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Lou Dobbs Tonight
9 Troops Killed in Iraq; Military Cover-Up Charges; Cheney Vs. Reid
Aired April 24, 2007 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, new questions about U.S. strategy and tactics in Iraq after insurgents kill nine of our troops in a single attack.
We'll have that special report from Baghdad.
Also tonight, new charges the Pentagon deliberately lied about the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan and the capture of private of Jessica Lynch in Iraq.
We'll have a live report from the pentagon.
And White House adviser Karl Rove now faces a sweeping investigation into his political activities on behalf of President Bush. Did Rove abuse his powers? Has Rove politicized the entire federal government?
We'll have all of that, all of the day's news, and we'll tell you when a ham sandwich is more than a sandwich.
All of that straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Tuesday, April 24th.
Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
The military tonight is urgently considering new ways in which to protect our troops in Iraq after suicide bombers kill nine of our soldiers. Insurgents exploded two massive truck bombs at a combat outpost north of Baghdad.
Meanwhile, the White House is facing a far-reaching investigation into the activities of presidential adviser Karl Rove and other aides. The Office of Special Counsel will investigate allegations of misconduct in the White House political operations over the past six years.
Arwa Damon tonight reports from Baghdad on the most deadly attack against our ground troops in nearly 17 months.
Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill on a sharp exchange on the issue of Iraq between Vice President Dick Cheney and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. And Ed Henry tonight reporting from the White House on the new investigation into Karl Rove and the politicization of the Bush administration.
We turn first to Arwa Damon -- Arwa.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the U.S. military now saying that it believes that it was two 30-ton trucks packed with explosives that slammed into that small outpost in the province of Diyala, just north of Baghdad. The Islamic State of Iraq has claimed responsibility for the attack. It is the umbrella group that encompasses Al Qaeda in Iraq, as well as a number of other extremist Sunni groups and elements of the Sunni insurgency.
In the last six months, the Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda has managed to establish itself in Diyala province, shifting its operations from Al Anbar to the west, and establishing itself firmly in this area, and has been constantly posing an increasing, intense challenge to U.S. forces operating there.
U.S. forces in recent months have been conducting aggressive combat operations throughout the entire area, but it has taken quite the toll on the brigade that is operating there. The brigade has lost more than twice the number in just six months that their predecessors lost in their entire deployment.
The insurgency here is constantly morphing, constantly posing challenges to U.S. and Iraqi security forces operating here. The Americans saying that the biggest difficulty for them is staying one step ahead of the insurgents -- Lou.
DOBBS: Arwa Damon reporting from Baghdad.
All the troops killed in Iraq members of the 82nd Airborne Division. Those soldiers based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Their unit, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, deployed to Iraq in August. This is the single deadliest attack against our troops and those from the 82nd Airborne since the beginning of this war.
The military says insurgents also killed a Marine in Al Anbar province yesterday.
Eighty-six of our troops have now been killed so far this month. That's more than in any month since December.
3,333 of our troops have now been killed since the beginning of the war, 24,912 of our troops wounded, 11,090 of them seriously.
New evidence tonight that the Pentagon deliberately covered up the circumstances of Army Ranger Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan after he was killed by friendly fire. The Army also facing accusations on Capitol Hill that it lied about the capture of Private Jessica Lynch in Iraq.
House Government Reform Committee chairman Congressman Henry Waxman said the government invented what he calls sensational details and stories.
Jamie McIntyre has the report from the Pentagon.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The congressional hearing featured a video replay of the big lie -- the phony account of Pat Tillman's heroism given at his memorial service.
SR. CHIEF STEPHEN WHITE, NAVY SEAL: Pat sacrificed himself so his brothers could live.
I'm the guy that told America how he died basically at that memorial. And it was incorrect.
MCINTYRE: That Navy SEAL says he relied on Tillman's largely fictitious Silver Star citation which said Tillman died engaging the enemy, instead of from friendly fire. No one admits writing the inflated account, but one Ranger who was with Tillman when he was killed said his firsthand account was changed and he was ordered to keep quiet, not even to tell Tillman's brother, Kevin, a fellow Ranger, the truth.
SPEC. BRYAN O'NEAL, U.S. ARMY RANGER: I wanted right off the bat to let the family know what had happened, especially Kevin, because I worked with him in the platoon. And I knew that him and the family both needed -- or all needed to know what had happened.
And I was quite appalled that -- when we were -- I was able -- actually able to speak with Kevin. I was ordered nod to tell him what happened, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were ordered not to tell them?
O'NEAL: Roger that, sir.
MCINTYRE: Kevin Tillman, who served with Pat in Afghanistan, believes the worst, that it was deliberate deception with a crass P.R. motive.
KEVIN TILLMAN, PAT TILLMAN'S BROTHER: And we believe the strategy had the intended effect. It shifted the focus from the grotesque torture at Abu Ghraib and a downward spiral of an illegal act of aggression, to a great America who died a hero's death.
