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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Lawmakers Call for Release of Ramos, Compean; Chavez, Ahmadinejad Threaten United States

Aired November 19, 2007 - 19:00   ET


Federal lawmakers today calling for the release of former Border patrol agents Ramos and Compean, the appeal comes just days after the arrest of Osvaldo Aldrete Davila on federal drug charges. Aldrete Davila is the illegal alien drug smuggler who was shot by the agents and was granted immunity by the government to testify against them.

Also two anti American members of OPEC, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with new threats against the United States. We'll have that story.

And communist China, cracking down on U.S. companies doing business there while protecting its own industry -- all that, all the day's news, much more, straight ahead tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Monday, November 19. Live from New York, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Kitty Pilgrim.

PILGRIM: Good evening everybody.

Two leading Democratic presidential contenders are trading punches on the campaign trail. It sounds personal. Senator Hillary Clinton calling Barack Obama inexperienced on economic and foreign policy matters. Obama firing back that Clinton is a Washington insider with the same old Washington ideas and there are new charges of mudslinging and denial.

Jessica Yellin has our report from Washington -- Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kitty, the race is getting tighter. A brand new "Washington Post/ABC News" poll out tonight shows that Hillary Clinton's support has slipped in the all important state of Iowa. Now, she, Barack Obama and John Edwards are running neck and neck there and win for Obama or Edwards here would be a body blow to the Clinton campaign, so Clinton is intensifying her effort to set herself apart from her rivals; her latest focus, the economy.


YELLIN (voice-over): Hillary Clinton says the economy is in trouble and no rookie can fix it. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One job that we can't afford on the job training for, that is the job of our next president. That could be the costliest job training in history.

YELLIN: But guess who does have the know how to hit the ground running, at least according to Clinton.

H. CLINTON: We need a president who understands the magnitude and complexity of the challenges we face and has the strength and experience to address them from day one.

YELLIN: She didn't name names, but it's meant as a broadside against her leading Democratic opponent Barack Obama who she previously suggested needs on the job training on foreign policy matters. Obama hit back fast.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My understanding was that she wasn't Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration.

YELLIN: And argued that Clinton's experience isn't the kind that will bring about change.

OBAMA: Her general notion of experience based on longevity in Washington I don't think is sufficient to make the case to the voters of Iowa or the American people.

YELLIN: The two were in Iowa vying for support where the first in the nation nominating contest is just over six weeks away. While Clinton leads in national polls, she's in a statistical dead heat with Obama and Edwards in the state and all sides are looking for every possible advantage.

John Edwards released a statement, turning Clinton's boast about Washington experience on its head, saying "I believe if you defend the system in Washington as Senator Clinton does, you're for the status quo."


YELLIN: And the Obama campaign says Clinton's critical new tone means she's panicked that the race is getting so tight. The Clinton camp says she's simply reminding voters of her track record -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Jessica, there were reports of damaging information against Senator Obama that the Clinton campaign was about to release. What's happening with that?

YELLIN: This had to do with an article that conservative columnist Bob Novak wrote over the weekend. He claimed that so-called agents for Hillary Clinton had scandalous information about Obama. Well Novak had no sources, no specifics, no details whatsoever. So Obama's campaign pounced. They warned the Clinton campaign against engaging in what they called slime politics and Obama told reporters he won't be swift-boated. Well that had Clinton's campaign shaking its collective head. They say they have no idea what Novak is talking about and claim that Obama is falling for Republican talking points. Bottom line, it is a fight over a hypothetical scandal -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks for clearing that up -- Jessica Yellin. Thank you Jessica.

Barack Obama today went way back in his life to flaunt his foreign policy experience. He wasn't kidding when he told the campaign audience in Iowa about how living in Indonesia as a young child gave him more foreign policy credentials than any other presidential candidate.


OBAMA: Probably the strong experience that I have in foreign relations is the fact that I spent four years living overseas when I was a child in Asia, in Southeast Asia.


PILGRIM: Now Obama added that his childhood experience makes him different from other presidential candidates whose views on foreign policy are mostly based on fact-finding missions where children perform quote, "native dances". The Clinton campaign responded to Obama's comments saying the senator has traveled the globe as first lady, met with world leaders, and went to Beijing and stood up to the Chinese calling that real life experience.

