government, the well- funded illegal alien advocacy groups, and, yes, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and big business.

Bill Tucker covering the trial in Scranton with the report.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hazleton's police chief testified to the rising presence of gangs in his city, the resulting rise in violence associated with them, and the prevalence of illegal aliens as members of those gangs.

He told the court that 30 percent of narcotic arrests now involved illegal aliens, all trends within the last two years. The plaintiffs' lawyers, though, pointed to crime statistics over a six-year period, claiming Hazleton can't show a crime problem with illegal aliens.

ROBERT FERDINAND, HAZLETON POLICE CHIEF: I'm telling you that it's a problem now, and if we do not do something, it's going to continue to do be a problem, not only in Hazleton but across the nation.

TUCKER: The chief supports his mayor in his efforts, and he calls the city ordinances a, quote, "reasonable course of action." His testimony was attacked by the plaintiffs.

TOM FIDDLER, PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: The police chief had a lot of beliefs. When we asked him to produce documents, and to show us what exactly he had, we had very limited number of documents produced.

TUCKER: The city defended its chief and made the point that the crucial question in this case is not concerned with crime statistics.

KRIS KOBACH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This case is ultimately about some constitutional arguments. The question is whether the city has the authority under the U.S. Constitution to do what it's doing.

TUCKER: As an example of a state being able to pass such laws, he pointed to Arizona's Prop 200, which requires proof of citizenship to vote and of legal residents to work.


TUCKER: Now the court did hear for the first time, Lou, an estimate of the number of illegal aliens in Hazleton. Expert witness Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies told the court that he believes somewhere between 5 percent and 11 percent of Hazleton's total population are illegal aliens.

Tomorrow two police officers on the stand that do work with gangs in the community, Lou. Promises to be an interesting day.

DOBBS: All right. Bill Tucker from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Thank you.

Two success stories tonight in this country's battle against alcohol, prescription drugs and illegal drug addiction.

On Sunday agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and police in Panama seized a boat off Panama's Pacific coast carrying more than 43,000 pounds of cocaine, one of the biggest maritime cocaine busts ever.

And Mexico's police, working together with the DEA, delivered a huge blow to a Mexican cartel of meth producers when they confiscated a whopping -- are you ready? -- $205 million in U.S. currency in Mexico.

Next here former senator Mike Gravel running for the White House in 2008. He wants the nomination of the Democratic Party. So why isn't he in those Democratic debates? He'll join me.

And the president says he still supports U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. But already some of his powers have been restricted. Will he be a political casualty? I'll be talking with three of the country's top radio talk show hosts about what their listeners are saying. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Former senator Mike Gravel is running for the Democratic nomination to be president. And the Democrat from Alaska, he served in the Senate from 1969 to 1981.

Gravel is perhaps best known for his role in the Pentagon Papers, the top secret official study of growth of the U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, and, also, for filibustering the draft in the...


DOBBS: And ending it. Senator Gravel joins us here tonight.

Good to have you with us. You were -- you were also excluded from a CNN sponsored debate. Why so?

GRAVEL: First off, I want to compliment you. You're very courageous to bring me on the show, because in New Hampshire, CNN, "The Union-Leader", "Manchester Union-Leader" and the Hearst News TV station have said that I don't meet some secret criteria to be on the show.

DOBBS: So that being the case, did they tell you why? What the criteria is?


DOBBS: Let's start working over criteria. You've got a heck of an interesting platform, it seems to me. You want to put together a national initiative.

GRAVEL: You're right.

DOBBS: You actually want to have citizen involvement.

GRAVEL: Making laws, Lou. Making laws. We do it at the state level. Why can't we do it at the national level?

DOBBS: I think it's a splendid idea, to be honest with you.

GRAVEL: Well, you're a populist. Of course you would think...

DOBBS: But I mean -- I think most Americans would like the idea when these -- I'll just say it. When these idiots we elect to Congress and in the Senate refuse to listen to the will of the people, give the people the opportunity to express their will.

GRAVEL: Bring them in as partners, working partners.

DOBBS: What else do you want to do?

