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Lou Dobbs This Week

Space Shuttle Discovery Set to Launch, Town Investigated for Voting Discrepancies, Iraq Study Group Report Discussed

Aired December 10, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: Tonight the war in Iraq is at a turning point. The number of American casualties is rising and rising sharply. The Iraq Study Group recommends major changes in U.S. policy. We'll have complete coverage here tonight.
And the Department of Homeland Security says it has what it calls effective control of less than 15 percent of our southern border with Mexico. And incredibly, the Department of Homeland Security says it can't define what effective control means. We'll have that special report and more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK. News, debate, opinion. Here now, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. And U.S. strategy in Iraq on the brink of major change after one of the most deadly weeks for our troops in this entire war. More than 30 of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month. Nearly 3,000 since the war began.

The Iraq Study Group recommending this week that most American combat troops be withdrawn from Iraq by the first quarter of 2008. So far, President Bush has been reluctant to declare his support for the Iraq Study Group's proposals. In fact, opposing some of them.

Suzanne Malveaux at the White House with the report. Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, so far the president has said that this is a very tough report on Iraq. He also said that he takes these recommendations very seriously. Officially they say they're not commenting on any 79 recommendations thus far. But we already have a pretty good clear sense of what he is rejecting in this report. He says that he will not talk directly unconditionally with Iran or Syria. That that is not on the table.

But the White House has not rejected the possibility of regional talks with the Bush administration and those two regimes. There has already been some outreach. Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice involved in an international group as well as her Iranian counterpart.

Now, we have also heard from the Bush administration the president saying that he does believe there's a more robust role that needs to be involved from the Bush administration regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, that that is something that they could work on. And we have also heard, as well, that they are not agreeing to any kind of specific timetable for withdrawing troops but that the Iraq Study Group's recommendation is in line with General Casey's recommendation to try to at least get to the point 2008 where they can withdraw some of the troops.

Now, Lou, there is a very aggressive outreach that is happening here at the White House. The president having breakfast with incoming Democratic leadership, the outgoing Republican chairs as well. And then of course, later next week, what we'll see is President Bush at the State Department conferring, meeting with Secretary Rice. He'll be back at the White House to consult with outside experts on the Iraq Study Group.

Tuesday is when he'll have a video teleconference with top commanders on the ground in Iraq as well as the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zal Khalilzad. And then Wednesday is when we'll see President Bush. He will head over to the Pentagon, meet with secretary of defense Rumsfeld to talk about this. All of this coming together, we're told, Lou, in the next couple of weeks. That is when he'll address the nation. We are told that it's going to be a new plan, some kind of plan that will be announced by Christmas.


DOBBS: Suzanne, thank you very much. Suzanne Malveaux from the White House.

The Iraq Study Group report this week, before it, President Bush had met with Iraq's most powerful elected officials. The president meeting with Abdul Aziz al Hakim at the White House. Al Hakim's Shiite political party has close ties with Iran. That meeting coming as the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, General John Abizaid told CNN the Iranian government is directly training, equipping and financing Shia militias in Iraq.

The Iraq Study Group said the United States must not make an open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of our troops in Iraq. The group says the primary mission of U.S. troops should be to change from combat to support of the Iraqi Army. Jamie McIntyre now reports from the Pentagon.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the Pentagon and U.S. military officials reacted cautiously to the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group this week. On the one hand, pointing out that some of the recommendations were in line with the goals and some of the tactics being used by U.S. commanders, particularly the inserting more trainers in with the units.

But at the same time U.S. military commanders in particular were careful not to endorse the report's overall pessimistic tonight.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): On the military side the panel recommends several strategies to speed the transition of U.S. troops from front line combat to behind the scenes support, increase trainers from 4,000 to 20,000, withdraw most U.S. combat troops by early 2008, target al Qaeda in Iraq with remaining forces. Most of those military moves match the strategy already embraced by U.S. commanders. But there's an important wrinkle in the Baker- Hamilton approach, U.S. troop draw downs would continue and other support cut back even if the Iraqis make no progress on the vital goal of national reconciliation.

LEE HAMILTON, IRAQ STUDY GROUP CO-CHAIR: If the Iraqi government does not make substantial progress toward the achievement of milestones, the United States then should reduce its politicking, military or economic support for the Iraqi government.

MCINTYRE: It's a last-ditch approach the authors readily admit has its own shortcomings. And offers no magic formula to the new defense secretary.

ROBERT GATES, INCOMING DEFENSE SECRETARY: There are no new ideas on Iraq. Everybody -- the list of tactics, the list of strategies, the list of approaches is pretty much out there and the question is, is there a way to put pieces of those different proposals together in a way that provides a path forward.


