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Lou Dobbs Tonight

White House Refuses to Give Ground in Battle Over Executive Powers; Iran: Nuclear Menace; Drug Abuse: The War Within

Aired March 21, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, corporate America's addiction to cheap illegal labor is out of control. For that matter, so is corporate America. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates leading the way. He now wants to help Mexico export poverty to the United States.
We'll have that special report for you.

Also, startling new testimony in the courtroom battle between the small town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and the well-funded national illegal alien open borders lobby. Illegal aliens are involved in almost a third of all drug and gang activity in the small community.

We'll have that story.

And the national crisis over drug and alcohol abuse in our public schools, should there be random drug testing of all public school students?

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

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Wednesday, March 21st.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

The confrontation between the White House and Congress over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys today intensified. A House subcommittee today approved subpoenas to force current and former White House officials to testify in public and under oath. The White House today said Democrats simply want to create a political spectacle. White House press secretary Tony Snow again said the Bush administration will allow its officials to go to Capitol Hill, but only for private talks.

Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill on the confrontation over executive power and the U.S. attorneys and Congress.

Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House on the administration's refusal to retreat on the issue.

And as the White House and Congress prepare to battle over domestic politics, Aneesh Raman tonight reports from Tehran on Iran's dangerous new threats and its nuclear showdown with the rest of the world.

We turn first to Dana Bash on Capitol Hill -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the White House says, here's our offer, take it or leave it. And Democrats across the board are saying no deal. And today they made a move, another move, in this high stakes game of chicken to prove they mean it.


BASH (voice over): Hours after the president warned them not to do it, House Democrats defied him and authorized subpoenas for Karl Rove and other top White House aides.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it.

BASH: Democrats flat-out rejected the White House proposal for Bush aides to talk to lawmakers in private with no oath and no transcript. But the House Judiciary Chairman promised not to issue the subpoenas unless he has to. He called it leverage, a backup plan.

REP. JOHN CONYERS (D), JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: ... to hold these subpoenas in abeyance and hope that we will continue the discussions. So far, the discussions have been very disappointing.

REP. LINDA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: We must prepare for the possibility that the Justice Department and the White House will continue to hide the truth.

BASH: Republicans opposed authorizing subpoenas now, saying it was premature and political.

REP. CHRIS CANNON (R), UTAH: The only purpose of subpoenas issues to the White House now is to fan the flames of -- and photo-ops of partisan controversy for partisan gain.

BASH: But in the Senate, some of the president's fellow Republicans are siding with Democrats. They, too, have complaints about the White House's take it or leave it offer.

John Cornyn, a staunch Bush alley, tells CNN, "I'm a little dubious about an interview behind closed doors. If there's going to be information provided, it best be provided in public."

The Senate Judiciary Committee's top Republican agrees and says he is worried having no transcript or formal record could create conflicting accounts of what Rove and others say.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It would be very helpful to have a transcript. My own preference would be to have it open so that people see what -- what is going on. There's a tremendous amount of public interest.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BASH: Specter warned that if this gets caught in the courts, it could be stuck there for years, and he also said that it is in the White House's best interest to come back to Congress and negotiate with Democrats and Republicans. In fact, he said that he is working on a counter offer and so is the Senate Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy -- Lou.

DOBBS: Dana, are the Democrats in Congress, the Republicans, and the administration, are any of them talking straightforwardly about what is to be accomplished here?

BASH: Well, what they -- they are, and what they say is they want to have answers from the White House in public. That is really what this has come down to.

You know, after this has sort of had 24 hours or so to simmer, Lou, that they've gotten the answer, what they're saying over and over again is this is about the public's right to know what is going on. This is about secrecy in government, that there should not be secrecy in government.

But specifically, they are saying at this point their biggest problem is there's going to be no transcript, no record of what the White House really is saying about how and why these prosecutors were fired. That's their bottom line at this point -- Lou.

DOBBS: Dana, thank you very much.

Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.

Well, the White House, for its part today, accused the Democrats of being more interested in political spectacle than establishing the truth. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow today declared the Bush administration might withdraw what they call their generous offer to allow current and former officials to meet with members of Congress. Snow said the White House will not allow those officials to testify in public and under oath.

Suzanne Malveaux reports now from the White House -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, clearly, both sides have staked out their positions. We're not yet at DEFCON 1, but what we saw and what Dana talked about was the House Judiciary Committee at least authorizing issuing subpoenas. They didn't actually issue them themselves.

We heard from the press secretary. Tony Snow said that when that happens, that is when the White House takes its offer off the table to allow Karl Rove and Harriet Miers at least to answer some questions before members of Congress.

