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Lou Dobbs Tonight

North Korea Missile Test; Obama's war now; Worst Still to Come; Threat to our Troops

Aired March 27, 2009 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you. Urgent talks between the United States, Japan and South Korea as North Korea prepares to launch a ballistic missile. It is now on the launch pad and could reach the United States.

Also tonight, thousands more American troops headed to Afghanistan, President Obama unveiling his new strategy. He says the safety of people all around the world at stake.

And tonight, the worst flooding in more than a century sweeping through Fargo, North Dakota; the mayor says the worst is yet to come; all of that, all the day's news and much more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Friday, March 27th. Live from New York Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. The United States and its allies tonight are preparing for action over North Korea's imminent test of a ballistic missile, a missile that could reach the U.S. West Coast. That missile is apparently ready to go on the launch pad now, and the launch could occur within days.

Diplomats from Japan and South Korea holding urgent talks today at the U.S. State Department, they're making plans for a coordinated response. Already, U.S. warships, including the USS Hopper (ph), are in the Sea of Japan, and Japan has taken the unprecedented step of mobilizing its missile defense system. Barbara Starr has our report.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the latest satellite image of what the U.S. says is a long-range missile on a launch pad in North Korea. The White House worried enough to keep U.S. warships at the ready. Pyongyang (ph) says it will launch a commercial satellite, on top of this ballistic missile sometime between April 4th and April 8th. When North Korea launches, the Obama administration may have as little as five minutes to decide whether to shoot it down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know we're ready to defend our territory and our allies.

STARR: The missile's anticipated route would take it over Japan in seven to eight minutes. If deemed threatening, it could potentially be shot down by U.S. Navy warships in the Sea of Japan, and the Pacific Ocean or if the missile keeps traveling, by ground based missiles shot from Alaska or California. The Navy has already cancelled a port call for the USS Hopper (ph). It will remain off the Korean Peninsula. The Navy says it has other ships positioned in the area, equipped with the latest technology for shooting down ballistic missiles.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We believe that such a launch would be provocative and that such a launch would be in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions.

STARR: But if it's a commercial satellite, is it a threat? U.S. officials say the satellite is a cover for Pyongyang's (ph) efforts to perfect missile technology. If the launch is successful, North Korea will have gained valuable experience in missiles that could someday reach the U.S.

(on camera): The U.S. does not have a policy of shooting down commercial satellites, and North Korea knows it. Pyongyang (ph) may be backing President Obama into a tight corner.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


DOBBS: The looming showdown has North Korea's neighbors anxious, but so far we have heard next to nothing from the Obama administration. Jill Dougherty has our report.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Top nuclear envoys from South Korea and Japan arrive at the State Department for a strategy huddled with the Obama administration's point man on North Korea. The North's missile is on the launch pad, apparently ready for firing as early as a week from now. And the U.S. and its allies are trying to craft a coordinated response. The U.S. military says it has every option on tap. But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tells me, shooting down the missile isn't in the cards.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We're not talking about anything like that. We are doing our best to dissuade the North Koreans from going forward, because it is a provocative action. It raises questions about their compliance with the Security Council Resolution 1718.

DOUGHERTY: Getting China and Russia to support new U.N. sanctions, however, would be tough if not impossible. And experts on North Korea caution, no one knows exactly how the North's leader, Kim Jong-Il (ph) would respond to U.S. military action.

GEN. WALTER "SKIP" SHARP, COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES KOREA: Regime survival is his number one and to a degree his only concern. And I believe he'll go to any length to be able to try to ensure that.

DOUGHERTY (on camera): U.S. officials claim North Korea's behavior is becoming a pattern. Acting out when the U.S. and its allies demand the North live up to its promises to denuclearize. That that behavior, they claim, is back firing, preventing the North from getting what it really wants.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, the State Department.


DOBBS: The Obama administration has taken ownership of the war in Afghanistan, and tonight President Obama has ordered 4,000 more American troops into action against al Qaeda and the Taliban. Their mission is to disrupt, dismantle and defeat the radical Islamist terrorist network in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over the past year, American deaths in Afghanistan have risen by 35 percent, and it is without question now, President Obama's war. Dan Lothian has the report from the White House.


BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same. We will defeat you.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama going after terrorists, not just with fire power, but with a message, money and manpower.

OBAMA: A campaign against extremism will not succeed with bullets or bombs alone.