MCINTYRE (on camera): This week the operational commander in Iraq, General Pete Corelli, said that he thought the idea of withdrawing most combat troops by 2008 was possible but not necessarily contingent on the performance of Iraqi troops but more on the performance of the Iraqi government. If there was political reconciliation, with the Sunnis and Shia, then he thought that that goal of withdrawing troops by 2008 might be something that could be accomplished.


DOBBS: Jamie, thank you very much. Jamie McIntyre, from the Pentagon.

There will be a new secretary of defense at the Pentagon later this month. The Senate confirming this week former CIA director Robert Gates to be defense secretary. The vote overwhelming, 95 votes confirming and 2 against.

In those confirmation hearings Gates said the United States is not winning the war in Iraq. Andrea Koppel has the report from Capitol Hill.


ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Moments after posing for cameras, Carl Levin, the incoming chairman of the Armed Services Committee asked Robert Gates a direct question.

SEN. CARL LEVIN, (D) MI: Do you believe we are currently winning in Iraq?

GATES: No, sir. KOPPEL: That short, simple answer fast became a lead story. And after lunch, Gates felt compelled to clarify.

GATES: While I was having lunch and eating my sandwich I was watching the news and I certainly stand by my statement this morning that I agreed with General Pace, that we are not winning. But we are not losing. But I want to make clear that that pertains to the situation in Iraq as a whole.

KOPPEL: For five plus hours Republicans and Democrats alike pressed Gates to shed light on his plan for Iraq. And for more than five hours the man set to become the next secretary o f defense respectfully answered those questions without making any firm commitments. Connecticut's Joe Lieberman wondered about possibly boosting the number of U.S. troops in Iraq.

GATES: That certainly is an option.

KOPPEL: While South Carolina's Lindsey Graham asked the former intelligence chief about the fallout if U.S. troops redeployed in the region, would terrorists follow them?

GATES: Probably so.

KOPPEL: Jack Reed asked Gates if the U.S. should emphasize stabilizing Iraq or shift to more training.

GATES: The honest answer to your question, senator, is that I don't know.

KOPPEL: But when Ted Kennedy asked him how independent he'd be, Gates was eager to answer.

GATES: Senator, I am not giving up the presidency of Texas A&M, the job that I have probably enjoyed more than any that I've ever had. Making considerable personal financial sacrifice and frankly going through this process to come back to Washington to be a bump on a log.

KOPPEL (on camera): That said, Gates also conceded, there are no new ideas on Iraq. He said the list of strategies and tactics are already out there. A reality check from one of the former members of the Iraq Study Group. Andrea Koppel, CNN, Capitol Hill.


DOBBS: Still ahead, the Department of Homeland Security admits our borders are wide open. Officials say they can secure now only 15 percent of that border with Mexico. And Democrats putting the illegal alien lobby ahead of this country's border security. We'll have that special report on the Democrats' new push for illegal alien amnesty.

And the Supreme Court to rule on whether race can decide where your children go to school. Our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins us. All of that and more straight ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: The Department of Homeland Security this week admitted it can't define what controlling our borders actually means. Believe it or not.

And Democrats and what will be the 110th Congress will likely be pushing a bill that would grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. Bill Tucker reports now on our government's lack of success in securing the nation's borders. Lisa Sylvester now reports on an expected move by Senate Democrats to push that amnesty legislation for illegal aliens through. We begin with Bill Tucker. Bill?

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, as we have been reporting here on this program for years, control of our border with Mexico essentially doesn't exist. Now the Department of Homeland Security is tying control of our southern border to an urgent need for a temporary guest worker program.


TUCKER (voice-over): The Department of Homeland Security admits in a report to Congress that we only have effective control of 14 percent of our southern border. To get tighter control, DHS is calling for the completion of its virtual fence project known as SBInet costing more than $8 billion. DHS is also saying a temporary worker program is essential.

Quote, "It will relieve the mounting pressure on the Border Patrol and help to sustain the important progress that we're making in securing our borders. It is also going to send a determent message to would-be border crossers that there's a regulated system for finding work in the United States." Congressional critics call that outrageous.

REP. JOHN CULBERSON, (R) TX: There is no urgent need for a guest worker program. There is an urgent need to secure the border and protect this nation against common criminals and gang members coming across but terrorists.

TUCKER: Even with a guest worker program, DHS says control cannot achieved for another five years, at least. Here's what that means -- DHS apprehends 1 million people along the southern border every year. The Border Patrol says for every one they catch another two to three make it across. That means an additional 10 million to 15 million illegal aliens will enter during that five years.

Critics point out securing the border can be much more immediate.