GRAVEL: Well, I'd like to have a fair tax. I'd like to wipe out the income tax, turn around and put on a sales tax with a prebate. We can make it progressive, and we can begin to get this economy going. That's what we need.

DOBBS: Well, and what about education?

GRAVEL: Well, you are talking about education tonight and literacy. Do you realize -- and I'm sure you know the figures, Lou -- 30 percent of our children do not graduate from high school?

We're talking about this nation is going down the tubes, and the politicians with politics as usual are telling Americans, "It's great, elect me, we'll do the job."

The representative government is failing. There's only one choice. That is to go to the people and empower then.

DOBBS: You're campaigning all around the country. What's the reaction?

GRAVEL: When they hear it, their eyes dilate and people say, "Really, really? Is that a fact?"

More than half the American people legislate at the state and local level. Why can't we do it at the national level? All I need is a voice, and bless you, Lou, you're giving me a voice that I've not had this year thus far.

DOBBS: Anywhere?

GRAVEL: Anywhere.

DOBBS: You're kidding.

GRAVEL: I'm not kidding. Here, "The Washington Post". I filed in April of last year almost a year from now. My name was never mentioned once after I filed in anywhere in "The Washington Post" except a scurrilous article by Broder, who of course, wrote the book "Democracy Derailed".

He sort of figures that bringing the people into government derails democracy. He ought to look up the definition of democracy.

DOBBS: Well, Senator Mike Gravel, the idea that the elites in this country wouldn't want to be encumbered by those silly little things like people, you know, like you or me and everybody else, you know. Let's let those who know better run everything, right?

GRAVEL: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: I wish you luck. And I do know for a fact that CNN's political unit is evaluating their secret criteria. And so I'm pulling for you, and I know lots of other people. Thanks for being here.

GRAVEL: You have a lot of guts to do that on this station. I got to tell you, really because...

DOBBS: It was our political unit?

GRAVEL: No, no. Not your political unit, but CNN was party to this with these other two. Bless you. Thank you.

DOBBS: You know, those folks, you know, they're good folks. They'll figure it all out.

GRAVEL: Let's hope.

DOBBS: We'll hope.

GRAVEL: It's censorship, otherwise.

DOBBS: Well, it doesn't sound fair, does it?

GRAVEL: No, it doesn't. Americans will know that.

DOBBS: Yes, yes. Americans are still pretty interested in fair. Thank God. Thank you.

Coming up next, President Bush says he's standing by his attorney general. Can Alberto Gonzales keep his job? Should he keep his job? Three of the country's top radio talk show hosts join me. They'll tell us what their listeners are thinking. And I know they'll tell us what they're thinking.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: I'm now joined by my friend Joe Madison down in Washington, D.C., WOL. From Denver, Peter Boyles of WHOW. Good to have you with us here. And here in New York, my friend Mark Riley, Air America.

Well, what are we going to have, a new attorney general? Are we going to have a dust-up that means absolutely nothing between Congress and the president over this one?

MARK RILEY, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: We should have had a new attorney general probably about three or four days ago. It is amazing. "The Washington Post" puts out a story that says, while Patrick Fitzgerald was investigating Scooter Libby, prosecuting the Libby case, he was being rated as not distinguished by this group of people who was apparently passing on all 93 U.S. attorneys.

It's amazing to me. This is the guy who wrote the indictment on Osama bin Laden, and he's not distinguished? When did he become not distinguished?

DOBBS: Peter. PETER BOYLES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think that Alberto Gonzales today got the cover of "Sports Illustrated", the dreaded phone call, the voice that says, "We really support you."

I think stick a fork in him. I don't know if he makes out the week. I think he's gone.

DOBBS: Yes. Joe.

JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: He laid down the gauntlet today. It's really a guillotine. His head is going to go. He's out of here. We've heard this before. "Hello. Doing a great job, Brownie." And what happened to Brownie?

DOBBS: Yes. Well, what happened to Brownie and what in the world is going on over there with the Barack Obama's campaign? That's a nasty thing on YouTube there showing that...

