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Clinton-Obama Fight Continues; New Evidence Surfaces in Border Patrol Case; U.S. Trade Policies Endangering Food Supply?

Aired July 25, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: damning new charges of misconduct by the federal government in the prosecution of two former Border Patrol agents, congressmen today producing evidence that the federal government made it easy for the smuggler who was given immunity to testify against those agents to bring even more drugs across our border.
Also tonight, one of the country's most powerful pro-illegal alien groups, La Raza, insists a -- quote -- "wave of hate," not the will of the people, killed the Senate's amnesty legislation. The president of La Raza, one of the country's most influential women, Janet Murguia, joins us.

And new evidence that the Bush administration's obsession with so-called free trade at any cost is now threatening the safety of our food and American consumers. Food imports are soaring. Food inspections are plummeting. Senator Sherrod Brown today demanding tougher inspections. He's among our guests here tonight.

Join us for all of that, all the day's news and much more straight ahead.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Wednesday, July 25.

Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

The House Judiciary Committee today accused White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers of contempt. The committee voted to issue contempt citations after Bolten and Miers failed to comply with subpoenas following the firing of U.S. attorneys, the White House calling the Judiciary Committee's move pathetic.

The White House accused the Democratic-led committee of insults and insinuations.

Dana Bash has our report from Capitol Hill -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the Democrats here came one step closer to a constitutional showdown with the White House. And, right now, neither side is showing any sign of blinking.


CONYERS: The investigation did not begin

BASH (voice-over): Democrats argue, White House stonewalling left them no choice but to take dramatic action, voting to told two top presidential aides in contempt of Congress.

REP. BILL DELAHUNT (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It is that moment in time for this institution, this Congress, to assert itself against an administration that has expanded executive power to a point where I would suggest it's become dangerous to our democracy.

BASH: A Judiciary Committee partly-line vote approving two contempt citations escalates a constitutional clash, at issue, White House refusal to allow the president's chief of staff and former counsel to answer subpoenas for testimony and documents.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: On the question of whether an administration or former administration official can simply blow off a subpoena and not show up, there is no legal support for that whatsoever.

BASH: This memo points to laws the committee believes Bush officials broke in firing several federal prosecutors. Chairman John Conyers thinks the proof is in documents the White House won't give Congress.

Republicans call it all politics.

REP. CHRIS CANNON (R), UTAH: The American people are really disgusted by the partisanship and the pettiness of this.

BASH: And one leading Republican warns, Congress would pay a long-term price if Democrats lose this in court.

REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R), WISCONSIN: And that is going to be viewed as a blank check by the present president and the future president to do whatever they want, to -- to effectively stiff the Congress.


BASH: And the next step here is a vote by the entire House of Representatives, but a Democratic leadership aide said that it's unlikely to happen until Congress returns from its month-long August recess -- Lou.

DOBBS: So, no sense of urgency in this -- in this contempt proceeding?

BASH: Well, you know, if you look at what I just said and the fact that they are probably going to wait for about a month-and-a- half, that is probably true. But they also know, Lou, this is going to be a very, very long fight when it comes to the courts.

And they look at history and say that, really, almost always when this happens there's compromise because the political pressures are so great on really both sides in this kind of showdown.

DOBBS: And for the reasons that Congressman Sensenbrenner outlined in your report as well, because of the fear of a reckless precedent that could work against on both parties and ultimately the interest of the government.

BASH: Absolutely.

DOBBS: It will be an interesting confrontation to report on over the weeks ahead. Thank you very much, Dana Bash, from Capitol Hill.

BASH: Thank you.

DOBBS: The White House today accused congressional Democrats of going on a fishing expedition that has turned up nothing improper about the firings of those U.S. attorneys.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow today said Congress instead should focus on what he called its normal business of passing major pieces of legislation.

Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, really, the tone and the message was very clear from the White House, and that is essentially, bring it on. They really feel invigorated and engaged by this confrontation.

They insist that Miers and Bolten are not going to testify before Congress. And they say this is based on the principle that they are protecting the president's right for that advice from those close around him, that that be protected, that that be private. But, at the same time, Lou, we all know that they are engaged in this debate, trying to get an upper hand here, trying to accuse and paint and Congress engaged in political theater.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In our view, this is pathetic. What you have right now is partisanship on Capitol Hill that quite often boils down to insults, insinuations, inquisitions and investigations.


SNOW: ... rather than pursuing the normal business of trying to pass major pieces of legislation, such as appropriations bills, and to try to work in such a way as to demonstrate to the American people that Congress and the White House can work together.


MALVEAUX: So, Lou, the White House is really drawing a red line here. And they feel that if they let this go forward, that this could open up a possibility for getting what they figure are the big fish, Karl Rove and others, to try to get internal deliberations. So that is why they are drawing the line here -- Lou.

