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The Situation Room
New Video of 9/11 Pentagon Attack Released; Interview With Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; Immigration Wars
Aired May 16, 2006 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Standing by, CNN reporters across the United States and around the world to bring you tonight's top stories.
Happening now, it's 7:00 p.m. here in Washington, where the Bush administration offers new details on the deployment of U.S. troops to the border with Mexico. Is that the right move?
Squaring over -- squaring off over immigration. CNN's own Lou Dobbs and the Los Angeles mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, they're here, live, in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And I will also go one on one with the attorney general of the United States, Antonio -- Alberto Gonzales. I will ask him whether his own grandparents were legal or illegal immigrants.
Newly released video shows shocking images of the attack on the Pentagon. Could these painful pictures finally prove a 9/11 conspiracy theory?
And the White House press secretary, Tony Snow, holds an emotional first briefing, after his comeback from cancer. It was a heart-wrenching moment.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
In the immigration wars, President Bush is picking up today where he left off last night. He's urging Congress to try to find a middle ground on border security and what to do about millions of illegal immigrants.
Tonight, the Senate is pressing ahead on a reform bill, but Republican divisions are as evident as ever a day after Mr. Bush's Oval Office speech on immigration.
Let's go to our congressional correspondent Andrea Koppel -- Andrea.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the audience President Bush most wanted to reach were members of his own party. But Republicans had a message also for Mr. Bush: that border security must come first before a guest-worker program and before a path to legalization.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SEN. LARRY CRAIG (R), IDAHO: No matter how comprehensive our reform is, it won't work. It won't work unless this nation controls and secures its borders.
KOPPEL (voice-over): And so with the first of a series of amendments to the Senate immigration bill, amendments seen as poison pills by critics, some Republicans sought unsuccessfully to put immigration enforcement first.
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: Disagreeing with this amendment sends the message to the American people that we are more eager to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship than we are to secure our borders from further illegal immigration and the smuggling of illegal drugs and weapons.
KOPPEL: Not only has this issue splintered the Republican Party, but, if politics makes strange bedfellows, that was certainly true in today's debate.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Clearly, I have my differences with the president, but he's absolutely right. He understands history. He's a border state governor, and he knows you can't do this by itself, only at the border.
KOPPEL: Democrats urged the president to put pressure on his own party in the Senate and in the House, which already passed a controversial enforcement-only bill last year.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: The president, if he wants to help us in comprehensive immigration reform, needs to look first at his Republican leadership in the Senate and say something negative about this monstrous House bill.
KOPPEL: But House Republicans weren't backing down.
REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I personally feel that's the -- first thing that we have to do is enforce the border. Then, after we do that, we can start to look at some other alternatives.
KOPPEL: With some House leaders drawing a very definite line in the sand, it's unclear, if and when a bill is able to clear the Senate, just how the House and Senate are going to be able to reconcile these very, very different bills, as they stand right now.
But, Wolf, with a weakened president and with all of the House and some of the Senate looking towards midterm elections in November, it's unclear just how much arm-twisting President Bush is going to succeed in doing.
As one senior House staffer told me, she said that, basically, right now, President Bush is not really in a position to get what he wants from Congress -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Andrea Koppel up on the Hill -- Andrea, thank you very much.
President Bush says he's trying to reach a rational middle ground on immigration. But by deploying troops to the border and backing a guest-worker program, could the Bush administration face a backlash?
BLITZER: Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM is the attorney general of the United States, Alberto Gonzales.
Thanks very much for coming in.
ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good to be here, Wolf.
BLITZER: Well, what do you think? Some of your conservative friends think this is a facade, that these troops going to the border for two-week periods of time, without even weapons, is useless.
GONZALES: Oh, I think having a strong show of force along the border will have a deterrent effect.
BLITZER: Are they actually going to be the border, though, or as opposed to being behind the scenes?
GONZALES: Well, I don't -- there will be a sign of force that will be visible along the border. Clearly, the National Guard troops will be there to support the work of the Border Patrol officers. They're there to provide a supportive role. They will not be engaged in law enforcement.
But I think any time you have that kind of visible show of force, I think it will have a deterrent effect.
BLITZER: Will they be armed? In other words, are you fully clear on the rules of engagement these military forces will have?
GONZALES: Well, obviously, that'll be something that'll have to be worked out. Those rules will have to be very, very clear so there's no misunderstanding.
Clearly, though, these folks will have the opportunity and the authority to defend themselves, to protect themselves. But as to the specific rules of engagement, that'll be something that'll have to be worked out.
BLITZER: Will they carry weapons?
