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Lou Dobbs Tonight
Hamas Claim's Victory in Gaza; Generals Under Fire; Bush's Amnesty Plan
Aired June 14, 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, the United States suffering a major setback in the Middle East. Hamas gunmen, supported by Iran and Syria, have routed the Fatah movement in Gaza.
We'll examine what appears to be an escalating proxy war among the United States, Iran and Syria across the entire Middle East.
Also, President Bush trying to buy off Republican opponents of his amnesty legislation. He's now promising billions of dollars of extra spending on border security. The problem is, he hasn't spent the money that's ready to be spent.
We'll have that report from the White House.
We'll be joined as well here by the national executive director of LULAC, one of the nation's most aggressive pro-amnesty groups.
And the president repeatedly saying there are jobs Americans aren't doing. Well, it turns out one of those jobs happens to be the top Republican Party's strategy campaign position in the state of California.
We'll be telling you about that.
And tonight we examine the rising threat to the principle of separation of church and state from religious activist groups.
We'll have all of that, all the day's news, much more straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Thursday, June 14th.
Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Gunmen supported by Syria and Iran tonight declaring they control all of Gaza. Hamas gunmen overran military and police bases controlled by the Fatah organization. There are reports mosque members murdered some Fatah officials in cold blood. Hamas says Gaza is now under "Islamic rule". The Fatah movement remains in control tonight of the West Bank.
Ben Wedeman now reporting from the West Bank city of Nablus.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): These are the new masters of Gaza. Hamas is victorious.
In less than a week of intense fighting, the group's gunmen utterly crushed their opponents in the Fatah moving, outgunning and outmaneuvering them in almost every confrontation.
"We control the preventative security headquarters," says this Hamas gunmen. "And now we're on our way to other offices."
Fatah security men led away shirtless, their subsequent fate unknown. It was a humiliating defeat for Fatah and represents a massive setback for the United States, which backs Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.
In Gaza, Hamas gunmen went on a rampage, ransacking bases that had, until recently, been the strongholds of Fatah-affiliated security services.
In the West Bank city of Nablus, there was a similar rampage, but this time by Fatah gunmen against Hamas, venting their anger on the office of Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament. Their contents thrown out the window, and then the office set alight.
Anyone suspected of ties to Hamas hauled away, also to an uncertain fate.
(on camera): This is Fatah's revenge for the fall of Gaza. It's now open season on Hamas in the West Bank.
(voice over): Both Gaza and the West Bank may be about to witness a bloody settling of accounts, as each faction strives to eliminate without mercy their old foes.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, Nablus, on the West Bank.
DOBBS: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today telephoned Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the fighting in Gaza. That phone call coming, of course, as the Palestinian president's forces were being routed by Hamas. The State Department said Secretary Rice wanted to underline U.S. support for the president and Palestinian moderates who have been working for peace in the Middle East.
Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill today focusing on the war in Iraq and the performance of U.S. military commanders. Senate Majority Leader, Senator Harry Reid, blasted the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Peter Pace, and the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, General Dave Petraeus.
Andrea Koppel reports from Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Majority Leader Harry Reid's swipe at the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was first reported in the "Politico" newspaper. Reid reportedly called General Peter Pace "incompetent" during an interview this week with a group of liberal bloggers. A characterization Reid did not dispute when asked about it today.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Peter Pace, I talked to him in my conference room, just him and I. And I told him how I felt, that he had not done a very good job in speaking out for some obvious things that weren't going right in Iraq. I told him that to his face.
KOPPEL: "Politico" also reported Reid had harsh remarks about another top U.S. commander, Army General David Petraeus, who heads up U.S. military operations in Iraq. But a senior Democratic aide told CNN that's not true. And Reid, for his part, signaled his biggest concern with Petraeus wasn't about his competence, but with his overly optimistic comments about what's happening in Iraq.
REID: I was a little disappointed, to say the at least, today reading "USA Today" newspaper, where he's saying things are going fine, kids are playing soccer. And I don't know what other examples he gave.
The truth is, if you look at another newspaper and look at a different page of "USA Today," the bloodiest three months of the war has been since the surge took place.
KOPPEL: The White House said Reid should apologize.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It seems outrageous to be issuing slanders toward the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and also the man who's responsible for the bulk of military operations in Iraq.
KOPPEL: A point echoed by other Republicans like Arizona's John McCain, who's running for president.
JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think we ought to -- we ought to say anything disparaging about people who spend their lives in the service of their country risking their lives.
KOPPEL: But in a statement issued late this afternoon, Reid made no apologies and said, "It is incumbent upon the president, the Pentagon and our commanders in the field to give us the information that we need to hear, not what we want to here" -- Lou.
DOBBS: It is also, I think it is fair to suggest, their job is to succeed.
Thank you very much.
Andrea Koppel, from Capitol Hill.
In Iraq, insurgents killed another of our troops. The soldier was killed when insurgents attacked his unit in the town of Baquba in Diyala province.