JIM GILCHRIST, MINUTEMAN PROJECT: Our government and our society is so resilient we can literally do whatever we want overnight. All that's necessary is to accept the challenge to take this bull by the horns and set out on a campaign to enforce our immigration laws.

TUCKER: But there doesn't appear to be the will to do that.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TUCKER (on camera): Just as there doesn't appear to be a will to crack down on the employers that illegally hire those workers in the first place, Lou.

DOBBS: It doesn't appear. It simply isn't there, at least on the part of the elites. There's an absolute will among American citizens for those illegal immigrants to be stopped at the border and for that border to be under control. The idea that the Department of Homeland Security can't define what control of our border -- are these people bound and determined to hear they're idiots day after day on this broadcast if no one else will say it out loud?

TUCKER: Lou, their response when I asked them what control means is that said they didn't have essentially the right information to determine what control means.

DOBBS: Do they have a Webster's dictionary? They spend over $30 billion a year at the Department of Homeland Security.

I tell you what we'll do, I would like you, of course, at the expense of this broadcast to send them the latest edition of Webster's dictionary, circle it, put a tab in there, so it will be easy for Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security. Maybe that will give him a clue, he can pass it on through his organization.

And the idea of a guest worker program, Bill, to have the Department of Homeland Security say that we have to have a guest worker program to secure our borders, these people are -- what are they smoking?

TUCKER: They have no comment on that, Lou.

DOBBS: Well, I have a couple of comments. One of the things I would comment, and I think everyone who has been watching our reporting on this broadcast knows it, the idea of a guest worker program, a new guest worker program, is absurd. Those guest worker programs already exist. The reason they need a new guest worker program is to give them cover so that they can give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens in the country. And there is no other reason for it.

Bill Tucker.

Well, it looks certain to be high on the new Democratically- controlled Senate's agenda. Amnesty, that's right, it sounds a little like the Republican Senate, doesn't it. The Democratic leadership will likely try to push through legislation that would grant a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal aliens regardless of what the American public wants or says and regardless of how wide open our borders remain. Lisa Sylvester has the report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the new party heading up Capitol Hill, immigration will be an early focus next year. Senator Patrick Leahy, the incoming chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in a statement said, quote, "Years of dawdling have worsened our border security and made it harder to fix this broken system. We should not let partisan politics and intolerance continue to delay and derail effective reform."

Translation, Democrats will try again to push through an amnesty bill that would legalize millions of illegal aliens and create a guest worker program.

JACK MARTIN, FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: It's very likely that the Senate would act first because of the fact that they already had legislation passed that had a Democratic majority in support of it.

SYLVESTER: Senator Harry Reid, the next Senate majority leader suggests the Senate will take action sooner, rather than later.

SEN. HARRY REID, (D) NV: I have the opportunity, as the majority leader, to come forward with 10 bills at the beginning of the session, one of those is going to be an immigration bill. One of the 10.

SYLVESTER: But the so-called comprehensive reform could come to a screeching halt in the House of Representatives. Even though the House leadership is now stacked with amnesty proponents the political landscape has changed. There are now more conservative Democrats in the House.

ROY BECK, NUBERSUSA: I think you can count on probably at least 50 Democrats voting against any kind of comprehensive amnesty program and I think you can count on 80 to 90 percent of the Republicans to hold against their president. His amnesty plan.

SYLVESTER: Last year, amnesty provisions passed the Senate and failed in the House. Next year could look a lot like a rerun of this year.


SYLVESTER (on camera): The vast majority of the American people are opposed to anything that resembles amnesty. Several political observers say if Democrats hope to retain the majority in 2008 they may have to reconsider their stance on this issue. Lou?

DOBBS: This is a -- it's remarkable how both parties supported by corporate America. I had great hopes this leadership would be somewhat different than the Republican leadership. They're taking on the same tone, bowing to the corporate masters just as did the Republican leadership.

SYLVESTER: All the lawmakers are interested in receiving political contributions, whether it's Democrats or Republicans, Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester, it's great to have you here in New York.

SYLVESTER: Good to be here. DOBBS: Coming up -- we'll hear from the governor of New Mexico. He's got some new ideas and speaking out loudly about illegal alien held up in a church in Chicago. He is speaking out loudly about amnesty for illegal aliens. And oh yeah, you know that border emergency he declared in his state? Well, turns out he doesn't think it's an emergency anymore apparently.

And in the college education, is it enough for middle class Americans to get ahead? We'll find out.

And the Supreme Court may decide whether race can decide where your child goes to school. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The Supreme Court is considering what role race should play when deciding where children go to school. The case before the Supreme Court may offer insight into how the newest Bush appointees to the high court view the issue of race-based admissions.