GONZALES: Again, that'll be something that'll have to be worked out. But I'm quite confident they certainly will have the authority to protect themselves.
BLITZER: If there's a show of force, as you say, along the border with Mexico, isn't this the same thing as militarizing the border with a good friend, Mexico? And people in Mexico would be understandably upset about that? GONZALES: We want to be very, very careful, of course, about making it clear to Mexico and other folks along the border that this is not about militarizing the border.
We've had National Guard troops working along the border for quite some time...
BLITZER: But only a few hundred.
GONZALES: ... on counternarcotics efforts.
Clearly, we're talking about an increased number here. But one of the reasons the president went out yesterday to talk to the American people and to our friends in Mexico is to make it clear what his objectives are here, and that is to secure the border. This is not to militarize the border.
BLITZER: You're the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. Are you comfortable, as your critics say, that you are rewarding lawbreakers by allowing them this path toward citizenship?
GONZALES: Well, the president made it clear that there is no automatic path to citizenship, that certain things -- people will have to pay a penalty. They'll have to suffer consequences for their action in coming into this country illegally.
The president does not believe in amnesty. The steps that he outlined yesterday do not constitute amnesty in his judgment. And in my judgment they do not constitute amnesty. People will have to suffer consequences, adverse consequences...
BLITZER: But if they pay their taxes, they do the right thing, stay out of trouble, over a number of years, eventually, they could become citizens of the United States.
I assume that you're in favor of that, because the president is in favor on that, but the critics aren't in favor of that.
GONZALES: But they will have to stand in line behind those who have followed the law. And so, others, who have followed the law, will not be penalized. And those who have not followed the law will suffer adverse consequences.
BLITZER: What do you also say to the critics who say that you've been in office now for almost six years, the Bush administration. You haven't been enforcing the current laws on the books when it comes to illegal immigrants, the millions in this country.
There are plenty of penalties for employers, for example, who hire illegal immigrants; plenty of penalties for the illegal immigrants, especially those who are convicted of crimes, to be deported. But you really haven't been implementing the laws of the land that you already have on the books.
GONZALES: Clearly, we have to do a better job. I will say that prosecutions for immigration-related offense are up 40 percent since President Bush became president. And as the president announced last night, we have returned 6 million people that have been captured on the border, that were trying to cross into this country illegally.
So we've some progress because of additional border agents, because of new technology. But we need to do a better job. There's no question about it. And that's why the president is focused on this, has been focused on it for several years, but understands that we need to accelerate our efforts here in order to ensure that the national security of this country is protected by having a secure border.
BLITZER: Here's what the governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, said today, reacting to what the president proposed with the National Guard and other steps last night.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: I wish they'd consulted with us, because what I would have said is, I would have said accelerate the number of Border Patrol agents that you promised us.
New Mexico was promised 265 new border agents from the last appropriations bill, only a handful have arrived.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Was there no consultation with the governor of New Mexico, which has a long border with Mexico?
GONZALES: My understanding is that there was consultation with the governors. But let me just say that we agree with...
BLITZER: He says he wasn't consulted.
GONZALES: We agree with Governor Richardson in that we need to get more border agents on the border as quickly as possible. However, to ensure that they're properly trained will take a little bit of time. And during that time, that's why the president has proposed sending the National Guard to support the existing numbers of Border Patrol agents along the border.
BLITZER: Even some of your best friends in the House, Roy Blunt, the third Republican, the number three Republican, the majority whip in the House, he says, "I have real concerns about moving forward with a guest worker program or a plan to address those currently in the United States illegally until we have adequately addressed our serious border security problems."
It's highly unusual to get these kinds of critical statements from your leaders, the Republican leaders, in the House of Representatives.
Put on your political hat for a moment and tell me if you believe that a Senate version, if it's passed, can be reconciled with the House version, given the strong positions of the Republicans in the House.
GONZALES: It has to be reconciled, Wolf. We have a window of opportunity here to pass comprehensive immigration reform. It is important to the national security of this country.
And, therefore, the leaders of Congress have to work together to come up with a bill that the president of the United States can sign, because this is what is as stake here in this debate: the national security of the country.
BLITZER: You're the first Hispanic who's been the attorney general of the United States. Let me quote another Hispanic senator, Mel Martinez of Florida, who -- quoted in the current "Newsweek" magazine. He says, "Republicans" -- last month, actually.
He says: "Republicans have made significant gains among Latinos and we're risking all of that by allowing ourselves to be positioned as anti-immigrant. We are at great peril."
You're a grandson of immigrants who came to this country from Mexico -- migrant workers, dirt poor. You're a representation of the great American dream.
