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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Enemy Combatant Term Abandoned; Politics of Hope; Taking Your Money

Aired March 13, 2009 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight the Obama administration abandons the term enemy combatants for terror suspects held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Critics however say the move is nothing more than a P.R. stunt.

Tonight, new evidence that members of President Obama's administration are outright supporters of illegal aliens and are determined to completely open our borders and stop the enforcement of U.S. immigration law.

Also tonight the pro amnesty lobby, Democratic members of Congress and the liberal national media overtly and obviously working together to remove Sheriff Joe Arpaio from office in Arizona, all because he's enforcing our immigration laws, raising the question, why isn't there an investigation as to why those laws aren't being enforced by the federal government. One of the sheriff's biggest supporters is Congressman Trent Franks (ph). He's among my guests.

We'll have all of that, all the day's news and a lot more straight ahead right here.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Friday, March 13th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everyone.

The Obama administration tonight announced what it is trumpeting as a major change in policy towards suspected terrorists held in Guantanamo. The Justice Department said those suspects will no longer be termed enemy combatants. But the change will have no effect on the terror suspects themselves.

And that's raising a number of questions as to whether the shift in policy is another example of the Obama administration using new rhetoric without making major changes in policy. Ed Henry has our report. Ed, what's going on here?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Lou, there is some substance, but also some symbolism going on here. The White House, this Obama White House just like the Bush White House, same thing in terms of declaring the military has the power to hold terror suspects. But what they're saying that's different is that the power comes from Congress, and the international laws of war, not from the power of the presidency.

That's different from the Bush/Cheney administration. They asserted, as you remember, the president could hold prisoners indefinitely without any charges just based on the president's power. So in substance, what's new is the Obama team saying terror suspects will only be kept in custody if they provided substantial support. That's the words, substantial support of the Taliban or al Qaeda.

But the big question left unresolved is how do we define substantial support to one of these terror groups. If you donate money to the terror group but are not involved in planning terror attacks, did you provide substantial support. That's what legal experts are digging in here to see if it's really that much different.

Some conservatives already charging this could lead to dangerous terror suspects getting out on the streets. There are liberal groups like the ACLU tonight saying they think it's a positive step that they believe the administration is narrowing the detention policies of the Bush White House, but even the ACLU, a liberal group is declaring they don't think it's a major change.

They say that the Obama White House is leaving the Bush policy largely in place, just with some tweaks. And that's why this is in part about symbolism. The White House wants to drop the phrase enemy combatant. It became a four-letter word around the world just as the president, as you notice, is no longer using the phrase war on terror.

They want to give the image there is a new sheriff in town. When you look at the policy itself, so far it's not that much different. The key part is going to be the fact that right now the White House is undergoing 180-day review of these detention policies. At the end of that review in a few months, that's when we'll see the devil in the details about whether this is really a new policy or not, Lou.

DOBBS: Well the impact of this policy is at least at this point not a person have I heard say that this is an important change in the status of the inmates being held in the -- the detainees being held in Guantanamo, whether we call them enemy combatants or not. Is this possibly some sort of sop to the Middle East, if you will, to Islamic governments around the world, not using the term war on terror, not using the terms enemy combatant, and we have not heard the words radical Islamists from this administration either, have we?

HENRY: Lou, you're absolutely right that at the very least this president directly himself in his first interview when he interviewed with "al Arabiya", at the beginning, his first television interview several weeks back, he made clear he wanted a different approach to the Muslim world. The language is certainly different.

That is key that you're pointing out and in terms of the substance of the policy, you're correct in saying that the -- about 240 detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, this change that they're talking about today doesn't really seem to change -- have any impact on those terror suspects. They're still there. They're not leaving. And until this review is done by the administration, and completed, there's no major substantive change.

DOBBS: And of course, part of that, whatever change does come, will be through the judicial system which, again, now is looking at the new rights issues for those detainees. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

HENRY: Thank you.

DOBBS: Ed Henry.

New concerns tonight about the willingness of the Obama administration to secure our borders and ports and to enforce our immigration laws, it is becoming increasingly clear that a number of key officials in the Obama administration are outright supporters of pro amnesty, and outright supporters of wide open borders. And they have apparently no intention of enforcing laws to stop illegal immigration.

For example, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is a strong supporter of illegal aliens to the point that many say she will put the interests of illegal immigrants before the interest of American citizens in her new job as labor secretary. Critics cite this example of her blatant support for the amnesty agenda and lobby.

Speaking as a congresswoman just last August she said quote, "The contributions of undocumented immigrants and the benefits they provide to the U.S. economy more than balance the meager health care resources they are eligible to receive."

