Return to Transcripts main page

Lou Dobbs Tonight

More Troops in Afghanistan?; Swine Flu Vaccine; Dangerous Drugs; Cross Controversy

Aired October 05, 2009 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Wolf, thank you very much.

Leaving Afghanistan not an option, the White House says it's not even a consideration, so what are the president's choices? Is victory possible without more troops?

Also, another big push for health care now -- a group of doctors filling the Rose Garden today in their white coats, all supporters of government-run health care. It was no coincidence that the group was once known as "Doctors for Obama".

And illegal immigration isn't just illegal, but according to one Catholic priest, it's immoral. A retired Catholic priest breaking with his church, saying fighting illegal immigration is the Christian thing to do.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT; news, debate and analysis for Monday, October 5th. Live from New York, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. The White House today announcing that President Obama is not even considering the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan -- despite the debate within the administration, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the military would back whatever strategy the president decides upon, of course, while the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate.

Over the weekend, eight of our troops were killed in one of the worst single day battlefield losses since the war began. We'll have much more on that. But first, Ed Henry reporting on what could be a pivotal week as the president works to come up with a new war plan.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While the president publicly continued to try and break the deadlock over health reform, in private, tensions seemed to be growing over what to do about Afghanistan. As top advisers to the president hint they would prefer to hear less public campaigning from General Stanley McChrystal.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It is imperative that all of us taking part in these deliberations -- civilians and military alike -- provide our best advice to the president candidly but privately. HENRY: A top adviser to the president confided to CNN the president has privately instructed aides to be quote, "as vocal as you can in private and as mum as you can in public." But General McChrystal is taking a much different approach. He gave a speech in London late last week that appeared to pressure the president to back his plan for up to 40,000 more U.S. troops to be sent to Afghanistan.

GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, U.S. COMMANDER IN AFGHANISTAN: Waiting does not prolong a favorable outcome. This effort will not remain winnable indefinitely.

HENRY: Irritating the president's national security adviser, retired General Jim Jones.

GEN. JAMES JONES, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Ideally, it's better for military advice to come up through the chain of command.

HENRY: But White House press secretary Robert Gibbs repeatedly insisted there's no tension.

(on camera): Why is one person out there campaigning for just one plan?

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Because the general made an assessment and we're going through a series of decisions, including that assessment.

HENRY (voice-over): Tension is building with antiwar protestors like Cindy Sheehan, who chained themselves to the White House gates to protest the war in Afghanistan.

CINDY SHEEHAN, ANTI-WAR ACTIVIST: He's been in office long enough to start making positive changes in a direction that his supporters want him to make those changes.

HENRY: But Gibbs revealed that in his private meetings, the president has already shot down the possibility of the U.S. pulling out of the war.

GIBBS: The president was exceedingly clear that no part of the conversation on -- no part of the conversation involved was leaving Afghanistan.


HENRY: Now, some of those other options likely to be discussed here tomorrow behind closed doors when the president host bipartisan congressional leadership here to talk about the strategy in Afghanistan. He's facing a lot of pressure -- some of his fellow Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi have said they don't want to send more troops to Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Republican leaders are pushing this president, saying he's taking too long to make a decision and that it's such an urgent situation on the ground in Afghanistan that decisions need to be made soon, Lou.

DOBBS: And what is the White House view on a decision needs to be made soon, particularly in light of the recent tragic losses for our forces in Afghanistan?

HENRY: Well, Robert Gibbs today was talking about how after this congressional meeting Tuesday, there will be more national security meetings here with the president's team on Wednesday and Friday, at least one or two more meetings after that in the weeks ahead, and suggested that they're not really in a rush because they want to get it right, not necessarily get it done fast.

The various options on the table, as you know, include General McChrystal pushing for up to 40,000 more U.S. troops. There is another plan being pushed by Vice President Joe Biden that suggests maybe you scale back the mission, and basically send in more drones, more air power to target al Qaeda leaders. For example, General McChrystal was withering in his criticism of that, saying in London a couple days back that he calls that Chaosistan (ph), essentially. That's a pretty strong review from the general of a plan being pushed by the vice president, Lou.

DOBBS: The questions, obviously, the concerns at the White House about General McChrystal, as you reported it, campaigning for one plan -- is there not another equal concern that a vice president, apparently, is trying to form a military strategy for the U.S.?

