Return to Transcripts main page
Lou Dobbs This Week
Cold Weather Across U.S.; Fire Causes Severe Damage in Manila; Greek Cruise Ship Sinks
Aired April 07, 2007 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, HEADLINE NEWS, CNN CENTER, ATLANTA: I'm Veronica De La Cruz at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Here's what's making the news right now.
Snow and frigid temperatures across parts of the country this Easter weekend. In Cleveland last night, the snow was so heavy, officials called off a baseball game between the Indians and the Seattle Mariners. A makeup double-header scheduled for today has also been postponed.
A huge blaze in a poor section of the Philippine capital has left some 1,200 families homeless. Fire crews had difficulty reaching the flames as they tore through the shantytown, and residents with buckets were just no match for the fire. Its cause has not yet been determined.
Well, the kids on board this train said it was cool - the adults, not so much. A passenger train goes headlong into a blazing wildfire in New Mexico. Railroad officials say the conductor was aware of the fire, but decided an emergency stop might leave the train right in the middle of those flames.
Monica Goodling, an aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has quit her job. Goodling earlier caused controversy by refusing to testify before Congress about the firings of eight federal prosecutors. She invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self- incrimination.
And new developments to tell you about in the sinking of a Greek cruise ship. The ship hit a reef near the island of Santorini Thursday, forcing all the passengers and most of the crew to be evacuated. The captain and five of his crew have been charged with negligence in the incident. Passengers are describing their dramatic exodus from the ship.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY HENDERSON, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: Well, when we were going through it, you really just didn't think, you know. We heard - we felt the ship move from side to side, and then it started to tilt to one side. And they just said, "Get your life jackets and go up on the deck." And that's what we did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DE LA CRUZ: I'm Veronica De La Cruz at the CNN Center in Atlanta. I'll have more news for you at the top of the hour.
LOU DOBBS begins right now.
KITTY PILGRIM, HOST, LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK: Tonight, political brinksmanship in Washington over the war in Iraq. President Bush and Democratic leaders face off over war funding.
And what could be Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' biggest challenge. Gonzales prepares for a tough grilling by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
All that and much more straight ahead tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK - news, debate and opinion for Saturday, April 7th. Sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Kitty Pilgrim.
PILGRIM: Good evening, everybody.
President Bush and congressional Democrats are refusing to give any ground in their battle over war funding. President Bush says Democrats are, quote, irresponsible for passing emergency spending bills that call for the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it's time for the Iraqis to run their own country.
Elaine Quijano reports from Crawford, Texas - Elaine.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CRAWFORD, TEXAS: Kitty, both sides ratcheted up the rhetoric this past week in the debate over the war funding supplemental bill. President Bush once again underscored his threat to veto any legislation that includes timetables for U.S. troop withdrawals in Iraq.
Now, the president, first in the Rose Garden blasting Democrats, calling them irresponsible, and the next day traveling to Fort Irwin, California, home of the Army's top desert training facility.
The president met with the troops and reiterated his argument that the clock is ticking as he tried to increase political pressure on Democrats.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is showing no signs of budging. In fact, Senator Reid is threatening that, if President Bush follows through on his veto threat, Senator Reid will back a bill to cut off funding for the war altogether.
Bottom line here, Kitty, is that both sides are showing no signs of blinking and a political stalemate continues - Kitty.
PILGRIM: Elaine, the president is also trying to focus attention on immigration. And he's traveling on Monday to the border in Arizona.
What can you tell us about that trip coming up? QUIJANO: Yes. He's going to be traveling to the border at Yuma, Arizona.
And you can expect him to continue to press Congress for what the administration calls a comprehensive immigration bill, one that includes, of course, a guest worker program, as we have heard, and also a path for citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.
Critics, of course, decry that as amnesty.
On Monday, the president will take a tour of the border and emphasize the steps that the U.S. has taken to increase security there, including adding thousands of National Guard troops. The president is expected to try to make the case that the efforts the U.S. is undertaking right now are producing results.
As for negotiations on Capitol Hill, Kitty, the president has tasked the commerce secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, as well as Michael Chertoff, the homeland security chief, to take the lead on those negotiations on Capitol Hill.
President Bush has said, of course, that he would like to see a comprehensive immigration reform bill on his desk by August - Kitty.
PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much, Elaine Quijano.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defied the White House and held talks with the Syrian president in Damascus. The United States says Syria is a state sponsor of terrorism.
But Speaker Pelosi insists Congress has a responsibility to help find peace in the Middle East.
Brent Sadler reports from Damascus.
