Return to Transcripts main page
Lou Dobbs Tonight
Obama's Poll Numbers Plummet; Another Prime Time News Conference; Health Care Fight
Aired July 20, 2009 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: Good evening, everybody.
President Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are calling on the House and Senate to pass President Obama's health care plan in less than three weeks. At the same time, cost estimates of those various proposals now range from $1 trillion to as much as $3 trillion, all of this while the federal budget deficit is soaring. The cost of all the government's bailiouts and rescues could hit $24 trillion. That would be about equal to the entire U.S. economy over a two-year period.
Against that backdrop, president Obama's poll ratings are plummeting on the issues of handling health care and the economy.
The White House, looking at those polls, apparently, and the massive resistance to the president now on health care, the president asking the networks for air time, 8:00 pm eastern Wednesday for his fourth prime time news conference.
We begin tonight with the president's struggle to sell that health care plan. A significant number of conservative Democrats are now opposing the president's proposal and the cost.
Opinion polls show a rising number of Americans also disapproving of the president's health care agenda. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele today called the president's health care plan "socialism."
In response, President Obama declared the United States cannot afford, quote, "the politics of delay and defeat." Ed Henry reports from the White House.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the odds of success on health care reform grow longer, the president's rhetoric is getting tougher.
BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We've talked this problem to death, year after year. But unless we act and act now, none of this will change.
HENRY: A new "Washington Post" ABC News poll found that 49 percent of Americans approve of the president's handling of health care, 44 percent disapprove, a sharp drop from April, when 57 percent approved, just 29 percent disapproved, one reason Republicans are on the attack, with Senator Jim DeMint declaring, ""If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."
OBAMA: Think about that. This isn't about me. This isn't about politics. This is about a health care system that is breaking America's families, breaking America's businesses, and breaking America's economy, and we can't afford the politics of delay and defeat.
HENRY: But the problem for the president is he's running into a wall not just from Republicans but conservative Democrats as well after a new budget analysis revealed the leading Democratic health plans will increase the debt and not provide the savings Mr. Obama promised.
SEN. BEN NELSON, (D) NEBRASKA: I think it's a devastating blow.
HENRY: Now even the Mayo Clinic has slammed the House Democratic plan just weeks after the president held the clinic up as a model of high-quality care at a low cost.
OBAMA: We should learn from their successes and promote the best practices, not the most expensive ones.
HENRY: But the clinic says the House bill misses the opportunity to help create higher quality, more affordable health care for patients. In fact, it will do the opposite.
HENRY (on camera): Senior officials here say the new strategy is the president essentially telling his top aides, give me the ball, that he wants a more prominent role in leading the public campaign for this health care legislation.
That's why he is planning to have that prime time news conference on Wednesday, Thursday, going to the key state of Ohio, to the Cleveland clinic to also to talk up health reform.
But he's facing growing resistance, not just from lawmakers, but governors, some Democrats and Republicans as well, saying they're worried this is all going to be too expensive and wind up being an unfunded mandate to states -- Lou?
DOBBS: The Governor's Association rejecting the health care plan, at least as it has been articulated. The White House is responding with public relations, but the facts are very stubborn here, are they not?
HENRY: He's certainly facing an uphill battle. You can see that the poll numbers are not as good for him on the issue of health care as is his broader popularity.
But he's trying to use what he thinks he has in terms of political capital to still push this through. Let's not forget that at the height of the stimulus debate, there were a lot of critics saying he wasn't going to be able to get that through. He muscled it through.
The question now is whether he will be able to do it a second time -- Lou?
DOBBS: And also a question of whether there should be public hearings, whether there should be a public debate, and considerable more research and analysis on the issue. Apparently the president wants this done no matter what, is that correct?
HENRY: Well, he wants it done quickly. But we should point out the House and the Senate, at the committee level, have had debates. In the Senate, the White House likes to point out, that the Senate Health Committee, for example, accepted more than 100 amendments from Republicans.
They had a chance to shape that legislation. That's not the final product, obviously. There's still a lot of work to be done. And you can bet there will be a very healthy debate on the floors of the House and Senate if these bills ever get out of committee -- Lou?
DOBBS: All right, Ed Henry, thank you very much, from the White House.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tonight trying to end the revolt by conservative Democrats over the high cost of the health care legislation and tax surcharges.
CNN has learned that Speaker Pelosi is considering changing the legislation so that it would only tax families making $1 million or more and individuals making $500,000 or more.
The current version of the bill would raise taxes on families with incomes of more than $350,000, individuals earning more than $280,000.