HENRY: Well, the president has repeatedly said that he takes Vice President Biden's advice and counsel very importantly and listens to it. But I've been assured by various people at the table that it's not only Vice President Biden's voice who's being heard, that many people on the other side are being heard as well, and we should point out, in these private meetings, General McChrystal is there by video conference as well, but you're certainly correct that in the days ahead exactly whoever's pushing what policy behind closed doors here is going to be scrutinized very closely, Lou.

DOBBS: You say that he is there by teleconference. A couple of questions follow. You say they're hearing from the other side. Who would the other side be?

HENRY: The other side compared to Vice President Biden. When we were talking about what he's been pushing...


HENRY: Well General McChrystal...


HENRY: ... is the one who's pushing something completely opposite and he's joining by video conference, usually from Afghanistan. He joined last Wednesday in the Situation Room, for example, and he will be joining in future meetings as well. And so these various plans are being laid out. What many close to the process think is that there may be some sort of a split, and maybe not go as far as General McChrystal's 40,000 troops and not go as far in the other direction as Vice President Biden wants and maybe you send something like 20,000 more U.S. troops, but it's much too early in the process to really determine where they are. They're just considering a lot of different options, Lou.

DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Ed Henry.

A tragic day for our forces in Afghanistan; eight of our soldiers were killed in a battle with Taliban forces in a remote part of the country. This the, one of the worst single-day losses since the beginning of the war. Barbara Starr has our report.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a cold and cloudy morning Saturday in the mountain valley of eastern Afghanistan when suddenly, 80 U.S. troops came under attack by dozens of militants. The American combat outpost in Kamdesh district, just a few miles from the Pakistan border, was badly situated, sitting in a valley surrounded on all sides by steep mountains.

Insurgents had snuck into the high ridgelines and were firing down on the Americans. An adjacent Afghan security post was first to be hit. Then the American portion of the base was pounded by enemy mortars, rockets and machine guns. Other militants fired from their positions at a mosque in a nearby village.

JOHN NAGL, PRES., CENTER FOR NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: These were apparently coordinated assaults by upwards of 100 enemy fighters who had planned the attack very thoroughly, chose their time, chose to fight at a time when there was heavy cloud cover so that air power wouldn't be as effective.

STARR: The fight raged for some 12 hours before the attack was finally repelled. Eight U.S. troops were killed, twenty-five wounded. There are a string of isolated U.S. outposts like the one that got attacked this weekend up and down the border with Pakistan.


STARR: Last year, we visited one where just a few dozen troops were trying to defend their position. The job at these outposts -- keep militants from crossing over from Pakistan. But with so few U.S. troops, it's a tough job and U.S. forces increasingly are coming under attack. General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander, has ordered many of the outposts closed so the troops can be sent to more highly populated areas to protect Afghans.


STARR: Lou, this firefight was so brutal that the insurgents actually were able to breach the outer perimeter of U.S. security around that outpost. And you know that outpost was, in fact, scheduled to be shut down. Troops were just waiting for the final word on when to pack and go. It all underscores General McChrystal's contention that he doesn't have enough troops to do the job. Wolf? Pardon me, Lou.

DOBBS: Barbara, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Barbara Starr.

The social networking site Twitter is quickly becoming a tool for law enforcement to monitor crime. The FBI arrested 41-year-old anarchist Elliott Madison back in September. Madison was picked up in a Pittsburgh hotel for his role in the G-20 protests. But Elliott wasn't out on the streets causing havoc. Authorities say he was sitting on his laptop with a police scanner sending Twitter messages to help other protestors evade police.

He was a volunteer for a group that uses Twitter to mobilize people for special causes. Madison was charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility and possession of instruments of crime. He is currently out on bail.

President Obama this week set to recharge his efforts to overhaul the health care system. An invitation-only group of doctors called in for a health care summit today at the Rose Garden. President Obama appearing flanked by doctors -- all of them wearing white lab coats, some of the coats handed out by the White House for apparently dramatic effect.

This group not exactly a representative group of the nation's doctors -- this group, in fact, was known during the campaign as "Doctors for America" and during the campaign known as "Doctors for Obama". No new policy ground broken. The group agrees with the president that sweeping health care legislation is needed, even though it is not yet defined.

Up next here people have been predicting the fall of the United States for some time now. Those predictions continue today. Is it just America hating envy? Are they actually onto something? What's the deal? We'll have our special report.

And widespread concerns about the swine flu vaccine, which becomes available later this week, at least that is what the government is promising. The government also says things may be quote, "a little bumpy." We'll be right back.


