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Lou Dobbs Tonight
D.C. Metro Trains Collide; Protesters Defy Iranian Government; Tainted Food; Governor Goes Missing
Aired June 22, 2009 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Thank you, Wolf. And good evening, everybody. The very latest now on that deadly train collision in Washington, D.C.
Also tonight, antigovernment protesters defying Iran's Revolutionary Guard and holding a new demonstration in Tehran. We'll assess the Obama administration's response to what is an escalating crisis in Iran. We'll be talking with one of the world's leading authorities on Islam, Professor Fouad Ajami.
Also, North Korea makes aggressive new threats against the United States. An American destroyer is tracking that North Korean cargo ship believed to be carrying weapons or nuclear material.
And new concerns tonight about the safety of our food system after Nestle recalls cookie dough products because of the risk of E. coli contamination. We'll have that special report.
And a mystery over South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's whereabouts. He disappeared from public view for four days.
And in our "Face Off" debate tonight, we examine the president's new commitment to give millions of illegal aliens a path to citizenship -- what some call outright amnesty.
We begin tonight with breaking news from Washington, D.C.-- a rush hour collision between two metro transit trains. At least two people have been killed, many are reported to be injured. Two cars of one train ended up on top of the second. Metro officials say both trains were on the same track, but were unable, for some reason, to give anymore details.
Elaine Quijano is live now on the scene and has the latest for us. Elaine, what can you tell us?
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, just moments ago metro public relations officials confirmed that one of the fatalities was indeed a train operator. The other -- the operator was a woman. We don't have a name or an age yet, but again, just moments ago, metro officials confirming, Lou, that one of the people who died was in fact a train operator.
Now I'm going to step out of the shot and let you take a look at what we've been seeing here -- for the past two hours, the emergency vehicles here on the scene, originally, we had been right where you see, perhaps in the distance, the D.C. command center essentially. We've since been pushed back to the perimeter.
But video from the scene shows a horrific collision that took place here. As you noted, two trains involved in this collision, at the heart of rush hour, really, 5:00 Eastern Time. Two people dead -- we know a number of people injured, including at least four people taken to nearby Providence Hospital.
Just a short time ago as well we saw a convoy of ambulances arriving on the scene, including a Montgomery County fire rescue ambulance bus. We are expecting Mayor Adrian Fenty, who just arrived on the scene here, moments ago, D.C. mayor, to brief us here, about 15 minutes from now, but Lou that is the very latest? Again, metro officials now confirming one of the people who died in this collision was indeed a train operator. Lou?
DOBBS: Elaine, those are horrific pictures. Two cars resting on top of the other train. And at this early stage, obviously, few details available. But do you have a sense as to when that news conference and the mayor of Washington, D.C. will be stepping before the microphones and cameras?
QUIJANO: Well, we've been told to expect around 7:15. And I can tell you just before we came on, Lou, we actually saw him pull up in his vehicle past the perimeter tape, and pull up in the direction of authorities' vehicles. So we do anticipate, unless something has changed here, they are saying around 7:15, in about 10 minutes or so, Lou is when we expect to hear more perhaps from the mayor of D.C.
DOBBS: Elaine, thank you very much. Elaine Quijano will be going to that live press conference with Mayor Fenty. He'll be holding that news conference in just a few moments. We'll bring it to you as it happens and we'll continue to update the developing story here.
Turning now to the escalating crisis in Iran -- Iranian security forces today attacked thousands of demonstrators who were defying a government ban against further protests. Police and militia in Tehran used batons and tear gas to break up that demonstration. Those protesters ignored a warning by Iran's Revolutionary Guard that it would crush any further protests or demonstration over the disputed presidential election.
And the White House today said President Obama has been, quote, "moved by the protests in Iran". The president facing from some quarters rising criticism, particularly from Republicans, who say the president has failed to show strong leadership in this crisis. Candy Crowley has our report.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In exile since his father was overthrown 30 years ago, Reza Shah Pahlavi longed hoped for this moment of uprising in Tehran. It is also, he says a moment of truth for the rest of the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is what will world governments do this time? Are we going to have Tiananmen Square revisited, or is it going to be this time different?
CROWLEY: Struggling to put together policy in an evolving and often unknown situation, the Obama administration is trying to find sweet spots between competing concerns. One expert says the president can neither over promise...
MICHAEL O'HANLON, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Obama doesn't want to raise up expectations and make people think we're going to somehow come to their aid.
CROWLEY: Nor under support.