Thirty-five of our troops have now been killed in Iraq so far this month, 3,514 of our troops killed since the beginning of the war. 25,950 of our troops wounded, 11,667 of them seriously.
Joining me now for more on the explosion of violence across the Middle East, General David Grange. General Grange, of course, one of our most distinguished former military commanders with extensive experience in the Middle East, of course.
Let's get first -- straightforwardly, Senator Harry Reid says General Pace is incompetent, he has great reservations about Petraeus, the leader of U.S. forces in Iraq, criticizing the general staff.
BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I don't think there's anything wrong criticizing the general staff. I don't think it's appropriate to use that kind of language publicly. I mean, behind closed doors, that's fine. I don't think that was appropriate.
I would say on General Petraeus, because he's just reporting positive things, you know, that may not be a bad thing to have some positive things reported anyway about Iraq since usually all we hear are negative things.
DOBBS: Well, that's certainly a view.
And Dave, let me ask you this, the idea that right now we're being confronted -- U.S. policy in the Middle East is being confronted in Lebanon, in the West Bank, in Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, and with the support, obviously, of Syria and Iran, what should the United States' response be militarily?
GRANGE: Well, let's hope, Lou, that there's a strategy in place to counter the Iranian strategy, because they're sure as heck executing their strategy across the region. And if we just wait around, if we don't move out, both diplomatically and maybe even militarily, or using some type of trade options, they're going to get the upper hand. There's no doubt in my mind.
DOBBS: Are you confident that such a strategy is in place? Because to this point, I think most people would agree that if there is such a strategy, it is stealthy at best.
GRANGE: Well, there is a dark side to the strategy. And it should be. I think that the strategy to date has been a bit on the weak side. I think it's being strengthened now over the last several months.
DOBBS: And General, on a note of leadership, we're seeing a strong push on the part of Secretary Gates to the Navy to take over some of the more significant commands and Special Operations officers replacing Army -- traditional Army generals who had been in charge. Some see that as a direct slap at the -- at both the quality and the confidence in those Army general officers.
GRANGE: Well, you're asking an Army guy this question. I think that the Army's a bit on the light side, having some of these command positions. But in fact, at that rank, it truly is about jointness, and the type of uniform one wears should not matter.
However, since the Army is taking the most casualties and is up to their neck in conflict, I think it would be appropriate to have a few more Army guys in some of those positions.
DOBBS: Or there is also, I guess, the inverse consideration that some of those casualties perhaps could be forestalled, prevented all together with a different branch. Could that be the thinking as well of Secretary Gates?
GRANGE: It could be, Lou. But I don't think that's the case. I mean, this is...
DOBBS: I didn't think you would. I had to ask that, General Grange.
DOBBS: I appreciate it.
GRANGE: That's fine, Lou.
DOBBS: I know. You'll have further thoughts for me later here.
Dave Grange, thank you very much.
GRANGE: Yes, sir.
DOBBS: Still ahead, a possible deal tonight to revive the stalled amnesty legislation. We'll have the very latest for you on attempts at a new form of sham to push a sham legislation effort through Congress.
Also, President Bush just won't give up. He's trying to bribe opponents of those amnesty initiatives.
We'll be telling you all about that.
And President Bush likes to say there are jobs Americans aren't doing. Well, unbelievably, it turns out one of those jobs is a top GOP strategic post in the state of California. You're going to love this one.
And a new scare about dangerous toothpaste imports. They're phony, they're counterfeit. And you know what? American companies are distributing and selling them just because they look like an American product.
We'll have that story and a great deal more straight ahead.
Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DOBBS: President Bush today making a new effort to win over opponents of his amnesty legislation. President Bush now offering to spend an additional $4 billion to secure the border. But one leading opponent of the president's amnesty plan, Congressman Duncan Hunter, a presidential candidate, blasting the offer. Congressman Hunter said border security shouldn't be conditional on amnesty.
Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In a desperate effort to get immigration reform through Congress, President Bush is offering this compromise -- pass the bill, and immediately nearly $4.5 billion will go to strengthening the border.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The need for reform is urgent.
MALVEAUX: The urgency in securing the border is a transparent effort by Mr. Bush to convince his critics, mostly conservatives of his own party, that the government is serious about border enforcement. A senior administration official involved in negotiations says this compromise is meant to address the mistakes of the immigration bill signed in 1986.
BUSH: Most Americans agree that the 1986 immigration law failed, didn't work. It failed because it did not secure our border.
MALVEAUX: White House aides say the money would initially come out of the U.S. Treasury to create this $4.5 billion account. The account would be paid off using the fees and penalties collected from the nation's 12 million illegal immigrants over a two-year period.
SNOW: Think of it as a direct deposit right now on border security.
MALVEAUX: But with no idea of how many illegal immigrants are really in the United States, or how many would comply with the law and pay penalties, even White House aides acknowledge they're not certain the numbers would add up.
SNOW: You're absolutely right, no 100 percent guarantee here. But it is based on the best estimates.
