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Lou Dobbs This Week

Consumer Protection Failures; Hillary Clinton Interview; Democrats Try Cutting War Funding

Aired November 11, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: Tonight, startling new illustrations of our government's outright failure to protect American consumers. You won't believe what's been found in one of the country's most popular toys imported from where else, Communist China.
Also tonight, our exclusive interview with Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton. We'll find out whether she supports or supposes or both Governor Eliot Spitzer's outrageous plan to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens. We'll have all of that and a lot more straight ahead here tonight.

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

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. The House of Representatives tonight preparing to vote on a new challenge to President Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq. Congressional Democrats want to sharply restrict the amount of money president bush can spend. Those Democrats saying President Bush must withdraw most troops from Iraq by December 2008. The White House, though, saying President Bush will veto any bill that contains an artificial timetable for withdrawal. Jessica Yellin has our report from Capitol Hill. Jessica?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, expect another confrontation over the war in Iraq this week as congressional Democrats have the latest attempt too end that war. Democrats are feeling cheered by their first override of a presidential veto and they are aware of the latest poll numbers saying the growing number of Americans remain fed up with the status of that war. This week Democrats say, Mr. President, you asked for $200 billion to fight that war in Iraq. Well, we'll give you $50 billion, and it comes with string.

For one thing, they're asking the president begin to draw down troops within 30 days, that he make a goal of withdrawing all troops by the end of the year, and also that he agreed to outlaw any form of waterboarding by any U.S. agency in the world. Democrats say that they are just drawing a firm line, but Republicans insist Democrats are trying to choke off funds to the troops.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: This is not working. It's a war without end. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. We must reverse it.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) MAJORITY LEADER: I think that the proposal that we're beginning to hear about, about trying to handcuff our generals and starve our troops in harm's way, is ill advised.


YELLIN: Now, the Senate has said it will vote on the same measure after the House has its go. But the president, the White House has already vowed to veto this measure. It's clear, this is not going to be enacted. What you're seeing really is the Democratic leadership's latest attempt to remind voters that they haven't given up the fight, they haven't forgotten that voters want them to end the war and to show that they're trying.


DOBBS: Jessica Yellin reporting from Capitol Hill.

The Democrats' new challenge comes as a new CNN poll shows opposition to the war has reached an all-time high, 68 percent of the Americans now oppose this war, despite White House assertions, the surge strategy, so-called, is working. In point of fact the CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 65 percent of voters now say this war is going badly.

Voters also strongly oppose any U.S. military action against Iran, but Iran continues to defy the rest of the world, pursuing its nuclear weapons program. There are also rising concerns about the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons after Pakistani president Musharraf launched a second coup a week ago. Barbara Starr has our report from the Pentagon.


BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With unrest on Pakistan's streets, the Bush administration is using satellites and human intelligence to keep a closer eye on Pakistan's nuclear weapons according to U.S. military and intelligence officials.

LT. GEN. CARTER HAM, DIR. OF OPS, JOINT CHIEFS: Any time there is a nation that has nuclear weapons, it's the experience the situation such as Pakistan's president, that is a primary concern.

STARR: The official U.S. position, Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure. But one of President Bush's strongest conservative critics, his own former UN ambassador, opposes U.S. policy towards both a nuclear Iran and Pakistan.

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMB. TO UN: This is a choice right now between secure command and control over Pakistan's nuclear weapons arsenal on the one hand and chaos on the other. If we have chaos, we could have a radical Islamist regime in charge of those weapons.

STARR: In fact, CNN has been told by a U.S. intelligence official that Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf in recent days stepped up security at nuclear sites because of information he had about a possible threat. The official offered few details and wouldn't say if the U.S. thought the threat was genuine and if the extra security was ordered before or after Musharraf declared a state of emergency. It's just one of the nuclear headaches facing President Bush.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: The idea of Iran having a nuclear weapon is dangerous and, therefore, now is the time for us to work together to diplomatically solve this problem.

STARR: Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad estimated Iran's 3,000 centrifuges are functioning, critical for the enrichment of uranium for nuclear energy or nuclear weapons, raising concerns that Israeli nerves are mounting over a nuclear Iran. One of President Bush's Republican critics says talk of diplomacy isn't enough.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, (D) NE: Now is the time for the United States to actively pursue an offer of direct, unconditional and comprehensive talks with Iran.

BARR (on camera): The U.S. military is making clear it wants diplomacy to work. There is no stomach for bombing Iran.