BRENT SADLER, CNN BEIRUT BUREAU CHIEF, DAMASCUS, SYRIA (voice- over): House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls on Syria's top leaders to help the United States fight terror and wants to help Israel and Syria resume peace talks, infuriating the White House by opening a dialogue with a regime that's been isolated.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIFORNIA, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We came in friendship. We came with hope. We came determined that the road to Damascus would be a path to peace.
SADLER: If withering White House criticism of the Pelosi visit here, including a strong rebuke from the U.S. president himself, was supposed to make the House speaker think twice about meeting President Bashar al-Assad, it failed.
A relaxed and at times smiling Syrian leader greeted the delegation, speaking English.
Syria was ready for serious dialogue with the United States," President Assad argued, even if the George Bush White House ignored his regime.
PELOSI: We expressed our concerns about Syria's connection to Hezbollah and Hamas, and the importance of Syria's role with Hamas in promoting peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
SADLER: But another black mark was Syria's conduct towards Iraq.
PELOSI: We called to the attention of the president our concerns about fighters crossing the Iraq-Syria border to the detriment of the Iraqi people and our soldiers.
SADLER: These meetings, though, weren't about solving the Mideast's raging problems, but to discuss them and break down barriers.
Speaker Pelosi made no direct comments about the political heat back home, stressing instead the responsibility of Congress to explore every remedy and opportunity to find peace in the Middle East.
Brent Sadler, CNN, Damascus.
PILGRIM: Syria says it played a key role in the release of 15 British troops taken hostage by Iran.
Now, the troops returned to Britain after nearly two weeks in captivity in Iran. The sailors and marines said they faced overwhelming Iranian firepower and they would have lost a fight with the Iranians.
The U.S. Navy says it's confident that our troops would resist any attempt to take them hostage in the Persian Gulf.
The chief of naval operations, Admiral Michael Mullen, told CNN our troops have the right to open fire without asking permission first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS: We've got procedures in place, which are very much designed to carry out the mission and protect the sailors who are there. And I would not expect any sailors to be able to be seized by the Iranian navy or the Iranian Republican Guard navy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PILGRIM: Now, Admiral Mullen also said it's very important that diplomacy, not military action, is used to solve disputes with Iran.
Turning now to the political battle in Washington over the abrupt firing of eight U.S. attorneys.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is scheduled to give testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee April 17th. The attorney general is already preparing for what is likely to be an intense grilling.
Brian Todd reports from Washington.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON (voice-over): He's about to face Democratic senators who want to tear him down, and Alberto Gonzales is preparing like it's a heavyweight title fight.
Justice Department officials tell CNN he's staying behind closed doors, canceling a family vacation and will go through mock grilling sessions, possibly with outside legal advisers.
DAVID WINSTON, GOP CONSULTANT: It's now gotten to the point where the credibility of the attorney general is really coming into play, and he - and this has all been self-inflicted.
TODD: By conflicting statements, critics say, between Gonzales and his former chief of staff about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys.
ALBERTO GONZALES, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on.
KYLE SAMPSON, FORMER GONZALES CHIEF OF STAFF: I don't think the attorney general's statement that he was not involved in any discussions about U.S. attorney removals is accurate.
TODD: Gonzales will have to answer for that to this man, Senate Judiciary chairman, Patrick Leahy.
In a letter to Gonzales, the Democrat seems to warn him of the pressure he'll face in an April 17th hearing - repeatedly scolding Gonzales for "not responding in a timely manner" to the committee's inquiries, instructing the attorney general to include in his written testimony "all the specifics of your role" in the firings.
Justice officials tell CNN that Gonzales has started to reach out to at least a dozen members of Congress to try to smooth the way, the vast majority of them fellow Republicans.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So, he starts this kind of isolated, even among Republicans. And what he really needs to do, if he is going to keep this job, is to reassure Republicans enough to the extent that they feel comfortable defending the president's decision to keep him on.
TODD (on camera): In fact, several GOP consultants - who asked for anonymity, because they were speaking about Gonzales' future - tell CNN that what he says in these hearings and how it's received will be crucial to his support in Congress.
One of them said, quote, he has a tall order. It has to be a compelling presentation - Kitty.
PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Brian Todd.
Still to come, what could be the most important espionage case in a generation. We'll have a special report.
Also, could tainted pet food ingredients from Communist China enter the human food chain?
And $28 million. Is that too much for four months' work by a CEO who is laying off thousands of employees?
PILGRIM: The trial of an alleged spy for Communist China is underway in California.
Now, this case is being called one of the most serious breaches of national security in a generation.
As Casey Wian reports, Chi Mak is accused of giving China sensitive military information that could be used against this country.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA (voice- over): Former defense industry engineer, Chi Mak, spent more than two decades at Navy subcontractor Power Paragon in Southern California.
