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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Dangerous Chemical Discovered in U.N. Office; Mexican Trucks on U.S. Highways?

Aired August 30, 2007 - 18:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Business elites again demanding Washington increase the number of workers they can hire from overseas. Middle-class Americans are being asked to pay the price for these campaigns to bring in cheaper foreign labor into the country.
New protests today over a Bush administration plan to allow Mexican truckers open access to America's highways. There are concerns over the safety of Mexican trucks and questions of national security.

And a new crackdown on employers that hire illegal aliens workers. The plan has sparked protests from open borders advocates and business groups.

All that, all of the days news, and more, straight ahead tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Thursday, August 30.

Live from New York, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Christine Romans.

ROMANS: Good evening, everybody.

Congressional auditors find the Iraqi government has failed to meet most of the benchmarks laid out by Congress to assess progress in Iraq. The Government Accountability Office will reportedly will say 15 of 18 goals have not been met.

But U.S. troop deaths in Iraq are down this summer; 77 of our troops have been killed so far this month. In July, 79 were killed. That's down from a high in May when 126 of our troops were killed.

But first we begin with Elaine Quijano at the White House -- Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine, the White House response is essentially that it's about more than just benchmarks in Iraq.

Officials here say that it is not news that there's been a lack of political progress at the very top levels in Baghdad. Officials here say their own interim report found much of the same. What the White House is arguing is that progress in Iraq cannot be measured by benchmarks alone.

Here's White House Press Secretary Tony Snow. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: if You take a look at what Congress has mandated for this report, it says, "Have you met these? Have you met them at full?" Well, if the answer is -- you're going to find a lot of cases, of course they haven't met them. Now, the real question is, "Do you have progress in the right direction?"

The other thing I would suggest is that it would be a mistake to limit one's view of what goes on in Iraq to the benchmarks.


QUIJANO: Now, the White House insists what the benchmarks do not reflect, they say, is progress since the surge of Sunnis turning against al Qaeda, a so-called bottom-up reconciliation.

The Democrats counter that when it comes to the top leadership in Baghdad, they have not taken significant steps towards reconciliation. Democrats question why American troops are continuing to sacrifice to provide the Iraqis breathing space when so far, that breathing space has not resulted in sectarian groups in Iraq coming together and reconciling -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Elaine Quijano at the White House -- thank you, Elaine.

Democratic leaders in Congress today said the GAO report emphasizes the failure of the Bush administration policy in Iraq. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Republicans in Congress will have to decide whether to vote with the president or join Democrats and the vast majority of Americans, who are demanding a new direction in Iraq.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, the report makes clear the president's flawed Iraq strategy is failing to deliver what it needs to, a political solution for Iraq.

Three more of our troops have been killed by insurgents in Iraq. The three soldiers were killed in separate actions in different parts of the country; 77 of our troops have been killed so far this month; 3,735 of our troops have been killed since the war began; 27,662 troops have been wounded, 12,429 of them seriously.

And in Afghanistan four more of our troops have been killed in hostile action. A total of 434 of our troops have been killed in Operation Enduring Freedom since October of 2001.

The Pentagon today is citing the surge in Iraq as a reason for a drop in troop deaths this summer. In July, 79 of our troops were killed, this month, as we just reported, 77. That's down from the deadliest month this year, May, in which 126 of our troops were killed.

Jamie McIntyre has that report -- Jamie.


If you go back and look at U.S. troop casualties back in the late spring and early summer, you will see that, for the three months preceding those summer months, the U.S. casualties were well over 100, with that peak of 126 in May. The last two months, they have been down, but they are still fairly high, in the upper 70s.

Is it a trend? U.S. military commanders say it's too soon to say that, even though the Pentagon said that it's evidence that the surge is working. And, of course, the recent National Intelligence Estimate concluded that the security situation has improved in some places in Iraq, but that progress is uneven.

And, of course, U.S. troop deaths aren't the only measure of success. Al Qaeda has still been able to launch some spectacular attacks that have killed large numbers of civilians. But, as that National Intelligence Estimate also concluded, al Qaeda's ability to operate has been seriously degraded and U.S. commanders credit that, in part, for the lower troop numbers.

But the short answer, Christine, at this point is, nobody says this is a trend, and they're warning, there could be an uptick in violence again commensurate with that September report from General Petraeus.

ROMANS: All right, Jamie McIntyre in Washington -- thank you, Jamie.

United Nations officials today revealed that vials of a potentially hazardous chemical agent were discovered at U.N. weapons inspector's office in New York. FBI experts were brought in to remove the vials, and U.N. officials said the material posed no immediate risk or danger.

Richard Roth reports from the U.N. with the latest -- Richard.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Iraq war proved to provide a lot of crazy ups and downs for the United Nations, and today another one in a building behind me just a block from the U.N., where it was revealed that on Friday, U.N. weapons inspectors who dealt with Iraq discovered some packages and vials with potentially lethal chemical agent.

This was removed about two hours ago by a convoy of federal investigators, FBI, New York City Environmental Protection. Authorities say there was no risk to civilians or the public. There was a mini-evacuation of the sixth floor of the building where the U.N. weapons inspectors were.

I asked a spokesman for the weapons inspections agency what happened.


