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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Clinton's Scathing Attacks Against Obama; Gaping Holes in Border Security; Tough New Laws Proposed for Illegal Aliens; Americans Struggle Through Housing Crisis
Aired March 6, 2008 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: Thank you, Wolf.
Tonight, the battle between Senators Clinton and Obama turning even uglier, the Clinton campaign accusing Obama of behaving like one of the Clinton's biggest foes historically, Kenneth Starr.
We'll have that, all the day's news and much more straight ahead.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Thursday, March 6. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
The Clinton campaign today launched a scathing new attack against Senator Obama. The Clinton campaign accusing Obama of imitating former independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr for his attacks on the Clintons, the Obama campaign calling that comparison absurd.
Meanwhile, Senator Obama is claiming victory in the latest battle over fund-raising, the Obama campaign saying it raised $55 million last month. We have extensive coverage of presidential politics tonight.
First, Mary Snow reporting on the intensifying battle between Clinton and Obama.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Her message was clear. Senator Hillary Clinton surrounded herself in the nation's capital with military officers who support her to try and make the case that she is best suited to be commander in chief. It's her latest attempt to raise doubt about Senator Barack Obama's national security credentials.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, I have said that Senator McCain will bring a life time of experience to the campaign. I will bring a lifetime of experience and Senator Obama will bring a speech that he gave in 2002.
SNOW: Obama argues his judgment is superior and says he sees no evidence Clinton is better equipped to handle a crisis. Wednesday he hinted he may take a more forceful approach toward Clinton.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She has made the argument she is thoroughly vetted in contrast to me. I think it's important to examine that argument.
SNOW: Obama's camp stepped up calls for Clinton to release tax returns, as well as papers while she was first lady. The Clinton camp has said it's working on releasing them. It has fired back comparing Obama to Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor who investigated the Clintons on Whitewater and impeachment of President Clinton.
A Clinton campaign memo states imitating Ken Starr is not the way to win the Democratic nomination. The Obama camp calls the comparison absurd, saying we don't believe that expecting candidates for the presidency to disclose their tax returns somehow constitutes Ken Starr tactics, but the kind of transparency and accountability that Americans are looking for and that's been missing in Washington for far too long. As Obama tries to regain ground, some political observers say he needs to be wary of how hard he fights.
STUART ROTHENBERG, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "THE ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Barack Obama's greatest strength is he talks about change and new politics bringing people together. If his message is too mean, if it's regarded as nasty and petty and just like every other political campaign message, I think it's going to hurt him.
SNOW: And questioned about his loses on Tuesday Obama tells ABC News tonight that his campaign did make some mistakes, saying it is inevitable during a course of a long campaign. It suggests his camp needs to do a better job answering Clinton's charges and says he also needs to stay focused on why he got into the race in the first place -- Wolf -- Lou -- sorry.
DOBBS: I'll be Lou today. All right. I know you've been working with Wolf a great deal.
Let me ask you this, Mary. The idea the Obama campaign spent just about twice what Senator Clinton did, for example, in Texas and had that kind of result that has got to have that campaign concerned.
SNOW: Absolutely, because the money factor is such a huge issue and the organization in both of these states was really being touted as something that could really help him win, so the fact that he didn't win with the organization and money definitely has them looking ahead at what they have to do differently.
DOBBS: Of course, if he can raise $55 million a month, you can make a lot of mistakes. Mary, thank you very much, Mary Snow.
The Obama campaign tonight says it raised even more money last month than originally reported. As I just said and as we alluded to at the outset, some $55 million comparing with the total of $35 million raised by Senator Clinton in February, but the Clinton campaign today said it has raised $4 million from 30,000 new donors just since the primary victories Tuesday.
The Democratic national leadership tonight is calling on party officials in both Florida and Michigan to come up with new plans to repeat their primaries. This time their delegates would presumably count in the convention.
Senator Clinton won both of those (INAUDIBLE) contests, but national leaders now saying the primaries don't count because local officials defied the national party rules. Democratic National Committee and National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today said every state must obey the rules.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Florida and Michigan basically have two choices. They can come back to the DNC with a set of delegate election procedures that do comply with the rules of the other 48 states honored or they can appeal to the Credential Committee of the Democratic National Convention.
That's their choice. We're delighted this conversation is taking place. It's not the voters' fault in Florida and Michigan that they didn't get included.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Well you know Howard dean is quite a fellow. You know I have to tell you, it's my opinion, it would be very interesting if the Democratic Parties of both Michigan and Florida were to say to Howard Dean, stick it and see how he like the idea of running a campaign for his party's nominee without the leadership and the voters of either those two states in this election. The Democratic National Committee getting a little big for its britches in this reporter's opinion.