Well it is not just Democrats are infighting. The Republicans are at it too. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani have been trading charges on leading issues like illegal immigration. And for Romney it appears to be working. A new CNN WMUR poll, it shows a widening lead for him in New Hampshire. Romney has gained ground mostly at the expense of Giuliani. We will have more polls a little bit later and our senior political analyst Bill Schneider will join us a little bit later here.

Now a new endorsement for Senator John McCain's bid for the White House. Tom Kean, co-chairman of the September 11 Commission and former New Jersey governor today applauded the senator's stand on national security.


TOM KEAN, 9/11 COMM. CO-CHAIR: Nobody in my mind has done anything more to keep the American people safer than John McCain. John McCain was the one got the 9/11 Commission going. John McCain was the one who supported our recommendations. He took on everybody from leaders of his own party to the White House itself.


PILGRIM: Senator McCain will make his seventh trip to Iraq to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with our troops.

In Iraq a road side bomb killed three U.S. soldiers, three Iraqi children in Baquba, north of Baghdad on Sunday. The children were gathered around American troops who were handing out toys. And in Baghdad at least nine Iraqis were killed yesterday when a roadside bomb exploded as a government convoy drove past. Mortar rounds were also fired at the Iraqi military academy. There are no reports of casualties in that attack.

A total of five U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq since Friday; 28 of our troops have been killed so far this month; 3,872 of our troops have been killed since the war began; 28,489 of our troops have been wounded; 12,754 of them seriously.

Pakistan's President Musharraf continues to tighten his control over the country. His hand-picked Supreme Court today dismissed challenges to Musharraf's continued rule and the crisis there has led to U.S. concerns over Pakistan's nuclear weapons stock pile, especially at the Pentagon.

Jamie McIntyre reports.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pentagon sources tell CNN the United States does have contingency plans to intervene if it believes any of Pakistan's nuclear weapons are in danger of falling into the hands of terrorists or extremists. Unlike the U.S., Pakistan doesn't rely on sophisticated electronic safeguards and access codes to secure its stock pile of 50 to 100 nukes. Instead, Pakistan's military keeps the key component separate; the war heads stored in one secret bunker; the fissile core or trigger in another.

ADM. MIKE MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: I don't see any indication right now that security of those weapons is in jeopardy. But clearly we are very watchful, as we should be.

MCINTYRE (on camera): Is that the nightmare scenario, I mean is that the worst case scenario?

(voice-over): What the U.S. is watching for is what worries experts like David Albright, a former nuclear arms inspector. What if the Pakistani military loses its grip on power and control over the nuclear arsenal?

DAVID ALBRIGHT, INST. FOR SCI. AND INT'L SECURITY: The safety and security controls on Pakistani nuclear weapons are not that sophisticated. So unlike Russian weapons, which a terrorist group would very unlikely be able to get to work, a Pakistani nuclear weapon may very well be workable by a terrorist.

MCINTYRE: But the very secrecy of Pakistan relies on to protect its arsenal is the biggest obstacle for success for the highly classified plans for U.S. commandos to secure or seize any loose nukes. Simply put, the Pentagon doesn't know for certain exactly where the components are.

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: We can't send our nest teams or our 82nd Airborne in to go seize those weapons. We don't know where they are and if we tried, we would be overwhelmed by the Pakistan forces resisting us. It's too late at that point to try to get the nukes out.

MCINTYRE: At the Pentagon, they like to say they have a plan for everything. But having a plan and implementing it are two different things. And launching a commando raid in Pakistan to snatch that country's nuclear weapons without the help of the Pakistani military would be darn near mission impossible.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


PILGRIM: The president's top adviser on fighting terrorism is quitting her job. Homeland security adviser Fran Townsend leaving after more than three years and one of the most critical and high profile jobs inside the White House. Today Townsend committed on the fact that more than six years later the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, is still on the loose.


FRAN TOWNSEND, HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: We have devoted incredibly resources of all dimension, military and intelligence, all forms of intelligence, human, signals intelligence, so this is a tremendous priority. The president gets briefed every week on the hunt for bin Laden. We are definitely closer and we get closer every day.


PILGRIM: Townsend is part of the search committee to find her replacement by the beginning of next year.

