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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Republicans Try to Limit Damage Over E-mail Scandal; Gunman Kills Three in Pennsylvania School; Voter Outrage Over E-Voting Grows
Aired October 2, 2006 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Republicans urgently trying to limit the political damage from the e-mail scandal involving teenage pages and a former congressman on Capitol Hill. We will have that special report and political analysis.
And a gunman killed at least three students at an Amish school in Pennsylvania today -- seven other people wounded. We will have a live report for you from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania -- all of that and a great deal more ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Monday, October 2.
Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
House Republican leaders today insist they knew nothing about explicit Internet messages between former Congressman Mark Foley and teenage pages on Capitol Hill. The FBI is trying to tonight to determine whether Foley committed a crime. If Foley is charged, he could be prosecuted under some of the very laws he helped write.
Meanwhile, the White House is trying to distance itself from this scandal, as it tries to deflect new questions about the president's conduct of the war in Iraq.
White House officials insist they did not mislead the American people about the progress of the war.
Andrea Koppel tonight reports from Capitol Hill on the latest developments in the scandal over former Congressman Foley. Brian Todd reports from Washington on the way lawmakers and other groups associated with Foley have tried to limit the damage from this scandal. And Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House on the Bush administration's efforts to deflect new criticism of the president's management of the war in Iraq.
We turn first to Andrea Koppel -- Andrea.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Democrats are charging an election-year cover-up, while House Republican leaders have gone to extraordinary length to do damage control.
Speaker Hastert, over the weekend, in a highly unusual memo, fired off a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, asking him to not only conduct an investigation into Congressman Foley's activities, but also to open an investigation into the activities of House members, including the leadership.
This is just one measure as to just how concerned Republicans are with just five weeks to go before those hotly contested midterm elections.
Today, Speaker Hastert sat down with me in an interview. He told me -- he insisted, in fact -- that the first time he had learned of these e-mail exchanges between that 16-year-old page and Congressman Foley was last Friday. That directly disputes what we have heard from the head of the Republican Congressional Committee, Tom Reynolds, Republican of New York, who maintains that he told Speaker Hastert about the exchange back in the spring.
Either way, Lou, the situation as it stands right now is that Speaker Hastert been meeting with the chairman of the House Page Board to try to devise new rules, new regulations, to ensure this doesn't happen again, including a 1-800 number for family members, pages, friends to call in a confidential manner to report any exchanges.
At the same time, you have the Democratic member -- it's a three- member board -- the Democratic congressman, who says he's been a part of it for 21 years, saying that this is a first time in recent memory that he ever recalls what he says not just a nonpartisan issue, but the fact that it's been made into a partisan matter, the fact that he has been excluded from these discussions -- Lou.
DOBBS: Andrea, to be clear, Congressman Reynolds said that he had told Hastert; Hastert denies that?
KOPPEL: Hastert says he has no recollection. He doesn't remember that this happened. He says that -- that Congressman Reynolds came in, was discussing a whole range of issues. And I asked him why he wouldn't recall what a 16-year-old page was saying to a member of Congress. And he says he just doesn't remember -- Lou.
DOBBS: Andrea, thank you very much -- Andrea Koppel.
The Republican Party is trying urgently to limit the political disaster as a result of this abrupt resignation of former Congressman Mark Foley -- members of Congress and organizations associated with the former congressman struggling to keep up with what is a rapidly changing information stream about Foley's conduct.
Brian Todd now reports from Washington -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is one of those organizations. It's answering questions today about its relationship with Mark Foley.
Those questions stem from a statement the center issued on Friday in the hours after Foley resigned. This first one -- quote -- "Congressman Mark Foley's resignation is a great loss to Florida and the nation. He has been a hardworking, dedicated and effective Congressman. He will be missed." But the next day, Saturday, a much more toughly worded statement from the center, calling the allegations against Foley deeply troubling and -- quote -- "If it is determined that he has engaged in acts which have harmed children or put them in jeopardy, like any other person, he must be held accountable. If he has violated the law, he should be prosecuted."
Still, it's that first statement that has upset one prominent children's advocate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARC KLAAS, PRESIDENT, BEYOND MISSING: When a member of Congress is caught with his hand in the cookie jar, they can't even come out with a statement that's appropriate for the moment.
I mean, it then becomes about their relationship with Congress. They're so concerned about not ruffling feathers that they can't even say that it's wrong for a congressman to be exploiting, sexually exploiting, pages.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Now, Congressman Foley does have a history with that group. He had worked with the center to produce legislation this summer to protect kids from predators.