EWAN BUCHANAN, UNMOVIC SPOKESMAN: There must had been a mistake at some point, probably back in the middle of the '90s. And that stuff should certainly not have been shipped to a place that doesn't have the right sort of facilities to contain them. Normally, these kind of containers would have been sent to government labs for analysis.


ROTH: Now, this U.N. weapons inspectors agency was voted out of existence two months ago. They were just clearing out their offices and going through over 125 file cabinets with five drawers each. Nevertheless, a White House spokesman today not pleased by the discovery.


SNOW: These items should not have ended up, obviously, at the New York offices. Normally, they would be transported to an appropriately equipped laboratory for analysis. I'm sure that there are going to be a lot of red-faced people over at the U.N. trying to figure out how they got there. In any event, they have done some testing in the air. There's no danger to the folks involved.


ROTH: New York Senator Charles Schumer issuing a statement, saying the United Nations has to be more careful. He's been very critical of the way the U.N. has been protecting its own in-house environmental and safety procedures. The U.N., Christine, says there is going to be an investigation -- back to you.

ROMANS: But, at this point, all we know I guess is there was some sort of mistake from some time in the mid-1990s that resulted in chemical agents from Iraq ending up in midtown Manhattan. That's all we know?

ROTH: That's right. It should never have gotten into the building. They had an inventory listing of it, but it should never have come into these types of offices. It should have been destroyed after analysis years ago, another remnant of the Iraq war here at the U.N.

ROMANS: All right, Richard Roth, thank you so much -- Richard Roth here in New York.

Coming up, despite recent efforts to beef up security, portions of our borders with Mexico remain wide open. Tonight, we have a special report from the border.

Casey Wian is El Paso, Texas -- Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, a Texas congressman invited us to take a tour of the border with him. What we saw clearly shows there are still huge gaps in homeland security -- Christine.

ROMANS: We will have more on that story in a moment.

Trucks from Mexico could soon be going through America's heartland, raising critical safety and national security concerns. We will have that story.

Silicon Valley companies make a new push for cheap foreign workers at the expense of America's middle class. We will have a report.

And Senator Larry Craig's arrest tapes. We will hear what the senator had to say during his interrogation. Stay with us.


ROMANS: The Teamsters Union, the Sierra Club and Public Citizen are fighting plans to open U.S. highways to Mexican trucks.

The Teamsters filed suit in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to block an administration plan allowing Mexican trucks deep into this country as early perhaps as Saturday. Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa called it a slap in the face to American workers opening highways to potentially dangerous Mexican trucks on Labor Day weekend.

Opponents of the plan also warn the Mexican big rigs are not subject to U.S. safety standards. And Mexican trucks crossing into America's heartland could further compromise border security.

Lisa Sylvester reports on this latest battle.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pilot program to allow Mexican trucks into the American heartland could start this weekend or early next week. And, over the next year, more than 500 Mexican semi-trucks could be allowed on to U.S. highways, over the objections of the Teamsters Union, environmental and safety watchdog groups, and lawmakers.

YVETTE PENA LOPEZ, TEAMSTERS UNION: We're going to have these ticking time bomb trucks on our highways. They're not going to be inspected. Not every single truck can be inspected that comes across our border. We don't know who is driving these trucks.

SYLVESTER: An August report by the Department of Transportation's inspector general found Mexico has no certified testing laboratories for drug and alcohol testing of drivers. And systems used to track convictions of Mexican commercial drivers contain data inconsistencies.

Others have raised concerns, including hours of service and English proficiency.

BONNIE ROBIN-VERGEER, PUBLIC CITIZEN: Our view is that this program should be halted until the safety standards are addressed and the program is actually done right.

SYLVESTER: Last month, the House passed a measure that would block funding for the pilot program.

TODD SPENCER, OWNER-OPERATOR, INDEPENDENT DRIVERS ASSOCIATION: The House of Representatives, both Republicans and Democrats, voted unanimously to cut off funds for this pilot project. Yet, and then as quickly as they did that, they went home on recess, and while they're gone on recess, the administration is moving steadily ahead.

SYLVESTER: The Department of Transportation did not make anyone available for an interview, but in a statement said -- quote -- "The department's cross-border truck demonstration program will have no impact on safety, given the thorough pre-screening and safety inspections that every truck from Mexico will have to endure."

In court papers, DOT says -- quote -- "Further delay in complying with our NAFTA motor carrier commitments would cause considerable harm to our relationship with Mexico, an important trading and diplomatic partner."


SYLVESTER: Before the pilot program can begin, the DOT's inspector general must sign off on the program. Lawyers for the Teamsters have been told that could happen as early as tomorrow. That would pave the way for this program to begin, that is, unless the court steps in. And a ruling could happen either late tonight or tomorrow -- Christine.

ROMANS: And, Lisa, we know from various DEA reports and State Department narcotics control reports that much of the illegal drugs that enter this country every year comes through legal, legitimate commercial traffic. Are there any concerns that opening up the roads might be, you know, a boon for the drug cartels?