DOBBS: The government is preparing to inoculate tens of millions of Americans against the swine flu. The deaths of dozens of children, including a 7-year-old boy in Georgia and nearly 30 pregnant women from the swine flu now has health officials all across the country concerned. The swine flu vaccine becomes available we are assured later this week some time. But the Centers for Disease Control is also warning that initial distribution of the vaccine will not go smoothly. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, workers at (INAUDIBLE) Children's Medical Center in Memphis, Tennessee, will receive the first doses of swine flu vaccine. In New York, pediatricians are expecting the nasal spray version of the swine flu vaccine within the next week, but it will take until November to get the flu shot, which is recommended for pregnant women, adults over 49 and people with underlying health conditions, such as asthma.

Doctors can't do anything to speed up delivery of swine flu vaccine. They order their own supplies of seasonal flu vaccine, but it's the government, state public health departments that buy and distribute the swine flu vaccine. Dr. Rebecca Farber is a pediatrician in New York.

DR. REBECCA FARBER, PEDIATRICIAN: It's government-controlled, so the New York Department of Health controls when all of us get it. Every practice has requested how much they would like to get, but we have not been told exact numbers of what the CDC and what the New York Department of Health will be giving us. But we've requested enough to cover for our patients.

PILGRIM: The CDC last week admitted that the vaccination campaign for swine flu is quote, "going to be a little bumpy." Dr. Bruce Brovender of Global Pediatrics in New York says supplies of swine flu and even seasonal flu are not assured.

DR. BRUCE BROVENDER, PEDIATRICIAN: There is a concern not only about the vaccine for H1N1, but because of the big push to get, to produce the H1N1, we've also had some delays in getting the seasonal flu vaccine. Hopefully, they will be able to keep up with the demand. Initially, if we do -- when we do start vaccinating, we will try and hit the high-risk category before we just give it out to the general public.

PILGRIM: Each state is in charge of the distribution of its own supplies of swine flu vaccine.


PILGRIM: Now, the Web site for New York State still has no information on when and where to get the swine flu vaccines. The page is still blank on the Web site. The city health department today told us that the nasal spray version should arrive some time this week, but they really could not tell us when and where it would be available, Lou.

DOBBS: Well, that's sort of basically -- that's sort of basically their responsibility...

PILGRIM: It is. They said they had no idea yet and that they would post the information as soon as they knew and they don't know yet.

DOBBS: Unbelievable. All right -- thank you very much, Kitty -- Kitty Pilgrim.

Well, alarming new evidence of the prevalence of prescription drug abuse. In some states, more adults are dying of drug-related causes than in car accidents. Prescription drug abuse among teenagers also rising -- drug experts say one major reason, the drugs are accessible -- Lisa Sylvester with the report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Devon Kennedy is surprised she is still alive -- ecstasy, crack, marijuana, prescription drugs. She has done it all. At just 18 years old, she has already graduated from a recovery program, but she knows just how easy it is for an addict to get a hold of drugs, especially prescription medication.

DEVON KENNEDY, FORMER DRUG ADDICT: Every time I went into someone's house, the first thing I said was I have to go to the bathroom and I went to the bathroom cabinet and there would always be something in there everywhere you went.

SYLVESTER: At least 16 states now report more deaths from drug- related causes than in motor vehicle accidents. According to researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the drug of choice for many comes with a prescription.

MARGARET WARNER, NATIONAL CTR. FOR HEALTH STATISTICS: The number of poisoning deaths involved (INAUDIBLE) tripled from about 4,000 deaths in 1999 to about 13,800 deaths in 2006.

SYLVESTER: For young people ages 15 to 24, death by prescription drug abuse increased annually between 1999 and 2006. The death rate is highest among whites, followed by blacks and Latinos. It's also higher among men rather than women. Daniel Buruca didn't start off with prescription drugs or marijuana. He went straight to acid in elementary school.

DANIEL BURUCA, FORMER DRUG ADDICT: I was 9 and I had seen some brothers of a friend using acid, so I asked him for some and they let me try it.

SYLVESTER: His mother didn't see it coming.

CHRISTINA TELLEZ, DANIEL'S MOTHER: Certainly, I never would have envisioned a 9 or 10-year-old doing drugs, and he had such a, you know, great family support system around him. We were with him all the time.

SYLVESTER: Debbie Taylor runs a drug recovery center. What does she think has changed the most in 20 years -- access.

