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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Six Coal Miners Trapped; FBI and Navy Divers Search for Survivors in Bridge Collapse; Iraqi Leaders Need to Agree on Political Reform; New Crackdown on Illegal Workers; China's Predatory Trade Practices; Dems Court Labor Unions

Aired August 07, 2007 - 19:30   ET


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And of course, our own Lou Dobbs picking up this story as well. Lou, what do you have?
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Zain, thank you very much. We will continue to follow this unfolding story at the mine in Utah, as efforts continue to rescue those six trapped miners.

Also tonight, we will be covering the federal government and its new efforts to convince Americans it's tough on illegal immigration. The federal government, however, is doing virtually nothing to enforce either border security or existing immigration laws. We will have that report.

Also, rising outrage over the government's failure to stop potential enemies from obtaining sensitive U.S. technology. You won't believe how few government inspections of U.S. weapons exports are taking place.

And democratic presidential candidates seeking the support of organized labor to boost their election prospects. But just how influential is organized labor in this campaign? We will have the answers for you.

And three of the country's best radio talk show hosts join me to discuss presidential politics.

All of the issues of the day, all of the day's news and much more coming up straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. News, debate and opinion for Tuesday, August 07, 2007, live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. We begin tonight with the intensifying search for possible survivors of the mine disaster in Utah. Mine officials today said it will take three days to reach those six trapped men. Rescue workers started drilling a small hole into the area where the miners are believed to be trapped but the CEO of the mining company, Bob Murray, said today he's disappointed of the progress of the rescue effort so far. Ted Rollins reports from near the scene of this disaster in Huntington, Utah.


TED ROLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou we just heard from Richard Stickler coming into your show here from the Department of Labor basically saying that this mine had a pretty good track record, if you will, in terms of the violations. Meanwhile here we are at a high school where all the families have gathered, local school here, the waiting war. They have been told that now they're going to have to wait at least two to three more days because of setbacks. The biggest setback came in the early morning hours when there was another event at the mine and they had to stop the progress of getting into the mines. They do have, as you mentioned, two other drill holes going at this point. But again, it will be two to three days minimum before they can get to these six trapped miners and find out if they are alive or dead. It's a good possible according to the mine owner. They just don't know.

They also will try to use some technology to establish a communication bridge with them. That should happen later today. But at this point in communication at all.

Now, you mentioned the mine director, Bob Murray, the owner of the company Murray Energy. He is adamant that this incident started not from an event in the mine but from an earthquake. Listen to him earlier today. He was up in arms with some of the reporting and some of the other seismologists' opinions.


BOB MURRAY, PRES./CEO MURRAY ENERGY: This is the first major accident I have ever had in one of my coal mines in 20 years of being in existence, the first major accident. And this was caused by an earthquake, not something that Murray Energy or Utah American did or our employees did or our management did or that the Mine Safety and Health Administration did. It was a natural disaster.


ROLLINS: That's Bob Murray. And he has been at the forefront of this from the beginning. He's the one that's briefing the families here daily, two times daily minimum. He's also the one handling all of the media and he's the one that has taken this on in terms of trying to get to these miners. He says they will do everything humanly possible to try to get to them.

But again, Lou, at this point, no communication and a setback. It's going to be probably another day, minimum now two of days, before we find out the condition of the miners.

DOBBS: Ted, a number of questions. First, how do they know where these miners are located?

ROLLINS: Well, because of where they were at the time of the event. There were four other miners in the mine that were able to escape, if you will. They got out unharmed. They know exactly, they say, where these six miners are. Presumably they know generally where they are but they claim they know exactly. So that enables them to drill with precision to where they think they are. And try to establish communication and that is the way they are moving forward and there's no reason to believe that they don't know where they are. They seem very confident they know exactly where they are because of these other workers.

DOBBS: And those workers at the time of the collapse in the mine, how far from these six men who are now missing and trapped in that mine, how far were they actually from them?

ROLLINS: Well, a considerable distance. There was a map that was displayed at one of the news conferences. And you could see where the main event took place. They are not sure what happened deeper towards the mountain. These four workers were performing duties on the front entrance -- front end of that area of the collapse, if you will. So they were not affected. The question is, did the middle section, is that the only section that went down, or did the entire section go down? If the entire section went down, these six people are dead. If not, there's a very, very good chance that they are alive because there will be enough air for them to sustain themselves.

DOBBS: CEO Bob Murray emphatic in his declaration that this is a natural disaster, that this mine cave in is the result of a natural disaster, an earthquake. Further support for that judgment on his part, from the seismologists and from those studying this accident?