So what is the strategy now? Well, part of the strategy, the White House strategy, at least, is to emphasize what is being dubbed here as EGO. This extremely generous offer is what they are saying, and to try to put as much pressure as possible on members of Congress, particularly Democrats, to capitulate. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Do you want to get at the truth or do you want to create a political spectacle? Those -- those are the options that are laid out. What we think is possible is that we've come up with what we think is an amicable and respectful way to enable the House and Senate in their oversight responsibilities...


MALVEAUX: Now, Lou, of course the White House faces a number of problems and challenges here. First of all, they say that they are not going to provide Rove and Miers under oath. That's just not going to happen. It's not even negotiable.

A lot of pressure, of course, as Dana had also mentioned, about providing a transcript. This is something that Tony Snow is pressed on time and time again. Why not provide a transcript here so at least there's some sort of public record here of this proceeding?

Now, Snow responded by saying simply that, look, you know, you're just going to have to get to the truth without a transcript. That is going to be a very big challenge for this White House because essentially they're telling the American people and members of Congress, trust us. This is a White House, as you know, that has had problems in the past with issues of credibility -- Lou.

DOBBS: Issues of credibility in both this White House and this Congress, have historically low approval ratings in poll after public opinion poll taken.

Is there any sense of embarrassment anywhere in that town either at the White House or over on Capitol Hill that with issues like the war in Iraq, failing public education, free trade, mounting national debt, mounting trade debt, a host of challenges, that the Democrats and Republicans are involved in nothing more than what appears now to be political theatrics?

MALVEAUX: Well, you k now, Lou, I have to say, I think there's some people certainly within this building who recognize, and friends of this White House recognize, part of this perhaps is the position here that they're taking that's about principle. But the other part of it, too -- and they will admit this -- it's about political games, and they realize that one side is playing the game. The other side is going to play it.

It's all going to have to be played out to its fullest. Neither one of these sides seems to be backing down.

DOBBS: Is there -- and I just have to ask you this. And as you talk with the staff there at the White House, Suzanne, is there any sense amongst any of the staff members at the White House with whom you speak of some delight that they are able to benefit from what is a huge public distraction from the critical issues facing the nation? MALVEAUX: There's a couple things that I think are happening here. I think this has become a very messy situation for this White House. I don't think there's a great deal -- bit of delight in actually having to deal with this.

I do think there are a couple of things they want to get done. One of them that's behind the scenes, which you know fully well, is this whole idea about immigration. It's the only thing they've got left on their domestic agenda that they hope perhaps they can get done in these next 16 to 18 months.

The war in Iraq, as you know, has not been at the forefront. That perhaps is an advantage to some extent, but they know that that's going to be a big problem as well.

DOBBS: Suzanne, thank you very much, as always.

Suzanne Malveaux from the White House.

Senate Democrats tonight are making a new effort to force President Bush to withdraw our combat troops from Iraq. Democrats are calling for the withdrawal of all combat forces by the end of March of next year.

The Democrats have attached that withdrawal proposal to an emergency military spending bill. Last week, Senate Democrats, however, failed to win enough support for a resolution calling for the withdrawal of our troops.

In Iraq today, U.S. troops killed five insurgents in a battle north of Baghdad. Those troops destroyed a bomb factory near the town of Taji, 12 miles north of the Iraqi capital.

And in Baghdad today, a truck bomb destroyed part of an elevated highway and damaged the Iraqi Ministry of Finance. The bomb detonated when police tried to carry out a controlled explosion. There were no serious casualties.

Our military commanders say Iranian special forces are now helping insurgents in Iraq kill American troops. Iran is also defying the United States and the rest of the world over its nuclear weapons program. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, today said United Nations sanctions and threats will not end Iran's nuclear program.

Aneesh Raman has our reported from Tehran -- Aneesh.


The rhetoric rising once again from Tehran tonight. Today was the Iranian new year NoRooz. And in dueling messages on state television, both the country's supreme leader and president had warnings for the world.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei said that if the West continues to use the U.N. as a tool to pressure Iran, that that would do more harm to the West than it would do to the Islamic republic. He also called the actions by the U.N. Security Council, presumably sanctions, as "illegal" and said that if they continue, Iran could pursue illegal actions of its own. In terms of a military attack, the supreme leader warned that if that happened on Iran's soil, Iran would use all of its capabilities to strike back.

Meantime, Iran's president, in his message, was less specific. He did say, though, that the enemies of Iran are using international bodies that they have created to stop Iran's path towards progress. He also seemingly made the first reference to the movie "300," the Hollywood blockbuster that has faced increased criticism in Iran for its portrayal of Persians.