DOBBS: And whose testimony is already being sought by the Senate.

Thank you very much, Suzanne Malveaux, from the White House.

Turning to the war in Iraq, insurgents today killed at least 50 people in car bomb attacks in Baghdad. The targets of those bombs were Iraqis celebrating their national team's latest soccer victory in the Asian Games; 135 other people were wounded in the explosions. Separately, police found the bodies of at least 18 Iraqis, all apparently victims of sectarian murders.

Another of our soldiers has been killed in Iraq. The soldier died in what the military calls a non-battle-related incident; 58 of our troops have been killed so far this month in Iraq; 3,637 of our troops have been killed since the beginning of the war, 26,953 of our troops wounded, 12,115 of them seriously.

A presidential commission led by Bob Dole and Donna Shalala today announced sweeping proposals to improve the care of our wounded warriors. The commission was set up after the scandal of the treatment of our troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

A top U.S. general, Major General David Rodriguez, today said there has been a big increase in the number of insurgent attacks in Afghanistan over the past year. General Rodriguez also said the number of foreigners fighting our troops in Afghanistan has risen sharply. Members of Congress today expressing strong concern about the direction of the war.

Barbara Starr has our report.


REP. ELLEN TAUSCHER (D), CALIFORNIA: What is it that has caused us to not find and kill Osama bin Laden?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Congressional fury that al Qaeda leaders appear to operate freely in Pakistan's remote tribal mountains along the Afghan border.

TAUSCHER: We have watched them hop, skip and jump pretty much with freedom and ability to reconstitute, from Afghanistan, to Pakistan, urban areas, to south Waziristan, to north Waziristan. They can move pretty much where they want in that whole entire area.

STARR: Intelligence estimates show that al Qaeda is not on the run. Rather, leaders feel safe enough in their mountain hideouts to plan more attacks.

REP. MIKE THOMPSON (D), CALIFORNIA: We took our eye off them and allowed them to relocate and regroup and replenish?

EDWARD GISTARO, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE OFFICER FOR TRANSNATIONAL THREATS: Sir, I think an alternative way to look at that is, we took away the safe haven in Afghanistan. They went to urban areas in Pakistan. Working with the Pakistanis, we pushed them out of the urban areas of Pakistan.

STARR: Across the border in Afghanistan, the U.S. is trying to catch the growing number of al Qaeda foreign fighters.

MAJOR GENERAL DAVID RODRIGUEZ, COMMANDER, 82ND AIRBORNE DIVISION: It's increased probably 50 percent to 60 percent over what it was last year.

STARR: The number of attacks on the Afghan side has been running double what they were last year. The hope is the new Pakistani military crackdown in the tribal region will bring the violence down throughout the mountains.


STARR: So, just how determined are some of the extremists in that region? Well, U.S. solders tell CNN that they are coming across dead fighters on the Afghan side of the border, of course, with syringes and empty bottles of epinephrine, adrenaline. Lou, these fighters are shooting up drugs before they go into battle.

DOBBS: And raising the level of that battle, an increase in attacks over the past year. It was interesting to hear the intelligence analysis on that in your report suggesting that this, again, is actually progress, even though it appears to be a setback.

STARR: Well, progress just maybe, but not yet, Lou, for certain. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is beginning a major -- what he says is a major military crackdown against the extremists in that al Qaeda safe haven on his side of the border.

But, we were there last week in Afghanistan, and many top U.S. commanders are very skeptical of Pakistan's efforts -- Lou.

DOBBS: Barbara, thank you very much -- Barbara Starr reporting from the Pentagon.

Still ahead here: The government's case against former Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean may be falling apart. We will have that special report.

Also, tensions rising between Democratic presidential candidates Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama. Who is the wisest? Who is the most naive?

And I will be talking with one of the country's most influential woman, La Raza's president, Janet Murguia, about her organization's claims that a wave of hate killed the Senate's amnesty legislation, not the will of defeat.

We will be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: There's further evidence tonight that the federal government's prosecution of former Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean may be falling apart.

For the first time, we can show you tonight documentary proof that the illegal alien drug smuggler who was given immunity by the Justice Department to testify against those agents had a free pass to cross our border with Mexico at the same time the DEA says he was involved in smuggling a second load of drugs.

This evidence raises troubling new questions about U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton's prosecution of their case.

Casey Wian has our report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In February 2005, illegal alien Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila was found smuggling 743 pounds of marijuana near Fabens, Texas. He led Border Patrol agents on a high- speed pursuit and fled back to Mexico.

But, during the pursuit, Davila was wounded by agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who failed to properly report the shooting. They are now serving 11 and 12 years in federal prison, largely because federal prosecutors gave drug smuggler Davila immunity to testify against the agents. They also gave Davila a border-crossing card, so he could receive medical treatment in the United States.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher obtained documents through a Freedom of Information request proving that visa was in effect at the same time a DEA report shows Davila was involved in smuggling another load of marijuana across the border.

REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: These documents verify drug dealer Aldrete-Davila had an unconditional, unescorted access pass to cross into the United States. Free-access passes were issued to him, even after he was identified by the Drug Enforcement Agency in a second drug smuggling incident.

WIAN: The U.S. attorney in Texas, Johnny Sutton, faced harsh questioning at a Senate hearing on the case last week.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: The question is, do you believe it was a mistake to give this kind of humanitarian, ongoing parole visa to a drug dealer?


FEINSTEIN: The answer is yes or no, Mr. Sutton.

SUTTON: No. If it turns out he ran another load of dope, obviously it's a huge mistake. If he didn't run another load of dope, it's not a mistake. You know, the bottom line is, we don't know yet whether he ran another load of dope. My team is trying to figure that out. And as soon as we get competent, admissible evidence to charge him, we would.

WIAN: Federal prosecutors successfully persuaded a judge to prevent jurors in the Ramos-Compean case from hearing about Davila's second load of drugs.

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he had an obligation at that point to move for dismissal, because the key witness whose testimony was going to send the two Border Patrol agents to jail had proven that he was -- that any bit of reliability or credibility that he had possessed after the first drug deal, he certainly did not possess after the second drug deal.

WIAN: That is expected to be a key part of the agent's appeal. The House will hold hearings into the Ramos-Compean case next week.

Prosecutor Johnny Sutton refused to appear, prompting calls for his resignation.

REP. WALTER JONES (R), NORTH CAROLINA: The skunk is in the prosecutor's office in Texas. And, when you know you have got a skunk, you better get him out. No longer can the American people stand by and see this injustice of these two border agents who deserve freedom.

WIAN: Lawmakers are demanding that President Bush free Ramos and Compean immediately.


WIAN: Congressman Rohrabacher also received copies of letters between the Mexican government and the Department of Homeland Security about Aldrete-Davila. They failed to provide evidence that Mexico pressured the United States to prosecute the Border Patrol agents.

But they do contain an interesting statement by the consul general of Mexico in El Paso. He called illegal alien drug smuggler Aldrete-Davila a victim -- Lou.

DOBBS: A victim.

And what time? Was what contemporaneous with the incident? Was it just before the prosecution, or was it afterwards?

WIAN: It was during the investigation. It was a few weeks after the shooting incident. It was while the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security was trying to get in touch with Aldrete-Davila, and around the time they were getting ready to offer him immunity, so he would cooperate and ultimately testify against the Border Patrol agents -- Lou.

DOBBS: Is there the sense that, with the calls by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator John Cornyn, by Congressman Duncan Hunter, for a congressional pardon, that this new evidence presented today by Congressman Rohrabacher amounts to reversible error, and that it might be a wise decision on the part of the defense attorneys for Ramos and Compean to wait for a ruling on that issue? WIAN: Even Johnny Sutton at that Senate hearing last week mentioned that he fully expected this controversy, the granting of immunity to Aldrete-Davila and the keeping of the information about the second drug load from the jury and the border crossing car, he fully expects that to be a key part of the agents' appeal -- Lou.

DOBBS: And with the DEA agent -- the evidence right there before us on Aldrete-Davila, why is Johnny Sutton saying that he doesn't know or his people don't know whether in fact this illegal alien drug smuggler carried another load into the United States?

WIAN: It's unclear, Lou, because, officially, that DEA report remains under seal by a court. So, Johnny Sutton has taken a position all along that he can't discuss any of this evidence.

And whether the other drug dealers, drug suspects who fingered Aldrete-Davila in this second load are not credible, we can only guess. Johnny Sutton won't talk about it.


WIAN: Yes.

DOBBS: Let me ask you this. Who requested that that evidence be sealed?

WIAN: I'm not sure, Lou. I'm not exactly sure on that. I will have to check on it and get back to you.

DOBBS: All right.

Thank you very much, Casey Wian, a remarkable story.

Time now for our poll tonight: Do you agree with Congressman Rohrabacher that U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton should testify under oath before his committee next Tuesday or resign his position? We would like to hear from you on this. Cast your vote at We will have the results here shortly.

Coming up next: a new threat to America's middle class, how free trade deals are threatening the safety of our nation's food supply and American consumers.

And the two leading Democratic presidential candidates are going at one another. We will have that report and a great deal more -- straight ahead. We will be right back.


DOBBS: There is alarming new evidence tonight that U.S. trade policy is threatening our middle class by putting our food supply at risk and our consumers at risk. The findings come as the U.S. continues to increasingly rely upon foreign food imports. Nearly $65 billion of food is being imported to this country each year.