ROLLINS: Well, yes and no. There are some seismologists that are not ready to say that. They say that even though there was an aftershock, that could have happened with a significant mining bump, and that's what they call it, is a bump, when there's a significant event in drop. And miners here that I have talked to locally say they think it was a bump because other mines didn't feel it. The power plant didn't feel it. They claim and they think that there's a good possibility it was just a massive bump. Talked to Bob Murray, though, and he is convinced that this was an earthquake. Many people say who cares what it is, let's get these guys out. We will figure it out in the end.

DOBBS: Well, Bob Murray is also making it very clear that he is passionate. He appears to be terribly concerned about these trapped miners, is committing the resources of everyone he can, and obviously, everyone who works at that mine. What is the reaction there amongst the families of these missing miners and the miners and their families who work at that operation about his leadership and his response?

ROLLINS: We have heard nothing but good things about the way that Bob Murray has led the investigators, led this search effort. Because he has spared no expense and they are doing a three prong approach. I mean they are taking two drills, which really is the same procedure, but if Murray's philosophy is let's do them both because whichever one gets there first, gets there first. So there's no complaints in terms of the way he has handled this search. He is a very controversial figure. If you listen to his news conferences, that comes out. However, I think it's safe to say the families have nothing but respect for the way he's conducting this portion of the operation.

DOBBS: When you say he's controversial, Ted, what do you mean?

ROLLINS: Well, he brought the attention towards himself at today's briefing and said, listen, coal is something that this country relies on. And he took a considerable amount of time talking about what he has done and what coal mining means to this country. And some people did raise a few eyebrows because he went to great lengths to dispute media reports that he thought were inaccurate when in actuality, to be fair, they were quoting the experts in the field that disagreed with Bob Murray. So from that angle, he is controversial in that he takes no prisoners and he will let you have it. But on the other side, as you point out, he's going at this full gun, too, to try to get to the six miners as soon as possible.

DOBBS: Well, Ted, as you might suspect, I consider him to be -- I kind of like the sound of this Bob Murray. He sounds like the kind of guy who makes a pretty good American. More outspoken than controversial in my book. But we will defer to your characterization. Thank you very much, Ted Rollins.

Ted will be coming back to have the latest throughout this broadcast, and we're going to have much more on the situation there in Utah, as all of us hope for the safe rescue of those six trapped miners. Ted, thank you very much; Ted Rollins, reporting from Huntington, Utah.

The Crandall Canyon Mine has been cited for a number of health and safety violations though not as many as similar mines. Government inspectors have issued 33 citations against the mine so far this year; 300 over the past three years. Now while that sounds like a lot, the accident rate at this mine is actually far lower than most other mines in operation in this country. The government in fact says the Crandall Mine's accident rate is 2.77. That is half the national average of 4.51. And we should point out, of course, that mining by its very nature is a highly dangerous, dangerous operation and industry.

In Minneapolis, FBI drivers today joined the search for possible victims of the bridge disaster. Those FBI drivers are working with U.S. Navy divers who arrived at the scene yesterday. Five people were killed when the bridge collapsed. Eight people remain missing tonight. Susan Roesgen reports now from Minneapolis.


SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, today the divers pulled a car out of the river. Now this was a car that had been checked earlier. Divers had gone underwater and checked that car. There were no bodies inside. And as it turns out, the driver they know got out alive but they wanted to pull this car out of the water because especially trained FBI and Navy divers, especially trained in salvage and recovery, wanted to get that car out of the way because they think it might have been blocking an area of heavy wreckage where some of the victims might be trapped.


SENIOR CHIEF DAVID NAGLE, U.S. NAVY: The Navy divers are specially trained to penetrate wreckage like this. They are salvage divers. Most of the time they penetrate wreckage like that's damaged ships that effect repairs and do the same sort of operations that Sheriff Stanek has asked us to do. They are determining the optimum points of entry into the wreckage.


ROESGEN: The underwater search extends six miles downriver but it is primarily focused, Lou, right behind me, right at the scene of the actual bridge collapse. And the FBI and Navy divers who've been brought in were so eager to start the search, that they actually got in the water at, Lou, at two o'clock this morning and they are still at it tonight.

That's the latest here in Minneapolis. Lou, back to you.

DOBBS: Thank you. Susan Roesgen, reporting from Minneapolis.

Turning to the war now in Iraq. Insurgents killed four more of our troops, one in Baghdad. Three of our troops were killed south of the Iraqi capital. 20 troops have been killed so far this month. 3,678 of our troops have been killed since the war began. 27,279 troops wounded, 12,267 of them seriously.

A top U.S. commander in Iraq, Major General Benjamin Mixon, told CNN that the surge strategy is achieving military success. But General Mixon said the insurgency will not be defeated unless Iraqi leaders agree on political reform. More than 160,000 of our troops are now serving in Iraq. That is the highest number since the war began.