But I asked Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, about Marc Klaas' charge that his group has been too close to Foley and other congressmen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERNIE ALLEN, CEO, NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN: We worked with Democrats and Republicans. We worked with the House and the Senate. And that has always been our approach, and will continue to be.
TODD: But, when a parent, someone who goes to your Web site, who looks to your group for guidance, sees the first statement and says, "Wow, that's really -- what's going on here?" how would you respond to that person?
ALLEN: I think what parents need to understand is that the statement reflected the facts as we knew them at the time. And, when the facts changed, we changed the statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: So, why issue that first statement at all?
Well, Allen says they were besieged with media calls on Friday, and felt they had to be responsive. But he admits he probably issued that first statement too quickly.
One important note: Marc Klaas has a longstanding dispute with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He accuses the center of stealing his idea for Web-based fliers. Ernie Allen denies that, saying the center came up with the idea first. And, also, for transparency, last year, CNN partnered with the National Center to run pictures and information about children missing from Hurricane Katrina -- Lou.
DOBBS: Brian, thank you -- Brian Todd reporting from Washington.
I want to share with you now a quote in this story that we think is very instructive. The quote is: "It's vile. It's more than -- it's more sad than anything else to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain because of a sexual addiction."
That was Mark Foley quoted in "The Saint Petersburg Times" in Florida eight years ago -- Foley with strong opinions about then President Clinton during the scandal over Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Former Congressman Foley, of course, built his career in introducing legislation to protect children from sexual predators.
Later here in the broadcast, we will examine Republican efforts to limit the political damage of this scandal and the possible impact on the upcoming elections. I will be talking with former White House political director Ed Rollins.
The White House tonight is trying to deflect major new questions about the president's conduct of the war in Iraq. White House officials are strongly denying assertions by Bob Woodward that President Bush misled the American people about the direction of the war in Iraq. Officials say the president has been blunt about the difficulties faced by our troops.
Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Explosive charges from Bob Woodward's "State of Denial" has launched the White House into full damage-control mode.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The fundamental question about whether the president is -- quote -- "in denial," flat wrong, absolutely wrong.
MALVEAUX: Woodward accuses the Bush administration of being in a state of denial over its failures regarding in his book and on CBS News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 MINUTES")
BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "STATE OF DENIAL": It is the oldest story in the coverage of government, the failure to tell the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: The truth, Woodward says, is that the violence in Iraq is much worse than what the president and his administration have been telling the American people. He points to an upbeat speech Mr. Bush delivered last May.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People will look back on the formation of the unity government in Iraq as a decisive moment in the story of liberty, a moment when freedom gained a firm foothold in the Middle East, and the forces of terror began their long retreat.
MALVEAUX: But Woodward says, just two days after this address, the Pentagon provided the White House with secret intelligence that painted a much bleaker picture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 MINUTES")
WOODWARD: Next year's 2007...
MIKE WALLACE, CBS NEWS: ... is going to get worse. And, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon saying, oh, no, things are going to get better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: To blunt the political fallout from the book, the White House tried to present the president as above the fray.
SNOW: He's not going to come out and say: Oh, by the way, I'm not in denial.
How stupid is that?
MALVEAUX: But others in the administration were quick to respond with adamant denials. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refuted Woodward's claim that, two months before the September 11 attacks, she brushed off an urgent warning by then CIA Director George Tenet that al Qaeda was poised to attack.
She said, "The idea that I would somehow have ignored that, I find incomprehensible."
(on camera): President Bush is fund-raising for Republicans along the West Coast for the next couple of days. The White House is eager to change the subject, away from Woodward's book and the Iraq war, and back on to the broader war on terror, an area where Republicans perform well.
Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.
DOBBS: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld insists he's paying little attention to the political uproar caused by Woodward's book. Rumsfeld says President Bush personally called him to express his support. Rumsfeld also said he has no intention on resigning.
Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Monday finds Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld meeting with defense ministers in Managua, Nicaragua, even inspecting a volcano, far from the political eruption at home.
Back in D.C., "The Washington Post" headlined Bob Woodward's latest Bush excerpt "Should He Stay?" and ran a low-angle picture of Rumsfeld looking imperious. But Rumsfeld told reporters traveling with him President Bush has given him yet another vote of confidence, something the White House promptly confirmed.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think what the president simply wanted to do is, given all the press attention and everything that has been going on, to say: Don, I still have faith in you, and I support you.
MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld, a former White House chief of staff himself, says it's perfectly understandable that Andy Card would want to make changes after Bush's reelection. In fact, he told reporters: "At the end of the term, I went up to Andy Card and Josh Bolten and said that no is indispensable, and you ought to fashion your next term in the way that makes the most sense. That's not resigning, but it's certainly opening the door."