MALVEAUX: But for some Republicans, any funds for border security that are tied to illegal immigrants becoming U.S. citizens is unacceptable.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The security of American borders should not be conditioned on amnesty.
(END VIDEOTAPE) MALVEAUX: Now, Lou, despite Congressman Hunter's reservations -- and he obviously says he is not in support of this plan -- those aides who I spoke with, White House aides, say they are confident that the president believes that this immigration reform bill will move forward. And the one reason they say this is because the president addressed what most of Republicans who are concerned about -- when they met behind closed doors on Tuesday with the president, and that is whether or not this administration would commit the resources to enforce the immigration, the laws, the border there.
And they believe that this $4.5 billion will to add to what has already been requested, the $12 billion for border security, and that that will help in actually making this kind of support, building this support from the Republicans -- Lou.
DOBBS: I just have to ask you if the aides to this president are keeping a straight face as they are saying these things, because such an offer, particularly since there's already authorization to construct fence, to put up all sorts of barriers -- the last count I had was 11, perhaps as high as 13 miles of a fence had been constructed in just about seven months -- does this president think that the opponents of amnesty in the Senate are stupid, or does he just believe the American people are stupid?
MALVEAUX: You know, I think he doesn't see either group as stupid. I think what he sees is that there's some people whose minds he's never going to change and never convince that there will be something he'll propose that they will never agree to.
What they are convinced, however, is that there are two things they've done here. That they've provided more funds -- we don't know, they're fuzzy numbers, so we don't know what kind of money that means when it comes to the border security. But they've also allowed something to happen, and that is to put it out faster.
If you went through the appropriations process, it would take longer. This way, they say, pass the bill, we'll have immediately at least some funds available for border security -- Lou.
DOBBS: Suzanne, thank you very much.
Suzanne Malveaux from the White House.
Amnesty is just part of the problem for this president and the Democratic leadership of this Congress, now running hard in place for the bottom of public opinion polls. Their approval ratings are simply tumbling.
Are you ready? Less than one in five Americans believe this country now is headed in the right direction.
The latest NBC News-"Wall Street Journal" poll shows even Republicans are now abandoning President Bush. His job approval rating has dropped to 29 percent. That is a new low for this president.
And a Poll of Polls showing the president down across the board. An average approval rating of 32 percent.
The new Democratic Party-controlled Congress does even worse in "The Wall Street Journal"-NBC poll. Its ratings lower than the president by some considerable margin, plummeting to 23 percent.
The CNN Poll of Polls gives Congress an average job approval rating of just 26 percent, still well below the president's levels and just about the same margin.
Congressional approval ratings look like a roller-coaster, from 41 percent at the beginning of 2005, plunging to an all-time low of 16 percent last October. And the latest Rasmussen poll shows 34 percent of Americans say President Bush is doing a good job, while 19 percent think Congress is doing a good job.
Pro-amnesty senators tonight reaching a tentative agreement to revive their amnesty legislation, but it is unclear whether the Democratic leadership supports their efforts.
Dana Bash has the report from Capitol Hill -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, right now senators who are trying to revive the immigration bill say they are on the verge of a breakthrough, a breakthrough that they hope could bring immigration back to the Senate floor by next week. Now, as we speak, the Democratic and Republican leader in the Senate are meeting behind closed door to figure out whether or not that can happen.
Now, last week, you'll remember, the immigration bill collapsed because opponents of the bill said that they simply weren't given an opportunity or enough opportunities to change things that they didn't like. So what we are told that negotiators have tentatively agreed upon is a list of about 20 amendments for these opponents to offer to this bill if it comes to the floor. And what negotiators hope is that by giving senators, opponents on both sides of the aisles, Democrats and Republicans, a chance to amend the bill this way, that that could give them the 60 votes they need in order to bring immigration back to life.
Now, to be clear, if this does come back to the Senate floor, it does not mean this kind of breakthrough would mean that this bill would pass. It also does not mean that these negotiators are going to get people who are ardently opposed to this on board.
For example, Lou, Senator Jeff Sessions, I spoke to him earlier today. He made very clear he's going to do everything in his power to block this bill no matter what kind of amendments come up. And essentially what the Democratic and Republican leader are talking about right now as we speak is a way to get around people like Senator Jeff Sessions -- Lou.
DOBBS: To get around Jeff Sessions. What about the idea that they would try to listen to Jeff Sessions and to Jim DeMint and Claire McCaskill and Byron Dorgan, and a host of other people? You know, this is -- you know, I was laughing as Suzanne Malveaux was reporting on the president's frankly just sort of bold-faced effort to put $4 billion in front of people and call that border security.
I mean, this is laughable to talk about this as a breakthrough. This is the same gang, the grand bargainers, trying to pull the same nonsense.
BASH: Well, as I said, when I use the word "breakthrough," what these senators are talking about when they say "breakthrough," it is just a way for them to get this bill back to the floor, back for debate.