SYLVESTER: You are absolutely right on that. And it's not just drugs. But it's also the smuggling, human smuggling, bringing in illegal aliens. It's also -- a number of people have pointed out that this is a real national security issue, where you could have a terrorist who tries to smuggle a bomb, because the bottom line is we don't know what is actually in these trucks and that there's a lot of concern about the screening process -- Christine.

ROMANS: OK, Lisa Sylvester -- thanks so much, Lisa.

The Bush administration says it is improving security along the Mexican border, but huge sections of the border along the Rio Grande remain unguarded and easily accessible to anyone who wants to enter this country illegally.

Casey Wian reports now from El Paso, Texas.


WIAN: We accompanied Texas Congressman Ted Poe on a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border east of El Paso. Local sheriffs arranged the visit and purposely did not notify the Border Patrol, saying they wanted the congressman and CNN to see the unsanitized state of border security.

JIMMY APODACA, EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: This is (INAUDIBLE) port of entry here. We have been told that they fully inspect one out of every 10 vehicles that come across.

REP. TED POE (R), TEXAS: Ten percent? It's worth the odds to try to come into a legal port of entry bringing in something you shouldn't be bringing in, whether it's people or drugs or something else.


APODACA: Correct. That means that you have a 90 percent chance of getting by without being detected.

WIAN: What we saw farther east was even more troubling. We traveled a dirt road next to the Rio Grande. For 24 miles and more than two hours, we did not encounter a single Border Patrol agent.

POE: How many men would it take for you, as the sheriff, to shut the border down?

ARVIN WEST, HUDSPETH COUNTY, TEXAS, SHERIFF: I believe we could do it with 25 men.

POE: And how -- what would you do different than...

WEST: I would put them on the border.

WIAN: A Border Patrol spokesman says: "We don't need to stand shoulder to shoulder on the border. The agency tries to manage its resources in a way that is most effect."

He added that the Border Patrol has sensors that detect illegal crossing and agents positioned farther north of the Rio Grande to intercept illegal traffic.

Still, there are no fences here, nothing but the river to stop an illegal alien, a drug smuggler or potential terrorist from entering the United States. In fact, there are two places like this, a footbridge across the water, that seem to invite anyone in.

POE: There's no one around here watching or guarding this bridge. And obviously, it's used for people to come into the United States illegally. And it's very disturbing that it's -- that it's even here. I don't know why we don't tear it down.

WIAN: A Border Patrol spokesman says agents are well aware of the footbridges, and they -- quote -- "don't impact our enforcement. Sooner or later, they are going to run into us."

Despite the apparent gaps in border security, the Border Patrol says it's doing a better job, pointing to illegal alien apprehensions, one indicator of illegal crossings. This year, they are down 41 percent and 29 percent in the two Border Patrol sectors we visited.

Still, sheriffs want Congress to provide more money for more agents and more resources to local law enforcement to help secure the border.


WIAN: Sheriffs say illegal immigration breeds crime in their communities. In 2004, 45,000 suspects were booked into the El Paso County Jail; 16,000 of them, or more than a third, were illegals aliens previously convicted of other state crimes -- Christine.

ROMANS: So, Casey, what does Congressman Poe think I guess is the answer? DHS says you can't stand somebody, their agents shoulder to shoulder along the entire southern border.

Is a virtual fence or some sort of technology the answer? What does the congressman think?

WIAN: I think the congressman thinks that all of those things are important. The one thing almost everyone here agrees on is more manpower for the Border Patrol is needed.

They all agree also that there have been improvements in border security. But as we found out last night, there are still huge gaps. And Congressman Poe wants to get more money into the hands of local law enforcement to help tackle this problem head on -- Christine.

ROMANS: Casey Wian in El Paso, Texas -- thanks, Casey.

Time now for some of your thoughts.

Peggy in Illinois writes in about twice deported criminal illegal alien Elvira Arellano's request to become an ambassador to the U.S.: "Maybe Elvira should stay in Mexico and fight for peace and justice in her own country. That should alleviate the majority of illegal immigration to the U.S."

Terri in Kansas: "Elvira Arellano, an ambassador to the United States of America from Mexico? I laughed so hard, I cried."

David in Alabama: "It is outrageous that Elvira Arellano is seeking such a position, but it seems to fall in line with our current state of this country. To have law-breakers, felons, and those who hate our justice system in such positions? Really? What's new?"

We will have more of your em later on in the broadcast.

Coming up next: America's business elite says they want more visas to import workers. We will tell you if there really is a shortage of workers or just another front on the war on the middle class.

And a new crackdown on employers of illegal aliens, the outcry over matching Social Security numbers to actual employees. We will have a special report, all that, when we come back.


ROMANS: Congress isn't even back in Washington yet, but big business is already lobbying.

As Bill Tucker reports, corporate America is pushing for more H- 1B visas, so it can import even more cheap foreign labor, all at the expense of middle-class workers.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the end of July, Sun Microsystems announced it will fire an unspecified number of workers by the end of the year. Intel this month began firing 1,000 workers in New Mexico. Earlier this week, EarthLink announced it will fire 900 workers.

But at the same time, some high-tech executives renewed their call this week for more foreign workers on H-1B visas, which are guest worker visas for temporary workers with specialized skills. Workers groups are up in arms.