O'HANLON: And we don't want to discourage Iranian Democrats and Iranian populists and reformers from trying to do their thing to take back their country from the extremists who have been running it now for 30 years.
CROWLEY: After days of increasing tension and grainy cell phone images of government violence, the president pumped up his rhetoric over the weekend, calling on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. More direct than he's been before, but not enough for critics.
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: We can surely make flat-out statements that we support ballots being counted, elections being honest.
CROWLEY: Still, the president's supporters note the U.S. cannot seem so much on the side of protesters that Iranian authorities attack demonstrators as tools of the great Satan.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: It is very crucial, as I see, that we not have our fingerprints on this. That this really be truly inspired by the Iranian people.
CROWLEY: Reza Pahlavi says he thinks President Obama is right not to give the Iranian government an excuse to Americanize the protests, but he warns the world not to look away from those grainy cell phone pictures, which brought the world the apparent death of a young protester.
REZA PAHLAVI, FORMER IRANIAN CROWN PRINCE: Or from bullets piercing our beloved Neda, whose only sin was the quest for freedom.
CROWLEY: A new poll tonight from ABC/"Washington Post" shows that just over half of Americans approve of the way the president is handling the situation in Iran. The president will hold a news conference tomorrow, Lou, when his words will be parsed for any changes. But in the end, the carefully nuanced art of diplomacy is likely to pale in comparison to a Twitter message or a grainy cell phone picture. Lou?
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Candy Crowley. Well, hundreds of people have been taking part in protests in this country, demonstrating their support for the pro-democracy movement in Iran. In Washington demonstrators held a rally in front of the White House and called upon President Obama to take a tougher line against the Iranian government.
In Atlanta, about 300 people protesting outside CNN Center. Many of these protesters were Iranians living in the United States and in New York City demonstrators gathered near the United Nations headquarters. A large number of the protesters wearing green-colored clothing. That green of course the color of the opposition movement in Iran.
Turning to another international crisis facing the United States, the rising threats from North Korea. Pyongyang is stepping up its anti-American rhetoric, now threatening to strike U.S. targets. North Korea has also declared itself to be what it calls a proud nuclear power. And that declaration follows North Korea's nuclear weapons tests last month.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy is tracking that North Korean ship believed to be carrying weapons or nuclear material. The ship is now about 200 miles south of the Chinese city of Shanghai and is thought to be headed toward the country of Burma led by a military dictatorship with close ties to China. The -- this is the first vessel, the North Korean vessel, to be monitored under the new United Nations sanctions against North Korea, and it is being followed by our destroyer, the "USS John McCain."
A senior U.S. military official said that destroyer has been given no orders yet to intercept the "Kang Nam". President Obama today in public focused on domestic issues, including his push for sweeping health care reform. President Obama announced a deal to close a gap in Medicare drug coverage, and the president said drug companies will spend $80 billion over the next decade to help reduce the cost of prescription drugs for seniors. The president also said that deal would help pay for his health care reforms, which by some estimates could cost up to $3 trillion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today marks a major step forward, but it will only be meaningful if we complete the journey. And to those who here in Washington, who have grown accustomed to sky is falling prognoses and the certainties that we cannot get this done, I have to repeat and revive an old saying we had from the campaign. Yes, we can. We are going to get this done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Congressional critics, however, say that he may not be able to get it done.
Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty and other officials holding a live news conference and we bring it to you live now from Washington, D.C. at the scene. MAYOR ADRIAN FENTY, WASHINGTON, D.C.: I will speak as much as possible to the trains and the impact on WMATA. What we do know is that there are scores of people who have been injured. There are already four confirmed fatalities. With the four confirmed fatalities, it is my preliminary understanding that this would then be the deadliest accident in the history of our metro train transit system.
We early on want to both express the condolences to all of the family members, obviously they haven't even been notified yet. Our hearts go out to the many loved ones who both know of the injuries that have been sustained and those who don't. We have to, at this time, continue to act and behave as a rescue scene.
Our fire department is right now still going through the cars, treating patients, and, unfortunately, and hopefully not finding any bodies that would still remain on the scene. We are cooperating fully with WMATA. They then will cooperate fully with the National Transportation Safety Board.
They will have to do both an investigation and then a release of the scene for us to clean it up. Again, I'll let WMATA speak a little bit more about that. I do want to recognize both the chair of WMATA board, Jim Graham, who is here, and then two council members who represent the most affected areas, council member Muriel Bauser from Ward Four and council member Harry Thomas from Ward Five.