But the question may be how far Israel is willing to let Iran go down the nuclear path before it feels compelled to take action. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


DOBBS: The Bush administration, also incapable of constructing a policy to protect U.S. borders. Congressional investigators have found some of the biggest security gaps are at checkpoints in our nation's airports, ports of entry and border crossings. Some agents have literally given illegal aliens free passes to enter the United States. Jeanne Meserve has our report.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Illegal aliens don't have to climb over fences or swim rivers to get into the U.S. Sometimes they can ride or walk right through an official U.S. border crossing. According to a new Government Accountability Office report, Customs and Border Protection acknowledges several thousand inadmissible aliens and other violators entered through ports of entry last year. According to a source who has seen an un-redacted version of the report, the number is 21,000.

RICHARD STANA, GOVT. ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE: If the agents and the officers at the border are not doing their job, we're all a little less secure.

MESERVE: When GAO investigators arrived at one port of entry there were no CBP officers at the inspection booth. At other locations officers didn't ask for travel documents. And according to the report, "alien smuggling organizations have trained operatives to take advantage of these weaknesses." The report says a CBP staffing shortage hurts its ability to carry out inspections and use new facilities and equipment intended to help fight terrorism, but the GAO also found more mundane explanations. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Either agents aren't paying attention, they're not focused. They're complacent. It's because supervisors aren't demanding that the agents do their job and ask the right questions and look at the right documents.

MESERVE: Customs and Border Protection says at busy ports of entry it has to balance security and commerce.

JAYSON AHERN, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: Today there is currently not a requirement, either statutorily or regulatory, requiring everyone to have a document coming across the border. So no, they're not all being checked.

MESERVE: That means the bad guys can get in potentially?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That means potentially there is that vulnerability.

MESERVE: As a re3sult of its own earlier investigation, CBP issued new policies and procedures to tighten up security at ports of entry, but months later, the GAO found many of the same weaknesses persist. Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


DOBBS: The new U.S. attorney general, Judge Michael Mukasey will lead the federal government's fight against terrorism.

The Senate voting to confirm Judge Mukasey Thursday night, a vote of 53-40. The lowest number of yes votes for an attorney in more than half a century. Many Democratic opposing because he refused to call a harsh interrogation technique called waterboarding a form of torture.

Still ahead, the American toy industry's assertions that this would be the safest shopping holiday are turning out to be false.

Christine Romans will have our report. Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORESPONDENT: A deadly recall this week that takes the toy safety crisis to a whole new level. Chinese-made Aquadots toys, when swallowed by small children, metabolize into a date rape drug. Lou?

DOBBS: Christine, thank you.

That report coming up here and members of Congress seething with anger over the federal government's failure to protect American consumers from dangerous imports. We'll have that story and presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton, she tries to, well, conclude the controversy over her waffling over Governor Eliot Spitzer's outrageous plan to give New York driver's licenses to illegal aliens.

We'll have that exclusive interview and a lot more coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: A new recall of millions of toys imported from communist China, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issuing the recall for Aqua Dots toy sets. If swallowed, the beads in the toys metabolize to the chemical equivalent of the date rape drug. Two children in this country falling into comas after swallowing the dots. China Friday said it was suspending exports of the dots and would launch an investigation. This latest recall comes fewer than two months after major toy brands promised this would be America's safest holiday shopping season ever.

Christine Romans has our report.


CHRIS BYRNE, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, TOY WISHES: This one is something we first saw I guess last February and said, oh, my gosh this is wild. It's easy to use. It's fun to play with and it's very creative and it's called Aqua Dots from Spin Master.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With great fanfare, last month "Toy Wishes" magazine recommended a dozen must- have toys this season, among them the Aqua Dots toy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very excited about this one.

ROMANS: But now, the magazine has taken Aqua Dots off its list, because this toy is incredibly dangerous. If swallowed it metabolizes into the chemical equivalent of the date rape drug gamma- hydroxybutyrate (ph) or GHB. Now 4.2 million Chinese-made Aqua Dots toys have been ordered off store shelves in the U.S. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says quote, "Children who swallow the beads can become comatose, develop respiratory depression or have seizures."

Industry executives have said this will be the safest holiday season ever for toys, but this recall is a blow to that assertion and a reminder of the escalating import safety crisis.

DONALD MAYS, CONSUMERS UNION: You can push manufacturing overseas but you're going to now have to beef up your safety net and you have to have a system to catch unscrupulous business practices, which certainly sounds like the case in the case of Aqua Dots.

ROMANS: The problem was first discovered in Australia where the product was named "Toy of the Year". The manufacturer says a Chinese factory substituted a toxic chemical for a safe glue. Millions of these toys have already been sold in this country. Aqua Dots quickly climbed Wal-Mart's top selling toy list.