BASH: Back for amendments, and back for discussion. And chances, again, for opponents -- Democrats and Republicans -- to try to change things they don't like in this bill.
DOBBS: That makes -- one of the things that makes that a little difficult, I mean, we've got a real good, strong glimpse of the good faith on the part of these grand bargainers, because it was Senator Trent Lott, the Republican whip in the Senate, Dana, who said of those amendments that they could be pitched in the trash before they get to the rotunda.
That doesn't make it sound like a very good-faith, straightforward, honest, transparent effort, does it?
BASH: Well, you know, I talked to some senators who are very -- very worried about this. For example, like Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas today. She is not somebody who's going to support this unless she's sure that she gets a couple of very strict amendments on this.
She said that she does think, at least for now, that these negotiators were working in good faith, at least to give people like her, people who are very concerned about this bill, the opportunity to amend it. But we'll see.
Look, as Suzanne was saying, everybody here knows from the president to negotiators here in Congress, they're not going to be able to please anybody. So at least right now what they say they're trying to do is at least revive the debate.
DOBBS: Revive the debate. And some debate it has been. Not marked by either depth or honesty or straightforwardness.
And it is no small, to me at least, great shock, anyway, that the poll ratings for the people that you're covering there on Capitol Hill are below that of this president. I would think it would be somewhat troubling to them, but it doesn't appear to affect the way they want to do business.
Dana Bash, thank you very much, from Capitol Hill.
That brings us to the subject of tonight's poll.
We would like to know, just straightforwardly, do you trust this president and this Congress to secure our borders and ports? Yes or no?
We'd love to hear from you on this. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results for you here later in this broadcast.
And now some of your thoughts.
Bill in Florida wrote in to say, "The president precludes his sentences about illegal immigrants with the phrase" -- he precedes his comments with the phrase 'those doing the jobs Americans won't do.' Would someone ask him what is the penalty if they catch an illegal alien doing a job an American would do?"
And Susan in Texas, "Dear Lou, I don't think that using the term 'rational' when describing any of this administration's policies makes any sense after seeing what has happened in Iraq, its stand on immigration and the its trade policies."
More of your thoughts coming up here later.
Nearly every news organization today is reporting a victory for gay rights in Massachusetts, we've noted. But in point of fact, it is a defeat for democracy.
The state legislature of Massachusetts chose not to give the people of that state a voice or a vote in a referendum on whether or not to permit or ban gay marriage, which was legalized there three years ago. It is what's being called democracy in America today.
Up next, once again toxic toys and toxic products recalled. And once again, made in communist China.
Does anyone care about protecting the American public? Does this administration?
We'll have that report.
And in one American city, the mayor isn't just disregarding federal immigration law, he's being accused of going a step further -- aiding and abetting.
We'll have the story.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: New recalls announced today of dangerous imports from communist China. Federal officials now are working to screen out more dangerous toxic products from China, including toys. The Food & Drug administration has more recalls of products made in China than from any other nation this year.
Kitty Pilgrim has our report.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Thomas the Tank Engine toys sold in the United States are popular with toddlers, who routinely put toys in their mouths. The distributor tested the trains and found toxic paint.
For two years, from January 2005 to January 2007, the Chinese manufacturer used lead paint, banned in the United States.
DON MAYS, CONSUMER REPORTS: It is a very large recall. We're talking about 1.5 million Thomas and Friends train-type toys that contain lead paint. And lead paint, as you may know, is hazardous to children if ingested. So it's really important to get this out of the hands of consumers, out of the hands of children.
PILGRIM: China has generated two thirds of the product named in about 200 federal recalls over the last year.
LORI WALLACH, GLOBAL TRADE WATCH: What's really scary is the amount of products coming from China and other countries, that they're low standards, the standards that are in place are not enforced in these countries. Then when it comes here, we don't inspect it. It's like globalization Russian roulette for consumers.
PILGRIM: The FDA began inspecting toothpaste imports from China after Chinese toothpaste laced with a poisonous chemical, diethylenglycol, a chemical used to make antifreeze, turned up in Panama. Last week in Florida, the FDA found 12 brands of Chinese toothpaste with the same problem.
They began routine screening of discount store toothpaste and now a fake Colgate toothpaste has turned up in four states. The New Jersey distributor supplied Dollar, Dollar Power, and Super Dollar stores. The FDA says one tube has tested positive for the poisonous chemical. From the Dollar Power store in Silver Spring, Maryland. It was labeled "from South Africa."
Colgate issued a statement: "Colgate does not import toothpaste into the United States from South Africa. In addition, the counterfeit packages examined so far have several misspellings, including "isclinically," "south afrlca," and "south african dental assoxiation."
Colgate is working closely with the U.S. FDA to find out where the counterfeits originated.
PILGRIM: Another recall this week, the Consumer Product Safety Agency issued a statement about all-terrain vehicles from China, saying children are at risk of injury or death due to multiple safety defects. Now the model is the Kazuma Meerkat 50. It's a kids version of an ATV manufactured in China. There's no indication on how many children so far have been injured on that -- Lou.