Kitty Pilgrim has our report. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Free trade agreements with Peru, Panama, Colombia and South Korea will bring a flood of seafood, beef, fruit and vegetables from some 10,000 foreign producers.

A new report by Public Citizen says those free trade agreements limit our sovereign right to inspect food that is imported into this country.

LORI WALLACH, PUBLIC CITIZEN'S GLOBAL TRADE WATCH: These agreements on food literally set limits on inspection, the level of protection, as well as requiring us to accept imports that don't meet our standards, but the country sending it says is good enough.

PILGRIM: Because of the volume of imports, the USDA will now be able to inspect 0.6 percent of the food at our borders and ports. That's down from the 8 percent it could inspect before the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed.

Eighty percent of seafood in the country is imported, but less than 2 percent is inspected. The report cites CDC statistics which show that 5,000 Americans die every year from food-borne illnesses, and viral infection associated with seafood increased 78 percent from 1996 to 2006, a period when seafood imports skyrocketed.

Only 11 percent of beef, pork and chicken imports are inspected at the border, even though those animals are sometimes raised in unsanitary conditions.

And Public Citizen says, Americans are three times more likely to be exposed to dangerous pesticides on imported fruits and vegetables than on domestic produce.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically, what we have had is free trade on the cheap. And, when you have free trade on the cheap, you end up with less environmental protection and less food safety.

PILGRIM: Unbelievably, free trade agreements set limits on U.S. safety inspections, because extra inspections on imports would be discriminatory.


PILGRIM: And the problem of how to manage the flood of imported food is a relatively new issue. Up until two years ago, the United States was a net exporter of food. Not anymore -- Lou.

DOBBS: And 80 percent of our seafood is now being imported into this country.

PILGRIM: That's right. It's really skyrocketing. And, with these new agreements, it will increase more.

DOBBS: This administration, its trade policies, my contempt for their level of concern and care for the American people and for the good of this country, in passing these idiotic -- and going through these negotiations, I mean, it's just disgusting. It really is.


PILGRIM: We give away our sovereignty with these trade deals.


DOBBS: And we are going to be talking to Senator Sherrod Brown, upon whom you just were reporting, here in just a moment. He's calling for very tough action to protect American consumers from those food imports. Senator Brown will be joining us here shortly.

Also tonight, more cities considering giving I.D. cards to illegal aliens. We will have that story. You won't believe it.,

And the president and CEO of La Raza, Janet Murguia, joins me. Her organization says a wave of hate, as they put it, killed the Senate's amnesty legislation, not the will of the people.

And rising hostility between Democratic presidential candidates Clinton and Obama. They are up next.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Former Senator, possible presidential candidate Fred Thompson today says his unofficial campaign is on track, despite the resignation of a key adviser.

Thompson, campaigning in Texas, said it's what happens as campaigns move along. The campaign adviser to Thompson is reported to have left his position over differences of opinion with Jeri Thompson, the former senator's wife. "She's running the operation," a source told CNN.

There's hostility brewing between the Democratic front-runners. In fact, it's brewing to a boil -- Senator Hillary Clinton calling Senator Barack Obama irresponsible and naive over national security, and the Obama camp accusing Senator Clinton of fabricating a controversy.

Bill Schneider has our report on this very public feud.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): In politics, just like in prize fighting, you look for your opponent's weakness, and you pound away at it.

In the debate this week, Barack Obama portrayed himself as new and different, the total opposite of George W. Bush.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration, is ridiculous.

SCHNEIDER: Hillary Clinton portrayed herself as experienced and knowledgeable.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are. I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes.

SCHNEIDER: She was going for Obama's weakness, his lack of experience, and kept hammering away at it the next day.


CLINTON: And I thought that was irresponsible and, frankly, naive to say that you would commit to meeting with, you know, Chavez and Castro and others within the first year.

SCHNEIDER: Obama came back punching at Clinton's weakness.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: She thinks it's irresponsible and naive to -- to authorize George Bush to send 160,000 young American men and women into Iraq, apparently without knowing how they were going to get out.

SCHNEIDER: Her weakness?

That she's cautious and calculating and too willing to compromise with people like President Bush.

Actually, it was not Obama, but John Edwards, who used the "T" word.

JOHN EDWARDS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The question is do you believe that compromise, triangulation, will bring about big change?

I don't.

SCHNEIDER: Remember, it's a fight for the heavyweight championship, so there's bound to be some trash talk.

CLINTON: Senator Obama gave an anywhere which I think he's regretting today.

SCHNEIDER: You want to talk about regrets, lady?

OBAMA: So if you want to talk about irresponsibility and naivete, look at her vote to authorize George Bush to send our troops into Iraq without an exit plan.