LOTHIAN: The president has ordered 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to train that country's army and police force, and to significantly increase their numbers, and hundreds of civilians to advise the government on agriculture, education and law. But this new strategy also focuses on neighboring Pakistan, where Mr. Obama says there is a significant threat.

OBAMA: Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the United States' homeland from its safe haven in Pakistan.

LOTHIAN: But no public plans to go after that threat. What some experts consider a potential weakness.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, SR. FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Focus on economic development in this Pakistan is smart. But I'm not sure there is enough emphasis on strengthening the Pakistani counter insurgency capability for that northwest frontier area.

LOTHIAN: When pressed on that issue, spokesman Robert Gibbs suggested that threat was not being ignored.

GIBBS: You can be very assured that we're taking the steps necessary to address the threat and to protect the American people.

LOTHIAN: What the U.S. is offering Pakistan is an incentive to do some of the dirty work. The president is pushing Congress to pass a bipartisan bill that would provide $1.5 billion in aid annually over five years. But this new push will not go unchallenged. Violence is rising in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

On the same day the president unveiled his new plan, a suicide bomber destroyed a mosque in Pakistan, killing at least 50 people, and wounding more than 100 others. And two coalition soldiers were shot and killed in Afghanistan.


LOTHIAN: Now, Lou, as you know, last month the president announced that he was sending 17,000 troops into Afghanistan, so this 4,000 is in addition to that. In terms of the exit strategy, the White House now saying there is absolutely no time line. They have -- they will wait to see what their military generals tell them on the ground.

They will reassess and change course, if necessary. But they don't want to be boxed in when it comes to the time line. A senior administration official saying, quote, "this is a strategy, not a straight jacket".

DOBBS: All right, Dan, thank you very much -- Dan Lothian, from the White House.

Well, as the -- as Dan Lothian just reported from the White House, when the president approved sending 17,000 more of our troops to Afghanistan, I had a bit of a suggestion for the White House that some Democrats and Republicans are wishing tonight he had considered.


DOBBS: I've got a proposition that I'll utter -- I'll reiterate for the Obama administration. Here's the deal. If you want to bring home troops, bring them home from Korea, from Germany, Okinawa, Japan, around the world. Bring them home from Iraq. Bring them home from as many as we possibly can from Afghanistan. Bring them here to secure the border. And also, at the same time, be fighting the most imminent threat to this country's public security and safety.

That is by stopping drug trafficking, the blow of illegal aliens and terrorists across that border, potentially. There is a thought for you in which everything would come together -- one comprehensive approach, Mr. President, just a thought for you.


DOBBS: Well, that thought, I should point out to the White House, received overwhelming support from our audience when we put the question as a poll query on the 12th of March. Ninety-seven percent of you said that you believe we should be bringing our troops home from all around the world to protect this country from the wide-open flow of drugs, illegal aliens and potentially terrorists across particularly our southern border.

We would like to know what you think about it all. Our poll question tonight is do you think President Obama should be following my advice and sending troops to secure first our borders, particularly with Mexico? Cast your vote at We'll have the results for you here later in the broadcast.

Up next, dramatic video of police blocking an NFL player who was trying to get to the bedside of his dying mother-in-law and in Fargo, North Dakota, levees are breaking tonight. Water is pouring over sandbag walls. The city now faces its worst flooding in more than a century. We'll be going live to Fargo, North Dakota next. More straight ahead, stay with us.


DOBBS: Into CNN now breaking news tonight out of Fargo, North Dakota. We have learned that the Pentagon has just deployed military helicopters and active duty military personnel to Fargo. Fargo is bracing for even more flooding already at record levels. More than 1,000 National Guard troops along with the Army Corps of Engineers and hundreds of volunteers are now scrambling to get to Fargo to reinforce dikes (ph) and to protect the city from the rising Red River.

The Red River has already reached a flood level above 40 feet. That is the highest level on record. It is expected, by the way, to rise even higher over the weekend. Ted Rowlands has our report from Fargo.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The fate of Fargo will come down to this. If the Red River rises even two more feet, the city's main protective dike (ph) won't be able to hold the water back, and word from the National Weather Service that flooding could reach that peak has sparked a frantic effort to shore up the levees.

GEN. MIKE WALSH, ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: As we flew over today, we were able to see so many citizens out there doing a flood fight out on the levee, and we just came back from the dome, and watched thousands more, just a heroic effort on filling, filling sandbags and people not so much wanting to control the floods at their house, but want to control the floods in their neighborhood and in their community. It was -- it was impressive just to watch that.