DOBBS: It is incredible. Two-thirds of all of the recalls from China. I suppose, though, in some ways that makes some sense. They're probably producing just about the same ratio of total products brought into this country.
PILGRIM: Well, it was pointed out to me that we're getting most of our stuff from China.
DOBBS: Well, it's also clear that our government is doing absolutely nothing. But on the issue of the Colgate counterfeit toothpaste, I mean, these retailers are acting absolutely irresponsibly. They know -- they've got to know that that stuff is counterfeit.
PILGRIM: I know. And we called some of the distributors today. There's no answer. You just keep...
DOBBS: No answer.
PILGRIM: ... looping through the voicemail.
DOBBS: We can blame China, and appropriately so. We can blame the federal government. But we also need to be very honest about some people operating in absolute disregard of consumers and their welfare and their safety, despicably so.
Thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim.
The problem of dangerous imports and dangerous bargains from China goes far beyond toothpaste and pet food. For example, the Consumer Products Safety Commission has also announced more than a dozen recalls for children's jewelry manufactured in China, because that jewelry also contains toxic lead, just like the Thomas the Tank Engine toys.
And tainted cough syrup from communist China recently killed 51 people in Panama and other countries around the world.
Up next, pro-amnesty groups ignoring the will of the people. The U.S. Senate is continuing to push, at least some in it, for illegal alien amnesty, and the leader of the free world likes it that way. The leader of one of the country's most powerful pro-amnesty Hispanic groups joins me.
And many local officials not only giving sanctuary to illegal aliens, they are stopping federal agents from enforcing U.S. immigration laws. We'll have that report.
And Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger with blunt advice for immigrants, both legal and illegal, about English and watching television. We'll have the story. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DOBBS: Local officials in New Haven, Connecticut, flouting the law when it comes to illegal immigration. Federal officials say the mayor of New Haven went so far as to compromise a planned operation to pursue fugitive illegal aliens in that town.
Bill Tucker has the report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New Haven, Connecticut, wants to be a safe haven. The town is giving out identification to illegal aliens. The town's mayor denouncing immigration enforcement. And Immigration and Customs Enforcement claims that the mayor has gone one step further, disclosing details of a planned operation before it happened.
In a statement, ICE says: "The mayor compromised a planned operation targeted at criminal fugitive aliens in his community. That compromise threatened the safety of our agents, so the operation has been postponed."
The mayor flatly denies the allegation.
MAYOR JOHN DESTEFANO, NEW HAVEN, CONN.: Absolutely false. That didn't happen.
TUCKER: ICE says the planned operation will happen but at a later date. New Haven is just the latest example of a city with a sanctuary policy, policies that are in violation of federal law. They exist for one simple reason.
MARK KRIKORIAN, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: The message that the Bush administration has been sending for more than six years now is that they don't care about immigration law and they're not going to enforce it. And so what would you expect local politicians to do?
TUCKER: There are local communities who do want to crack down and have tried. Towns like Hartford, Connecticut; Riverside, New Jersey; Valley Park, Missouri; Escondido, California; Farmers Branch, Texas; and Hazleton, Pennsylvania.
TUCKER: But often those efforts are halted by the threats of costly lawsuits from groups advocating on the behalf of illegal aliens. Lou, that has left those cities and those towns watching very carefully for the ruling that we expect soon in the Hazleton, Pennsylvania, case.
DOBBS: Well, is ICE going to slap the mayor with some kind of action? I mean, if he has gotten that enthusiastic for illegal immigration, it would be interesting to see what ICE is going to do.
TUCKER: Well, I talked to ICE about that this afternoon, and ICE said they've got bigger fish to fry. They've got higher priorities in terms of conducting other operations. They'll come back to his town and do what needs to be done, just at a later date.
DOBBS: This mayor's quite a character, isn't he?
DOBBS: Yes. People in New Haven have got to be proud. All right. Bill Tucker, thank you very much.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has some very simple advice for immigrants, both legal and illegal in his state, saying you've got to turn off the Spanish television set, it's that simple. You've got to learn English. Schwarzenegger was talking to a group of Hispanic journalists about Latino academic performance.
Pro-amnesty senators on Capitol Hill tonight say they have reached a tentative agreement to revive that stalled amnesty legislation. Joining me now is Brent Wilkes, director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, one of the most influential pro- amnesty groups in the country.
Brent, good to have you with us.
BRENT WILKES, EXECUTIVE DIR., LULAC: It's good to be on your show, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, you've got to be excited. The president has come up with $4 billion for border security, got that problem solved and we're ready to watch Harry Reid and Ted Kennedy and the boys go to work.
WILKES: Well, Lou, actually our organization opposes the current Senate plan. We don't think it's workable. We don't think it will solve the undocumented immigration problem that we have. And it doesn't create a future flow for people who want to play by the rules and come here to work and serve our economy. They don't have that opportunity to stay here.
