Return to Transcripts main page
Lou Dobbs Tonight
Rift over the War; ACORN Investigation; Risky Foods; Limiting the Law; International Uproar
Aired October 06, 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 ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you very much.
As a matter of fact tonight we'll be debating whether or not health care workers in this country should be forced to take swine flu vaccine and tonight debate over Afghanistan -- a growing rift over a new strategy -- President Obama facing top lawmakers, bipartisan meeting at the White House. He says he understands the urgency for a new plan for war, but can he overcome differences within his own administration.
Also tonight, calls for an independent prosecutor to investigate ACORN, the leftist activist group's crimes reportedly much worse than anyone knew and sex, blackmail and extortion, the latest develops tonight in the Letterman, Polanski and Travolta scandals.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT; news, debate and analysis for Tuesday, October 6th. Live from New York, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. The growing rift over Afghanistan, the president meeting today with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, he told both sides he understands the urgency to come up with a new war plan. The debate creating high level tension within the president's own administration. The secretary of defense telling his top commander in Afghanistan to keep his concerns private, General Stanley McChrystal angering the White House when he went public with his calls for a big troop surge.
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden is pushing a more narrow mission, focusing on hitting al Qaeda forces. The one option not being considered by the White House, a complete withdrawal, all of this as the president faces key decisions in the coming weeks. Ed Henry reports now from the White House. Ed, you have some new information about what went on behind those closed doors today.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well that's right. Good evening, Lou. In fact, it had to do with the fact that the president is not talking about withdrawing. I'm told that a top House Democrat advised the president that unless he starts pulling out of Afghanistan, the U.S. could be stuck in that region for the next 20 years in an open-ended conflict, this according to attendees in the room from both parties who tell me that Congressman David Obey (ph), a Democrat and the chairman, powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, warned the president that it could cost at least a trillion dollars over the next 10 years to continue fighting this war if the president escalates the U.S. troop presence. He already sent 21,000 more U.S. troops back in March. He's now weighing whether to send another 40,000 U.S. troops. But these attendees in the room tell me that the president made it clear to Democrats as well as Republicans that pulling out of Afghanistan is not on the table right now, even if it's unpopular with members of his own party, and I can tell you a top Democrat in his party, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid emerged from this meeting saying that while not everyone may be happy with the direction the president may be heading, the possibility of sending more troops that in the end leaders in both parties will support him no matter what.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: One thing I think was interesting is that everyone, Democrats and Republicans, said whatever decision you make, we'll support it basically. We'll see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Now attendees in the room also say that a Republican told the president that the constituents in his Republican district are getting tired of this war eight years later, the anniversary of the start of the war coming later this week, and this Republican lawmaker was saying that even he has grown tired of it and that the American people seem to be losing support for this conflict as well. Nevertheless, the president said he believes the mission needs to continue, Lou.
DOBBS: Any discussion in that meeting as far as you know as to why after eight years of combat in Afghanistan, the world's greatest military power, the most advanced military on the planet still has an open outcome to the hostilities?
HENRY: Certainly, I heard that there were questions about why it is still going on. And basically, one top Republican, Richard Lugar (ph), was also expressing concern that it's not just in Afghanistan but the possibility of some of this conflict continuing to spread into Pakistan, the fact that Pakistan has nuclear weapons and certainly there are people wondering in both parties why it has dragged on so long, given the stakes here, Lou, the severe consequences that this could really blow up into a much bigger situation, Lou.
DOBBS: And the Dalai Lama, President Obama becoming the first president since 1991 to not meet with the Dalai Lama. This -- is this a straightforward pandering to communist China?
HENRY: Well I asked Robert Gibbs at the White House briefing today whether or not concerns about upsetting the Chinese government led the president to not meet with the Dalai Lama this week. He insisted that it had nothing to do with it and says that the president will be meeting with the Dalai Lama later this year, but as you know, there are human rights activists who are concerned that the president, back in the presidential campaign made clear that he would meet with the Dalai Lama, but there have been suggestions rejected by this White House, but suggestions that the president is waiting to hold this meeting until after November. The reason being that he's heading -- likely heading to China as well as Singapore and Japan as part of the APEC (ph) economic summit in November where he'll be sitting down with President Hu of China and doesn't want to anger the Chinese ahead of that summit. Robert Gibbs insisted there's no connection, but there's lot of people wondering why the president is delaying this meeting, Lou.
DOBBS: All right, Ed, thank you very much -- Ed Henry from the White House.
The Obama administration says it's ready to slap new sanctions on Iran if talks over its nuclear program break down. A Treasury Department official telling the Senate Banking Committee today the president remains committed to diplomacy, but is ready to take action if required. The push for new sanctions following Iran's admission that it built a second secret nuclear facility and reports that Iran may be closer to developing a nuclear weapon than originally believed.