ROMANS (voice-over): Regulators say return this toy to the store immediately for a refund. Since the toy has been on toy shelves since April Parents may not even know where they bought it. Toys "R" Us says it will refund the dangerous Aqua Dots o matter where you bought it even with out a receipt. Get rid of this toy, get it our of your house. DOBBS: That's certainly responsible on the part of Toys "R" Us. More responsible, of course, would be for the government to have been testing these toys far sooner and protecting American consumers. But thank goodness, in this case, the United States government, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, I bet, are the ones who discovered these are dangerous, dangerous imports.

ROMANS: Actually, it was Australian authorities, Australian scientists who found this problem. And Toys "R" Us even pulled them from the shelves before the American authorities issued their recall after they were seeing what was happening in their international stores.

DOBBS: Oh, I was so sure the Bush administration, that government had stepped up and finally succeeded in doing something responsible.

ROMANS: It really takes it to a whole new level. Lou, we're testing for lead paint. We're testing for design flaws in magnets. How do you test for the switcheroo of a dangerous chemical somewhere along the supply chain? That raises questions on just how you can police your own supply chain.

DOBBS: The trick is, it isn't our supply chain. It's China's supply chain. And it's a joke. Because these toy brands are just that. They're brands, and these are Chinese products. And we're being played for utter fools. Our government is irresponsible and failing to protect consumers. There will be consequences, I am certain of that, because we're going to see a new change. I believe this is going to be a new direction in consumer policy in this country one way or the other. Christine, thanks. Christine Romans.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission, as we reported on this broadcast for years, is simply failing its responsibilities to the American consumer. That agency's acting chief actually went back to Capitol Hill to defend her decision to accept free trips from the very same companies her agency is supposed to be regulating. That hearing comes as the Bush administration unveils a new plan that it now says will finally protect some American consumers from some dangerous imports. Now, that's timely. Lisa Sylvester has our report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chair recommends...

SYLVESTER (voice-over): The Consumer Product Safety Commission was described by one witness as an agency withering on the vine. Representative Edward Markey used even stronger language.

REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: CPSC used to stand for Consumer Product Safety Commission. Today, it stands for can't protect the safety of children commission.

SYLVESTER: The regulatory agency has lost 15 percent of its work force in the last three years. It has no full-time inspectors at any of the U.S. ports, and inspects less than one percent of the foreign products entering the country. As foreign imports have grown, so have the number of toy recalls.

REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R), TEXAS: You couldn't even turn on Lou Dobbs without them flashing something up there about, this is recalled today, and what's going to be recalled tomorrow.

SYLVESTER: CPSC acting chair Nancy Nord has resisted calls by some lawmakers to resign and sought to clarify information. For example, that the consumer agency has only one toy tester.

NANCY NORD, ACTING CHAIRMAN, CPSC: That is just an inaccurate statement. It is an urban myth. It has grown up around us and it is really, really time that it be put to rest.

SYLVESTER: She says they have at least 60 people testing toys as part of their duties. A House bipartisan bill would increase the CPSC's budget, would require third party testing for children's products, increase its civil penalties, and reduces the amount of lead acceptable in toys. The legislation comes as the Bush administration tries to step up import safety. President Bush announced a plan that would impact not just imported toys, but also other consumer products, food and medicine.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need to do more to ensure that American families have confidence in what they find on our store shelves.

SYLVESTER: The import safety panel recommends empowering the Food and Drug Administration to order mandatory recalls. Placing more U.S. federal inspectors overseas, and establishing a certification for importers with a strong safety track record.


SYLVESTER (on camera): Nord and her predecessor have been criticized for taking trips paid for by special interest groups that the Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates. She said the practice is not illegal and has been in place for the last 20 years and added, given the limited enforcement dollars, she would rather spend $900 in a laboratory than on airfare and hotel. Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester from Washington.

Up next here, I'll be talking about Congressman John Culberson. He is the lawmaker behind the border patrols new zero tolerance policy in one sector for illegal aliens crossing the border. The policy, by the way, it's working. I wonder why it isn't being used along our entire southern border. Oh, yes, I remember, George W. Bush is president of the United States.