Barbara Starr reports from the Pentagon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was about 10 to 12 individuals actually --

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Pentagon wants you to see this, Apache helicopters chasing down and killing Iraqi insurgents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are cleared to engage, over.


STARR: But on the ground, nothing is simple. The surge has temporarily reached its highest levels; about 162,000 troops. Some units will come back to the U.S. shortly. In the north and west, violence is down. Fewer U.S. troops are dying but hundreds of Iraqis loose their lives each month. And just weeks before General David Petraeus is scheduled to make his assessment, commanders have a growing concern. Local improvements won't last without political progress by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

MAJOR GENERAL BENJAMIN MIXON, CMDR., MULTINATIONAL DIVISION NORTH: We are getting more cooperation from the tribes so everything is moving forward but without that final action at the political level, it may hamper us and could prevent us from achieving victory.

STARR: In the north, General Mixon has signed controversial agreements with local Sunni tribal leaders.

MIXON: We are getting agreements from them to support our security operations, to support the central government.

STARR: Some worry the Sunnis still could turn against the U.S. and civil war could rage. But the risk may be unavoidable. The U.S. is out of options.


MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I don't think there really is an alternative, but there is the big, looming question, how do you sustain that cooperation?


STARR: And a recent study from the International Crisis Group underscored that problems could grow, especially in Basra, where British troops are pulling back from the once relatively peaceful southern city. The report notes that "Basra's political arena remains in the hands of actors engaged in bloody competition." And so, Lou, everyone in Washington and Baghdad is watching to see what General Petraeus has to say next month about the progress in Iraq or lack of it.


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

Coming up next here, gaping holes in the government system to stop the theft of sensitive U.S. technology and military secrets.

Also, communist China, well, they are putting a lot of cheap products on the shelves in this country. We will tell you how they are able to do that.

And we'll have the very latest on recovery efforts at the mine disaster in Huntington, Utah. Coverage will continue. We will be returning to Huntington in moments. Stay with us. We will be right back.


The federal government is beginning to take steps to enforce laws already in place to verify the legal status of workers in this country. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff today joined Senator Lindsey Graham, Graham a leading proponent of amnesty, to promote a new crackdown on illegal workers. As Casey Wian reports, that announcement, also designed to give a boost to the senator who is still stinging from the defeat of the so-called comprehensive immigration reform legislation he supported.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff traveled to South Carolina, home to Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. The visit was disguised as a demonstration of an upgrade to the nation's eligibility employment verification system, which checks social security numbers.


MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: This is a great tool. It is not a perfect tool.

WIAN (voice over): Now businesses participating in the voluntary program will be able to check an online photo to stop illegal aliens from stealing someone else's identity to obtain a job. But the real purpose of Chertoff's trip appears to be providing political cove for Senator Graham.

CHERTOFF: I came here because we have a senator who I had the privilege of working with who I think is about as clear eyed and farsighted an observer and a legislator on this problem as there is. I think he really understands it.

WIAN (voice over): Grahams' approval rating in South Carolina plunged to 31 percent after he supported a failed effort to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. He also spoke to the National Council of La Raza and suggested only bigots would oppose so-called comprehensive immigration reform.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: We are not going to run people down. We are not going to scapegoat people. We are going to tell the bigots to shut up and we're going to get this right.

WIAN (voice over): But now he's talking tough on border security.

GRAHAM: We will never be safe until we secure or borders, control who comes to our country and make sure they are here on our terms, not theirs. The biggest problem that faces this nation from broken borders, visa overstays, out of control immigration is a national security problem. That's why I'm going to get back up on the horse.


WIAN (voice over): Reporters asked Graham if Chertoff's visit was an attempt to help him politically. He dodged the question.

About 19,000 companies participate in the employment verification system, less than a third of one percent of U.S. employers. It conducts about two million social security number checks each year.

According to the recent General Accountability Office report, eight percent of those inquiries need further investigation. And in some cases, it takes days or even weeks to verify the worker's eligibility. The GAO report also warns the system is vulnerable to employer fraud, such as using the same I.D. to verify multiple workers.


DOBBS: This is just transparent political theater carried out about by this administration. In this case, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, to support Senator Graham in something that this administration, Senator Graham, agreed upon. That is comprehensive immigration reform which the congressional budget office had said, some said, would only deal with 25 percent of the illegal immigration fish facing this country.

WIAN: You know, you're right, Lou. And I'm not expert on body language but it sure looked to me like Michael Chertoff wanted to be anywhere else but there today with Lindsey Graham.

DOBBS: Well, I have a place where he might do better. How about the border? What do you think?

WIAN: Might be a good start.

DOBBS: Casey, thank you very much.