MCINTYRE: The false account of Private Jessica Lynch's Rambo- style shootout was a different case, based not on inaccurate official statements, but on an erroneous "Washington Post" report with a single, apparently confused, anonymous source.
PVT. JESSICA LYNCH, U.S. ARMY (RET.): I'm still confused as to why they chose to lie and try to make me a legend when the real heroes of my fellow soldiers that day were legendary.
REP. TOM DAVIS (R), VIRGINIA: Without knowing the identity or motive of "The Post's" unnamed source, it's difficult to fault Pentagon officials who never fed or perpetuated the Hollywood version of events, but stuck consistently with the facts at hand.
MCINTYRE: The latest investigation in the Tillman case has faulted nine officers, including four generals, but none face criminal charges. And none of the investigations, including today's hearing, Lou, have been able to get to what the real motive was behind the false account of Pat Tillman's death that happened three years ago this week -- Lou.
DOBBS: And the investigations go on, as does the investigation into the allegations of those murders at Haditha.
Where do we stand? Reports of implication of generals as well in that investigation. Where do we stand, Jamie?
MCINTYRE: Well, the prosecutions are going forward with the Marines who are believed to be responsible for those killings, and some Marines have been given immunity to testify against them. But there's also -- we're seeing more details of the overall criticism of the chain of command in that incident, which simply didn't take the charges seriously, not believing that Marines could be responsible for that, and also just not consideration civilian casualties to be that big a deal, considering what was going on.
So the leadership, all the way up to a two-star general, simply dismissed the allegations initially as not all that important until "TIME" magazine really put the U.S. military's feet to the fire and asked them to account for these civilian deaths.
DOBBS: Well, they certainly would not be alone in at least initial disbelief that any American in uniform could commit such an act.
Thank you very much.
Elsewhere on Capitol Hill today, Vice President Dick Cheney and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid exchanged sharp words over the conduct of this war. Vice President Cheney accused Senator Reid of saying the war has been lost to win political advantage. Senator Reid then said the vice president is the president's attack dog.
Dana Bash has the story from Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was an unprecedented moment -- the vice president stepped up to the Senate microphones to blast the Democratic majority leader on Iraq.
RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's most troubling about Senator Reid's comments yesterday is his defeatism. Indeed, last week, he said the war is already lost. And the timetable legislation that he is now pursuing would guarantee defeat.
BASH: Dick Cheney stood where Harry Reid usually talks to the press and accused him of inconsistent and irresponsible statements about the war. Moments later, Reid reclaimed his turf and shot right back.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: The president sends out his attack dog often. That's also known as Dick Cheney. And he was here again today, attacking not only me, but the Democratic Caucus.
BASH: That intensely personal war of words over Iraq was just part of the day's dizzying verbal volley up and down Pennsylvania Avenue over a Democratic bill to fund the war, but force troops to start coming home.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Instead of fashioning a bill I could sign, the Democratic leaders chose to further delay funding our troops and they chose to make a political statement.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is an ethical issue. This isn't a political issue. I respect where the president is coming from on this. I wish he would respect where we are coming from, which is a reflection of where the American people are coming from.
BUSH: A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq is not a plan to bring peace to the region or to make our people safer at home. Instead, it would embolden their enemies and confirm their belief that America is weak.
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president, divorced from reality, is accusing us of emboldening the enemy and undermining our troops.
Well, Mr. President, I have a message for you -- the only thing that's emboldening the enemy is your failed policy.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BASH: All of this white-hot rhetoric is especially remarkable, because the outcome here is a forgone conclusion. Democrats here in Congress will send their plan to the White House, the president will veto it. So what we're seeing here is a playing out of what happens politically after the veto, and that is really unclear still -- Lou.
DOBBS: Dana, thank you.
Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.
Democratic presidential candidate Congressman Dennis Kucinich today said he's introducing articles of impeachment against Vice President Cheney. Congressman Kucinich says the vice president told lies about the reasons for going to war in Iraq and Cheney, he says, is telling more lies about the threat from Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These articles are filed in responsible to the question of, who are we as a nation that we can let high public officials violate the law with impunity, take us into wars that are based on lies? Who are we? Who's going to stand up to this?
And these articles of impeachment are a response really to questions that are being asked all over the United States. And so that's my stand today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Despite some accusations of political opportunism, Congressman Kucinich said that he believes millions of Americans share his view the vice president should be forced from his office.
Coming up next here, new details of the escalating scandal over cronyism and kickbacks in the student loan industry in this country.
That special report.
And members of Congress ignoring the interests of middle class Americans, stepping up the efforts to import more cheap labor, more cheap labor into the United States.
We'll have that story.
And this country's food system is broken. And what is the Bush administration doing about it? Cutting budgets and firing safety inspectors.
That special report, a great deal more, straight ahead. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Troubling news tonight on the housing market. Home resales fell last month by 8.5 percent. That is the largest decline in sales in almost two decades. Bad weather and problems in the sub- prime mortgage market blamed in part. The fall bigger than expected and dashing hopes the housing market is beginning a recovery.