Solis and other pro amnesty officials making it absolutely clear the Obama administration will pursue an amnesty policy. In point of fact, during the campaign, the president himself demanded what he called a path to legalization for illegal aliens.

Well the president today stepping up his rhetoric of hope -- how about that hope -- after weeks of talking down our economy and using the rhetoric of fear, talking about economic catastrophe. President Obama said we should remain focused on what he called now the fundamentally sound aspects of our economy.

The president's top economic adviser, Lawrence Summers, today acknowledged the economic crisis has led to what he called an excess of fear. Dan Lothian has our report from the White House.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With stocks, housing and jobs in the tank, the president's top economic advisers suggested some may consider this crisis the sale of the century and Larry Summers is advising companies sitting on the sidelines to jump in.

LAWRENCE SUMMERS, DIR., NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Those who have sound long-term strategies, who have investments that they want to make, who see productive opportunity are going to find this a very good moment. There are a very large number of things that are on sale today.

LOTHIAN: President Obama made a similar endorsement of the stock market last week. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Profit and earning ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal, if you've got a long-term perspective on it.

LOTHIAN: The White House was quick to knock down suggestions that Mr. Obama was encouraging Americans to buy. Spokesman Robert Gibbs was at it again.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think today's speech was designed to provide stock tips for the American people, but instead to demonstrate a road map forward that the administration and the economic team have developed to get our economy moving again.

LOTHIAN: And one of the cylinders to get the economic engine moving again appears to be confidence. In recent days, the administration has made a clear shift with more positive talk. From the president...

OBAMA: We're going to get through this. And I'm very confident about that.

LOTHIAN: And those around him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we need today is more optimism and more confidence.


LOTHIAN: The administration says that it's too early to gauge the impact of their efforts, but they are encouraged by some small signs, Larry Summers today again pointing out to consumer spending that he says has stabilized a bit. But the White House is being very cautious. In fact, spokesman Robert Gibbs jumping on that controversial sign that we saw during the Bush administration, saying quote, "We haven't flown any mission accomplished banners" -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, they have at least been able to watch a Dow Jones industrial average rise nine points this week. And Dan, as you know, I've been calling on this president to abandon the rhetoric of fear for -- from almost the moment he stepped into office, and through much of his transition.

It's nice to hear, but I can't think of anyone more solemn than Larry Summers, his economic adviser, when he said we need more optimism. He couldn't have been more dour. They need to work on like the facial expressions, too, don't you think?

LOTHIAN: That's right. I mean you know most of that speech really he was laying out how there is so much fear, and that fear leads to even more fear. But yes you're right. I mean if you were just watching that picture without the audio turned up...


LOTHIAN: ... you probably would have missed those lines about optimism. DOBBS: Yeah. And apparently this administration missed the FDR thing where he said all we have to fear is fear itself.

LOTHIAN: Is fear itself, that's right...

DOBBS: All right, thanks very much. We appreciate it, Dan.


DOBBS: Dan Lothian from the White House. The president's new more upbeat message is a complete u-turn from his recent statements about our economy. Just take a listen.


OBAMA: But these are far from the best of times. By any measure, my administration inherited a fiscal disaster. The economy's performance in the last quarter of 2008 was the worst in over 25 years and frankly, the first quarter of this year holds out little promise for better returns. If we don't move swiftly to put this plan in motion, our economic crisis could become a national catastrophe.


DOBBS: National catastrophe, isn't it nice not to hear that kind of talk? Good going, Mr. President. Well President Obama is beginning to take the economic advice of his senior advisers. Summers, Larry Summers today said people should stop talking down the economy and end what he called the excess of fear.


SUMMERS: It is this transition from an excess of greed to an excess of fear that President Roosevelt had in mind when he famously observed that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself. It is this transition that has happened in the United States today.


DOBBS: Took them about seven weeks to discover the lessons of history. The president's spokesman, Robert Gibbs, today said quote, "There is no safer investment in the world than the United States", something you've been hearing here throughout.

Well in switching to his new role of optimist in chief, the president seems to have difficulty expressing himself so clearly as he did when he was being somber, dramatic, and even frightful, especially when he's not using his teleprompter. Here's the latest example.


OBAMA: I don't think things are ever as good as we say and they're never as bad as they say. And things two years ago were not as good as we thought. They're not as bad as we think they are now.

(END VIDEO CLIP) DOBBS: Not as bad as we think they are now. Well, if we think they're bad, well, doesn't he mean that they're not as bad as he's been telling us they are or his advisers have been telling us they are? Well anyway, I guess the president is trying to say there are known knowns, but there are also known unknowns and where have we heard all of this kind of syntax before?


DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: As we know, there are known knowns (ph). There are things we know we know. We also there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns. The ones we don't know we don't know.


DOBBS: Helpful -- former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld known for his blunt but ineloquent style.

Communist China tonight is expressing concern about the state of the American economy. China's concern of course not motivated by sympathy for the millions of Americans whose jobs have been exported to China, no, the Chinese premier says he's worried about the safety of China's huge holdings of U.S. treasury bonds worth almost $1 trillion. The White House was quick to offer reassurance to the concerned Chinese premier. White House Press Secretary Gibbs saying quote, "There's no safer investment than the United States."

The United States tonight is showing less willingness to offer reassurances to one of our other close allies, Japan. This after Japan declared it might shoot down a North Korean rocket that Pyongyang says it will launch next month. North Korea says the rocket will carry a communications satellite. Intelligence agencies, however, including our own say the launch will actually be a test of a long-range ballistic missile that could reach the U.S. West Coast. No word yet from the Obama administration on that issue.

Up next, greedy banks preying on jobless Americans, even as those banks receive, that's right, federal taxpayer bailout money.

And new information on the hundreds of millions of dollars of assets owned by swindler Bernie Madoff and his family. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: New developments tonight in the Bernie Madoff case. Attorneys have filed an appeal to have the convicted swindler released from jail until he's sentenced. Madoff's bail was revoked yesterday when he pleaded guilty to running a $65 billion Ponzi scheme. The Associated Press tonight reports the new current documents reveal Madoff and his wife had a net worth of more than $823 million just last year. The 70-year-old Madoff faces 150 years in prison. He's to be sentenced on June 16th. Banks all across the country are profiting from unemployed workers. More than two dozen banks charging jobless workers fees. That is unemployed people are having to pay bank fees just to get access to their unemployment benefits. In a story you'll only see on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, Drew Griffin reports on how recipients are trying to fight back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is west Philadelphia.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Steve Lippe didn't mind taking us on a little tour of his neighborhood. The salesman has plenty of time on his hands after being laid off in January. He also has plenty of time to read the fine print on his bills. And when he read this fine print, he became livid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's $1.50 here, $1.50, $1.50, purchases in the U.S., no fee cash back with purchasing fee, 40 cents for balancing (INAUDIBLE).

GRIFFIN: These are the fees attached to his unemployment benefits, actually to a debit card he got from the state. When he filed for unemployment, Pennsylvania gave him the option, wait 10 days for a check or get this card immediately. Like hundreds of thousands of other unemployed Pennsylvanians, he chose the option that would get him the money the fastest.

(on camera): Are you dumbfounded by this?

STEVE LIPPE, UNEMPLOYED SALESMAN: I was outraged. I was not dumbfounded; I was very noisy about it. I was livid that this situation existed. I just couldn't believe it. It's, you know, an outrage is too weak a word. It's obscene.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Thirty states run similar programs, contracting with a dozen big banks to distribute unemployment benefits on debit cards and allowing banks to charge fees to the unemployed. The contracts do allow a limited number of free transactions, but that's not good enough says New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: Fees should not be attached to unemployment benefits that the taxpayers are paying for to help Americans. Particularly these fees should not be attached by banks that are getting TARP money or being supported by the taxpayers' dollars.

GRIFFIN: We went to JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Wachovia, who all referred us to state governments including Pennsylvania where Steve Lippe is being charged. Pennsylvania's acting Secretary of Labor is Sandy Vito (ph). Her staff invited us to Allentown where Vito (ph) was participating in this public meeting. Afterwards we were promised she would answer our questions about debit fees. But when the meeting was over, Vito (ph) was running from our camera. Suddenly too busy, her staff said, to talk to us.

(on camera): Hi, Ms. Vito (ph). I'm Drew Griffin with CNN. Do you have just a second...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) I'm sorry. I've got to go.

GRIFFIN: You can't -- we just have one question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry, I can't.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): As she dashed out the door, her press secretary tried to explain why unemployed workers in Pennsylvania were being charged fees to get their unemployment benefits.

TROY A. THOMPSON, PENN. DEPT. OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY: The distribution system for getting individuals their benefits has been improved by the use of debit cards, way above and beyond what the distribution of a paper check had done.

GRIFFIN: Lippe says he's learned to be careful when getting his money, trying to limit his activity. But on the day we met he was charged 40 cents just to check his balance.

(on camera): You're not getting much, are you?

LIPPE: No, no, I'm not getting much, but the banks are getting $1.50, $3, 50 cents here times how many tens of thousands of people who are unemployed receiving benefits over 30 states as it turns out.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): He says he's already being taxed on his unemployment benefits. Charging him additional fees just to access the money is just one more insult, he says, to people who can afford it the least.


