Return to Transcripts main page
Lou Dobbs Tonight
Surge or Failure?; Cross Country Terror Probe; U.N. Wants Money; Scrapping Missile Defense?
Aired September 21, 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: More troops and a new plan or we could lose Afghanistan within a year -- a plea for help from the man leading that war now. Will the Obama administration agree to a new surge?
Also tonight, read his lips. President Obama says the health care overhaul will not raise taxes on the middle class, but that's not what the legislation proposal says. What is the truth?
The United Nations wants more of your money, a lot more and President Obama says they can have it. A new U.N. plan would spend billions fighting swine flu and global warming, but for third world countries.
And count them, a whopping 564 amendments to Senator Max Baucus' health care initiative. It looks as though no one is happy with that thing.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT; news, debate and analysis for Monday, September 21st. Live from New York, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Without more troops, a new game plan, Afghanistan could be lost within a year -- a dire warning from the man now running that war. General Stanley McChrystal's blunt assessment revealed in a classified report to the Obama administration. General McChrystal says we can still win, but only if the president is willing to change strategy and agree to many more boots on the ground.
That report also lampoons the Afghan government, claiming out of control corruption is as much of a threat as Taliban insurgents. U.S. forces in Afghanistan have doubled just since May, and will hit 68,000 by the end of the year, but by most measures, the situation is only worsening. 2009 has been the deadliest year for all foreign troops since the fall of the Taliban back in 2001. So now, the surge debate begins for Afghanistan -- Chris Lawrence with our report.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For U.S. troops, a sobering 66 pages, met to be confidential but leaked to "The Washington Post". In it, the U.S. commander says the Afghan government is corrupt, insurgents have turned prisons into recruiting stations and they contest to control a significant part of Afghanistan. General Stan McChrystal doesn't spell out specific needs but wants more troops and civilian advisers soon. Quote, "time matters" and if he can't regain the initiative within a year it might not be possible to defeat the insurgency.
Quote, "Any of these risks are likely to result in mission failure." McChrystal says there's no point adding troops if officials don't buy into a new strategy. He writes that his commanders have been more concerned with protecting their own forces than the Afghan people. In a significant change, he says American troops have to assume more risk and quote, "spend as little time as possible in armored vehicles or behind the walls of forward-operating bases."
This leaked report puts more pressure on the Obama administration. Last week in Iraq, Vice President Biden told me they wanted to hold off on making an additional troop decision until all previously authorized troops arrive and the contested Afghan election is decided.
(on camera): Do you think that more troops are needed to win?
JOSEPH BIDEN, (D-DE) VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think that's premature.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): McChrystal writes resources alone won't win the war but under resourcing could lose it. President Obama told CNN's John King he won't decide on troop levels until the goals and strategy are clearly defined.
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we have clarity on that then the question is OK how do we resource it and that's what I will say to the American public, it's not going to be driven by the politics of the moment.
LAWRENCE: Now the counter insurgency plan is a strategy, not necessarily the strategy. The vice president told me over and over again that the ultimate objective is not the Taliban but al Qaeda, which is now mostly based in Pakistan. There's a line of thinking that says a minimum number of NATO troops could keep al Qaeda out of Afghanistan and allow elements of the Taliban to keep operating as long as they were not planning attacks abroad. Lou?
DOBBS: Chris, this is, I think, again, an example of this -- the general staff being both confounded and confounding. The general in charge talking about a new strategy after eight years, talking about you can't win the war with proper resourcing, but you can lose it without it. This is the language that has certainly given everyone pause, who watches the conduct of these wars, both in Iraq and Afghanistan. It seems like an echo of what we've heard before.
LAWRENCE: That's right. And what I'm told is that General Stanley McChrystal was told here is the strategy. We're looking at a counter-insurgency strategy, so that's what he did his assessment on, the strategy that he was instructed to follow. So now he's come back and said if this is a strategy that you want to follow, here is what I need.
DOBBS: All right, Chris, thank you very much. Chris Lawrence.
Well joining me now are -- White House correspondent Dan Lothian. Dan, this report has been on the president's desk now, we understand, for three weeks.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
DOBBS: Why would it be left on his desk unread, unanalyzed when we have troops in the field who are in harm's way and in fact, this is proven to be the deadliest year of this war?
LOTHIAN: And certainly that's a question a lot of people are asking. The president did receive this report before he went on vacation to Martha's Vineyard but the White House pointing out this report, this assessment is still being evaluated. So that's where they leave it at, saying that all of the options in terms of moving forward will be evaluated over the next couple of weeks so that's sort the latest timetable that we have in terms of when the president will make his decision but the president wants to get it right is what they said.