The rapidly rising cost of a college education in this country creating an almost unmanageable burden for many of our middle class, and emerging details of corruption and cronyism in the student loan industry. All yet another blow to the millions of students and their families struggling to pay their way.
Christine Romans has our report.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Two-thirds of these students will graduate with debt, median debt now $19,300. STEPHEN BURD, THE AMERICA FOUNDATION: There are significant numbers of students who are taking out $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 in loans. Some of these loans are federal loans, but increasingly students are relying on private loans, which come with higher interest rates.
ROMANS: Tuition prices have soared 35 percent over the past five years, making volatile, expensive private loans a necessity. A federal loan interest rate is capped at 6.8 percent. But a private loan can hit 18 to 20 percent, loans which didn't even exist a generation ago.
Today the private loan explosion is a feeding frenzy. Congressman George Miller says student local companies are making shady deals with universities to become preferred lenders at students' expense.
REP. GEORGE MILLER (D), CALIFORNIA: We now see them paying gratuities, meals, vacation trips, hotel stays, conference, putting people on the board of directors, selling stock inside. I mean, you have a system that' has run amuck, run amuck. And what it has really done is it's raised the cost of student loans to the students and to their families.
ROMANS: Sallie Mae, Citibank, Education Finance Partners, University of Pennsylvania, and NYU among those settling New York State's allegations of conflicts of interest. And the Department of Education is scrambling to explain stock deals and cozy relationships between some of its officials and private lenders.
The Education Department has a lucrative database of student financial records. Amid the controversy, it has temporarily blocked private lenders from that information.
ROMANS: Now, just days after lender Sallie Mae agreed to that $2 million settlement with New York State, news it's going private in a $25 billion deal among the companies investing to take it private -- Bank of America and JP Morgan. They have their own student loan operations, essentially consolidating some of the biggest, wealthiest players, altogether -- Lou.
DOBBS: Obviously a play for market share, if you will. And one that is -- there's been no announced investigation of that deal, has there?
ROMANS: No, there has not.
DOBBS: Interesting that this Congress, this Democratically-led Congress, and Congressman George Miller one of the leading activists on public education in this country, has not seen fit to do so.
The idea that we would take an program that was created just about 40 years ago, government -- government student loans, and turn it into this runaway private program, how does George Miller, how do others explain this?
ROMANS: Tomorrow there will be hearings on the Hill about this, and I have a sneaky suspicion that this is something that they will discuss tomorrow as they try to unravel all of -- all of these things. You know, Ted Kennedy, George Miller and many others are saying it's like an onion, they're just peeling it back and finding layer after layer of corruption, cronyism, and in some cases it might be legal, but clearly some unethical happenings there.
DOBBS: And I think we have to give some considerable credit to Attorney General Cuomo...
ROMANS: That's right.
DOBBS: ... who led the fight in New York and is continuing to lead that. And he will be our guest here tomorrow evening.
Christine, thank you very much.
Congress today appears determined to dramatically increase the scope of existing guest worker programs. Congress now wants to expand the rights of foreign students and greatly increase the number of green card workers in this country. It is, by the way, you will be pleased to note, a bipartisan effort.
And as Bill Tucker reports, it is completely unnecessary.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Senator John Cornyn won't give up on the SKIL bill, more officially known as the Securing Knowledge, Innovation and Leadership Act of 2007. Cornyn wants it to be attached as an amendment to another bill which is intended to encourage American students to go into math, science and engineering fields.
The irony is inescapable, because the SKIL Act would increase the H1-B visa program by 77 percent, with automatic 20 percent increases every year thereafter that the cap is hit. It would also more than triple the size of the employment-based green card program to 450,000, exempting all immediate family members from the cap. And it would vastly expand the foreign student visa program now as the F-4 visa, allowing foreign students to work while studying in the United States, giving them two years to find a job after graduation, and put them on an automatic fast track for a green card.
JACK MARTIN, FED. FOR AMER. IMMIG. REFORM: The only thing that is backing these proposed increases in both employer-sponsored legal immigration and temporary workers is claims by business that they need access to these additional workers.
TUCKER: And while corporate America pushes its cheap labor agenda, there is growing concern over what appears to be Congress's priorities. GARY MAY, GEORGIA TECH: It's puzzling to me there's not the same level of anxiety about importing foreign talent that there is about importing foreign oil, for example. I'm not a protectionist by any stretch, but I do believe that there are resources here in the U.S., human resources, that can fill these jobs if there is a shortage.
TUCKER: Corporate America doesn't need to worry, though.
TUCKER: Because ultimately, whether Cornyn's attempt to attach the SKIL bill succeeds or not is immaterial. The Flake-Gutierrez legislation know as the STRIVE Act already incorporates much of the SKIL Act numbers, and there are several bills in both the House and the Senate to extend the H1-B visa program, Lou. The theme of all of those bills, prioritizing foreign workers over Americans.