If Rumsfeld ruffled feathers, he told CNN's Frank Sesno, it's because he was doing the president's bidding.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Basically, the president wanded things changed. I understand his instructions. And we have set about that task. I also understand that, when you do change things, that it's hard for people.
MCINTYRE: So, when some of the president's men wanted to dump Rumsfeld, Bush vetoed the idea.
SNOW: You want to make sure that everybody's got fresh legs for a second term. And the president took a cold look at it and still supports Don Rumsfeld.
MCINTYRE: In an interview with the traveling press, Rumsfeld dismissed Woodward's contention that Rumsfeld would not return phone calls from then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, when she had questions about war planning or troop deployments.
"That's nonsense," he said. "We certainly discussed 100 things over the phone, I suppose, for almost every morning for years."
Would he resign?
"No. How many times do I have to answer no?"
And he cut off further questions in classic Rumsfeldian fashion. "Is that all you guys do, is read these books?" he quipped. "You ought to get a life." (END VIDEOTAPE)
MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld says he has not read Bob Woodward's previous two books. He doesn't plan to read this one either.
Meanwhile, General John Abizaid, the U.S. central commander, who is quoted in the book as indicating he doesn't believe Rumsfeld has credibility to speak about the war, issued a statement through a spokesman today, denying that he has anything but the highest respect for his boss -- Lou.
DOBBS: That's one way to say it. Would you take that as a categorical denial? Does he also deny telling John Murtha that -- that General Abizaid and Murtha are just about this far apart on their views of what's happening in Iraq?
MCINTYRE: Well, the -- the spokesman said that the -- the context of that was unclear, and that they disputed the characterization in the book that indicated that Abizaid was disputing his boss when he was agreeing on a point with Murtha.
But -- but we haven't been able to get them to parse the language.
DOBBS: Yes, unfortunately, the parsing, but if the language is straightforward, and if Bob Woodward can back that up with his tapes, which apparently are causing some considerable concern there in the nation's capital, I find that to be one of the most compelling elements of Bob Woodward's reporting on this issue, that General Abizaid, in his role, would be speaking, as he did, privately to Bob Woodward, but not straightforwardly to the -- the chain of command and to the American people about his misgivings of this conduct.
Jamie, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Excellent report -- Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.
In Iraq, five of our troops have been killed over the past two days. Three Marines were killed in Al-Anbar Province west of Baghdad. Two soldiers were killed in the Baghdad area. Last month, 71 of our troops were killed in Iraq, the highest monthly total since last April; 2,719 American troops have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of this war.
Still ahead: Congress fails to take what could be the single most effective action to help stop illegal immigration. We will have that report, and hundreds of democracy activists meeting to discuss the threat to the integrity of our election system from e-voting machines.
And a gunman with a 20-year-old grudge kills three young students at an Amish school in Pennsylvania. We will have that live report upcoming here next.
Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Congress has approved construction of a new 700-mile fence along our 2,000-mile-long border with Mexico. But as Congress is congratulating itself and heading home for campaigns for the upcoming midterm elections, our illegal alien crisis is worsening.
Casey Wian tonight reports on our government's continued failure to take what some consider to be the most meaningful action possible, that is against employers of illegal aliens in this country. And Bill Tucker reports on Houston's sudden policy shift on the issue of illegal immigration, after the murder of a veteran police officer by an illegal alien.
We begin tonight with Casey Wian -- Casey.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, there are an estimated seven million illegal aliens now working in the United States. Neither they, nor their employers have much to worry about in Congress' latest efforts to secure the border.
WIAN (voice-over): Though both houses of Congress approved a bill to fence large sections of the southern border, big business has again avoided a meaningful crackdown on its illegal alien labor force.
T.J. BONNER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: Corporations have no interest whatsoever in securing our borders, because it would dry up their endless supply of cheap, exploitable labor. And, as long as Congress continues to listen to the businesses, instead of the people that it was elected to represent, we will see these measures that are designed to fool the people, but, ultimately, are doomed to fail.
WIAN: The federal government is raiding more employers who flagrantly violate immigration laws. And one member of the House Homeland Security Committee says the fence deal shows Congress is now capable of progress on border security.
REP. DAN LUNGREN (R), CALIFORNIA: With respect to additional legislation, it seems to me, in order to make enforcement work, that is, employer sanctions work, we're going to have to go to a tamper- proof Social Security card. There was resistance on this 20 years ago, when I was fighting this fight. Now that resistance has melted away. I think we can move towards that.
WIAN: In 1997, a bipartisan commission headed by the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan reported to Congress that reducing the employment magnet is the linchpin of a comprehensive saying to deter unlawful migration. Then, the word comprehensive referred to enforcement strategies, not to amnesty or a path to citizenship for illegal aliens.