The Iranian president said that there is an orchestrated campaign essentially using movies and, as he said, psychological warfare to project the image of a rough Iranian nation. He called on his country for unity.

This, of course, as he is expected to speak at the U.N. Security Council in New York this week. No sense on the ground that he will change any of his stances. Instead, push the argument as to why Iran should continue its nuclear program despite the U.N.'s demand for it to stop -- Lou.

DOBBS: Aneesh, thank you.

Aneesh Raman reporting from Tehran.

Coming up here next, the national crisis over drug abuse in our public schools. New demands tonight for random drug testing for all public school students.

We'll have that special report, "The War Within".

And the government of Mexico has a new ally in its efforts to export poverty to the United States -- the richest man in the world, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.

We'll have that story, his story, and a great deal more straight ahead.

We'll be right back.


DOBBS: The disturbing use of drugs among our youth has prompted some public schools to conduct random drug testing, but the practice faces increasing opposition from groups such as the ACLU, that say random testing is an invasion of privacy.

Lisa Sylvester now has more on one school that's taking action to stop drug abuse.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): More than half of all high school students have used an illegal drug, according to the federal government, and prescription drug abuse is up 40 percent in the last five years. But you don't have to tell that to the acting superintendent of the Hanover Park region schools in New Jersey. Last July, police arrested more than 50 Hanover Park current and former students in a prescription painkiller raid. That same year, three recent graduates died of drug overdoses.

KARL MUNDI, ACTING SUPERINTENDENT, HANOVER H.S.: We only have our influence over students six hours a day, and it's important that we have some control because, let's be honest, the parents' support is not as consistent as it has been. Community options may not be as strong as they have been. So we need to step up and take more of an active role.

SYLVESTER: Karl Mundi says if he had his way, he would randomly drug test all of his students, but the Hanover Park school board is looking to test only those students who participate in athletics, other extracurricular activities, or students who want to park in the school lot. School-wide testing has run into opposition from groups like the ACLU.

GRAHAM BOYD, ACLU: The drug testing does not help students. It doesn't prevent drug use, and it breaks down trust between students and school officials. So it's counterproductive.

SYLVESTER: Since 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court has expanded the list of students eligible for testing, but the high court has never ruled on whether all public school students can be tested. Lower courts have said school officials have not shown a sufficient need for broad testing, but advocates say drug testing has made a difference.

BILL JUDGE, ATTORNEY: And if the goal is to deter children from using drugs, drug testing certainly has shown to be effective. It is working.

SYLVESTER: Those who favor drug testing say it's not about catching students, it's about identifying them and getting them help.


SYLVESTER: National studies on the effectiveness of drug testing have been largely inconclusive. Some research suggests it is having an impact. One major study says it is not. But school superintendents say anecdotally it sure seems to work. They are told by students that drug testing gives them a way out when they're being pressured by their peers -- Lou.

DOBBS: And as you reported, treatment is critically important. And those resources being made available, a very important part of the equation here.

Lisa, thank you very much.

Lisa Sylvester reporting from Washington.

Continuing our reporting now on "The War Within" and our national drug crisis, Mexican drug cartels are hauling larger and larger drug shipments across our borders. A record drug seizure on the high seas only the latest example of what has become a booming drug trade targeting America and Americans.

Kathleen Koch reports on a massive 21-ton cocaine bust. Cocaine with an estimated street value of more than half a billion dollars.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They're calling it the big fish that didn't get away, a freighter spotted Saturday night by a Coast Guard C-130 patrol aircraft 20 miles off the Pacific Coast of Panama. A Coast Guard team got the consent of the Panamanian government to board the ship and found a record 42,000 pounds of cocaine in the first two containers they opened.

CAPT. CHARLEY DIAZ, USCG CUTTER SHERMAN: It was very obvious when they opened the doors that -- I mean, these bales were just piled high. It was almost up to the ceiling.

KOCH: U.S. officials say the brazenly open way the drugs were being moved reflects the mindset of the drug cartels.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I still think they operate with the mentality of impunity, where they think they can get away with what they're doing. That is changing though.

KOCH: Three Panamanians on the freighter and two Mexicans on shore were detained by authorities in Panama. Eleven Mexican citizens on board were taken into custody and were being transported to Tampa, Florida, to face charges in the case.

The massive maritime bust comes on the heels of a seizure last week of $205 million in Mexico City. Authorities call that the world's largest single drug cash seizure.

KAREN TANDY, DEA: DEA and our partners are shattering our own records as quickly as we make them. And more than that, we're shattering the drug organization's financial capability and operation ability.