DOBBS: When the general responsible for a war puts a report on the desk of the president of the United States, surely he expected -- the Joint Chiefs expected and one would think anyone reasonably would expect the president of the United States and his advisers to read it and to analyze it and have some response for the man who is responsible for the lives of our men and women in uniform in combat.
LOTHIAN: And the White House points out that the president did receive it, that he has read it, and he is analyzing it, but they also will point out that in this report, while he lays out -- McChrystal lays out a case for the need for more troops he hasn't specifically asked for those troops.
DOBBS: Let's turn to the president's top domestic priority, health care reform...
DOBBS: During his media blitz over the weekend the president blaming the media.
LOTHIAN: Right (INAUDIBLE).
DOBBS: For the failure.
DOBBS: What's -- that was almost Carteresque.
LOTHIAN: Well, you know the president has time and time again sort of poked the media in the eye, talking about the cable chatter, blaming the media for sort of playing up some of the town halls that we saw those loud ruckus town halls across the country, saying that not enough spotlight was being placed on the -- all the other town halls that were not as noisy and getting all the attention.
Clearly what a lot of people will say is that the White House lost, you know, control of the message, and when they did that, then they just blamed the media. That's what you saw from the president.
DOBBS: It's extraordinary. Do you get a sense of that at the White House, because here is a president who, by all accounts, from 2007 on was a darling of the national media?
LOTHIAN: That's right.
DOBBS: The national media is criticized for giving far too much comfort to this White House rather than offering any affliction, if you will, and for him to take this turn, is this a sign of desperation or a profound and real feeling?
LOTHIAN: I -- you know, I don't know that it's a sign of desperation, because it didn't just happen overnight. I mean I think ever since when you're sitting in that briefing room, just about every other week or so, there will be some comment that comes from Robert Gibbs, specifically to reporters, about how the media did this, or you guys seem to play this up. So this is a strategy I think the president probably feels that way, that we tend to run with the negative coverage, not paying enough attention to what they believe is the real story.
DOBBS: And I suppose that goes to explaining 564 amendments to the Baucus legislation as well. All right, thank you very much.
DOBBS: Appreciate it, Dan -- Dan Lothian covering the White House day in and day out for us.
DOBBS: Appreciate it.
Government warnings today around the country of possible attacks on mass transit, after raids on terrorists in New York -- three men originally from Afghanistan being investigated about an alleged terrorist plot to detonate bombs in this country. Each of those suspects today appeared in court. They, however, are not facing terror charges. So far prosecutors have charged them with lying to federal agents. Deborah Feyerick has our report.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As he entered a federal courtroom in Brooklyn 37-year-old Imam Ahmad Wais Afzali (ph) smiled at his wife, father and brother sitting in the front row, later blowing them kisses. Federal agents say the imam told Denver suspect Najibullah Zazi authorities were monitoring him, the imam allegedly asking Zazi whether any quote, "evidence", unquote, was in the rental car Zazi drove from Denver to New York which was impounded and searched by FBI agents near a Queens' mosque. The imam told Zazi it was quote, "a good sign", unquote that the authorities had come to the imam asking what he knew.
RON KUBY, AFZALI'S ATTORNEY: The authorities generally requested that the imam find out any way he can where Zazi is, where he's been, where he's going, and what he is up to. That's what they wanted to know and that makes sense because they thought he was coming to New York for the purpose of carrying out a terrorist attack.
FEYERICK: Defense lawyer Ron Kuby known for taking on controversial terrorism cases, says FBI agents specifically asked the imam to reach out to Zazi to help gather information.
KUBY: The government asked to search his home and he consents to a search of his home. They asked to take a DNA sample. He consents to a DNA sample. They ask him for more oral statements. He waives his Miranda rights. He gives an oral statement.
FEYERICK: Afzali (ph) and his family fled Afghanistan in 1981 following the Soviet-led invasion. He grew up in Flushing, Queens, and worked for several years at the (INAUDIBLE) Islamic Center, New York's largest Afghan mosque. Several years ago he left the mosque to open a funeral business that caters to Muslims. A long time friend who spoke to Afzali in the days leading up to the raids on several Queens apartments says it would be completely out of character for Afzali to have any connection to terrorism.
AHMAD WEISH, MASJID SAALIHEEN MOSQUE: I was shocked that they would (INAUDIBLE) to go to such a level just to arrest people for no proof, nothing, you know. As far as I know, how much I know him, that's not, does not match his character.