Senator Bill Nelson of Florida today declared the party is facing the biggest train wreck ever if this dispute is not soon resolved. Senator McCain was in Florida today. He is there campaigning with Florida's Republican governor, Charlie Crist. McCain declined to answer questions about a possible running mate, preferring instead to attack his Democratic opponents.
Dana Bash has our report.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Holly's Diner (ph) in West Palm Beach, Florida, John McCain's first campaign stop as presumptive GOP nominee and he is readying for a fall fight here on Barack Obama.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know if he's naive or not, I know he's inexperienced.
BASH: The reality is McCain doesn't know his Democratic opponent will be and he admits their gripping high profile clash is a mixed blessing.
MCCAIN: I'm no longer in a competitive race and there will understandably be more attention to Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. But at the same time it does give me an opportunity to go around and shore up our basis support and unite our party. BASH: McCain's biggest challenge now is staying in the headlines, knowing that his advisers tell CNN they have a series of events planned to try. First, travel abroad, later this month McCain will go to Europe and meet with key allies and also go to the Middle East.
MCCAIN: I've spent my entire life addressing national security issues.
BASH: The goal, not just words but imagery of a leader comfortable on the world stage, hoping it provides a contrast to the Democrats' political brawl. Upon his return McCain advisers tell CNN they plan a tour touting his storied biography. Aides say voters may know he was a Vietnam prisoner of war, but they are eager to fill in the details in a campaign where they think voters are looking for inspiration.
MCCAIN: My background and my judgment allow me to do the thing that's most important for American, to inspire a generation of Americans to serve a cause greater than their self interests.
BASH: The spring tour will include stops like Annapolis and other places to help illustrate his life story and long lineage of military service.
BASH: The McCain camps also says they plan a series of policy speeches on everything from national security to health care to the economy and on the economy, that is probably going to be perhaps the most important speech that he gives, Lou, because it is something obviously that is the most important to voters right now, that is clear.
And it's also perhaps his biggest weak spot with in terms of the perception of the kind of leader he is going to be. We're also told that one of his top advisers and friends, former Texas Senator Phil Graham (ph) is already working on an economic plan that they hope to roll out very soon. We're not sure of the details yet, but they insist it's going to be, "bold" -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well that's -- bold is what this country needs right now. Whether or not it is bold and correct as well. You said something about a weak spot. What is the weak spot there?
BASH: It's interesting. You remember during the primaries Mitt Romney for example, was talking about the fact that he feels that John McCain even in the past has said things about the fact that he's not entirely as comfortable with the economy and his knowledge of economic issues as national security.
I was at a town hall with him in Waco, Texas the other day and a student stood up and said you know I'm worried about you as a leader on the economy because I care most about the economy. They understand that this is something that is absolutely the most important thing to voters right now. That's why they feel that he needs a very strong, very detailed economic plan -- Lou.
DOBBS: All right, Dana, thank you very much, Dana Bash.
Well as presidential candidates focused on domestic issues, a blunt reminder of the chaos and violence in the Middle East today. A terrorist in Jerusalem killed eight people at a Jewish religious school. Eight other people were wounded in the attack.
The gunman broke in to a library at the school and then opened fire on students and staff. The school is one of Israel's largest seminaries. The gunman was killed by Israeli security forces.
Also a deadly terrorist attack in Baghdad, two bombs killing 53 people, wounding 125 others, a roadside bomb exploded first in a crowded commercial district in Baghdad. A suicide bomber then detonated a second bomb when rescuers arrived on the scene.
Another of our troops has been killed in Iraq. The airman was killed when an Iraqi army helicopter crashed. One of our troops killed in Iraq so far this month. Twenty-nine killed last month -- 3,974 of our troops have been skilled since the war began -- 29,320 of our troops wounded, 13,109 of them seriously.
And police in New York tonight are hunting a suspect after a bomb attack on a military recruiting station in Times Square. The bomb exploded early in the morning. There were no casualties. The attack caught on video by a security camera. New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg said New York will not be intimidated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK CITY: Whoever the coward was that committed this disgraceful act on our city will be found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We will not tolerate such attacks nor will we let them destroy our freedom to live peacefully and safely in the greatest city in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Police say the suspect was riding a bicycle and was seen in the area just before the explosion. Tonight police in Washington are investigating letters about the bombing that were sent to offices on Capitol Hill, those letters reportedly include a claim of responsibility for the attack. We'll bring you more details on that as soon as they come in.
Also ahead, new evidence of the devastating impact of our housing crisis in this country.
Christine Romans will have the report for us -- Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Americans own less of their homes than ever before, so much for the American dream of record homeownership -- Lou.
DOBBS: Christine, thank you. We're looking forward to that report.
And our borders and ports remain wide open more than six years after September 11th. Is the Department of Homeland Security a complete abject failure? We'll have that special report on its fifth anniversary.