The world's oil producers are denying reports they have held secret talks to end the use of the dollar in the oil markets. The British newspaper the "Independent" reporting that the Gulf Arab states along with France, Russia, China, and Japan secretly discussed dumping the dollar and replacing it with a market basket of currencies in gold. Iran has already done just that.
The dollar is also under pressure and considerable fire from the United Nations. The United Nations next week is going to recommend replacing the dollar as the reserve currency of the world. The dollar fell today, gold prices soared. Gold hitting a record price of $1,045 an ounce.
A Senate judiciary subcommittee holding hearings today on all the czars appointed by President Obama and previous administrations, the probe led by Senator Russ Feingold, one of the few Democrats to raise questions about the practice, but the White House says the whole czar discussion is a waste of time. The president's spokesman, Robert Gibbs, was asked about it today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would assume that Congress and Senator Feingold have more weighty topics to grapple with than something like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: He didn't say what those topics might be. There are plenty on the right who disagree, attacking the president for hiring so many high level czars, more than any other president at this point in his administration. Most czars are not vetted or confirmed by the Senate. President Obama's green job czar, Van Jones, recently was forced to resign over some of his past controversial statements and actions.
There are now calls for Kevin Jennings, the so-called school safety czar to step down. Jennings admitting to failing to report a sexual matter involving a minor when he was a public school teacher, a homosexual relationship. ACORN's league troubles continuing to mount as well. An investigation of the leftist activist group by the Louisiana attorney general finding that a million dollar embezzlement scheme was actually five times that. The news comes as a member of the House Judiciary Committee is calling for the Justice Department to appoint an independent counsel to investigate ACORN -- Ines Ferre with our report.
INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More trouble for ACORN, as part of a criminal investigation into the organization's finances, the Louisiana attorney general says ACORN had underreported a massive embezzlement. A subpoena issued last week says that a board meeting last year, ACORN's CEO Bertha Lewis acknowledged that the amount of money embezzled in 1999 and 2000 by the founder's brother was $5 million -- not one million.
JAMES "BUDDY" CALDWELL (D), LOUISIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think the status of these organizations not for profit across the country has elevated to where it requires a lot more strict monitoring. We had too much public money that's going out and is not being monitored.
FERRE: ACORN denies that, saying Lewis was asking whether the clean up cost of the scandal might amount to $5 million, and former board members had misrepresented her remarks.
BERTHA LEWIS, CEO, ACORN: This is speculation, completely false, and not based on any documentation or any audit or anything other than two disgruntled former board members.
FERRE: Criticism of ACORN has grown after recent videos showed workers giving questionable, if not illegal advice to undercover activists posing as a pimp and prostitute. The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee has asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department's investigation of ACORN.
REP. LAMAR SMITH (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: There are all kinds of ties between the president and ACORN., and in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety or the temptation for the Department of Justice to politicize it and say no don't investigate, we need to have this independent special counsel that can go in, conduct an entire and complete investigation.
FERRE: A spokesman for the Justice Department said they would review the letter. The Justice Department's inspector general said it will investigate if ACORN. received or misused any grant funds.
FERRE: And ACORN is being investigated in at least 10 states for various issues including voter registration fraud. Congress recently voted to cut its funding and the IRS dropped ACORN from its volunteer tax assistance program. At the National Press Club today, Bertha Lewis said ACORN had been demonized saying quote, "this form of modern day ACORN McCarthyism has got to stop" -- Lou.
DOBBS: I'm sorry. Who said that...
FERRE: Bertha Lewis said...
DOBBS: Bertha Lewis, the CEO of the organization.
FERRE: Yes -- yes.
DOBBS: And she's also the one who denied that there were investigations of ACORN., correct?
DOBBS: OK. Thank you very much. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Justice Department makes a decision here -- with this many states already investigating and for the federal government which has been providing an estimated, what 45 percent of their funding not to be investigating through the FBI and the Justice Department is truly remarkable, isn't it. All right, thanks a lot.
Well local police across the country are being used to enforce immigration laws. Now, the Obama administration wants to weaken and weaken seriously that program. The question is why.
And more details tonight about David Letterman's creepy behavior, also the latest developments in the Roman Polanski and John Travolta cases.
Also an alarming new report tonight some of the healthiest foods that you eat may actually be the riskiest. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: We've reported extensively on this broadcast about the Food and Drug Administration's inability to protect American consumers from dangerous foods and food-borne illnesses. Now there's an alarming new report that list the top 10 foods most likely to make us sick. The foods on that list may well surprise you -- Kitty Pilgrim with our report.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These foods can be dangerous to your health, a consumer group claims. Leafy greens, tomatoes, tuna, sprouts, berries, eggs, potatoes -- they're all on a list of top 10 foods that have caused the most illness according to an analysis of reports to the Centers for Disease Control over 16 years -- also included on the list ice cream, oysters and cheese. The list was compiled by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a self described watchdog groups that says the Food and Drug Administration is absolutely handicapped when it comes to food safety.