Earlier I talked with our legal analyst Jeff Toobin about the indications as to where this court is headed.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: We do, you know, elections have consequences. That was something that was often said ...

DOBBS: I've heard that somewhere.

TOOBIN: Around this time in the Supreme Court nominations and I think this case is going to be a classic illustration. There did seem to be five justices who wanted to strike down the use of race in grammar school and high school admissions and that would be a big change for a lot of people.

DOBBS: The idea of using race for any aspect in this society, sets off owl sorts of alarm bells, all ends and places on the political spectrum.

What is the issue here? We're talking about redistributing people who are actually in school, across -- in the case of Seattle certainly and Louisville, as well. How can the court judge this any differently than it would the Michigan case which it affirmed, what, three years ago.

TOOBIN: Just three years ago.

DOBBS: Give us some sense of that.

TOOBIN: Well, what happened here was, particularly in Louisville, those schools had been segregated by law for years and years up until the '50s at time of Brown v. Board of Education. There was a long court case. And then after the court case was over, the local community got together and said, look if we have schools just on the basis of neighborhoods, our neighborhoods are segregated, we'll have totally segregated schools.

So what they did is they set a rule that schools had to be more than 15 percent black, but not more than 50 percent black. And that was a desire for diversity that they wanted.

DOBBS: But that's all been rolled back now.

TOOBIN: Well, it hasn't. I mean that's what this case is about. John Roberts said, wait a second, you're saying to kid there's are certain schools you can or can't go to because of their race. And the lawyers for the defense had to say yes and that's something that is going to be hard, I think, for a majority of the court to stop.

DOBBS: For all of us who are laymen, give us -- give us succinctly as you possibly can, what is the difference between racial profiling, affirmative action and corporate so-called diversity programs?

TOOBIN: They're all very similar. They are basically saying that, the government approves giving out certain benefits, advantages, on the basis of race. Because it means that we want diversity and that if you had a completely even playing field where you didn't consider race, you'd have an unacceptable result.

DOBBS: But how that square up with Constitution under equal protection.

TOOBIN: That's what the court held three years ago. Three years ago Justice O'Connor, the now-gone Justice O'Connor held for the court that the University of Michigan Law School could have an affirmative action plan because it's so important that the core of lawyers in the world be diverse that it's OK if race is one factor taken into consideration in admissions. But that decision may not be long for this world.

DOBBS: All right. Jeffrey Toobin, as always, thanks for the education, the illumination. Jeffrey Toobin.


DOBBS: There is no indication when the court will rule. And the court's current session does end next June.

And coming up here next -- the American middle class breaking all sorts of records. Unfortunately none of those records are ones any of us would like to achieve. We'll have that special report.

And New Mexico's governor on illegal immigration and border security. Could be he's setting up for a presidential run. We'll see.

And the Justice Department telling a New York village to change the way it elects its officials or go to court. Stay with us.


ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK. News, debate, opinion. Here again, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: With an increasing number of American companies sending good, middle class jobs overseas to cheap labor markets and downward pressures on wages in this country, caused in part by illegal immigration, there's a worsening gap between the rich and the poor. And our middle class is caught in the middle, working harder and harder, trying to stay even.

Christine Romans reports.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mary Jane Fanton has been laid off after 32 years from a union job at an electronics plant in Cuba, New York. She figures she can work 15 more years, so she plans to go to college. A degree, she hopes, will keep her in the middle class.

MARY JANE FANTON, CUBA, NEW YORK: I would hope that it does, but there's no guarantees on anything. And some days I have my doubts.

ROMANS: Mary Jane is part of a middle class that is struggling to maintain its living standards, smack in the middle of a growing gap between rich and poor.

According the Census Bureau, real median hourly earnings for both men and women are falling. The middle 20 percent of workers earn a record low share of income, and 47 million Americans are without health insurance, a record number of them, children.

CHRISTIAN WELLER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: We've never seen anything like this before where we've had good growth in the economy, we had a well-performing stock market. And we've really left the majority of Americans behind.

ROMANS: Still, there are those who downplay this great divide, calling it a media creation. Tom Borelli works for a free market think tank. He says liberals are cherry-picking economic numbers to push their agenda.

TOM BORELLI, NATL. CTR. PUBLIC POLICY RESEARCH: You can torture the data until it confesses. In this instance, I think this is what's going on. I think if you look at long-term business cycles, there's no need to panic. Wages are coming up. Poverty levels are coming down.

ROMANS: But even the treasury secretary has acknowledged this divide.

HENRY PAULSON, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Amid this country's strong economic expansion, many Americans simply are not feeling the benefits.