DOBBS: It is absolutely incredible. We should put a couple facts before our audience here this evening.
I know that Washington is averse to facts. The amnesty, the corporate lobby, the open borders lobbies, all averse to the facts, but here are the facts.
Fifty-six percent, as you reported last night, of H1-B visas are granted to employees, foreign workers who are low-skilled workers. Fifty-six percent of them.
Seventy percent of those H1-B visas are sought by Indian companies seeking to outsource work in the United States to employees. And in many of those cases, if not all, they make $12,000 less than the prevailing wage that is of American workers.
Just to put a few facts forward. I know that will be very uncomfortable to Congressman Flake, Congressman Gutierrez, and of course Senator Cornyn, and others, and particularly my good friend, Bill Gates, who seeks unlimited H1-B visas for the United States.
Bill, thank you very much. That is just enough to make you want to chew nails.
Bill Tucker, thank you.
For the first time ever, Toyota selling more vehicles in a quarter than General Motors. That's right, Toyota is now the number one seller of cars in the world.
Toyota sold more than 2.3 million vehicles worldwide in the first quarter of this year. General mothers sold 2.25. In annual sales, General Motors, however, remains number one, but Toyota is catching up and catching up quickly.
How about that?
Coming up next, I'll tell you when a ham sandwich is more than a ham sandwich. You might find this one hard to believe. And an educator is involved. Imagine that.
And is our government doing everything it can to keep our food safe? Well, you may not want to hear the answer, but it's coming up here next, and if you can stomach it.
And a new investigation of presidential adviser Karl Rove. We'll tell you what the Office of the Special Counsel is looking for coming up here next in the broadcast. It seems there's some thought that the Bush administration has politicized the federal government, and that governance has not always been free of politics.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Congress today blasted the appalling state of our food safety program in this country. Lawmakers say it is clear that our food system is simply broken down from the number of food-borne illnesses in this country each and every year.
As Kitty Pilgrim reports, Congress learned the government safety net for food safety is now virtually nonexistent.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's a wonder anyone ever wants to eat again. Congress asked if washing bagged spinach would kill e. Coli. A disturbing answer.
REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R), TEXAS: Would it make any measurable difference if consumers, just like we tell them now to cook their hamburger until it's done, that we wash our spinach, even though the product may say it's been triple washed?
CHARLES SWEAT, CEO, NATURAL SELECTION FOODS: Yes, I don't think washing would have any further impact on it, because typically just running water over it...
BURGESS: So the bug is too sticky just to watch off the leaf of spinach?
SWEAT: It can be.
PILGRIM: There have been 5,000 serious food outbreaks in a recent 15-year period, but the FDA still doesn't have the authority to recall food products.
REP. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: To me, it's always been stunning to me that the government doesn't have recall authority for food. We've got it for cars and various other consumer products, but not the stuff we actually put in to our bodies.
PILGRIM: The FDA has seen its budget and staff slashed. The number of inspectors cut by 15 percent to 2,700 over the last four years.
Consumer groups say they FDA inspects plants on average only once every five to 10 years, and the agency itself admits it can only inspect one percent of imported food.
REP. BART STUPAK (D), CHAIRMAN, OVERSIGHT SUBCOMMITTEE: Food poisoning will happen to you, to me, our children, and to our pets. The American people expect and deserves better from its government.
PILGRIM: Food safety regulation is a hodgepodge. Today, 12 different federal agencies inspect food, operating under 35 different statutes. And the rules often conflict.
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois wants a single agency to inspect food, with such commonsense measures as a surveillance system for contaminated food, federal standards for inspections, and penalties for companies that fail to follow inspection rules.
PILGRIM: Now, today the FDA announced it will look for contaminated wheat gluten and corn gluten, soy protein, rice bran (ph), in food for both livestock and humans. Thousands of hogs in six states may potentially have been tainted with the chemical melamine. And that is the same toxin of the contaminated pet food in recent weeks, but the FDA says it has no intention of banning the wheat gluten imports from China.
DOBBS: Why not?
PILGRIM: They say they just don't -- they aren't going to do that, they'll just test.
DOBBS: This is -- this is an agency in name only. No wonder that people like Michael Chertoff talk about homeland security as if it were a virtual matter. This is becoming a virtual government.
PILGRIM: Yes. You know, it's not a national -- it's not a trade issue, it's not a commerce issue. It's a national security issue at a certainly point.
Kitty Pilgrim, thank you very much.
New concerns tonight in the deadly pet food scare. A second company is now believed to have imported that tainted rice protein from China. The company has not been identified.