SARAH KLEIN, CTR. FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: They have to ask a food producer to recall that product from the market. They don't have the authority to go in and take that product off shelves or go in and shut that factory down.
PILGRIM: Food safety legislation has been passed in the House with bipartisan support, but is awaiting action in the Senate. Some FDA inspections of food producers now take place only once a decade. Consumer groups want it up to once a year. They want growers of leafy greens, the highest risk product, to regularly test irrigation water. There's not a requirement now and they want food companies required to alert the public to a contamination problem immediately. It's not just these 10 products. The FDA also oversees processed foods.
JEAN HALLORAN, CONSUMERS UNION: We had a problem last year with peanut butter where they performed tests, found salmonella in the peanut butter and they shipped it anyway. They should have to at least tell FDA if they find something dangerous in their product.
PILGRIM: The FDA recently opened a self reporting Web site for companies to notify them of dangerous products.
PILGRIM: Now the Food and Drug Administration is requesting a budget of 3.2 billion, as part of its 2010 budget -- that's a 19- percent increase over current funding. Consumer groups say after decades of under-funding, it is absolutely critical to allocate more to an agency with such a critical role -- Lou.
DOBBS: As we have been reporting here for some number of years. The Bush administration literally eviscerated the agency. It's a shame. Twenty percent is better certainly than any level of funding that was offered the agency under the Bush administration.
PILGRIM: It is certainly is and in fact it's a marked departure from the last decade where it was under-funded.
DOBBS: All right, thank you very much, Kitty -- Kitty Pilgrim.
Well to hear my thoughts on food safety and the cost of regulating the marketplace, join me on the radio Monday through Friday for "The Lou Dobbs Show", 2:00 to 4:00 each afternoon on WOR 710 radio in New York. And go to loudobbs.com to get the local listings for "The Lou Dobbs Show" on the radio in your area and to subscribe to our daily podcast. And please follow me on Twitter on loudobbsnews on Twitter.com.
Well coming up next, a week for the tabloids. Scandals involving some of the biggest names in show business and the Obama administration taking on America's toughest sheriff, limiting his ability to enforce federal immigration laws, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, what else -- he's fighting back.
DOBBS: Well, there's a reason that Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio is known at the toughest sheriff in the country. Tonight, Sheriff Arpaio is fighting back against the federal government. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have restricted the sheriff's power to enforce federal immigration laws. Sheriff Arpaio was known for his tough stand on illegal immigration.
He's partnered with ICE on the 287 (g) program for years. It authorizes local police to enforce federal immigration laws. Arpaio was outraged at the new restriction set up by ICE telling us that ICE informed him his deputies would no longer be allowed to make arrests under 287 (g), but could determine the immigration status of people in his jails.
Arpaio said the ICE decision was made for political reasons. Arpaio also said he would fight back and continue doing crime suppression of illegal immigrants under state laws. ICE had no comment on the case, but in a statement said it will continue to review 287 (g) agreements. Well the action taken by the federal government against Sheriff Arpaio is it appears a precursor to what will be a nationwide weakening of the 287 (g) (ph) program. The Obama administration planning changes to the program and critics say those changes will weaken the ability of local police to enforce immigration laws -- Bill Tucker with our report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since 2006, more than 130,000 suspected illegal aliens have been identified for deportation under the 287 (g) program, which authorizes local police agencies to enforce federal immigration laws. Law enforcement agencies and half of the states in the country use the program, and those who use it like it.
SHERIFF DARON HALL, DAVIDSON COUNTY, TENN.: We find 287 (g) to be a tool to help both the federal government and the local law enforcement agency do I think something good.
TUCKER: Sheriff Hall says in a little more than two years in his own county, Davidson County, Tennessee, more than 6,000 illegal aliens have been deported. Those 6,000 illegal aliens were associated with more than 20,000 crimes. Groups who advocate lax (ph) to no immigration enforcement, though, are not happy with 287 (g).
At the end of August, ACORN called for a halt to the program. Just last week the Congressional Hispanic Caucus sent this letter asking that President Obama end 287 (g) because quote, "It is our experience that state and local law enforcement officials actually use their expanded and often unchecked powers under the program to target immigrants and persons of color." It's a call that astounds groups which believe in tighter immigration enforcement.
JOHN FEERE, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: It seems mind boggling to me that somehow the Hispanic Caucus would come out in favor of basically keeping criminal aliens and other aliens within the (INAUDIBLE) community.