SCHNEIDER: So here we are only a couple of rounds into this fight and there's already blood on the floor -- Lou. DOBBS: Well, it is also an interesting exchange on a purely political basis. She has said that, Senator Clinton is accused of being cautious and calculating, as you put it. The lady in my opinion Bill, was rather quick with her repost and simplify very quick on her feet. Nothing cautious, nothing calculated. She went for the jugular.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. In this instance, she came right back. I think she saw her opponent as exhibiting a weakness and she went for it without hesitation. Apparently she wants to demonstrate that she's perfectly qualified to be commander-in-chief.

DOBBS: Oh, well, she -- if she has a few more moments like that, she's going to have -- have the whole country paying attention.

Thank you very much, Bill Schneider.


DOBBS: Senator Clinton and Senator Obama are two of the biggest supporters of amnesty for illegal immigration and illegal aliens. So far the candidates have not said whether they support I.D. cards for illegal aliens. As a matter of fact, they haven't said much of anything about illegal immigration or border security or port security. But the idea is gaining momentum -- I.D. cards -- in parts of the country.

And as Bill Tucker now reports, New York City may be the next city to try to give I.D. cards to illegal aliens.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The challenge made and accepted.

HIRAM MONSERRATE (D), NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: If New Haven, Connecticut can do this, then the City of New York can definitely do this.

TUCKER: New Haven this week became the first city to issue I.D. cards to illegal aliens. New York City looks like it will be number two.

MONSERRATE: We understand that if you have hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers that are permanently underground, where they don't have identification, they can't cannot access services, they can't open up bank accounts, they are reluctant to report crimes or to be witnesses in the prosecutions of crimes, that actually hurts the entire city.

TUCKER: The I.D.s are the next generation of sanctuary policies. The old policy was more like a don't ask, don't tell instruction to the police. The new I.D. programs completely blur the line between illegal and legal. They are being sold as an I.D. for everyone, even though the State of New York currently issues non-driver I.D.s. But you must have a valid Social Security number to get one -- something illegal aliens don't have.

The idea is not popular with everyone on the city council.

PETER VALLONE (D), NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: This is a national issue. I support this country's laws that need to be enforced. By taking these actions, we are speaking against what our -- what our nation is trying to do. That's not our place.

TUCKER: The proposed cards would apply only to city services, thereby avoiding the more stringent security standards for federal identification under the Real I.D. Act. But the I.D. policies do appear to violate a series of federal statutes, all of which explicitly prohibit the harboring of illegal aliens, encouraging or inducing a person to become an illegal alien, the aiding and abetting of illegal aliens and which outlaw sanctuary policies.

KRIS KOBACH, IMMIGRATION REFORM LAW INSTITUTE: These cities were already breaking federal law by creating sanctuary policies. Now they will be committing federal crimes by aiding and abetting illegal aliens and by encouraging illegal aliens to reside by giving them residence cards in their jurisdiction.

TUCKER: We contacted the Justice Department to ask if it will move to take action against New Haven or New York, should it follow suit.


TUCKER: And a spokesman for Justice responded, saying that the Department never publicly announces or speculates whether it might or might not take legal action in the future with the respect to any specific matter -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, let me help you out.

Can I do that?

TUCKER: Well, of course.

DOBBS: Because I do speculate and do offer an opinion on issues like this.

This Justice Department, this Department of Homeland Security, the Bush administration has shown itself to be the least responsible administration in memory in terms of enforcing border security, port security and U.S. immigration laws. This administration has neither the will nor the guts to do the right thing, as the president likes to say, for America.

Bill Tucker, a fascinating report.

Keep us up to date.

Thank you.

TUCKER: Will do.

DOBBS: Tomorrow will be a very important day for Hazleton, Pennsylvania and its residents, and communities all over the nation, in fact, seeking to curtail the impact of illegal immigration. We have just learned here that a decision in the Hazleton case will likely be handed down tomorrow afternoon. The City of Hazleton was sued by the ACLU and other pro-amnesty groups after it enacted laws cracking down on employers who hire illegal aliens and landlords who rent to them.

We will have, of course, all of the developments in that case. Reporting to you live from Hazleton, Pennsylvania, tomorrow, Mr. Bill Tucker. He will be there.

And the mayor of Hazleton, Lou Barletta, will also be joining us live on this broadcast tomorrow evening.

Please join us for that.

And coming up next, the nation's largest Hispanic activist group says racism and hate killed the amnesty bill. I will be joined by the president of La Raza , Janet Murguia.

And later, a new threat to America's middle class. Senator Sherrod Brown joins me for his views on the link between so-called free trade and consumer safety and protection.

Stay with us.

We'll be right back.


DOBBS: The nation's largest Hispanic activist group continues to push its amnesty agenda. At its annual meeting in Miami this week, the National Council of La Raza blamed what it termed "a wave of hate" for the defeat of the grand bargain on illegal immigration.