Yesterday, Royal Canin company recalled some of its dry pet food because it contains tainted rice protein laced with melamine. Melamine has been found in the found that killed at least 16 pets. More than 100 brands of pet food have been recalled so far. This latest development comes just one day after China finally agreed to allow U.S. inspectors into the country to investigate contaminated pet food ingredients. Communist China, however, is ignoring worldwide concern about its rising emissions of greenhouse gases. The International Energy Agency reporting that China could replace the United Sates as the world's leading producer of carbon dioxide as soon as this year. The agency previously said that wouldn't happen until 2010.
Meanwhile, Rosie O'Donnell ridiculing another proposal for cutting down on global pollution. Rosie declared that a suggestion by Sheryl Crow we should all use just one piece of tissue on each visit to the bathroom - well she said it far more colorfully. I'll just say Rosie thinks that's rather stupid.
Coming up next, when does a ham sandwich become a hate crime? Well, a school official in Maine thinks he has the answer. We'll have that story.
And a major new investigation into the political activities of top White House adviser Karl Rove. Has Rove abused his powers? Has he politicized the entire government? Or just a substantial part of it? We'll have that report.
And radio hosts from all across the country in Washington demanding no amnesty for 20 million illegal aliens in this country. We'll have that report and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons wants a ban on some racist and sexist epithets in rap music, but it should be very selective and he doesn't want to encumber the artist, and it's really kind of confusing, but at least he acknowledges there's a problem. We'll have the report and more. Stay with us as we come right back.
DOBBS: Top presidential adviser Karl Rove facing a sweeping new investigation into his political activities. The investigation will be carried out by the little-known Office of Special Counsel. The special counsel will examine allegations that Rove and other White House advisers abused their power over the past six years. Ed Henry reports from the White House.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President what about the special counsel investigation?
(voice-over): The president ignored CNN's question about a new probe exploring allegations that Karl Rove and other top White House aides may have violated the Hatch Act by using federal resources for political purposes.
What's different about this probe is that it's run not by a Democrat but by a Bush political appointee, Scott Bloch, head of an obscure federal agency known as the Office of Special Counsel. Block voted for George W. Bush in the last two elections, but says he will not let that affect him.
Fair to say you'll let the chips fall where they may? SCOTT BLOCH, SPECIAL COUNSEL: Yes I will. And the evidence, we will follow it where it leads. We'll do a thorough job, we will not leave any stone unturned. We'll be fair, we'll be impartial and we'll be thorough.
HENRY: The investigation centers on allegations that Rove and other Bush officials used PowerPoint presentations to encourage government employees to find ways to support Republican political candidates. And Bloch is also poking into the matter of one of the fired U.S. attorneys, David Iglesias, and whether he was fired because he did not pursue investigations against Democrats. As well as White House officials' use of Republican Party e-mails, some of which are missing.
While Bloch does not have the power to either prosecute or formally admonish presidentially appointed officials like Rove for wrongdoing, at the end of the probe, he can write a letter to the president, urging the commander in chief to take disciplinary action that includes firing a top aide.
BLOCH: We don't have slaps on the wrist, we have actual disciplinary action that we obtain, we go before a court that has a penalty of presumptive removal from office for violation of the Hatch Act, and the higher up you go in the chain, the higher level an official you are, the higher the standards are for your behavior.
HENRY (on camera): Now, Scott Bloch will also have to deal with the fact he is the subject of a federal investigation, alleging that he improperly retaliated against some of his employees who did not follow his policies. He insists he's innocent.
Late today the Office of Special Counsel called over here to the White House demanding cooperation with the probe, and Scott Bloch is pointing out that he in fact has subpoena power if they don't follow through. Lou?
DOBBS: This has to be of great concern to the White House.
HENRY: Well, certainly -- obviously when Democrats like Henry Waxman on the Hill investigate, launch these various probes of the White House, it's easy for Republicans to say, look, this is a Democrat doing it, they're doing it for partisan purposes.
In this case when you have something that voted for the president in the last two elections, and I'll also point out that Scott Bloch has a son that recently served three combat tours of duty in Iraq, he is a Marine who is back here now in the United States.
This is someone who has not been an opponent of the president, it makes it harder for the White House to assail him if, and that's a big if, he finds wrongdoing, Lou.
DOBBS: Ed, thank you very much. Ed Henry. The message of no amnesty for illegal aliens in this country ringing out from Washington to radio listeners around the nation. Thirty-seven radio hosts are broadcasting this week from the capital, asking their listeners to join them in lobbying lawmakers to oppose the so-called comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. Lisa Sylvester is live from radio row with our report.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Lou.
We're actually here with KFI-AM radio out of Los Angeles. They just started their broadcast a few minutes ago right at 6:30. Now the Federation for American Immigration Reform and San Diego radio host Roger Hedgecock are really the forces behind this three-day event.
And the idea is very simple. Washington is not going to listen to the people, then the people are going to Washington.
HELEN GOLVER, WHJJ, PROVIDENCE: This is talk radio 920, WHJJ, I'm Helen Glover.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 630 KHOW, Denver's talk station ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joining us now is Mayor Barletta from Hazleton, PA.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We take a break and we'll be back in just a moment.