And still to come, the drug smuggler shot by Ramos and Compean is arrested on drug charges, prompting new calls for the agents' immediate release from prison. Bill Tucker will have that story -- Bill.

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kitty, home for Thanksgiving is a rallying cry now that the man who helped convict them is behind bars. We'll have the story coming up -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks Bill.

Also Congress wants to hold foreign manufacturers responsible for unsafe products sent to the United States. We'll have a report on that.

And Congressman Vito Fossella sponsors a bill to keep funds from states that issue drivers' licenses to illegal aliens. He'll join me here.

Stay with us.


PILGRIM: The pressure is growing tonight on President Bush to pardon imprisoned former Border patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. Now the two men have served nearly a year in solitary confinement as part of a lengthy prison term for shooting an illegal alien armed drug smuggler who was given immunity to testify against them. As Bill Tucker reports, the drug smuggler's arrest last Thursday on federal drug charges is revitalizing the push to free the two Border patrol agents.


TUCKER (voice-over): Members of Congress are renewing their efforts to free jailed Border patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. This comes after last week's arrest of admitted drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete Davila, an illegal alien charged with conspiring to possess and distribute marijuana in September and October of 2005, four months before he testified against the agents under a grant of immunity.

Congressman and Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter personally delivered his letter to President Bush saying quote, "Mr. President, if ever a case merited a presidential pardon, this is the one. The government asserted that Aldrete was giving honest testimony, even when the U.S. knew he was back in the drug-running business. Thanksgiving is only a few days away. It would be the perfect time to return Compean and Ramos to their families."

The jury that convicted the agents was never told of Davila's arrest or history as a known drug smuggler. North Carolina Republican Congressman Walter Jones this week wrote to Attorney General Mukasey, requesting a full review of the case in light of Davila's arrest.

He says quote, "If the recent indictment's allegations against Aldrete are proven accurate, it is reasonable to presume that aspects of his testimony may have been knowingly false and perjured." He goes on to say, "Because a conviction based on perjured testimony violates fundamental notions of due process, a perjury charge against Aldrete would clearly indicate that the agents deserve a new trial."


TUCKER: Now Ramos and Compean are currently scheduled to appeal their conviction in two weeks on December 3 before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The agents were convicted of shooting what the prosecution said was an unarmed drug smuggler who was only running drugs to help raise money for his ailing mother and then Kitty they failed to report that shooting.

PILGRIM: Bill, this is a renewed push to free these two Border patrol agents, isn't it? I mean there was a very strong attempt earlier.

TUCKER: There was a petition that was signed by more than 100 congressmen. There has been an online petition that's been on the Web for awhile, (INAUDIBLE) has about 400,000 signatures on that petition. That's been given to the president. There was another separate letter signed by 31 different conservative groups, religious right groups, as well as security groups who also urge the president to reconsider this and say look in light of this, now knowing what we know publicly...


TUCKER: ... what was known privately back then by the prosecutor, we need to re-look at this case. We need to reconsider what happened to...

PILGRIM: Now that all of this is public, the American public is finding out everything about this case, things that have not been reported previously. Is this about to happen? It seems (INAUDIBLE) it is very compelling evidence to push towards a pardon.

TUCKER: I don't know. There are some people who think that commuting the sentence is possible because they've served a year. He could -- the president could maybe pay a little debt to the conservatives and sort of buy some time with them. Others are still pushing for a pardon. And I do have to say there's a big difference between commuting a sentence and pardoning someone.

PILGRIM: That's right.

TUCKER: I mean he commuted "Scooter" Libby's conviction. You know he is a member of an elite crowd. I don't think that guy is ever going to hurt for money or a job. These men were convicted and have served time for felonies. The pardon was to wipe the slate a little bit clean for these men.

PILGRIM: They have already paid a heavy, heavy price.

TUCKER: They have paid a huge price. These are men with families. They paid the price and their families have paid the price and in the end, these were men who were doing their job, a job we hired them to do.

PILGRIM: That's exactly right. Thanks very much, Bill Tucker and we'll be following this very, very closely.

That brings us to the subject of tonight's poll. In light of new evidence, do you believe President Bush should immediately pardon former Border patrol agents Ramos and Compean so they can return home for Thanksgiving. Yes or no. Cast your vote at We'll bring you the results a little bit later in the broadcast.