DOBBS: Casey Wian.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. The question is do you believe this country's illegal immigration crisis would be resolved if the U.S. government were to enforce current immigration laws and enforce border security. Yes or no? Please cast your vote at We will have your results here later in the broadcast.

Each year the United States exports billions of dollars in military technology overseas. As the demand for that technology rises, there are fewer safeguards to ensure the technology doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

Lisa Sylvester reports on this rising threat to American national security.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hostile governments and terrorist organizations are willing to shell out millions to acquire U.S. military technology. One exporter managed to use front companies to ship missile technology to North Korea and Libya.

The state department is in charge of issuing export licenses for military technology but the division that overseas export controls simply does not have enough personnel. Only 38 license inspectors responsible for $32 billion of arms exports.

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Each one of them is responsible for over 1,700 applications a year. And if they screw up just one of them, we could be sending really bad stuff to really bad people.

SYLVESTER: Lack of resources, turf battles between state and commerce, and mismanagement all contribute to the problem.

DONALD WEADON, INTERNATIONAL TRADE LAWYER: There's a definite need for some adult supervision and some serious management. They are filled with very fine and dedicated individuals. But these poor people are having a hard time doing their job when their job is not really well defined for them.

SYLVESTER: The General Accountability Office said the system has deteriorated to the point it now ranks as a new high risk area for U.S. National Security.

ANN CALVARESI-BARR, GENERAL ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE: Many of these systems that were put in place, in the export control system, were put in place in the legacy of the cold war. We are at a different point in time as a nation. We have new security threats, we have changing allied relationships, and we have an economic globalization.

SYLVESTER: As trade increases, the number of applications for export licenses is piling up. It's expected to increase 23 percent over last year. The State Department responded by saying, "While we were faced with a large number of unprocessed applications earlier this year, we have taken steps to markedly reduce this back log."

But simply reducing the paper jam is not the only concern of lawmakers. They want to make sure it's done right.

And that's because mistakes have been made in the past. In one example, a company was allowed to shift night goggles without the required export license issued by state. The GAO has also highlight the separate problem that falls on the Pentagon.

DOD surplus sales division sold F-14 parts to the public. This is a plane that is only used by Iran. And that should have never happened but it did because an export control list was not updated.


DOBBS: It is just -- I'm left incredulous as we review what this government is doing and not doing to the interest of the nation. It is absolutely inexcusable and yet the list goes on and on as if this administration, this Congress, the previous Congress, had no concept at all of what it means to be responsible for the direction and the operation of the federal government.

SYLVESTER: And the stakes, Lou, have never been higher when it comes to export controls.


DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much. Thank you for that report. As always, Lisa Sylvester reporting from Washington.

Coming up next here, the latest on that race to rescue those six trapped miners in Utah.

Later, why more state and local governments are fighting our illegal immigration crisis.

And up next -- why isn't the United States doing more to fight China's unfair trade practices? We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Well, Communist China is utilizing a number of unfair trade practices to increasingly dominate what was once American industry. Chinese exporters commonly target a specific industry and then flood the market with cheap subsidized products. But as Kitty Pilgrim now reports, those predatory trade tactics are really challenged by, of course, the U.S. Government.

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Steel pipe is used in housing, plumbing, fencing and a variety of construction. But Chinese steel pipe imports have jumped 900 percent in the last four years, driving many U.S. producers out of business.

TOM CONWAY, UNITED STEELWORKERS: The magnitude of the pipe that they had shipped in here just literally gutted our piping industry. No one here seems to be willing to try to make a real effort to put a stop to this. We file the trade cases continually. People need to pay attention to what's going on in the growth of China and its ability to grow these exports.

PILGRIM: The United Steelworkers have joined one of the largest anti-dumping cases ever against the Chinese saying Chinese are undercutting prices by as much as 80 percent. The Chinese have also used such tactics to target the U.S. garlic industry, which has lost 50 percent of the market to Chinese producers. It's priced about 30 percent below what it costs U.S. producers to grow.

Nearly half of the canned mushroom industry is now Chinese products. There are fewer than five producers left in the United States.

Chinese have dominated about a quarter of the honey market since 2001, often avoiding duties on its shipments of honey to the United States, sometimes by falsifying the paper work, to read products of Mongolia, which have no domestic honey production.

MICHAEL COURSEY, KELLEY DRYE COLLIER SHANNON: It is a fraud that is on the scale that's breathtaking. It's taking the government an extremely long time to figure out what to do about it. 93 percent of dumping duties are not being collected.

PILGRIM: Chinese exporters use a variety of tactics, mislabeling cases on what is inside or faking paperwork to read the crates had been sent from another country such at Vietnam or Thailand.