And you may find it hard to believe, but one California mayor has the temerity to declare his city a Dobbs-free zone. Imagine that. We'll tell you why. We'll have that story and a great deal more straight ahead.
Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: New charges that the Department of Homeland Security is failing to secure our nation's borders and ports. A government watchdog telling a House committee today that while there has been some improvement the Department of Homeland Security has mostly failed to implement measures aimed at safeguarding the American public. Casey Wian has our report.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Government Accountability Office reports to Congress that the Bush administration has improved border security, but challenges remain.
RICHARD STANA, GOVT. ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE: Vulnerability still exists and additional actions are required to address them.
WIAN: Five years after its creation, lawmakers are losing patience with the Department of Homeland Security.
REP. HAROLD ROGERS (R), KENTUCKY: So there are no more excuses. We all know the stakes. You know our expectations. It's time to succeed where others have failed.
WIAN: Failure still plaguing the Customs and Border Protection according to the GAO include weaknesses in travel inspection procedures have hampered CBP's ability to inspect travelers thoroughly and detect fraudulent documents. Also despite spending $250 million Homeland Security still hasn't demonstrated how it will verify that travelers have left the country.
And though there is, "fairly pervasive fraud" in the use of temporary border crossing cards for Mexican citizens, officers at ports of entry were not able to use the available fingerprint records of BCC (ph) holders to confirm the identity of travelers. Then there is the border fence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) can you meet the deadline we've set for you on building the fence and virtual fence for the end of the year?
GREG GIDDENS, EXEC. DIR., SECURE BORDER INITIATIVE: By the end of year, we're on track for the 370 miles of pedestrian fence and 300 miles of the vehicle fence and on the technology side we will be in production mode that we'll have the configuration of operational capability ready to move forward.
WIAN: Even border security progress has brought challenges.
RALPH BASHAM, CUSTOMS & BORDER PROTECTION COMM.: Our success is putting pressure on smugglers of illegal aliens and drugs. Since 2001, the number of assaults on border patrol agents has tripled. The bad guys will adapt and we must also adapt.
WIAN: The report also disclosed border patrol officials are concerned about their ability to provide sufficient field training for 6,000 new agents.
WIAN: To paraphrase Congressman Rogers, lawmakers have appropriated billions of dollars to secure the border and held countless hearings on border security. Now it's time he says to get the job down. A Customs and Border Protection spokesman says the agency is working urgently to address the issues raised in the GAO report -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, we have been covering this issue for some years here. Did the report at any point say how many -- the estimates of how many illegal aliens are crossing our borders, entering our ports every year? And have they done so over a period of years, filed such a report?
WIAN: No, that is still guess work to this day, Lou. The best guess they have...
DOBBS: You know what, Casey; I mean it's all guess work for the Department of Homeland Security, isn't it? They guess when they can build a fence. They guess why they can't. They guess at virtual fences. They guess where they are going to get money. They guess about where they're going to spend it and they keep guessing correctly about Congress. They guess they can tell Congress to go to hell and get away with it and they keep doing it.
WIAN: Yes, so far they seem to be able to do that, even though some of the congressmen at their hearing today sure sounded to me like they're pretty fed up and not going to take much of it any more.
DOBBS: Well, you know we do have an election coming up. And while a lot of course -- appropriately the focus is on the two Democratic candidates and now the Republican nominee, there are going to be a lot of other folks besides presidents up for -- presidential candidates up for election this year and I would have to believe that the American people are about to start sending some very strong signals to Washington on how they believe we should be governed in this country. They may even want to bring that consent of the govern thing, just try it out again, see if it will work better than what we're doing now. Thank you very much, Casey Wian.
Well Senate Republicans are taking a strong stand against illegal immigration, pushing ahead on 15 separate pieces of legislation that would top enforcement efforts at the borders and our ports. Those measures range from mandatory prison sentences for illegal aliens caught in this country to actually completing that fence along our border with Mexico.
Bill Tucker has our report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senate Republicans have lost their patience on immigration reform.
SEN. DAVID VITTER (R), LOUISIANA: We should be doing concrete important things to begin solving this problem immediately now, this year and not just wait for some far off comprehensive debate.
TUCKER: Towards that end 12 senators introduced 15 pieces of legislation Wednesday all with one central purpose to tighten enforcement of immigration law.
SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The only way to set up a legal system that works is to make sure we have a secure border.
TUCKER: The bills cover a lot of ground and would among other things improve cooperation between local law enforcement and federal agencies, tighten employment verification, deny federal monies to cities with sanctuary policies, deny federal dollars to states which issue drivers' licenses to illegal aliens, set a deadline for completing the fence along the southern border. It's not likely the bills will ever get a vote on the floor.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: There are a lot of people I've been referring to as masters of the universe that know better than we do that they are going to patronize those of us who really want a lawful system and they'll say they're for it, but in the end their actions speak louder than their words.