FEYERICK: So the big question right now, Lou, was the Imam part of a larger terror plot as authorities believe or was he simply providing information to federal agents, helping them get information on the Denver suspects? Right now it is an ongoing investigation. The feds don't want to release any more details than they have to, which is why right now they're being charged with lying and not terrorism, those charges possibly coming as the investigation progresses. Lou?
DOBBS: Deborah, thank you very much -- Deborah Feyerick reporting.
Well it says it right there in the legislative proposal, it actually uses the word "tax" but President Obama says no, no tax. The health care overhaul he says will not raise taxes on the middle class just like he promised. Who are we to believe -- the president or our lying eyes? We're about to have a torture debate it appears over the word "tax".
And a $1 billion plan to fight swine flu and global warming. The United Nations wants the United States to pay a huge, overwhelming portion of that, but is that really a good investment for American taxpayers -- that story and more, straight ahead. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Senator Max Baucus, says he's going to make some changes to his almost $800 billion health care proposal, that Baucus proposal or Baucus-Obama proposal has been criticized by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. To give you some example of how much concern and conflict awaits this legislative proposal there are now 564 proposed amendments to the Baucus proposed legislation.
Senator Baucus for his part says he hopes to outline his changes before the committee begins voting on those 564 amendments, beginning tomorrow, if you can believe it. On the House side, Minority Leader John Boehner says the Democratic health care proposals are just simply dead. Boehner said there has been no bipartisan cooperation, that it's time for the White House to drop its big government plans, and start all over again from scratch.
During President Obama's Sunday media blitz he strongly defended his health care proposals and insisted there will be no middle class tax increase to help pay for it. But language in the Baucus Senate proposals clearly says those without health insurance will be subject to an additional quote, "tax". What's going on? Lisa Sylvester tells us.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama on the campaign trail promised no new middle class taxes.
OBAMA: If you make less than $250,000 a year, you will not see one single dime of tax increases.
SYLVESTER: The Senate health care proposal which President Obama hasn't endorsed but has called a strong effort includes just that, a tax. Page 29 of the bill -- an excise tax on those who do not have health insurance -- it ranges from $750 to $3,800. In an interview with ABC News, Mr. Obama denied this is a tax.
OBAMA: For us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. Right now, everybody in America just about has to get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase.
SYLVESTER: Members of President Obama's own party point to other provisions in the Senate proposal that could level taxes on middle class families. The bill taxes those so-called Cadillac or high-value insurance plans. Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller has spoken out against this, so has the Teamsters Union and tax watchdog groups.
PETE SEPP, NATL. TAXPAYERS UNION: This is not just a tax on Cadillac plans. It's more like a tax on mini van plans, people who have large families and good insurance benefits could very well face a pass-through tax on them that will raise the cost of their policies.
SYLVESTER: Some small businesses are worried about the House version that taxes those making $280,000 or more a year. Some business owners claim their business income on their personal income tax forms. That money is often not profit and has to be pumped back into the business. And small companies are concerned that they could be hit with one more tax.
BILL RYS, NATL. FEDERATION OF INDEP. BUSINESS: If you're not offering a qualified coverage you're going to be paying a payroll tax and that's a big problem for small business owners because a payroll tax is an especially onerous tax.
SYLVESTER: The House and Senate versions include taxes as a way to pay for the health care legislation. Now President Obama has promised the health care overhaul will not add to the deficit saying that he would cut spending in other areas, but some critics are questioning the timing of imposing all of these taxes now, as the country is struggling to pull out of a recession. Lou?
DOBBS: Yeah, this tax, the proposal to cut $400 billion from Medicare, and additional just about $400 billion in straight out taxes, it's sort of amusing to see this sort of Clintonesque discussion about the definition of tax, isn't it?
SYLVESTER: Yeah, you know if you pull out a dictionary it's pretty clear that if the government is imposing a fee on its citizens, that pretty much meets the definition of a tax but I think there is a little playing a little bit of a word game here...
DOBBS: I love the president saying to George Stephanopoulos, you know well, you have to have liability insurance. Nobody considers that a tax, but one would consider it a tax if there were a fine of $3,800 for not so doing -- playing a few word games with Mr. Stephanopoulos. Thank you very much. We appreciate it. Lisa Sylvester.