DAVE COHEN, AFL-CIO: A lot of us thought the immigration effort died a month or two months ago when Congress went out. High-tech moguls, the high-tech billionaires have not given up. People who are concerned about their employment, their wages, their children's futures need to be heard by Congress next week. Happy Labor Day.

TUCKER: Bill Gates made his position very clear when he testified to Congress earlier this year and was asked if there should be any limits on the H-1B program.

BILL GATES, FOUNDER, MICROSOFT: I don't think there should be any limit.

TUCKER: On its Web site, Sun states -- quote -- "Overly restrictive caps on temporary visas such as the H-1B pose a serious and ongoing obstacle for high-tech companies battling to stay competitive."

What Microsoft and other companies would be happy to see is a doubling of the size of the program, as had been proposed under the now failed comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Lobbyists for the tech companies, joined with groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, will renew that push when Congress goes back into session. That's an impressive and a well-funded effort.

Loosely organized worker groups say they are overmatched.

KIM BERRY, THE PROGRAMMERS GUILD: They can dump $1 million or $10 million, hire a lobbying firm and go hit all of the senators back in Washington. We can't do that.

TUCKER: The official cap on the H-1B program is 65,000 with an additional 20,000 except from the cap.


TUCKER: One of the most basic lures of the H-1B program? Cost. In the technology field, the median wage paid to an H-1B worker is $12,000 a year less than the wage of an American worker, Christine, in the same job and in the same location. So, we're not doing apples to oranges.

ROMANS: So, let me get it straight. You know, as long as these CEOs want -- you pointed out that there have been some job layoffs in the high-tech world. So, as long as these CEOs want to try to find an American worker first, then fine, right? When they prove there is not an American who can do the job, then they can go overseas.

TUCKER: And you have just stepped right into the biggest myth of this program, Christine, which is it doesn't -- it's not a requirement. All you have to say is you want to hire this H-1B worker. There's no requirement that you have gone out and...

ROMANS: This H-1B worker at $12,000, on average, less than what the American worker costs.

TUCKER: Right. So, I can't imagine why they would want to do that.

ROMANS: I can't imagine either, Bill.

All right, thanks, Bill Tucker.

Well, that brings us to the subject of tonight's poll. Do you believe American companies are telling the truth when they claim there's a lack of qualified talent in the U.S. for the high-tech industry, yes or no? Cast your votes at We will bring you the results later in the broadcast.

Coming up, a new crackdown on employers of illegal aliens. We will have a report and a debate on that issue.

We will hear from presidential candidate Mitt Romney, why he thinks he should be president.

And a political career in ruins. We will hear new audiotapes of Senator Craig's police interrogation.

Stay with us.


ROMANS: The federal government tonight is confirming what most of you already know firsthand. This spring and summer was terrible for air travelers. And aviation experts say airline delays are expected to extend into the fall. Nearly a quarter of all flights were delayed the first six months of this year.

The federal government is cracking down on employers who hire illegal aliens. Beginning next week, employers will receive letters warning them to make sure workers have valid Social Security numbers.

As Jeanne Meserve reports, several pro-amnesty groups are vowing to fight the new measure -- Jeanne. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Christine, a coalition of labor and immigrants' rights groups accuses the Department of Homeland Security of trying to hijack the Social Security system for improper immigration enforcement and is going to court to try to stop it.

For years, the Social Security Administration has sent out what are called no-match letters, telling employers when a worker's name and Social Security number do not match government records.

The letters are often ignored, but, starting next week, enclosed with them, a letter from the Department of Homeland Security, which says, in part, "If you elect to disregard the notice and if it is determined that some employees were not authorized to work, the Department of Homeland Security could determine that you have violated the law by knowingly to continuing to employ unauthorized persons. This could lead to civil and criminal actions."

Employers have 90 days to clear up discrepancies. If they can't, they have to fire the employees or face possible charges. The first letters go out next week. By mid-November, 140,000 will be sent. The groups filing the lawsuit say Social Security databases are notoriously incomplete and inaccurate and that the new rules will cause massive discrimination against anyone who looks or sounds foreign.

But DHS says jobs are the magnet that draws illegal immigrants across the border. A spokesman says the case has no merit and will be fought vigorously -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Jeanne Meserve.

Thanks, Jeanne.

For more on the DHS workplace crackdown, I'm joined by constitutional law professor, Chris Kobach.

He joins me now from Kansas City, Missouri

And in Los Angeles, the president and general counsel of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, John Trasvina. MALDEF is one of the biggest Mexican-American organizations in the country.

Gentlemen, thank you both for joining me tonight.



ROMANS: I want to start with you first, Chris, and talk about what you think are the plusses of this program.

As Jeanne Meserve just reported, for years employers have gotten letters saying you know, hey, you have a mismatch here and employers have just ignored them. Now DHS is saying ignore at your peril.

KOBACH: Yes. Well, this is a great step forward if we want to take seriously our immigration enforcement. You know, people were surprised after 9/11 that one law enforcement part of the government wasn't talking to the CIA or wasn't talking to another branch of the FBI.

Here you have a similar problem. For years, the U.S. government's Social Security Administration wasn't talking to DHS and telling them about the eight million no matches every year, most of which are unauthorized aliens.