TUCKER: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid takes exception with that and his office issued this statement: "Senator Reid continues to support comprehensive immigration reform legislation. This falls far short of the solution America needs" and he made no commitment to bring any of the bills to the floor for a vote.
Senator Kennedy dismissed the senators as, "catering to the far- right fringe."
TUCKER: Now there's plenty of action on the House side as well. There are efforts to bring Democratic Representative Heath Shuler's (ph) Save Act HR4088 (ph) to the floor for a vote. The bill focuses on enforcement, but Speaker Pelosi is said to be determined to block a vote on that bill.
It seems, Lou, that the Democratic leadership simply does not want its members on record in an election year on any piece of immigration legislation.
DOBBS: But they're on record Senator Reid and House Speaker Pelosi are on record as denying the will of the people and denying the opportunity to secure those borders. What the American people and I mean -- by the way this nonsense from Reid about the far right, was it Pelosi.
DOBBS: They're all on the left fringe or whatever. But that far right fringe nonsense...
DOBBS: I would just like to commend to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid and of course the, aghast, Senator Ted Kennedy on this issue. If the three of you had had just the simply decency and comprehension rather -- the comprehension to deal with the issue of the security at our borders and our ports three years ago, the borders would be secured, the ports would be secured and we could have an intelligent and informed national debate about the reform of immigration law in this country.
But you chose to try, the three of you, and a few others including the president of the United States to try run this game on the American people and they threw it back in your face. They'll throw it in your face again and there will be an accounting at the polls. Take to it the bank, and why not do the decent thing.
If you really care about the illegal aliens in this country and creating a rational effective humane program to deal with them. Then why in the world will you not secure these borders? Why will you not secure these borders when Mexico is the principle source of methamphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin into this country? Why will you not secure our borders and our ports when we are in a global war on terror?
It is unconscionable what is happening in Washington D.C. and to disregard these arrogant elites, Pelosi, Reid and Kennedy have for the American people. Bill, thank you very much. Bill Tucker.
Well, the mayor of Santa Cruz, California, has a little problem with me apparently. Mayor Ryan Coonerty has issued the proclamation calling for what in Santa Cruz is called at least in the city council a Lou Dobbs-free month. You see the mayor says I was too critical of his congressman, Sam Farr, a Democrat from Santa Cruz. I was critical of him last week after the congressman referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as in his judgment of his constituent's perception of ICE as being Gestapo like. I said that probably was not the nicest thing they could have said. I asked even, you know where was the A.D.L., a host of other groups because that's really hate speech, isn't it?
And I said to Congressman Farr, why don't you come on here and we'll talk about it and discuss it. Well the mayor now is accusing me of doing less than conducting a public discourse at the level he would wish, but has no problem supporting Congressman Farr for his divisive and offensive language.
We asked Mayor Connerty to join us and he said that my criticism was in his view sensational journalism. And the mayor also added that the proclamation was tongue-in-cheek. He does agree with my position on America's middle class and corporate corruption you'll be pleased to know. We've invited him here. I hope he will join us.
And we'll sort this thing out. By the way, Congressman Farr, you know come on, come on down. You don't need the mayor of Santa Cruz to take your back. You can come up like a big boy and sit down here and we'll talk about a few things like using the expression Gestapo like when referring to you as federal law enforcement agents.
Coming up next, rising opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement, this time from one of Canada's leading political leaders. He's our guest.
And the housing crisis in this country is deepening new evidence that Americans own less of their homes than every before. We'll have that report and more.
Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: President Bush told us that this was the ownership society. For years, record homeownership was touted as a sign that our middle class is strong, but now homeownership rates are falling, foreclosures are skyrocketing and hitting record levels and for the first time since 1945, homeowners in this country own less of their homes than they owe to banks. Christine Romans has our report.
ROMANS (voice-over): Americans own less of their homes than ever before. Not even half of the house is paid for. It's the latest sign of decline in middle class wealth since the home is most Americans' largest asset.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people are in really bad trouble right now.
ROMANS: He's referring to new data from the Federal Reserve that show for the first time Americans debt on their home exceeds their equity. What we actually own has tumbled over the past four years from almost 54 percent to less than 48 percent by the end of last year.
DEAN BAKER, CTR. FOR ECON. POLICY: That is not that big a deal maybe if we're talking about a family in their 20s or early 30s. But we know we have this huge baby boom cohort at the edge of retirement, they for the most part don't have traditional defined benefit pensions, they don't have a lot of money in 401(k)s. What they had was equity in their home and in many cases that's just disappeared.