TUCKER: There are changes coming, though. The Obama Department of Homeland Security wants to make sure illegal aliens are not arrested on minor offenses as a guise to initiate deportation. They want only illegal aliens with more serious crimes identified to be deported. (END VIDEOTAPE)
TUCKER: Now the new agreements with law enforcement also impose a clamp down on the local agencies releasing information relating to the effectiveness of the program. ICE officials say that's because not all agencies release information in a uniform understandable way. More cynical minds suspect that maybe that's because the administration may not wish to advertise the effectiveness of 287 (g). October 16th is the deadline for the local law enforcement to set up new agreements with ICE, Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Bill Tucker.
Well another federal program used to fight illegal immigration is E-Verify. E-verify, the single most effective federal program at keeping illegal immigrants out of the work force, all federal contractors and subcontractors as of September 8th, must clear their employees through E-Verify. More than 13,000 contractors are now using the system, 121,000 of their employees have been checked by E- Verify since it began and 97 percent have been authorized to work. The system is reliable. A Customs and Immigration Service spokesman telling us E-Verify has a 99.7 percent accuracy rate.
Up next, should health care workers be forced to take the swine flu vaccine? That is the subject of tonight's "Face Off" debate.
And sex, blackmail, extortion -- we'll have all of the latest for you on high profile sex and extortion scandals that seem to be rocking the nation.
ANNOUNCER: Here again, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Film director Roman Polanski will remain in a Swiss jail cell, at least for now, Switzerland today rejecting Polanski's plea to be released on bail while he fights extradition to the United States. The 76-year-old convicted child rapist is wanted for sentencing in a controversial case that is now more than three decades old. Initially, many in the film world rallied behind Polanski and now more people are beginning to speak out against him. Casey Wian has our report.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This Swiss ski chalet nicknamed Milky Way and reportedly owned by Roman Polanski is where the 76-year-old director had hoped to stay under house arrest while he fights extradition to Los Angeles. Instead, he must remain in this jail.
The Swiss Justice Ministry ruled Tuesday "we continue to be of the opinion that there is a high risk of flight." In 1977, Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl shown here in the HBO documentary "Wanted and Desired". The victim testified Polanski gave her champagne and part of a Quaalude (ph) then raped and sodomized her. Before he was sentenced, Polanski fled the United States. His supporters claimed judicial misconduct would have led to an unfair sentence.
HERVE TEMIME, ATTORNEY FOR ROMAN POLANSKI (through translator): There is a lynching by the media which does not correspond at all to the reality of the situation. What everybody is forgetting is that if Roman Polanski escaped in the first place, it is because he felt he was betrayed by the American justice and that was the case at the time, unfortunately.
WIAN: Polanski was arrested 10 days ago while trying to enter Switzerland for a film festival in his honor. Initially, the French and Polish governments and many in the film industry expressed outrage, but in recent days both governments and several public figures have said Polanski should face justice.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I think that he's a very respected person and I'm a big admirer of his work, but nevertheless, I think he should be treated like everyone else and one should look into all the allegations.
WIAN: During an Internet roundtable for Sunday's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" Cokie Roberts, an ABC contributor and senior news analyst for NPR, said this.
COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/NPR NEWS ANALYST: Roman Polanski is a criminal. He raped and drugged and sodomized a child. And -- and then was a fugitive from justice. As far as I'm concerned, just take him out and shoot him.
WIAN: Hyperbole aside, Polanski likely faces several more weeks, even months in jail, while the Swiss justice system decides if he can be returned to the United States.
WIAN: Los Angeles County prosecutor Steve Cooley declined to comment on the Swiss Justice Ministry's decision to deny Polanski's bail request. He did tell the "Los Angeles Times" recently, quote, "Mr. Polanski pled guilty to a crime, so apparently Mr. Polanski believes there's a crime" -- Lou.
DOBBS: All right. You can't -- can't resist certain -- certain logic. Thanks very much. Casey, appreciate it. Casey Wian.
Well, joining me now for more on the Polanski case, as well as David Letterman's sex and blackmail scandal, John Travolta's extortion trial, David Caplan, who is senior editor of "People" magazine.
David, good to have you with us.
SHOWBIZ TONIGHT host A.J. Hammer.
A.J., thanks for being back with us.
And in Los Angeles, CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom. Thank you for being back with us, Lisa.
Let's -- Lisa, let's turn to Polanski's chances of getting out of jail. What are they right now, by your -- your estimation?
LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Slim or none, Lou. I mean, this is a man who's been a fugitive from justice for 31 years, and the Swiss authorities got it right. That's not the kind of person you would give bail to.