ROWLANDS: Officials say the frigid temperatures also gripping the area could actually be helping their efforts to fight off the water.

DEP. MAYOR TIM MAHONEY, FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA: We think the cold weather has helped to slow down the flow of the river, and that's kind of the break we think that we needed.

ROWLANDS: More evacuations have been ordered and additional National Guard troops called in, residents are being told to stay off the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fargo can win this fight, and I would say this, if you're going to pick a team to engage in a flood fight with, you'd want to pick the people of Fargo. I mean, they know how to do this, they have done it well.


ROWLANDS: And Lou, you're looking live at the Red River. It continues to rise. They say it has stabilized a bit, but it hasn't crested and that is the big question. How high will it get? Forty- three is that magic number. They don't think the dike (ph) system here can hold anything over 43 or at 43, the active military coming here to help out.

What they're going to be doing is patrolling the dikes (ph) overnight, along with the National Guard and people already in place, any hint of any problems with the dike (ph) system, they'll send people in to deal with it, and send people out who could be in harm's way, a lot of people crossing their fingers, waiting to see how high this river gets.

DOBBS: And there has been some breakthrough, we understand, in those sandbag levees. How bad have those been?

ROWLANDS: Not bad. It was a minor break, and there was some -- initial, as you might imagine, some apprehension. People were evacuated, about 150 people got out. However, they went in and inspected and the damage was minimal. And there hasn't been a lot of water, so there is very good news.

The other piece of good news we have for you tonight is they have so many sandbags that they have stopped the sandbagging operation, and they're keeping those extra sandbags ready to deploy at a moment's notice. The other thing is they're now projecting that the river will get to about 42 rather than 43, but nobody is for sure.

They have changed it back and forth. So you know you take that with a grain of salt. Bottom line is the folks here have probably a five-day window of hoping, waiting and praying for the best.

DOBBS: And a lot of -- a lot of effort. Those extra -- well (INAUDIBLE) active duty military coming in, when are they expected to arrive, Ted?

ROWLANDS: Well, they left about a couple of hours ago, so they should be here you know sooner than later, this evening. And they'll get right to work manning these dike (ph) systems. It winds through the city, the Red River, so what they have to do is basically patrol it, because any hints of a compromise within the system, they've got to get on it right away, and get the people out that will be in harm's way, so that's the main job of the military as they come in here.

DOBBS: Well as Senator Byron Dorgan (ph) who we saw in your report there earlier was suggesting, people in Fargo have been -- who have been working so heroically to sandbag that river they've got to be exhausted by tonight, so any help would be appreciated, I would imagine.

ROWLANDS: Absolutely. I'll tell you what. It's unbelievable, the thousands of people that have worked 24-hour shifts since Monday. It has really been really heroic and a real sense of community in this part of the country.

DOBBS: Ted, thank you very much -- Ted Rowlands, along with the people of Fargo on that -- on that cold riverbank of the Red River and as he said, the worst to come. To get a -- some perspective, let's go to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers -- he's in the CNN Weather Center -- to give us some idea of what lies ahead for Fargo over the next few hours and over the weekend. Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The water is still going to go up, Lou. It's going to go up another foot and a half. Right now, 40.75, and what does that mean? Well the bottom of the river is about 41 feet down from where it is now. But at 18 feet is where flooding actually starts, so there's about 22, 23 feet of flooding water now in the river now on top of where we think it should be in the bank.

The banks are full and now all of the levees, the natural ones and the ones that are man-made, they're all to the top, and so everybody is now relying on these sandbags on the very top of the levees. There is no more dirt. It's all sand and all sandbags, holding back all of the water from going in one direction or the other. Now, this is now a record flood. But you must remember this is a completely different city than it was in 1897.

1897, there were no levees. There was no funnel to hold the water back. The water is spread out across the plains. Well, look what the plains look like now, 90,000 people live there on that side, another 10,000 on the Minnesota side. So this is not the same river that your grandfather or great-grandfather probably saw, as well.

So that 40 feet or that 41 feet there is your old record right there. That was a completely different flood back 100 years ago. And Lou, we just got some new video in. This is all part of kind of the same system, as well, some new video coming out of North Carolina. Big storm system rolling up the East Coast, breaking off here, big storms in Louisiana, Texas, as well. But this is North Carolina near Fayetteville, about an hour ago tornado on the ground, causing damage near Fayetteville, and just south of town, missing Ft. Bragg (ph), missing Fayetteville Proper (ph), but right up the I-95, knocking trucks over, knocking cars off the road, knocking down trees and power lines. I-95 is a parking lot at this hour in Fayetteville, North Carolina because of that.