GRIFFIN: Lou, the banks wouldn't talk to us. We tried Pennsylvania and you saw what happened there. So we went to the U.S. Department of Labor, which, remember, is sending out 27 billion more dollars to states unemployment benefits through that stimulus bill and we asked about these bank fees. We got no interview, no real statement.

Instead, we were given talking points, saying that the Labor Department is concerned about these fees and is going to be working with states as they gain experience with debit cards to quote, "resolve problems related to these fees."

DOBBS: They're a cute -- they're a cute bunch, aren't they, there in Washington, D.C.? And it looks like it spreads all the way to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I mean Drew this is ridiculous. This is just another effort -- I mean most of these banks right now are charging the taxpayers and the unemployed for these fees and they're getting away with it. I mean isn't the TARP money enough?

GRIFFIN: You know you would have to ask some of these state officials that draw up these contracts. And the reason they say they have to have these debit cards, Lou, is because really the states aren't doing an efficient job getting the money out soon enough to these people.

DOBBS: Yeah.

GRIFFIN: So people really need the money, they're kind of forced into these debit card situations.

DOBBS: Unbelievable -- all right, thank you very much, Drew, as always Drew Griffin.

Time now for some of your thoughts; Jim in Wisconsin said, "First we had trickle down economics. Now we have shakedown economics." -- case in point.

And Jeff in Ohio said, "Lou, who can the American people trust? The Republicans who spent our country into this mess or the Democrats who want to spend our country out of this mess."

Leah in Colorado said, "China wants loan security? Let's pledge California."

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts to And a reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Friday for "The Lou Dobbs Show" 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon on WOR 710 Radio in New York and go to to get the local listings in your area for "The Lou Dobbs Show"

Just ahead the campaign to remove Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, I'll be talking with a lawmaker who says it's all a witch hunt and perhaps worse.

And Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer -- oh, Jim Cramer should have followed my advice. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: In tonight's "Gut Check" we salute our friends at the comedy and variety shows performing the roles of media watch dogs. First we have CNBC anchor Jim Cramer's appearance on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" last night. As we reported, Cramer and Stewart at war battling over CNBC's coverage of the economic crisis.

Inexplicably after weeks of cross-networks squabbling, Cramer for some reason agreed to be Stewart's guest last night. Before he did so, I had a little advice for Jim Cramer.


DOBBS: Cramer is scheduled to be Jon Stewart's guest on "The Daily Show" tonight. This is just a personal piece of advice, Jim. I don't think you should have done that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Well, he did and it didn't go so well. This is just a sample of what went on.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You all know -- you all know what's going on. You know, you can draw a straight line from those shenanigans to the stuff that was being pulled at Bear and at AIG and all this derivative market stuff that is this weird Wall Street side bet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jon, don't you want guys like me who have been in it to show the shenanigans? What else can I do? I mean last night's show...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, I want desperately for that. But I feel like that's not what we're getting. What we're getting is, listen, you knew what the banks were doing, and yet were touting it for months and months. The entire network was. And so now to pretend that this was some sort of crazy once in a lifetime tsunami that nobody could have seen coming is disingenuous at best, and criminal at worst.


DOBBS: Jon Stewart not alone in the truthiness (ph) business, as his pal Steven Colbert (ph) would put it. There is also Seth Meyers. When the picture of Michael Phelps with a marijuana bong first emerged, this was the response from Seth Meyers on "Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update".


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're at a party and you see Michael Phelps smoking a bong, and your first thought isn't wow I get to party with Michael Phelps and instead you take a picture and sell it to a tabloid, you should take a long look in the mirror because you're a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I mean, really.


DOBBS: What's going on when comedy shows have the guts to speak the plain truth, say the right thing, about the wrong deal? But the mainstream media seems to quake at the mere possibility of straightforward, honest reporting these days. And Jon Stewart, remember, I was nice to you this time. Please leave me alone.

We would like to know what you think. Here's the poll question. Do you think Jim Cramer should have listened to my advice not to join Mr. Stewart on "The Daily Show"? Yes or no? Cast your vote at We'll have the results here later.

There is some fallout tonight from Mr. Cramer's appearance, just moments ago the CEO of resigned. Thomas Clark (ph) had worked at "The Street" for a decade. Cramer founded the site back in 1996.

Up next, blunt advice for the president as he tries to ram his big government agenda through Congress. That advice is, well, we'll show you and tell you.

And liberals and ethnocentric interest groups launching what one congressman calls a witch hunt against Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona -- it doesn't get much more overt than this. We'll be talking about that and the investigation that should be underway.