The Jordan commission recommended a computerized registry of Social Security numbers that employers would be required to access to verify a worker's legal status. A decade later, Congress has failed to implement that recommendation. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce again refused to provide anyone to discuss its recent lobbying of Congress to block a crackdown on illegal alien employers.
WIAN: The chamber's Web site does say it is working to stop Congress from unduly burdening employers with worker verification systems that are either unworkable or cost too much money -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, that's -- I guess that's most lobbyists' efforts in Washington, D.C., Casey, to keep someone from being overly burdened, that is, everyone except working men and women and their families in this country.
Casey, thanks very much -- Casey Wian.
Houston, Texas, tonight trying to toughen illegal immigration policies in that city, following the murder of a veteran police officer in that city, Rodney Johnson. He was murdered by an illegal alien.
Houston will work more closely, it says, with federal officials now to identify illegal aliens involved in crimes. Critics say Houston has taken even more -- a tougher stand as its illegal alien crisis deepens, right along with the rest of the country.
Bill Tucker reports.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The city of Houston is changing its ways.
BILL WHITE, MAYOR OF HOUSTON, TEXAS: If somebody has a warrant out for their arrest, they're wanted for a crime, we don't care about your documentation status. Most of the people we arrest are citizens, by the way. We -- we're going to use more tools to find you and put you in jail.
TUCKER: The police chief underscored that message.
HAROLD HURTT, HOUSTON, TEXAS, POLICE CHIEF: We will check everybody for wants and warrants that -- ticketed, arrested, and/or booked into jail.
TUCKER: Both the mayor and the police chief said it is a policy change that was already in the works before the murder of officer Rodney Johnson, shot by an illegal alien who was also a deported child molester.
Specifically, what will change is that anyone arrested and brought to jail for a class-C misdemeanor or above will have a background check run on them. Questions about citizenship will be asked, but simply being an illegal alien will not be a reason for being detained. The HPD Patrolmen's Union says the change is good, but not enough.
The union is calling on the city to allow its officers to be trained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in using authority 287- G of the Immigration Code to allow them to run all arrests against ICE databases.
They want to be involved in immigration enforcement. They don't see it as just a federal issue.
SERGEANT JOHNNIE MCFARLAND, HOUSTON POLICE PATROLMEN'S UNION: My members were definitely upset with -- after Officer Johnson's death, that our chief alluded to the fact, or insinuated, that this was a federal government problem, and not our problem. So, when an officer is killed in the line of duty, you know, it's everybody's responsibility. And we shouldn't shuffle it off to the federal government.
TUCKER: A rally will be held in Houston tomorrow by the Patrolmen's Union.
TUCKER: Now, the mayor does not believe local law enforcement should be involved in immigration enforcement, citing questions about whether local authorities have the authority, in fact, to do so.
But, Lou, Sergeant McFarland will speak to the city council following tomorrow's rally. And he will ask the council that they give them 287-G authority.
DOBBS: It is -- Houston looks like much of the rest of the country, where those officers and their unions are urging their leadership -- that is, the mayor and that police chief -- to follow them, because the leadership is leading them nowhere.
And I cannot imagine them not taking responsibility for what happened to Officer Johnson. The idea that they would, in some way, want to distance themselves where the enforcement of laws in which you have -- how can you possibly, as police chief, as a mayor, rationalize having a deported sexual offender in that community, and not being interested in his status, and not taking action?
It's -- it's -- it's incomprehensible. The idea that the mayor and the police chief won't join us on this broadcast to discuss these issues -- gentlemen, you have got an open invitation to join us any day this week. We would be delighted to have you on to talk about it, just you and me.
Bill Tucker, thank you very much.
Other communities across this nation are choosing the exact opposite path from Houston -- National City, California the latest town to proclaim itself a sanctuary city. The mayor of National City made the announcement this weekend, over the objection of other town officials. Under this designation, no city funds will be used to enforce federal immigration laws. More than 70 U.S. cities across the nation have now declared themselves to be sanctuary cities, including Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, New York City, and San Diego.
Still ahead: much more on the congressional e-mail scandal. Former Republican White House political director Ed Rollins and Republican strategist will be here.
Republican congressional candidate Randy Graf, running on a strict border security platform campaign in Arizona. And get who is fighting his candidacy every step of the way? None other than the Republican Party. Randy Graf joins us here.
Voter outrage is growing across the nation tonight over electronic voting machines -- voters demanding their ballots actually be counted. we will have that special report and the very latest on yet another deadly shooting in our nation's schools, this time in rural Pennsylvania.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Growing alarm over the threat electronic voting machines pose to our democracy, five weeks before the November midterm elections, and these machines remain vulnerable to tampering and outright fraud. And, in most cases, no one has done a thing about it.