DOBBS: From the Midwest to the East Coast, this country is getting some incredibly violent weather.

MYERS: Absolutely and a snowstorm in Kansas and Oklahoma with blizzard conditions, and 10 inches of snow blowing around to five-foot drifts.

DOBBS: Amazing.

MYERS: There you go.

DOBBS: Chad, thanks very much -- Chad Myers from the CNN Weather Center. And he will be following the flooding throughout the evening and over the weekend, our meteorologist, and in Alaska tonight more volcanic eruptions. Mount Redoubt about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage has been erupting since Sunday. Volcanic ash being spewed five miles in the air.

That volcanic ash of course filled with small rock fragments. It can be, of course, extraordinarily dangerous for people, severely damaged aircraft engines, Alaska Airlines has been forced to cancel most of its service to and from Anchorage as a result.

And a sad story tonight for an NFL star. Houston Texas -- Texans running back Ryan Moats (ph) was stopped by a police in a Dallas hospital parking lot after he went through a red light on his way to that hospital. Moats (ph) was confronted by a police officer. He pleaded with the officer to let him go so that he could see his dying mother-in-law.

Instead of allowing Moats (ph) to go to his dying mother-in-law's bedside, the officer, Robert Powell (ph), wrote him a ticket, was threatening and harassing -- threatening to arrest Moats (ph), to take him to jail. At one point, he drew his gun, although he apparently did not point it at Moats (ph) and the conversation was recorded by the camera on Powell's police car dashboard.


POWELL: I can screw you over. I'd rather not do that. Your attitude will dictate everything that happens and right now your attitude sucks.

MOATS: Yes, sir.

POWELL: OK. I turned my red and blues on as you were going over the bridge.


MOATS: You think I'm going to stop when my wife's mother is dying.

POWELL: You are required to stop. What you are doing does that matter.

MOATS: OK, yes, sir.


DOBBS: Well yes, sir and there are two remarkable things in this. One is the class and the forbearance on the part of Moats, the young man deserves a great deal of credit. He handled himself with dignity and with class. After approximately a 15-minute delay, Moats (ph) was finally allowed to enter the hospital by Officer Powell. Sadly, his mother-in-law had already passed away.

The Dallas Police Department issued an apology and put Powell on paid leave pending an investigation. I want to commend Moats (ph) one more time for something else. In addition to maintaining his dignity and controlling his temper he did not once mention that he was an NFL player.

Up next, the shocking health risk of a trendy salon and spa procedure. A pedicure involving fish continues in states where it's banned. We'll have that story and a threat to our troops. Their lives are in danger, not just on the battle front, but their own buildings and their own bases. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: We've been reporting extensively on the dangers facing our troops from improper electrical work done on bases in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Special Investigations Unit correspondent Abbie Boudreau updates a series of stories that she has been reporting now for several months.


ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thousands of the buildings where U.S. troops live in Iraq and Afghanistan have dangerous wiring putting troops at serious risk of being badly hurt or even electrocuted, according to this man, Jim Childs.

JIM CHILDS, TASK FORCE SAFE: The electrical systems over there with the buildings the way they are, we're playing Russian roulette.

BOUDREAU (on camera): Why?

CHILDS: Because we're just waiting for the stars to align right and something to fault, not open a breaker and have another electrocution. All the potentials are there. It just hasn't happened.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): For the past year Jim Childs has been the top civilian expert, helping lead a U.S. Army team called "Task Force Safe". There are roughly 95,000 buildings in Iraq used by U.S. forces, according to a "Task Force Safe" report given to CNN by Childs. Only about 25,000 had been inspected by the team as of last month.

And, says Childs, of those builds inspected, roughly one-third failed inspection, posing immediate risk to troops. In January last year, a highly-decorated Green Beret from Pittsburgh was electrocuted in his shower. Houston base contractor KBR, which maintained the building where Sergeant Ryan Maseth (ph) lived and died has been criticized for its work and faces a lawsuit from his family.

(on camera): Do you feel KBR and KBR's work led to Sergeant Ryan Maseth's (ph) death?