How do you feel now about these comments coming out basically attacking these people -- most of them who are simply striving to make a living and have a better life?
GONZALES: I think Hispanics believe in the rule of law. I mean, obviously we all want a better life. We want a better life and better future for our children. But we also believe very much in the rule of law.
If laws exist, they have to be respected. They have to be enforced. And, so, I believe that what the president outlined last night, a comprehensive immigration policy, is one that will resonate well with many members of the Hispanic community.
BLITZER: When you see these migrant workers, these people sneaking across -- at one point you were quoted as saying that, you know, you basically see yourself, your family, the history that you had coming to this country -- you must identify with all these people who are here to a certain degree illegally.
GONZALES: I understand why they come.
I think all Americans would understand why someone would come to this country, which is the greatest country in the world. It's because they want a better life for themselves and a better future for their children.
So obviously, yes, I understand why they want to come to the United States of America.
But I also understand that we are a nation of laws. Those laws have to be enforced and respected. We are a sovereign nation. We have to have control of our borders. And in a post-9/11 world, we absolutely have to know, this country has to know who's coming in and why. It is absolutely essentially.
BLITZER: Give us your -- tell our viewers who aren't familiar your personal story, how you got to where you are, your grandparents, your parents. They struggled, they came here. I don't know if they came here legally or illegally. But give us the story.
GONZALES: Well, three of my grandparents were born in Mexico. They came to Texas. My parents -- both my parents were born in Texas extremely poor. My mother...
BLITZER: When they came to Texas, were they legally documented, were they un-legally documented?
GONZALES: You know what? It's unclear. It's unclear.
And I've looked at this issue, I've talked to my parents about it and it's just not clear.
But in any event, my mother had a 2nd grade education -- my father had a 2nd grade education, my mother had a 6th grade education. And my father worked construction.
And so, for me, my life has -- represents the American dream. There are so many wonderful opportunities in this country. And that's why you have such a pull for people to come into this country who simply want a better life for themselves and for their children.
BLITZER: Well said.
Thank you very much. The attorney general of the United States. Appreciate your coming in.
GONZALES: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's go up to New York. Jack Cafferty is standing by with "The Cafferty File."
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, very interesting developments in this big NSA spy story from last week.
Verizon has now joined BellSouth in saying they did not provide customer call information to the National Security Agency. And, just moving on the wires, Associated Press is reporting that AT&T is now saying the same thing, which means all three major phone companies that were named in a big front-page story in "USA Today" last Thursday are now saying they didn't do it.
The NSA requested and apparently was given tens of millions of customer phone records. "USA Today," that broke this story, says they are confident in their reporting, but that they won't -- quote -- "summarily dismiss BellSouth and Verizon's" -- and now apparently AT&T's as well -- "denials, without taking a closer look." Meanwhile, a member of the Federal Communications Commission says the agency should investigate if the phone companies broke the law by turning over the phone records of private citizens. He says, protecting the security of Americans is still the government's top responsibility, but -- quote -- "The privacy of our citizens must still matter."
Here's the question: Should the Federal Communications Commission, or someone, investigate these phone companies allegedly involved in this NSA spying program?
You can e-mail your thoughts to caffertyfile@CNN.com or to go to CNN.com/caffertyfile.
It's again, Wolf, that it took four days for -- and now all three of these companies that were named in that front-page story are saying: We didn't do this.
BLITZER: This is very dramatic stuff.
BLITZER: It requires a lot more reporting. And we are going to be doing that.
Jack, thank you very much.
Coming up: new pictures of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Will it finally put to rest those conspiracy theories that are out there?
Plus, two very different perspectives -- the Los Angeles mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, and our own Lou Dobbs, they will be joining us live here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Hear what they're saying about troops to the border, the path toward citizenship, lots more. They will be here together with me.
Also, an emotional briefing -- we will find out why Tony Snow choked up at the White House podium earlier today.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: The mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Lou Dobbs standing by. They will be coming into THE SITUATION ROOM momentarily -- very different perspectives on the immigration battle.
The Defense Department today released the first videotapes of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Four-and-a-half years have passed, but the images are no less shocking. The release follows a suit by a watchdog group aimed at disproving conspiracy theories.
Let's go live to our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as absurd as it sounds to anybody who was here on September 11, there are some people who think a plane didn't actually hit the Pentagon. The government hopes these tapes will put that to rest.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): The tapes are a more complete and unedited version of five still frames CNN obtained from a Pentagon security camera and was first to broadcast back in March of 2002. The newly released video includes a view from a second camera at the same checkpoint, which provides a slightly clearer view of the American Airlines 757 as it flew just feet above the ground and slammed into the Pentagon.