Voters all across the country are demanding action now.
Kitty Pilgrim has the report.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Cleveland, several hundred people from citizen groups gave voice to their worst fears: Electronic voting machines can fail and can be hacked, and little is being done about it, just five weeks before the election.
The conference, We Count 2006, was open to the public, and drew its share of outrage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just what the hell are people in America doing?
PILGRIM: The conference drew activists from as far away as Massachusetts and Oregon. Signs told the story: "Stop Election Theft."
Bev Harris of Black Box Voting complained, voting machine companies have too much power.
BEV HARRIS, BLACK BOX VOTING: This is lawlessness. This is not a democracy.
PILGRIM: There was outrage that the voting machine software is a trade secret of the voting machine companies.
BOB FITRAKIS, EDITOR, "THE FREE PRESS": Private, partisan corporations are secretly counting our vote with proprietary software -- is that the system does not meet any minimum standard of democracy. And that has to be said over and over and over again.
PILGRIM: The latest estimates find in the last six years, 63 percent of the country's registered voters switched to new voting equipment, most to some kind of electronic system. Many very small jurisdictions have made that switch in just the last year.
KIMBALL BRACE, ELECTION DATA SERVICES: We're very concerned and worried that these small jurisdictions don't have the resources to deal with the conversion process. That conversion process is very strenuous and fraught with potential problems, as we've already seen this primary season.
PILGRIM: Eighty-four million people will use optical scan equipment, but 66 million voters will use touch screen or electronic systems. Activists say the riskiest technology is a touch-screen machine without a paper trail.
PILGRIM: Also, in Cayahoga County, Ohio, the scene of an election primary disaster, the board of elections has just unanimously agreed to let election results be audited by a public monitor. The Center for Election Integrity will run two different audits to make sure that election results are valid -- Lou.
DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much. Kitty Pilgrim.
A gunman today killed three people in an Amish school in rural Pennsylvania. Eight other people were critically wounded. This is the third shooting incident at a school in this country in the past week. Jason Carroll tonight is in Lancaster County with a report -- Jason.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, state police just describe it as a horrendous crime scene. This has really been a very, very sad day for people here in this rural community.
It all began when a local truck driver by the name of Charles Carl Roberts, 32 years old, decided this was the place he was going to exact some sort of a revenge for a grudge that he had been holding for 20 years. He decided to take his anger out on little school girls who were at an Amish school here in Lancaster County.
It happened just before 10:00 a.m. He broke into the one-room schoolhouse armed with a semiautomatic gun, handgun, as well as a shotgun. He allowed the boys in the school room, about 15 of them, to leave, as well as a pregnant woman and some other women who were also inside the school who were holding their infants. He allowed them to leave, but he told the young girls in that schoolroom they were going to have to say.
He lined them up against a blackboard, he tied some of them up. He barricaded the school room as well.
One of the aides, fortunately, was able to escape. She called 911. Roberts also called 911 and told state police to stay away or he would start shooting. He also called his wife and said he simply could not take it anymore.
Shortly after that, he opened fire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY MILLER, STATE POLICE COMMISSIONER: When the shots began in rapid succession and our people were assaulting the facility, that's when we believe that he was shooting the students and also firing -- he fired out of the front of the residence -- or -- residence -- the school, at least one time with multiple shots towards our troopers. But he was mainly firing at the students that were lined up at the blackboard as best we can determine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: Press conference is taking place right now, where we have some updated information. We do know at this point still three -- at this point, eight young girls were taken to a local hospital. They are in critical condition. Again, three girls killed. Roberts himself, he died after he turned the gun on himself.
Roberts also the father of three. He was not Amish. And apparently according to police, the reason why he targeted this particular area is simply because it was close, it was convenient. No security at an Amish school, a very easy target.
Investigators also say that Roberts left behind notes to his family as well as to his children, telling them that he loved them. Apparently, it was some sort of a rambling note. Perhaps through some of those notes, we'll be able to get some more information, Lou, about this 20-year grudge that he held, and why he decided this was the place where he would exact his revenge -- Lou.
DOBBS: Jason, thank you very much. Jason Carroll with a terrible story from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Two Las Vegas area schools were shut down today, put in lockdown, following reports of a boy with a gun. A former student allegedly brandished that gun outside Mojave High School, and then fled as police searched in vain for the youth, searching as far as several miles north of the Las Vegas Strip. Law enforcement authorities tonight say the suspect had been kicked out of that high school and had been barred from the campus. The search is still under way this evening.