CHILDS: They had been there on at least two occasions from service (INAUDIBLE) that I had seen with reports that the pipes were energized. A competent electrical contractor and electrician would have gone to that job site and tried to discover why pipes could have been energized. In addition, the grounding conductors were not connected to the pumps themselves, so there was basically too simple electrical 101s that were not done at that building. Both of which should have been checked by competent, electrical contractor and electrician.

BOUDREAU: And if they were checked?

CHILDS: Then Ryan Maseth (ph) would not have been electrocuted, in my opinion.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): KBR has denied doing any improper or dangerous wiring. As for the death of Sergeant Maseth (ph) or any other electrocutions, the company maintains it is not responsible. Stating, quote, "KBR has worked diligently to address electrical issues when asked. What is important to remember is the challenging environment in which these issues exist. The electrical standards in Iraq are nowhere near those of western U.S. standards. Add to this the challenges that exist in a war zone. We have been and remain committed to fully cooperating with the government on this issue."

Abbie Boudreau, CNN, Atlanta.


DOBBS: Eighteen of our servicemen have been electrocuted in Iraq since 2003, all under different circumstances. Many of those electrocutions occurring because of improper grounding or wiring on U.S. bases.

Well coming up here next a graphic demonstration of Americans' anger over the AIG bonus scandal. I'll be talking with a leading congressman about both AIG and a solution.

Also, the stunning remark from Brazil's president, is he a socialist racist or a racist socialist? We'll have the answer here, next.


DOBBS: Brazil's president is blaming a specific group of people for the global economic crisis and doing so in racial terms. He blames white people with blue eyes. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said quote, "This crisis was not created by Blacks nor Indians nor poor people. It was a crisis that was created and spread throughout the world due to the irresponsible behavior of white people. Blue eyed people they thought they know everything but are now showing they knew nothing." President Luis making that comment today at a news conference, actually yesterday in racial terms.

Raising the question, is he a racist socialist or a socialist racist? And again, by his side, a man who is finding it inconvenient to do joint press conferences, none other than British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, fresh from insults before the European Union parliament and insults by the Obama White House. By the way, Gordon Brown, the U.K. Prime Minister, still hasn't got a set of 25 DVDs that had been given to him previously by President Obama to work in his British DVD player. In this country, newly revealed documents show the extent of anger at AIG executives over those bonuses. Dozens of very personal threats against AIG and its employees are emanating from those upset, and the Connecticut attorney general has complied with the freedom of information request from NBC Connecticut. Surprisingly, many of the threats contain the senders' names and their e-mail addresses.

Most of the comments, I must tell you, can't be shown on television. The rest, at the very best are objectionable. For example, "If the bonuses don't stop, it will be very likely that every CEO at AIG has a bull's eye on their back. I don't hope that bad things happen to the recipients of those bonuses. I really hope that bad things happen to the children and grandchildren of them. Whatever hurts them the most."

Another. "We will hunt you down. Every last penny. We will hunt your children. Give back the money or kill yourselves." When we get to this point, folks, we are a country that needs to stop and really start thinking. Yes, the bonuses are objectionable, the way in which the Obama administration has conducted itself objectionable. But nothing rises to the level of those threats. And whoever sent them should be extraordinarily ashamed and, in my judgment, prosecuted.

Congressman Thaddeus McCotter cosponsored a measure that would force the treasury to turn over all documents relating to the AIG bailout and the hefty bonuses that were permitted. Congressman Cotter joins me now from Southfield, Michigan. Congressman good to have you with us.

REP. THADDEUS MCCOTTER, MICHIGAN: Thank you for having me, Lou.

DOBBS: What is your reaction to threats like that, being conducted at anyone but AIG over the issue of bonuses?

MCCOTTER: Well, it's absolutely, as you pointed out, it is reprehensible. We are a nation of laws, we are a nation of morals and virtues, and there is no place for that activity in the United States. And one of the problems that we are going continue to see in this very chaotic time where the American people feel there are entity's larger than the sovereign government is to resort to means which should be rejected at all costs, which is an appeal to violence.

DOBBS: And Congressman you are co:-sponsoring a resolution which would compel the treasury department to turn over to Congress the information it has on AIG's use of federal bailout money. Including those bonuses. What do you think the likelihood is that it will be passed?