Well, more of your money could be going to the United Nations. The General Assembly opening a session today in New York, some fears are being raised of a global swine flu pandemic. The United Nations, in fact, from the beginning of business today saying it wants the United States and other nations to help pay for the swine flu vaccine for poor nations. The United Nations also wants the United States to fund global warming plans for developing nations. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A report from the U.N. World Health Organization says the U.S. and other wealthy nations should urgently donate $1.48 billion to help poor countries fight the swine flu. The governments of developed countries have promised much already. Last week the United States joined Australia, Brazil, Britain, France, Italy, New Zealand Norway and Switzerland in promising to donate H1N1 vaccine to developing countries.
The World Bank has extended $500 million in credits in recent months "to allow developing and middle income countries to better prepare for pandemic flu preparedness." World Bank funds were also released to Latin America and other Asian countries from their country lending portfolios. Mexico already received more than $100 million.
In the midst of the global recession there are plenty of other calls for more aid to the developed world. A U.N. climate change summit this week will look for new financial help from wealthy countries. Chinese President Hu Jintao has suggested industrialized countries contribute one percent of their GDP to help developing nations reduce emissions. Terry Tamminen runs a company that invests in cleaner technology and says that's what's really needed.
TERRY TAMMINEN, PEGASUS CAPITAL ADVISORS: You can't buy your way out of this problem. We have got to do the kinds of things that harness market forces to pay our way out of this. It can't just be transferring money from one country to another.
PILGRIM: Last year the U.S. pledged $2 billion to two World Bank climate funds for developing countries, but India, China and many other developing nations have refused to cap their emissions. They say their emissions per capita are far lower than in the developed world and that such measures would cut their economic growth.
PILGRIM: Now as for swine flu, the World Health Organization warns that the pandemic could lead to anarchy in the developing world if it's not contained and it says $600 million is needed urgently from the international community to immunize health care professionals in 85 developing countries -- Lou.
DOBBS: So the rhetoric of fear, it looks like somebody is picking up on what has been a recent administration game plan in this country, first the Bush administration, now the Obama administration using crises to spur acquiescence to whatever they're proposing.
PILGRIM: They certainly are suggesting that both of these things are an eminent crisis.
DOBBS: All right, thank you very much. Appreciate it -- Kitty Pilgrim.
Well I'll have a few thoughts about all of that, join me on the radio Monday through Fridays for "The Lou Dobbs Show" 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon in New York City on WOR 710 radio. Go to loudobbs.com to get the local listings in your area for "The Lou Dobbs Show". And subscribe to our daily Podcast on loudobbs.com and follow me on loudobbsnews on Twitter.com as well.
Up next inside ACORN -- I'll be talking with a former ACORN executive who reveals the inner workings of the left-wing activist group.
Also unemployment hitting an all-time high -- you would think it would be easy for schools to find teachers, apparently not so. One state is importing teachers from overseas -- that story in our "JOBS NOW!" series of special reports and facing off tonight -- our "Face Off" debate. Was the president right to scrap the missile defense plan? That debate is next.
ANNOUNCER: Here again, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: President Obama scrapped plans to build a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, upsetting both the Czech Republic and Poland in so doing. Did President Obama cave in to pressure from Russia? That is the subject of our "Face Off" debate tonight.
And joining me now are Jed Babbin -- he's editor of "Human Events", also a former deputy undersecretary of defense under President George H.W. Bush who says the plan is a bad idea, an insult to our allies -- good to have you with us.
And Joseph Cirincione -- he is president of the Ploughshares Fund who believes the new Obama plan defends our interest far more cheaply and more effectively -- Joe, good to have you with us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pleasure, Lou.
DOBBS: Let's start with -- let's start with the first issue, and that is the president of the United States calling up the premiers of these two countries to announce before telling Congress that the missile shield is over. What do you think, Jed?
JED BABBIN, EDITOR, HUMAN EVENTS: Well I think having chosen the day of the 70th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland, he could not have timed it better than to insult our Polish allies, who have been very stalwart, by the way, in the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. These people are either ignorant of history, Lou, or really very intentionally insulting some of our very valuable allies.
DOBBS: What do you think, Joe?
JOE CIRINCIONE, PRES., PLOUGHSHARES FUND: The Poles are not insulted. In fact, a new public opinion poll of the Polish people today shows that 50 percent of them support Obama's decision. They never cared about these interceptors. What they wanted was an American commitment -- they're going to get that commitment.
What they wanted was American troops stationed in Poland. They're going to get those troops. The same is true for the Czech Republic, 70 percent of the Czech Republic opposed this decision. The Czech government fell because they couldn't get parliament to agree to this. This actually is quite popular in those two countries.