I also think that he clearly committed an extraditable offense. It was a major felony. He was convicted of it, and he fled. I think, after all of his appeals are exhausted in Switzerland, he's coming back to Los Angeles to face justice.
DOBBS: David, what -- what's your judgment about what's happening here? We're starting to see Cokie Roberts of ABC saying as far as she's concerned, he could drop dead. The French and the Poles, the Polish government, both governments have changed initially this -- what they were looking and talking about, the dark side of America here. It's quite a reversal.
DAVID CAPLAN, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE": It is a bit of a reversal, and while you're still seeing some in Hollywood going against him, there's still really a strong base that are coming out in support of him. You have directors like Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Harvey Weinstein. These are people, huge Hollywood heavyweights, and they're in support of him. They want him to be released, and they want him -- the charges to be dropped and to come back to the U.S.
DOBBS: And why -- why would that be? Why do -- what's their point?
A.J. HAMMER, HOST, HLN'S "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": It defies logic. And I think their point, the problem is, with all aspects of this case, Lou, it's very complicated. There are those who will say he's already served his time with the small sentence that he had when he was initially incarcerated and tested all those years ago. They're saying he's already done his time. There are those who just say, "Well, you know, so much time has passed."
But the truth is, no matter what anybody's reasons might be for supporting him, you can't support him without it seem -- seeming as though you are condoning what he did. Whether or not he should get out or shouldn't get out, it's irrelevant.
When it comes down to it, people are looking at directors like Scorsese and Woody Allen and saying, "Well, they think it's OK that he raped a 13-year-old."
DOBBS: And is there something wrong with that logic?
CAPLAN: It's very interesting; it's very polarizing. Because a lot of people, a lot of the fans and people who admire these directors are getting a little bit skittish, like why are you sort of defending this guy who was -- has these charges? So even people in Hollywood who are coming out and making their opinion, you know, they're in turn really having a bit of a liability because, you know, they're in turn looking a little bit shady, as well.
DOBBS: Lisa, the Letterman case, we haven't heard a lot from celebrities about David Letterman's affairs with staff members. What's the difference?
BLOOM: Well, it's a very different story, because we're talking about consenting adults, and David Letterman isn't accused of having committed any crime.
However, who is there to speak up for the members of his staff who may have felt very uncomfortable by the fact that David Letterman was sexually involved with at least three women that worked for him? What about the women who weren't sleeping with him? Were they judged based on their merits? What about the men on the staff? Imagine how they feel, learning this information.
So I think it creates a very uncomfortable work environment. It can possibly give rise to a sexual harassment claim by people who were not sleeping with him but felt it was a hostile environment. But nobody has come forward yet to make a claim like that.
DOBBS: A.J., David, I would like to get your reaction to this clip of David Letterman from last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, CBS'S "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": It's fall here in New York City. And I spent the whole weekend raking my hate mail. And it's -- it's cold, too. I mean, it's chilly outside my house, chilly inside my house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: David, this is remarkable, to watch a monologue about a tragedy and the personal pain that he has had to put his wife through.
CAPLAN: You know, it's amazing that you watch this, almost a feeling sort of, of uncomfortability, because it's a really serious topic and then you sort of don't know whether to laugh with him, and he's laughing. And it's almost really a cliche that he's sort of reverting to humor to sort of get over the situation. People do that. They make jokes to get over a serious situation. And that's what they expect from him.
But it's really a little bit unnerving for a lot of his fans, particularly female viewers who don't find it funny, who don't find it a laughing matter.
HAMMER: This is -- he doesn't have a choice. This is what he does when his other people who have done things similar to what he has now said that he's done.
And the real problem I see, he's talking also about his wife, Regina. He also acknowledged on the show last night how difficult this has been for his wife, Regina, and how he has a really tough and big hill to climb before things are right at home.
The problem is for him, he's tried to protect her privacy so much for the 20 years that they've been together. And now he's out there talking about her, and she may be obligated at some point to come forth and say something.
DOBBS: Let's turn to the Travolta case. David, on the cover story on "People" magazine this week. This extortion, the attempt to extort millions from Travolta and his wife. Your reaction at this point? Obviously, this is something that the public is mightily interested in.
CAPLAN: I mean, this story is really interesting, because extortion stories are always really fascinating for people. And in this case, it involves extortion; it involves a death; it involves, you know, a money transaction. So already, it sort of has these so- called sexy topics.
But particularly for this case, because it involved John Travolta. He's somebody who's been notoriously quiet. He keeps his private life very private. And in fact, one of the things that came out in this -- the courtroom scene is that his son was autistic. So we're learning more details. And that's why there are these sort of like bombshells, and people are really intrigued. Because you're not dealing with a person who is an open book. So there are sort of many layers to this, not just extortion. But we're learning more about someone who a lot of people want to know more about.