And Senator Hillary Clinton just can't seem to give a straight answer about whether she supports or opposes Governor Spitzer's outrageous proposal to give New York driver's licenses to illegal aliens. Stay with us. We're coming right back. It just gets better and better and better.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: A new national poll confirms that Americans overwhelmingly oppose giving driver's licenses to illegal aliens, 77 percent of those surveyed in a "Washington Times"-Rasmussen poll oppose licenses for illegal aliens. Presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton continues to confuse, as best she can, most of us on the issue. Candy Crowley, in an attempt to set the record straight, talked with Senator Clinton. And she did find out exactly where Senator Clinton stands on the issue. Candy?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think exactly may be going some, Lou, but we talked to her about a lot of subjects. Pakistan, about her energy program. But I wanted to try to see if we could get some definition to what everyone thought was a murky answer in her last debate. So my first question was would it be correct to say that Hillary Clinton supports having driver's licenses for illegal aliens absent a bill on illegal immigration?


CLINTON: No. What I have said is that I support what governors are trying to do. And governors are on the front lines because of the failures to get comprehensive immigration reform.

There are already eight states that issues driver's licenses without any verification of citizenship. That is a decision that the governors and legislatures and the people of those states have made. I understand...

CROWLEY: But you see why people think...

CLINTON: Well, but you know, Candy...

CROWLEY: ... that you are not answering the question.

CLINTON: Well, but you know, Candy, well, but I think that if you go back and look at the complexity of this issue, I don't think a lot of these hard questions lend themselves to raising your hand. And I know that that's easier in a 30 second context to try to do.

I think the fact that governors are being forced into this position is really unfortunate. They should not be making immigration policy. The federal government should be making immigration policy and that's what I'm going to try to do as president again and I do not believe that in the context of federal immigration reform that that would be an issue that governors would have to contend with.

CROWLEY: So it's - I know it's not a yes or no question to you but you've had some time here and the problem is that people can't quite get a hold of is for a governor at this time, do you think it's a good idea for them to offer drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants?

CLINTON: It depends upon what state they're in. It depends upon what they think the risks are. You know. A governor of New York that has a lot of immigrants, many of whom we know are not their legally, has to worry about security. A governor of another state where that's not a problem doesn't. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: So, as you know, Lou, Senator Dodd does not agree about giving driver's licenses to illegal aliens, but know as well that Barack Obama has supported it. So how does this all fit into the Democratic race at this point in the primaries what this means is that Hillary Clinton's opponents have something to sort of drive their theme that Hillary Clinton tries to straddle both sides of the issue. Lou?

DOBBS: Candy Crowley, I have to tell you, that was as professional, just a brilliant attempt to get her on the record. No one could accuse you of looking for just a sound bite. You gave her all the time in the world. And I think it was illuminating for all of us to see the senator's response to your questions. And we thank you. Candy Crowley.

CROWLEY: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Coming up next, taking a clear outright stand on the driver's license issue for illegal aliens affect her campaign? We'll hear from our panel of experts.

And House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Congressman Charlie Rangel joins me. We'll be talking about free trade and American jobs.

And the Border Patrol's new zero tolerance policy is proving to be very effective. Imagine that. But it's just in one sector of our border with Mexico. Congressman John Culberson wants zero tolerance across our southern borders.

And Congress trying to actually pass legislation that would secure our borders before anyone even begins to talk about immigration policy changes. Those stories, a whole lot more coming up here next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Well, Congress, again, trying to pass legislation, this time to secure the nation's borders. That's right, to secure the borders. A large group of Republicans and Democrats now putting border security first. And they're doing it without amnesty. This is the truth, honest. Casey Wian has our report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ethnocentric special interest groups repeatedly link border security and immigration law enforcement efforts with racism. Perhaps they haven't met Congressman Ciro Rodriguez.

REP. CIRO RODRIGUEZ, (D) TX: I have the distinction of representing more border area than anybody else in the country. Those counties are right next to the border. The needs are tremendous.

WIAN: Rodriguez is one of 44 Democrats and 41 Republicans now sponsoring the SAVE Act. It seeks to secure U.S. borders, require employers to hire only legal workers, and improve immigration law enforcement in the nation's interior.

REP. BRIAN BILBRAY, (R) CA: This team says it is now team to finally give the American people what they've asked for in immigration and that is ay bipartisan effort that addresses the issue and puts America's future first and puts partisan politics on the back row where it belongs.

REP. HEATH SHULER, (D) NC: Americans are very upset that their government hasn't taken action. And they have every right to be.

WIAN: The SAVE Act would add 8,000 agents on top of the 6,000 now being hired. The ranks would total 26,000 in five years. It would also add nearly 1,200 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, pay for more training of local police to help them, hire 13 new federal judges in Border States, and provide 8,000 detention facility beds.

REP. BRAD ELLSWORTH, (D) IN: If it's law enforcement's fault, shame on them. But if it's Congress' fault for not giving them to tools they need to enforce those laws, shame on us. I think we are giving them the tools with this.