BABBIN: I don't think it's going to be very popular once people figure out that it is number one a mirage and not a plan. The president has proposed something that cannot be done and will not be done. The redeployment of these ships is based on nothing in terms of increasing the number of ships.
Lou, we have only 18 ships in the entire Navy capable to do this. They're all fully engaged right now, on other assignments. To say, as Joe is kind of flippantly that all of the stuff is going to go into the Mediterranean and the North Sea and everything is going to be hunky dory right away, this can't be accomplished, period, unless you spend 20 to $30 billion building new ships.
CIRINCIONE: I completely disagree. The Bush plan would have deployed a technology that doesn't work against a threat that didn't yet exist with money we didn't have in countries that didn't want it. Obama is replacing nothing with something. He's putting more military assets on station more quickly protecting more countries than the Bush plan would.
I've been a critic of missile defense plans for 25 years. Most of them didn't work. This is the most reasonable anti-missile deployment I have ever seen. Instead of 10 interceptors in Poland which was the Bush plan, we're going to have hundreds of interceptors in that same time frame...
BABBIN: We are not...
CIRINCIONE: ... for half the price...
CIRINCIONE: ... in the eastern Mediterranean...
CIRINCIONE: ... protecting not just Europe but Israel. Israel gets real security benefits from this plan.
BABBIN: That is Joe -- Joe, Israel, number one, will not be protected primarily by this plan, because the ships are going to be pretty much too close to shoot down anything coming out of Iran. The Israelis are going to take care of themselves. Number two, this will not be deployed.
This works, maybe, once the standard three missiles are fixed, once you have the ships built. You have 18 ships. There will be a total of 21 by the end of 2010. There will not be enough to do this.
BABBIN: You have to have at least 10 or 12 to do this deployment. They do not exist.
DOBBS: Let me get a reaction from both of you to this map that works to portray the situation that phases Israel, Eastern Europe, and indeed the United States interest in the region. With Iran at the center point, the first circle is the short and medium range missiles launched from Iran. The second circle, the outline, which includes an encompasses of course Poland, Eastern Europe and the Czech Republic, that is a potential reach of intermediate range missiles and best as our intelligence can discern, not yet fully developed by the Iranians. What is your reaction to that threat, clearly laid out for Israel, for Eastern Europe, Joe?
CIRINCIONE: Well, that map clearly shows the existing threat, which is the short and medium-range missiles.
CIRINCIONE: Iran does not have a long range missile and I think most independent experts agree it's at least ten years away.
DOBBS: Joe, let me interrupt. The second circle is not for the long range missiles. It's for intermediate.
CIRINCIONE: It's the intermediate range, right the 3,000 kilometer range missiles. They don't have that yet. What they do have a 12,000 -- 1,200 kilometer range, that's what the Aegis system is designed to defend against. It replaces the ten inceptors that would have been in Poland with hundreds of interceptors on the ship.
BABBIN: These are not going to be deployed. We don't have them. We can't deploy them.
CIRINCIONE: That's not true.
BABBIN: Joe, read the numbers. This is absolutely true.
CIRINCIONE: The military chief is behind this plan.
BABBIN: I can get in here?
CIRINCIONE: Go ahead.
BABBIN: The basic point this is a mirage and not a plan. The intelligence it is based on is fallacious. You have the Iranians saying, Gates is saying they don't have the long range missile capability. They put a satellite in orbit this year. They successfully tested a missile that can reach Poland.
CIRINCIONE: That is not true.
BABBIN: That's absolutely true.
DOBBS: Joe Cirincione, good to have you with us. We appreciate it. Jed Babbin, thank you for being with us.
BABBIN: My pleasure, Lou, thanks for having us.
DOBBS: Up next an A.C.O.R.N. whistleblower calls for an investigation of his own left wing activist group. A former director of A.C.O.R.N. joins us here.
And we'll tell you why one city is importing teachers from overseas. What is going on here?
And the president meets New York Governor David Paterson, a day after he tells him not to run for re-election or for election. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Well the White House apparently has no hesitation to interfere in state political affairs. The Obama administration is now urging New York's Governor, David Paterson, not to run for office next year. The White House reportedly concerned that the Democrat would not win the election, but a defiant Governor Paterson says he's determined to run no matter what the White House says. Ines Ferre with our report.
INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A politically awkward moment between President Obama and New York Governor Paterson on Monday amid leaked reports the White House is pressuring the interim governor not to seek election. With a political mess in Albany and a ballooning deficit, the latest polls show only a fifth of New Yorkers approve of Paterson's job performance. Top Democrats are worried about a messy primary and the gubernatorial race going to a Republican in 2010.