One video shows the nose of the plane as it enters the frame. The other shows the fuselage as it whizzes by at several hundred miles per hour.
The tapes were sealed as evidence for the criminal trial of 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. But, with his sentencing, the Justice Department released the tapes, in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit followed by the legal watchdog group Judicial Watch.
TOM FITTON, PRESIDENT, JUDICIAL WATCH: Well, we wanted to help put to rest conspiracy theories suggesting it was something other than a plane that hit the Pentagon, that it was a missile or a decoy of some type.
MCINTYRE: Until now, this single frame was the only image that showed the jetliner before it hit the Pentagon. And the image is so indistinct that it helped fuel conspiracy theories that abound on the Internet, despite pictures of the wreckage and eyewitness accounts.
MIKE WALTER, EYEWITNESS: I looked off. I was -- you know, looked out my window and I saw this plane, a jet, an American Airlines jet, coming. And I thought, this doesn't add up. It's really low.
MCINTYRE: The Web sites often take statements out of context, such as this exchange from CNN, in which I, myself, appear to be questioning whether a plane really hit the building.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SEPTEMBER 11, 2001)
MCINTYRE: But from my close-up inspection, there's no evidence of a plane having crashed anywhere near the Pentagon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCINTYRE: Wolf, in fact, and I was saying that there was no plane that fell short of the Pentagon, only the one that hit the Pentagon. But don't try telling that to the conspiracy theorists -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jamie, good report. Thank you very much.
Some surprisingly and potential critical new information emerging today in that CIA leak case.
Our chief national correspondent, John King, was in the courthouse all day today, watching it unfold -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, at issue was the Libby defense's team request for information from news organizations.
But, during the hearing today, we learned a bit more about the defense trial strategy.
KING (voice-over): The Scooter Libby defense team says the leak that launched the investigation did not come from inside the Bush White House. That assertion came Tuesday, as the defense pushed for access to notebooks, e-mails and other documents from "The New York Times," "TIME" magazine, and NBC News.
Former vice presidential aide Libby is charged with lying to prosecutors and the grand jury investigating who leaked the identity of former CIA agent Valerie Plame. She is the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who claims her identity was revealed by White House officials to punish him for accusing President Bush of hyping the case for war in Iraq.
Plame was outed in this Robert Novak column back in July 2003. During Tuesday's hearing, Libby attorney William Jeffress, who has access to government evidence in the case, said Novak's source wasn't even in the White House and claimed to be unaware Plame had covert status.
The defense also made clear it will attack the credibility of reporters central to the government's case. Both former "New York Times" reporter Judith Miller and "TIME" correspondent Matthew Cooper told the grand jury that Libby told them Plame worked at the CIA.
Challenging Cooper's account, the defense said, his notes from a conversation with Libby make no mention of Plame, nor does an e-mail to his editor about that conversation, and that a later e-mail indicating his story would discuss Plame said he had an additional source, singular, whom the Libby defense team says was Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove.
The defense says it needs other documents and records from the news organizations to see if there are materials supporting Libby's version of events.
KING: Now, the judge seemed quite skeptical to that request for broad access to the media records. But he said he would look at some of those documents before issuing a ruling.
And, Wolf, the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, had no official role in today's hearing. But he was sitting right there, just to my left, in the front row, scribbling notes the whole time, as the Libby team revealed some of its strategy when the trial comes -- of course, the trial not scheduled until January.
KING: John, thank you very much.
And still to come tonight in THE SITUATION ROOM, two very different perspectives on the immigration divide, the Los Angeles mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Lou Dobbs, in their first televised debate. That is going to be right here in THE SITUATION ROOM momentarily.
Also, today was the new White House press secretary Tony Snow's first formal briefing. We saw it on television. We will tell you why he came very close to tears at the podium.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: Let's get some more now on our top story, the border battle, the president's plan for that.
We're joined by the Los Angeles mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, and CNN's own Lou Dobbs.
Gentlemen, we discussed this opportunity at the White House Press Correspondents Association. And you're here. I'm glad both of you are here.
Mr. Mayor, let's talk about the president's speech last night. Is it a good idea to deploy up to 6,000 National Guard troops to the border with Mexico?
ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: Like Senator Hagel, I'm not sure that it's appropriate to deploy that number of National Guard troops at the border, given that we're already stretched thin, that our National Guard are in Iraq right now.