DOBBS: Well, wait a minute, wait a minute. That can't be. Tell me it's not so, Brent. Because you all helped shape this thing.
WILKES: No, we didn't shape this particular bill, Lou. We had...
DOBBS: Oh, you didn't talk -- you weren't involved in discussions with the grand bargainers? I've been terribly, badly informed.
WILKES: We were not at the table with the grand bargainers. We certainly talked to them beforehand.
WILKES: But at some point they got together and came up with this plan and we didn't like it and we told them so. DOBBS: Well, Brent, nobody likes this plan that has, in my opinion, any sense of what's even remotely reasonable. You and I may disagree about what those elements are. But can LULAC -- can you commit LULAC to one little condition precedent before we get too involved in this? You know, because I'd love for us to work together on this.
Would LULAC say straightforwardly to the president and Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid that you want border security and port security as a condition precedent to any attempt to reform immigration law?
WILKES: Lou, actually, we've had this discussion and I have to say that LULAC supports border security, but we want it done conjunctively with creating a legal pathway for immigrants to come and work.
So you take the pressure off people to come illegally by creating that legal pathway, and then you also enforce the borders at the same time. And if you do that, Lou, you stand the best chance of having a workable plan.
But I don't think there's any way we can enforce the borders and not provide that legal pathway because people are dying to cross the border. And there's not much we can do to stop them if they're willing to risk their lives.
DOBBS: Have you talked with the Mexican government about why they permit their citizens to put their lives in danger to cross that border, to cross the Rio Grande, to cross the Sonora Desert and risk their lives? Why does the Mexican government permit their citizens to do that? Have you had discussions with them, Brent?
WILKES: We have had discussions with them about that. Unfortunately they do have a constitutional amendment just like we do that doesn't allow them to stop their citizens from leaving their country.
However, you know, one thing that we've talked with them about is, how do you stimulate the sending areas? How do we help improve the Mexican economy? We're going to be working together on that, Lou. And I hope I can get your support. Perhaps you can agree with LULAC to support strengthening those sending areas in Latin America. That would go a long way to resolving this problem.
DOBBS: Hey, now that's one area you and I could absolutely agree on, Brent. I believe that the people who put NAFTA together completely forgot what they're doing. An agreement that was supposed to be about taking the capital and the vigor of the American economy and combining with the cheap labor of Mexico and investing in Mexico, you know, that was somehow supplanted.
Just about the time the NAFTA was agreed to, and instead we supported something called communist China and forgot all about Mexico. So everything is upside down in this country's trade relations, its foreign policy as well as its idiotic immigration policy. And yes, you and I can find some agreement. WILKES: A lot of the illegal immigration is due to NAFTA, that created this disparity between our economies and there's a lot of dislocation in Mexico, a lot of those folks are now here working in our country.
DOBBS: And a highly irresponsible Congress and administration, both these and the previous, who permitted our borders to be insecure and our immigration laws to be flouted.
Brent Wilkes, as always, good to have you here.
WILKES: Thanks, Lou.
DOBBS: We'll be talking, I presume, as we watch the course of this resurrected cadaver of an effort on the part of this administration to move through this Senate. The specter awaits us, I believe, Brent, all of us. Brent Wilkes, we thank you very much for being here.
WILKES: Thanks, Lou. I think we need a fresh start on this issue.
DOBBS: I would hope. I would hope. Reason may yet prevail. Thank you very much, Brent.
President Bush says America needs temporary foreign workers. The Republican Party in California agrees, reaching outside our borders for a brand new hire, giving new meaning to the words "Americans won't do those jobs."
Up and coming, God and politics. And later this hour, Alan Dershowitz, Tony Perkins join me to debate church and state. God and politics, who's right, who's wrong? All of that and more straight ahead. Stay with us.
DOBBS: President Bush keeps talking about those jobs that Americans won't do. Well, it seems one of those jobs is running the state chapter of his own party in California. Apparently no qualified American could be found for the position of deputy political director for the California Republican Party.
Casey Wian has the story.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are people doing jobs here Americans aren't doing.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One of those jobs is going to the director of research and political technology for the California Republican Party. The state GOP has hired Canadian citizen Christopher Matthews on an H-1B visa, a program designed to help companies fill highly skilled jobs where there is a shortage of American workers. California political sources estimate the job pays about $100,000 a year. A former state Republican official calls the outsourcing a slap in the face to hundreds of qualified Americans.
KAREN HANRETTY, GOP POLITICAL CONSULTANT: It's raising eyebrows. The H-1B visa is one of the most highly prized work visas. There are a limited number. There is about 65,000 a year that are issued to highly skilled workers. These are biotech workers, engineers, they're typically not political hacks.
WIAN: California Republican Chairman Ron Nehring declined to speak with us about the hiring but told The San Francisco Chronicle: "Our job at the California GOP is to build the most effective campaign organization. And the fact that we have two people on staff who want to become Americans is a great story that is at the heart of what the Republican Party is all about."