MCCOTTER: Well, we received a non -- a bipartisan unanimous vote out of the Financial Services Committee. It now goes to the floor of the house, where we hope it will have a vote. We believe the American people need to know what happened with this Dodd Amendment, why widen snow was removed, because of the larger issue, not only of fairness to the taxpayers, but of their need to understand. This was part of a larger policy decision by the administration to protect and approve the bonuses to keep the people at AIG, so they could unwind it over time. Many of us disagree with this policy, but we also, as you rightly pointed out again, Lou, we want to think it through, have the facts before we go off and make any accusations or wild allegations.

DOBBS: Those allegations, the scope of that investigation, it has not gone to the very culpability of Congress itself and the relevant committees that have oversight responsibilities, nor has it gone to the role of the treasury secretary, who as treasury secretary, and as previously in his post, has president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, played a significant role throughout in the AIG mess. What are your thoughts?

MCCOTTER: Well, I think you're absolutely right. Congress has to look itself in the mirror. Not only was the protection and approval of the AIG bonuses buried in the stimulus bill on the dead of night that so many of my colleagues voted for without reading, you are also starting to see the crisis reaction by politicians in passing what I believe was an unconstitutional bill of attainder to try to get those bonuses back.

What is happening Lou is the chaos that we have seen in the financial institutions that have brought us to the precipice of a global depression is now starting to be mirrored in the political institutions of the American people. This is causing further consternation. And what we want to do is get to the facts of the matter, use clear-headed, sound thinking and come up with policies that will help restore order and confidence in both financial and political institutions.

DOBBS: Congressman Thaddeus McCotter thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

MCCOTTER: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Outrage tonight after a decision to drop the name "Freedom Tower" from the building that will replace New York's World Trade Center. The new building that was originally said to honor the victims of September 11th will now be called instead of "Freedom Tower" One World Trade Center. The authorities that control the plan tower made that change. The authority chairman said using "One World Trade Center" would make the building easier to market than "Freedom Tower." They made the change shortly after the first tenant signed, we should point out that that first tenant is a real estate company based in communist China for whom I suppose being in a building entitled "Freedom Tower" would be overwhelmingly ironic.

Up next, more on nail salons using flesh-eating fish. A potentially dangerous procedure that could lead to very serious infections. We'll have that story for you.

And Secretary of State Clinton blaming the United States for Mexican drug violence. I'll be joined by Professor George Grayson, a leading authority on U.S.-Mexico relations. Stay with us. We're coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: The Obama administration threatening our second amendment rights to keep and bear arms. Officials claim a ban on so-called assault weapons could cut drug cartel violence along our border with Mexico. But most experts say, there is no evidence whatsoever to support the claim. Louise Schiavone with the report.


LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In Mexico City this week a call by the secretary of state for the U.S. to consider reinstating the assault weapons ban.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: During the time period from 1994 to 2004, when the ban was in effect, our police in America were able to drive crime down.

SCHIAVONE: Jeffrey Roth at the University of Pennsylvania studied the impact of the 1994 law first for Congress and later for the Justice Department. Does he share the secretary's conclusion that the assault weapons ban worked?

JEFFREY ROTH, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: I would say no. It may have accounted by our estimates for something like 2 percent of the drop in gun homicides during that period. But in terms of total crime dropping that much, I would say no. That's overly generous.

SCHIAVONE: Roth says efforts to organize and expand police departments and a period of greater prosperity better count for overall reduced crime rates. As for Attorney General Eric Holder's view that an assault weapons ban would reduce violence along the Mexican border --

ROTH: It's unlikely to do any harm, but it's also unlikely to do any good.

SCHIAVONE: A gun ban didn't appear to be a top priority to this homeland security official at a recent senate hearing.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): What change in the law would you recommend, if any, in terms of the gun problem?

KUMAR KIBBLE, IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: Sir, I think that we have the -- we have the laws we need.

SCHIAVONE: And a border state attorney general offered this suggestion.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Well, my question is, can you think of any gap in our law that you could -- that we could remedy in the short- term? What about you, Mr. Goddard?

TERRY GODDARD, ARIZONA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Mr. Chairman, Senator Graham, I would certainly like to see stuff in our money transmission rules.

SCHIAVONE: Stiff resistance to the proposal from members of the president's own party have moved it to the administration's back burner.


SCHIAVONE: Jeffrey Roth at the University of Pennsylvania says he is more concerned about large-capacity ammunition clips that enable shooters to pump out 36 or 100 shots before changing clips. And he notes that outlying a class of weapons in the United States does not also outlaw them in Mexico or in any other country.