Now, the United Steelworkers Union says hundreds of jobs have been lost in the last three years because of Chinese imports. Those job losses, despite the fact that demand for steel pipe is booming, and they charge the Bush Administration has not used its trade authority to demand accountability from the Chinese government.


DOBBS: Demand accountability. My god, the Bush Administration is not accountable to anyone for its own negligence, its malfeasance, and this is a ridiculous way for a government to operate. And the United Steelworkers, I mean I can imagine of the Bush Administration Labor Department. It does say labor department but it really should say department of employers rather than department of labor. This is the sorriest excuse for an administration for a government concerned about the interest of American citizens and the national interest imaginable.

PILGRIM: Yes. When you talk to these small producers, they just don't have the time to wait out this action. They are just folding as this trade flows in.

DOBBS: You know the fact this may be Darwinian in historical terms. If we are dumb enough to tolerate this kind of government, you know perhaps it could be argued that we deserve this. It's infuriating to watch this happen to this great country of ours and to the American people. Does anybody care?

PILGRIM: These are American jobs.

DOBBS: Unbelievable. Kitty, thank you very much. Kitty Pilgrim.

Coming up here next: rising anger over the federal government's failure to enforce U.S. immigration laws.

Democratic presidential candidates stepping up their efforts to win middle class votes. We'll tell you how.

And rescuers intensifying their search for those six miners trapped in a coal mine in Utah. We will be going to Huntington, Utah, for a live update and report.

Stay with us. We will be right back.


DOBBS: As we are reporting here tonight, the rescue efforts in Utah are moving ahead. Those involved in the rescue operation say they now know the exact location of those six trapped miners. But they also say the operation to rescue the miners will take at least two and more likely three more days.

Ted Rowlands has the latest now for us from near the scene of that disaster in Huntington, Utah.

What do you got?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, a setback this morning. Another significant bump in the mine, and that basically hurt efforts to go through the huge debris pile and get to the miners.

Now however, they are continuing 24 hours today in that effort, and these miners are dedicated, 134-plus miners continuing to hack away at this debris, however large this piece is, to get to these miners to see if they are alive or dead. Meanwhile the CEO of Murray Energy -- this is the guy that runs this mine and several others -- spoke today, again, not only briefing the media and briefing the families, which are all at this school here, but also blasting the media at one point for what he called inaccurate reporting.


ROBERT MURRAY, CEO, MURRAY ENERGY: It's understood that the folks in the media and all American citizens have a genuine concern about the welfare of the trapped miners and their families.

However, inaccurate reporting, which has already taken place, does nothing to further the well-being of anyone. Quite obviously in reporting your stories, your producers and you journalists attempt to seek out individuals to be taken accurate commentary on the misfortune that has occurred here at the Crandall canyon mine. I hope you report that.

And I will cite to you in every one of these interviews all false reporting that we hear. But I would certainly not depend on the Associated Press and Mr. Bernstein (ph) for any truths if I were an American citizen.


ROWLANDS: Attack of the Associated Press there and some other media outlets. Basically, Mr. Murray is concerned about accusations that the type of mining, retreat mining that may or may not have been going on, was the cause of this. He says it's earthquake, earthquake, earthquake.

There is some differing opinions out there, and those have been reported. He took offense to it.

Meanwhile the miners themselves, six individuals all described as family men in their ages between 20s and late 40s. Three of them Mexican nationals, Mexican conflict from Salt Lake City is up here, talking with those families.

And ICE, just as a footnote, here, says that they never had any issues with this mine or -- or Mr. Murray's corporation in terms of illegal aliens working for them. That footnote.

But the main thing here, obviously, to get in there, get in there as soon as possible. This setback, though, means that these families are going to have to wait, most likely, Lou, as you mentioned, two to three days to find out the fate of their loved ones.

DOBBS: To the families that are still there at the mine, awaiting word, is the mining company providing for them?

ROWLANDS: Yes. They're in back of me at this school here, just outside the mine, a few miles away. And they're getting briefed by Mr. Murray at multiple times daily. And they are being provided aid in terms of counseling, and the Red Cross is here, as well. So they're getting a lot of help, a lot of help in what can only be a horrific, horrific time of waiting.

DOBBS: Very quickly, let's cover a couple of things here, Ted, if we may. First, retreat mining that you referred to. Explain to all of us what that is.

ROWLANDS: Quickly, it's like a checker board. Imagine that. You go in and you mine all the red squares. Then on the way out, you mine the black squares. But as you do that, you knock down each of the squares, the pillars. And what that does is it alleviates the pressure in the mine.

Many believe that that's a dangerous practice because, as you're hitting these pillars down, the last breaks, if you will -- they call it the suicide break, the last hammer -- it's inherently dangerous. It's been done for years. People here -- I've talked to miners here's. It's part of the profession here. It's not illegal by any stretch of the imagination.