The second person is Australian citizen Michael Kamburowski, the state GOP's chief operations officer. He sent party leaders this e- mail defending Matthews' hiring and criticizing Karen Hanretty, saying: "If she desires a career in Republican circles in Washington, she may find her career rather short-lived."
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: America gave me opportunities and my immigrant dreams came true.
WIAN: California's best known immigrant politician didn't respond to a request for comment on his party's hiring. California Democrats relish the Republican infighting.
FABIAN NUNEZ (D), CALIF. ASSEMBLY SPEAKER: It just makes absolutely no sense on the one hand to be speaking against immigration reform and then to be circumventing the rules in a way that is so twisted to get the kind of Paris Hilton special treatment to their political operative.
WIAN: Critics wonder if political strings were pulled to secure the highly sought-after visa. This year the federal government received double its quota of H-1B requests in less than two days.
WIAN: A California Republican Party spokesman says the party pulled no strings to obtain Mr. Matthews' visa. The spokesman says the hiring is a personnel matter. And he says the California GOP had to hire the best person possible because Republicans have won just two statewide elections since 1998 -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, I'd say the California Republican Party is in desperate need of some help from somewhere, whether it's Canada, Australia. They need to go out and work pretty hard. I wouldn't blame them a bit for searching in every avenue possible.
There is one question I do have though for those folks running the state GOP there. Don't you have to sign an affidavit that you couldn't find a qualified person in the United States to fill a job before you can do that?
WIAN: Apparently most companies don't have to do that. Only if you have 15 percent or more H-1B visa-holders in your work force. Otherwise, there's no mandate that you have to prove anything.
DOBBS: Well, it sounds like a good thing for the Republican Party in California that they don't have to prove anything. Casey, thank you very much. Remarkable story. And I'm sure you'll keep us up-to-date on what transpires from here. Thank you.
Currently H-1B visas do have an annual cap of 65,000, as Casey Wian reported. But exemptions are granted. And for example, in 2005, the total rose to more than 130,000. The Senate's proposed immigration grand compromise by the way, would boost that number of H- 1B visas to 180,000.
There are concerns that more exemptions would be added, which would dramatically increase that number. We should point out that approximately 70 percent of those jobs are not high-skilled jobs, as you heard in that report from the Republican strategist. But rather, in point of fact, are going to level 1 skills, which is not the high level of skills that is usually talked about in propaganda for the use of H-1B visas.
And by the way, 70 percent of them are going to Indian companies in this country for the purpose of outsourcing to U.S. companies. And all of that somehow gets lost when people talk about H-1B visas. I don't know why.
Next here, does erosion of the line between church and state pose a danger to democracy? We'll hear from two experts with different views. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Alan Dershowitz, attorney, author, he has a brand new book, and it's called "Blasphemy." Stay with us.
DOBBS: The separation of church and state, one of the fundamental principles of the country's democracy. Today the principle being eroded by religious activist groups in the mind, certainly, of one of our guests here this evening. Joining me to discuss the issue of God and politics, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
Tony, good to have you with us.
Professor Alan Dershowitz, author of "Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking Our Declaration of Independence."
And professor, good to have you here. Well, let's start out with your new book, "Blasphemy." You're saying that folks like Tony and his organization and churches affiliated with his organization are destroying the country's foundation and the Declaration of Independence?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, AUTHOR, "BLASPHEMY": If they try to knock down the wall of separation, the great experiment that Thomas Jefferson and the founders of this country bestowed upon us, not only to protect the rights of citizens but to protect the rights of churches.
Look, we have the largest church attendance of any country in the Western world. More people believe in God in America than any other country. And it's largely because we have this high wall of separation that keeps the government out of the church's business...
DOBBS: But you're saying evangelicals are breaking that wall down?
DERSHOWITZ: They're trying to. And in my book...
DOBBS: Are you doing that, Tony?
DERSHOWITZ: ... "Blasphemy," I point to case after case.
TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: No, actually, there are people on top of the wall throwing rocks at us as we're standing on the other side of the wall. Actually, Alan, we would agree...
DOBBS: By the way, I love this picture. Behind Tony Perkins, is the book cover by Alan, it says "Blasphemy" right behind you.
PERKINS: It is kind of like lightning striking when Rudy Giuliani talks about abortion. The issue of wall of separation of church and state, I mean, we believe separation of church and state is good for the church and for the state.
DERSHOWITZ: I agree.
PERKINS: But it's to protect the church from the state. And to say that -- and this is what I think you imply in the book, is that somehow people of religious conviction need to check those credentials at the gate in order to go on the other side to participate in government. And that's clearly not what the founders intended.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, I think it is what the founders intended. Thomas Jefferson plainly said, my religion is my business. He wrote a letter to his nephew saying, read the Bible critically, if you end up not believing in God, that's fine. But don't bring your faith into politics.