I think what I liked about the president's speech is that he reaffirmed support for bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform that is neither amnesty, nor automatic, but enforces and secures our borders, enforces our immigration laws, holds people accountable for breaking the law, but also gives people a pathway to citizenship. They don't get in the front of line. They get at the back of the line. They have to pay their taxes. They have to demonstrate that they haven't broken the law, and they may be able to apply for citizenship.
BLITZER: Lou, do you agree with the mayor on the -- that you're skeptical about these troops, these 6,000 National Guardsmen going to the border?
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": If you're not skeptical of everything that is said in this town by a president or a congressman or a senator, we're not doing our jobs. Six thousand National Guardsmen in two-week rotations on the border is hardly an adequate response to what is a critical and urgent crisis on our border.
BLITZER: Would you like 30,000?
DOBBS: The correct number may be somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 people on that border, whether they be Border Patrolmen or whether they be National Guardsmen.
But it's time to cut through the nonsense here. We have a border that is the source of the principal amount of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and meth coming into this country. This administration and previous administrations, three previous administrations, are permitting us to lose a war on drugs. They're permitting three million illegal aliens to cross our borders.
Six thousand National Guardsmen in an adjunct support role is pure cotton-candy nonsense.
BLITZER: How would you, Mr. Mayor...
VILLARAIGOSA: The Congress authorized 10,000 new Border Patrol agents for the border. And this administration has only hired about 210.
VILLARAIGOSA: And, so, it seems to me that, rather than deploy the National Guard, they should employ the 10,000 Border Patrol agents that they were authorized.
DOBBS: The mayor and I are in absolute agreement. That's where -- it's time for people to get honest in this town.
BLITZER: But you agree, Mr. Mayor, this is a homeland security problem for the United States, the porous borders?
VILLARAIGOSA: Well, look, I believe that the issue of homeland security is an important issue.
Certainly, we have to -- we -- we have to secure our borders. Every nation in the world secures their borders. Every nation in the world has immigration laws. We have every right to enforce our laws. I believe, though, that we should do so in a way that is smart and effective.
I have said for a long time, if we want to address the immigration issue, in addition to securing our borders and enforcing our laws, we need to hold employers accountable as well. We need to be as vigorous in holding employers accountable as they are going after the immigrants who cross here to work.
We need to ensure that we are doing smart things, like they did in Europe, where they invested in Ireland and Spain, when those countries were sending immigrants, focus their investment in a smart way to keep the immigrants at home.
BLITZER: You don't disagree with any of that, do you?
DOBBS: I most certainly do. There no country in Europe or anywhere else in the world that would permit the level of illegal immigration that this country is ...
BLITZER: But he wants to cut back on it. He wants to strengthen the borders.
DOBBS: There is no country that would do that.
Secondly, the issue is a corrupt Mexican government and it is a Mexican government problem that we're dealing with. And to ignore that issue as this administration has and have moments of embrace between Vicente Fox and George Bush, is utter nonsense.
We should not only be holding, as the president said, employers of illegal aliens accountable. And then that is the only thing he says about that issue. We should be fining them, we should be imprisoning the executives who do so. And we should be righteous and quick about it because it's a critical issue.
But we should also be holding the government of Mexico accountable for exportation of 15 percent of its population over the past 20 years into this country. They are exporting poverty. They are overcrowding the major schools in Los Angeles. They are creating a crime wave in point of fact in certain parts of the country. This is not to suggest that most illegal aliens are hard-working dean people, but we have got to look at this impact.
VILLARAIGOSA: There's no evidence to demonstrate that the undocumented in the city of Los Angeles, and that's where I can speak with intelligence about, are a crime problem or a source of criminal activity. Are there some who have broken the law, without question, but not in greater numbers that than the population overall. And I believe very definitely that people that break the law should be held accountable for it.
DOBBS: Your schools in Los Angeles and Southern California more than half of your Hispanic students are dropping out of high school. Your schools are overcrowded and they are underfunded. You're in the lowest ranking in terms of funding of education. Education in California statewide is a disaster but particularly so of Southern California, do you disagree with that?
VILLARAIGOSA: I'll say this. Some of what you have described is very accurate. But it's not because of the undocumented. In fact many of the second generation Americans in our urban schools are also failing. There is a crisis in our schools.
VILLARAIGOSA: I would not agree that it's because of the undocumented.
BLITZER: Is there a middle ground Lou, that if you were the mayor to sit in a room for a while and try to find a common ground, a new piece of legislation, a law that the president could sign, do you think you would be able to come up with a common piece of legislation?