KOCH: There is concern that U.S. aerial surveillance and resources to patrol maritime drug trafficking lanes are down, but the Coast Guard says drug seizures for the last four years are up. And that, it says, is what counts.

Kathleen Koch, CNN, Washington.


DOBBS: And that record $600 million drug seizure is only a fraction of the overall drug trade. The United States, with four percent of the world's population, bringing in 66 percent of the world's illegal drugs.

The DEA seized 234 tons of cocaine headed our way in 2005. The DEA says almost all of the cocaine now entering the United States comes through Mexico. In point of fact, Mexico is also the principal source of methamphetamines and heroin, all coming across our border with Mexico.

And two Border Patrol agents searching for drugs and illegal aliens in Texas were almost killed yesterday. Those agents found a raft with more than 300 pounds of marijuana floating in the Rio Grande River. The agents were fired upon from the Mexican side of the border. Those agents fired back and were not injured.

Officials expect more incidents like this as drug smugglers take more drastic measures to import their drugs into this country.

Coming up here next, we'll be talking with a Republican congressman. He has threatened to call for the impeachment of the president in the case of two former Border Patrol agents sent to prison on the testimony of an illegal alien drug smuggler given immunity by the U.S. Justice Department.

Also tonight, a former vice president testifies before Congress. Al Gore takes his crusade against global warming to Capitol Hill.

And the world's richest man takes his campaign south. He is pushing policies that would depress working wages for Americans. This time, Bill Gates in Mexico, encouraging more workers to cross our border.

Stay with us for that, a great deal more, straight ahead.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Former vice president Al Gore today took his crusade against global warming to Capitol Hill. In testimony, Gore declared that the planet has a fever. And while the former vice president's message was warmly received by most Democrats, many Republicans were far more skeptical.

Andrea Koppel has our report.


ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): From Hollywood's red carpet to Capitol Hill's marble halls, the former vice president came to Washington with an urgent message and boxes filled with what he claimed were half a million letters demanding Congress take real action on global warming.

AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the most dangerous crisis we've ever faced, but it is also the greatest opportunity we've ever been confronted with.

KOPPEL: For hours in the House and Senate, Mr. Gore held court. More professor than politician.

GORE: Water vapor is, indeed, the most common greenhouse gas. It increases and it magnifies the warming phenomenon.

Each one of these CO2 molecules has a kind of a chemical signature.

KOPPEL: Calling it a moral imperative, Gore said the solution would depend upon an immediate freeze of carbon dioxide emissions, a 90 percent reduction by 2050, as well as enacting a pollution tax. It's a message Mr. Gore tried to spread during the 16 years he represented Tennessee in Congress, a point his friends didn't forget.

REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: What you were saying about environmental issues back then now retrospectively really do make you look like a prophet.

KOPPEL: Prophet to some Democrats, problem maker to some Republicans, like Oklahoma's James Inhofe, who has called global warming a hoax.

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: Thousands of meteorologists, geologists, physicists, astrophysicists, climatologists, scientists who disagree with you, are they all wrong and you're right?

KOPPEL: Mr. Gore tried to sneak out the committee's back door to avoid answering the other question on the minds of many, will he use his new celebrity status as a two-time Oscar winner for a documentary on global warming to launch a presidential campaign?

(on camera): Are you ruling out the possibility of throwing your hat in the ring?

GORE: You know, I have no plans for run for president again. I don't intend to, and I don't expect to.


KOPPEL: Now, while the former vice president may say he has no intention of running, according to a recent CNN-Opinion Research poll, when Democrats were asked who they'd like their 2008 candidate to be, he came in third, Lou. Fourteen percent said they wanted Al Gore just behind senators Clinton and Obama, but ahead of senator -- former senator Edwards.

DOBBS: And ahead of quite a few other folks.

KOPPEL: Exactly.

DOBBS: That's a field that is growing almost daily.

Thank you very much.

Andrea Koppel, from Capitol Hill.

Well, as Andrea just reported, Gore's most vocal critic today was Senator Inhofe. In an effort to question Gore, Inhofe touched off a heated exchange with Senator Barbara Boxer. She quickly reminded him who's the boss.


INHOFE: I'm sure you read the New York (ph) article that quoted the scientists -- I mentioned this in my opening statement -- about their criticizing you for some of your being too alarmist and hurting your own cause. Now, I'll ask you to respond in writing for that one, because that would be a very long response, I'm afraid.

Now, it seems that...

GORE: Well, I would like to respond -- may I respond? May...


INHOFE: ... everybody...

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Excuse me, Senator Inhofe. We'll freeze...

INHOFE: I'm asking...