What I'm going to do now is turn it over to our fire chief Dennis Rubin, who has been on the scene, as has many units from our fire department. They responded within about six minutes, I think. He can give you the exact details and they have been literally treating patients ever since with assistance from fire departments from around the region. Chief Rubin?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mayor. As just -- thank you. I'm trying my best.
CHIEF DENNIS RUBIN, WASHINGTON FIRE DEPT.: Trying my best. OK, with that said, a little bit after 5:00, we responded to what was believed to be a small incident, the first arriving company recognized the fact that apparently two trains had collided. A first alarm was sounded followed by a second alarm.
We're currently operating in a rescue mode at a third-alarm response, which is about 200 firefighters. To protect the rest of the city and to provide additional EMS resources, we've called in companies from Fairfax, Montgomery, Arlington, and Prince George's County. In other words, there'll be another 400 calls going on throughout the city while this event's occurring and we'll make sure that they get covered as quickly as they normally would.
At this point, we've handled a total of 70 patients, 7-0. Fifty are green. A green tag patient, that's the triage tag placed on that person to notify the hospital of information of what we found on location is pretty much walking wounded. There were 12 folks that were yellow tagged.
Those are moderate injuries, typically not life threatening. We had two red tags, both of which are life threatening injuries. There are four black tag patients, which means that they've succumbed to their injuries. At least two people were transported by air. We're in an active, live situation as we speak. Conducting rescue from train car to train car, as the mayor has described.
This is going to go on for quite some time in that the train one is on essentially top the other, as everyone knows, and it takes a lot of equipment, coordination and effort. I would like to say that it's been tremendous cooperation between the metropolitan police, the metro police -- let's see -- FBI is here, many, many other emergency response agencies.
And they've done a stellar job, Mayor, to say the least, to provide as much support as they could, comfort, and protection to the people. Also, we're positive many people have simply left on their own, walked away, got other means of transportation to the hospital. We've been in contact with all the hospitals, trying to manage that patient load as best we can. There's going to be some more information, specific information released later on, I believe.
Chief Lanier is going to speak about how we'll try to provide information and folks had loved ones on this train to give them the most amount of information that we can. At this point, however, we're asking for folks not to come to the scene. We're not going to be able to manage it in any way, shape, or form. So if they'll stay in their homes, continue to get great information from the media, we'll provide all the details we can from this location.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mayor?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last announcement we -- before I turn it over to Kato (ph), he will talk about the impact on the transportation system, both the CSX lines, all of the metro transit lines, and commuter traffic from all along the East Coast.
DOBBS: Well, Mayor Adrian Fenty with police -- Fire Chief Dennis Rubin at the scene of this collision of two metro trains at about 5:00 p.m. Eastern today. More than 70 people injured and Mayor Fenty informing us now that four of those passengers were killed in the crash.
Also, Dennis Rubin giving a straightforward and highly professional account of the demands on the Washington, D.C., emergency response teams, particularly under his management there in the nation's capital, while dealing with this horrific train crash, also dealing with 400 calls in the metro area at the same time. We will continue our coverage of this deadly train crash in Washington, D.C. Elaine Quijano, our correspondent on the scene will be bringing us the very latest.
Also tonight, we'll be reporting to you on an E. coli scare linked to cookie dough that is raising troubling new questions about the safety of our food system. And the governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, he went missing. He hasn't shown up, but his whereabouts are now known. The mystery, however, continues, next.
DOBBS: The Nestle cookie dough recall is raising new serious questions tonight. A nationwide outbreak of illnesses from E. coli bacteria has been linked to the cookie dough. Seventy cases have been reported in 30 states. But health officials tonight say they are also investigating the possibility that this was an intentional act. Louise Schiavone with our report.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jillian Collins is a typical American teenager, good friends, loves her family, couldn't wait to graduate high school and enjoys raw cookie dough.
JILLIAN COLLINS, RECENTLY SICKENED BY E.COLI: Eating cookie dough like -- it's like something I remember doing as a kid and everything. It's fun and it's delicious.
SCHIAVONE: At least she used to, until a bout with E. coli poisoning sent her to the hospital for seven days.
COLLINS: It was the seven hard days in the hospital. I had to endure blood tests and the antibiotics made me worse, and so I felt so weak and crummy. I thought I was going to die.
SCHIAVONE: Your mother always said, don't eat raw cookie dough, but that was because of the raw egg associated with salmonella. But what's been at work here is E. coli, a cattle-born bacteria in a non- meat product. Food safety lawyer Bill Marler, who's filed the first cookie dough lawsuit on behalf of Jillian says it's troubling.