The president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, Janet Murguia, joins me now from Miami.

Good to have you with us, Janet.


DOBBS: Your conference -- first, give me your most important, in your judgment, accomplishment this week.

MURGUIA: Well, I think we did a lot. We had a major workshop in which we brought in a number of folks to come and learn how to become citizens. And we actually helped them process their paperwork so they could leave that workshop ready to apply for citizenship.

DOBBS: Well, good...

MURGUIA: So we're doing our part to make sure that we're promoting citizenship at the National Council of La Raza. We think it's very important...

DOBBS: I agree...

MURGUIA: ...for folks and newcomers to make that step.

DOBBS: Oh, I think it's very important, indeed.

Congratulations to those who have joined us as American citizens.

MURGUIA: The other -- the other key point, Lou, is civic engagement. We are encouraging so many to -- including the Hispanic community -- to make sure that not only are we naturalizing folks so that they can become citizens, but that we encourage people to participate in the voting process and in our...

DOBBS: Well, I'll tell you...

MURGUIA: ...and in our democracy so that they can...

DOBBS: You and I may have argue about a lot of points on illegal immigration and border security. But one thing you and I are going to agree about every time is participatory democracy and the engagement of our citizens in the political process at every level.

MURGUIA: Well, it's a key...

DOBBS: Janet, let...

MURGUIA: It's a key priority for us. So, thank you.

DOBBS: Well, I think it's a key priority for all Americans, particularly with the choices we have coming up in 2008.

Let's turn to this statement by, is it your senior vice president, Munoz, who said that a wave of hate by radio talk show hosts is what killed the amnesty legislation?

MURGUIA: I think she was it was a factor. And it was. I don't think...

DOBBS: Well, actually, no. She said -- she said it was the reason.

MURGUIA: Well, I think what we meant to say is that it was a significant factor in, I think, changing the nature of the debate. And I've got a quote here from New Jersey-based radio host, Hal Turner, Lou, just to give you a sense of the sentiment that we saw and the wave that we heard.

"All of you" -- this is from Hal Turner -- "who think there is a peaceful solution to these invaders are wrong. We're going to have to start killing these people. I advocate using extreme violence against illegal aliens. Clean your guns. Have plenty of ammunition."

That's one quote.

I can give you a few others if you want me to go through...

DOBBS: Well...

MURGUIA: Neal Boortz with...

DOBBS: Well, the fact is that -- what's the guy's name, Hal Turner?

MURGUIA: That's correct.

DOBBS: Does he still have a job?

MURGUIA: He's a New York -- a New Jersey-based radio host, yes.


That is outrageous.

MURGUIA: So I just want you to understand...

DOBBS: And it's -- that's contemptible. That's all there is to that.

MURGUIA: Well, well that's what...

DOBBS: But you said -- but Munoz said a wave of hate. You know, as far as I'm concerned...

MURGUIA: Well, I could keep going, Lou.

DOBBS: Well, you could keep going...

MURGUIA: I could keep going with more quotes.

DOBBS: ...but we're not going to be able to talk if you keep going.

MURGUIA: OK. Well, I just want to make sure you understand...


Well, how many people...

MURGUIA: ...there is a significant...

DOBBS: ...are you talking about?

MURGUIA: Well, I think it was just -- there was a...

DOBBS: How many people? How many talk show hosts?

MURGUIA: It's a culture within the...

DOBBS: Oh, no, no, no. Don't give me the culture stuff.


DOBBS: You guys talked about a wave of hate. MURGUIA: That's right.

DOBBS: I want to hear. That's an extraordinary example.


DOBBS: I will guarantee you it's the exception to...

MURGUIA: No, it's...

DOBBS: And I talk with radio talk show hosts...


DOBBS: ...on this broadcast all the time.

MURGUIA: Well, Neal Boortz...


MURGUIA: Neal Boortz from Georgia, also on the radio...

DOBBS: Well, Janet, I've got to -- you know...

MURGUIA: ...gave...

DOBBS: can publicize these folks until, you know, until the cows come home.

MURGUIA: Well, you're -- you're challenging us.

DOBBS: No, I'm not challenging you.

MURGUIA: Lou, you are challenging us to say...

DOBBS: I'm asking to you tell me how many people, in your judgment, make up a wave of hate?

MURGUIA: There are several radio station jocks...


MURGUIA: Radio jocks -- disk jockeys...

DOBBS: (INAUDIBLE). That's good enough.

MURGUIA: ...who are promoting this sentiment.

DOBBS: Well, I condemn them...

MURGUIA: And it's not...

DOBBS: ...and I find them contemptible and I think...


DOBBS: will find nearly every American does.

MURGUIA: OK, well, then we agree that there was...

DOBBS: No, we agree that those people are contemptible.

MURGUIA: There was a sentiment, OK...