ROMANS: Mary Jane Fanton is one of them. At 52 years old, she says her choices now are going to college or working at a fast-food restaurant. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: She hates the idea of having so few choices after more than 32 years of service to her company and her community. She's determined, she says, to be proactive, to get an education and a good job.

But census figures show over the past five years at least, real have also fallen for workers who have bachelor's degrees, Lou.

DOBBS: And that's the shame of what is otherwise what many people have described as a good economy, a strong economy. The fact is that working people just are not sharing in this prosperity. Corporate wages, corporate profits, greater percentage of national income -- working wages is smaller.

Christine, thank you very much.

Christine Romans.

We reported extensively here on the case of an Elvira Arrellano, the illegal alien. She took refuge in a Chicago church some three months ago to avoid deportation again. A few weeks ago, she sent her seven year-old son, born in the United States, an American citizen, on a mission to Mexico City to win support for her case amongst those in the Mexican Congress.

One of those won over apparently, the governor of New Mexico. Bill Richardson. I talked with him this week and asked him why he wants the president to pardon Ms. Arrellano.


GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, (D) NEW MEXICO: Well, under our system you can request a pardon or parole. And I -- the law is also very clear, Lou. That young man -- anybody born in America is an American.

What I didn't want to see was a cleaning lady, you know, one of -- in a job that is probably very difficult. I didn't want to see this young man not grow up without his family, without -- he's -- without his mother. And so I felt that our immigration laws are so out of whack, they're so out of step, that here you have a case where a child is a citizen...

DOBBS: Right.

RICHARDSON: ... yet you're sending their parents away, who may have violate the law. And it makes no sense.

I think what we need to do is fix our immigration laws, tighten the border, but also recognize that there are 11 million of these individuals in the United States.

DOBBS: When you talk about dealing with immigration reform, and as you know this Democratically-led Senate and House is already making it very clear they're going to push for so-called comprehensive immigration reform.

You and I have talked about this. You've declared a state of emergency on your border in New Mexico. You're the first to do so. Why in the world is it inappropriate, bad policy, for the United States and for the American people to express, as they have in survey after survey, that they want that border secured -- which is necessary to controlling immigration, which is necessary to reforming immigration law?

RICHARDSON: Well, Lou, I think it's very impractical to deport every one of these individuals. And if you deport all of their family members, they're going to grow up in America as orphans. That doesn't make sense. So what I would like do is have a comprehensive act that addresses your concern, border security, that looks at those that might satisfy and qualify under our law, and then make sense out of a policy that is broken and needs fixing. And this is the way that we need to deal with it, by a comprehensive effort.

DOBBS: Two quick questions: would you support asking President Bush for a pardon for Agents Compeon and Ramos, convicted of shooting a fleeing drug smuggler crossing the border back into Mexico?

RICHARDSON: Well, I don't have all of the facts on that, but, you know, I just believe our law enforcement people deserve support.

DOBBS: Right.

RICHARDSON: They deserve a day in court. I don't have all of the facts, Lou. But it strikes me that if they're enforcing American law that should be taken into account.

DOBBS: Well, governor, let me ask you this, because we're curious about 2008. It's getting a little late now. You ready to announce your running straight ahead for president of the United States?

RICHARDSON: Well, I've always said I'm going to decide in January. And I feel, Lou, I had a good year. I got a big re-election margin, 70 percent. We elected a bunch of new Democratic governors. You know, I feel I have something to offer.

But I haven't decided yet. I know there are a lot of people getting in there. And that's fine with me. I think in a Democratic primary we need a lot of people in there, you know, Senator Clinton, Obama, Kerry, Edwards, let them all get in. Let us all get in. If I decide to do it and debate the heart and soul of the future of the Democratic Party. I don't see a problem with that.

DOBBS: I don't see a problem. As a matter of fact, it sounds look a pretty good way to go about the business of who will lead this nation in 2008.

You ready to announce? One more chance.

RICHARDSON: Well, no -- no, I haven't decided yet, Lou. I've got to -- I'm getting my program ready for New Mexico, which includes, by the way, more funds for border security because we're still waiting for all of the Border Patrol agents we were promised.

DOBBS: Well, Governor, we thank you for being here. And we appreciate hearing from you as always.

RICHARDSON: Thank you.

DOBBS: Governor Bill Richardson.



DOBBS: I talked with the governor on this broadcast a year ago when he said drug smugglers and illegal aliens were endangering state residents and there were fenced area along the border where the fence was virtually nonexistent.

This past week however, the governor blasted plans for a 700 mile fence as demagoguery.


RICHARDSON: The Congress should first abandon the fence lock, stock and barrel. It flies in the face of America as a symbol of freedom. Remember President Reagan when he said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall".