DOBBS: Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio is targeted because he actually enforces immigration laws. The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the sheriff's office after a request from congressmen, left-wing congressmen, all of them aligned with open borders amnesty groups and with petitions in hand from ethnocentric special interest groups. Lisa Sylvester has our report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Last month Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio marched 200 illegal aliens to what's known as "Tent City," temporary housing for those convicted and awaiting deportation. He also has his own TV show on FOX Reality Channel called "Smile, You're Under Arrest," using actors to help capture wanted criminals.

The sheriff's conventional ways have attracted hundreds of lawsuits and much criticism. Four congressional members who chair the committees on judiciary issues and immigration plan to hold a hearing. They also sent a letter to the departments of Justice and Homeland Security requesting an investigation.

The letter says the sheriff's department has been scouring Latino neighborhoods to search out undocumented immigrants. And community leaders and civil rights activists are circulating an anti-Arpaio petion signed by 35,000 people. Alfredo Gutierrez runs "La Frontera Times," a Web site advocating open borders.

ALFREDO GUTIERREZ, IMMIGRATION ACTIVIST: They're using the authority that was granted to them by the federal government under a specific program known as 287-G to racially profile.

SYLVESTER: Requests from congress on public petitions rarely result in investigations. In this case, the Department of Justice has decided to launch a civil rights probe of the sheriff's office based on its own information. In a letter, federal authorities said they are looking into alleged patterns of discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures.

SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY, AZ: I'm not worried about these allegations. They've been around for over a year. Over a year, the same allegations...

SYLVESTER: Arpaio's office said the citizens of his county fully back him. He was easily reelected last November.


Now, Arpaio says he not only welcomes the investigation, but he is looking forward to giving the Department of Justice advice on how they can do a better job to secure the border.

Now, an Arizona representative, Jeff Lake's office told CNN that the federal government has put local jurisdictions in this very difficult position because it hasn't been enforcing federal laws and that's left it up to states and local communities to fill that role - Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, the congressmen are all -- Congressman Conyers, Congresswoman Lofgren, who else?

SYLVESTER: Nadler and Scott, and they are all Democrats.

DOBBS: And they're all Democrats, they're all left-wing Democrats, aren't they?

SYLVESTER: They are. And they are all on record, essentially, opposing the 287-G program. At least that's the way that Sheriff Arpaio has been implementing. So, these are long-time critics of Arpaio.

DOBBS: And the Day Laborers Association, La Raza, joining with them, bringing a petition. So, this is basically justice by petion, if you will. It's really persecution. There's no other way to put it. And this is so transparent. I mean, this is almost Stalinist in the way in which these liberal Democrats are trying to use the federal government to overwhelm a sheriff.

SYLVESTER: Yeah, you know, Arpaio said that he was surprised it took them this long because, you know, with the change of administration, he said that he was fully expecting Democrats to come after him, and now we see the results.

DOBBS: Well, he's had those Democrats coming after him before. He and Janet Napolitano, now they -- formerly the governor of Arizona and now, of course, the secretary of Homeland Security, I mean, this sheriff, you know, he's had I don't know how many lawsuits against him. He has had I don't know how many arrests over these years. And just last year he put out a statement showing just how effective he had been in dealing with illegal immigration in his state. Really remarkable.

Is there some reason that the Justice Department isn't carrying out an investigation as to why U.S. immigration law isn't being enforced by the federal government? Is the Justice Department, or any one of those committees of those left-wing Democrats investigating why the border is not secure? Despite the fact that that of human smuggling are two of the principal reasons we have so much, first, anarchy in Mexico and such threats to our southwestern United States?

SYLVESTER: Well, I can tell you, Lou, that Sheriff Arpaio wants this to be a conversation and I'm sure that those are some of the questions he's going to ask the Department of Justice, which is, why aren't you securing the borders. And by the way, I should say, he intends to keep on doing exactly what he has been doing, despite the announcement of this investigation -- Lou.

DOBBS: I must say, the fact that we have not heard from the entire - you know, Senator John McCain, Senator John Kyl, the entire congressional delegation of Arizona holding their silence here, suggests to me, you know, something that isn't very flattering to them. This is really remarkable. Why aren't they speaking up here?

SYLVESTER: Well, you know, I think that what they will tell you is that this is an ongoing investigation, so they can't really comment on it, but Sheriff Arpaio, he has a lot of support within his community. But some of the political leaders are not as supportive, we'll say.

DOBBS: Well, certainly the mayor of Phoenix and a few other folks, primarily ethnocentric focused, both officers and organizations. But it is shameful that people don't have the guts to stand up. You know, you elect them to office, and then when there is an issue at hand, they run like ducks.