WIAN: Another provision would require employers to determine the legal status of their workers through the federal E-Verify program. New hires at large companies would be affected first, within four years all employers would be required to verify the eligibility of every worker. That troubles the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

RANDY JOHNSON, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: We're not sure it's fair to require employers to adopt an entirely new system to existing employees who have already been verified under current law.

WIAN: A law that most agree is irreparably broken.

(on camera): The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it needs time to study the SAVE Act before it takes a position on the bill. A Malldef (ph) representative said the same thing. Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.


DOBBS: The border patrol's new zero tolerance policy, operation streamline, is proving to be a very effective tool in the fight against illegal immigration. Imagine that. Those caught, detained in prison for at least three months and then deported.

Congressman John Culberson of Texas is the guy behind it. He wants the program expanded.

And it is good to have you here. Congressman, this is -- is this really working as well as you all and the Border Patrol are saying?

REP. JOHN CULBERSON (R), TEXAS: Lou, law enforcement works. Common sense confirms what the reality on the ground is now, telling us in the Del Rio sector, Lou, where zero tolerance Operation Streamline has been in effect now for about 14 months. The Del Rio sector has seen about a 75 percent drop in the crime rate. They have seen a dramatic drop in the illegal crossing of about 66 percent. In fact, the officers in Del Rio, Lou, tell us that they can spot the edge of the Del Rio sector by where the trash picks up, because the illegals are simply bypassing Del Rio.

DOBBS: Well, this -- let's go to this. First, I mean, this policy has been on the books...

CULBERSON: That is right.

DOBBS: ... for 50 years.

CULBERSON: That is right. This is a -- this law was enacted, this is Title 8, Section 1325 of the U.S. Code, Lou. It was enacted in 1952 and it has been ignored by Michael Chertoff and the higher-ups at Homeland Security. And I finally got sick and tired of it.

I was action. I want that border secured and sealed against criminals and illegal aliens, as does the local community. So I went straight to the sector chief in Laredo as a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.

I said, Chief, I will help you find the money. I will get my committee colleagues to help. If you, Chief Carillo, in Laredo, will implement zero tolerance in Laredo, as they are doing in Del Rio, I will help you.


DOBBS: You probably got him in trouble with his superiors at the Border Patrol, didn't you?

CULBERSON: Yes. Probably so, I'm going to protect that good man. I'm going to protect Chief Randy Hill in the Del Rio sector. This is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Marshals, the federal judges, the prosecutors, and the Border Patrol.

But those law enforcement officers on the ground, on the border, on the front lines of the war on terror, Lou, they are not the problem, it is headquarters.

DOBBS: It is headquarters, it is the policy, it is this administration. Let's be really honest, Congressman...

CULBERSON: Absolutely.

DOBBS: ... it is this president. It is the Chamber of Commerce. It is the Business Roundtable. It is a sorry bunch of son of a guns who serve in office, particularly on the Senate side, if I may say, who think that can instead of secure a border, provide amnesty. They look at it as a freeway instead of a border.

Could I -- I would like to go to one other issue just in that regard. Lisa Sylvester reporting tonight that lawmakers basically removing $3 billion from the border security funding for -- in the defense appropriations bill, that backdoor deal by the Democratic leadership.

Here is what Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona said. Quote: "The Democrats are playing chicken with President Bush in the matter of national security, and that is wrong." Now Senator Kyl is one of the most gentle, soft-spoken fellows. Do you see it the same way?

CULBERSON: No question. Democrats have had an open border policy for some time. Unfortunately Homeland Security has been focused on customer service to the foreign national. And the customer is the American people. And Homeland Security needs to remember that, that the customer is protecting our kids and our families instead of the convenience of the foreign national.

And no question, Lou, that we need to make sure those officers on the ground -- the Border Patrol officers, we need to beef them up, but also the local law -- the local sheriffs on borders.

DOBBS: Well, is this going to stand, do you think? Do you think the Democratic leadership is going to get away with that?

CULBERSON: Lou, they might, they just might. And it is just tragic if they do. But remember that Homeland Security has so much money on hand that I have been able to identify an actual surplus at Homeland Security of unspent first responder money anywhere between $3 billion to $5 billion that is backed up in the Treasury, unspent for over three years, Lou. So there is money there.

DOBBS: They will probably put that money to good use...

CULBERSON: There is money.

DOBBS: ... like trying to design a new screener of some sort that won't be available for another 10 years.

Let me just turn to the issue of Michael Chertoff, this president, who I hold responsible for dereliction of duty in terms of securing the borders. People look at it in terms of illegal immigration, but its first issue is national security and the public safety and the very idea that in the global war on terror we haven't secured our borders and ports.