President Obama and the Democratic Party frequently cite the number of people in this country trying to support the health care proposal they're advocating. They claim there are nearly 46 million people without health care insurance.
Here is what that 46 million includes -- 14 million people who are eligible for public health insurance programs like Medicaid or S- Chip but for some reason do not participate, at least 7 million illegal aliens, according to the Center for Immigration Studies and other research groups.
By the way, that number, some 7 million illegal immigrants, the number generally is considered to be an estimate more realistically between 12 and 20 million.
And some 7 million uninsured individuals, many of those young adults who earn at least $40,000 a year who may have chosen to skip health insurance because they believe they don't need it.
We should also point out many people included in the 46 million are Americans who have been without health insurance for less than a year. So according to one industry study, the number of long-term uninsured Americans could actually be as low as 8.2 million.
A new opinion poll shows a rising number of independent voters in this country now oppose the president's health care proposals.
The "Washington Post" ABC News poll also shows the president's overall approval rating for the first time to have fallen under 60 percent. That's in line with other opinion polls.
Candy Crowley has our report. Candy, the president losing key support on key issues.
CANDY CROWLEY, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: He is, Lou. We have seen any number of polls now that show the president's overall approval is dropping, though it does remain a healthy upper 50 percent.
But inside the numbers is an interesting political story. The president is more popular than his programs, and when it comes to his programs, a good part of that slippage is among independents.
Let's look at this latest ABC News/Washington Post poll on the specific question of the president's health care reform. Overall, 44 percent disapprove of his handling of reform, while 49 percent of independents approve -- I'm sorry, overall approve.
Now you flip those numbers and you see what the independents have to say -- 49 percent of individuals disapprove, a disapproval rate that has gone up 19 points since April, 44 percent approve the way the president is handling health care.
The question is why independents' numbers are higher. A CBS poll suggests, in part, it may be that price tag. "Do you think health care should be fixed now or do you think the country can't afford it?" was the question.
The answer from independents, right down the middle -- 48 percent said fix it, 46 percent said the country simply can't afford it.
Two things, though. Independents generally decide elections, but they are famously mercurial and can swing from week to week. And if you put the president's or Democrats on Capitol Hill up against any Republican, not even a contest. Republicans are still stuck in their worst numbers in more than three decades -- Lou?
DOBBS: And those mercurial independents, however, seem to be less mercurial, at least in the estimation of the national media when the numbers are a little higher for the president.
CROWLEY: OK, I take your point. So we'll watch them for the next few months and see what happens.
DOBBS: You've got a deal, Candy. As always, thank you so much.
DOBBS: The Obama administration tonight is also facing new criticism for its response to the economic crisis. Republicans say the White House response has been what they call "an abject failure."
But the president's budget director, Peter Orszag, says the recession is worse than anyone expected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER ORSZAG, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: Well, again, first, everyone -- almost everyone, not quite everyone, but almost everyone in November or December didn't realize how big the hole actually was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: November and December, of course, predate the president's inauguration on the 20th of January and his subsequent introduction to the stimulus package.
Peter Orszag also indicated a second stimulus package is not required. He said much of the spending from the existing package will take effect later this year.
Peter Orszag appears to be the only person in Washington who didn't know that the economic crisis would be this bad. In fact, Republicans and Democrats alike, from the White House to Congress, issued repeated warnings about the dire state of the American economy, and did so for the period of almost two years. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: There's definitely some storm clouds and concerns. But the underpinning is good.
HENRY PAULSON, FORMER TREASURE SECRETARY: We need to do something now, because short-term risks are clearly to the down side.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: We stand here at the precipice of a fairly severe economic downturn.
OBAMA: You've got good reason to be concerned, because the fact is that the economy is not working for ordinary Americans.
SEN. HARRY REID, (D) MAJORITY LEADER: Today we face what economists call the greatest economic danger since the Great Depression.
OBAMA: The economic crisis we face is the worst since the Great Depression.
Statistics every day underscore the urgency of the economic situation. The American people expect action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: I said Peter Orszag was apparently the only person in Washington. I forgot about his boss, President Obama, who also said he didn't realize how bad things were. He said that just a couple weeks ago. Critics are saying elected officials, in fact, talked down the economy over that same two-year period, trying to sell their economic plans.
Coming up next, some of your bailout money is literally being spent on pork. And by the way, your bailout money could amount to just about two years of the American economy. We'll have that story.
Also, "Lou Dobbs Tonight" has learned new details of the president's plan to tackle what is a worsening swine flu outbreak in this country and around the world.