ROMANS: Some people use their homes as piggy banks for years, paying for cars, tuition, basic living expenses. Some used new kinds of mortgages that allowed them to put so little money down, they essentially own nothing. A disaster when home prices fall.
PROF. LAURA TYSON, UC BERKELEY: We're in a vicious downward spiral of declining home prices, increasing foreclosures, increasing foreclosures causing increasing asset pressure in the financial institutions, financial institutions cutting back on all sorts of credit and that in turn leading to declining housing prices.
ROMANS: A record 900,000 homes are in foreclosure according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. And more people are at least 30 days late with their mortgage payments, the highest rate since 1985.
ROMANS: Now the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates aggressively. Billions of dollars and fiscal stimulus is on the way, but some economists and congressional Democrats say it is just not enough and Lou, the housing situation, when you look at these numbers, it's worsening by the day.
DOBBS: Seemingly so and as we reported here a contest now, a conflict between the administration and Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Fed and the Fed itself over the measures that need to be taken to rescue homeowners who are -- who have been defrauded by mortgage companies, by appraisers, by brokerages and who have been really defrauded by this illusion that these markets the were being regulated. That these financial institutions were being regulated.
ROMANS: I tell you the men and women working on the ground, talking to people, trying to keep them staying in their homes, they are pulling their hair out, they are trying to help people and the programs that are out there are not moving quickly enough for what's happening there on the industry.
DOBBS: And what we're going to find is we're going to find, unfortunately, is we're going to find as this is being sorted out that the treasury secretary didn't know what he was doing, that the Fed didn't know what he was doing. That the regulators, the FDIC, the controller of the currency. None of them, none of them were doing as they should and we are paying.
And unfortunately, our middle class families in the country, working men and women and their families are paying the price because of the illusion of the administration, the illusory nature of the economic policies that were not to regulate the very institutions that take advantage of both markets and American citizens.
ROMANS: It record homeownership if you own so little of the home?
DOBBS: It's terrible. It is absolutely horrible. And we're going to see this pain, unfortunately I'm sure it's going to deepen and to widen for millions and millions of Americans. What frightens me is we are depending on what is really a void in leadership in Washington, D.C. Regulatory and in the administration's political and economic leadership.
Thank you very much, Christine Romans.
In our poll tonight, the question is: Do you believe the state of our economy is improving or worsening? We would love to hear what your perceptions are. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have those results here late in the broadcast.
Time to take a look at some of your thoughts.
Ron in Virginia saying: "Why in the world do we have to wait for a new president to be elected to change or get rid of our failed trade agreements. Why isn't our existing Congress - that would include Hillary, Obama and McCain doing something about them now?" Good question.
And Karen in Texas: "Lou, thank you for giving a voice for those of us who want it told like it is rather than how the bipartisan PC machine is churning it out. I've been a Democrat and now thanks to you consider myself a populist."
And Smiling Sam as he calls himself in San Diego: "Dear Lou, at the behest of my neighbor I recently began watching LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. Now your show is Numero Uno in my household and I am happy to say you easily convinced me to deep six my elephant registration and become a proud Lou Dobbs Independent."
Welcome and congratulations. We'll have more of our thoughts here later. Each of you whose e-mail is read will receive a copy of my book, "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit."
And I want to you join me for my new radio show, "The LOU DOBBS SHOW." A new three hour radio broadcast. We kicked it off this week. It is going great. We're having fun and taking to a lot of wonderful listeners. Go to loubdobbs.com to find local listings for "THE LOU DOBBS SHOW" on the radio.
Two American companies now facing charges for importing toxic toothpaste from communist China. The companies are accused of selling more than 70,000 tubes of toxic toothpaste containing a chemical used in of all things antifreeze. Meanwhile, the Senate has passed legislation to toughen inspection of toys made overseas. The bill also gives money to the embattled Consumer Products Safety Commission and bans lead in children's toys.
Imagine that. And the very idea, I guess, -- I guess those consumer agency folks will have to take the money if Congress demands it and actually hire more staff instead of cutting back staff and cutting back budgets as they have now for years. This legislation comes after recalls of millions of toys made in communist China.
Up next, many lawmakers have had a bellyful of the Bush administration - I know that they are in good company -- and the administration's efforts to outsource our defense and jobs to foreign companies has just about got us just about at the end of our wits with this outfit.
One of the lawmakers outraged and doing something about it is Senator Patty Murray. She'll be our guest. And Venezuela's leftist strongman Hugo Chavez is refusing to back down in his confrontation with Colombia. We'll have a special report.
And rising opposition to NAFTA. A treaty that has been a boon to big business and a devastating blow to working men and women and their families in this country. A leading Canadian opponent of NAFTA joins us here.
Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: The Air Force tomorrow, will explain why it granted a $40 billion military tanker contract to Europe's consortium that builds the Airbus and not to Boeing.