MADISON: I want to tell you something, I really don't -- I think -- I -- here's what's going to happen. We're going to see hundreds of these.

And I hope that the American people, all of us, no matter what color, what race, what party, that we get sick and tired of it because we're going to see this between now and February.

And the problem is, Lou and everybody, there's no fingerprints, because it's the Internet. It's cyberspace.

RILEY: I got to tell you something. This is a very interesting situation that's going on. No. 1, Barack Obama has taken no responsibility for it. But beyond the politics of it, this is a sign of the destruction of intellectual property in this country. That's what this is really all about.

BOYLES: No, it's the new media, and it's an end run, and it's terrific. And, by the way, you have -- you have to go look for it to see it. No one is feeding it to you, unless you see the clips on the news.

RILEY: It's not difficult to find. That's for sure. I found it in 30 seconds.

MADISON: By the way, come on. I'm not the most literate person. I'm really handicapped when it comes to cyberspace, but I found it in seconds, and that's the problem. It's instantaneous, and everybody has a computer and an Internet.

RILEY: This is not just about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. What this -- what this is speaking to is every ability that anyone has to copyright and actually have -- hold onto their own intellectual property.

BOYLES: It takes the mainstream press, and it's great.

DOBBS: Gentlemen, if we can hold this for two seconds, we've got to take a break. And before we do that, I'm going to turn to Wolf Blitzer. He's going to tell us what's coming up in "THE SITUATION ROOM".

Right, Wolf.

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

President Bush laying down the gauntlet to Democrats. He's warning them, don't force a confrontation over Alberto Gonzales and the firings of eight federal prosecutors. Is a constitutional showdown looming?

He's sharp-tongued, sharp-witted and always outspoken, the HBO "Real Time" host Bill Maher tells me what will really get Americans' attention in the White House race.

Are relations icing up between the U.S. and its former Cold War foe Russia? We'll have a report on that.

And Rush Limbaugh firing back after Arnold Schwarzenegger calls him irrelevant.

All that, Lou, coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf. And we'll be right back with our panel in just one moment. We're going to see whether or not that potential showdown between the White House and Congress amounts to a hill of beans. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Peter Boyles, let's start with you. Do you think this threat and confrontation between the White House and Congress over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys is a real deal, a historic moment, or is it just a bunch of partisan nonsense?

BOYLES: Well, they're trying to take the power away to appoint. I hope it's a good thing. I'm not a fan of George Bush. I'm not a fan of Gonzales', and maybe we'll find out why those A.G.'s got let go.

RILEY: I think they got let go because the White House wasn't comfortable with their loyalty. That seemed to be one of the criteria here, and that is a crime. That is a shame. It should not happen in this country.

This government has no business testing people's loyalty when they're out here supposedly working in the interests of the American people. That's absurd.

MADISON: And I think -- and I think what the White House did today, Justice Department, when they flooded then with 3,000 pieces of paper, was to hope that it would take so long that the attention span of the American people will hope it will go away.

DOBBS: Well, you know, of all the things they've got to hope to -- they've got a huge list of things they want to go away.

But the truth of the matter is, Joe, there's not anything Congress can do about this, one way or the other. The president is within his prerogative to fire every one of them, just as Bill Clinton did.

BOYLES: Yes. But Clinton fired the ones that Daddy Bush appointed.

DOBBS: Oh, no. I'm not saying that. And the fact that the attorney general of the United States supports torture, warrantless wiretap, is a facilitator for this administration and, by the way, is just another -- every other regard, a fine American...

RILEY: He just gave his exit strategy.

DOBBS: They're worried about -- they're worried about the silly...

MADISON: I just wish they had guts, Lou. I just wish they had guts.

RILEY: He's just going to sit there and say, "I didn't do anything wrong, but I quit."

DOBBS: Well, we're quitting, too, but not in that way. Thank you, gentlemen, for being here. Appreciate it.

MADISON: Thank you.

DOBBS: The results of our poll. Ninety-three percent of you said the United States cannot retain its status as the world's only super power when 40 million of us can't read or write?

Thanks 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 right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lou.