And rising anger and concern at the way the Taliban is treating one of our soldiers captured in Afghanistan.
DOBBS: Defense Secretary Robert Gates today said he's disgusted at the way the Taliban is treating one of our soldiers who they captured in Afghanistan now three weeks ago.
The Taliban released a video of private first class Bowe Bergdahl in captivity. Chris Lawrence has our report -- Chris?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, Lou.
You know, Secretary of State Clinton called it "outrageous," Secretary Gates said it's "disgusting." Other words we've been hearing out of the Pentagon is this is a humiliating way to treat a prisoner and a violation of international law.
Here's a little bit of a few hours ago of how Secretary Gates summed up the situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Our commanders are sparing no effort to find this young soldier. And I also would say my personal reaction was one of disgust at the exploitation of this young man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE: The military believes that he has been moved several times since his capture a few weeks ago. Sparing no expense to find him means a combination of using the carrot and stick approach. They have been dropping leaflets over Afghanistan in the Pashtun language.
One of the leaflets shows a soldier, an American soldier surrounded by children with his arms outstretched that says "One of our American guests has gone missing. Please help our guest return home. Call this number."
The other is a completely different tact. It shows an American soldier kicking down the door and it says "If you have knowledge," basically, "of this soldier and do not return him, we will hunt you down." So two very different approaches, trying to get the message out to the people in Afghanistan -- Lou?
DOBBS: Is that a threat that the United States military can carry out?
LAWRENCE: That depends, because, right now, they have to locate him. They believe he has been moved several times. There is reference by both Private Bergdahl and his captors that he had been taken to Kandahar.
Right now the U.S. military is not publicly commenting on whether that is confirmed or not. It may be a red herring, it may not be.
But even if the locate him, a much bigger question arises, which is, if you were to mount some sort of rescue effort, do you put his life in even greater risk? That is a very, very difficult decision to make.
DOBBS: Chris, Secretary Gates also today calling on an expansion of the size of the military and the army. Tell us what you can about that.
LAWRENCE: Yes -- 22,000 more soldiers will be added to the army, Lou. But this is a temporary increase.
Basically, what they're saying is, with what's going on in Iraq, the ramp-up in Afghanistan, and the political turmoil in Pakistan, we don't have enough soldiers to fulfill all of our troop levels.
So, what they're doing is authorizing an additional amount for the next few years. After about three years, it will drop down back to its -- the level it was originally scheduled to be at.
DOBBS: Chris, thank you very much. Chris Lawrence from the Pentagon.
Two British airlines are banning passengers with swine flu, banning them from flying, trying to keep that virus from spreading. Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are now conducting medical screenings at airports to determine whether passengers have flu symptoms.
Britain has the highest number of swine flu deaths in Europe, some 29.
There's rising concern about the availability of swine flu vaccines worldwide. This comes at a time when the Centers for Disease Control is considering recommending that Americans receive not one but two shots for the flu. Kitty Pilgrim reports.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN BUSINESS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Mount Sinai hospital in New York is bracing for the fall flu season. Recent research with test animals at the University of Wisconsin found the new h1n1 swine influenza virus looks very similar to the strain of flu that called the 1918 flu pandemic. One of the top virologists at Mount Sinai is studying both the normal seasonal flu and the swine flu, and says both strains descend from the influenza that killed some 50 million people back in 1918.
DR. PETER PALESE, MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL: So they have both a common ancestor in 1918. And it appears that the swine virus is much closer related to the 1918 virus than the current h1n1 seasonal influenza virus.
PILGRIM: The CDC is recommending some people take two separate vaccines in the fall, one for swine flu and another for seasonal flu.
DR. ANNE SCHUCHAT, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: The seasonal influenza vaccine is very important. It protects against three types of influenza. But it doesn't protect against this new 2009 h1n1 virus. So we do think that a different vaccine will be needed to protect against that.
So it's likely that many people will be recommended to get both vaccines.
PILGRIM: Last week the World Health Organization pointed out the global manufacture of vaccine for swine flu is woefully inadequate.
Fifty summer camps around the country are closing because of swine flu outbreaks. This camp in Denver, sponsored by the American Lung Association, is taking no chances.
Doctors we spoke to assured us there would be at least 100 million vaccines available for swine flu starting in the fall. But if the outbreak is severe, that may not be enough.
Now, the CDC is assuring the public there will be enough vaccine, but U.S. manufacturers only make about 20 percent of the flu vaccine needed in this country -- Lou?
DOBBS: And public health officials themselves have said that, given that, the United States will not be at the top of the priority list for many of these companies.