Bill MARLER, FOOD SAFETY ATTORNEY: I think anytime you see a food-borne illness outbreak that just sort of doesn't make sense, I think you have to be concerned you know about a bioterrorism event. I think you have to be concerned about an intentional act.
SCHIAVONE: At this juncture, the Centers for Disease Control say there is no evidence of deliberate tampering, but add, it's a fair question. And the Department of Homeland Security is tracking the investigation of the plant through its national bio-surveillance integration center.
At Nestle USA, a spokesman expressed sympathy for the E. coli victims but advised CNN, quote, "at this point, the E. coli strain implicated in the CDC investigation has not been detected in our products and we continue to cooperate fully with the FDA investigators", end quote.
But the Food and Drug Administration finds the CDC evidence persuasive enough to issue this statement. Quote "FDA is working with Nestle USA to ensure suspect products are removed from the supply chain and retail shelves."
SCHIAVONE: If you have the product, says the FDA, get rid of it. Don't touch it. Don't bake it and don't eat it raw. Lou?
DOBBS: Louise thank you very much. Louise Schiavone from Washington.
Up next here, the latest on the Washington, D.C. train crash, also the president's push for comprehensive immigration reform or amnesty and what that would mean for millions of illegal aliens in this country. That is the subject of our "Face Off" debate tonight.
Also, the governor of South Carolina, missing for days. His staff, his family, seemingly unperturbed. We'll have that story and a great deal more, next.
DOBBS: A mystery tonight in South Carolina. The state's governor, Mark Sanford, disappeared for days while his staff and his security detail were unable to reach him. His wife admitted she did not know where he was. Lisa Sylvester is in Washington and has some explanation in at least part of this mystery. Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Lou, what a mystery is right. The governor's office insists that Governor Mark Sanford is not missing and that it's not uncommon for him to take a few days and to step out of the public eye. But if he's laying low CNN has confirmed many in South Carolina don't know where he is, not even his wife, according to The Associated Press.
Governor Sanford has had a rough couple of months and a high- profile fight. He wanted to use federal stimulus money to pay down part of the state's debt, but he lost that political battle. And then last week, the state legislature overrode 10 of his vetoes. Sanford's press secretary told CNN that he quote "put in a lot of time during this last legislative session and after the session winds down, it's not uncommon for him to go out of pocket for a few days at a time to clear his head" end quote.
But a political rival, State Senator Jake Knotts, and also fellow Republican, he told us that Sanford took a state law enforcement division vehicle on Thursday and has not returned with it and is now not traveling with his regular security team. This is what the state senator told CNN affiliates WLTX just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The very simple solution to this thing is Governor Sanford, call back home, come back home. The people of South Carolina want to know where you're at. And the chief of SCLED job would be a whole lot easier if you would just communicate.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SYLVESTER: Knotts was referring to the chief of SCLED, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. According to Knotts, the governor's security team apparently tracked Sanford's cell phone to Atlanta, and at that point the governor's chief of staff asked them to stop tracking him, reiterating that he is fine. Lou?
DOBBS: Even though his family did not know where he was and his security detail was not accompanying him?
SYLVESTER: It is a puzzle and a mystery. And they are not saying where he is. And it's not clear if his office actually knows where he is. But they don't seem to be overly concerned about this. Also, you know, some in the state are calling this a little erratic behavior on his part.
DOBBS: Well, 10 successive vetoes could -- well, certainly could create some erratic behavior. Thank you very much, Lisa. And I know you'll continue to follow this and keep us up-to-date. Lisa Sylvester from Washington.
A reminder, you can follow me on Twitter @loudobbsnews and we will be trying to explain much of this mystery concerning Governor Sanford here and a few other mysteries as well.
Other stories we're following tonight across the country -- in West Palm Beach, Florida, a tanker truck there with more than 8,000 gallons of gasoline exploded on Interstate 95. That truck collided with an abandoned vehicle on the side of the road. The northbound lanes of the highway were shut down for hours. Incredibly, the truck driver and his two dogs escaped with only minor injuries.
Also tonight, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has had a liver transplant. That news ends months of speculation over his health, but it also opens new questions about Jobs' long-term ability to lead the company that he founded and rejuvenated. Jobs has rarely been heard from since January, when he announced he was taking a medical leave. He broke that silence today, reporting that Apple sold more than a million new iPhone 3G S' over the weekend -- a half million is what had been expected.