DOBBS: Well, I mean, that's interesting. But the bottom line is, he said it would have no impact whatsoever.

SCHIAVONE: That's right.

DOBBS: Period. So what is the discussion about clips? Clips of -- typically for semi automatic, so-called assault weapons that are semi automatic, and not assault weapons, in point of fact. The largest clips would be a 30-round clip that would be available with them. There are some extraordinary drum clips and so forth that you can add to it. What does that have to do with the issue in his view?

SCHIAVONE: In his view, those are the tools that these people who are fighting over drug, drug turf, some of these gang warriors are using the very big-capacity clips.

DOBBS: Right. All right. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Joining me now with more on the drug cartel violence in Mexico is Professor George Grayson with the College of William and Mary. Professor, good to see you again. Welcome back.


DOBBS: We just listened to the secretary of state say that the United States bears quote, unquote, co responsibility for the Mexican drug cartel violence. Your reaction.

GRAYSON: I think our officials in Washington are really literally and maybe metaphorically whistling past the graveyard. There are more cartels than ever. They're active in a greater number of areas, and they're committing increasingly heinous violence against their victims. And so I see the war on drugs as being lost, and that conditions are deteriorating with regard to narco trafficking and also with regard to the Mexican economy.

DOBBS: Let's go through a few of these issues, because I said you're an expert on U.S.-Mexico relations. You're also an expert on Mexico itself, and have spent considerable time there, and an author of a number of books.

Let me turn first to the issue of the economy itself in Mexico. I think many people don't realize the degree to which Mexico, with a government that is not only incompetent, and I'm not talking about in terms of having improved, because it certainly has over the course of the past decade. But it is incompetent, it is corrupt, and that bears some considerable responsibility for what is transpiring there. The economy -- Mexico is dependent upon the export of its poorest people to the United States, $25 billion a year in remittances, dependent on the drug trade, 25 to $50 billion a year in revenue from the drug trade returning to Mexico. And that compares to about a $75 billion trade surplus with the United States. To what degree can that economy hold up when it's being torn us under by this level of violence?

GRAYSON: It's probably going to decline by two or three percent this year. Oil prices are going to plummet for Mexico next year, and I would suspect that the decrease in the gross domestic product will be of the order of 4 or 5 percent. That will send even more illegal aliens to the border, trying to get into the United States.

And the drug issue and the illegal immigration issue are linked, because often those newcomers who are in this country without the proper documentation are the social infrastructure for the cartels. That is, they serve as look-outs. They serve as distributors. They aid and abet the illegal activities.

DOBBS: Mexico has lost and is still losing its way. Mexico, the pentagon's joint command suggesting that Mexico, along with Pakistan, are the two nations most likely to face the threat of imminent collapse. Do you see that as an overstatement? Because it's also interesting to see that the Obama administration's director of intelligence apparently in accommodation to new politics, has suggested that it's an overstatement now.

GRAYSON: It's an overstatement, but there certainly are failed enclaves in Mexico. Before 7,000 troops were sent in, Juarez, just across the border from El Paso was a killing ground. The state of Guraro (ph) in the south is controlled by two drug cartels. This is a golden triangle, where the states of Durango and Chihuahua come together. And that's really a no man's land, expect for the control exercised by the cartel. So I think it is an exaggeration, but there are failed enclaves.

DOBBS: Well, Professor Grayson, as always, good to have you with us. We appreciate your insight. Thank you, sir.

Straight ahead, flesh-eating fish used in pedicures? We continue our reporting on truly disturbing health risks if you are amongst those in this country who have taken up the fad of dipping your tootsies into these dish-infested waters.


DOBBS: Follow-up tonight to a dangerous spa procedure that Kitty Pilgrim first reported on here earlier this week. Pedicures using flesh-eating fish. As Kitty Pilgrim now reports, there are serious health risks and threats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): An hour west of Chicago, the Cat's Scratch Nail Salon is offering fish pedicures, where flesh-eating fish eat the dead skin off a customer's feet. That kind of pedicure is banned in Illinois, but salon owner Mya Doan says no public health officials have contacted her.

MYA DOAN, CAT'S SCRATCH NAILS: The fish pedicure is just a new trend of pedicure, so really there are no books or no regulation for it.