Anyway, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Lisa Sylvester.

Well, joining me now with more on the Arpaio controversy is Congressman Trent Franks. Trent Franks represents Sheriff Arpaio's district.

And Congressman, I got to say, first of all, good for you for standing up for somebody in your district, and whom you have faith. There are other folks who have faith in him, but they don't have the guts to stand up. You probably know some of the people I'm referring to. But, anyway, welcome.

REP TRENT FRANKS (R), ARIZONA: Well, thank you, Lou. And you know, the bottom line here is that this sheriff is not being investigated because he's somehow breaking the law. He's being investigated because he is enforcing the law. And I'm just sort of astonished that we keep seeing this trend on the part of the judiciary committee, especially under the Democratic control here where they're seemingly more committed to going after the good guys than they are the bad guys. That's been a trend even with the terrorist elements here. The last two years we've had about a dozen hearings on legislation that would weaken our ability to defend ourselves against terrorists and none that would strengthen our ability to do the same.

DOBBS: You know, you're sitting here with a community, Phoenix, which is the heart of Maricopa County, congressman, as you well know, you represent Phoenix as well as Maricopa County, it's in your district. It's become the kidnapping capital of the country. And the violence is accelerating.

The issue of human smuggling, drug smuggling, Arizona one of the principal corridors, this sheriff is the most prominent and the most effective local official in the battle against illegal drugs, illegal immigration, trying to bring order, and he's being attacked by four left-wing congress people who have an obvious agenda here, and there's not a peep being made. I mean, this is -- I swear to you, this feels like either brave new world Orwellian, or you know, absolutely Joseph Stalin has secretly been resurrected.

FRANKS: Well, you see, I think the reason, one of the reasons that they're going after sheriff Arpaio is because he's high profile and they feel like that if they can take him out or do damage or intimidate him, that they'll end up intimidating the whole specter of law enforcement that deals with illegal immigration.

And I just -- again, continue to be astonished that somehow we got these guys out there trying to enforce the law, trying to protect us from narco terrorists, probably some day being able to protect us from maybe jihadist terrorists bringing weapons of mass destruction over the border, and here they're trying to fight the bad guys in front, and the Congress, their own government, is knifing them in the back from behind.

DOBBS: Well, here's what Sheriff Arpaio said. You call this a witch hunt and I think that you're being kind in saying that. Here's what Sheriff Arpaio had to say, if we can put this full screen up. He asked about the hearings from Messrs Conyers and Lofgren. I mean, I can't tell you what little regard I have for those four people.

But after finding out that the Judiciary Committee is planning a congressional hearing, here's what he said: "Why don't they wait for the federal investigation? Why do they want hearings now? Because it's a political situation. They want to keep putting the pressure on me, hoping that I go away, and that is not going to happen."

You and I both know, Congressman, if Sheriff Arpaio was a man of less principal and less guts, I mean, he, you know, most people -- I won't say most people, but nearly every political figure I know would fold up like a wilted daisy, subjected to the pressure that this sheriff has been over the past several years.

FRANKS: Well, you know, I think that's what they hope the sheriff will do, but I think they picked on the wrong guy, here. I don't think he's going to do that. And I think in the final analysis, when the smoke clears, you're going to find that Sheriff Arpaio, you may not like he's enforcing 287-G, you may not like the fact that he is doing it as he's doing, but there's certainly nothing illegal about it.

DOBBS: Are you saying there's no racial profiling?

FRANKS: You know, I don't think there's any racial profiling at all, Lou. I think that the sheriff is trying to go after the criminal element and we find in Maricopa County about 53 percent of all violent crime in our county is perpetrated by illegal immigrants. And so, when he goes after crime, he's naturally going to run into some illegal immigrants in the process.

DOBBS: Well, let me ask you this. Is there any way you can bring on investigations - you know, first, I think there should be an investigation of all of these congress people who called for this investigation. There should be an investigation of the relationship to the ethnocentric interest groups who were driving the petition, which only has 35,000 signatures. By the way, I believe that Sheriff Arpaio, if it's all about petitions, he could raise 350,000 signatures in short order just in Maricopa County.

But, is there any way in which you can carry out an investigation, here? Is there any way we could get an investigation for the American people as to why our government isn't securing our borders, isn't enforcing U.S. immigration law?

FRANKS: Well, I think the best approach in that regard is what you're doing rights now. You're telling the country and the world what they're really doing, here. And I do think that there's an underlying agenda. You got to keep in mind that ACORN Is one of the groups behind this effort to try to go after the sheriff.