DOBBS: Look. The mayor has different constraints than I do. He is a good man with the interests of the people of Los Angeles at heart. I'm sure that we could come up with some considerable agreement. But I don't -- I have a different set of constraints on me. My constraints are to be honest, straightforward and as accurate as possible. The politics of this thing might mitigate our coming to agreement. It's certain mitigating honesty in this up to. The idea that we are not acknowledging there are 4 to 6 million people in a backlog of people who want to migrate to this country legally. That we have watched a sham perpetrated by the Citizenship and Immigration Service in this country over the past about 10 years but certainly over the past five.
And the president doesn't talk about this. The Senate is not talking about this. It's unconscionable the refusal of this town to get honest about this issue.
BLITZER: Could you find common ground with Lou Dobbs?
VILLARAIGOSA: I'd like to believe I could find a common ground with almost everyone ...
DOBBS: Even Lou Dobbs.
VILLARAIGOSA: Even Lou Dobbs.
Look, we may have different perspectives. I think we both agree on this, that the issue of national security is an important issue. Securing our borders is the right of every country and certainly we have a right as a country to do that as well.
I think, though, this is a great and generous America. An America founded on the backs of immigrants. An American built by immigrants. My grandpa came to this country 100 years ago, he came to Los Angeles. He built a great life. He had two daughters who had nine children. All of them have gone to college and done quite well. We're very proud of what this country has done for us.
I believe that these people who come here, while they may have broken the law without question, have an opportunity to participate in the American dream as we. Yes, they have to be held accountable for breaking the law. Yes, they should be fined. Yes, it shouldn't be automatic. Yes, we should not have amnesty, but there should be some pathway for citizenship for people who have been here, worked hard, paid their taxes and not gotten in trouble with the law.
BLITZER: We only have a few seconds, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, I am going to take a few seconds if I may, Wolf, because I want to respond to what the mayor said, is that all right? BLITZER: Go ahead.
DOBBS: First, there is no shortage of illegal immigration in this country, I think we can agree on that. Your Senate, your House and this president are not even discussing the fact that we don't know how many illegal aliens are in this country.
Second, there is at the lowest level quintile of wage earners in this country a surplus, not a deficit. And the idea that a guest worker program and this entire proposal is for any other purpose than a political purposes of perhaps the Democratic Party and the business services of the Republican Party is a disservice to the truth. We have 280 million citizens in this country, working men and women who need to be represented at this table and the certainly in the U.S. Senate and certainly in the U.S. House of Representatives and the White House. They're not being represented. And as a matter of fact, they are being lied to by the people who are supposed to be representing them.
And we've got to get honest.
BLITZER: Since the mayor is our guest I'm going to give him the last word.
VILLARAIGOSA: I don't need the last word I just want to say to you that I think this is a debate that needs to be civil, it's a debate that needs to center around the idea of what is best for the American people but also what is best for the values that this country was built on.
DOBBS: May I just put in one value that's critical? Honesty. I'll even pass on civility as long as we're honest.
Good to be with you.
BLITZER: Mr. Mayor.
VILLARAIGOSA: Wolf, thank you.
DOBBS: Mr. Mayor, good to see you.
VILLARAIGOSA: Good to see you, too.
BLITZER: Thanks to both of you. Let's continue this down the road.
Coming up, the new White House press secretary Tony Snow's first formal briefing. The former Fox News anchor, Tony Snow, he gets choked up at the podium. An emotional moment. We'll share it with you.
BLITZER: More now on the immigration debate. CNN's Chris Lawrence is joining us live from the border town of San Ysidro in California. He's been talking to people about this whole border battle. Chris?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, in towns like these that literally border Mexico, President Bush's proposals can affect people's everyday lives.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): As President Bush addressed the nation, the Border Patrol was filling in one smugglers tunnel along the California-Mexico border when they discovered another one a few hundred feet away.
MICHAEL BERMUDEZ, BORDER PATROL: They may be cupping in for personal reasons, financial reasons.
LAWRENCE: Most workers make more money here than in Mexico.
EFRAIM RIOS, IMMIGRANT WORKER: Every week 100, here it's one day. You see the difference?
LAWRENCE: Efraim Rios says he works legally in San Ysidro to help his family back in Mexico.
RIOS: Weekends I go to visit my grandma. Just give some money to her, you know, to get a better life.
LUIS HOUSE, CONSTRUCTION WORKER: It is real complicating. Because who am I to tell that they can't get jobs. Well, fellow Americans that work out here real hard and trying to get jobs and they're taking away jobs from us.
LAWRENCE: The city of San Diego is just 16 miles from Mexico. Here we found mixed reaction to the president's plan.
Natural Guard on the border here to me isn't right.