Yet this administration, you are talking about customers, his number one customer is corporate American and the socio-ethnocentric interest groups that the Democratic leadership looks as their customers.

Where does that leave the American people? What does it augur for the future of this country?

CULBERSON: Well, Lou, unfortunately, I confirmed a long time ago that Homeland Security -- in the mind of Homeland Security bureaucrats, their customer is the foreign national waiting in line.

Homeland Security is more concerned with the inconvenience of waiting in line of Osama bin Laden's cousin waiting out there with his duffel bag. And we need to shift that mindset and make sure they understand the customer is the American people. But I frankly --

Everyone in Brownsville, everyone in Laredo, everyone in Del Rio supports zero tolerance. Because when you are keeping the illegal aliens out, you are keeping out the MS-13 gang members and the drug dealers and the thugs.

So we need to remember the decent, honest people that live along the river who are mostly Hispanic, want safe streets, they support zero tolerance, and you don't need a single new law, Lou.

You don't need new -- you don't need immigration reform, you don't need a new a law. You don't need a single new dollar. You don't need new personnel. You can enforce existing law, this 1952 law with existing resources. All you need is willpower.

And I'm sick and tired of excuses. We need action. And let's go straight to those officers on the border who are ready to help this nation and just bypass the White House. Just forget them, Lou. Go straight to the officers on the border, praise them, support them, and let's get them the resources and support they need to protect this nation.

DOBBS: Well, I can tell you one thing, there are a lot of folks in this country who would like to be able to forget that White House. Congressman Culberson, good to have you with us. We appreciate it.

CULBERSON: Thank you, Lou, for keeping the hot white light of truth on this critical (INAUDIBLE) nation. You will never win the war on terror until we secure that border. And I thank you for the great work you are doing in this effort.

DOBBS: Thank you, Congressman. Appreciate it.

CULBERSON: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Coming up next, is President Bush the worst president in the history of the united states of America? We'll be talking about that story with three of the best political minds in the country. And rising concerns that a controversial new free trade agreement with Peru will kill jobs in the country. One of the agreement's biggest supporters is Congressman Charlie Rangel. He is among our guests. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The House of Representatives Thursday approved a controversial free trade agreement with Peru. Opponents and critics say the agreement, simply a job killer that will open the borders to more dangerous imports.

The supports say the agreements will open new markets for American goods. One of the supporters is the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Charlie Rangel, who says this deal is good for our economy and will create, not destroy, jobs.


REP. CHARLIE RANGEL, (D) WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE: The deal is that it's one thing to be against trade but you have to be against bad trade deals where you have the losers. This is one of the extraordinary cases that what happens is that we have to pay a tariff for everything we send into Peru and what we bring for them, the gold, the silver and the jewelry, they don't play a tariff in the United States. What they are so badly in need of engineering equipment, tractors, trailers, electronic, that this is going to be a boom for those people that in communities are producing this. It is a win-win for them.

DOBBS: Let me show you, and I'm sure you know but let me share with both you and viewers, Mr. Chairman, what Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a democrat, a man with whom you have a great spiritual connection, it's also a state that's seen a significant manufacturing loss in Ohio. Here's what I said, "I'm disappointed that the House passed another job-killing trade agreement that will result in more unsafe food in our kitchens and consumer products in our children's bedrooms." What do you say to Senator Brown, what do you say to those who are already concerned about what is happening with imports right now?

RANGEL: I'm saying for those people who lost their jobs, lost their industry and some have lost their homes, you bet your life they should be anything that sounds like trade because we haven't given them a fair deal. We haven't protected those people that have lost jobs as a result of trade or those people who just don't find industry in their communities. It should be the government and the private sector that provides the safety net for these people when we go through these transitions. But for those people that come from communities that have farms that are producing the wheat, the soybean, and in New York State the dairy products and the cattle and other states, for these people you cannot tell them they are not getting a job expansion. And so if you're hurting, then it's a bad deal. But this is a good deal for anyone that's putting up the cranes, and putting up the equipment that is so badly needed in Peru.

DOBBS: Mr.Chairman, let me just put it straightforwardly to you. We've run 31 consecutive years of trade deficits. We're going to post another record trade deficit this year. What in the world is the difference between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party on the issue of free trade if you continue in these deals?

RANGEL: I don't think there's anything that you call about trade or free trade. The thing is, is it a good deal or bad deal? Ever since the civilization, people who overproduce what they can't consume, want to get rid of it and they sell it, and that's trade. And so what we have to talk about, is it NAFTA which I voted against, is it a CAFTA which I voted against, are there protection for laborers, a protectional right? If it's a good deal, go for it. If it's a lousy deal, reject it.