Federal prosecutors say during much of that time Mak was secretly transferring restricted technology to the Communist Chinese government.
The 66-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen faces five charges: conspiracy to violate export control laws; two counts of attempting to export a defense article to the People's Republic of China; acting as an agent of a foreign government; and making false statements to the FBI.
Mak is accused of trying to send technology about the Navy's Quiet Electric Drive program for submarines and warships to China.
MICHAEL PILLSBURY, PENTAGON CONSULTANT: We don't actually have a quiet electric drive yet. This is another example of future weapons technology that the U.S. is working on.
It is extremely important, because if a submarine can have its signature concealed so that it cannot be found and located, then the submarine cannot be attacked.
WIAN: Prosecutors say Mak also admitted to investigators he passed information to China on a system to launch aircraft off of carriers using magnets, a power system for naval radar, a paper on warships' ability to operate after being attacked, and a map of a nuclear facility in New York. Also in his home they found hundreds of documents related to Navy research projects, some marked "restricted from foreign distribution." Those documents corresponded to tasking lists in Chinese found in Mak's home in trash.
The documents included information on intercontinental ballistic missile interceptors, a nuclear submarine reactor, electromagnetic guns and torpedo launchers.
Mak's defense attorneys say prosecutors are trying to make a statement, because they have lost other recent Chinese spy cases.
RON KAYE, CHI MAK'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think that they are taking multiple pieces of evidence and spinning it in a very suspicious, nefarious way.
But ultimately, we anticipate that we'll be able to show the truth to the jury, to show them exactly why our client was loyal to the United States and did not - was not an agent of the People's Republic of China.
WIAN: State Department counterintelligence official, Joel Brenner, says the Mak case is significant, because the technology he allegedly passed, "shortens by years the technological advantage of the U.S. Navy. It degrades the Navy's deterrent capability in the Taiwan Strait."
WIAN (on camera): Brenner also says China is, in effect, using American taxpayer-funded research to bolster its own warfighting capability. The Chinese government denies it stole U.S. military secrets.
Casey Wian, CNN, Santa Ana, California.
PILGRIM: Communist China also linked to the pet food scandal in this country.
The list of pet foods being recalled, because of toxic wheat gluten from China, continues to grow.
Menu Foods is expanding its recall to include more varieties of food. And Sunshine Mills recalled more than 20 brands of dog biscuits sold at Wal-Mart.
China is denying any responsibility for the tainted wheat gluten. The Chinese company that made the gluten is investing the crisis, but adds it sells most of its products in China.
The Food and Drug Administration is considering a theory that melamine could have been added to the wheat gluten to increase the protein level. The FDA says higher protein levels could command a higher price.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin blasted the FDA's handling of the recall. He said the Senate will hold hearings in the next few days.
On our Web site, LouDobbs.com, we have a list of pet food brands and products that manufacturers insist are safe.
You can also find links there to the Food and Drug Administration and the American Veterinary Medical Association. Those sites are maintaining up-to-the-minute lists of the recalled food.
The United States now imports more food products than it export, and wheat gluten is no exception.
As Christine Romans reports, wheat gluten is not only critical for pet food, it's also an ingredient found in thousands of products for human consumption.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK (voice-over): It's not just in pet food. Wheat gluten is a staple in the human diet, common in thousands of baked goods like bagels and multigrain bread.
It's a protein extracted from wheat that improves the rising ability in bread products and gives them a smooth texture. And it's common in Asian cuisine.
In pet food it's a source of protein that binds ingredients together.
Tainted wheat gluten imported from China is officially suspected in the deaths of more than a dozen pets, although there are unconfirmed reports of thousands of pet deaths.
MICHAEL DOYLE, CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY: We don't know where the problem started or happened, what the source was. And it's likely that we'll never be able to fully resolve what the original source of the problem was.
ROMANS: Doyle calls America's reliance on imported food out of control and says we must do a better job with imported food safety.
The U.S. imports most of the wheat gluten this country consumes, primarily from Europe and Australia. But China is emerging as a growing producer.
PAUL HENDERSON, CEO, MENU FOODS: The source of that adulteration has been identified and removed from our system.
ROMANS: As the FDA has halted imports from the Chinese source, the Chinese company denounced the pet food recall as rumors.
The FDA has hundreds of inspectors on the case.
STEPHEN SUNDLOF, DIRECTOR, FDA CENTER FOR VETERINARY MEDICINE: And we will have to look back in retrospect once we fully understand how this happened and make sure that it never happens again.
ROMANS: Meanwhile, pet food manufacturers this week struggled to rebuild public confidence in their products.