DEBORAH TAYLOR, CEO, VANGUARD SERVICES: There's more accessibility. A child can get in any neighborhood, in any school almost any drug that they would want in a relatively short period of time.


SYLVESTER: Debbie Taylor says a new tool that is being used is the Internet. Social networking sites are making it much easier for drug pushers and drug addicts to stay connected, and often their parents don't have a clue as to what is going on. Lou?

DOBBS: Yeah, and the reason that, you know, the idea that the simple reason is accessibility, that seems like a simple matter to fix. Why is that not being addressed?

SYLVESTER: You know, it's one of those things that you would think that this would be an easy problem to fix, but there's such a demand, and people are seeing that really in schools, that over lunch counters where kids are just being able to say who's got this and who's got that and they have access to it. But it is something that the federal government and really parents and other people who are participating experts really need to kind of hone in and try to figure out why is it that these drugs are so accessible.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester. Well I'll have a few thoughts about this country's prescription drug addiction challenges and all of the issues of the day. Join me on the radio Monday through Friday for "The Lou Dobbs Show" 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon on WOR 710 in New York, and go to to get the local listings in your area for the show and to subscribe to our daily podcast. And you can follow me at loudobbsnews on

Still ahead, a provocative argument against the church's position on illegal immigration -- is the church's support of illegal immigration, as one author says, immoral? We'll hear from two priests on each side of this issue in our "Face Off" debate, also ahead the battle over church and state -- the controversy over a cross on public land going to the Supreme Court.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's behind these plywood boards stands at the center of a fight that's made its way all the way to the high court, all against this desert backdrop miles from civilization?


DOBBS: Kate Bolduan with our report from the Mojave Desert on a case that could have a significant impact on religious expression and disturbing, new predictions about the rise and fall of America. We'll tell you who's making them and why.


DOBBS: The Supreme Court today opening its fall term. The court will hear cases on defendants' rights on corporate spending on political campaigns, gun rights and other issues. This Wednesday, the court will hear an important First Amendment case.

At issue, a 75-year-old war memorial, a simple wooden cross atop a Mojave Desert peak. It's now covered in plywood at the order of a federal judge. The Supreme Court will decide whether the presence of the cross on federal lands violates the constitutional separation of church and state. Kate Bolduan has our report from the Mojave Federal Preserve in California.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You could very easily drive right by or mistake it for a forgotten billboard in the middle of 1.6 million acres of desert. But inside is a cross, boarded up by order of a federal judge, a cross creating a huge constitutional controversy.

(on camera): How many miles do you guys travel from your home to come take care of the memorial?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we don't really take care of it now because the box, but we're 160 miles away from it now.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Henry and Wanda Sandoz have been the unofficial caretakers of what has been for decades known as the Mojave Memorial Cross, first erected in 1934 by their friend, a World War I veteran, to honor fallen soldiers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just love our veterans and we feel that they should be honored.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this is, right here in this little piece of our world, that's how we did it.

BOLDUAN: But it also sits in the Mojave National Preserve, government land, and some now argue that cross is violating the constitutional guarantee of separation of church and state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, what (INAUDIBLE) wants is neutrality and a complete remedy here.

BOLDUAN: Peter Eliasberg is the ACLU attorney for Frank Buono, a former ranger who worked in the reserve, the man who filed the original lawsuit. While Buono is Catholic and a veteran, he says the Mojave cross should go.

PETER ELIASBERG, ACLU OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: For the government to say we're going to impose on each and every one of you veterans this religious symbol, even though for many of you it is not your religious symbol, that is not an appropriate expression of religion in public life.

BOLDUAN: Jewish and Muslim veterans group support Buono, but attorneys for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Sandozes say the cross is a historical memorial, not a religious symbol, warning the outcome of this case could have far reaching implications.

HIRAM SASSER, LIBERY, LEGAL INSTITUTE: And this is the first one that's going after the Supreme Court and they want to make sure that this one prevails so that all the veterans' memorials with religious imagery across the country can be protected.

BOLDUAN (on camera): Why not just take this memorial, same cross, same memorial, and just move it to a less controversial location?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was put here by the veterans for the veterans of all wars, and that's where it should stay. BOLDUAN (voice-over): In recent years, the Supreme Court has taken a case-by-case approach on this issue, allowing the Ten Commandments to remain on public property in a Texas case, the same day ruling a display of the Ten Commandments in a Kentucky courthouse unconstitutional. With its caretakers anxiously standing watch, it's now up to the high court to decide the fate of this cross.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope it won't be too long before we'll be able to look at the cross again instead of a stupid box.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really -- we'll repaint it.