PILGRIM: At least 22 states have banned or are not recommending the practice, saying the fish carry bacterial diseases. One of them mycobacteriosis can cause severe infections resulting in boils or sores that can last for months and need an antibiotic to cure. The state of Illinois says it appears to be impossible to perform fish pedicures that comply with the code's sanitary standards. In Maryland, public health officials say many animals can transmit disease to humans, such as salmonella from reptiles, rabies from dogs, and avian flu from birds, and infections from fish during pedicures.

DR. KATHERINE FELDMAN, DEPT. OF HEALTH & MENTAL HYGIENE: If you have a customer that comes in that might have some bacteria on them, they put their foot in a foot bath and the fish are in there, the fish can pick something up from that customer. The foot bath may be cleaned between customers, but there's no way to sanitize that fish. So the fish could then transmit something to the next customer.

PILGRIM: The International Nail Technician's Association which speaks for the industry says this kind of pedicure is dangerous and warns the consumer.

PAUL DYKSTRA, INTL. NAIL TECHNICIANS ASSN: If they're in a salon where they're seeing this done, I would highly recommend that they get up and leave.


PILGRIM: This is not regulated by any federal agency. The CDC says it's a matter for state public health departments. The nail industry's trade group says there are not enough inspectors to monitor all these salons, so it's still going on, even where it's banned, and it's up to the public to be informed and protect themselves.


DOBBS: I think, probably, this may be Darwinian. Anyone dumb enough to do this, my god!

PILGRIM: It's extremely popular, but it is banned in 22 states.

DOBBS: It's popular! What kind of person would think this made any sense? I don't want to insult anybody or be politically incorrect, but you've got to be a raving idiot to do that.

PILGRIM: It is really not a good idea.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim. Maybe there's some room here for individual responsibility, common sense.

Coming up at the top of the hour, "Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull." What are you working on?

CAMPBELL BROWN, "NO BIAS, NO BULL:" I'm with you on the flesh- eating fish. We're going to have the very latest on the breaking news; we've been tracking it out of Fargo, North Dakota. The military has been ordered to send help, to get ready for what is already record- breaking flooding. We're going to have a live report for you in just a minute.

Plus, President Obama's new strategy to fight terror in Afghanistan means more troops and more cash, but success there relies on a lot of things beyond his control. Can it work? We're going to look at that. Christiane Amanpour with us tonight.

Plus, why do so many gun owners think that President Obama wants to take away their firearms? You're going to hear from them coming up at the top of the hour as well.


DOBBS: We'll make sure that he doesn't get his way. Thanks very much, Campbell Brown. We'll join you.

Still ahead, our salute to our men and women in uniform, "Heroes" is next.


DOBBS: And now "Hero's" our salute to our men and woman in uniform. Tonight we honor Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Workman. Phil Bolloman (ph) with his story.


PHIL BOLLOMAN (ph): Three years into his military career, Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Workman deployed to Iraq, serving in Weapons Company as squad leader for the third battalion fifth marines.

STAFF SERGEANT JEREMIAH WORKMAN, U.S. MARINE CORPS: I had more than one goal, one mission, and that was to take care of marines, try to ensure their safety.

BOLLOMAN (ph): While on patrol in Fallujah, he and his men were ambushed after entering a house.

WORKMAN: There was an estimated 30 insurgents inside the house.

BOLLOMAN (ph): Fighting in close range, Workman's priority was to clear the building.

WORKMAN: I knew we had marines trapped on the second story of this house and go back to the phrase, no marine left behind. I led them into the house three times to clear it out, clear the insurgents out, to get our wounded and, you know, our marines that we lost out of the house. It was a three-hour-long firefight. Everybody was wounded.

BOLLOMAN (ph): Three marines were killed in the battle. Workman suffered shrapnel wounds, but returned to fight along side his fellow marines the very next day. For his extraordinary heroism and fearless exposure to enemy fire, Workman was awarded the second highest medal for valor, the Navy Cross in 2006. He also received the Purple Heart and combat action ribbon. Today he serves his country at Quantico's Wounded Warriors Regiment, continuing to live by the same principle, no marine left behind.

WORKMAN: With what we're doing back here is vital to the mission. We are taking care of the guys and gals when they come home; it is a very important job. I realize now that life is short. Every day that I get to wake up and play with my son and spend time with my wife, I take advantage of it. I want to be known for being a great dad and a husband. You know, as well as a good Marine.

DOBBS: A very good Marine.

Tonight's poll results: 94 percent of you say President Obama should send troops to secure our border.

"CAMPBELL BROWN: NO BIAS, NO BULL" starts right now.