Singer Chris Brown reaching a plea deal today for charges he assaulted his ex-girlfriend singer Rihanna. Rihanna was in court today for that hearing against Brown. She had never filed a complaint after that incident in February, but photographs of her bruised and battered face helped prosecutors develop the case against Brown. Today, a judge ordered him to serve five years probation, 180 days community service, and to attend domestic violence counseling.
Up next, our live report from the scene of the deadly train crash in Washington, D.C.
Also, President Obama renewing his commitment to so-called comprehensive immigration reform, what some call amnesty. That is the subject of our "Face Off" debate tonight.
And the worsening crisis in Iran. One of the world's leading authorities on the Islamic world, Dr. Fouad Ajami joins me here next.
DOBBS: A deadly train crash in Washington, D.C.-- the latest now. The mayor, Adrian Fenty, reporting that at least four people were killed in that collision. Elaine Quijano now has the very latest for us. Elaine, what can you tell us now?
QUIJANO: Well Lou that news conference with D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty just wrapped up a short time ago. Again, the death toll, as you just noted, increased. Now Mayor Fenty saying four people have been killed in this deadly train crash. This is what the scene looks like now, about two and a half hours after this accident happened around 5:00 Eastern Time. A number of ambulances still on standby as well as a command center set up on the bridge which overlooks the train tracks. In terms of injuries, dozens of patients being treated. We understand from D.C. Fire Chief Dennis Rubin, 70 patients, roughly 50 patients having very minor to no injuries, 12 minor injuries and two patients with life-threatening injuries -- Lou.
But witnesses describing a horrific scene, the two six-car trains colliding here, the heart of rush hour; just a terrible situation. Obviously, as the people on board that train, some of them had to be rescued, extricated, more than an hour after the accident itself happened.
We also understand from officials that a number of people apparently were able to walk away on their own, of their own power, but more information continues to pour in, Lou, as those patients continue to be transported to area hospitals -- Lou.
DOBBS: And the emergency vehicles, the ambulances still leaving the scene with patients?
QUIJANO: We have not seen one leave from our particular vantage point here in a few minutes. What we continue to see though is a number of emergency vehicles arrive on the scene. There you see one there.
A short time ago we did see, in fact, around on the top of the hour, a large bus, a red bus that said Montgomery County Fire Rescue Ambulance bus.
So certainly, a number of emergency personnel continue to be on the scene here and officials are saying, of course, it will take them quite some time to work through and determine what happened here.
DOBBS: All right, Elaine Quijano, reporting from the scene of that crash. And we thank you very much.
Turning now, if I may, very quickly to fire Chief Dennis Rubin and what he added to Mayor Adrian Fenty's statement that four people had been killed, two other injured have life-threatening injuries as a result of that crash. 70 patients are being treated; fortunately, 50 of them, very minor to now injuries, 12 minor injuries. So this crash, apparently all have been extricated from that wreckage, which as you saw, is horrific. Two of those train cars resting atop the other.
Well, turning to the crisis now in Iran, President Obama facing criticism for not declaring unequivocal support for pro-democracy protesters in Iran. My guest tonight says the president's foreign policy education is only beginning.
Joining me now is Professor Fouad Ajami, he's director of Middle East studies at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, a fellow at Stanford University Hoover Institution, author of "The Foreigner's Gift" and one of the world's leading authorities on the Middle East and Islam. Good to have you with us.
PROF. FOUAD AJAMI, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Thank you very much, Lou.
DOBBS: Your reaction to first, the president's policy, as enunciated in his statement and secondly, the criticism of that.
AJAMI: Well, I leveled some criticism as you know myself, in the pages of the "Wall Street Journal" today and I did say that this is President Obama's Persian tutorial. It was not meant to be disrespectful of the president.
The president was caught, his diplomacy has been exposed. He has come forth both as a messenger of this great new change in the world, the herald of a new change, but then he also wants to play realpolitik.
So on Iran, he couldn't really find his footing. On the one hand, he wanted an opening to the regime, yet on the other, he wanted to signal to the people in the States that he is on their side. But he still bet on the regime and that was a mistake.
DOBBS: When you say he bet on the regime...
DOBBS: ...you obviously sincerely believe that his reticence to assert strongly here a denunciation of the regime was acceptance. His statements have progressively become stronger, have they not, over succeeding days?
AJAMI: Well, they have to respond. I mean, the day that we are -- the day that French President speaks morality, and an American President speaks realpolitik is an incredibly sad day. You have Sarkozy, he's taken a harder stand against the theocrats, against the mullahs.
DOBBS: Calling the elections a fraud.