Well President Bush won't pardon former border patrol agents Ignacio Ramos, Compean yet but he does plan to pardon a Thanksgiving turkey. Now the pardoning of a turkey is a long-standing tradition at the White House. President Bush performs the 60th annual pardoning of the turkey tomorrow at the White House tomorrow.

Time for some of your thoughts; Will in Florida wrote to us.

"I'm posting this on every message board I can. I urge your viewers to do the same. Lou Dobbs rules. Register independent and make them earn you back. Keep up the good work, Lou, and thanks for sticking up for the middle class. You're the only one." John and Gillian in New York wrote, "Two more Democrats bite the dust and like two phoenix rise independents from the ashes. We changed our affiliation today."

And Robert in Wisconsin writes, "It is ever amazing that another White House official has resigned. Maybe they no longer wish to be part of a failing system and clouded scandals. Independents unite."

We will have more of your e-mails later in the broadcast. And each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of Lou's new book, "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit."

Still ahead, the presidents of Venezuela and Iran hurl new threats at the U.S. economy. We will have a special report.

And also up next, is Congress finally doing something about those dangerous imports? We'll have those stories and more when we come back.

Stay with us.


PILGRIM: K-mart is removing all costume jewelry it advertises lead-free and it is removing it from its shelves because it contains high levels of lead. K-mart is recalling matching earrings and necklaces carrying the accessories brand. Now K-mart insists the jewelry is safe but it wants to avoid what it calls customer confusion. The company also says the accessories are marketed towards adults, not children. Lead of course is highly dangerous for children. Mattel, the largest toy brand, has recalled more than a million toys that are covered in lead paint.

Well after millions and millions of product recalls, Congress finally may be finally taking some action to protect the American consumer from dangerous imports. A House judiciary committee recently held a hearing on how to make foreign manufacturers accountable for producing hazardous products.

Lisa Sylvester has our report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thirteen million toys made overseas have been recalled in the past two months, the bulk of them made in China like the Aqua Dots toys. When ingested its glue acts like a drug similar to the date rape drug that renders people incapacitated. House lawmakers want to hold these foreign manufacturers accountable.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D), CALIFORNIA: And when you take a look at parents all over the country thinking about what with Christmas coming up whether they're going to injure their children by their Christmas gifts it is just a horrendous situation.

SYLVESTER: Foreign companies that make dangerous toys often get off scot-free. That's because it is hard for consumers to sue them when something goes wrong. Legal barriers include establishing domestic jurisdiction over a foreign factory, providing notification of a lawsuit, and collecting and enforcing a court's judgment.

PAMELA GILBERT, FMR. EXEC. DIRECTOR, CPSC: Accountability is the key to making sure that we provide in this country the right incentives from manufacturers and other companies in the stream of commerce to make and sell safer products.

SYLVESTER: Foreign factories that skirt U.S. safety regulations hurt not only consumers, but also American companies that want to play by the rules.

VICTOR SCHWARTZ, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: So if a company is able to come into the United States and not be subject to liability, it has an advantage of price that is simply unfair competition.

SYLVESTER: The reform group, The American Association for Justice, established by trial lawyers, has proposed closing this accountability gap by requiring foreign companies have an import license with the U.S. point of contact for any potential lawsuits. Foreign manufacturers would have to consent to the jurisdiction of U.S. courts and would have to maintain U.S. product liability insurance, all as a condition for selling products in the United States.

SYLVESTER (on camera): Right now, that's just a proposal, not the law. Foreign factories can sell their toys without being screened when they come through the ports. Most are not being tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They end up in homes and in kids' play rooms. And when something goes wrong, it's very difficult for parents to hold the manufacturers accountable.

Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.


PILGRIM: Well states are also acting on their own to protect consumers against dangerous products. California suing 20 companies including Mattel and Toys 'R' Us for selling toys containing unlawful levels of lead. Now this suit alleges the companies knowingly exposed children to lead and failed to provide warnings of the risk. The warnings are required under California law known as Proposition 65.

Coming up, the latest poll reveals new trends in the Republican presidential primary race in New Hampshire. We will have that and the president of Venezuela and the president of Iran ban together against the United States.