A bill to bar online gambling now on it sway to the desk of President Bush. The president is expected to sign that legislation within the next few weeks. President Bush says Internet gambling is a threat to public morals and contributes to the threat of crime. Both houses of Congress agreeing. On Capitol Hill tonight, supporters of that 700-mile border fence say it's uncertain whether the entire 700-mile fence could ever be built. Before it broke for midterm recess to campaign, Congress appropriated $1.2 billion for construction of the fence. It's estimated that a 700-mile-long border fence would cost more than $2 billion. The money appropriated by Congress is only estimated to be enough for about 370 miles.
Mexico tonight is pleading with President Bush to veto the border fence bill approved by the Senate. The government of Mexico says the fence will backfire, as they put it, and make the border less, not more, secure. Mexico, which has consistently interfered in the border fence discussion and debate, now says it will send a diplomatic note to Washington urging presidential veto of the legislation.
The border fence is facing new environmental opposition as well. The North American Butterfly Association warns the border fence could cut through part of its 72-acre park in Mission, Texas. And Rob Allen, who is the media savant for President Bush, has also, as we've reported here, been contacted to work now for President Fox and the Mexican government trying to stop improving border security, or establishing it at all.
Democrats are under fire tonight for weakening a massive port security bill passed by the Senate just Saturday. This legislation provides $3.5 billion in funding for new port security. Democrats are being accused of opposing the measure that would have prevented criminals convicted of serious felonies from working in port facilities.
Let's say that again. They didn't want those convicted of felonies to be prohibited from working in highly sensitive areas relevant to national security.
The measure was stripped out of the bill altogether. Republicans say felons could be manipulated or bribed into helping smuggle weapons of mass destruction into this country, and in point of fact, that part of the legislation was eliminated.
President Bush has signed into law a massive $436 billion defense appropriations bill to help fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lawmakers stuffed the bill with billions of dollars worth of pork the Defense Department never asked for. Critics say the spending will ultimately hurt our troops fighting our wars overseas. Lisa Sylvester reports.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The defense appropriations bill is full of pork. At least 2000 earmarks or pet projects, including $4.5 million for an Army Center of Excellence in Acoustics at the University of Mississippi. That happens to be the alma mater of powerful Senate Appropriations Chairman Senator Thad Cochran.
LOREN THOMPSON, LEXINGTON INST.: Congress put in money for their districts that has no great relationship to the national need. At the rate we're going, our warfare state at the Pentagon is going to turn into another welfare state.
SYLVESTER: Congress approved $26 million for badly needed night vision goggles for U.S. troops, but $5.5 million of that money has been earmarked to pay for a telescope at the Air Force Academy.
There are big ticket items as well, 22 C-17 cargo jets, seven more than either the House or Senate approved, made by Boeing. Sixty F-22 fighter jets will be purchased over the next three years, an Air Force pet project. Todd Bowers served two combat tours in Iraq.
TODD BOWERS, PROJECT ON GOVT. OVERSIGHT: It makes it difficult for me to realize that there's guys over there having a hard time getting simple needs such as water, food and what not. Yet we have enough money to ensure that we're going to have enough F-22s to keep Lockheed Martin happy.
SYLVESTER: Earmarks have been used as bargaining chips to win votes. One of the key players is Pennsylvania Representative John Murtha. The outspoken critic of the Iraq war has raked in tens of millions of dollars in pork for his home district. Murtha is the ranking Democrat on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. He has been able to turn the promise of earmarks for other Democrats into votes on close issues.
STEVE ELLIS, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: He's used the taxpayer as his political piggy bank, that he can dole out favors and demand discipline, and then he uses that to increase his clout and authority within Congress.
SYLVESTER: One of the votes where Representative Murtha reportedly used his clout and influence was defeating a Democratic effort to investigate fraud and abuse in government contracts in Iraq. Now, we spoke to Murtha's office. A spokeswoman disagrees that earmarks take away money from the war fighter, and she adds the House goes out of the way to provide for the troops on the ground -- Lou.
DOBBS: And that investigation into contractor fraud and overspending in Iraq, that's intense and under way now, I'm sure?
SYLVESTER: Well, it was interesting, because it was a vote that took place, and there were only 13 Democrats -- this was a proposal by Henry Waxman -- 13 Democrats voted against it, and of those six, about half of them were on Murtha's committee.
DOBBS: Lisa Sylvester, thank you very much, reporting on business as usual in Washington, D.C.
Coming up next, the Republican congressional leadership is in full damage control mode as the congressional e-mail, instant messaging scandal worsens. Former White House political director, Republican strategist Ed Rollins joins me here next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: More on the top story, the scandal over explicit Internet messages between former Congressman Mark Foley and teenage pages on Capitol Hill. In just the last few minutes, the Justice Department has formally told Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert that the FBI has begun an investigation into the case.