AJAMI: Absolutely. And the Obama administration has been very reluctant to make a statement, an unequivocal statement that these elections are a fraud. Because the President came in, saying he wants to open on to Iran and he extended an olive branch to the Iranian regime.
DOBBS: All right, as our Candy Crowley reported, a difficult balance for this administration, for the United States government.
One is to provide support to those demonstrators. Secondly -- to avoid giving the Iranian theocracy, this totalitarian government, if you will, a foil against which to play and to blame.
DOBBS: How would you resolve that?
AJAMI: Well, I don't think it's easy. I mean, let's be honest about this. I think there is a kind of a difficulty here.
There's a moral and political quandary. If you're worried about Iran and if you're worried about Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and you want to court the regime, then all of a sudden the regime appears to crack. It doesn't really quite crack.
That's another question we need to talk about, is this regime in danger? But I think it does put American diplomacy on notice.
The president I think is on the horns of the dilemma of his own making. He appeared on the scene, saying that he represents a new way in diplomacy, but then he buried the Bush diplomacy of freedom and began courting the autocrats in the region, the autocrats in the Middle East and he sent a message to both Syrians and the Iranians that he is open for business.
DOBBS: Open for business, extending to the point that saying that Iran had a right to nuclear power, which troubled many. But with that olive branch -- if you will -- extended, some suggest it's far more than that.
DOBBS: The response of the Ahmadinejad government has been hostile, to say the least.
Mousavi, what does he represent? Does he truly represent democracy? Does he represent another faction of this theocracy? And where are the other power brokers and where do the people rest at the end of the day?
AJAMI: I think you've asked the fundamental question about Mousavi. But see Fouad Ajami and Lou Dobbs could say Mousavi and Ahmadinejad are two peas in a pod. We could make that argument. We could sustain the argument. We could make it that there is no big difference between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad.
But the President of the United States represents a different message. He represents a different force. The burden on him is much heavier. And I think those protests made his life much more difficult.
DOBBS: If you look at these pictures of those demonstrators in Tehran and around the country that we've seen over the past several days that are coming to us across Twitter, across every imaginable Web application. Is this a manifestation of a demand for democracy and freedom? Or is it an expression for a different leadership of a -- of the same ideology and the same government?
AJAMI: Well, Iran has a tradition of protest. I mean, if you compare Iran with its neighbors, it's amazing. This country has a tradition -- Iran has a tradition of protest that dates back well over a century. I brought for you just something to illustrate this. This is the "Al-Ahram" leading newspaper in...
DOBBS: If we could -- let me hold that up for the cameras, if I may, professor, and then you can...
AJAMI: The leading newspaper in Egypt. That's the newspaper of the regime. On one side, on the left there is Hosni Mubarak meeting with his Chief of Staff. On the right side, there is the protest in Iran and there is a wounded man in the middle of this gathering.
The message is, "Tyranny is better than freedom." And yet the Iranians have gone into the streets to bet on freedom, to bet on change, to bet on liberty, to signal to the forces that rule their lives, to signal to the Mullahs, to signal to the theocracy that they wish to soften the theocracy.
That's really what this fight is about. They wish to live in a freer life, a more modern life. They wish less restrictions on women, less restrictions on the young, they wish to wear clothes, they wish to wear color in the streets; little things that we don't dwell on but are very central to their life.
DOBBS: And Mousavi has called for peaceful demonstrations. On Thursday of this week, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has said without any equivocation that it will be brutal in responding to such a demonstration. Where are we likely headed?
AJAMI: Well, one's heart aches for the Iranians. They can't -- I mean, these dissidents can't win a battle in the streets. We don't want a battle in the streets. The Basij, the militias, and the Revolutionary Guard would win that battle hands down. And that's why Mousavi has edged to the brink and then pulled back.
What is really interesting to watch is the split within the Iranian elites. Two former presidents, who were presidents for 16 years, two former presidents, Rafsanjani and Khatami are now on the side of Mousavi.
So the unity of the theocracy, the unity of the Islamic Republic is now questionable. That's really the development that we have seen in the last week or so.
DOBBS: And the power of the Supreme Leader...
DOBBS: The Ayatollah, his power obviously not only questioned, but responded to negatively here. Where does this leave him?
AJAMI: Well, the Supreme Leader could be the "Wizard of Oz;" you pull the curtain and there's just an old man, there's no wizard. I mean, that's the frightening thing about revolutions. They follow no script and people discover that structures of power are not as powerful as they seem, because this Supreme Leader is not really a great cleric. He's not a great moral or religious authority. He's just a functionary of the regime.