DOBBS: Does Bob Murray dispute that that's what's -- excuse me. Does Bob Murray dispute that that's the kind of mining going on there?

ROWLANDS: You know what? He doesn't. Today he said that wasn't going on at the time of incident, but yesterday he said indeed there were retreat mining, and they do retreat mine. Because you would leave, literally, 50 percent of the coal in the mine, if you didn't.

DOBBS: What has him so upset with the Associated Press and other news outlets, as you put it, specifically?

ROWLANDS: Basically, saying that retreat mining was the potential cause for this event and that the seismic reading was just a major collapse within the mine itself.

And he says that they're talking to the wrong people and he is basically making accusations that labor unions are spreading misinformation, because they want to infiltrate his mine. Whether or not he's over-sensitive about that remains to be seen. Obviously, emotions very high at a time like this.

DOBBS: I don't know how one can be overly sensitive in the pressure he's under, the concern he has to have for those -- those men trapped in that mine.

And I think we should also point out, Ted Rowlands, because this is not often the case when we're reporting on a mine disaster of this kind, this mine actually was one of the safest in operation in the entire United States up until this disaster. Which, Bob Murray, CEO, refers to as a national disaster, saying that it was caused by an earthquake, correct?

ROWLANDS: Yes. Pointed that out today. In fact, they were 50 percent better than the average in the United States. So the track record was there. And Murray pointed that out today, as well. So you're right, and that should be pointed out, when speculating about this cause and the other thing is... DOBBS: Ted Rowlands, we just lost our contact with him in Huntington, Utah. And we will be continuing our coverage here of that mine disaster and the efforts to recover, to rescue those trapped six miners.

Now turning to our continuing coverage of the illegal immigration crisis in this nation. The open border illegal alien lobby claims the vibrant economy here in the United States is the magnet for illegal workers, and I don't believe anyone would dispute that.

But there is a larger truth, and that is that more than two million immigrants received citizenship or green cards legally in this country every year. In addition, guest worker programs, nine of them.

But if the government, our federal government, were enforcing our current immigration laws, securing the borders and ports, the fact is there simply would be no illegal immigration crisis.

And as Christine Romans reports now, our government seems beholden to the interests of big business and socioethnocentric special interests.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every day in this country 3,200 immigrants become citizens; 3,300 get their green card; and this country admits 240 refugees and asylees.

Every day, there are nine guest worker programs, an alphabet soup of programs for high tech workers, nurses, temporary agriculture workers and unlimited visas for athletes and entertainers, religious workers and workers with, quote, "extraordinary talent."

Fifty-thousand a year receive green cards through a diversity lottery. Green cards awarded to more than 1.2 million immigrants last year.

For hundreds of thousands of victims of national disasters and dictators, there is humanitarian parole and temporary protected status.

And yet to the open borders lobby, that is not enough.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need a temporary worker program so that people don't try to sneak in the country to work.

CARLOS GUTIERREZ, COMMERCE SECRETARY: Our reality is that we have jobs that American citizens aren't willing to take or aren't available to do.

ROMANS: Enforcing the law is somehow anti-business and anti- family.

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Do we continue to hamper business that need immigrant labor to grow, hurt families who are looking to provide for their loved ones, harm communities that need new immigrants to remain vibrant and strong?

ROMANS: But would illegal immigration be a problem if the government enforced workplace law and secured the borders and ports first?

Illegal immigration has exploded during the same years federal enforcement has declined. At the same time, business has clamored for more access to cheap labor, and wages have been stagnant.


ROMANS: The fact that the borders and ports aren't secure six years into a war on terror is proof for border security advocates that this administration and, frankly, the ones before it, are beholden to a powerful business lobby that wants open borders -- Lou.

DOBBS: The idea that this administration -- you heard the commerce secretary stand there and suggest. If we can look at this camera here, if you don't mind, and suggest that this country is somehow not -- not providing a welcoming environment for immigrants into this country.

More than 2 million a year are coming into this country legally. When you hear a U.S. Congressman like Luis Gutierrez suggest to you that there is this demand for labor and not a single fact to support anything they're saying.

This administration has lied. Carlos Gutierrez, the commerce secretary, has put his name behind a lie, which is comprehensive immigration reform. Senate bill 1639.

And when we look at the situation, the idea that an administration would lie to the American people, the Senate, Democratic leadership, lie to the American people and that so-called gang of 12, the grand bargainers behind it in the Senate. It is disgusting to think that this is going on.

ROMANS: There's a steady drum beat, Lou, over the past year that current immigration law is simply not enforceable. It's either not fair or it's impossible somehow to enforce it. Anti-family, anti- business. We hear it from all different quarters, all different political ends of the spectrum.