DOBBS: But Munoz used the expression a wave of hate.

MURGUIA: Well, let your viewers be the judge.

DOBBS: No. I'm just...

MURGUIA: I can...

DOBBS: I'm talking to you.

MURGUIA: Well...

DOBBS: I'll be the judge of my views...


DOBBS: ...and you be the judge of yours.


Well, I'm saying...

DOBBS: How in the world is that a wave of hate and why are we having even a discussion?

You are too bright of a lady.

MURGUIA: Did you hear that quote? It wasn't the only kind of -- quote of its kind, Lou.

DOBBS: Did you hear what you said?

You said a few radio stations.

MURGUIA: No. I said several of the radio disc jockey hosts were promoting this kind of rhetoric.



MURGUIA: ...were promoting this kind of rhetoric and it's a negative...

DOBBS: This is...

MURGUIA: ...rhetoric that...

DOBBS: Janet, I have to tell you, this is beneath the dignity of your organization to do this.

MURGUIA: Well...

DOBBS: Do you really believe that those radio talk show hosts, those several, as you put it -- I misquoted you, I said a few, you said several -- constitute a wave of hate?

Do you really, as an organization, a political organization, a social activist organization, really believe that this was an expression of the will of American citizens, Hispanic, black, white, Asian, whatever?

MURGUIA: I'm saying that radio station disc jockeys were promoting this kind of rhetoric and it added a negative element and the negative outcome to this debate.

DOBBS: Good lord, Janet, we have heard so many negative elements from the idiotic extremes from this debate -- the idiotic extremes on both sides of this debate.

This is not a -- this is news to you.

MURGUIA: Well, I want to make sure. You asked us to explain the comment. I think it's real out there, Lou. And our folks or feeling it.

And you know what?

People aren't making distinctions between immigrants and, in many cases, Hispanics. DOBBS: Yes. Right.

MURGUIA: ...because they see...

DOBBS: Oh, Janet...

MURGUIA: ...very little lines between how they identify the difference.

DOBBS: Janet...

MURGUIA: Lou, there was a local ordinance just passed in Prince William County...


MURGUIA: ...and it says that they're going to really look into anyone -- they're going to attempt to stop anyone who they suspect to be an undocumented...

DOBBS: What would you have...

MURGUIA: ...or an illegal...

DOBBS: What would you have them do, Janet?

People have entered this country illegally... MURGUIA: I would have them pass a law at the federal level...

DOBBS: Oh, yes.

MURGUIA: ...that will deal with this issue in a comprehensive way.

DOBBS: Well...

MURGUIA: That's the only way. Doing this local, state or (INAUDIBLE)...

You mean the one that was just defeated?

MURGUIA: I'm talking about -- yes, we need to continue to have...

DOBBS: You think that was a good law?

MURGUIA: ...leadership -- we need to have -- well, no, it was a law that should have gone on and gone to the House and it should received more debate.


MURGUIA: It should have received more attention. And we should have tried to get...

DOBBS: Janet, here's...

MURGUIA: ...immigration law in this country.

DOBBS: Here are the realities. And it's what socio-ethnic centric activist groups like yours are going to have to contend with. It's what the Chamber of Commerce and those business elites in this country are going to have to contend with. It's what our political elites are going to have to contend with.

The American people, of all races, of all quarters of the country, are awakening to the reality of what illegal immigration is, its source, the reasons for it and the interests of those groups supporting amnesty, open borders. And it's not going to be a simple game anymore.

MURGUIA: But, Lou, let me call on that. Lou, we do not support open borders.


MURGUIA: And you have to be careful how you're using...

DOBBS: Well, let me...

MURGUIA: ...your facts, OK?

DOBBS: ...let me explain to you how you support open borders.

MURGUIA: I do not support open borders.

DOBBS: You called for the passage of this legislation. It would have left -- 25 percent of illegal immigration would have been curtailed. Not a single one of the so-called triggers had to be in effect for amnesty to be put forward.

MURGUIA: Lou, this bill would have gone...

DOBBS: This administration...

MURGUIA: ...gone a long way to promoting a lot of enforcement -- a lot of enforcement provisions, a lot of security provisions and you it.

DOBBS: Where -- yes, well, I know what the General Accounting...

MURGUIA: And one of the reasons...

DOBBS: Here, let's go with the General -- the Congressional Budget Office, which stipulated point blank -- and not a single Senator of either party, the leadership or White House, had any reason to doubt it, because this nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that 75 percent of illegal immigration will continue under the terms of that proposed legislation.


DOBBS: Period.

MURGUIA: I have to. Look, we have -- we have a disagreement on what that bill would have done...

DOBBS: Well, those are facts.

MURGUIA: ...and it was...

DOBBS: What -- we can have different views, but we can't have different facts, can we?