Ayatollah Khomeini the founder of this revolution was a great scholar. We don't think much of him, but he had a history of work, of scholarly work, of religious work.
This man is just a hack, he's just a functionary of the regime and that's all.
DOBBS: And the U.S. government should do what?
AJAMI: And the U.S. government, I think we have been embarrassed and there is no denying that we have been embarrassed. President Obama has been embarrassed by the protests in the streets.
DOBBS: And we should?
AJAMI: I think we should be careful about the kinds of things we say about ourselves. President Obama went to Cairo and sent a message to the Islamic world. That message now stands somewhat tarnished by what has happened in the streets of Tehran.
DOBBS: Professor Fouad Ajami, as always, constructive and very helpful, we thank you for being here.
AJAMI: Thank you.
DOBBS: Up next, President Obama's push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. It could mean amnesty for millions of illegal aliens. It is the subject of tonight's "Face-Off" and the subject of a likely turbulent political struggle over the course of the next year.
DOBBS: President Obama last week renewed his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform legislation, or amnesty in the minds of many. That move could put millions of illegal aliens already in this country on a path to amnesty or amnesty for those illegal immigrants.
Some say granting amnesty to them is a moral imperative. Others, however, say the president's first concern should be the security of our borders. That's the topic of our face-off debate tonight.
Joining me now is Reverend Samuel Rodriguez. He is the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council, and it is good to have you with us. Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., who is senior pastor at the Hope Christian Church, founder and chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition; it's good to have you with us.
BISHOP HARRY JACKSON JR., SENIOR PASTOR, HOPE CHRISTIAN CHURCH: Good to be with you, Lou.
DOBBS: Let me begin, if I may, by sharing with everyone at the same time this statement from the president reiterating his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, or amnesty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people believe in immigration, but they also believe that we can't tolerate a situation where people come to the United States in violation of the law, nor can we tolerate employers who exploit undocumented workers in order to drive down wages. That's why we're taking steps to strengthen border security and we must build on those efforts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Reverend Rodriguez, you say those comments don't go far enough, nearly far enough, and may very well cost him the Hispanic vote when he seeks re-election. What would you have him do?
REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: I would have the president -- I commend the president for affirming the fact that the lack of comprehensive immigration reform is actually something that's detrimental to the morality of this nation. To have 12 million people living in the shadows and executing a policy of deportation via attrition, which, by the way, it's not working.
They're not going south. They're going north to Washington State, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota. To have 12 million people living in the shadows, to have children without access to health care or health care benefits, to have racial profiling in corporations throughout this nation...
DOBBS: What would you have the president doing, Reverend?
RODRIGUEZ: I would have the president make a commitment that comprehensive immigration reform needs to pass this year, in 2009. We understand...
DOBBS: He's done that.
RODRIGUEZ: Well, no, health care right now is king. But my concern is that if we pursue -- if we push this down to 2010...
DOBBS: Reverend, I apologize. We've got limited time and I would like to bring in Bishop Jackson now, if I may. Your response?
JACKSON: Well, Dr. Rodriguez is a friend of mine. I would simply say, we do need a comprehensive program, but we don't need amnesty. The problem is, this problem is so huge it needs to be analyzed piece by piece and torn apart.
Lou, we just can't let people stay in the nation who may be gang bangers, people from all kind of walks of life. There are some great people that are being persecuted. And Lou, in our book "Personal Faith, Public Policy," we call this problem of immigration the new slavery.
But in order to take undocumented workers out of this slavery- type system, we're going to have to slow down, be very, very strategic, and make sure we know who's coming in, who's going out.
One last thing, Lou, it may take some people as long as seven years to go through the INS process. The system is broken. And the president could start that process of fixing up the time and speeding up the process of people who want to be legal coming in, and I don't know why they don't start there.
DOBBS: Yes, well, Reverend, why don't we start there?
RODRIGUEZ: This piecemeal idea, this step-by-step approach, we're talking about human lives, the children of God. Both Democrats and Republicans agree to that. To take this in piecemeal steps, where it would take years to finally pass comprehensive immigration reform, I think it's morally reprehensible.
Racial profiling is legal in America in 2009. We're looking at video shots of Iran; we have issues here in America because of my last name. I'm a third generation America. I'm stopped for driving beyond my speed limit and I'm asked whether or not I can prove my citizenship. We need to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2009.
JACKSON: You need to do something about it, or I should say government, and I agree with Dr. Rodriguez, that it's an urgent issue. But we're simply saying -- I think Lou, you would agree with me that you can't sweep the nuances of this process under the rug and just for sake of trying to win all these voters; there has to be a systemic approach.