DOBBS: Tear down that wall? Now where have we had that before? And What is the message the governor's really trying to send there? We'll think about that.

Although the governor is coy about plans to run for the presidency, Governor Richardson's beginning to sound just a little like someone who's trying to appease the amnesty lobby and accommodate a few folks in Mexico City. We'll see.

Coming up next, Port Chester Mayor Logan (ph) is facing the U.S. Justice Department. No, the U.S. Justice Department isn't trying to investigate or prosecute cases of illegal immigration. No, they want to change the government of the village of Port Chester for the purpose of diversity and, specifically, for the Hispanic population of the town.

And when is a way forward a way backward? We'll have that as well.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The federal government is telling the city of Port Chester, New York to change the way it elects its officials. The Justice Department says the city's Hispanic population is underrepresented. And the federal government's case rests on the fact no Hispanics have ever been elected to office in the town.

Earlier I talked with the mayor, Gerald Logan, about the case and asked him if the Justice Department had contacted him first about the situation.


MAYOR GERALD LOGAN, PORT CHESTER, NEW YORK: Not yet. But we're hoping -- our attorney spoke with them yesterday and I said, when are we going to meet?

DOBBS: You mean, no one from the Justice Department has had the class, the courtesy, the common sense to just come in there and talk to you all about what might be a resolution here?

LOGAN: Not yet, sir.

DOBBS: Unbelievable. Port Chester is -- I think, I'm correct in saying, not exact a giant metropolis that's very difficult to discern here. You're a community of what, about 30,000 folks?

LOGAN: Roughly speaking, yes. We're about 2.4 square miles, so we're a very small village in area. We have a lot of people.

DOBBS: How many people in your community, Mr. Mayor, are Hispanic? And how many are white? And how many are black?

LOGAN: Well, the percentage of Hispanics has grown tremendously. I think the last census had it up somewhere in the neighborhood of 46 percent.

DOBBS: Right.

LOGAN: The number of voting age Hispanics is somewhere in the 20,000 range. But voting age could mean people that are 18 or older. They may not be citizens, they may not be registered to vote. But at 18 or older you are eligible to vote. So that's the statistics they're going by.

DOBBS: So you've never elected a Hispanic in your town, even though they're almost half your population, right?

LOGAN: That is correct. Hispanics have run for office. They have not been successful.

DOBBS: Mr. Mayor, what percentage of your town's business are owned by Hispanic businessmen and women?

LOGAN: Well, if you go along our Main Street area, there's a number of restaurants and shops and travel agencies and clothing and bakeries all Hispanic operated.

DOBBS: So why haven't -- you would think with that that at least one Hispanic would be voted in.

LOGAN: Well, it just hasn't worked that way, Lou. We have in the past asked many qualified Hispanics to run for office, but either because of their careers or their job commitments they were not able to do so.

DOBBS: Right. What will happen next looks like legal action. But the fact is, do you have a sense of what percentage of your Hispanic population there is legal?

LOGAN: At this point, Lou, It's hard to determine, because they fall under the radar. When the last census was done -- obviously, we don't know how many. We know there's probably in excess of 30,000 people here.

DOBBS: Yes. We should point out, and I neglected to do so at the outset. I mean, the fact is that the census makes no distinction between a citizen and any other person, whether here lawfully or unlawfully.

Mr. Mayor, we know you've got to be frustrated by this. I can imagine your community is. But it sounds like on every other level that this is a community -- your community is one of which there is -- I have to ask you this. It seems like you have racial harmony. In fact, it would seem to me you have racial harmony that many might not expect given the rapid increase in the population of Hispanics over the course of the past 10, 15 years.

LOGAN: Well, that's true, Lou. And you know, I've been working with Hispanic groups and they want to be registered to vote, they want to be citizens. So it's a question of time. So we are trying -- working our hearts to out to work with them in any way we can.

DOBBS: Mr. Mayor, we appreciate your time. We wish you well. We wish your community well.

LOGAN: And thank you so much, Lou. I appreciate it, too.


DOBBS: Friday marked the end of the 109th Congress. When Congress reconvenes next month, it seems there will be a few changes in store. The 109th Congress worked less than half of the days the average American would. Lawmakers started late on Tuesdays and adjourned Thursday afternoon.

Incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says that just won't work. He wants representative now to convene on Monday and work through -- oh, my goodness -- all the way to the close of business on Friday. Imagine that.

Congressman Jack Kingston of Georgia complained the new work hours might cut into his family time just like it does for the rest of us.

I'll be talking with three of the country's sharpest political minds about what this Democratically-controlled Congress is likely to do with all of that extra work. And the president facing the press many times this week has a new catch phrase. Seems almost everyone in Washington is using it. Jeanne Moos will have that special report on "Way forward".