Now they're finally talking on to each other and sending letters out to the employers, saying, hey, we're possibly going to be possibly prosecuting -- and it is a crime to knowingly hire or to continue to employ an unauthorized alien.

So I think it's something that's been a long time coming. This should have happened years ago.

ROMANS: John Trasvina, what's wrong with making sure that an employer has a worker who has a name that matches a Social Security number?

TRASVINA: What's wrong is that the databases being used by the government are notoriously inaccurate and out of date. So it's easy to say, oh, let's leave it up to the computer. But what's going to happen is particularly small businesses, the ones who don't have any lobbyists in Washington, small businesses are going to get these letters and they're going to freak out.

Instead of having a safe harbor, there's a fail safe. We expect a lot of firings of individuals because of their Spanish surname and because of their...

ROMANS: But it's not about...

TRASVINA: ...because of problems in the records.

ROMANS: ...what the name is, though, if I -- and I've read this. And as far as -- and I'm almost sure of this, John, that this is a Social Security number. And DHS says there's nothing more colorblind than a nine numeral number. There's no name. There's no accent and there's no look to a number.

TRASVINA: No. The no match is between the name and the number. So there is clearly -- it's clearly going to have discriminatory impact against workers who come from another country who are legally here. I'm talking about legally authorized workers. I'm not talking about illegal workers.

KOBACH: Correct.

TRASVINA: Legally authorized workers will be fired because employers are not going to rely on this SSA or this Department of Homeland Security letter. They know that the administration knows what a better policy is, which is comprehensive immigration reform. The administration failed to get even their own Republicans in the Senate to support that. So they're -- now they're going after something that is less accurate and less able to enforce the law.

KOBACH: There's actually some -- the GAO recently issued a report on this. It is true that there are some errors in the database. But they are a very tiny, tiny percentage of the total database. And what's also true, which the GAO recognized, is that when there's a problem and the person is a U.S. citizen or the person is a lawfully present alien, there's usually -- that discrepancy is usually resolved in a matter of hours or just a couple of days.

ROMANS: Well, DHS is giving 90 days.

KOBACH: Right. Which is plenty of time.

ROMANS: If you get this letter, they're giving you 90 days to work it out.


ROMANS: and they're not also openly saying you have to fire the worker.

KOBACH: That's correct.

TRASVINA: No, they are very clearly saying that. They're saying that because they're not giving the employer any relief.


TRASVINA: I've been on the inside the government on this...


TRASVINA: ...trying to negotiate between Social Security and Justice. Chris and I were both at the Justice Department in the past and INS.

It is a very difficult process. It -- we've known for 20 years it leads to discrimination when employers don't know what to do. These rules from the Department of Homeland Security just don't give employers comfort or any kind of guidance. So when left up to their own devices, they're going to say...

ROMANS: But, John, if these...

TRASVINA: ...I'm just going to fire the worker.

ROMANS: ...if these employers are begging for labor, why would they fire a worker?

I mean, what I'm hearing is that workers -- that employers are saying that they don't have enough labor in this country. I would be surprised that they would just -- they would just fire people because of the way they look or their name if they are so -- are so desperate for labor.

KOBACH: And there...

TRASVINA: Look, Chris, this was tried 10 years ago with Operation Vanguard in Nebraska.

ROMANS: Right.

TRASVINA: And it totally disrupted the meatpacking industry so much so that it had to stop. We are going to see the same thing happen in the few months.

What we really need is for Congress and the president to get back together, pass immigration laws so that we will have visas for the people to work here legally.

KOBACH: Right. But you notice that John is asking for the portion that he wants of comprehensive reform, which is some sort of amnesty for people. But if you really take enforcement seriously, this is the easiest way forward in terms of enforcement. We have a virtual road map of unauthorized aliens illegally working in the United States included in the various no matches.

Now, he's right, there are some no matches that are not unauthorized aliens, but that's a very small percentage.

So, to not have the federal government act and this information is madness. If we really take our immigration laws seriously, we should follow up. Now -- and, by the way, these letters don't say you are going to be criminally prosecuted.

ROMANS: Right.

KOBACH: They don't say that at all. They just say it is a crime, you might want to get this sorted out.

ROMANS: Chris, let me ask you something here. And I want both of you to jump on this, because there is also, perhaps, the unintended consequence of employers working off the books then -- completely having labor forces that are off the books. There's also -- you know, there was a raid recently of a poultry plant, I think, where 24 or 25 out of 29 people arrested had stolen American citizens' identities. If it's a stolen identity, I don't think it's going to -- it's going to come up as a no match.

KOBACH: That's most likely true. If -- a completely stolen identity, if the person has the correct name of the person whose Social Security number is gone, then it's not going to come up as a no match.

ROMANS: Right.

KOBACH: that's right.

KOBACH: But in terms of... TRASVINA: And as we saw, unlike in the H-1B context, where you say the H-1B workers work for less money, if we saw some tougher enforcement on overtime, on minimum wage, the types of laws that protect all workers -- U.S. citizen workers as well as immigrant workers, we'd see a lot of change among employers, as well.

There are a lot of different things that can be done. This one is relying on bad data and inaccurate data. And when employers don't have that kind of guidance from the federal government, they're left to their own devices. A lot of them will be firing workers.