DAN GERSTEIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: There's been a quiet move behind the scenes to try and find some delicate way out of this but hasn't worked. I think they had no choice but to bring in the big gun here.
FERRE: One conservative commentator questions the way the whole affair has been handled.
JP FREIRE, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: It's perfectly reasonable for an active president in his own party to give advice as he sees fit. Now leaking the stuff, I don't know if that's good politics. I don't know if that's quite neighborly.
FERRE: When asked about the issue on board Air Force One, White House press spokesman Robert Gibbs said, "I think people are aware of the tough situation that the governor of New York is in. And I wouldn't add a lot to what you've read, except this is a decision that he's going to make." Gibbs said the notion of the White House involved in local politics is nothing new, but one local Democratic politician wants Washington to mind its own business.
CHARLES BARRON (D), NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: No one's going to dictate to us in New York who we should have as governor, and certainly not the president of the United States, who has an abundance of business that he needs to be taking care of.
FERRE: Urging Paterson to step aside leaves the door open for more popular New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to enter the race, raise more money and gain a strong foothold against Republican challengers.
FERRE: And Governor Paterson says his plans haven't changed, just like you mentioned, Lou, he's running for office and he says that what he has to take care of right now is a deficit.
DOBBS: A deficit, and he's in a very similar situation as Michael Steele, the head of the Republican National Committee pointed out. He's in about the same position as Jon Corzine in New Jersey, is President Obama also seeking to give Governor Corzine advice?
FERRE: Right, that's what Michael Steele was saying, that he doesn't see them giving advice to Corzine.
DOBBS: All right, thanks very much. Ines, appreciate it.
Up next, the calls for investigation to A.C.O.R.N. are becoming louder but apparently falling on deaf ears in the Obama justice department. Former A.C.O.R.N. officials are now also demanding answers. I'll be talking with a former board member next about what went wrong with what many say is a corrupt organization.
Jobs now. Schools across the country hiring math and science teachers but you won't believe where many of them are coming from. That story is next. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: And our continuing series of special reports on the economy. Jobs now. With the unemployment rate at nearly 10 percent, you might think it would be easier for school districts to find teachers and to hire them but some educational administrative officials say there simple a aren't enough qualified math and science teachers in this country. What are they doing? Well at least one city is importing teachers from overseas. Sean Callebs has our report.
VIDA ANTONIO, RAMSEY HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER: This will serve as the guide for the liquid to go --
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Vida Antonio has a good rapport with her students. A strong academic credentials, but teaching in the United States instead of her native Philippines because Birmingham, Alabama, city school district could not find qualified math and science teachers so officials went overseas.
ANTONIO: If I am a teacher over in the Philippines, and I did good, why can't I be good in Alabama?
CALLEBS: In all, Birmingham worked through a private firm to bring seven teachers from the Philippines to cope with an expected shortfall in math and science areas.
ANTONIO: You're supposed to get the same answer.
CALLEBS: Students at Ramsey High School say this doesn't make sense.
SIDNEY PAGE, SENIOR: I think that it's innocent stats. I feel it does open opportunities for connections with different countries. However, I think it also provides incentive for other rising students, who are interested in math and science to maybe stay home and try to educate those around here.
CALLEBS: So how did it get to this point? There are more than a dozen colleges and universities in Alabama alone that turn out teachers. Critics say they don't have a problem with the abilities of the teachers coming from overseas, but they do say districts like Birmingham simply aren't doing enough to find qualified teachers closer to home with the necessary skills in math and science.
LANCE HYCHE, ALABAMA EDUCATION ASSOC.: There are good, qualified Alabama teachers out there looking for a job and they're willing to come to Birmingham but Birmingham is not willing to look at them.
CALLEBS: The director of the district science department, Spencer Horn, who went to the Philippines on a summer recruiting trip says that is simply not the case. Some qualified teachers would rather work elsewhere. Horn says there is a shortage of math and science teachers nationwide.
SPENCER HORN, BIRMINGHAM CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT: When we went to job fairs, when we, even went to the corporate community, it just did not feel the need that we had, and we were not going to sacrifice our students just because we did not have quality people applying to us.
CALLEBS: The National Education Association agrees that it is a nationwide problem, but says looking abroad is merely a Band-Aid solution. The NEA says, "Virtually all of the teachers coming from outside of America are being sent to high-need urban and rural communities and shows us that we need to improve working conditions in these areas in order to better recruit qualified teachers." A private firm has placed about 1,000 teachers like Vida Antonio in schools around the country.