ROMANS (on camera): Investigators are still tracing the complicated global path of that tainted wheat gluten.
Late this week, a Chinese government official said his country had no role whatsoever in the pet poisoning scandal.
Christine Roman, CNN, New York.
PILGRIM: The FDA Friday said it had traced all the tainted wheat gluten that entered this country. The FDA said that all of that gluten went into the pet food industry and none went into human food.
But, as we reported, the United States does import more food than it exports, $10 billion more each year. And the FDA inspects only about one percent of the imported food it oversees.
So, food safety experts have long been concerned that food inspectors cannot possibly keep up with the explosion of food imports.
There are also safety concerns about almost half a million above- ground pool ladders manufactured in Communist China. They have all been recalled.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission announced the recall this week, and it said the ladder steps could break if they are installed improperly. The ladders were sold at Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Target stores.
Of the 94 product recalls announced by the safety commission so far this year, almost two-thirds of them are products manufactured in China. Many of those recalled products were children's clothing and toys.
Coming up, $28 million for four months' work. Is that a little too much for a CEO? We'll have the details.
Also, American jobs are at risk as corporate interests demand even more low-paid foreign workers in this country. We'll have a special report.
And new evidence that illegal immigration is costing American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. We'll examine the hard facts of our illegal immigration crisis.
Stay with us.
PILGRIM: More proof this week that business is flagrantly abusing America's visa program. It took only one day to fill the quota of 65,000 H-1B visas for foreign workers.
As Bill Tucker reports, there is little doubt why corporate America's appetite for cheap foreign workers is growing.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): H-1B workers are irresistible to American business. Claims by the corporate elite that it's not about the cheap labor don't ring true.
A soon-to-be-released study from the Center for Immigration Studies finds that wages reported for H-1B workers average $12,000 below the median wage for the U.S. worker in the same occupation and in the same location in 2005. It was $16,000 less for computer workers.
No wonder America's richest man recently told Congress the program should be expanded.
BILL GATES, FOUNDER, MICROSOFT: I don't think there should be any limit.
TUCKER: What Bill Gates knows and isn't saying - but what a former director at ICE will say - is that for some there is no limit.
VICTOR CERDA, FORMER CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT DIRECTOR: Homeland Security is announcing that the cap was met, the 65,000 cap. That doesn't include necessarily the 20,000 - the first 20,000 - who earned master's degrees in U.S. universities. They're excluded.
TUCKER: Also excluded are universities and non-profit research organizations. They are unlimited.
Nor do H-1B workers fall in any one category. All the worker needs is a college degree. Even fashion models can apply.
The biggest group under the cap are tech workers. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service recently released data on H-1B approvals in 2004 and 2005. Nearly 117,000 visa applications were approved for the fiscal year 2004, 130,000 for 2005 - both years a far cry from 65,000.
And a company doesn't have to be American to apply.
KIM BERRY, THE PROGRAMMERS GUILD: The industry has created this perception that there's this great need, and that's why we bring in the workers. What's happening, the top three users are foreign consulting firms.
First they bring in the workers, and then they aggressively try to find work for these workers.
TUCKER: Those three companies are India's Infosys Technologies, Wipro and Cognizant Technology Solutions.
TUCKER (on camera): Which is why there is already a concerted grassroots campaign in support of the Durbin-Grassley bill. In the next couple of weeks, Congressman Bill Pascrell will introduce similar legislation in the House - Kitty.
PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Bill Tucker.
Ford Motor Company posted a record $12.7 billion loss last year, yet its CEO, Alan Mulally, was paid $28 million for just four months of work last year.
While Mulally was handsomely compensated, 38,000 Ford workers were given buyout packages and 14 Ford plants are now being scheduled to be closed.
Mulally's compensation package also includes access to corporate jets for his personal and business travel, and is a perk that costs the company hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
Coming up, federal agents raid another business employing illegal aliens. But are those raids having any effect on our illegal immigration and border security crisis?
The cost of illegal immigration, the failure to secure our nation's border. It's draining hundreds of billions of dollars from American taxpayers.
We'll have more on those details.
And the threat to American sovereignty posed by the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. We'll examine the plan.
Stay with us.
PILGRIM: Another immigration raid, this time at a meatpacking plant in Illinois. The cleaning crew of a Cargill meatpacking plant was an illegal alien ring using stolen Social Security numbers from U.S. citizens.
The handful of raids in recent months are an attempt to stop millions of illegal aliens from seeking work in this country.