DOBBS: Lisa, these -- these trials, all of this publicity scandal, is it destructive of the careers of these celebrities, or is it, in point of fact, helpful?
BLOOM: Absolutely nothing wrong. He's completely in the clear. I mean, he's accused by these people of not doing the proper care for his son. That is completely untrue. So he's the easiest case.
BLOOMS: As to the others, look, I think if a celebrity is a victim of a crime, they have to come forward. They have to prosecute. They can't just pay people off, because there might be no end to it.
HAMMER: I agree with Lisa 100 percent. I mean, with Polanski, the damage has already been done. Will it get worse? Yes, probably. With Letterman, that's still undecided at this point. But right now, it looks like he's taking a little bit of a hit. At the same time, a lot of people are watching.
DOBBS: And Joe Halderman, the accused extortionist here, Lisa, suggestions that this trial might -- case might not go to trial. Your thought?
BLOOM: Well, 95 percent of cases don't go to trial. They settle by way of a plea bargain. But his attorney is coming out fighting, saying he's got evidence of sexual harassment. He hasn't offered up any proof yet, but it sounds as though there's going to be a fight here.
DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much, Lisa.
Thank you very much, A.J.
David, appreciate it.
Up next, President Obama fighting critical challenges on health care and Afghanistan. Three of the nation's top political thinkers join me.
And protecting the public health. Should the swine flu vaccine be mandatory for health-care workers? That's the subject of our face- off debate, next.
DOBBS: As we have reported, swine flu vaccines are being shipped to the -- to states this week. Some 2.2 million doses ordered so far. Many states want priority groups vaccinated -- vaccinated first. And that priority group is health-care workers.
Health-care workers, for their part, are at high risk for the flu, capable of spreading the infection, of course, to patients who may be susceptible. Should the swine flu vaccine be mandatory for health-care workers to help protect the public? That's the subject of our face-off debate tonight.
And joining me, Jemma Marie-Hanson. She's a registered nurse, union representative for the New York State Public Employees Federation.
Jemma, great to have you with us.
Dr. Martin Blaser, chair of the Department of Medicine at New York University School of Medicine.
Doctor, as always, good to have you with us here.
Let's begin, Jemma, you don't think these -- these flu shots should be mandatory. There's a concern about patients you come in contact with, obviously. What's the reason?
JEMMA MARIE-HANSON, REGISTERED NURSE, UNION REPRESENTATIVE: Well, let's be clear. The Public Employees Federation believes that the flu vaccine, that our members should take the flu vaccine, and actually has strongly recommended that and encourages our members take the flu vaccine, the H1N1, as well as the seasonal flu vaccine.
The problem that we have is that we have a mandate from the New York State Department of Health. Commissioner Daines had brought forth an emergency regulation that basically says if you -- if you're a health-care worker in an Article 28 facility, which also includes hospitals, then you are going to be mandated to take this vaccine. And if you don't take it, you're going to lose your job. It is -- it has to do and is being...
DOBBS: So you're rejecting the coercion?
MARIE-HANSON: Well, we're saying that health-care workers should not be told that they're going to lose their job that's attached to the...
DOBBS: You believe, Dr. Blaser, obviously, the opposite. Why so?
DR. MARTIN BLASER, CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, it's not Roman Polanski, but we're -- there's a big epidemic now. The epidemic has been around; it's growing. There have been millions of people who have been infected. And for every million people infected, some people die. So public health has to get ahead of the curve. They have to do whatever they can to protect the public.
And one of the ways is to -- is to get health-care workers who are taking care of sick people in hospitals so that they won't have a risk of transmission. It's better to be ahead of the curve than behind the curve.
DOBBS: As Jemma says, the union is recommending that health-care workers take the vaccine, correct? And they believe there will be a high percentage of people who do take that vaccine. Why is that not adequate?
BLASER: Health-care workers are a professional group. Like many professional groups, they have responsibilities. The health care -- we have freedom of speech in this country, but health-care workers can't talk about their patients. Health-care workers have to get certain vaccines already. They have to get certain tests that the general public don't. Those have been mandated for a long time. This is more of the same; it's public health in action.
DOBBS: Jemma, what's your reaction to Dr. Blaser's summary (ph)? Is that reasonable?
MARIE-HANSON: This is about taking care of our patients, but when we have health-care workers that are being told that they're going to be put out in the street instead of telling them, look, this is a public health issue.
We feel it's important that health-care professionals do the right thing. And that is take the vaccine. But it should not be attached to the terms and conditions of their employment.
We have met with the commissioner of health; helped us build a coalition of health-care workers and unions to come together. We had a meeting with the public health commissioner and basically told him this should be a program that is voluntary, a program that encourages education of health-care workers...