ANTONIO: This is my chance to be an American. If I will not come here, when that opportunity knocks, knocked on my door, who knows? I will not be able to come here anymore.
CALLEBS: To fill a job many educators say Americans don't want, or can't qualify for.
Sean Callebs, CNN, Birmingham, Alabama.
DOBBS: Well I hope that young lady also brought in along with her math and science skills that personality. That's got to brighten up any classroom.
Well it's not only Alabama. Many school districts are now offering cash bonuses to attract qualified teachers from overseas. By the way that private company that's bringing those foreign teachers in charges the teachers $8,000 each to come in to the United States.
Well up next, an A.C.O.R.N. whistleblower calls for an investigation and new leadership for A.C.O.R.N., and overpopulation, it could be a bigger environmental threat than burning fossil fuel. That story you will only see here and it is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DOBBS: Calls for an investigation into the left-wing activist group A.C.O.R.N. are intensifying. President Obama yesterday said he believes there should be an investigation, although he did tell ABC News he isn't paying much attention to the issue. A group of former A.C.O.R.N. officials was paying attention and they're now demanding an investigation. Michael McCray is a former A.C.O.R.N. board member and he joins us now.
Good to have you with us, Michael.
MICHAEL MCCRAY, A.C.O.R.N.: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: On your website, you say and I would like to quote for everybody, "A.C.O.R.N. is not living up to its original mission. A.C.O.R.N. has been corrupted from its original purpose by senior management and an organizational structure that exploits the low and moderate income membership A.C.O.R.N. was founded to serve." So given that, who's responsible for that development?
MCCRAY: Well, Lou, that's the way the organization has been structured. I think a lot of the negative publicity that's been going on, it's problematic as an A.C.O.R.N. member and true believer I'm saddened by it but you got to remember there are 400,000 hard-working true believers, the good people working hard every day in their communities trying to make America a better place. You got maybe 15,000 employees, whenever campaign season comes, and the A.C.O.R.N. paid workers it swells. Those are the guys that are the canvassers but they're essentially paid workers, and then you have a smaller cadre, a half dozen to a dozen people that receive the benefits of all really the money and the power, and so what we're saying is don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Keep the good and get rid of the bad.
DOBBS: Let's start with the bad, and the good. Tell us what you think of A.C.O.R.N.'s CEO and chief organizer, Bertha Lewis, who is only in the last 24 hours even acknowledged that they have a serious problem.
MCCRAY: Well, Lou, unfortunately, Bertha Lewis is one of the senior management officials that actually knew about the million- dollar embezzlement and failed to report that eight years ago. So from our demands are that A.C.O.R.N. needs to go through a complete forensic examination followed by an independent audit they have to go through an audit from a big three accounting firm and also to remove all those who knew or should have known about the embezzlement and did nothing about it. Unfortunately, Bertha falls into that category.
DOBBS: Michael, let me ask you this because I think most folks -- many folks, I should say, just didn't even know what A.C.O.R.N. was until the presidential election of 2008, although, we had seen some of the problems earlier and this broadcast reported on it. The idea that A.C.O.R.N. is need, it's on voter registration, getting involved in housing for poor folks. Why in the world is an A.C.O.R.N. even necessary, why wouldn't this be properly the function of the two primary parties, the other political parties that are seeking to compete against the Republicans and the Democrats, and housing, why would that not be a function of government, whether it be state, local or federal?
MCCRAY: Really, Lou, it's a function is citizenship. This is a way that people can participate in their government. There is one point I also want to thank you on that you just mentioned, Lou. Really you guys are doing excellent work. You were actually the first organization that actually broke the story about A.C.O.R.N. whistle blowers about a year ago. So I want to thank you for it.
DOBBS: Appreciate that.
MCCRAY: Another network picked up on it from there.
DOBBS: We're used to that.
MCCRAY: But I do want to acknowledge with the people who are doing the hard reporting on these types of issues, where it comes from. So again, I want to thank you for that, Lou.
DOBBS: Appreciate it.
MCCRAY: But again, you've got to understand, you've always had this whether you look back at the civil rights movement or the labor movement is that the citizens always have to organize in some form in order to really to exist and to survive. I mean, if we lived in a truly fair democracy, we -- everyone would get a fair shake when they went to court or everyone would get a fair shake when they tried to get a loan. But the reality is that we're just not -- America is not a utopia yet. Until we reach that day, you have to have organizations like A.C.O.R.N.s, like your churches and like other neighborhood groups that get out and they specialize in different avenues. We're all trying to reach the same ends. That's to have truly equal justice for all.