PILGRIM (voice-over): A middle of the night immigration raid in Beardstown, Illinois by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. At the Cargill meat packing plant, the after hours cleaning crew was running a criminal illegal immigration ring. Cargill says they cooperated with the federal officials in the raid. The offender, the cleaning service, QSI. Sixty-two illegal aliens were arrested, 13 on criminal charges of identity theft using stolen documents from U.S. citizens. Federal officials say they are taking a tougher approach.
ELISSA BROWN, ICE SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: In the old INS days, we would give a penalty of some small fine. The interior enforcement strategy for ICE now is to proceed against these companies criminally. We're hoping these type of enforcement actions will somehow be a deterrent. PILGRIM: This raid comes three and a half months after the biggest federal illegal alien sweep ever on Swift meat packing plants which netted more than 1,200 illegal alien workers.
At that time, homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff warned there would be more raids, quote, "once we enforce the law, that is going to have a ripple effect."
But that ripple is faint. Last year 4,383 illegal aliens were arrested in work site raids. But there are as many as 20 million illegal aliens currently in the country. At least 350,000 working in the maintenance industry alone.
REP. BRIAN BILBRAY, (R) CA: I think it's a proper signal that just because you got across the border and made it 100 yards north of the frontier, you're not free to continue to break the law and flaunt the law by working illegally in the United States.
PILGRIM: But against millions of illegal aliens, 5,500 federal immigration agents are badly outnumbered.
PILGRIM (on camera): Some legislators say the raids are necessary but more are need. Also necessary, legislation requiring tamper proof Social Security cards and persistent crackdowns on employers who violate the law.
New information this week about the tremendous financial cost of the illegal alien crisis to this country. A new report finds illegal aliens are costing the nation $100 billion a year.
Now this report estimates that if the Flake-Gutierrez guest worker program should become law, it will cost taxpayers $400 billion over the next decade. Congressman Brian Bilbray is the chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus and leading critic of the Flake Gutierrez immigration bill.
Robert Rector, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation authored the report entitled "The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skilled Households to the U.S. Taxpayer."
Lou asked him what percentage of those costs resulted from illegal immigration.
ROBERT RECTOR, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It's not just illegal immigration. It's the legal immigration system as well, is focused on bringing in people without a high school degree. And I would estimate that legal and illegal immigration is costing taxpayer through these low-skill immigrants about $100 billion a year. About a quarter of that total.
Increasingly, the low-scale part of our population is a part that we're deliberately importing. We've imported over 11 million high school dropouts in the last 20 years. They cost the taxpayer a bundle.
LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: Well, Congressman Bilbray, how do you react to that? I'll tell you, I'm far less concerned with as a matter of legal immigration we're bringing in people with skills an education, one assumes so that we're doing so out of a sense of the national interest and our needs of a nation. But the illegal immigration is perplexing at the very least, isn't it?
REP. BRIAN BILBRAY, (R) CA: Well, this study really shows why we spend billions and billions. We try to reduce the number of people who are undereducated, under-trained. Because they don't have the ability to produce the resources to be able to pay for the overhead that you have.
And then when you have people that stand up and try to justify illegal immigration that we need more poor, uneducated people in the country, the Heritage Foundation sort of re-enforces that this is an issue that goes beyond legal and illegal immigration. It's a concept that we should try to get those paying a major portion of the expense of what they produce.
We're really talking for every illegal immigrant family in this country, we're giving them the equivalent of a brand-new Mustang convertible every year. That's something that I think we've got to recognize is the real expense of illegal immigration.
DOBBS: Robert Rector, let's put up this chart of showing the cost of low-skill workers. And this is an interesting way to look at it. They pay under $10,000 in taxes. Yet, they receive more than $32,000 in benefits.
The tax burden, obviously, is the difference between the two. And that is an impressive number. But it rises to over $1 million over the lifetime of such workers.
There's another way to look at this. It seems to me, Robert Rector. And that is if low-skill workers are being brought in by corporate America, what they're really doing is pushing the burden of providing for those low-skill workers, particularly, illegal immigrant, off on the American taxpayer, so that the company, the employer of those illegal aliens won't be paying that 32 -- or $22,000, and the difference, if we can assume that, each year.
RECTOR: That's exactly right. When the Chamber of Commerce will come to me and lobby and say, oh, we have to have these workers. We'd have to pay a dollar an hour more if we didn't have them.
I say, look, each one of these workers that you bring in like this, if they come in with family, it's costing the taxpayers $22,000. Do you as an employ want to pay that cost? They say, oh no, no. We don't want to pay that.
They just want to shift those costs onto the taxpayer so they can make a tiny bit more profit. It's a terrible, terrible idea. And we have a very generous system for people born in the United States, we support them through welfare. We subsidize their Social Security. We give basically free education for their kids.