DOBBS: Two-thirds of the people entering this country for green cards are members of families of citizens coming into this country. These are family visas that are being awarded. And the green cards -- it's just astonishing, the lies and propaganda.

And I hope that the American people are getting an absolute bellyful. I think the evidence is they are. Thank you very much, Christine Romans.

Coming up next here, Democrats working for the big labor vote. That and much more.

And then I'll be joined by three of the country's best radio talk show hosts. Stay with us. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Working men and women in this country and their families are looking for a presidential candidate to represent their interests for a change.

Democrats, some of them, are courting big labor, hoping that they might make that connection. And tonight the Democratic candidates are facing off in a presidential forum sponsored by the country's biggest labor union.

As Candy Crowley reports, organized labor's numbers may be dwindling, but the AFL-CIO still has a little influence in presidential politics.


KELLY BERINGER, HOSPITAL WORKER (singing): Going to lay down my sword and shield...

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kelly Beringer is a politicized woman, a nurse, trying to unionize her Chicago hospital. And along the way, she has broadened her sights.

BERINGER: I need a president who will take the direction of the people. A president who values, who respects the rights of workers.

CROWLEY: From the living wage, the freedom to unionize and the price and pitfalls of free trade agreements, nobody has quoted union interests more heavily than John Edwards.

JOHN SWEENEY, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO: There's no question that John Edwards has -- has been raising the issues that are very close to the hearts of workers. And it has been, I think, motivating some of the debate.

CROWLEY: But the '08 field is fertile ground for the labor movement. Hillary Clinton has sought to put some distance between her thoughts and the pro-globalization record of her husband.

And Barack Obama, with a pro union reputation in his home state, has walked picket lines with strikers. Even said he'd do it again if elected.

All of the '08 Democrats have in one form or another pledged allegiance to issues near and dear to union workers. In short, options are open.

SWEENEY: We are blessed with an abundance of riches and good candidates who are very strong on so many of the issues. But work is our priorities.

CROWLEY: An umbrella group of unions, the AFL-CIO is the most sought-after endorsement. It can provide campaigns with an infusion of ground troops and money. PETER FRANCIA, PROFESSOR, EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY: The dilemma that unions face is whether John Edwards can actually win the nomination, because labor does not want to back a loser. And right now Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are definitely the top two candidates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't keep the people down!

CROWLEY: They want to avoid a 2004 repeat, when multiple union endorsements didn't bring victory to either Richard Gephardt or Howard Dean. An AFL-CIO primary endorsement looks unlikely this year, and the labor federation hopes member unions will not make hasty endorsements of their own, waiting, instead, for the picture to crystallize.

Outside her hospital in Chicago, the newly politicized Kelly Beringer, looks forward to '08.

BERINGER: Collectively, with these union people around me, I think that you have more power and influence on politicians and in the outcome of elections.

CROWLEY: About a quarter of 2006 voters came from union households. They voted 2-1 Democratic.


CROWLEY: There's been a lot of talk in recent years about the relevance of unions, mostly become -- because union households are diminishing.

But big labor leaders say, listen, look at the numbers in which they turn them out. It still proves their clout, and it still proves it is there. They also note tonight that, Lou, somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 union members and their families are planning to show up at Soldier Field for that debate.

DOBBS: Well, it sounds like Senator John Edwards may have a fairly friendly audience tonight.

CROWLEY: It does. He speaks to the issues. He has, you know, as you know, a populist plank, and that really is very appealing to labor. But as you know, it's not just about the issues; it's also about electability.

DOBBS: Well, and that electability thing, I figure, will get taken care of in time. And I think when we use that word populist, we ought to say what that means. It means for the people. I haven't figured out yet what's wrong with that word, have you?

CROWLEY: Not a thing wrong with that word. And John Edwards would tell you the same thing.

DOBBS: Amen, sister. Candy, thank you very much. Candy Crowley. We look forward to your reporting throughout the evening.

Coming up here next, three of the country's top talk show radio hosts join us. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Joining me now from Washington, Joe Madison, WOL radio, XM radio. Good to have you with us, Joe.


DOBBS: In Phoenix, Charles Goyette of KFMX Radio. Good to see you, Chares.


DOBBS: And here in New York, Steve Malzberg, WOR Radio Network.

Good to see you, Steve.


DOBBS: Well, let's start with what looks like a real feud -- nothing pretend here -- between Hillary and Obama. What's going on? Joe, start with you.

MADISON: Well, I think what's going on is you have an experienced candidate in Hillary Clinton. You have an inexperienced senator who has a -- do I dare use the word populist type of...

DOBBS: You better believe it.

MADISON: ... approach towards international politics. The reality is, and what bothers me, and I'll make it very short, about Obama is that I like what he's saying, but it's not realistic.