DOBBS: Yeah, ACORN is under investigation in 13 states, itself, by the way.

FRANKS: Right. So, there's a political agenda here that's just unavoidable. And the bottom line is, this is a pretty tough fight here that I'm in a border state, and you know, I'm married to an immigrant that came here from the Philippines and I despise any thoughts of doing anything that would be based on ethnic or racial profiling, but we have to enforce the law and that is the best way to maintain freedom for everyone.

DOBBS: You bet, Congressman, thanks. Well, freedom for everyone, but people who want to enforce the law apparently. Congressman Trent Franks, thanks for being a stand-up guy. We appreciate it. Good to have you with us.

FRANKS: Thank you.

DOBBS: Up next, we'll tell you why the president's popular isn't as high. Oh, I know this is going to surprise a lot of people, isn't as high as the national media is claiming. This is going to upset some folks, I know, but stay with us, it's about truth, justice and the American way.

And why is the president struggling to fill so many jobs in his administration? I'll be joined by three of the best political analysts in the country, here, next.


DOBBS: Joining me now, three of the best political analysts in the country, all CNN contributors. Republican strategist, former White House political director, Ed Rollins.

Ed, good to have you here.

Democratic strategist, Robert Zimmerman. Professor of political science and law, Vanderbilt University Carol Swain. Thank you both for being here.

All right, let's just start out, I mean, we got to get to it. We're sitting there watching four left-wing Democrats in Congress politicize the Justice Department. Eric Holder is jumping right in it and going after a sheriff in Maricopa County who has been in office for 16 years, who has been investigated by a lot of folks. I mean, are you going to put up with this kind of nonsense from your party? And, while it's in power in Congress?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Let me just say that first of all, I have a lot of respect for Eric Holder and while I can't speak any specificity in this issue. I think Eric Holder has handled himself independently so far as an attorney general and I think the broad support he get for his nomination, from Republican conservative senators, as well, speaks to that.

DOBBS: I got to tell you, that doesn't answer my question. Are you embarrassed by the politicization of this Justice Department and this politicization by the judiciary committee and four of the leading Democrats in Congress in going after a sheriff? That's straightforward a question.

ZIMMERMAN: I can't speak specifically to that case. But after the legacy of Alberto Gonzalez, I'm very pleased to see Eric Holder in charge of the Department of Justice.

DOBBS: Well, let me tell you what, I'm not. This is a man who's called us a nation of cowards on the issue of race. This man as said he's going to make adjustments to the Second Amendments in this country and permitting an absolute persecution of a man executing and enforcing U.S. immigration law when he has neither the courage nor the ideology to do so.

How -- it's great to see you, Carol.



DOBBS: What do you think?

SWAIN: I think that they're paying back their campaign debts by being -- showing how beholding they are to the interest groups that elected them. And it's as if they think that if they don't do everything all at once, that they're going to run out of time. And I do think this will probably be a one-term administration.

DOBBS: Let's talk about it from a legal standpoint, here. I mean, this looks like a tribunal. At the same time, that they're worrying about calling terrorists, or suspected terrorists, enemy combatants, that has some symbolic notion to them, they're taking on a sheriff who has been enforcing the law, who has been using 287-G, I mean, I can't figure this out.

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He's also gotten reelected over and over again, at a time that we're talking about putting troops on the border because of the drug war that's going on down there. Here's a guy who basically enforcing the laws of the country. And now there's a tendency that everything go to Washington and only the people sitting in Washington have all the answers.

This is a very tough sheriff who has basically dealt with a local problem and there's a separation of powers. And he basically has carried out his and been reelected over and over again by the public and I think it's going to make him more popular back home.

SWAIN: But you know, even in Nashville there's a sheriff that implemented a 287-G program and he's been under attack. And I think there's an effort nationwide to get rid of the program, even though it is effective, and it is a way that you can, you know, pick up some of the gang members.

DOBBS: Well, let's turn to that issue. One of the things -- I want to turn to something positive in the Obama administration. Finally he's been listening to what I've been saying for a very long time here. It's time for him to return to the rhetoric of hope, after he has been fear mongering, like a President Bush.

I mean, he picked it up in the transition, carried it through until just the past week. Do you think this is going to be -- going to stay with us awhile, the positive recovery rhetoric rather than the fear, the sky is falling Chicken Little stuff?

ZIMMERMAN: Look, I think it was...

DOBBS: I'm looking.

ZIMMERMAN: OK. I think the reality is it's not a consistent with warning the country about the economic crisis we're facing and also speaking up in a positive way. Obviously -- no, I don't think it's inconsistent at all.