LAWRENCE: Joy Schmalfeldt says that immigrants will still want a better life, so no plan will work unless it includes helping Mexico improve its economy.
JOY SCHMALFELDT, SAN DIEGO RESIDENT: And by closing the borders, isolating both countries, I don't see how it is going to be a good thing.
SAL CHAVEZ, SAN DIEGO RESIDENT: It may be a good thing because we have a lot of criminals that are crossing the border.
LAWRENCE: Sal Chavez supports the Guard coming down to help but opposes the idea for letting illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship.
LAWRENCE: He says, and some people agree with him, that it's not fair to the folks who followed the rules and waited years to immigrate legally. Wolf? BLITZER: Chris, thank you very much.
Today the new White House press secretary Tony Snow brought something to the podium that we don't see every day. That would be emotion. During his first televised briefing Snow got personal, talking about his recent battle with colon cancer. Our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux was inside the briefing room in the West Wing when it all unfolded. How did he do, Suzanne?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, facing us essentially has been likened to feeding hungry sharks. But I would say Tony Snow, his first day at the podium did fairly well.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I feel so loved.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): For the self-proclaimed new kid on the block, today was his first day of school.
HELEN THOMAS, COLUMNIST: Are all these stories untrue that we've been reading for the last several days that millions of Americans have been wiretapped?
SNOW: Let's try to segregate the stories, here.
MALVEAUX: In the standing room only crowd, a chance to meet the class bully.
QUESTION: You just said you guarantee it is going to go to conference. Do you already know that the senate is going to pass this?
DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: These aren't new issues, Tony.
QUESTION: Cashed all his political capital to an issue that may very well be DOA.
MALVEAUX: And class clowns.
QUESTION: Is the president opposed contraception or not?
MALVEAUX: On his first day under the hot lights and heated questions from the White House press corps, there were artful and blunt dodges.
SNOW: I can't confirm or deny it. The president was not confirming or denying.
QUESTION: Why won you comment at all on the "USA Today" story? Or at least talk in a limited way about how average Americans' phone records are handled by the National Security Agency?
SNOW: Because it's inappropriate.
QUESTION: What did you mean when you said today, we are not going to discriminate against people.
SNOW: I think I will not try to improve on the president's words from today.
MALVEAUX: And refreshing candor.
SNOW: The United States is aware (ph) it supports the continuing efforts of the EU to -- am I getting it wrong? OK. Thank you very much. You know what, rather than have me fake it, I will get a precise number to you.
I overstepped and should not be making predictions about what the Senate will do and we'll leave it to the senators themselves.
MALVEAUX: But the moment that defined Snow's first Reporter: this normally cynical bunch, a rare show of emotion from the podium about surviving his battle with colon cancer.
SNOW: It is going to sound stupid and I'll be personal here. No, just having gone through this last year, a lost a mother to cancer when I was 17. Same type, colon cancer. And what has happened in the field of cancer since then is a miracle. It's one of these thins that whatever we may say about our health care system, the technologies that were available to me that have me standing behind this podium today where that doctor said you don't have to worry about getting cancer, just heartburn talking to these people, that's a wonderful thing and I feel every day is a blessing. April?
MALVEAUX: And after 40 minutes he survived his first White House briefing, for now, eager to do battle another day.
SNOW: I love it. This is great. Thank you.
MALVEAUX (on camera): Well, Wolf, we'll see if he feels that way next week.
BLITZER: We wish him a lot of good luck in his new assignment. Thanks very much, Suzanne, for that.
Just ahead, flooding has forced thousands of people from their homes in New England. It's the worst flooding in 70 years. Plus, accused of sharing customer data with the government. Now some major phone companies are making some surprising statements about the allegations. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: There's an important story developing down in Georgia. Zain Verjee is in Atlanta, what's going on, Zain?
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the Associated Press is reporting that a judge here in Georgia has struck down the state's ban on gay marriage. The judge rules that even though voters approved a measure two years ago, that measure violated a provision of Georgia's constitution that limits ballot questions to a single subject.
Gay marriage was already illegal in Georgia but supporters of the 2004 amendment had hoped it would better protect the state from a court challenge to the ban.
The rains have ended, the worries have not and the water remains. You're looking at live pictures in New England. Water-filled dams are defying fears that they would break. Over the past few weeks, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine have seen the worst flooding in almost 70 years, causing evacuations, road damage and flooded schools. At least 2,500 people have had to leave their homes. Officials say they'll apply for federal help. Wolf?
BLITZER: Zain, thank you.