Meanwhile, Republican leadership urgently trying to limit the political damage from this scandal.
Joining me now is Ed Rollins, former White House political director, Republican strategist.
Let me ask you this, Ed -- first, just on the basis of what we know right now, this is a disgusting, reprehensible situation. Is the House leadership being straight forward and honest here?
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, they certainly don't appear to be. And obviously there -- Foley's now gone. He's now gone off to rehabilitation. This has become the great escape for, if you're found guilty of corruption, you go off to alcoholism rehabilitation or if you're found guilty of trying to seduce young boys, you go off -- it's given alcoholics a bad name.
But unfortunately the leadership is still there. And they better got to come up with a straight story, because obviously these stories have been around for a substantial period of time. And the American public is -- understands this. They may not understand the national estimate of intelligence and they may not understand all the sophistications of the war, but they understand when a member of Congress is basically sending salacious, seductive e-mails to 16, 15- year-old boys.
DOBBS: Today, even the White House weighed in on this.
Tony Snow saying -- referred to this as these as naughty messages.
ROLLINS: Well, Tony made a mistake. And Tony is pretty adept at -- and pretty skillful. I think today those are words that he -- the White House basically ought to go fight its battles in Iraq and it ought to go basically defend itself against Bob Woodward's allegations. But the House itself has got to get itself in front on this.
The speaker should be very well trained. The speaker comes from Illinois. The last time there was a sex scandal with pages was in the '80s. When I was the White House political director, there was a Congressman from Illinois from a neighboring district of where the president speaker now serves who had sex with a young woman. There was also a member who had sex with a young boy, both were -- were censured by the House, one from Illinois was defeated.
So certainly when page comes up in the conversation with the speaker, he ought to basically -- his antenna ought to go up. DOBBS: Well, especially since there seems to be a considerable dispute here between Congressman Reynolds saying that he had informed Hastert. Hastert saying he has no memory of anybody suggesting he had been informed.
Apparently, at least in some measured area, that pages had been warned to stay away from Congressman Foley. I mean, this looks like something worthy of not only a Justice Department or FBI investigation, why in the world wouldn't the House leadership want to understand how they could have possibly not served the interest of those young people well and not at least provided Congressman Foley some -- not only serious discussion about what he could or could not do, but some counseling?
ROLLINS: IF these stories go back five years, as people are saying they are today -- first of all, the Hill is a very small place. And stories about Congressman Foley have been going around for a long, long time -- unconventional lifestyle more than anything else.
And I think the reality is, the first time his name came up with a young page, someone should have sat him down. If the two or three members -- and he is part of the leadership. That's the other part is, he's the deputy whip, he's just not an ordinary member.
DOBBS: He was considered for higher up.
ROLLINS: He was being recruited to go run against Katherine Harris in the Republican primary in Florida as a late as four or five months ago.
So I think the bottom line is, he's not some back-bencher. This was a front and center guy. This was a guy who just contributed $100,000 to the Congressional Committee. And I think to a certain extent, I think the reality here is that this was a guy they didn't want to deal with. And I think that they sort of poo-pooed this and didn't want to focus on it and they have to bear the responsibility for it.
DOBBS: Impact on the upcoming elections -- beyond Florida?
ROLLINS: Well, the impact is this, sometimes it's the straw that breaks the camel's back. And it comes down to there's been a whole series of things, starting with the Abramoff investigation, the lobbying, the Bob Ney, who was a chairman of a committee, the investigation of the Appropriations Committee chairman.
A whole variety of things where the House has not been run well. And the key thing here is once again, the leadership is saying -- have the FBI come and investigate. What's wrong with their own ethics committee? Why can't they run their own House? And that's what I think people are going to start saying, why can't they run their own House? And that's what Democrats, obviously, going to make the case...
DOBBS: And somebody may just notice that despite the Abramoff scandal that neither the House or the Senate has done anything of any substence to reform the influence of lobbying money.
ROLLINS: They've banned former members from using the gym.
DOBBS: And we can honestly say in some cases, a little isn't worth much at all.
Ed Rollins, thanks for very much for being with us.
ROLLINS: My pleasure.
DOBBS: That bring us to the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe that anyone who knew about Representative Mark Foley's inappropriate behavior with congressional pages and did nothing should be required to resign from office immediately? Yes or no. Cast your votes at loudobbs.com. The results will be here shortly.