But what we really have now is a kind of trans-national welfare outreach where we're pulling more welfare recipients into the country.
DOBBS: And of course the Bush administration right now is upset with those folks out in California who are giving away birth control pills to illegal aliens. That's what seems to concern them rather than $400 billion. Let me ask you this, Congressman Bilbray, we have to wrap up, Robert Rector just mentioned the Chamber of Congress, the country's biggest big business lobby, wants to push all of those costs for low-skill labor off on, illegal labor, of an the American taxpayer.
What do you say to a group of people who are telling -- all over Congress saying to you guys we need to bring in the illegal aliens because we need people to pay for the Social Security for the baby boomers. Do they not look at any of the facts, any of the empirical basis, the underlying reality of this country's experience?
BILBRAY: Lou, I had them in my office last week, and we had, let's say, a brisk discussion about this, what I like to call the shift and the shaft. And no, the excuse really is the fact that it's good for us right now and our group. And they don't look at the long- term impact. Especially the impact not just on our budget and our fiscal crisis that we've run into in this country.
But what about our grandchildren's fiscal stability. This is not sustainable as we would say in the environmental community. It's one of those things that people are saying just give me what I want right now. I don't care about the long-term impacts to the nation.
DOBBS: And they don't really care about the short-term impact either. Suggesting that we need more of these workers. At the same time, wages in construction, landscaping, leisure and hospitality, the predominant industrial employers of illegal aliens, all of the wages are declining there over the course of the past five years. Putting a lie to just to about everything that's been said on behalf of illegal immigration.
Robert Rector, we thank you very much at the Heritage Foundation. And we thank you very much, Congressman Brian Bilbray.
PILGRIM: Coming up, outrage over our government's plan to give away America's sovereignty. Security expert Frank Gaffney tells us why closer ties with Mexico and Canada are bad for this country.
And Speaker Nancy Pelosi under fire for visiting Syria. Three of the nation's leading political minds talk about the political battle to set this country's foreign policy agenda. Stay with us.
PILGRIM: The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, it is seen as a serious threat to American sovereignty, bringing together the United States, Canada, and Mexico along the lines of a European Union. Now it's an agenda pursued by corporate and political elites without any oversight so far by Congress or voters. Joining me now is Frank Gaffney and he is president of the Center for Security Policy and thanks very much for being with us, Frank.
FRANK GAFFNEY, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY: It's a pleasure, Kitty, thank you.
PILGRIM: You know, you've been very vocal about this and in a recent column in the "Washington Times," we're going to quote from this, you said "Americans and their representatives have completely ignored this issue," which is true. And you went on to say, quote, "practically none of them is paying attention to yet another and in some ways even more insidious threat to our country, the assault on our sovereignty by the transnational progressives."
Define for us "transnational progressives," because as you say, many people are not paying attention. So this term may be the first time they're hearing it.
GAFFNEY: Well, they'd better get used to it. It's a term that I think was coined by a colleague of mine, John Fontey (ph) at the Hudson Institute. It's a nice way of capturing the mindset of a community of people around the world, not just here in the United States, who believe that really only by overcoming sort of national boundaries and chauvinisms and institutions can the world be ordered and run in a civilized way, namely, by people like them, progressives who understand better than the people being governed how their lives should be ordered.
PILGRIM: Just for the purpose of definition, let's continue. It's been called a post constitutional, post-American, transnational hybrid regime in some of the writing about this. Is this maybe the European Union a good example of this? Let's flesh it out a bit more for our viewers.
GAFFNEY: Yeah, I think it's very much analogous to what we've seen happen as these transnational progressives have worked their will in Europe. It started out in much the same way as did the European Common Market, a purely commercial, multilateral arrangement in which sovereign nations came together for their common economic benefit. Here it was called the North American Free Trade Association.
Then in Europe it evolved into something that was a bit more political, still sovereign nations but joining together for various purposes called the European Community. But over time, it has evolved.
And that's a very important term here, as you know, Kitty. Evolved into something now called the European Union in which sovereign nations have ceded much of their national authority and sovereignty, in fact, a friend of mine who is a member of the British Parliament said that some 85 percent of the rules and regulations and laws that govern life of all people in the United Kingdom are actually promulgated by Brussels, bureaucrats in Brussels, transy (ph) bureaucrats, if you will, not the British Parliament. That's what's coming in America, I'm afraid, if this isn't checked.
PILGRIM: So let's extrapolate. What is the great danger to America?
GAFFNEY: Again, I think something that is central to who we are as a people is our Constitution. And it is a Constitution that vested in the people as Abraham Lincoln said, "a government of the people, by the people and for the people." The sovereignty. It is the case under our Constitution that only the powers that we give to our government voluntarily are theirs. And theirs to, if they wish, exercise or delegate to others.