BOLDUAN (on camera): No matter the outcome, this case could be a major test of if and where the government will draw the line when it comes to any private expression on public land.

Kate Bolduan, CNN at the Mojave National Preserve.


DOBBS: I can't help but wonder what that means for all of the national cemeteries around this country and also in other nations as well. Well, the cross was originally erected by World War I veterans, as Kate said. It was a place of reflection for veterans who went to the desert to recover from lung diseases inflicted by poisonous gas attacks during World War I. A decision in the case could come within the next few months.

Well, up next here, a Catholic priest breaking with the church, saying supporting illegal immigration is, in fact, immoral. That is the subject of our "Face Off" debate tonight between two Catholic priests.

And the Obama administration is not now considering a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, despite pressure from the left wing of his own party. Our panel of political experts join me here later. We'll be right back.


ANNOUNCER: Here again, "Mr. Independent" Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Well, we've reported extensively here on the illegal immigration crisis in this country and the support given illegal immigrants by the Catholic Church's Council of Bishops. Now an important new book entitled "On the Immorality of Illegal Immigration" raises serious questions about the Catholic Church's support of illegal immigration.

Joining me now for tonight's "Face Off Debate" is the author of the book, Father Patrick Bascio, who says a truly Christian, moral approach would be to work to end illegal immigration. Good to have you with us, Father.

REV. PATRICK BASCIO, AUTHOR, ON THE IMMORALITY OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: Thanks. DOBBS: Father Thomas Reese, Senior Fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, former editor in chief of "The Catholic Magazine America." He supports the church's position. And it's great to have you with us, Father.


DOBBS: Let's turn first to Father Bascio. You were a - you were a parish priest in Harlem. You started working on your book because you were concerned about the impact of illegal immigration within Harlem.

BASCIO: Yes. Started out within Harlem, because I saw, when I started getting into it, it expanded all over the place and a lot of different things besides that.

DOBBS: Sure. Now, why is it, in your judgment, immoral? Because you know that that's quite different from the church's view, at least the Council of Bishops' view, on illegal immigration. What makes it immoral?

BASCIO: Well, the immorality is this. First of all, we're encouraging people to break the law in this country.

DOBBS: Right.

BASCIO: Now, that - that should be immoral.

DOBBS: You mean, by not enforcing border security or immigration law?

BASCIO: No, no, by - by suggesting that we should give amnesty to all illegal aliens, by suggesting that - well, some priests even leading marches of illegal immigrants who are demanding something they probably couldn't do in any other nation, and we recognize them, and even the last one they came from, waving their flags and so on.

So, just - this is only a minor point, but - but encouraging newcomers to America to break the law, I think that's immoral.

DOBBS: Father Reese, your reaction? I suppose Father Bascio's definition, Cardinal Mahony would be acting highly immorally.

REESE: Well, first of all, the Catholic Bishops are not encouraging people to break the law. What the catholic bishops support is a process for legalization of people who are already in the United States, who have been contributing to their communities, who have been paying taxes, who have children who have been born in the United States, that they have a path towards legalization. And you know, this is what they have been arguing for and encouraging. They have not been encouraging people to break the law.

BASCIO: But that's one interpretation. I - I think the average American disagrees with that interpretation.

DOBBS: And that interpretation also would include no distinction whatsoever amongst illegal immigrants in this country.

BASCIO: Absolutely. Absolutely.

DOBBS: Would you favor, at some point - for example, I have maintained for some years that there could be no significant, substantive, meaningful, sincere reform of immigration laws if we could - if this country cannot control immigration itself.

BASCIO: Absolutely.

DOBBS: And that we cannot control immigration if we do not control our borders...

BASCIO: Absolutely.

DOBBS: ... and our ports.

BASCIO: I mean, almost everyone in America recognizes that we are in bad shape with our borders, as porous as can be. We're bringing in immigrants from nations - by the way, in the process, further undeveloping undeveloped nations.

DOBBS: Right.

BASCIO: So, there's really no good side to illegal immigration at all.

DOBBS: Father Reese, your judgment?

BASCIO: I'm disappointed.

REESE: Well, as - as I said, the US bishops and myself, we're not in favor of illegal immigration. What we'd like to see is a more generous visa policy so that people can get into the country legally in order to get - to do the jobs that American business, American agriculture, American - you know, want them to do. This is - this is what they have been arguing for.