So I agree with Dr. Rodriguez that we need to do something immediately. I agree with him that it's not fair to the families that are involved, but I want to raise a caution flag that we take time and make sure that that we know what we're doing. It can be done this year if the president elevates its priority in the national thinking.
DOBBS: So let me ask this, Reverend Rodriguez, and to you as well, Bishop Jackson. The president said, "Pay a penalty, pay taxes, and learn English." Is there anything wrong with that, in either of your minds? RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely not. I am committed to a process of assimilation. Absolutely not.
JACKSON: Well, I think there has to be greater screening of the individuals that we bring in. We've got all kinds of gangs that have come from South America. I serve a congregation with 22 nationalities. The problem is not just Hispanic, it's African; it has many, many faces and shades and color. And I do agree that there's profiling involved, so it's urgent.
I think it needs to be dealt with immediately. But I can't just let those three things be the sole criteria for us to say, you stay and someone else doesn't get a chance to come in.
DOBBS: And the issues that are raised of chain migration, you mentioned I believe 12 million, 13 million. The estimates range from 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants in this country, Reverend, with family, who would then be eligible to come into this country and those visas would be apportioned to them.
We're talking what number in your view would be entering the United States and in the line for ultimately citizenship and legal status in this country?
RODRIGUEZ: Sure, it would exceed the current number that we just projected of 12 million. The fact of the matter is this is America. Our founding fathers committed to a value system where the family was the centerpiece. Are we now the new America, not committing to affirming the family but rather committed to separating families? That's a question we have to ask ourselves.
DOBBS: Reverend, I think that's a question we should ask ourselves personally on a host of issues, not simply an immigration reform.
DOBBS: Lastly, last week, La Raza called for in health care reform, coverage of illegal immigrants. Your views, Bishop Jackson -- very quickly if you would.
JACKSON: I think there's going to have to be some equitable way to include people. I don't want people who have cancer -- I just survived cancer -- or HIV/AIDS to be left without treatment. That's ridiculous. That highlights the fact, though, that we need to -- as Dr. Rodriguez says -- solve this problem immediately.
DOBB: You're both compassionate men, Bishop, I understand that. But is there some point at which lacking the fund that there's a choice between covering citizens and illegal immigrants?
JACKSON: Citizens should come first.
RODRIGUEZ: The moment we don't cover that 3-year-old girl entering into the emergency room because she doesn't have legal documentation... DOBBS: That 3-year-old girl is covered now, as you know, Reverend.
RODRIGUEZ: No, but the moment we begin to qualify who we cover based on...
DOBBS: We're talking about in the health care reform as you know, Reverend.
RODRIGUEZ: I would agree with the National Council of La Raza.
DOBBS: Bishop Jackson?
JACKSON: I think there should be a line, therefore, the urgency of us solving the problem is my answer. As a man of faith I can't say don't treat people with cancer and bad diseases.
DOBBS: That's as chivalrous as (INAUDIBLE) as you both know. The question is, if there is a choice because of overall constraints under fiscal policy, we're already heavily burdened in this country; our government is broke as the president has said. Is there a point at which we'll have to make a decision between taking care of citizens and making a decision about illegal immigrants?
JACKSON: There is a point. There should be a line of demarcation. I agree with that statement.
DOBBS: We thank you both for being with us Bishop Jackson. Reverend Rodriguez we thank you.
RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.
DOBBS: We'll be back in just a moment.
DOBBS: In today's dramatic final round of the U.S. Open, a surprise win by Lucas Glover. After another rain delay this morning Lucas Glover stood at 700 par tied with Ricky Barnes. But at the 16th hole, 29-year-old Glover took the lead with his only birdie of the day. Ricky Barnes, David Duval and Phil Mickelson all tied for second place, two shots back in the lead. Congratulations to Lucas Glover.
Up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown -- Campbell.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN HOST, "NO BIAS, NO BULL": Hey there, Lou. We are going to have more at the top of the hour on breaking news. Two D.C. Metro trains crashed during rush hour. We'll have the very latest on that.
Plus, the "Daily Show's" Jason Jones, he has just returned from Iran. And he talks with us about his experiences with the Iranian people and other highlights from his trip.
In also, tonight's great debate, will president Obama's plan fix health care? We've got doctors on both sides. And of course, as always, we want to hear what you think as well.
All that at the top of the hour -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Campbell.
We'll be right back. Stay with us.
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Good night from New York.
Now, Campbell Brown.