PILGRIM: It may be a problem. Companies may break contracts. Only 20 percent we make here --
DOBBS: To serve their own populations.
DOBBS: Which is understandable, after all.
PILGRIM: It might happen.
DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much. Kitty Pilgrim -- not pleasant, but understandable. To hear my thoughts on this issue and others, join me on the radio Mondays through Fridays, please, for "The Lou Dobbs Show," 2:00 to 4:00 P.M. each afternoon on WOR 710 radio in New York. Go to loudobbs.com to get your local listings in your city for the Lou Dobbs show on the radio.
And still ahead here, top Democrats want now an investigation of the CIA. Do you remember that? It's been out of the headlines, hasn't it? Is it fact-finding, or would it be just more politics as usual? That is the subject of our face-off debate tonight.
And millions of your tax dollars being spent not just on pork projects but, by golly, gumdrops, on pork products themselves.
DOBBS: We have some more encouraging signs to share with you on the economy tonight. The index of leading economic indicators is up for a third straight month.
The index last month rising 0.7 of a percent. That's higher than initially forecasted. Housing starts, stock prices, and jobless claims among the positive contributors to the June index.
The president's top economic adviser, Lawrence Summers, says the economic stimulus package is working, and Summers has a new economic indicator to prove it, Google searches. Summers said the number of Google searches for the term "Economic Depression" reached a high earlier in the year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE SUMMER, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR: The anxiety could be measured in one of many ways. To take one modern indicator, Google searches for the term "Economic Depression" were up fourfold from their baseline level, and something similar was true of mainstream media references to economic depression.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: So, we've moved from the dichotomy from the real economy and the financial economic to the virtual society.
Summers also declared the number of searches for "economic depression" has fallen to what he termed normal levels on Google. Summers said that proves that the economy has stabilized.
President Obama in April ordered his cabinet secretaries to identify at least $100 million in additional spending cuts within 90 days.
Three months later we are still waiting for details. Today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, quote, "We'll release something in the coming days."
Meanwhile, the federal government is continuing to spend taxpayer money at an incredible rate, $1 trillion over the past three months alone. $100 million isn't much, but it might help.
Even more disturbing, "Politico" today reported all the government bailouts, loans, and rescues could ultimately cost taxpayers a staggering $23 trillion.
That number comes from Neil Beroski, he's the special inspector for the Treasury's TARP program. $23 trillion is nearly double the annual size of this nation's entire economy, $14 trillion.
We are now five months into the president's $700 billion economic stimulus program, and this, by the way, marks the sixth month anniversary of the Obama administration.
Tonight, we have an eye-opening look of where some of that money is going, millions, in fact, millions and millions for ham and for cheese.
Brook Baldwin reports for us tonight -- Brook?
BROOK BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, we were talking earlier about perhaps googling "economic depression."
A lot of people may be googling "pork" today, as that is what we are talking about, pork literally. According to the government's Web site, you've hear of it, recovery.gov, which is designed to give Americans a road map on stimulus spending.
We'll the federal government is helping stimulate the economy by -- take a look -- spending $1.1 million on ham.
Another number for you here, $5 million going to pay for cheese. And one more here, more of the money, more than $350,000 spent on upgrading dumbwaiters -- you know what a dumbwaiter is? It's an elevator that takes food and up and down, kind of like an elevator, at the Brooklyn V.A. Medical Center here in New York.
You ask, dumbwaiters, how does that stimulate the economy? According to a spokesman for Veteran Affairs, dumbwaiters at the Brooklyn V.A. help to transport medical supplies throughout the 18- story building.
As for the agency awarding all the cheese and the ham, that is the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Take a look at their explanation here. Here's what they said today, quote, "While the principle purpose of these expenditures is to provide food to those hardest hit by these tough times, the purchases also provide a modest economic benefit of -- benefiting Americans working at food retailers, manufacturers, and transportation companies, as well as the farmers and ranchers who produce our food supply."
I did speak with a top economist today on this very subject, who told me, look, providing food for these stressed households through programs like even food stamps or these food banks, he says, yes, it does jumpstart the economy by helping support stressed households.
But you've got to keep in mind when we think about the purpose of passing this $787 billion stimulus bill, Lou, it is to stimulate the economy and create jobs. and when you think about millions of dollars, perhaps, spent on ham, cheese, and dumbwaiters, do they create jobs? Perhaps that answer might be --
BALDWIN: Maybe -- we can be optimistic.
DOBBS: Absolutely. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
DOBBS: Up next, new questions about the rising number of so- called czars being appointed by the Obama administration that count, by one count, approaching about 30.