DOBBS: Is it consistent? You must be guilty of something.

ZIMMERMAN: Just a little defensive, tonight. But the point is, I think obviously now that he's put his economic stimulus program in place...

DOBBS: Now that he's scared the hell out of people and now that he's gotten his stimulus package, he can tell the truth? I mean, come on. The stimulus package hasn't even moved into the economy.

ZIMMERMAN: Now that he's had the leadership to take action...

DOBBS: I'm complimenting the man and I'm getting an argument. I'm saying he talked positive, and gets away from the rhetoric of fear and you seem to think there has to be a balance here. I mean, that's a different...

SWAIN: The economy -- the Dow, there's positive news, and so he has a reason to be in a good mood.

DOBBS: You got it. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: I'm Roland Martin and in just a few minutes on NO BIAS, NO BULL, Wall Street has been looking better than it has in months. The White House is sounding upbeat about the economy. We'll look into whether we're seeing the early signs of a turn around.

Also, did racism play a role in a fatal shooting in small Louisiana town? The victim was a 73-year-old African-American man and there are a lot of questions about how and why it happened. That's at the top of the hour, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT will be right back.


DOBBS: And now "Heroes," our tribute to the men and women who serve this nation in uniform. Tonight we honor Air Force Staff Sergeant Zachary Rhyner, a combat air patroller who helped save the lives of his fellow troops during a brutal six hour battle with insurgents in the Afghan's "Shock Valley." Philippa Holland has our story.


PHILIPPA HOLLAND, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fres- faced and smiling, this 22-year-old staff sergeant just received the Air Force's second highest award after the Medal of Honor, the Air Force Cross.

MICHAEL DONLEY, SECRETARY OF THE ARMED FORCES: Among the millions that have served, only 192 Air Force crosses have been awarded. It is a distinction that we bestow upon only the most worthy among us.

HOLLAND: Air Force Staff Sergeant Zachary Rhyner, honored for unparalleled valor in the face of insurmountable odds.

April 6, 2008, 40 U.S. Special Forces troops, together with about 100 Afghan commandos, were dropped cliff side in to Afghanistan's' terrorist clamed "Shock Valley " -- 8,500 feet up, 80 pounds of gear on his back, a vertical climb, in brutal weather.

STAFF SGT ZACHARY RHYNER, US AIR FORCE: We started making our climb up the terraces, basically there was 100 feet between where we landed elevation-wise to where the top of the village was and where the building of the high village target was that we were supposed to go after.

We started climbing up the terraces and we made it about 60 feet up before we took a coordinated ambush from pretty much all directions and we essentially were stuck on this cliff now with several wounded, myself included with a gunshot wound to the left leg.

HOLLAND: Wounded and only 15 minutes into a 6 and a half hour fight, but the combat controller's duty was to call in air support and kill the enemy, wounded or not. RHYNER: We stayed pinned (ph) came down for approximately like three to 3 and a half hours and the whole time we were shooting small arms, the medics were patching up the wounded guys that we'd received and I continued to direct the 15s and the 64s over head on the targets.

There was a building that was right above us and we could kind of hear the guys maneuvering around us. The only weapon that was left on that 15 was a 2,000-pound bomb, it was more than danger close for that weapon system and we dropped that 2,000-pound bomb and when that happened, it basically destroyed the building and sent debris and a huge cloud of dust like surrounding, you know, totally covering us. You couldn't see more than a couple inches in front of your face.

HOLLAND: Zach Rhyner wasn't the only hero that day. Ten Special Forces soldiers received the Army's third highest award for combat valor, the Silver Star, and another received the Bronze star for that very same battle.

Philippa Holland, CNN.


DOBBS: And tonight's poll results, 71 percent of you say Jim Cramer should have listened to my advice not to go on the "Daily Show." Apparently others were seeking some sort of sadistic form of entertainment.

Let's take some look -- a look at some of your thoughts now. Alex in South Carolina said, "Lou, having our troops all over the world but leaving our boarder open is like installing an alarm system and new locks on my neighbor's house and then taking the doors off the hinges of my home."

Tim in New Jersey, "Newsflash for the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. southern border is already militarized. Unfortunately, it's militarized but the drug cartels' armies."

Richard in Arizona, "Dear President Obama, thank you for helping my neighbors with their mortgage payments, you know, the ones down the street, who in the good times refinanced their house several times and bought SUVs, a pool, a big screen TV, two Wave Runners and a Harley. But I was wondering, since I am paying my mortgage and theirs, could you arrange for me to borrow the Harley now and then?"

Send us your thoughts to Thanks for being with us tonight. NO BIAS, NO BULL starts right now with Roland Martin.