The danger here, as I see it, and nobody has done a better job of documenting this danger than you and Lou and your show, is that we will find a lowest common denominator established between Canada and Mexico and the United States in terms of how we govern ourselves in, terms of the laws, in terms of the rules and regulations, not only with respect to our borders which, of course, have huge security implications as you very well understand but also our way of life.
And there are 24 different working groups at last count that are beavering away now in a totally unaccountable, totally nontransparent way to promulgate the rules much as their European counterparts have been doing in Brussels. And that's the danger, it seems to me.
We will cease having a representative accountable government of the people, by the people, and for the people of this country.
PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Frank Gaffney. Thank you, Frank.
GAFFNEY: Thank you, ma'am.
PILGRIM: Coming up, Senator Barack Obama proves he is a force to be reckoned in his political election battle with Senator Hillary Clinton. Three of the nation's best political minds join us to tell us whether the money or the message is more important. Stay with us.
PILGRIM: Barack Obama this week announced he raised a stunning $25 million during the first three months of this year, that is just 1 million less than Senator Hillary Clinton.
Joining me now, syndicated columnist Mona Charen, and she is in our Washington studio, Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf joins us from New York as does syndicated columnist Miguel Perez.
And thank you all for being here. Let's talk about the fund- raising, first of all. This was kind of a shock because no one really expected Obama to raise so much of this stuff. A lot of it online. Miguel? What is your reaction?
MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It proves that he is a very serious candidate and that Hillary has something to worry about.
PILGRIM: And a lot of this was really grassroots, right? This is small donations, right, Hank?
HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Sure, it was. Senator Clinton built a national network of large donor donations. She has got to find smaller ones. This is a wakeup call to the Clinton operation. However, I will add, one filing does not a presidential campaign make.
PILGRIM: That's true. And the machine, the Democratic machine will go through -- to the frontrunner, correct, whoever has more momentum will tend to generate more donations? Is that right or am I wrong?
SHEINKOPF: Certainly having more donations or looking like you're on the move makes other people want to donate. But don't count out the Clintons so fast. They've been behind the eight ball before and they'll get in front of the eight ball.
PEREZ: But it could mean it could turn out to be a tougher, dirtier fight among Democrats which would not do well for them in a general election. So it -- I mean, you know, real competition for Hillary Clinton means something in the long run.
MONA CHAREN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, just imagine that you're Hillary Clinton thinking that all the magic going to attach to your name because you are going to a first. You're going to be the first woman nominee of a major party and she looked like she was coasting toward that. And then, you know, enter Obama who would be something even more spectacular, the first African-American to win the presidency.
Furthermore, when you look at the fund-raising, what do you see? You see that 90 percent of Obama's were in denominations of $100 or less. Again, that suggests a populist sort of appeal that Hillary Clinton can only fantasize about. So I think that there is some, you know, despite the happy face that she's putting on it, she's probably really scared.
PILGRIM: All right. On to other political issues. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales preparing for Senate testimony. He's apparently briefing himself, holding mock quiz sessions. I mean this is really sort of like in training. What do you make of this entire process, Miguel?
PEREZ: If you really wanted to talk to the American people, he can hold a press conference and not keep us in suspense for so long, frankly. I don't know what he can say because whatever he does say I think he's going to look bad anyway.
Either he was fooled by the persons immediately under him and people in the White House and he is totally out of it, or he was part of it. And if he was part of it, he should resign. So it doesn't look very good for him.
PILGRIM: So is April 17th the make or break time for him? Is this it? SHEINKOPF: I would say it will not be the best day of his life. He's going to have some problems no matter what occurs. Miguel is right. This is a no-win situation for him under any circumstance.
PILGRIM: Mona? You want to weigh in on this?
CHAREN: Well, I don't disagree with that. I do think it's going to be -- it's going to be walking through fire for him. The Democrats are going to be loaded for bear. And they have lots of ammunition, unfortunately, because of the testimony of Mr. Sampson. So it is going to be awkward. But let's bear in mind that even though this attorney general does seem less than ideally competent, that this whole scandal, so called, pseudo scandal really was ginned up over nothing.
So let's try to bear that in mind. Though this being Washington, I'm not under any illusions that people will keep that perspective.
PILGRIM: One of the great talking points this week was Nancy Pelosi's trip to the Middle East. Let's listen to one comment that the president made about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: We've made it clear to high ranking officials, whether they be Republicans or Democrats, that going to Syria sends mixed signals, signals in the region and, of course, mixed signals to President Assad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PILGRIM: And some even criticized Pelosi saying she would like to take on the role of secretary of state, that this was not her place to do this. Miguel, what do you think?