And Republicans say Democrats are trying to politicize intelligence by calling for investigations into the CIA. That is the topic of our face-off debate tonight.
And what appears to be an unlikely alliance between the Obama White House and leftists on how to attack a political crisis in Honduras. Hello Hugo.
DOBBS: Tonight, the United States is threatening tough sanctions in response to the coup that forced Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to leave his country. He was ousted by his own military for violating his country's constitution.
But tonight, as the Obama administration is raising pressure, critics are saying the White House is actually backing a leftist strong man with ties to Hugo Chavez. Inez Perez with our report.
INEZ PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Zelaya supporters blocking roads and burning tires, demanding the return of their president. This weekend's negotiations, mediated by Costa Rica's president, fell apart, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reminding Honduras' interim government what's at stake if Zelaya is not reinstated.
P.J. CROWLEY, ASST. SECRETARY OF STATE: A significant impact in terms of aid and consequences, potentially longer-term consequences of a relationship between Honduras and the United States.
FERRE: Zelaya was ousted by the military at the end of June after proposing a nationwide vote on whether he should be allowed to run for a second term, a plan the supreme court deemed unconstitutional. The U.N., European Union and Latin American countries all condemned Zelaya's ousting. A vocal supporter of Zelaya has been Venezuela's leader, Hugo Chavez. A crusader for socialism throughout the hemisphere, Chavez recently won approval to eliminate presidential term limits in his own country. Some critics say the administration finds itself agreeing with left-wing leaders in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.
JUAN CARLOS HIDALGO, CATO INSTITUTE: Washington has even refrained from criticizing Zelaya for his efforts, his efforts to subvert the Honduran constitution in order to remain in power. And that has led to Obama siding with Chavez and Evo Morales and Rafael Correa, presidents who have undermined their own democratic institutions in their countries.
FERRE: But another analyst says that while Obama and Chavez both want to reinstate Zelaya, their ultimate goals are very different.
PROF. PATRICIO NAVIO, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: The U.S. wants democracy in Honduras, and Hugo Chavez probably wants to have an ally in power in Honduras, be it democratic or not.
FERRE: And the European Union today suspended aid to Honduras, the U.S. has suspended some programs, but hasn't instituted a full suspension of aid yet, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, this is an extraordinary alliance with Hugo Chavez, with a president who, obviously, was subverting the constitution of Honduras - or trying to.
FERRE: That's what some critics are saying. There definitely is that, trying to be kind of politically correct, as one critic put it, in backing Zelaya.
DOBBS: And it's an absolute intrusion into the internal affairs of the country, which has what, a population over 7 million people? The United States looks a bit like an opportunistic bully once again in Latin America.
FERRE: Yeah. Today the State Department was saying, this isn't about a particular leader. This is just about democratic order.
DOBBS: The State Department said that?
DOBBS: Oh, OK, I get it. I understand. Thank you very much, Ines Ferre.
The House Intelligence Committee, tonight, beginning its investigation into whether the Bush administration broke laws by not telling Congress about some classified programs. The committee opened that investigation late last week after months of controversy over the CIA.
Joining us for tonight's "Face-Off" debate, two members of the House Intelligence Committee. Democrat Rush Holt, who says it's the responsibility of the Congress to make certain that the CIA is doing what it's supposed to do. And Republican Pete Hoekstra, the ranking member of the committee, who says the investigation is a distraction, a waste of time and money.
Gentlemen, first of all, thank you both for being here.
REP. RUSH HOLT, (D-NJ) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CMTE.: Good to be with you, Lou.
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA, (R) HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CMTE.: Good to be with you
DOBBS: Congressman Holt, what is this investigation -- what do you hope to learn?
HOLT: Well, as the chairman of the committee has presented it, it has a fairly narrow scope. I've been asking for a long time that we have something with a broader scope. It goes far beyond who was briefed on what, when, far beyond one particular program, but provide the kind of oversight that the intelligence community has not had, really, for years.
DOBBS: Will this go to the --
HOLT: It's not to cast doubt on them, but it's to say that any unexamined behavior is risky. You want the best results possible. And just as you don't want CEOs auditing their own books, or children devising and grading their own tests, there should be an external review.
DOBBS: Congressman Hoekstra, your thoughts?
HOEKSTRA: I think what Rush is describing is a very essential function of the Intelligence Committee. Actually, though, what they're doing is -- we're kind of watching what the Democrats and House Intelligence Committee are going through, and the divisions that they have with the -- their own leadership in the intelligence community, the people appointed by President Obama. They've gone much further than saying we're going to have a review or an investigation.