ROMANS: John, let me ask you just quickly, how do you protect all workers?

Because there's concerns about the legal worker visa programs, that people are exploited. There are numerous lawsuits to that extent, that people get a visa and come here legally and they're exploited, that illegal workers are exploited.

How do you -- how do you make sure, unless you sort of go in and start to, you know, start to enforce the laws in the workplace?

TRASVINA: Well, you do that without having to do it this way. You do it by enforcing the minimum wage. You do it by enforcing other laws and not shielding those employers. The situation -- the worst situation is when an employer who is doing it right gets undercut by an employer who is exploiting other workers. And that's what -- you can do that by toughening up on wage and hour enforcement.

KOBACH: Can I add one last thing?



KOBACH: You know, this lawsuit that the AFL-CIO and the ACLU have filed, you know, I've read through the complaint. It's a real stretch. They don't have a strong leg to stand on here. They're trying to claim the federal government doesn't have the authority to issue these regs, but there is a clear statute that says the federal government, if it wants to issue regs -- regulations to share this information between the Social Security Administration and a law enforcement agency, like ICE, that's they can do it. And that's what -- that's what they've done. And, you know, the American public has been asking for stronger enforcement and this is one of the best ways to move forward with enforcement.

ROMANS: All right, Kris Kobach, we have to leave it there.

John Trasvina.

Thank you so much for joining me, gentlemen.

TRASVINA: Thank you.

KOBACH: Thank you. ROMANS: I'm sure we will revisit this issue.

We appreciate both of your comments here tonight.

Thank you.

Up next, audio tapes of Senator Larry Craig's interrogation after his arrest are now released. We'll hear what the senator had to say.

And a campaign scandal for Senator Hillary Clinton -- why she had to return thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.

And Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney talks about his campaign and the possibility there may be new Republican candidate.


ROMANS: More trouble for the sex sting senator, Idaho Republican Larry Craig. The audio of his interrogation by a police officer after his arrest surfaced today.

The whole conversation is very uncomfortable and some of the words may be hard to understand.

The first voice you hear is the police officer.


DAVE KARSNIA, INVESTIGATIVE SERGEANT: I know you're not going to fight me, but that's not the point. I would respect you. And I still respect you. I don't disrespect you. But I'm disrespected right now.

And I'm not tying to act like I have all kinds of power or anything, but you're sitting here lying to a police officer.


KARSNIA: That is not a (INAUDIBLE) I'm getting from somebody else. I'm...


KARSNIA: I have been trained in this.


KARSNIA: I have been trained in this, and I know what I am doing.


KARSNIA: And I saw you put your hand under there. And you're going to sit there and...

CRAIG: I admit I put my hand down.

KARSNIA: You put your hand and rubbed it on the bottom of the stall with your left hand.

CRAIG: No. Wait a moment.

KARSNIA: And I'm -- I'm not dumb. You can say, I don't recall... (CROSSTALK)

CRAIG: If I had turned sideways, that was the only way I could get my left hand over there.

KARSNIA: It's not that hard for you to reach...


KARSNIA: It's not that hard. I see it happen every day out here now.


You do?

KARSNIA: I'm just -- I'm just...

CRAIG: All right.

KARSNIA: I guess -- I guess I'm going to say I'm just disappointed in you, sir. I just really am. I expect this from the guy that we get out of the hood. But, I mean -- I mean, people vote for you.

CRAIG: Yes, they do.


KARSNIA: Unbelievable. Unbelievable.

CRAIG: And I'm a respectable person. And I don't do these kinds of...


KARSNIA: ... Respect right now, though.

CRAIG: But I didn't use my left hand.

KARSNIA: I saw...


CRAIG: I reached down with my right hand like this to pick up a piece of paper.

KARSNIA: Was your gold ring on your right hand at any time today?

CRAIG: Of course not. Try to get it off. Look at it.

KARSNIA: OK. Then it was your left hand. I saw it with my own eyes.

CRAIG: All right, you saw something that didn't happen.


ROMANS: Today, more Republican lawmakers called on Senator Craig to resign, even before the tapes were released. The conservative Republican and three-term senator has become increasingly isolated since his arrest in an airport men's room became public.

The 62-year-old Senator is also feeling the pressure in Idaho.

Dana Bash reports from Boise.



DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Idaho's governor is among the friends at home who aren't publicly pushing Senator Larry Craig to resign, but it sure sounds like he expects him to go.

GOV. BUTCH OTTER (R), IDAHO: You never really un-ring the bell. And the bell has been rung. And so, as we go forward, I suspect there's going to have to be additional consideration by Larry and his family on where exactly they're going.

BASH: Governor Butch Otter is one of the few people known to have spoken with Craig about his crisis. He concedes to CNN that pressure from Republicans in Washington, losing his top spot on committees, hurts -- a lot.

OTTER: The ranking member is very important to this.

BASH (on camera): It strips him of a lot of influence that helps the State of Idaho.

OTTER: That's right.

BASH: Isn't that problematic for people?

OTTER: I'm sure -- well, it's -- of course it's problematic. And I'm sure Larry is going to -- Larry and his family are going to take those things into consideration.