PEREZ: I agree, it's not her place. I think that, you know, rogue nations should be treated uniformly by everybody in the U.S. government, whether it's Congress or the White House, as rogue nations.
SHEINKOPF: Legitimizing a fascist murder is not good international or domestic policy.
PILGRIM: That sums it up pretty well. Mona?
CHAREN: Wow. Gee. I don't have anything to disagree with there. I cannot imagine what she was thinking except that she's gotten carried away by hubris and imagines that her mellifluous voice or something is going to have an influence on Bashar Assad who, as my fellow panelists have said, is a blood-soaked tyrant.
So it was a very lamentable moment for her and for the country.
PILGRIM: All right, we'll be back in a minute with more topics and we'll have our panel right back after this break. Stay with us.
PILGRIM: We're back with our panel of political experts, Mona Charen, syndicated columnist, Hank Sheinkopf, Democratic strategist and syndicated columnist Miguel Perez.
Let's talk about the week coming up. President Bush is headed to Yuma, Arizona on Monday to unveil an agenda for border security, immigration reform. This seems to be the sort of spot for the photo- op to pull all these issues together. Miguel, what do you think?
PEREZ: How many times he is going to do this? It is getting kind of tiring to see the president in one week to try to appeal to one -- He wants to be literally, talk about the Mexican border, he wants to be on both sides of the fence. One week he's appealing to the people that have compassion for the illegal immigrants and then the next day he is trying to appeal to the extreme conservatives on the other extreme.
So I just don't know. I'm wondering which side he'll be on when he appears this week. It's ever changing.
CHAREN: I actually think the president has been fairly consistent on this issue. He actually to the dismay of many in the Republican Party does not appeal to the immigration extremists at all.
He staked out a position that is highly unpopular with large segments of the Republican base.
But that much having been said, I think his primary, in fact, almost exclusive focus in the next months that he has remaining in office should be winning the war in Iraq. So, you know, I think that's obviously what his presidency hangs on. And all of these other things are a distraction.
PILGRIM: What about you, Hank?
SHEINKOPF: I think it is a distraction. I think Mona is right about that. He may not win the war in Iraq, but he's not going to get any traction out of this because what people are thinking about in this country right now is the war in Iraq.
PILGRIM: And border security does tend to come up on a lot of the polls and very high numbers, though. Aren't Americans caring?
CHAREN: It does but if you look at how elections actually turned out in 2006, there were very few races that actually turned on questions of immigration. It does poll very strongly. But it doesn't translate into votes.
PILGRIM: OK, Miguel has written extensively on this in his most recent column. He commented on the direction the White House is going in terms of immigration reform. Let me read this.
"Clearly it's all about politics. Republicans are naturally worried that after bashing immigrants for so long, once illegal immigrants become citizens they're going to vote for Democrats. So the White House has been floating an immigration plan that would make it harder for them to gain citizenship."
This you say, has really deep political motives in terms of voters. Explain yourself a little bit.
PEREZ: It's all about -- I don't think the people who are opposed to the illegal immigrants who are already in the country, giving them and calling it amnesty and so forth, I think what they're really worried about is eventually these people becoming citizens.
So all of these new deals they're trying to cut now include provisions whereby it will be taking longer. Even though they may become legal or allowed to stay here legally, it may take longer for them to become actual citizens and voters. So that is what they're trying to sell.
CHAREN: I'm a mushy moderate on immigration. Let me say -- let me just add a demurral to something that Miguel just said. Because I think it's not true to say that opponents are worried about people becoming citizens. I think opponents of illegal immigration, again, it's not immigration but illegal immigration that worries them, are actually not worried that people want to become citizens but rather that they don't. That they're coming here in huge numbers without acquiring a new loyalty to this country and a desire for citizenship.
I think that's much closer to the core of what worries those who are concerned about illegal immigration.
PEREZ: The overwhelming majority of legal immigrants in this country want to become citizens, do everything possible, are in waiting lists and in waiting lines, doing everything possible to try to not wait for the bureaucracy, to try to get papers and become legal citizens.
I mean it's absurd to suggest that people do not want to become citizens. The overwhelming majority do.
PILGRIM: Hank, last word.
SHEINKOPF: Politics are very simple. So long as the war goes on, border security may be important to Americans but George Bush won't get much else accomplished.
PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much. Hank Sheinkopf, Mona Charen and Miguel Perez. Thank you very much.
And thank you for joining us. Please join us tomorrow. For all of us here, thanks for watching. Enjoy your weekend. Good night from New York. THIS WEEK AT WAR starts right now with John Roberts.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com