SYLVESTER (voice-over): It's called "Hold Their Feet to the Fire," an electronic town hall gathering. For three days 37 talk radio hosts are huddling in a Washington, DC hotel, broadcasting. Their goal is to let lawmakers feel the heat of radio listeners who oppose an amnesty bill.
GLOVER: Right now Rhode Island has a huge, bordering on a $4 million deficit, we cannot pay our bills and it's because of our schools, it's because of our healthcare system. There are jobs there for Rhode Islanders that are being taken by illegals.
ROGER HEDGECOCK, KOGO, SAN DIEGO: This is an overt plan to weaken the United States by bringing unknown numbers and unknown identities of people across our borders.
PAT BUCHANAN, POLITICAL ANALYST: This isn't immigration, this is an invasion.
SYLVESTER: Conversations focused on the high cost of illegal immigration.
DAVE BARGER, WRTA, ALTOONA: They're using more services than paying for. SYLVESTER: The status of the immigration debate on Capitol Hill.
HOWIE CARR, WRKO, BOSTON: What happened to what, John McCain and Ted Kennedy? They were going steady last year.
SYLVESTER: And an overall sense that the American middle class is being overrun and replaced with cheap foreign labor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't absorb everybody in the world who wants to come here. It's just not possible. The country's culture and laws and everything are frayed.
SYLVESTER: The radio hosts interviewed lawmakers and prominent figures in the immigration debate, but not all doors of Congress, the people's house, had a welcome mat.
JOYCE KAUFMAN, WTFL, MIAMI: I was just over in the Cannon Building and I forgot how frustrating and useless it is to go and knock on doors.
SYLVESTER: Outside the Capitol offices, a news conference that included the wives of imprisoned Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.
PATTY COMPEAN, WIFE OF JOSE COMPEAN: Knowing that we're not alone, knowing that we have all these people, supporters with prayers and just well wishes really, really makes a difference today.
SYLVESTER: The radio hosts and their listeners will leave Washington, but their message will continue to resonate.
SYLVESTER (on camera): And Lou, tonight there is a reception -- I know it's a little loud right now. They just started broadcasting once again, but tonight there is a reception, it's called defend those who defend us. It is a fund-raiser for Ramos and Compean. Tomorrow they will be back here again at 5:00 a.m. for the final day.
Back to you, Lou.
DOBBS: Outstanding and it is a terrific effort on the part of all those talk show hosts, radio hosts to focus on this issue. There's a lot of energy. Has it been in that area? Has it been that way all day?
SYLVESTER: It has been electrifying is the only word. Right now there's essentially a studio audience, you can't see this, but just off to my right we have probably about 30 people who are just listening to this radio broadcast. These are people who are very like-minded, very familiar with the issues, and they know what is at stake with this immigration debate, Lou.
DOBBS: And behind you there, KFI, who's at the table. I cannot ... SYLVESTR: KFI-AM Radio, they are out of Los Angeles. Just a few minutes ago it was a radio station out of San Diego, so they've all been making the rounds here.
DOBBS: And one of the earliest broadcasts to take on the issue in Southern California, along with Roger Hedgecock, who as you said, it was his brainstorm and a good one it was. Lisa, thank you.
Lisa Sylvester from Washington.
That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight, Do you believe the Bush administration and the Democratically led Congress should set aside any discussion of comprehensive immigration reform until our borders and ports are secured? Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results coming up here later.
And this comes from Lewiston, Maine tonight, where the school superintendent has obviously not allowed knowledge to mature into wisdom. Superintendent Leon Lavesk (ph), suspended one of his middle school students for placing a ham sandwich on a lunch table where Muslim students were eating. Muslims of course consider pork unclean and offensive.
Lavesk says the school incident is being treated seriously as a hate incident. He also says more disciplinary could follow for the child. Get ready. Maine's state attorney general is now investigating the incident.
Mr. Superintendent, may I say, you're out of your cotton-pickin' mind. Do you have any sense of proportion? These are children, you're supposed to be educating and one would hope imparting some wisdom and discipline. This is ridiculous.
Coming up next here, crucial testimony today in the trial of an accused spy for China. We'll have that story.
And a leading name in hip-hop makes a tepid call for the ban of certain racist and sexist words from some rap songs in certain formats. We'll have the nuanced details for you, and a great deal more straight ahead. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The trial of accused spy Chi Mak resumed today after a recess of more than a week. Jurors were shown classified documents, the naturalized American citizen accused of transferring some of this country's most sensitive military and technology secrets to communist China. Casey Wian reports.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Navy's top submarine acquisition officer took the stand in the spy trial of former Power Paragon engineer Chi Mak. Real Admiral William Hillarities (ph) testified that improving submarine stealth technology is a critical mission for the Navy. Naturalized U.S. citizen Mak is accused of, among other things, passing some of that sensitive technology to his communist Chinese homeland.