Senator Patty Murray from Washington State, representing many Boeing employees as her constituents, and she like many Americans outraged over this decision.
Senator, good to have you with us. Senator, what in the world is going on down there?
SEN. PATTY MURRAY, (D) WA: This is unbelievable to me. I was out on the floor with the Boeing workers on the line Friday afternoon when this was announced and just the unbelievable look in their eyes as they said to me, how can I be paying tax dollars, my own money, and it's going to go to a company overseas to build the planes that I know how to build. What is going on?
DOBBS: We talked about free trade before as it's practiced by this administration and the previous. You're a free trader, right?
MURRAY: I voted for trade agreements but I believe in enforcing them. And that's one of the problems with this deal ...
DOBBS: I have to say to you. We haven't enforced a trade agreement in the country in 30 years, we are being run over by the people acting in their national interests, in the interest of their employees and this government and both political parties continue to ignore the American worker. Is it finally a place to draw the line, senator?
MURRAY: I think this is a serious place to draw the line. First of all, we have trade outstanding agreement - against - in the WTO against Airbus right now because of unfair subsidies. So on one hand we're filing a trade agreement against them and on the other hand giving them $40 billion. That doesn't make sense to me.
And also we have to be asking, when are we going to stop outsourcing our military capability and realize we're putting our own security in some other country's hands and I think the line is drawn in the sand now and Congress needs to make that decision.
DOBBS: Congress needs to make that decision. This administration needs to make that decision. Every union in the country should be saying to you in my judgment in Congress, in both parties, they have had a bellyful of the nonsense.
We have international trade in this country since our founding. Now some geniuses with multinationals have come up with an expression, multinational globalization. The reality is, we have been sold a pile of goods that is absolutely incredible that an intelligent nation with our absolute depth of knowledge and our expertise, our innovation, our spirit, we are being literally rolled over by idiots in this U.S. trade representatives office, this White House and the previous.
MURRAY: Well, Lou, if we lose our on capability, our workers with the know-how, our ability to bring a plane off line, it's not going to just be gone just for a year or two. Once we lose that infrastructure, it's gone forever. Ten, 15, 20 years from now if we find ourselves in an international conflict and need to be able to call on our military in a very strong way and can't do it, that's going to be our fault.
DOBBS: Are you ready to impeach this president if he goes ahead with it?
MURRAY: I'm certainly ready to call on Congress to take a major discussion and to make a decision on whether or not we, the leaders today, are going to allow our military capability to be lost.
DOBBS: How about to recall of the Democratic leadership of the House and the Senate who are not standing up right now for American workers and saying this will not do? It will not happen?
MURRAY: I invite all of your listeners to go on our Web site and sign our petition. We are asking everyone to help us make the case that America is not going to stand still for this and we need everybody's voice.
DOBBS: We have got that up now, your Web site -- Murray.senate.gov/tankers with a petition, a number of congressman and a number of senators now doing so. Senator Murray, we thank you for taking your leadership on this.
At some point, you folks in Congress have got to understand this is not a game for this nation anymore and I mean both political parties. Senator, I know you're doing your best. This free trade nonsense is as it's being practiced is devastating.
MURRAY: Lou, it's an economic question and it is a security question for our nation as well.
DOBBS: I would say to you without a strong economy we can't muster a strong defense.
DOBBS: Thank you, ma'am. Senator Patty Murray, go get them.
MURRAY: I will.
DOBBS: Thank you.
Up next, NAFTA is under attack by somebody besides me. We'll be talking with one of Canada's leading political leaders, a longstanding opponent of NAFTA.
And five years after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the government, this may shock you, they still haven't secured the borders and ports. I'll be talking with Congressman Lamar Smith about that.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Let's take a different perspective on NAFTA if we may tonight, this one the Canadian perspective. At least one Canadian perspective and one major Canadian political party that adamantly is opposed to the trade agreement and to the threat of the North American Union.
Jack Layton is the leader of Canada's New Democratic Party and he joins us tonight from Ottawa.
Jack, great to have you with us.
JACK LAYTON, CANADA'S NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEADER: Good to be with you, Lou.
DOBBS: The Canadian perspective, on NAFTA a lot of grumbling here and a lot of talk if it should be omitted in our presidential contest as well. Your thoughts?
LAYTON: We think NAFTA is not working well for working families and the middle class. I will just give you a couple examples. Here in Canada we have lost a third of a million jobs in the last three years in the manufacturing sector. The kind of jobs that allow people to pay a mortgage, to raise their kids, to make contributions to the local hockey team -- we love hockey here in Canada, and really to the backbone and to the community. And they're now finding the jobs that are available when they get laid off -- out of these plants because their jobs have now been sent off to a far-off land where wages are one one-hundredth of what they are here -- the kind of jobs they can find in Canada are minimum wage.