DOBBS: But -- but at this point, many states are not -- most states are not requiring that this vaccine be mandatory for health- care workers. The CDC is not. What is the difference in view on the part of the New York state versus the CDC?
BLASER: As you know, we're a federal system. Each state, each locality does something different. Some states are leaders.
Again, I think New York saw the outbreak early. There have been more than a million infections in New York City. More than 70 people have died in New York State. I think they want to be as proactive as possible.
Again, the key to public health is to stay ahead of the curve, to put all the resources you can. That's why we have this giant program, the vaccination.
DOBBS: You get the last word, real quick.
JEMMA MARIE-HANSON, REGISTERED NURSE/UNION REPRESENTATIVE: I think the problem is that we need to have a voluntary program that encourages health care workers to get educated about this vaccine as well as making sure that they have the protective equipment they need to do the job correctly. They have the N-95 fit tested mask.
And we do the right thing. We protect health care workers and protecting our patients.
DOBBS: And of course, all of us are in great debt to all of your doctors, all of your nurses, and everyone in health care in this country. And we hope this can be resolved intelligently, reasonably.
And so thank you very much. Appreciate it.
BLASER: Thank you.
MARIE-HANSON: Thank you.
DOBBS: Thank you, doctor.
Up next, a rift in the Obama administration over Afghanistan. Still no health care legislation. Will there be? Four of the best political analysts join me here next. We'll be right back. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Joining me now, four of my favorite political analysts. Ron Christie, president of Christie Strategies, also a former assistant to former President George W. Bush, New York bureau chief of the "Washington Post" Keith Richburg, and Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Robert Zimmerman, and syndicated columnist and CNN contributor Miguel Perez. Good to have you all with us.
The president meeting with bipartisan lawmakers, Senator Harry Reid says everybody decided to give president Obama whatever he wants. That's encouraging, is it not?
RON CHRISTIE, PRESIDENT, CHRISTIE STRATEGIES: I think it is. It's very important, particularly looking at the war in Afghanistan. The president has got to make sure, Lou, he's making a very concerted effort to listen to the generals on the ground rather than some of the armchair generals in the White House.
And it's important that the Congressional leadership come together to give the president the assets and the tools that he needs to win in Afghanistan, but at the same time...
DOBBS: I have to ask a question, if I may. You said "armchair generals" in the White House. Are those sort of fixed positions? Were those in the Bush administration as well sitting on the armchairs? There were none of those?
CHRISTIE: In the Bush administration, I think it's very fair to say that the president really relied on his commanders in the field. He spoke with them constantly. President Obama has only spoke with McChrystal twice.
DOBBS: He got his two terms.
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He got his eight years, Ron. We're paying the price for it.
I would just be hesitant to refer to an individual like National Security Advisor General Jim Jones as an "armchair general." He has more combat...
DOBBS: Perhaps Ron was referring to Vice President Joe Biden, who seems to be the principal...
CHRISTIE: And Rahm Emanuel.
ZIMMERMAN: I think Vice President Biden's chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee during his tenure speaks to his credentials to speak on the issue.
KEITH RICHBURG, "WASHINGTON POST": I hate to break those two up.
I think it's great that Obama is taking his time, and the input from the generals on the ground is important. On the other hand, it should not be the only influence. Every general since the Holy Roman Empire has always wanted one thing -- more troops.
But it's up to the commander to say hold on a second, what is it that we need these troops for? So you need to have a little check and balance on that.
MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think he's taking too much time. This indecisiveness shows a lack of leadership he's shown on health care and other issues. The whole world won't respect us if we don't decide soon what we're going to do in Afghanistan.
RICHBURG: He just ordered 20,000 more troops. They're not there yet. Those 20,000 already ordered are still on the way.
PEREZ: What's coming out of the White House is total indecisiveness. We don't know what we're going to do.
RICHBURG: I don't think you send young men into war because commentators are sayings, hurry up.
ZIMMERMAN: He's taking less time than George Bush took with the surge. I think the point here is the fact we have a strategy before we commit our soldiers into battle. We've made that mistake too many times in our history.
PEREZ: But our commanders on the field already have a strategy.
CHRISTIE: Robert, here's the difference. I think the difference we've seen here is the president came out in March and articulated a strategy and said having the Taliban in place is irresponsible. We have to root the Taliban out. The president came out in August and said the same thing.
Now the president is saying, wait a second, let's think. He's clearly articulated a strategy twice this year about rooting out the Taliban. Now he seems reluctant. I think that gives a very strong sense around the world from the United States is not serious about --
PEREZ: The message is we can live with the Taliban.