BOXER: We'll freeze the time for a minute. I'm just trying...

INHOFE: Oh, yes, take your time. We're freezing the time.

BOXER: No, no. We're freezing the time just for a minute. I want to talk to you a minute, please.

Would you -- would you agree -- would you agree to let the vice president answer your questions? And then if you want an extra few minutes at the end, I'm happy to give it to you, but we're not going to get anywhere.

INHOFE: Why don't we do this?

BOXER: We're asking...

INHOFE: Why don't we do this? At the end, you can have as much time as you want to answer all of the questions.

BOXER: No, that isn't the rule of -- you're not making the rules. You used to when you did this. You don't do this anymore. Elections have consequences.



DOBBS: The former vice president's testimony today marked his first appearance on Capitol Hill since January of 2001.

Up next here, playing politics. Imagine that. Bill Schneider takes a look at the nonstop political maneuvering in Washington. Is it political theater or the people's business?

And then Bill Gates in Mexico. Why the world's richest man wants what he calls freedom of migration.

We'll tell you all about that.

And a new change of language and a town under siege. Nothing new about that in this country. Stunning new testimony in the battle between Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and the well-funded national illegal alien open borders lobby.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Bill Gates is at it again. The world's richest man making another attempt to bring more cheap labor to the United States, in effect taking more jobs away from Americans if he has his way.

Two weeks ago Gates told Congress that this country needs more guest workers, H-1B visas. As Casey Wian tells us tonight, this time Gates has taken his amnesty agenda across the border to Mexico.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mexico has a new ally in its effort to export poverty to the United States: the world's richest man, Bill Gates. The Microsoft founder went to Mexico to promote his company and for his charitable work to receive Mexico's highest award for a foreigner from President Felipe Calderon.

BILL GATES, MICROSOFT FOUNDER: I'm very pleased at the project that we've had here in Mexico.

WIAN: Gates was asked about immigration, and he advocated the continued export of cheap labor to the United States. Gates said, "I'm hoping there can be some immigration reform. Hopefully it would be something that provides predictability and as much freedom of migration as possible."

Apparently, the information age guru is unaware the United States is already one of the most welcoming nations on the planet.

For example, the 27 members of the European Union, plus Russia, combined have more than twice as many residents as the United States. Yet, all of those nations together accept fewer new migrants each year than the United States does.

Last year the U.S. granted nearly 1.3 million people legal permanent residency, the first step to citizenship. Fourteen percent of them from Mexico.

While in Mexico, Gates also repeated his call for the United States to issue more temporary visas to skilled foreign workers. He made the same plea to a Senate panel earlier this month.

GATES: Unfortunately, our immigration policies are driving away the world's best and brightest precisely when we need them the most.

WIAN: Not exactly. The United States admitted more than 400,000 skilled foreign workers and their families on H-1B visas last year.

If you include other legal temporary workers, the U.S. admitted nearly 900,000 foreigners on employment visas. Another 660,000 on student visas. Plus, 455,000 on temporary employment transfers.

That's a total of 2 million people each year legally admitted to the United States on work or student visas.


WIAN: About 7 percent of Microsoft's U.S. employees are foreigners on H-1B visas. Apparently, Bill Gates believes that figure is too low -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, it's hard to figure out what Bill Gates thinks. He obviously doesn't know anything about which he is speaking.

By the way, he's not exactly in the minority in that regard in this entire debate about this critical issue.

I mean, what could be more revelatory than the map that you just reported, showing Russia, the European Union, not even coming close to the United States in terms of the people that we bring in each year?

The audacity, frankly, of mainstream media not to report the facts, the audacity of Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator John McCain, President George W. Bush, to talk to the American people like they're outright fools and will never hear a fact about this ridiculous policy that has now led us to a national crisis.

At some point, you have to believe that people will awaken to reality, to empirical evidence, to the facts.

WIAN: Yes. It's amazing how many people have bought into these supporters of the amnesty agenda who try to equate U.S. efforts to secure the border with migration, legal migration. Hopefully, the message will get out pretty soon, Lou.

DOBBS: Yes, and migration is a word that I, frankly, find offensive because it is, of course, the term of art of the Mexican government. It has become the term of art of this administration, which does nothing much more than lick the boots of whomever is president of Mexico, whether it be Calderon, Fox.

It is disgusting the way in which this administration has simply sold out the interest of the American people and is perpetrating. I want to say this just as clearly as I can. Perpetrating along with the illegal alien lobby, the open borders lobby, the corporate America's biggest lobbyists, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable.

They are perpetrating outright lies and carrying those lies to as many people in this country as they possibly can. It's disgusting. It's reprehensible.