They can't pay their mortgages, they are really struggling and I know many American workers are finding exactly the same thing. I think it's time we made a little common cause and make sure the trade deals are working for the people who make the economy work.
DOBBS: I think most Americans would not pay attention a great deal to the fact Canada is a parallel, if you will, universe in terms of these agreements. When you talk about a third of a million jobs, that goes beyond just NAFTA, that goes to Canada's overall trade policies, does it not?
LAYTON: Yes it does. Just to give you some examples. We ship raw logs from our forest all the way over to China where they are turned into products and they come back and we buy them. We even find sometimes the products don't meet our standards our here. I heard you talking about toxic toothpaste in the U.S.
We've been facing toxic toys here in Canada. There goes the jobs. The trees go and they take the jobs with them and I know the West Coast is experiencing many of the same things. We need some fair and sustainable trade. That's what we've got to put together.
DOBBS: What a wonderful expression. Fair and sustainable trade. In other words, Jack, let me say, I think many people, are surprised as they listen to you talking about the problems with NAFTA from your perspective, those are precisely what we're doing now.
We're sending timber and bringing back lumber. We're exporting soybeans and scrap and taking in computers from China. The principle source of our computers, our consumer electronics and we look like a third world country for crying out loud.
LAYTON: It's these multinational organizations under this so- called phrase globalization feel they can consume and produce in their own interests. And they are certainly doing very well by it but it leaves a lot of people behind and that's why we think a renegotiation of trade should take place and today in Washington, our trade critic, Peter Julian was there from our party working with Congress members and legislators from Mexico to set up a working group to set up a working group. That is a bit of good news today.
DOBBS: Real quickly, we are out of time. Jack Layton, Mr. Brodie, the prime minister's chief of staff, some talk about him being the source of that leak of Obama-gate as it is called here? Your reaction?
LAYTON: I asked the prime minister today in the House of Commons to apologize to the American people for this kind of interference on the democratic process in the U.S. It's not right, he hasn't yet apologized and he hasn't yet fired the source of the leak. So we'll keep working on that on our end.
DOBBS: It's nice and it's absolutely reassuring, Jack Layton, to find that politics are not just a mess here but occasionally up north. We thank you for taking time with us and hope you'll come back soon as we discuss these important issues for working men and women and their families and both candidates and the United States and Mexico for that matter.
LAYTON: For sure, Lou. Take care.
DOBBS: Thank you. You too.
Up next here, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez at it again. Moving troops up to the border with Colombia, maybe he intends to use them. We'll have that report.
And five years since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security a few questions remain like why aren't our borders and ports secure? I'll be talking with Congressman Lamar Smith about that.
We're coming right back. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Five years after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, DHS still isn't even close to meeting its goals to secure our borders or to stop illegal immigration and the House Judiciary Committee yesterday grilled the secretary of that department, Michael Chertoff about his lack of progress.
Congressman Lamar Smith, chief among the critics, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Smith joins us tonight from Washington.
Congressman Smith, your reaction to what Secretary Chertoff had to say about why the fence isn't up?
REP. LAMAR SMITH, (R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: First of all, Lou, good to be you with tonight and your viewers as well. I was a little disappointed that the secretary does not emphasize the need for the double fencing. We passed the Secure Fence Act last year.
It was enacted into law. It called for 700 miles of fence but only about 35 miles or so of double fencing is actually going to be built. I don't think the pedestrian fencing or the vehicle barriers comes anywhere near to being the deterrent that a double fence is. We know a double fence works. We've had it in San Diego for a number of years. It's 99.5 percent effective.
DOBBS: That's absolutely true. Let's listen to exactly what Secretary Chertoff had to say about fencing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL CHERTOFF, SECRETARY, DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I can tell you. People go through the fencing. The go over the fencing. They go under the fencing. It doesn't mean the fencing doesn't have value. It slows people up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Is he being a wise guy?
SMITH: First of all, slowing people is still progress. But of course, very few people actually go over or through the fence. There are very few instances of that. There's no other kind of device or fence or obstacle that we could have that would be as good as double fencing and certainly it is better than the small pedestrian fencing or the vehicle barriers as the double fencing. We need to have a real fence if we're really serious about reducing illegal immigration.
And by the way, even though the administration has plans for 770 miles of fence, they don't have plans for the other 1,300 mills of border. So we need to have security along the entire border.
DOBBS: Congressman, you didn't really answer me, when I asked this. Is Michael Chertoff being a smart aleck?
SMITH: I think he is representing the administration's point of view and had we had more time we could have asked more questions and I think anybody would have had to have answered that is double fence is better than other types of lower fencing or smaller fencing.