I mean, you don't - the bishops are not running buses across the border with illegals in them. This is not what they're about. They are trying to help these people who are in their communities to become legal so that we don't have this system of people being illegal and - and have a way that they can become legal, become good citizens, pay their taxes, contribute to society.

DOBBS: Does the church, though, or the Council of Bishops, Father, make any reference to the fact that we bring more than 3 million people a year into the United States legally, that we made more than a million people US citizens, naturalized, more than a million immigrants last year as US citizens, that almost half of them were Hispanic? Because you make it sound as if there's some sort of constraint here to do things legally.

We had a president running around for eight years saying things like we need a guest worker program. We have 13 of them in this country. Why the duplicity, why the deceit, why the (INAUDIBLE) in this debate rather than clarity and transparency, openness and honesty?

REESE: Well, I would like to see a program that actually worked. I mean, it can take 20 years for someone to get a visa to rejoin their families. This is just not a system that's working. What we need is a system that actually works, that allows people to get a visa, come here legally, and allows the, you know, what, 10 million people who are here already, that have been living here, that have children born in the United States - there are 3.1 million children who were born in the United States of people who are here, undocumented.

They are American citizens. The government is threatening to take their parents away from them and send them back to the country they -- they lived in. These are children who are American citizens.

DOBBS: You didn't answer a single question I asked, Father, but then again, you're -- you're a Jesuit. You can get away with that. Father.

BASCIO: Yes. I'd like -- I'd like to comment on a false statement that my good brother has just made -- and he's a wonderful guy. I know that. And that is, he made the statement, which I'm almost horrified to hear, because it's so untrue, but it's part of the, you know, part of the language of people who hold this view, and that is, he said that America is happy to have these people come here to take jobs that they don't want to do. That is totally ridiculous and untrue.

We were doing all those jobs long before immigration became a problem with us.

DOBBS: Father Bascio, thank you very much. We appreciate it. Father Reese, we thank you for being with us here. And we hope you will come back and join us soon, both of you.

BASCIO: Thank you very much.

REESE: Thank you.

DOBBS: Up next, President Obama, fresh from his Olympic defeat, facing a critical week on health care. I'll be joined by three of the country's top political minds here next. We're coming right back. Stay with us.


DOBBS: NBC's "Saturday Night Live" opening a show this weekend with a spoof on President Obama. The skit, however, different from previous skits because it was a critique of the president's failed promises. How about that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On my first day in office, I said I'd close Guantanamo Bay. Is it closed yet? No. I said we'd be out of Iraq. Are we? Not the last time I checked. I said I'd make improvements in the war in Afghanistan. Is it better? No. I think it's actually worse.

How about health care reform? Hell, no. Global warming? No. Immigration reform? No. Gays in the military? No. Limits on executive powers? Nope. Torture prosecutions? No.


DOBBS: Well, joining me now to assess the meaning of that skit -- and it will be a deep assessment-- all CNN contributors, three of my favorite political analysts, Republican Strategist Ed Rollins. Ed, who served as the White House Political Director under President Obama, has given truly insightful...


DOBBS: Or President Reagan...

ROLLINS: They're in big trouble if they had me as their political adviser.

DOBBS: Well, or vice versa. But anyway, "New York Daily News" columnist Errol Louis, Hank Sheinkopf, democratic strategist. And it's good to have you all with us.

Errol, beyond - beyond the humor, obviously - I love that, talking about "SNL" and I'm saying "beyond the humor" - what is the significance of the - of that - that skit?

ERROL LOUIS, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Well, I mean, it shows that he's vulnerable on some points, and you know, I - I don't think it will ever rise to the..

DOBBS: The last I hear(ph), about 12 of them, but...

LOUIS: Well, I mean, look, he also appointed a Supreme Court Justice. That's not nothing. He arguably helped rescue the banking system. That's not nothing, either. I mean - you know, the one thing I think you can't pin on the guy is that he's been inactive in these first eight months.

DOBBS: No, no. I'm just asking, what - what is the significance that "SNL" would actually critique this president? It's been hands off till here.

LOUIS: You know, they - they attack Democrats all the time. I mean, you know, our governor, Governor David Paterson, targeted all the time. They - they'll go anywhere for a laugh, as far as I can tell.

DOBBS: You're right. They're very even-handed. I'm completely at sea on this entire line of inquiry.