And I believe that corporate America, which has many capable CEOs, honest CEOs, would allow these -- these organizations to misrepresent both reality and the interests of the American people and the nation. It's disgusting. It's time corporate America asserted its conscience here.

Casey, thank you very much. Maybe Bill Gates will figure out where his conscience lies and also where the facts are. Wouldn't that be nice?

WIAN: We'll keep listening.

DOBBS: OK. Thank you, sir. Casey Wian from Los Angeles.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe Bill Gates is out of touch with our middle class and our national interests? Yes or no. We'd like to hear from you. Cast your vote at We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.

Alarming testimony on day eight in the trial against the small town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Law enforcement officials and a gang expert today took the stand, and they testified on what appears to be a disturbing connection between drug gangs and illegal aliens in Hazleton.

Bill Tucker has more now from Scranton, Pennsylvania.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Latin Kings, the Three Netarios (ph), MS-13 have all come to Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and they've arrived in the last two years.

DET. CHRISTOPHER OROZCO, HAZLETON, PENNSYLVANIA, POLICE DEPARTMENT: I could tell you that before 2005 I didn't see that. We -- small town. We had the typical crime that you would have.

Since 2005 and definitely into 2006 we've seen an increase in the violence that's associated with some of these gangs.

TUCKER: Compounding the problem, the gangs are recruiting members from illegal aliens in the community.

JARED LEWIS, GANG EXPERT: Gang members, specifically the Latin Kings, is well known for seeking out illegal aliens to become involved in the gang, and that's something that we have identified, Latin Kings operating actively right now in Hazleton.

TUCKER: Thirty percent of the gang arrests in Hazleton last year involved illegal aliens. In addition to the testimony from Detective Orozco, the court also heard testimony from the head of the city's narcotics division, who told the court that 30 percent of his unit's arrests last year involved illegal aliens.


TUCKER: Now with that testimony, Lou, it's done. Tomorrow morning the lawyers and everyone gather in the courtroom for closing arguments. The judge allowing about an hour and a half for both sides to make their final case.

He is expected to take several weeks to make a decision. Fully cognizant of the importance of this. And, Lou, yes, both sides do expect this case to be appealed, no matter the outcome. At least up to the third circuit court down in Philadelphia -- Lou.

DOBBS: If there is such a thing as a neutral observer in this trial, have you found such a person, and have they gotten a view as to how it has gone?

TUCKER: No. There is not such a thing as a neutral observer, at least not that I found so far, Lou, in talking to people in the courtroom. And the judge in his temporary restraining order, maybe gave us a clue what he's thinking, because when he enjoined the city from enforcing its ordinances, he told the community these ordinances are likely to be overturned in court, and, of course, he's the judge sitting in court.

DOBBS: Oh, you got to love justice. Thank you very much, Bill Tucker from Scranton, Pennsylvania.

A reversal by the Bush administration on a decision that bars Medicaid benefits from babies born to illegal aliens. This is an about face, and it comes after the state of Washington challenged a decision that forces illegal aliens to prove the citizenship of their newborns.

The federal government in that reversal now says parents, illegal alien parents, do not have to provide any proof of citizenship for their babies. The federal government will give infants born to illegal aliens one year of Medicaid coverage, irrespective of citizenship status.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is feeling the heat over a recent campaign appearance that he made in Miami. In a speech before a Cuban-American audience, Romney mentioned the phrase "fatherland or death, we shall overcome."

There's a little problem with that slogan. Cuban leader Fidel Castro uses it to close almost all of his speeches. Not exactly the kind of thing you would have expected Mitt Romney to say in front of a Cuban-American audience in Miami.

Of course, it gets kind of confusing in this country. We used to just call it America. Now you've got to sort out fatherland, motherland, and, of course, homeland. For some of us, it remains just America.

Coming up next, Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher joins us. He'll have more on today's House vote authorizing subpoenas in the U.S. attorney controversy.

And later, the standoff between the White House and Congress over those subpoenas. Both sides accuse the other of playing politics. So who's winning? And are they both right? Those stories and a lot more straight ahead. Stay with us.


DOBBS: My next guest has been at the forefront of Republican efforts to try to find justice for former Border Patrol agents, Ramos and Compean. Those two currently serving a lengthy prison term for shooting a Mexican drug smuggler, given immunity by the Justice Department for their testimony against the Border Patrol agents.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher joins me now from Washington.

Dana, good to have you here. Congressman, let me ask you, is there any sense that we're going to see justice for these two men?

REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: I'm afraid that that is going to be made -- a decision that will be made by the president himself. The fact that they haven't been pardoned, the fact that they are now in solitary confinement after 40 days in solitary confinement, which I consider to be cruel and unusual punishment.

All of this has made -- are decisions that have been made by the president himself, demonstrating, I might add, a cruelty and mercilessness that is not an admirable trait.

DOBBS: It's not an admirable trait, and as things go in Washington, as you know better than most, there are very few coincidences here. It is becoming increasingly clear that the U.S. Justice Department working with the Mexican government, that this relationship, however it can be characterized, is leading to a lot of just utterly blatant nonsense.

ROHRABACHER: Yes. I'm very lucky that I haven't been obtained, of course, in agreement with my chairman, Bill Delahunt, of my oversight investigation subcommittee on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, that we will be investigating the undue -- the possible undue influence that the Mexican government has been having on our own Justice Department in prosecuting law enforcement officers who are trying to protect our rights at the border.

And there seems to be a very undue influence here, and, of course, you know, the Mexican government officials contacting our people may well be corrupt for all we know.

DOBBS: Well, and we're not too clear about the status of some of the officials they are contacting in our government is, unfortunately, the case.

Let me turn to, if I may, Congressman, the issue of this contest, controversy, whatever you want to call it, between Congress and this White House over the firing of U.S. attorneys.

I'm a little lost. It's pretty clear the Bush administration either, at best, misstated the truth about the firings of those U.S. attorneys, or at worst, lied outright to Congress and the American people.

ROHRABACHER: Well, first and foremost, this was handled in an incompetent way.

DOBBS: Sure.

ROHRABACHER: The same way that I might add Attorney General Gonzales has handled a number of issues. That's why I say that he should resign and should go.

However, let me note for the record, Bill Clinton fired every single U.S. attorney when he became the president of the United States. The fact is this was handled in an incompetent way, six years into the administration. And unfortunately, but -- it's caused a controversy, but the president does have a right to choose at his discretion, for any reason whatsoever, to eliminate a U.S. attorney.

DOBBS: Yes. I think there's -- I think that's incontrovertible. I think it's incontrovertible that the Justice Department either, as I said, misstated the facts or lied to the Congress and the American people about the reasons for those firings.

ROHRABACHER: Right. They have a right to do it, but they -- but they have done it in a way that has brought down a controversy that they could have averted.

DOBBS: So I guess the question is this: why in the world, given the incompetence, at best, demonstrated by this attorney general -- why in the world wouldn't this president fire him?

ROHRABACHER: Well, you have a president here who's surrounded himself with pals. And I have said that it has been a disservice to the president to have someone like Gonzales or like Johnny Sutton, who's been prosecuting Ramos and Compean.

There's a U.S. attorney who deserved to be fired, but, instead, the president relies on his buddies. Now he needs some people who are a little bit more professional around him that would be of greater service to him and to the country.

DOBBS: Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, we thank you for being with us. Thank you.

Just ahead, well, they're at it again. Members of Congress seem to be spending a little more time playing politics -- I'm talking about the Democrats, by the way -- than looking after the people's business. You know, the folks who replaced that other Congress that wasn't doing so hot.

We'll have a special report for you and a great deal more straight ahead. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Once again, Washington doing what it does best: playing at politics. This time, the issue is the standoff between the White House and Congress over the firing of those U.S. attorneys.

Senior political analyst Bill Schneider reports on who's winning this messy fight.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): In Washington everyone wants to be seen as above politics.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: On issue after issue, not just the U.S. attorneys, politics seems to take precedence over the rule of law.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats are charging Republicans with political interference in the judicial process.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: What was the real reason why these eight U.S. attorneys were fired? Especially in light of the fact that six of the eight were involved in prosecuting corruption?

SCHNEIDER: The Republicans' response?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Initial response by Democrats, unfortunately, shows some appear more interested in scoring political points than in learning the facts.

SCHNEIDER: Who's been winning the debate?

JOHN DICKERSON, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE: The political upper hand is with the Democrats. These eight very telegenic former U.S. attorneys who are saying, "We were run out of office for political reasons."

SCHNEIDER: The Republican's response, everybody does it, does not get them off the hook.

KARL ROVE, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: I would simply ask that everybody who's playing politics with this be asked to comment about what they think about the removal of 123 U.S. attorneys during the previous administration.

SCHNEIDER: But Republicans have found some new ammunition.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: Senator Schumer, who also serves on the judiciary committee, seems to be using this to raise money on the Democratic campaign committee web site.

SCHNEIDER: Now Democrats have put out a radio ad attacking a Republican congresswoman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to testimony from the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, Congresswoman Heather Wilson called U.S. attorney David Iglesias and pressured him concerning a federal corruption investigation.