You know, the speaker of the House has said the CIA lies all the time. The chairman of the committee now has accused the CIA of lying. Seven Democrats on the committee have accused, or come close to, accusing Leon Panetta for misleading them and misleading the House with statements he made back in May.
So, as soon as the Democrats resolve the differences between themselves as to how they view the intelligence community, I'm more than willing, as are the other Republican colleagues, to do a review of what needs to be told to Congress and when we need to be told. We're very willing to be a constructive part of this process.
DOBBS: Congressman Holt.
HOLT: You know, Peter, it's good to be with you.
It's not the same Peter Hoekstra that I served on this committee so many years with. You have complained as vigorously as anyone about our need to play 20 questions, how when the intelligence agencies come before the committee, they find every opportunity to conceal or prevaricate, use the words you want, mislead. If we don't ask the right question, they won't tell us. And sometimes if we do ask the right question they won't tell us.
DOBBS: Let me see if I can ask the right question here.
DOBBS: It's pretty clear that they National Security Act of '47 says the CIA "shall keep the Congress Intelligence Committee fully and completely informed of all covert actions" and then it gives and escape clause, except in those areas in which there are sensitive matters and the executive doesn't want to do that.
With that loophole, and a program that apparently was not implemented, or carried out, why -- what can you possibly do?
HOLT: Well, are you asking me, Lou?
DOBBS: Yes, I am.
HOLT: Well, the question is not whether the program was carried out. First of all, it was operational. But the law requires that Congress be kept fully and currently informed even for anticipated operations. So, there's no question that there was a responsibility, and I would argue a legal obligation, to keep Congress fully and currently informed in this case, but the public should want it. The CIA themselves should want it, to minimize the risk of big mistakes.
DOBBS: Well, if you say that program is operational -
Congressman Hoekstra said it wasn't operational. Given that - and you've been critical of the CIA, Congressman. Was it operational, first of all, in your judgment? And, secondly, with that escape clause in the '47 Security Act, what is this about?
HOEKSTRA: Well, Lou, I think from my perspective, we'll have to define what operational means. Does it mean there were planning and training dollars spent on this? According to press reports, it appears, that yes, there were. Was the full intent of the program ever carried out? That's talking about potentially capturing or killing Al Qaeda leaders. Again, press reports indicate that that never happened.
I think what we do need to do -- Rush is exactly right. I've been a very, very harsh critic of when the CIA has not been forthright to the committee. When the inspector general came back and said, you know, shoot down the missionary pilots in Peru, you were misled by the intelligence community. Hey, I called for accountability. In May of 2006 when people within the community came and told me - through the backdoor - and said hey there's some programs you're not being briefed on, I wrote the president a classified letter. And said I want to be briefed and I want the committee briefed on these things. At that time, Director Hayden came and briefed us on some of these programs.
I do think what the committee needs to do -and we can do this on a bipartisan basis.
HOEKSTRA: What we need to do, is we have to do, you know, take the ambiguity out of and on a timely and fully basis, we have to clarify that and move forward.
DOBBS: Let me ask you this, the speaker of your House has said that the CIA lied to her. Seven Democrats, sending that letter off to Leon Panetta, who is the one who disclosed there was such a program, asking him to apologize, effectively, for defending the institution.
One can't help but think of the '74 Church Commission, from which the CIA and intelligence community required three decades, some would argue longer, to recover. I mean, why this -- why, given the fact that you have the ability to do this, in closed committee, and to do so with great sensitivity, isn't it happening that way, rather than in full view? If it's going to be partially in view, then don't the American people have the right to know precisely what's going on?
HOLT: If we had longer time, Lou, I would engage you in a longer conversation about the Church Committee.
DOBBS: Since we don't, would you just answer my question, Congressman?
HOLT: But to see that the CIA complies with the law is not to set it back. It's not something that the CIA has to recover from. To say that it took decades to recover from the Church Committee, which held the intelligence community accountable for spying on Americans for assassinations, for a number of other things that were clearly illegal. I don't think should be presented as something they have to recover from.
HOEKSTRA: Lou, I think what the community does have to recover from, and what is sending shockwaves through the community today is that the third most powerful person in the country, the speaker of the House, says that they lie all the time. The chairman of the committee has said the same thing. Seven Democrats on the committee have said that their current director perhaps has misled them.
The attorney general is, you know, perhaps as soon as this week going to announce that they may begin investigations to prosecute people within the CIA. That's the wrong road to go while the nation is still under threat.