HANK SHEINKOPF: I don't think they're even-handed at all, and they love to attack Republicans and they had Bush to beat around for a long time. But what this does tell us and what it does portends is that we are entering an era of equal-opportunity bashing in a nonpartisan fashion and that the parties matter less, and frankly, for this particular broadcast to take on the president, well, that's something.

ROLLINS: I think what it really means - and I don't disagree on any of what my colleagues said here. I think this president's coming under a very different scrutiny at this point in time, and the question is, the man who created great high hopes and great expectations, is he really up to the job?

And I think that's what people are starting to look hard at, and you know, he's still got plenty of time to make that all work, but right today, there's a different scrutiny at him, just kind of a questioning, is he as gifted as we thought he might have been? Is this team as good as we thought it might have been? And we'll find out real quick.

DOBBS: Is the team as good, Errol, as we thought it might have been, or as was puffed up as we, you know?

LOUIS: The national security team in particular, the question, the cards are going to be put on the table in short order about what they choose to do in Afghanistan, whether or not they can get their internal discipline together.

You've got General McChrystal out there sort of contradicting some of the statements and kind of getting publicly rebuked by the defense secretary.

DOBBS: Campaigning for a plan.

LOUIS: Yes. I mean, and you know, personally, I think --

DOBBS: Where we have a vice president out there campaigning for a plan, too, very publicly.

LOUIS: Personally, I kind of like the openness of the discussion, what little bit of it there is, but --

DOBBS: You can tell the president is thrilled with this.

LOUIS: Well, points to a lack of discipline that the president can't be happy about.

DOBBS: Hank, what do you think?

SHEINKOPF: They're not doing so good. Long time to go.

But Americans like John Wayne movies for a reason. They want to see something happen. They want to see some action, they want to see closure, they want to see things moving along. They don't get that sense right now.

Again, for "Saturday night live," certainly not in the center, having been really on the left in many ways, to do what they did tells us that people are beginning to wonder. DOBBS: People may be beginning to wonder, but we have troops dying, and dying at a rate faster than any year since this war began in Afghanistan. It's been eight long years, and the subject of withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan is not even, we're told by the White House, on the president's decision tree.

Why in the world would it not be?

ROLLINS: I can't compare what our fighting men and women give up and sacrifice to anything else, and it ought to be on the table and we ought to be talking about them a lot more. Because it's far away doesn't mean it's not in front of us.

And you don't get the sense that with the mixed messages going on on the national security side that people really understand or they're willing to come up with a total plan for the American people to deal with this and go forward.

LOUIS: I mean, this is not a hypothetical danger in Afghanistan. This is for real. They have organized attacks against the United States there. It is a haven for Al Qaeda.

If there's going to be any place where we put boots on the ground, where we make a commitment of the projection of American force, this is the place. This is not Iraq eight years ago. This is the real thing.

They're going to have to figure out how to do it and at what troop strength and so forth, but I don't think withdrawal is an option, not politically and not strategically.

SHEINKOPF: We took our best general, allegedly, in the military, McChrystal. He was given the assignment to go there very quickly to do an assessment, to come back, give me your recommendations of what to do to get the job done.

He's done that. There's been all kinds of waffling back and forth whether he's put the troop numbers in or any of the rest of it.

But at the end of the day, what we do know and what he made clear is we can't have the status quo. If you're going to leave the number of troops we have there today, you're going to get them killed at record rates. If you put more in, there's a chance of doing some other things.

That's a hard decision for this president to make, but to do nothing and to keep it the status quo is a disaster and a dereliction of duty.

DOBBS: And that General, McChrystal, and the purported -- considered to be the best general in the United States military, General David Petraeus, those two men have obviously put their stamps on that plan.

We're going to ask this panel why this president hasn't acted on it and why there is a delay at all. We'll be right back. But first, Campbell Brown with a look at what's coming up at the top of the hour -- Campbell?

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, Lou. Tonight, frank talk from two of the most powerful advisers in the Obama White House, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

They come together for a first-of-its-kind forum to talk about the tough choice the country is facing right now and how they are advising the president. And you're going to hear that coming up in just a moment.

Plus, we're also on the front lines in the battle to stop the spread of swine flu, the first doses of the vaccine now being given to health care workers. Dr. Mehmet Oz is here to talk through the facts with us to help you avoid the flu. That plus, of course, our mash-up of day's news at the top of the hour -- Lou?