PILGRIM: Venezuela and Iran both attacking the United States at the OPEC meeting in Saudi Arabia. Iran's President Ahmadinejad blaming the United States for the falling dollar and Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, threatening economic repercussions if the United States moves against Iran. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM (voice-over): Venezuela and Iran teaming up against the United States at the latest OPEC meeting. Iran's president, Ahmadinejad, calling the U.S. dollar a worthless piece of paper, saying OPEC country should convert their cash reserves into another currency.

PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (through translator): The price of the U.S. dollar is falling and all the heads of state are unhappy with this. The oil production countries who have put their money revenues in banks are facing depreciations in the value of their oil revenues.

PILGRIM: Iran also attempting to rally support against any potential U.S. military action, finding an ally in Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

PRES. HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELA (through translator): If the United States does the crazy thing of invading Iran or attacking Venezuela again, the barrel of oil is not just going to reach $100 U.S. dollars. It could make it to $200 U.S. dollars.

PILGRIM: The United States imports up to 15 percent of its oil from Venezuela and Chavez has made similar threats before. But analysts say he is bluffing.

PETER BROOKES, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Chavez, in the past, has made some comments that he doesn't have to invade the United States. All he has to do is cut off oil. So this is something that's in his mind.

PILGRIM: Oil prices have risen much faster than the U.S. dollar decline. So OPEC changing out of the dollar exchange is extremely remote. U.S. allies are losing patience with the Venezuelan president. Last week at a summit in Chile, President Chavez railed against the United States and other countries including Spain prompting King Juan Carlos of Spain to tell Mr. Chavez, why don't you just shut up.

Well, another ally of the United States, Saudi Arabia, stood up for U.S. interests at the OPEC summit. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said oil should not become a tool for conflict and emotions.

Former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, says Iran is far from acquiring a nuclear weapon. He believes a U.S. attack against Iran is unlikely. Powell was in Kuwait speaking at a Middle East conference. Powell was Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005. He told the meeting there's no basis support among Americans for such an attack.

China today expressed concern at the weakness of the dollar and its effects on China's foreign currency reserves. The dollar, down today almost $1.47 against the euro. Price of crude oil actually declined today, still at $95 a barrel. The national average price for a gallon of gas, $3.09, an increase of 13 cents over the past two weeks. San Francisco had the highest average price, $3.48 a gallon. A new CNN MWUR poll shows a widening lead for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney among New Hampshire voters. That may be the only good news for republicans there. Bill Schneider has our report.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Where does the republican race stand in New Hampshire? Our new poll shows Mitt Romney still leads. In fact, Romney's support has increased. Only two other republicans earned double digits in New Hampshire, John McCain whose support has been steady and Rudy Giuliani who's been losing strength. The New Hampshire voters demand a lot of attention and they may not feed Giuliani has given them enough. The big shock is Fred Thompson. He is getting nowhere in New Hampshire. He's now fallen behind Ron Paul. New Hampshire republicans are beginning to see a two-man race for the nomination, Romney versus Giuliani. Only 8 percent believe McCain is a likely national winner. That could be holding his numbers down in New Hampshire, a state he has to win.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can win in New Hampshire as I did in 2000.

SCHNEIDER: Here's some more bad news for McCain. McCain has staked his candidacy on the success of President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq.

MCCAIN: I would much rather lose a campaign than lose a war.

SCHNEIDER: New Hampshire republicans think McCain would be the best candidate to handle Iraq but Iraq has declined in importance as an issue among New Hampshire republicans. Growing in importance, illegal immigration. That's Romney's issue along with taxes and the economy.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I think my record to protect legal immigration and prevent illegal immigration stands up with many others in the country.

SCHNEIDER: The issue of terrorism is also important to republicans. But it's an issue McCain has to share with Giuliani.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am used to having the responsibility of other people's safety and security on my shoulders.

SCHNEIDER: From New Hampshire, there's good news for Romney, not such good news for Thompson and McCain and Giuliani, he looks like a big player but not yet in New Hampshire. Bill Schneider, CNN, Los Angeles.