DOBBS: The senate, the house, Michael as you know, have voted now to de-fund A.C.O.R.N. The president has not gone that far but with the house and senate saying that's it for federal money, it's unlikely they'll be able to bring back that federal funding source. What do you think A.C.O.R.N. should do from here on?
MCCRAY: Well Lou, we want to go even further than that. I mean again, we're former board members. We kind of blew the whistle when we realized that there was a problem. What we've called for is a national boycott not only of federal funding but also of charitable 501c3 donations and even individual A.C.O.R.N. member dues. We don't believe that A.C.O.R.N. should get any more money from any source until there's been a complete forensic examination and an independent audit by a licensed accounting firm. I know that recently Bertha Lewis explained there would be an independent audit. What we learned last time -- we were faced with this before, with the embezzlement. They empowered a small group of managers to investigate A.C.O.R.N. we got kicked out for trying to do the right thing.
DOBBS: I can guarantee you this, Michael. Let me be careful as I guarantee it. I will guarantee that Bertha Lewis' offer of an independent investigation will not satisfy very many people. Michael, we thank you for being here and giving us your perspective and for your courage in dealing with the issue of the direction of A.C.O.R.N. Thanks so much, Michael McCray.
MCCRAY: Thank you, Lou. Good night.
DOBBS: Coming up next, forget recycling and hybrid cars, why having fewer children may save the environment, may save the planet. But nobody's talking about that. Why? We'll be right back.
DOBBS: We have more tonight on a story that we first brought to you last month. There is new evidence of the negative impact of overpopulation on our environment. The biggest threat to the environment isn't, it turns out, gas-guzzling cars or power plants but rather having too many children all around the world. Casey Wian with our report.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The cheapest way to stop global climate change is not converting to solar power or buying a hybrid car. It's putting on a condom. That's the conclusion of a London school of economics study showing that money spent on contraception is about five times more efficient than money spent on clean energy technologies. It backs up a recent Oregon State University study that concludes overpopulation is the single biggest threat to the environment.
PROF. PAUL MURTAUGH, OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY: It's been a lot of attention to the effects of individuals' lifestyle choices, things like transportation, food choices and so on, but relatively little attention to the effect of having children.
WIAN: The British Medical Journal and Lancet last week both published an editorial stating that the sensitive issue of population stabilization continues to slip off the agenda but is crucial to achieving real reductions in global co2 emissions.
VICKY MARKHAM, DIR. CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENT AND POPULATION: There is a large body of scientific evidence that shows links between population factors and climate change as well as many other environmental issues but climate change is especially.
WIAN: Supporters of the idea are not advocating laws that would restrict individual family planning choices or encourage government funding with birth control. They want developed and developing nations to at least discuss the issue. Rapidly rising population is a greater threat in third world nations while the environmental impact of each child in developmental countries is greater because they use much more energy.
PROF. BEN ZUCKERMAN, UCLA: People should be made aware of both by the environmental organizations and by the media that it's good for a couple to stop at two or fewer non-adopted children and then to outline some of the good environmental things that would accrue.
WIAN: Yet, many environmental groups are reluctant to tacking the issue, so is the United Nations, which is overseeing global change negotiations. "The Washington Post" reports it asked a U.N. official about family planning and the environment and the official replied "to bring the issue up would be an insult to developing countries."
WIAN: President Obama plans to speak at the U.N. tomorrow about climate change, in advance of I global conference on the issue in December. Scholars who are concerned about the rural overpopulation plays in climate change are still hope forge a seat at the table during those talks. Lou?
DOBBS: Yeah, I mean what we're really talking about here is, you can almost hear the shudders of politically correct quarters all over the country as you report on that as we bring that knowledge to the American public. Because there's such high-bound orthodoxies in this country, ideological, partisan, politically correct constraints on lines in this country. That's the real problem here, isn't it?
WIAN: Absolutely. The scholars we talked to say it's been absolutely ignored by the environmental community, Lou.
DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much, Casey. As always, we're awfully sensitive to those orthodoxies there. Thanks very much, Casey Wian.
And a reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Fridays for the Lou Dobbs Show, 2:00 to 4:00 each afternoon on WOR radio in New York. And go to loudobbs.com to sign up for our podcast.
Thanks for being with us.
Next, Campbell Brown.