And three telephone companies were accused by "USA Today" of providing the NSA, the National Security Agency, with the phone call records of tens of millions of customers. Now Verizon is flatly denying the accusation and "USA Today" is responding.
Let's go straight to our Abbi Tatton with the latest. Abbi?
ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the latest from Verizon at their Web site, the media reports saying the NSA approached Verizon asking for customer call records is simply false according to Verizon.
The news reports last Thursday from "USA Today" saying that the Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth provided data to the NSA. Verizon first responded the following day by saying they cannot confirm or deny any relationship with the NSA but there were factual errors in the reporting.
Now this statement goes into what they're saying are those errors. They say they didn't provide any data, were not asked for any data and have no arrangement with the NSA. That's similar to a statement from BellSouth yesterday. BellSouth saying they did not have a contract with the NSA.
"USA Today" is responding at their site. They are saying, "We're confident in our coverage but are looking closely at the issues raised by these statements. Wolf?
BLITZER: We'll continue to follow it and we're also checking your email. Should the FCC investigate whether the phone companies provided the NSA with millions of call records? Jack Cafferty is next.
BLITZER: The bottom line in the markets today, the Dow, the NASDAQ and the S&P were all down, mostly on inflation fears. Investors will be keeping a close eye on the Consumer Price Index and jobless reports are due out this week.
Jack's in THE SITUATION ROOM. Let's go to jack in New York. Jack. CAFFERTY: Verizon and BellSouth are saying they didn't provide customer call information to the NSA. Meanwhile, a member of the Federal Communications Commission says the agency ought to investigate if companies broke the law? That's the question. Should the FCC investigate the phone companies allegedly involved in the NSA program?
Brad in Tampa writes, "Jack, let's not be gullible about this. The company's are saying they didn't give the information to the NSA. That doesn't preclude them from giving it to someone else."
Sandy in Thousand Oaks, California. "Absolutely. They should be investigated. How is it that Qwest could avoid giving the government the records of its users?"
Kelly in Indianapolis. "Yes. I work for the phone company. We have to annually sign a 'code of business conduct' that has privacy of communications sections. The company should have to follow the same conduct they require from their employees."
Dexter in Pennington Gap, Virginia. "I called Verizon the other day about my phone bill records being released to the NSA. I stated to the customer service representative that in order to keep me as a customer I required a statement for them saying that my account information would not be released to government agencies without a warrant. They said they are not willing to provide such a document. The customer service representative stated they were instructed to relay to their customers that they are not allowed to comment on matters of national security."
And Donna writes in Potsdam, New York. "Jack, you can't seriously think you could trust the FCC to police the NSA or any of the phone giants in this country, can you? Have you forgotten who pulls the strings behind the scenes?"
BLITZER: Jack, I'll see you tomorrow. Thanks very much. Still ahead. New hope to those squeezed in cubicles and fluorescent lighting at work. Our Miles O'Brien has a look into the future. You'll want to stick around for that.
BLITZER: A new study shows most people prefer to work for a mother rather than a non-mother. The survey by a women's networking agency says mothers are better listeners and more patient and are more able to motivate workers. Meanwhile, the workplace could use some fixing up. Let's go to our Miles O'Brien. Miles?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, a recent study shows the office cubicle has shrunk about 60 square feet since 2000. This could be one reason why people are so unhappy with their work environment. But a change could be on the horizon.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) O'BRIEN (voice-over): When it comes to office space, steel case designer James Ludwig is thinking out of cube. He's trying some new shapes and designs into office furniture.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's about bringing architecture, furniture and technology together in new ways to make their people more effective.
O'BRIEN: For noise control, how about a real life cone of silence, a la "Get Smart."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something is wrong with the cone of silence.
O'BRIEN: Step into the cell cell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The industrial felt is a sound absorption material and the ambient lighting is created by LED which also brightens when the space is occupied.
O'BRIEN: Need to collaborate with a coworker? Have a seat in the digital yurt. It reflects outside noise. The felt lined walls inside keeps conversation private.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When two people come together, decisions are made more quickly, they tend to be smarter and they tend to have deeper impact. Innovation flows more quickly through a network.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Ludwig and his team have to be sociologists as well as designers. They spend a lot of time learning how people interact at the office, but if they succeed, what would Dilbert have to complain about. Wolf?
BLITZER: Miles, thank you.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer here in THE SITUATION ROOM. The vice president's daughter Mary Cheney joins us tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM to talk about her stance on gay marriage, mistakes made in Iraq, the poll numbers involving her father.
Until then, thanks very much for joining us. Up next, PAULA ZAHN NOW. Paula is standing by in New York. Paula?
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