PILGRIM: Well, there's no end tonight to the speculation that our very own Lou Dobbs is considering a run for the white house. It really began picking up steam in the past week. Take a look at what influential conservative columnist Bob Novak wrote. "In the name of long time CNN commentator Lou Dobbs has entered speculation as a possible Independent candidate for president." And John Fund wrote in the "Wall Street Journal, "Lou Dobbs for president? Don't laugh. Dobbs would be a natural fit in this campaign playing the role of anchorman in the 1970s movies Network who bellowed I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." Also, New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg said last week when asked if Lou should run, "Go for it." Well we can tell you that Lou is on what you could call a listening tour in Boston tonight. He's there after a week of canvassing the country. And all that we can only say is that Lou is still undecided. But apparently many Americans have decided already. So take a look at this. A recent AOL poll asked, do you think Dobbs will enter the race? 40% seemed to accept Lou's earlier word that he would not run but 31% said he will enter the race. 29% said they weren't sure. Now take a look at this, when asked if Lou does run, would you vote for him? 56% in an AOL online poll said yes. Our political analysts point out that's 1% more than Dwight D. Eisenhower got in his landslide victory in 2952. In our own LOU DOBBS TONIGHT poll here on Friday, 93% said they would vote for an independent president. Well, Lou will be back from his listening tour tomorrow and we'll see what he has to say so stay tuned on that.

And also still to come, China is taking advantage of our country's weak trade policy to push its own interests and economic wellbeing. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are going further than ever before in their drive to stop giving licenses to illegal aliens. Stay with us.


PILGRIM: It is no longer for illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses in the state of Oregon. The state's governor signed an executive order that requires license applicants to have a valid social security number or show that they're in the United States legally. Now under the orders, state officials must verify the social security numbers. The regular laces were necessary because lax rules were making Oregon a magnet for illegal aliens to illegally obtain a driver's license. Well lawmakers on Capitol Hill are increasingly focusing on the issue of driver's licenses. Newly introduced legislation would limit funds to states that issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens and it would also withhold federal highway funds to states must be in compliance with real I.D. New York representative Vito Fossella is one of the cosponsors of the bill and he joins us now and thank you for being with us. You know let's just bring our viewers up to date. We have quite a few states issuing driver's licenses to illegal aliens, eight states; Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Aren't you outraged at this?

REP. VITO FOSSELLA (R), NEW YORK: I think it's wrong. You know in a post 9/11 world, I think we should err on the side of caution especially when dealing with our national security. The terrorists that flew the planes in the side of the buildings had a number of illegal licenses that they used to circulate freely around the country. The 19 hijackers had an estimated 60 licenses. Had these laws been in effect, we would not have had that event. Some of the statements such as travel documents in the hands of terrorists are like bombs should resonate with the American people. PILGRIM: So your whole point is security, is it?

FOSSELLA: The first and primary responsibility is security. A separate in part from should government be sanctioning illegal behavior of those who come here illegally I think is another. But first and foremost it's about security. In this day and age, I don't think we should be erring on the side of trying to please anybody but highlight the importance of protecting the American people.

PILGRIM: Let's turn to the issue of New York State. Your bill would cut off federal funding for highways by two percent starting in 2010 for any state that's not real I.D. compliant. In New York, that would be $31 million and of course, Governor Spitzer has backed down from issuing illegal alien's driver's licenses. What do you think of that development and do you think that they are on track to comply or not?

FOSSELLA: You've got to remember in large part this is a response to the fact that he declared I am going to do this regardless of what anybody says. Weeks went by, the pluck was justifiably outraged. They said this is not right. He went on any way. That's when I felt it was my obligation to introduce legislation. I'm a proud New Yorker and I think it's wrong. The states that issue driver's licenses to illegals should suffer somehow as an incentive not to do so and the legislation would withhold highway funding to any state that does so. It's modeled after legislation already in existence that tries to deter alcohol related driving. It works well. We thought that would be a good model. We send the signal that national security trumps everything else.

PILGRIM: Let me read from a letter that you wrote to Governor Spitzer last Friday because you're also concerned that the security issues that were discussed in New York won't be implemented. You wrote, "I am concerned that your administration may be considered to backing away from your agreement with the Federal Department of Homeland Security to offer both WHTI and real I.D. compliant driver's license in New York State by next year." Where do you stand? Has the governor replied to you?

FOSSELLA: The answer to the second question is no. The answer to the first question is again, the real I.D. act is someone we want safe and secure driver's licenses, those that are tamper proof. We leave it was appropriate. What concerned me was some of the rhetoric that came out when he shelved this plan that they're going to re- evaluate this. I'm concerned as someone that lost too many people in State Island and Brooklyn on 9/11 that we never have a day like that again. We shouldn't be turning a blind eye to people that come here illegally.