BASH (voice over): A new poll here shows 55 percent of Idahoans want Craig to resign. Stop by Goldie's Diner in Boise and you hear it loud and clear.

GRETCHEN HECHT, BOISE RESIDENT: I think he absolutely should resign. We don't need dishonest -- dishonest politicians.

PATI MEYER, BOISE RESIDENT: He does think he's above the law and he needs to resign. And he needs to fess up and step aside.

BASH: "The Idaho Statesman" enthusiastically endorsed Craig last time he ran for Senate. Now they're calling for him to step down: "Craig seems more interested in hunkering down, operating from a defensive state of denial. This is his prerogative, but he should not compromise Idaho interests in the process," the editorial said.

But people who've worked for him say Craig is known to be defiant.

GREG SMITH, POLLSTER, FORMER CRAIG STAFFER: If there's nothing to hide, then, in fact, he will remain defiant until the critical mass...

BASH: Does Craig's good friend, the governor, think he can survive?

OTTER: I'm not going to go there.


BASH: He's not going to go there. But if, in fact, Senator Craig does resign, it would be the governor who would have to find a replacement for the senator.

I asked the governor if he is at least quietly thinking of who he might put in Senator Craig's place if he had to. He responded: "I don't have to think about that because we get their phone calls"

ROMANS: Dana, with the release of these tapes now, I mean it's remarkable to hear a sitting senator being read his Miranda rights over a bathroom sting.

Is this playing out there -- I mean is his support eroding even further after these tapes?

BASH: You know, it's hard to imagine that it won't. You know, people will likely look at this and see whether or not this will give them any kind of insight into whether the senator was guilty or was innocent.

But the reality is -- the political reality is that this is going to provide a major fodder for the blogs, for the Internet, and will essentially play into what national Republicans and Republicans here are so upset about, which is that this is the last thing that they need.

They need -- they don't need something that is embarrassing. They don't need another scandal. And this audio tape fuels that very thing. And especially when you talk to Republicans, and even Democrats here in Idaho, they just think this is embarrassing.

Hearing that kind of detail about their senator from their senator about what went on in the bathroom is certainly going to add to that -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right.

Dana Bash in Boise.

Thank you, Dana.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton is returning money from a fundraiser who is also a fugitive from the law. The Clinton campaign says it returned $23,000 in donations from Norman Hsu.

Hsu pleaded guilty to grand theft charges in California about 15 years ago. But Hsu did not appear in court.

The Clinton campaign says it gave the $23,000 to charity.

Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama, also received money from Norman Hsu. His campaign says it will also return that money to charity.

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney's campaign is gaining momentum. Romney is pulling ahead in two very important states, Iowa and New Hampshire. Recently, he's taken on frontrunner Rudy Giuliani on several important issues, including illegal immigration.

John King spoke with Romney earlier today.

John joins us now from Charleston, South Carolina -- John.

JOHN KING, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, and South Carolina is a state where Mitt Romney is trying to build. You mentioned he's ahead in Iowa, ahead in New Hampshire. He's focusing now more and more on this conservative state, the gateway to the South when it comes to Republican primaries. And one of his ways of doing that is appealing for conservative support by saying that Rudy Giuliani, when he was mayor, allowed New York to be a haven for illegal immigrants so Republican voters should not believe him now.

That is one conservative appeal from Mitt Romney. Another is to try to prove his credentials as the potential commander-in-chief by saying the American people need to support the president and support the troop surge underway in Iraq, although Mitt Romney makes an important point. He says the president could do a better job communicating to the American people, saying that support for the troop increase now and for the short-term would ultimately be the best way to get American troops home.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If there's a change in perspective, we've got to get out there and talk about it honestly, openly -- the good, the bad, the ugly -- and then lay out a course for the American people that show that we're not going to be in the surge forever, that at some stage we're going to move to a support role and ultimately in a standby role and we'll get our troops out of Iraq.


KING: In our conversation today, the former Massachusetts governor saying he is convinced he can persuade social conservatives that his conversion on the abortion issue -- he once favored abortion rights, now says he does not favor abortion rights.

Governor Romney says he is convinced he can persuade social conservatives that is a heartfelt conversion, not a political calculation.

He also said, Christiane, that he has given $8 million to his own campaign so far, that helping to finance his TV advertising, much more aggressive TV advertising than the other Republican candidates so far. He wouldn't say, when I asked him, how much he was willing to give. He said that's a closely held secret in the Romney campaign.

He, of all the candidates, Christiane, because of his summer momentum, perhaps most closely watching the candidate we will get in the race one week from today, the former senator from Tennessee, Fred Thompson.

ROMANS: And, John, what is the news on that from the Thompson campaign today?

KING: There is a Republican debate in New Hampshire next Wednesday night. Senator Thompson will not be there. But at midnight, 12:01 a.m. next Thursday, September 6th, we are told he will put an announcement video on his Web site, I'm With, and then he will go on a five state traditional campaign opening swing, going to New Hampshire -- Iowa first, then New Hampshire, then here in South Carolina. He will add stops in Florida, as well.

And then on the 15th of September, a homecoming rally for Senator Thompson in his hometown of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.

So after all of this waiting throughout the summer, Christiane, one week from today, we are told, the senator will finally make it official.