Because you know if he gets into the White House, they are going to be the men and women around him who already know what the plan is, when you deal with foreign leaders, friendly or unfriendly.

And Hillary knows this. I'm sorry, Senator Clinton knows this.

DOBBS: All right. Charles, at this point, what is going on? We've got two candidates. John McCain in real trouble for some of the positions he's taken, some of the ways he's approached the issues.

And Senator Barack Obama, national media and his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination are feasting on the man. Is he -- is he mortally wounded here?

GOYETTE: You know, Lou, this is a good time to be an independent, isn't it? I mean don't you look at these guys now on both sides of the aisle, the Republicans and the Democrats, in the past you used to be able to side which party is more delusional at this juncture in history. And right now you look at them and they're both delusional.

I mean, we're bleeding in Iraq and McCain still wants to put more troops on the ground. And Barack Obama says, well, maybe we ought to send some troops on the ground in Pakistan.

Hillary Clinton is talking about the nuclear option: "Oh, we want to keep the nuclear option on the table."

It strikes me as peculiar that in this country it's OK for all the candidates to talk about the nuclear option to hit another country that has never threatened us, has no capability to hurt us; yet on the other hand, everybody wants to take the issue of impeachment off the table. Impeachment is too extreme to even be on the table, but nuking another country, oh, we've got to leave that on the table.

MALZBERG: Well, of course, the nuclear option is on the table because these countries that supposedly can't hurt us and never hurt us are sponsoring terrorism, training them, harboring them and sending them out into the field to maybe do us lots of harm here in our country.

Hillary couldn't pay Barack Obama enough to do what he's doing for her right now. I don't know why she doesn't like him. I mean, saying I would talk to foreign leaders and saying the nuclear option's off the table, the strike that. I mean, he looks very indecisive. He looks so naive, she should be paying him.

MADISON: You even had a Republican candidate the other day who said, look, we ought to consider nuking Mecca. I mean this is -- I mean, this is ridiculous.

MALZBERG: I'll tell you what. We need to put some kind of a deterrent out there to these countries that will still sponsor and train and harbor and finance terrorists that are plotting right now to blow up your child and mine.

MADISON: But not -- not nuking Mecca. Come on.

GOYETTE: God forbid, hold the phone for a second. We are littering the deserts of Saudi Arabia with a new shipment of American arms and armaments that will be -- who were those people that flew those planes into the World Trade Center? What country did they come from? Please, we've got to stand back and get a grip on this foreign policy.

DOBBS: We're going to be back to get that grip in just one moment. We'll continue with our radio panel here next. Stay with us. We're coming right back.


DOBBS: Now back with our panel.

Let me turn to you, Joe Madison, "USA Today", the columnist taking you on on the issue of the impact of illegal immigration on, really, lower wage earners in, particularly, in the black community.

MADISON: Well, Dwight (ph) is a good friend. I love him dearly. I disagree with him. And I'm going to tell you, almost 100 percent of my callers disagree with him. All I'm saying is that we have a serious problem with illegal immigration taking the jobs of young African-American teenagers. This is a fact, because I heard it on my show from an expert who did a study. Eighty percent of young African-American teenagers in American could not find a job this summer. Now I wonder why?

DOBBS: And this is not a black problem. This is not -- I mean, it's not a racial problem in this country of any kind. The fact is, it's happening to young, poor people in this country, all wage earners.

MADISON: And that's true. But my perspective, because...

DOBBS: I understand.

MADISON: But it's serious. It's very serious.

MALZBERG: I would also hope that the African-American community would also be concerned about illegal immigration for the other reasons, that we need to protect our sovereignty, that we need to have borders that are secure, that we need to keep terrorists out. Not only because jobs may be lost to those people.

MADISON: Well, believe me, they do. Trust me.


DOBBS: And I would hope -- go ahead, Charles.

GOYETTE: Yes. The social friction that Joe is talking about is absolutely right. But I'll tell you something, it's going to increase as we continue to reap the harvest of the Republican and Democratic economic policies over the next couple of years.

DOBBS: Yes, they're some policies, aren't they?

MADISON: Yes, and they're not -- and these leaders are not in front of their followers.

DOBBS: And I hope, you know, getting back to that word "populist," that we can get to a stage in our presidential politics when we're not doing identity politics, group politics, racial politics. We just talking about common, shared American values. One of those is equal opportunity, equal educational opportunity.

GOYETTE: Good time to be independent.

DOBBS: Gentlemen, good to have you here. Appreciate it.

Charles, thank you very much.

Joe, as always.

MADISON: Thank you.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Steve. Thank you for being with us tonight. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Suzanne Malveaux -- Suzanne.