DOBBS: All right. The "New York Times," today, I want to turn to another issue, says that you want to give tax breaks to people who live and run businesses in the Virgin Islands, as the powerful chairman of one of the most powerful men in all of Congress for folks who want to run their businesses in Virgin Islands and happen to be campaign contributors. Your response, sir?

RANGEL: My response is when governor of Virgin Islands tells me and the I.S. agrees that they have a lesser degree of Statue of Liberty than we have on the mainlands, and they ask me to equalize it, you bet your life I did. But quite frankly, if I got contributions from those good people, the contributions I have received will take me a long time to find theirs, but this gives me an opportunity, if in fact they did send it, to say thank you.

DOBBS: And we appreciate you taking the time to tell us about the difference between the two political parties and the role of those big financial contributors out in the Virgin Islands. Charlie Rangel, it's always good to have you with us.

RANGEL: Good to be with you. Continued success.

DOBBS: You too, partner. If I can say partner to the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. I apologize for that.

RANGEL: You're primetime, you can say it.

DOBBS: Well, I apologize. I didn't mean to be quite that inform, sir. Thank you.

RANGEL: Thank you.


DOBBS: Up next, opposition to the Iraq war is now at an all-time high. Four and a half years after this war began, our panel of political analysts and strategists join me to discuss that and other issues right here next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Joining me now, three of the country's best political analysts. In New York with me "New York Daily News" columnist Errol Louis, also member of the editorial board. Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf. From Washington, DC, Diana West, columnist, "Washington Times" and author of the bestselling book, "The Death of the Grownup."

Good to have you all with us. Let me turn to you, Hank, first. This is quite a flap, the driver's licenses for illegal alien aliens. It looks like it's harpooned Governor Spitzer, it looks like it's dealt a serious blow to Senator Clinton and Democratic candidates, apparently, are running away from this.

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: From this and anything having to do with discussions about immigration because there's an argument you can't win. Remember, Lou, the target that both Republicans need come November 2008 is the same group of people, all of whom are living in economic portions of the country and worried about their future employment. Therefore, anything about immigration goes right home. ERROL LOUIS, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Absolutely. I actually spent close to an hour with 28 graduate students that I'm teaching here in New York, and we went through immigration numbers to try and figure out what's the effect on low-wage workers of illegal immigration. And ...

DOBBS: Good for you.

LOUIS: Well, you know, I had to figure it out anyway, and they're some of the smartest kids I know. And between one percent and nine percent downward pressure on the wages. That doesn't mean that you have to change your mind about immigration, whatever it may be, but let's at least understand that some of the fears at least of economic displacement or economic negative effects have some basis in reality.

You know, I think the more the governor maybe thinks about getting into some of the analysis, some of the facts, I think he can maybe find his way out of this bog that he's landed in because he's going to be there by himself otherwise. Like you say, Democrats are running from this mess as fast as they can.

DOBBS: Diana, your thoughts.

DIANA WEST, "WASHINGTON TIMES": I think the question becomes, where did the Democrats run to? They seem to be running from the leader ship. What do Democrats trying to coalesce around a presidential candidate do? And I think that becomes a very interesting question.

DOBBS: Let's talk about a president instead of a presidential candidate. His low approval ratings ...

WEST: Bad.

DOBBS: But a new CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 23 percent of Americans say this president is not only suffering disapproval, but is the worst president in our history. On the flip side, one percent say he's the best ever, but that's quite a ratio, 23 to 1. Diana, to what do you tribute this disastrous lack of regard?

WEST: Well, I think it goes to border security. That's a big one for me, and also the lack of clarity in Iraq and also in the rest of the war on Islamic terror. I kind of wish we could look at it in terms of Bush term one and Bush term two because these have been two very different presidencies. But I can't say I disagree very strongly with those numbers.

DOBBS: Errol?

LOUIS: The worst ever title, which has been thrown around for a number of years now, doesn't mean all that much to me just because if you go back through it, Millard Fillmore and Harding. The question is, is this a president ...

DOBBS: Does Jimmy Carter come to mind?

LOUIS: Jimmy Carter had his challenges. If the question is did this president live up to and meet the challenges he faced, the historic and political challenges that he was asked to deal with, did he do it successfully, the answer generally is no. I don't think even the president's allies would say anything different. There is this argument that he might be right in the long term and history may look at him differently.