Stay with us.


DOBBS: I'm joined by three of the country's best political analysts and observers, Hank Sheinkopf, Democratic strategist; Errol Louis, "New York Daily News"; Diana West, "Washington Times".

Well, folks, thanks for being here.

And Diana, we now have the Iraq Study Group.


DOBBS: And all of our problems seem to be solved.

WEST: Haha. I tend to go with the general theme that this is the Iraq Surrender Group. It's a cobbled-together mish-mash of the most fantastical kinds of suggestions that rely on good-faith negotiations with people who want to kill us and penalization of Israel, which has nothing to do with our problems. So that's where I am with that.

DOBBS: Do you agree, Errol?

ERROL LOUIS, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, not entirely. I mean, when we were facing the Soviet Empire they said, we will bury you. Their premier said this. They had nuclear weapons. They could make good on the threat. We talked to them. That's what you do. You make peace with your enemies, not just with friends.

DOBBS: Hank?

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: The Iraq War has been badly prosecuted, but there's nowhere in there in that study that talks about long-term need to change something. What they want do is engage in Kissingerian-likelinkage, bring all of the problems in the region that impact us to one place for hope -- with the hope that they can talk to somebody.

These guys have not talked to us yet under any circumstances. With our tails behind -- with our tails between our legs, I don't know they're going it talk to us again, either.

WEST: Well, I think it's just terrible weakness. And what we want out of any kind of an Iraq Study Group, whoever does it, we want a recipe for something that resembles good policy for America, that ends in some sort of victory that turns the whole surge of Islamic militarism and terrorism away from us. And this only invites more.

DOBBS: Do we, in your opinion, Errol, look like a nation? Eight months for the Iraq Study Group to come up with this conclusion, a war that is now ultimately, everyone is describing as one we're not winning, even the new defense secretary, does -- do we look like a nation that doesn't know what the hell it's doing?

LOUIS: I think we look like a nation that wants to -- a great nation is like turning a battleship, to turn its policy around. And this is a repudiation of two of the tenets of the Bush administration's policy, that you don't talk with those who you don't want to talk with, that they're the axis of evil and they're to be shunned unless they capitulate and then come to the table, and the notion that democracy will cure all ills, as it has failed to do in instance after instance.

So, you know, if the policy group's recommendations are going to be followed, turning this big battleship around is going to be take at least as long as the five years it took to get us into this mess.

WEST: Well, Lou, I think we look like Liechtenstein with this kind of approach. And I think the point about not talking...

DOBBS: I think you may have insulted Liechtenstein.

WEST: Yes. Maybe so. Apologies to Liechtenstein. But I think that the point about not talking to your enemies -- these are not traditional great powers that we're looking at in the Middle East. You have countries that are deeply informed by their ideology that comes from their religion. The Iraq Study Group does not even take into account the fact that you are looking at Islamic cultures and there are special problems in dealing with them.

SHEINKOPF: But the Bush administration's failure to prosecute this war appropriately with no goals, with no plans...

WEST: Yes, I agree.

SHEINKOPF: ... has in fact empowered the enemies of democracy.

WEST: Absolutely.

SHEINKOPF: This is a different sort of circumstance. And these guys do not deal with that issue long term.

WEST: Yes.

DOBBS: Will Bob Gates -- Hank, will he set a new course, a new direction? Is he what we need?

SHEINKOPF: He's a good choice right now because he understands the intelligence community. And the intelligence community has failed this great nation during this whole battle against terrorism and the battle in the Middle East without question. And maybe he can do a better job than those who have gone before him.

DOBBS: The House Ethics Committee, Errol, said that Republican leadership was negligent in protecting male pages from ex-Congressman Mark Foley. LOUIS: It's an issue that helped them win the election. They're not going to drop it after the election. This is -- I think the facts will bear it out in whatever forum actually goes through it. I mean, the Ethics Committee is one forum. Will there be lawsuits? Will there be other opportunities to sort of go through with a fine-toothed comb? I think everybody on both sides of the House should be hoping maybe not because we've heard enough about this in a lot of ways.

DOBBS: But this sordid nonsense, the FBI reporting that public corruption has risen 30 percent over the past five years. What are we doing as a nation?

WEST: Nothing. As a nation, I don't think we're doing anything for things like that. We see corruption unpunished, although we did see some corruption punished in the election, I suppose. But, no, there are no corrections going on.

DOBBS: Does it disturb you?

SHEINKOPF: It disturbs me greatly. There's something awful about the most extraordinary, moral nation in the world, in its history losing its way in the way and the way views with kind of a half glance at public corruption. It winks when a report comes out on the Foley matter and says, by the way, they may have act improperly but they didn't break any rules. There's something wrong with that kind of thinking. And using language to scourge morality when you want to be the moral force in the world, is not a good place to be.