ROMANS: John, who knew Fred Thompson was considering running for president?

KING: who knew, Christiane?

Who knew?

ROMANS: All right...

KING: The summer's best kept secret.

ROMANS: Exactly.

John King.

Thanks so much, John.

KING: Thank you.

ROMANS: A reminder now to vote in tonight's poll.

Do you believe that American companies are telling the truth when they claim there's a lack of talent for the high tech industry, yes or no?

Cast your vote at

We'll bring you the results in just a few minutes.

Up next, a new report finds the U.S. is not meeting its goals in Iraq. We'll talk to one of the country's most respected former military commanders, General David Grange.


ROMANS: Coming up at the top of the hour, "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Christine.

It's a tape that a lot of people have been anxious to hear. We've heard some of it.

We're going to have more of it. That would be the tape of Senator Larry Craig minutes after a police officer busted him in a men's bathroom. It's revealing. It's heated. At one point, the police officer accusing the senator of lying.

We also have some other audio of Senator Craig defending himself against what he suggests has become a media witch-hunt against him.

All that coming up at the top of the hour.

And Republican candidates, with the exception of one, are saying adios to a debate on the Spanish language TV network, Univision.

Is it a slap toward Latinos?

And the FBI is circulate an e-mail to help businesses protect themselves against bomb threats meant to extort money from them.

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

ROMANS: All right, Wolf Blitzer.

We won't miss it.

According to published reports, a GAO investigation shows the Iraqi government has failed to meet most of the benchmarks laid out by Congress to assess progress in Iraq.

Joining us now with his perspective on this, one of the nation's most respected former military commanders, General David Grange.

General, welcome to the program.


ROMANS: OK, so "The Washington Post" reporting that this GAO report is going to show that 15 of these political and military benchmarks have not been met, including questions about whether the surge is even doing enough to stop civilian violence. While the Baghdad security plan, according to the draft, was intended to reduce sectarian violence, U.S. agencies differ on whether such violence has been reduced.

My question to you is the surge working if U.S. casualties are down, but civilian deaths are not?

GRANGE: Well, I believe that the sectarian violence is down. Civilian deaths are not down. And if you're an Iraqi, you would probably say if it happened in your neighborhood, that it's not working.

But I think around the countryside, it is working so much because they're attacking civilians because they can. And they still want to this show that they have influence in the outcome of this conflict.

ROMANS: What's the significance of this GAO report?

You know, it's a draft, at this point, according to "The Washington Post".

What is the significance of this one?

GRANGE: Well, it's going to be one of, I think, several. I think that you have to look at a multitude of reports in order to make an informed decision and get different perspectives. I think that's actually healthy. I think the final report may be a little bit different than what "The Washington Post" has right now. But I think I think it will be just one of several.

ROMANS: How long can our military do its job and continue its mission in Iraq without the badly needed political and economic reform that report after report have been saying are simply not coming?

GRANGE: Well, the military just provides conditions so a political process, a political reconciliation, can have a chance of working. I think that if the Iraqi government, those leaders, the elected leaders, do not produce something into, let's say, the spring of '08, I think the patience is truly going to run out. It's not going to be mid-September, it's going to be more into '08.

And the Iraqi people, if they don't see some of the quality of life improvements of economic reform and promises, they're not going to have the patience either.

ROMANS: Meanwhile, I'm looking for your insight into something that happened this week that was, you know, really an interesting, strange situation where you had eight Iranians detained by the U.S. Later we're told that it was -- it was a mistake. It should never have happened.

But these pictures of these men, two of them diplomats, being led away in handcuffs, what's happening there?

And as a military man, I mean, what do you think went wrong?

GRANGE: Well, I believe that it was obviously a mistake. I don't think it will make much a difference. Apologies will be made. The forces that captured and detained these individuals did it on intelligence that they believed was plausible. It's proven that it was inaccurate, which most intelligence is. And so I think it will just pass by.

ROMANS: All right, General David Grange, thank you so much for joining us tonight, sir.

GRANGE: My pleasure.

ROMANS: Still ahead, the results of tonight's poll and more of your thoughts.

Stay with us.


ROMANS: And now the results of tonight's poll -- 95 percent of you do not believe American companies are telling the truth when they claim there's a lack of qualified talent in the U.S. for the high tech industry.

Time now for some of your thoughts.

Rose in Connecticut: "I really think that it's time for another Tea Party. However, this time it will not be tea tossed into the sea, it will be undesired, cheap Chinese imports. Get this Mr. President -- America does not want cheap, unsafe goods."

Robert in Washington: "I think it's about time we recall our Washington officials."

Ben in Oklahoma: "Large Mexican trucks to travel all over the U.S. -- they tell us this was done to save consumers money. It seems like we heard that, before. Hello NAFTA. Trade with China."

Ben, you're absolutely right. This is a part of NAFTA. It's been delayed over and over again by Congress. But this administration is using administrative tools to try to push that through.

Each of you whose e-mail is read here will receive a copy of Joseph Califano's book, "High Society".

We love hearing from you.

Send us your thoughts at

Thanks for being with us tonight.

Please join us again tomorrow. For all of us here, thanks for watching.

Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" starts right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.