Still ahead, border security, a battleground issue in Arizona. We'll hear why from Congressional Randy Graf. Here next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: This nation's worsening illegal immigration crisis has become a number one issue around the country in many of next month's midterm elections. One of the nation's most closely watched races will be in Arizona's eighth district, where Republican candidate Randy Graf faces Democrat Gabrielle Giffords. Graf won a bitter Republican primary on a strict border security platform, beating the favored candidate of the National Republican Party and the person anointed by retiring Congressman Jim Colby. Graf is running tonight with support, little support from the GOP leadership.
Randy Graf joins us tonight from Tucson. Good to have you with us. I want to make it very clear, we invited your opponent, Gabrielle Giffords to join us here for a discuss. She declined. Is that because she's up -- let's take a look at the most recent poll. The "Arizona Star" newspaper showing your opponent with a 12-point lead. Could we show that poll? There we go. Randy Graf, what do you say?
REP. RANDY GRAF, ARIZONA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, to this point in time, yes, she has not wanted to come out and debate. I think she's agreed to about six public appearances where we'll be side by side and we'll have a tremendous opportunity to highlight our differences at that point in time.
DOBBS: Well let me ask you this, on immigration and border security, one of the things we're asking every candidate with whom we talk here, as we move toward election day, is you are obviously -- we want to know, we want our viewers to know, we want voters to understand where people are. You're absolutely for border security and absolutely against so-called comprehensive immigration reform or amnesty?
GRAF: Absolutely. Our primary message when we ran two years ago for this seat in a primary and throughout this election cycle is that we need to stop illegal immigration first. And the voters agree with that and I'm looking forward to making sure that people understand my opponent in this race has accepted the Ted Kennedy train of thought on immigration reform, which is keeping open borders and providing amnesty and path to citizenship.
DOBBS: Well, I think we should give full credit here, Randy Graf, I mean that's not only Ted Kennedy's idea. That's senator John McCain's idea. That's senator Reid's idea. That's George W. Bush's idea. There's quite an alliance there, isn't there?
GRAF: Well, there is. And I think we've talked about this for two and a half years now, that it's not a partisan issue. The impacts on our local schools and our hospitals, our criminal justice system, 25 million pounds of trash in our Arizona desert, over 200 people a year dying in our desert here in Arizona. There's lots of reasons why we need to stop illegal immigration. After that's done, then we can certainly talk about all the other reforms that need to take place in our immigration system.
DOBBS: Well let's talk about another issue that's going to be critically important should you be elected to Congress and that is our middle class. As you know, in this broadcast, we focus on the -- on what has become a war on the middle class, the plight of working men and women in this country. What are you going to do as a Congressman to assure that working men and women get a better break in this country, that middle class families and those who aspire to be part of our middle class, have that opportunity to succeed?
GRAF: Well, Lou, you've done a very good job explaining a lot of the issues before us that we have to address. I'm certainly going to take a little different approach than the Congressman that is stepping down from the seat after 22 years, where I believe we do have to try to protect the middle class. We are importing cheap labor. We're exporting jobs overseas. And the middle class, as we've known traditionally for the last 40, 50 years, is quickly disintegrating. And I'm going to take a little different approach. Trade is fine, but at the same time, we don't need immigration reform or immigration issues and measures in these trade agreements. And I think we need to protect some of our manufacturing.
DOBBS: Randy Graf, we thank you for being here, Republican candidate for Congress in the eighth district of Arizona. Thank you.
GRAF: Thank you Lou.
DOBBS: Still ahead, the results of our poll tonight. We'll have some more of your thoughts. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Now the results of our poll: 94 percent of you say that anyone who knew about Mark Foley's inappropriate behavior with congressional pages and did nothing, should be required to resign from office immediately. Let's take a look at some of your thoughts.
Adele in Washington, "Lou I line up right next to you on illegal immigration. I can not, however, buy into the effectiveness of a 700 mile fence along a 2,000 mile border. How can you or anyone justify this? I say it's nothing more than desperate attempts for votes this election year season." Seven hundred is just a third of the way there.
Gary in Georgia, "Lou, passing the law is one thing and the easy part. Appropriating the money and building the fence is a separate political issue and the hardest part." You're right about that and getting sanctions on employers of illegal aliens.
Gabrielle in Quebec, "What nut job thought of uniting all three countries into one? Don't get me wrong, I like having the U.S. as a good neighbor, but I don't want you in my yard. By the way, guess which country has the most to gain in this? I'll give you a hint, it starts with the letter M."
Thanks for your thoughts. Send them to us at LouDobbs.com. Each of you who's e-mail is read here receives a copy of Senator Byron Dorgan's book "Take This Job and Ship It." Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow, when among my guests will be Bill Moyers and James Fellows. For all of us, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with John King in for Wolf Blitzer, John.
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