JAMES LILLEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: You know perfectly well that they're after advanced submarine technology. They're putting a great deal of emphasis on their submarine fleets. These Thilo (ph) class, their Onsung (ph) class. They're developing this, and they've got to get underwater propulsion that's quiet, that can defeat our anti-submarine warfare system.
WIAN: Jurors were also shown classified documents after federal judge Cormack Carney (ph) admonished them not to share the contents with anyone. Prosecutors alleged the documents which were seized from the luggage of Mak's brother before he was about to catch a flight to China contained restricted information about a Navy program to power stealth submarines and warships.
Mak's defense attorneys countered by showing similar information in non-classified documents. Admiral Hillarities testified it's an ongoing concern for the Navy, because it's impossible to classify every piece of information about a submarine that takes 10 of millions of man hours to build.
DENIS MCDONOUG, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Where do you draw the line on what's sensitive technology, what's cutting edge technology and what isn't? As we all know, this area is changing rapidly every day, and so it's hard to draw the line on any given day.
WIAN: Even if jurors believe the argument the submarine technology was non-classified, there's still the issue of two Chinese language tasking lists found in Mak's home. An Office of Naval Research official testified well over 900 documents were found in Mak's home. Dozens matched items on the tasking list including documents on the strategic defense initiative, torpedoes, an electromagnetic landing platform for aircraft carriers and a futuristic artillery system called a rail gun.
WIAN (on camera): The Chi Mak case is now entering its fourth week, and testimony has become very technical and complicated. In fact, the judge during a break today warned attorneys that he thought the jury was beginning to lose interest, and he asked those attorneys to please speed up the case. Lou?
DOBBS: Speed it up or make it more intelligible, I guess. This is really quite a backdrop. At the same time the Bush administration and the Department of Defense trying to share with Russia our missile defense technology. It's hard to sort out what this government is doing right now, isn't it?
WIAN: And internally within the government, it's become clear from testimony in this case, the government is having a hard time trying to figure out what it's doing itself. There are those who believe China should be treated as a friend. Others say it's a serious threat to the national security of the United States, Lou.
DOBBS: Hopefully there will be some clarification on the part of the American perspective on foreign policy. Thank you very much, Casey Wian.
Up at the top of the hour, THE SITUATION ROOM with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf, what are you working on?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much, Lou. The battle over the war on Iraq, it's getting personal on Capitol Hill with the Vice President Dick Cheney and the Senate majority leader taking heated pot shots at each other. Find out what they had to say.
Also Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich introducing articles of impeachment against the vice president. Kucinich joins us to explain why he thinks Dick Cheney should be removed from office.
Plus, the bloody battle for Somalia underway right now. We'll show you what terrorists, including al Qaeda, stand to gain. Serious ramifications, Lou, for all of us, all that coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
DOBBS: Wolf, thank you very much. Looking forward to it.
A reminder now to vote in our poll. Do you believe the Bush administration and Democratically-led Congress should set aside any discussion of comprehensive immigration reform until our borders and ports are first secured?
Yes or no? Cast your vote, please, at loudobbs.com. The results coming up here shortly.
Up next, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons reversing himself, now saying that a lot of bad words should be banned from the hip-hop gangsta recording industry, but is that enough for rap to clean up? We'll hear from a panel of radio talk show hosts about that, and lots of important issues and controversial issues, and more. Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons calling for a ban on three racial and sexual epithets in rap and other forms of music. Simmons says those bad words shouldn't be used over the airwaves. This comes just two weeks after radio talk show host Don Imus was fired over racist and sexist comments he made.
A few weeks ago Simmons said artists shouldn't be censored, and by golly, things are changing. I'm joined now by three of the country's top radio talk show hosts.
From Chicago, Steve Cochran of WGN, Steve, good to have you here.
STEVE COCHRAN, WGN IN CHICAGO: How are you, Lou.
DOBBS: From Los Angeles, Doug McIntyre, KABC. Doug?
DOUG MCINTYRE, KABC IN LOS ANGELES: Hi, Lou.
DOBBS: and joining me here in New York, Mark Riley, Air America.
MARK RILEY, AIR AMERICA: How are you doing?
DOBBS: I'm doing good. Mark, thanks for being here.
Let me start with you, Steve, out there in Chicago. Are you comforted by Russell Simmons' conversion?
COCHRAN: Well, as you know, I'm too a hip-hop mogul, and on WGN we play a lot of Mase and a lot of P. Diddy. You know, it's a step in the right direction, but I'll tell you the Reverend Jackson and the Reverend Sharpton are awfully quiet now. Think a wonderful sense of momentum for this cause that they've chose to chase, and if you've got Imus, fellas, you really need to go out, and if you believe it, if you truly believe it, you need to go after the corporations that allow the music to be played and profit from it. I don't agree with it, because I think it affects all of us and what we do.
But Sharpton and Jackson need to prove they're not hypocrites about this and continue to chase the story.