PILGRIM: We very much applaud your efforts. Thanks for coming on the program.

Coming up, China continues to target American countries doing business in China. We'll have a special report on that.

And illegal immigration, the lawmaker behind the save act. Stay with us.


PILGRIM: As we have reported extensively on this broadcast, successive administrations have pursued trade policies with China, not unless this country unable to manage its own economy. Tonight there is new evidence Communist China is using the void of coherent American trade policy to move it own industries. And the United States is doing very little about it. Christine Romans reports.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's been here before. And Henry Paulson heads to China again in December for his fifth trip as treasury secretary amid growing alarm about the American economy and China's own strategy to protect and develop its industries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are concerned that they're a state owned enter prizes and ore ones that China is trying to nurture.

ROMANS: The chamber of commerce and the Bush administration whom critics call the architects of failing policy with China have now gone public with their own concerns about how the Chinese are inspecting American medical devices to protect domestic manufacturers.

TONY FRATTO, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: It is something we're concerned about. We want to work out these things.

ROMANS: Can this administration work it out insofar as the critics say that the results of high-level dialogue have been little more than a photo op?

GORDON CHANGE, "THE COMING COLLAPSE OF CHINA": It's becoming obvious to the Bush administration that they're gaming us.

ROMANS: After years of economic policy that has left the United States beholden to China, a sudden realization that this country has been outmaneuvered.

HENRY PAULSON, TREASURY SECRETARY: I'm fighting for the U.S. when I'm fighting to open up our markets. Not everybody believes that. Every now and then people say, have you heard the word reciprocity?

ROMANS: The deficit with China approaches $300 billion. The dollar is in free fall. The housing market spreads.


ROMANS: As for China, the U.S.-China commission said the result of the dialogue with China is a country moving away from free markets now.

PILGRIM: This is just preposterous. They're concerned and looking into it. Meal an entire industry is at risk. ROMANS: The medical device part of the story just the latest piece of evidence that China is favoring its domestic industries. Now you're getting the Bush administration and the chamber of commerce expressing concerns.

PILGRIM: It's about time. This has not had tangible results in the last few years.

ROMANS: Gordon Chang has been watching this for so long and we've been talking. This goes way back. Talking, talking, talking. The Chinese are cleverly and consistently building up industry to the detriment of American industries.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much. Christine Romans, thanks.

A reminder now to vote in tonight's poll. In light of new evidence, do you believe that President Bush should immediately pardon the border patrol agents so they can come home in time for Thanksgiving?

Coming up at the top of the hour, "OUT IN THE OPEN" with Rick Sanchez. Rick.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to be talking about scandalous secrets. According to Bob Novak, there's a secret that the Clinton camp has on the Obama campaign. What is it? We're going talk at the fight that seems to be going on between these two.

Also, there is an amazing story when you consider all that we've been doing out in the Middle East with the gloves off policy we seem to have towards Saudi Arabia. It turns out that a young girl in Saudi Arabia was gang raped and she's getting 90 lashes for it. That's what the so called judicial system there has decided. Because her attorney complained about it, it's up to more. Now it's 200 lashes that she's going to get not to mention some jail time. It's really an amazing system where a young girl, raped, ends up being punished. We're asking some serious questions. Speaking truth to power. We'll have it for you here on "OUT IN THE OPEN." Kitty, back to you.

PILGRIM: Thanks.

Still ahead, more of your thoughts. The results of tonight's poll. So stay with us.


PILGRIM: Lawmakers in both the Senate and the House are now considering identical bills that drastically reduce illegal immigration. The measure is called the Save Act or Secure America through Verification and Enforcement act. It calls for more border security, 8,000 new border patrol agents. It also expands the e- verify program which helps employers check that their employees are here legally and it provides for funds and training for federal and state law enforcement agencies to better enforce existing immigration laws. Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas has just introduced the legislation in the Senate and Senator Pryor joins us. This was introduced in the House on November 6th. What prompted you to draft it and present it to the senate?