SCHNEIDER: The Democrats are taking the risk of looking too political themselves and giving the other side an opening.

KARL ROVE, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: This, to my mind, is a lot of politics.


SCHNEIDER: Democrats have to be wary of doing anything that would encourage voters to echo Mr. Rove's sentiments, it's all politics, because that means they don't take it seriously -- Lou.

DOBBS: Karl Rove talking about just politics, there's something delicious about that.

The politics here, I -- I have to say from the -- from my vantage point, however skewed it may be, both the White House and the Congress look like blithering idiots.

SCHNEIDER: Well, that certainly an opinion that's shared by a lot of people. Americans don't know what to think about this, but there is a serious issue at the heart of it, which was whether there was political pressure on prosecutors involving their investigation of corruption cases.


SCHNEIDER: That people take very seriously, and, also, whether false information was given to Congress.

DOBBS: Let's turn to Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University.

Jonathan, this really looks like partisan politics. It looks like partisan theater. It doesn't look to me like it amounts to a hill of beans. What's your take, legally speaking?

JONATHAN TURLEY, LAW PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, legally, it may be greater than a hill of beans. The fight here that's brewing is a classic struggle between two branches.

And the president has not picked a particularly good case to fight on. You know, when he talks about protecting the executive privilege, it's a little curious, because he's already effectively waived the executive privilege if he allows these people to speak to senators under any circumstances.

What he's really insisting on is that they don't take the oath and there's no transcript. Those things have nothing to do with executive privilege.

DOBBS: Let me ask you both, because what it looks like the White House is saying is, "Sure, you can have 3,000 e-mails and our folks will talk to you, but we can't guarantee that they won't lie to you, and we sure don't want a record of a lie if they do lie to you."

SCHNEIDER: That's what it looks like.

TURLEY: Well, it is very curious, because I don't know of anything in the Constitution that says that the president cannot be forced to have his people promised to speak truthfully under oath. DOBBS: Right.

TURLEY: And the real problem here, I think, is that this -- this is following what the attorney general himself apparently indicated was a misleading or potentially false testimony.

DOBBS: Right.

TURLEY: So Congress has a very good reason to say, "We want this under oath."

DOBBS: Wanting it under oath, the other part of this is let's assume that whatever happens here results in the fact that there is already established that the attorney general and his minions misstated the facts or lied to Congress and the American people. What in the world can Congress do about it?

TURLEY: Well, among other things, there is the -- the one danger that behind these firings was an effort to obstruct because there were pending cases. And if these people were fired, as one of the U.S. attorneys has indicated, to prevent him from investigating corruption, you have this bizarre situation where the president and his people could be accused of obstructing their own justice.

DOBBS: This is getting better and better, Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, it is. And one of the key factors here is that the president is in a weak position. Not only in the merits of the case, but his political position is weak. And we're seeing something very interesting. Republicans -- you just heard Dana Rohrabacher, a Congressman.

DOBBS: Sure.

SCHNEIDER: Republicans are abandoning the president on this. They wouldn't do that if they thought he was strong.

DOBBS: Yes. Or right.

SCHNEIDER: Or right.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

Jonathan Turley, thank you.

Coming up here in a few minutes, "THE SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.


Al Gore urging lawmakers to act fast to avoid what he's calling a planetary emergency, but he's facing a chilly response from at least one U.S. senator, who thinks global warming is the biggest hoax ever.

How much control does Fidel Castro really have over Cuba right now? We're getting new details tonight about Castro's political power.

Plus, new allegations of bad conditions, poor care for America's veterans. We're live at a facility right here in Washington.

And that very public war of words between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rush Limbaugh continues. The California governor goes on Limbaugh's radio show today. Did they call a truce?

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

DOBBS: Wolf, thank you. Next, results of our poll and some of your thoughts. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Now the results of our poll. Ninety-three percent of you say Bill Gates is out of touch with our middle class and our national interests.

Let's take a look at a few of your thoughts tonight. Louis in Florida said, "Study finds one-third of D.C. is illiterate. Is that in the Senate or in the House, Lou?"

And Bliss in California: "Bush is always saying that illegal aliens are doing the work that we won't do here. Well, it seems to me that some small towns, like Hazleton, Pennsylvania, are doing the job that the federal government does not want to do!"

And Carlo in New Jersey: "Let's make it easy. Just fly the Mexican flag over the Capitol. This way we can be sure which country our elected officials represent."

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts at We thank you for being with us tonight. Join us here tomorrow. Among our guests, Congressman Luis Gutierrez.

For all of us, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Lou.