But it will take a few years, I think, to undo the effects of Katrina and the war and the collapse of the immigration bill and the collapse of the Social Security realignment. Most of the big-ticket items that he wanted he just didn't get.

DOBBS: Next, we're going to ask leading Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf his view whether or not George Bush is the worst president ever. Stay with us. We're coming right back.


DOBBS: We're back with Errol Louis, Diana West and Hank Sheinkopf. Hank, give us the Democratic perspective, if you will.

SHEINKOPF: Not a good president, certainly among the worst. I don't know. Look, all politics is in the present tense. His problem is the war and now the economy. And the numbers are going to get worse as the economy worsens. Things don't look good today, Lou.

DOBBS: Pakistan exploding, the Middle East. If this administration sought to destabilize the Middle East, they have been successful in their policy. The Islamic world, destabilized. Pakistan preeminent now among them, Iran. Where are we headed, Errol?

LOUIS: I think Diana will disagree with this but I think hopefully the focus will now shift to where it belongs, which is an unstable nuclear power as opposed to Iran, we have got Pakistan, which is actually armed where over 100 people were murdered in the street when a political figure was just passing through the street. You've got a near collapse.

DOBBS: A political figure, Benazir Bhutto.

LOUIS: Benazir Bhutto.

DOBBS: Who is now under house arrest.

LOUIS: Under house rest. Unclear whether there will be elections. Unclear whether or not the Supreme Court there and the justice system will survive in anything resembling an acceptable constitutional form. And our greatest ally is right in the middle of this. It's extraordinarily dangerous. It's extraordinarily important. The resources, the attention and focus, I think, all needs to get there, which is why it gets so maddening when you hear this Beltway chatter, what's going to happen with Iran, what's going to happen with other ...

DOBBS: My favorite response on Iran, Errol, has been from the Pentagon, from the administration. Yes, we do have a plan to deal with Iran. I'm sorry. Where the heck is the administration's plan to deal with Pakistan, to deal with Iraq, for crying out loud, Afghanistan. Diana West, your view. Let's see if you agree or disagree with Errol.

WEST: Well, I would agree with Errol that we certainly need to turn our attention to Pakistan. I would say that the democracy angle, pushing democracy on Pakistan, however, is not going to be a benefit to American foreign policy, namely because the Pakistani population is quite extreme.

Recent polls are showing us consistently that this is a country that, by three-quarters of the population would like to see extreme sharia throughout Pakistan uniting Islamic countries under a caliphate. These are the very goals, of course, of al Qaeda. So it's not enough merely to push Musharraf toward democracy.

DOBBS: Go ahead.

WEST: That said, I would say this administration, which has been supporting Musharraf, has been allowing the most terrible inhibitions placed on our military. We are not allowed to operate in the Northwest Provinces where al Qaeda and other jihadist groups operate with impunity.

DOBBS: Including the Taliban.

WEST: Including the Taliban. At that is just a calumny by the Bush administration allowing Musharraf to tie our hands like that while we have troops in the theater. This is very serious failing.

DOBBS: The viewers of this broadcast are amongst, in my opinion, the smartest in all of television. And the number of viewers who have been writing in to me about George W. Bush's comment about Pakistan's leader having to step aside from his military role, asking the question, if he had no sense of irony, that the president of the united states was commander of chief in the United States was making such a demand.

SHEINKOPF: The larger question here is what Americans don't like. What they don't want in their president or in their government is the sense that things are out of control. What this president is done and why his numbers are so low is that things are out of control throughout the world and our economy and mortgage situation is out of control. And people are getting laid off and it goes on and on and on and until he leaves office this will continue.

WEST: Well, no, I don't think that you can ascribe all of these out of control things directly to George Bush.

SHEINKOPF: I'm not saying he is responsible but it is the sense of the time period people are responding to.

DOBBS: Errol, I'd like to give you the last word but Diana usurped it.


DOBBS: Very quickly.

LOUIS: As I said, the measure of a president is his ability to meet these challenges and in Pakistan as in many places the White House has come up short so far. There is still time to turn it around.

DOBBS: Unfortunately leadership of both parties, both houses of Congress and this president have come up short in this reporter's opinion, as the saying goes.

Errol thank you very much. Diana thank you very much. Hank, thank you.

And thank you for joining us. Please join us here tomorrow and remember, each of you whose e-mail is read here on this broadcast receives a copy of my new book, "Independents Day, Awakening the American Spirit."

And join us Monday as we begin our weeklong cross country tour reporting on the biggest issues facing Americans today.

We begin in Phoenix, Arizona. We hope you'll be with us. For all of us here, thanks for watching. Enjoy your weekend. Goodnight from New York.