DOBBS: Campbell, thank you very much. We'll be right back and we're going to hear what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had to say about this moment in this president's presidency. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Defense Secretary Robert Gates said it as well as anyone and he said it in this speech.


GATES: Afghanistan has been on a different and worrisome trajectory, with violence levels up some 60 percent from last year.

I believe the decisions that the president will make for the next stage of the Afghanistan campaign will be among the most important of his presidency.


DOBBS: Well, Hank with the public support for this war continuing to drop, violence escalating, the pressure is immense on this president to act. We know that he's been -- that he's had the report from General McChrystal for several weeks, still no action. More meetings tomorrow, another tomorrow. What is he to do?

SHEINKOPF: My business is not military affairs but it is politics. One thing is sure, any Democratic president, especially one who proclaims a new generation, will see the specter of Vietnam before his eyes on a daily basis and worry consistently an constantly about whether commitment of troops to that kind of war in significant form will wind up being a quagmire again. He doesn't want to repeat history.

DOBBS: Yet the White House says withdrawal is not an option. SHEINKOPF: You know, this White House has tried to straddle the middle on most things. At some point he has to go one way or another. It's not easy.

DOBBS: You obviously believe withdrawal should not be an option, Errol. Where does this leave this president in this administration?

LOUIS: It leaves it in a very tough place. Generals like McChrystal are steeped in the Powell doctrine from Colin Powell that you have to go in with clear objectives, overwhelming force, and support from the public back home.

It will be very difficult for the president to get all three of those things lined up. And if he can't, you're stuck with a deteriorating situation.

But to withdraw, they will export not only terror but heroin.

DOBBS: We've been there eight years and haven't stopped the flow of heroin yet.

ROLLINS: The added danger here, this president got himself stuck on the spear. He ran as an antiwar president. He could have very easily said I'm bringing all of our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan in the course of his campaign, and the end result would have been the same.

He wanted to be different than any other Democrat and show he had toughness on Afghanistan.

The dilemma he has now is our NATO allies who are in that war, troops in that war, whatever he does at this point in time, there's consequences.

Further, there's not Democrat support. If he does this, he has to do this with Republican support. And they've been in a knock-down, drag-out battle for a long time. If he wants this war he has to be understand he has to awful nice to Republicans otherwise it will not happen. He will not get the funding or the resources out of the Democratic Party.

DOBBS: And with those political considerations, what is the military reason for maintaining our troops not only in Afghanistan but now Iraq, in Germany, in South Korea, as we try to come to terms with a 21st geopolitical policy?

SHEINKOPF: I think military people make decisions based on fighting the last war or what's in front of them. and I think that McChrystal and everyone else, the mission was tell us how to win this thing, how to do better here. It's never how to get out of here.

I've never seen a military person waving an exit strategy. It's always important to have a good exit strategy.

DOBBS: Sounds like a good case for civilian military leadership.

SHEINKOPF: That's what you're supposed to have.

DOBBS: When it's present.

Thanks very much.

Up next, we'll have some of your thoughts. Stay with us. We're coming right back.


DOBBS: Time now for some of your thoughts.

Susan in Oklahoma said "How is it that Congress can vote themselves a raise when the economy is in the tank?" That's the law.

And Aaron in Minnesota, "Congress should no longer be paid a yearly salary but instead paid on commission. They pass a good bill, they get paid. If these plans work and the common man and woman are happy with it, they could own a bonus for doing a good job." In your dreams.

And Roger in Florida, "We might do better if we stop voting for politic candidates and just vote for lobbyists. We could eliminate the middleman." Now, that is a brilliant idea.

And Ethel in Wisconsin said "The president's number one priority should be jobs, jobs, jobs." And we agree.

Julie in Texas said "Why is it that if you cross the North Korean border illegally you get thrown into prison and get 12 years of hard labor. If you cross the Iranian border while hiking you get arrested and imprisoned. But if you cross the U.S. border illegally, you get a driver's license, a Social Security card and free health care." Intriguing questions.

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts to and each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my book, "Independent's Day."

And a reminder to join me Monday through Friday on the radio on WOR 710 in New York for "The Lou Dobbs Show." Go to to get the local listings for the show in your area.

On today's show I talked with Bill Maher, the host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher." To hear that interview and much more, go to for that daily podcast.

And follow me on,

Thanks for being with us tonight. Join us here tomorrow. Goodnight from New York. Next, "Campbell Brown."