SEN. MARK PRYOR (D), ARKANSAS: It was presented by Heath Shuler. He has 107 co-sponsors in the House. It's a bipartisan bill. We just introduced it the day before we left for the Thanksgiving recess. It will take us a few days to sort of start to get those co-sponsors in the Senate but hopefully we will have broad bipartisan support in the senate as well.

PILGRIM: The timing is capricious. As everyone goes back to their home districts, I'm sure they'll hear from the American people how they feel about this issue. This is a burning issue not only in the Senate and the House now but also in the campaigns going forward. Isn't it?

PRYOR: I think that's right. The senate has spent three weeks debating immigration this year. We didn't pass anything. We spent time debating it. We're not able to get the legislation passed in the end. Two things came through loud and career. People from Arkansas want us to secure the border. They want us to enforce the law on the books. That's what this legislation tries to do. We beef up border security and try to enforce the laws that we have and make it easier for employers to enforce the law we have on the books right.

PILGRIM: Back in July, you and Senator Lindsay Graham were instrumental in getting an amendment passed, the 2008 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill to provide an additional $3 billion for border security. Isn't securing the border the most important thing?

PRYOR: It's very, very important. You have on talk about priorities. From my standpoint and I think a lot of other senators, securing the border is a very, very important national issue. I worked with Lindsey Graham on the Graham Pryor amendment. We passed it overwhelmingly, as you said, and it added $3 billion to border security.

PILGRIM: Let me bring something up. House speaker Nancy Pelosi over the weekend made a comment over the weekend about border security. And let's listen to that for a second.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: It's one community. There happens to be a border that goes through it. There's so much the people on each side have in common. We have to respect that. We have a responsibility to secure our borders.

PILGRIM: Do you see this as a contradictory statement?

PRYOR: I don't see it as contradictory as maybe some might. There are many states that have a national border as one of their state borders as well. We need to work with those states to make sure that we give them the tools and the resources they need but we need to do it in a smart way. We're trying to do this in a smart way, by beefing up border security, providing resources in way that isn't totally disruptive and doesn't just completely alter what some of the states have going on at a local level.

PILGRIM: I would like your thoughts on Governor Spitzer's giving up the plan to give illegal immigrants driver's licenses. Of course a huge discussion in the democratic debate last week. What's your view of that?

PRYOR: I'm glad to see New York drop that idea. That of course is a state matter because you're talking about state driver's licenses but it sounds like they made a decision in New York to go in a different direction. I think that's probably best for everybody.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much for being on the program, Senator Mark Pryor.

PRYOR: Thank you.

PILGRIM: 107 lawmakers in the House are cosponsoring the Save Act. Now this measure is also endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and also the National Association of Police Organization.

Illegal aliens may face tighter employment restrictions in Michigan. Democratic state house lawmakers say they will introduce a bill this month that punishes employers who hire illegal aliens. This bill provides for fines up to $250,000. Repeat offenders could spend as much as five years in prison. Lawmakers say they are forced to act because the federal government is not overhauling immigration laws.

Now, here are the results of tonight's poll: 98 percent of you believe, in the light of evidence, that President Bush should immediately pardon former Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean so they can return home for Thanksgiving.

Time now for some of your thoughts, and we have an email from Oliver in Maine: "I'm having a very hard time feeling sorry for Arizona businesses that are facing a labor shortage due to the illegal immigrant workers that have left the area. Now, those businesses have profited by using desperate people just to undercut living wages. Boo-hoo."

And James in Illinois writes: "Since we have satellites that can focus on a license plate, how is it that we can't see tens of millions of Mexicans crossing our borders?"

And Daniel in South Carolina wrote: "We lose quality candidates for the wrong reason. I don't want someone because they can raise more money. I want someone who cares about this country for a change. I need to hear that someone who can make a difference is looking out for us and not money trails."

And Jessie in Florida wrote: "Since government officials supposedly work for us, why are they able to get the best health care, benefits for life and large pay raises, while the seniors, veterans and those without health care get a fraction of benefits or nothing?"

Dennis in Michigan: "Now that all the factories are closed, everyone wants to outsource work to pay less, why don't we outsource Congress? I'm sure we can find some people who will play golf for less wages." We absolutely love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts at And each of you whose email is read here, receives a copy of Lou's new book, "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit."

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us tomorrow. For all of us here, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "Out in the Open" with Rick Sanchez starts right now -- Rick.