DOBBS: Is there any hope for the government, Congressman Smith? To the world, we look like a bunch of the idiots. We can't run a trade policy. We are just now sorting out ourselves in the terms of the war in the Iraq.
Afghanistan is going badly. We seem to always be surprised. We are talking about a global war on terror and we can't secure our borders or our parts. Should we just shut down 1600 Pennsylvania and Capitol Hill and ask you folks to go home and we'll send back a bunch of folks who really care about the country and want to get something done?
SMITH: Well, I have to say, although I am critical of our having not done enough, and the administration does need to do more. Nevertheless we are making progress. We have more Border Patrol agents than we've had in past years. We need to have more. And we do have some fencing, which is more than we had a couple years ago so we are going the right direction, we just need to do more and do better.
DOBBS: Get some spurs, some rowls (ph) and go get them.
SMITH: We'll do it.
DOBBS: Being from Texas, you ought to be able to get that done without any trouble at all.
We thank you for being here. Congressman Lamar Smith. SMITH: Good to be with you.
DOBBS: Up at the top of the hour, The "ELECTION CENTER" and Suzanne Malveaux.
Suzanne, tell us all about it.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Lou.
CNN ELECTION CENTER at the top of the hour. We're looking at the potential for something that can completely shake up the Clinton/Obama race; that is new primaries in Florida and Michigan.
And we've also been investigating Barack Obama's record as a state senator in Illinois and we can't help but notice all the advice John McCain is getting about a running mate.
All of that and much, much more at the top of the hour.
DOBBS: Thanks, Suzanne. We're going to look forward to that.
The last known living World War I veteran. Honored at the White House today. Are you ready? One hundred and seven year old Frank Buckles (ph) lied about his age to join the Army when he was just 16 years old. That got him into World War I.
Buckles went on to serve and transport detail for German prisoners of war. And today's White House event is one in a series of events honoring the veterans of World War I. Frank Buckles, outstanding. We salute you.
Up next, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. You are not going to believe this. He is making some threats. We'll have that report.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Hugo Chavez today cut Venezuelan trade ties with Colombia after he moved thousands of his troops to the border with Colombia and Nicaragua today joining Venezuela and Ecuador in cutting off diplomatic ties with Colombia, a close ally of this country.
As Kitty Pilgrim reports now, Colombian and American officials doing their best to downplay the chance of all-out war.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Latin America today, tensions high as people in four countries protested a raid by Colombia troops into Ecuador. Raul Reyes, leader of the terrorist group FARC, was killed.
In Venezuela, protesters also condemning the United States, Colombia's ally in the region. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez seems determined to start a war with Colombia. First putting thousands of troops on the border, cutting off trade ties and now calling Colombia President Uribe a war criminal.
PRES. HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELA (through translator): One who will be convicted here is not Hugo Chavez, it is Alvaro Uribe as a war criminal. A war criminal because he said, and has repeated, that he assumes all responsibility for the operation.
PILGRIM: The government of Colombia is also not backing off, saying they will prosecute Chavez in international criminal court for financially supporting FARC. The proof is in a laptop obtained in the raid.
RAFAEL GUARIN, LAWYER: The Colombian government has the evidence suggesting a relationship of sponsorship, support and protection by Hugo Chavez.
PILGRIM: In Washington, reporters were surprised by the passive stance of the State Department, where the spokesman said the focus of Secretary Rice's upcoming trip to the region will be on trade, and not on the brewing conflicts.
TOM CASEY, STATE DEPARTMENT: I would expect that it would be a subject that came up. But, I certainly wouldn't expect it to dominate the conversation.
PILGRIM: President Bush is also using the conflict to push the free trade agreement with Colombia. On trade issue that has no escaped the notice of the Justice Department is arms dealer Viktor Bout who was arrested today and will be extradited to the United States on charges of conspiracy to sell surface-to-air missiles to the Colombian rebels, known as FARC.
PILGRIM: Now, FARC has been designated by the State Department as a terrorist organization since 2003. And officials beleiev that Viktor Bout conspired to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to FARC -- Lou.
DOBBS: And the United States State Department with Tom Casey spokesman said, the subject might come up?
PILGRIMS: Might come up. They were roundly criticized by the press/ They said they were being passive.
DOBBS: Do they have adrenaline shots they can give those people?
PILGRIMS: I think it's necessary at this point.
DOBBS: Do they have -- they need a pulse. Something is wrong with those people. We should have a complete investigation. I would love to see the profiles, the psychological profiles. Sort of personality flatliners, I guess you could call them.
The results of our poll tonight, only 98 percent of you say the state of our economy is worsening. Are you listening, Mr. Bush?
We thank you for listening. Thanks for being with us. Join us here tomorrow. Thanks for watching. Good night from New York.
The "ELECTION CENTER" with Suzanne Malveaux begins right now -- Suzanne.
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