DOBBS: And I appreciate that. I thank you both for giving me an answer. And to be clear, Congressman Holt, when I said recover from, I talking about a Congress that was basically, for a period of over two decades absolutely hostile to the CIA, and intelligence community, and it is also an historical lesson. I think you would agree that on September 11th, the then-director of the CIA, said it would take five years to build a covert force, because that's what we have been reduced to.
HOLT: Right, all the more reason they shouldn't go unexamined. (CROSS TALK)
DOBBS: Oh, by the way, put me down as an all for oversight. I'm all for oversight.
DOBBS: Thank you, both.
HOLT: Sure. Thanks, Lou.
HOEKSTRA: Still ahead, czar after czar after czar. Why is the president able to hire dozens of czars without accountability, or oversight, or requirement for budget? And how does that make a Cabinet secretary feel? We'll be talking about that.
Also, a moment that changed the world.
(BEGIN ARCHIVAL CLIP)
NEIL ARMSTRONG, APOLLO 11 ASTRONAUT: It's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
(END ARCHIVAL CLIP)
DOBBS: Forty years to the day after an American first set foot on the moon. We'll hear what the Apollo astronauts say our next step should be in space exploration.
DOBBS: The Obama administration has named dozens of so-called czars, by one count, 34 czars. There's an auto czar, aid czar, czars for the borders, czars for the economy, Great Lakes, Guantanamo Bay, the stimulus package, czar for science, technology and terrorism. The list goes on. Congressman Jack Kingston says the White House is bypassing Congress with the appointment of all these czars and he wants it stopped.
Congressman, good to have you with us.
REP. JACK KINGSTON, (R) GEORGIA: Thank you, Lou. Good to be with you.
DOBBS: You're proposing that congress cut out the funding for these czars, correct?
KINGSTON: Yes, we are, because in the Constitution, Section 2 of Article II, says the president must seek the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate for its principle officers. These are clearly principle officers. These are people who answer directly to the White House. So, they get around Congress. The reason why the Constitution put the safeguard in there is so that we would have an opportunity to vet people and find out what are their backgrounds.
DOBBS: You say the president is essentially forming a parallel government. How so? What's the relationship with the Cabinet secretaries, for example?
KINGSTON: Well, when the president appoints a Cabinet secretary, not only does the secretary have to go in front of a U.S. Senate, but also his underlings, the deputy secretaries, the undersecretaries, five down, in fact, have to do that. And that makes them accountable to the Senate for their budgets, to their philosophies and everything else.
These czars don't have to go through that process. So I, as an Appropriations Committee member, never have an opportunity to talk to the energy czar, but I do the Energy secretary. Yet you wonder, where does one's job begin and the other one's end? Because you have two people sound like they're doing the same policy.
DOBBS: Who do you think is spending more time talking with the president, the czar or Cabinet secretary?
KINGSTON: I think clearly the czars are.
KINGSTON: Because in many cases, we know that they answer directly to the president or his chief of staff, Rahm Immanuel. We know they do not have to come before the congressional appropriations committee. They can avoid our nitpicking questions, like to the stimulus accountability czar, why did you spend $18 million on your web page? Might be a relevant question, but we haven't had the opportunity to ask it, because they don't answer to us.
DOBBS: Let me ask you this. As you know, past presidents have had czars. By our count, these unaccountable puppet masters as someone referred to them -- here is the list. President Reagan had three of them. George Bush had one of them. Bill Clinton -- George H.W. Bush had one, President Clinton had three, George W. Bush had 10, and the home-run hitter here obviously is President Obama. Is it the idea of a czar you object to, or more than 30 of them you object to?
KINGSTON: I have to admit, it's a little bit of both. Because presidents have used the title of czar for kind of special task-force- type people. But when you start getting 34 czars and you've only been in office eight months -or seven months, it gets worrisome to me as a member of Congress. Because why do you need somebody in charge of Guantanamo Bay, and the Sudan, and the Middle East, a when you have a Secretary of Defense? Why do you need a secretary of Energy if you're going to have an energy czar?
And the list goes down the line like that. They seem to be duplicating the existing political infrastructure for the president and the executive branch. So, I just want to know who these people are. Why does a 31-year-old with no automobile background, for example, why is he the automobile czar? He doesn't know a lug nut from a spark plug. Why is he going to turn around Detroit, when none of the GM executives were able to?
DOBBS: Well, I think that's a - I can't wait for the answer to that question. Congressman Jack Kingston, thanks for being with us here.