ZIMMERMAN: I hate to throw a couple of facts in here and kill a good spin, but the reality is you're asking our government and our government is being asked to create an Afghanistani army of 400,000 police and military. In the history of Afghanistan, that has never been done. The most they've ever had is 80,000.
CHRISTIE: We need a government in Afghanistan --
DOBBS: You've all addressed all but one element of this, which is has been ruled out by this White House, and that is the option to withdraw from Afghanistan and to draw down our troops.
We are eight years into this conflict...
DOBBS: Eight years. We don't have a strategy. We don't have an exit strategy. We don't have a clearly defined mission. And we have an administration who, like the administration before it, which has been rather opaque in what its goals were.
Why would we sign up for another eight years of anything in Afghanistan and why should we when the leadership of our general staff has not demonstrated, certainly on the ground in terms of results or accomplishment or success, that they're worthy of the men and women that we are putting in harm's way in uniform for this country? PEREZ: As long as there's a September 11 on the calendar, we have to worry about the Taliban coming back and doing -- and they're in Pakistan. They're on the other side of the border. Even if they're weakened in Afghanistan, they could come back and hit us again.
DOBBS: I understand full well who the enemy is. I don't understand what we're doing about the enemy and what we've done for eight years.
ZIMMERMAN: You're speaking to the critical issue here, and that is our goal is to defeat the Taliban, our goal is to destroy Al Qaeda. That has been articulated.
The issue is can we do it effectively, what strategy can we pursue? And that's why these meetings are all about and why they're so critical, because I don't know if we can accomplish this...
DOBBS: I'm in no way -- please don't misunderstand. I'm not criticizing the fact that there are meetings. I'm not criticizing that there is thinking. I am applauding thinking, I am applauding meetings, I applaud analysis.
It is ruling out one course that seems to be imminently viable and perhaps even appropriate and preferred that has been taken off the table by this White House.
CHRISTIE: Let me say this -- we need to have a clear, demonstrable recognition of how do we define success. How do we define success for our troops moving forward that but for the following actions they are going to stay, and if they don't accomplish the job, they're going to leave.
I think it's very critical when one American soldier loses their life for an undefined policy when it relates to the military objectives, I think that is a tragic loss of life. That's what this administration has to deal with is define what is success. If we haven't met the benchmark, we need to move our troops home.
DOBBS: May I remind you that it was one year ago this very day that it had been almost seven years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan under President George W. Bush. I don't understand why any of the priorities or considerations should change one president to the other.
CHRISTIE: They shouldn't.
ZIMMERMAN: I'll tell you why they should change, because we're dealing with the Karzai government that's just been elected in a fraudulent reelection. So therefore the real issue is do we have a partner, do we have a government that the people will support? If we don't, it makes nation-building very difficult and very threatening.
DOBBS: Miguel, you get the last word.
PEREZ: Absolutely, I agree with that. Nation-building should be our goal. The Russians tried to control Afghanistan, they proved that it cannot be done. Obviously we cannot conquer Afghanistan, but we definitely can do something about controlling the Taliban from taking power again.
RICHBURG: I was there eight years ago. I went back several times to Afghanistan. The one thing that happened, I think, and this is what the soldiers on the ground I was embedded with said as late as 2004, we took our eye off the ball because we were distracted by Iraq. That's what happened.
DOBBS: God knows what would be said now. Thank you very much.
Up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown -- Campbell?
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, Lou.
Tonight, is David letterman having the last laugh? Some embarrassing confessions about relationships with staffers and apologies to his wife may have been painful for the late night star, but his ratings certainly have not suffered. In fact, they have gotten quite a boost. We'll look at that.
We've also got new revelations about the comedian from a late- night staffer to tell you about.
Also, how did an accused stalker shoot video of ESPN's Erin Andrews while she was nude in her hotel room? We're going to show you and we'll talk to her lawyer exclusively.
That, plus our mash up of the days other top stories all coming up at the top of the hour -- Lou?
DOBBS: One way to get rating. All right, thank you very much, Campbell.
Still ahead, your thoughts. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Time now for some of your thoughts.
Dennis in Ohio wrote in to say: "Lou, I believe the left now influences your show too much."
Donald in Arkansas wrote in to say: "I think Lou Dobbs is too far to the right for my comfort."
That's why they call me an independent, folks.
And Ron writes: "Lou, I just heard there will be no nativity scene in Washington this year. They can't find three wise men in the national capital." I love that one.
We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts to loudobbs.com. And each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my book "Independent's Day." And you'll also receive a new "Independent American" t-shirt. Check it out. And a reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Fridays for the "Lou Dobbs Show." Go to loudobbs.com to get your local listings for the show and sign up fur or free podcast.
Thanks for joining us. Coming up next, Campbell Brown.