Jefferson refused to even tell his own family members what his beliefs were. Adams was a Unitarian, rejected the divinity of Jesus. Most of the founders were deists. Yes, God is in the Declaration. But it's the God of nature, not the God of the Bible.
Jefferson hated the Ten Commandments. He said they were very un- American because they inflicted the sins of the parents on the children for three to a thousand generations. He said, we came to America to avoid the sins of our parents. And he said the Declaration is a rejection of monkish ignorance and an acceptance of reason. And that's why faith has to be kept separate.
PERKINS: And you know the Old Testament, the Old Testament says the sins of the father are not passed on to the sons. And that's clear in our justice system.
DERSHOWITZ: Except not in the Ten Commandments, it says the opposite.
PERKINS: But it is in our justice system from which we get our principles of government.
DERSHOWITZ: So do you believe that or not?
PERKINS: No, I agree. I don't know where Thomas Jefferson stood individually. Who can know a man's heart? In fact, Alexis De Tocqueville...
DERSHOWITZ: Well, he wrote 1,800 letters, so we can know.
PERKINS: Alexis De Tocqueville, in the 1830s...
DOBBS: ... 1802. But let's get to the issue here. You have all sorts of -- you have the Catholic Church.
DOBBS: Archbishop Mahoney, the U.S. Catholic bishops involved in illegal immigration that has got me hacked off. You've got AIPAC, the lobby for Israel, the Jewish religion involved in politics up to its ears, evangelicals pushing all sorts of things. You know, pick the one you want, but they're all involved in politics here, Alan.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, at least -- that's perfect. Look, everybody should be involved in politics. But people should not use faith as a criteria for holding office. And people should not in any way suggest that we're a Christian country.
You mention Catholics, it's very interesting. The founders were virulently anti-Catholic. Jefferson...
DOBBS: Well, you are saying no one should mention we're a Catholic -- I mean, a Christian country?
DERSHOWITZ: No. Of course not. We're not. In fact, in the first treaty we had with the Barbary pirates, Adams, signed by the two-thirds of the Senate, said, we are not in any way a Christian nation. I quote that in "Blasphemy." It was very explicit. Our Constitution is the Godless Constitution. There's no mention of God. Almost every other constitution in the world mentions God, Jesus, Mohammed, Allah...
PERKINS: It does say, "in the year of our lord," and also...
DERSHOWITZ: Oh, of course. Even I write that, I write A.D., that's the year of our lord. That's just a common way...
DOBBS: You're just showing off, Alan. The idea that this is a country -- when you say a Christian nation, I don't think there's any doubt we would say that we're a culture -- a Judeo-Christian culture. To say that we're not a Christian nation, I'm not sure if you're implying...
DERSHOWITZ: We're a nation of Christians, primarily, but we're not a Christian nation. And if we are a Christian nation, we're a Protestant nation...
DOBBS: All right. But let's go to some other issues.
DERSHOWITZ: ... not a Catholic nation. And that's very important to note. Because our founders were virulently anti- Catholic. Jefferson and Adams wrote to each other, if we can only keep the Jesuits out, bigotry, the worst form of bigotry...
DOBBS: Well, the worst form bigotry, I always...
DERSHOWITZ: ... keeping Catholics out.
DOBBS: ... I always find it supplanted by another worse form bigotry.
DERSHOWITZ: Another form, of course you're right.
DOBBS: The fact is that we have a contest also, taking God out of the Pledge of Allegiance, taking God and prayer out of school, taking God, whether -- and usually it's a nativity scene in the public square. These are all part of the American culture and history and heritage.
DERSHOWITZ: And I have no problem with ...
DERSHOWITZ: ... of history and heritage.
DOBBS: But I'm asking you a question, Professor. You're not used to that.
DERSHOWITZ: I love it.
DOBBS: And the point being, where do you come together on this issue, from Tony Perkins and Alan Dershowitz in preserving the tenets of our history and our culture and our heritage and preserving the separation of church and state? DERSHOWITZ: Well, let me tell you one rule, and that is that the government does not finance faith-based organizations whose goal it is to convert people to a particular religion.
DOBBS: I've got to give Tony the last 30 seconds here.
PERKINS: Well, I don't necessarily agree -- disagree with what you said there. I don't think government should be funding religious conversions. But the real -- I want to go back to his book for a minute. The tenet of his book is that the right is trying to set up a theocracy, and nothing could be further from the truth.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, read those quotes in the book, they're all over...
PERKINS: There is no way that that is happening. There is theocracy in the world today, but we're fighting it in the Middle East. It is not here. If you're talking about a theocracy where, you know, kids are free to be born in a country, families together...
DOBBS: Gentlemen, I'm sorry, we are out of time.
DOBBS: I hope you'll both come back and we can continue the discussion. Tony, thank you very much. Alan, appreciate it. The book is "Blasphemy." And Tony would say, it is "Blasphemy."
Still ahead, the results of our poll. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight, 98 percent of you do not trust this president or Congress to secure our borders and ports. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer. Thanks for watching. Good night.
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