KINGSTON: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: Up next, a heated exchange at a Senate hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are being racial here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, let me just --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you're getting to a path here that's going to explode.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me explain here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: One of the country's most liberal senators accused of being racial and condescending.
DOBBS: I want to show you how a prominent liberal senator is handling things in Washington. We're talking about Senator Barbara Boxer. She chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee. She was questioning a witness at a hearing last week on cap and trade legislation. The witness, Harry Alfred, the president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce; Senator Boxer reading from an NAACP resolution in response to Alford's testimony. Then this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA BOXER, (D) CALIFORNIA: We'll quote John Grant, who is the CEO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta. Quote, "Clean energy is the key that will unlock millions of jobs and the NAACP support is vital to ensuring that those jobs help to rebuild urban areas." Clearly there's the diversity --
HARRY ALFRED, PRES. & CEO, NAT'L. BLACK CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Madam Chair, that is condescending to me. I'm the National Black Chamber of Commerce and you're trying to put up some other black group --
BOXER: If this gentleman -
ALFRED: ...to pit against me.
BOXER: If this gentleman were here, he would be proud he was being quoted.
ALFRED: He should have been invited.
BOXER: Just as he would be proud --
ALFRED: It is condescending to me. BOXER: Just so you know, he would be proud that you were here. He's proud, I'm sure that I am quoting him.
ALFRED: Proud? All that's condescending. I don't like it. It's racial. I don't like it.
BOXER: Excuse me.
ALFRED: I take offense to it. As an African-American, and a veteran of this country, take offense to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: So, what do you think? The senator being racial? We'd like to hear from you on this. E-mail us at Loudobbstonight.com. You can also follow me on Lou Dobbs News on Twitter.com.
The crew of Apollo 11 making a pitch, on this 40th anniversary of the moon landing, for a man mission to mars; this 40th anniversary of the historic first landing on the moon, the astronauts saying it's simply not enough now to look back at that famous mission. They want NASA to move ahead, to move the space program forward with man missions to Mars.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUZZ ALDRIN, APOLLO II ASTRONAUT: With the moon acting as a new global commons for all nations, we can venture outward to Mars for America's future. It may sound like a distant destination, beyond our reach, but that's what's some call Apollo's goal to reach the Moon. And they were wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Buzz Aldrin there. He says trips to the Moon should be seen as stepping stones to a much wider travel through space. Aldrin has laid out a timeline that would lead to Mars landings by 2035.
At the top of the hour, filling in for Campbell Brown will be none other than John Roberts - John.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Lou. Thanks very much.
Tonight, a CNN exclusive. We're going to hear from the oldest of the 17 children whose parents were killed in their Florida home. We're learning about some new developments in the case. Our Susan Candiotti is down there.
Also ahead, how did an American soldier end up in the hands of the Taliban? Michael Weir takes us behind the scenes for an insider's view of what this young soldier and U.S. troops in Afghanistan will be facing. Thos stories, of course, plus our "Mash Up" of all of the other news, coming up at the top of the hour. Lou, we'll see you then.
DOBBS: Look forward to it, John. Thank you very much. And we'll continue in one moment. Stay with us.
DOBBS: We've been reporting on the accusations, wide spread on the Internet, that President Obama wasn't actually born in the United States, and, therefore, some believe, he's not eligible to be president. It's out there. It has passionate supporters. Take a look at what happened during a recent health care forum in Delaware, hosted by Republican Congressman Mike Castle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was there on January 20th, and I want to know why are you people ignoring his birth certificate?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he is not an American citizen, he is (INAUDIBLE)
REP. MIKE CASTLE, (R) DELAWARE: Well, I'm not going to comment on (INAUDIBLE) if you are referring to the president there. He is a citizen of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: What happened next, well, as you see a lot of anger there in that audience, the questioner of the congressman, leading the crowd, nearly all of the crowd in a Pledge of Allegiance. A lot of anger in the audience, a lot of questions remaining, and seemingly the questions won't go away because they haven't been dealt with, it seems possible, straightforwardly, and quickly.
Now, one quick e-mail. Cal in Florida said, "Lou, Obama now has enough czars that we can call him by his proper name, Obama, The Great."
We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts to Loudobbstonight.com and a reminder to join me on the radio, Monday through Fridays, for the Lou Dobbs Show. Go to loudobbs.com to get the local listings in your area for the Lou Dobbs. Show.
Thank you for being with us. Follow me on Twitter.com, Lou Dobbs News. Join us here tomorrow. For all of us, we thank you for watching, good night from New York.
ANNOUNCER: CNN PRIME TIME begins right now.