DOBBS: Your thoughts, Errol?

LOUIS: I agree. I mean, the public corruption that involves billions of dollars, contracts that shouldn't have let or that haven't been properly supervised, that is ten times more important than what happened with some page.

But the scurrilous headlines, the tabloid factor, if you will -- I work for a tabloid, so I can say that -- I think can often distract people from what the underlying problem is. And we haven't made very much progress on that underlying problem at all. I mean, people go now into politics in order to make a buck. And that's...

DOBBS: That's scary.

LOUIS: ... unprecedented in my opinion.

DOBBS: Well, they're going to earn that buck apparently, if Steny Hoyer has his way. The new Congress, 110th Congress is actually work five days a week. Do you believe that?

LOUIS: Well, we can start with eliminating what are essentially no-show jobs to a certain extent, when people are taking off on a Wednesday afternoon or Thursday afternoon. If they stay until Friday morning, then maybe we can start to get...

DOBBS: No, close of business, Steny Hoyer says, on Fridays. Are you reassured? WEST: No. I don't really like the time clock mentality. I think it's phony. I think that work can be done...

DOBBS: Millions of working Americans are delighted to hear you say that, Diana. Maybe we can do that for the whole country because these guys are so important that they don't need to look at a clock.

WEST: Well, I think they go back home and do things. I mean, it's not -- as a small government is beautiful government person, I sort of feel better when they're not there, quite as much as when they are.


SHEINKOPF: If Congressmen do not go back to their districts with enough time and frequency to reinforce their imagery and relationship with constituents, they're going to be defeated the next time around.

DOBBS: So we should cheer Steny Hoyer because these people will be in Washington? Of course, we have to balance these concerns, the fear of them being re-elected and fears of them actually doing something to the...

SHEINKOPF: If they're no in the district -- these are not personal relationships between constituencies and electeds. If they're not there, that personal relationship gets distended and people get defeated. It's pretty common. You know, it does happen that way.

DOBBS: As more than a few people -- actually, all of them Republicans learned on November 7th.


DOBBS: Hank, thank you very much.

Errol, Diana, thank you very much.

Coming up next, we'll share the latest catch phrase with you sweeping Washington. We'll try to stamp it out here, after the report.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: It's been quite a week for the Bush administration. The president facing tough questioning about the Iraq Study Group recommendations. In response to those tough questions, the administration seems to have come up with a very effective catch phrase for its purposes, at least.

Jeanne Moos reports.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When those pesky reporters start asking those f-word question...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you capable of admitting your failures?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you acknowledge that your approach has failed?

MOOS: ... It's time to tell them to look forward, not back.


MOOS: In one answer alone, President Bush used the phrase five times.

BUSH: ... the way forward in Iraq...

BUSH: ... a important way forward...

BUSH: ... talk about the way forward.

BUSH: ... analyze the way forward...

MOOS: Apparently, the way forward is contagious. Tony Blair caught it standing next to President Bush.


BLAIR: How do we find the right way forward?

BLAIR: We've got to get the right way forward.

MOOS: You could blame it on the Iraq Study Group for naming one of the sections in its report "The Way Forward".

Even Democrats like to go forward. Senator Barack Obama's big foreign policy speech was titled "A Way Forward in Iraq" while Senator Joe Biden called his "Iraq, a Way Forward.

(on camera): But watch out. The phrase "the way forward" tends to surface when things are a complete, utter, total mess.

WILLIAM CLAY FORD JR., CEO, FORD MOTOR CO.: We call our plan the way forward.

MOOS (voice-over): That's the head of Ford Motor Company announcing a restructuring that would cut 25,000 jobs.

FORD: The way forward contains some strong medicine.

MOOS: But which way is forward wondered "Forbes Magazine" when the Ford plan to move forward seemed stuck.

You might as well get used to hearing the administration's new mantra.


SNOW: ... the new way forward...

SNOW: ... what he sees as the way forward...

MOOS: He also uses variations of the phrase.

BUSH: ... go forward...

BUSH: ... go forward...

BUSH: ... I'm heading back...

MOOS: No, that's this policy reversal, just the president heading back to pick a questioner. All this forward motion...

BLAIR: ... a different way forward...

BLAIR: ... whatever way forward...

BUSH: ... you know, a important way forward...

MOOS: ... sort of makes you long for the days of...

BUSH: We'll stay the course.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


DOBBS: Thanks for be with us tonight. For all of us here, thanks for watching.

Good night from New York.

"THIS WEEK AT WAR" with John Roberts starts now.