RILEY: Hold up, because Jesse Jackson has been talking about this for the better part of 15 years. Jesse Jackson has led marches again this same language, but people need to understand Russell Simmons has made a great deal of money in the hip-hop industry. Number one.
Number two, part of the reason this is happening now has nothing whatsoever to do with Don Imus. It has to do with the fact that rap lost 20 percent worth of sales last year against five percent for the overall industry and there was not a single hip-hop album in the top 10 best-selling albums in America last year. That's what's driving this.
DOBBS: I was going to ask - So I'll ask you Doug, my guess is hip-hop, rap has been taking a pretty big nose dive since the Imus affair. What do you think?
MCINTYRE: I think you and I could kill it off. See, this has always been my theory, if guys like you and I, middle aged white guys, would just embrace it, the rap artists would put a gun in their mouths and kill themselves.
DOBBS: Doug, I think that's an absolutely brilliant idea. I tried that actually with one of my daughters, but I have to tell you, it didn't work at all.
RILEY: This is what's changing, though. The business is now starting to realize that people that listen to the music are having a problem with it. Up until now it's always been people who they could say, well, you don't listen to this music, you don't buy this music, you're not part of our constituency.
Now the constituency is starting to speak out. And that's what's moving not just Russell Simmons, but a group of radio executives to meet in private here in New York and try are deal with this.
COCHRAN: If that's the outcome, that's great news.
MCINTYRE: I think there's something really chilling, though, we're in the golden age of people wanting to ban things, people want constitutional limits against flag burning, people want to ban incandescent light bulbs. Now we want to fire Don Imus because you didn't like his joke. Why ban Imus' joke and not Chris Rock's joke.
RILEY: Because Chris Rock doesn't do that on his television show. Chris Rock doesn't do that kind of language on the television show. He does it in a stand-up routine. Don Imus works in a medium that's regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.
MCINTYRE: I'm just saying we're not criminalizing intent and humor, and it's dangerous.
RILEY: It's not criminalizing. Don Imus was not convicted of a crime. You can't say that's criminalizing anything.
DOBBS: No, he was just publicly executed for what he did.
RILEY: He was publicly executed, because his sponsors pulled out. He was only suspended for two weeks, and when the sponsored pulled out, that's when they fired him. Let's not get that twisted.
DOBBS: Let's not twist this. Don Imus has been doing what he's been doing on CBS and on NBC for 20 some odd years, and suddenly this is a big deal. The fact is, it is a big deal. It's a question of proportion and appropriate response to his mistake.
RILEY: It's commerce. It's a matter of commerce, it's a matter of money.
DOBBS: Let's move on to another issue, if I may, gentlemen. Steve Cochran ...
COCHRAN: Yeah, hi!
DOBBS: Dennis Kucinich wants to impeach the vice president of the United States.
COCHRAN: Here's the deal. The fact that Dennis Kucinich has stepped up and said I'm going to at least try to put some action behind my words. It does mean something. It's not going to go anywhere. Dick Cheney, I know, has offered to take him on a hunting trip. Maybe they can work it out.
But in the meantime Kucinich gets credit from me and my audience because he at least is saying we're going to take the next step as opposed to finger-pointing and name-calling. People are tired of it.
RILEY: I agree with Steve 100 percent on that, and I asked my audience some time ago, why don't more progressive people take Dennis Kucinich seriously as a presidential candidate, and you know what? Very few people could come up with a very credible answer.
DOBBS: Doug McIntyre, Gavin Newsom, up north of you in that other big California city, he is a sanctuary-loving son of a gun, isn't he?
MCINTYRE: Well, you've got to but that into context, Lou.
Gavin Newsom is in kind of a fight in California with Antonio Villaregossa (ph) for who gets to be the next governor of California after Arnold leads the stage. They don't have as large of a Hispanic population and illegal immigrant population in Northern California, so this really kind of almost a cost-free issue for him, plus apparently San Francisco has decided it doesn't matter what Gavin Newsom does, including sleep with his campaign manager's wife and he's still going to be popular.
So it's really, you have to put it into context of California politics. Newsom is positioning himself for a challenge from Villaregossa, who has large Hispanic support in the south.
DOBBS: It ought to be a fascinating race. And Doug McIntyre, as always, thank you for being with us, Steve Cochran ...
COCHRAN: Thanks, Lou!
DOBBS: ... thank you very much, Mr. Riley here in New York. Thank you, gentlemen.
Coming up the results of our poll. It's going to be exciting. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight. Ninety-two percent of you say the Bush administration and the Democratically led Congress should set aside any discussion of comprehensive immigration reform until first securing our borders and ports.
We thank you for being with us tonight. Hope you'll join us here tomorrow when among our guests will be New York's attorney general, Andrew Cuomo and Congressman George Miller. They're investigating the cronyism and corruption in this country's student loan industry.
For all of us here, thank you for watching. Good night from New York. THE SITUATION ROOM begins right now with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?
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