MURGUIA: Well, yes, sometimes we can, Lou.

DOBBS: All right...

MURGUIA: I know that -- well, look, on one of your shows, you talked about that the fact that an illegal aliens or undocumented aliens were promoting leprosy.

DOBBS: I did not.

MURGUIA: And that was disputed.

DOBBS: Wait. Whoa, whoa, whoa. That's an absolute falsehood.

MURGUIA: Well...

DOBBS: That's a lie and that is beneath you. What we said was the National Leprosy...

MURGUIA: "60 Minutes"...

DOBBS: No, no. Excuse me.

MURGUIA: ..."60 Minutes" brought that out.

DOBBS: Excuse me.

MURGUIA: That's not me.

DOBBS: Excuse me.

MURGUIA: That's not me, Lou.

DOBBS: No, that's you. These are your words.

MURGUIA: But "60 Minutes"...

DOBBS: These are your words, Janet. What we said in an eight second comment two-and-a-half years ago -- which by the way, is exactly true -- is there are 7,000 cases of leprosy on the National Registry...

MURGUIA: There's no record of that.

DOBBS: For Hanson's Disease.

MURGUIA: There's no record of that. Even the...

DOBBS: Well, we will...

MURGUIA: ...the United States Health Department...

DOBBS: Would you please turn...

MURGUIA: Disputed that.

DOBBS: Would you like...

MURGUIA: There is a dispute on that and they never have said that.

DOBBS: Janet, we are engaged now. I love it, baby, because, you know what?

The gloves are off. We're going to deal with facts and the facts are precisely what I said they are.

MURGUIA: Well, while...

DOBBS: And you go check with the CDC and with the...

MURGUIA: ...they're disputed...

DOBBS: No, no. MURGUIA: Well, you're...

DOBBS: You dispute them and that...

MURGUIA: Look, I have to say it...

DOBBS: And that -- you'd have them -- you have them.

MURGUIA: That's not the case. And we can let your viewers go...

DOBBS: Well, I'm afraid you're...

MURGUIA: the United States Department of Health and they can see for themselves.


MURGUIA: ...that that is not the case.

DOBBS: We will be glad to put those numbers up on our Web site and on this show.

MURGUIA: Well, and we'll be glad to quote the United States Department of Health.

DOBBS: Please, would you do that?

MURGUIA: ...and show that that is not what it...

DOBBS: And what if...

MURGUIA: ...shows.

DOBBS: And what do you say those numbers are?

MURGUIA: But we have to stick to the main issue here.

DOBBS: No, no...

MURGUIA: ...Lou.

DOBBS: I want you on the record.

MURGUIA: Well, I'm on...

DOBBS: I want you to tell us that the federal government will dispute...

MURGUIA: I'm here -- Lou.

DOBBS: ...our number.

MURGUIA: I'm here. I'm here. I'm on the record. And I'm telling you...

DOBBS: Seven thousand. MURGUIA: And I'm telling you...

DOBBS: What's your number?

What's your number, Janet?

MURGUIA: There is no record -- there is no way that...



MURGUIA: ...the United States Department of Health can document that.

DOBBS: this one, like I said, we can't choose the facts...

MURGUIA: They do not document that.

DOBBS: They've got to all be together.

MURGUIA: They do not document that -- Lou.

DOBBS: Yes, they do.

MURGUIA: And I'm sorry...

DOBBS: I'm sorry, they do.

MURGUIA: I know you're pulling that out of there, but, look, the main issue is that we need to solve this...

DOBBS: Janet, you have to support what you're saying here...


DOBBS: ...because we are going to be relentless in demanding that you do so.

MURGUIA: I absolutely...


MURGUIA: I've been here...

DOBBS: OK. We have taken the "New York Times"...

MURGUIA: I've come...

DOBBS: ...and "60 Minutes" and the Southern Poverty Law Center to task time and time again for their utter nonsense.

MURGUIA: OK. Well...

DOBBS: And we will again.

MURGUIA: ...that's fine.


MURGUIA: The bottom line here, Lou, is we still...

DOBBS: La Raza, we join you...

MURGUIA: ...need comprehensive...

DOBBS: we join you. We join you in a wonderful discussion of facts and a concern for this nation and the common good, for all of our citizens.

Can we...


DOBBS: Can we conclude on that one?

MURGUIA: Absolutely.

DOBBS: Bless your heart.


DOBBS: Thank you, Janet.

MURGUIA: Thanks.

DOBBS: Janet Murguia, president of La Raza.

Up next, rising concern about the threat to our middle class.

We'll have that story and more.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: as we reported earlier in this broadcast, the country's trade policies are threatening our middle class and our nation's food supply and American consumers.

My guest tonight, Senator Sherrod Brown, is demanding more inspections of these imports.

And he joins us tonight from Capitol Hill.

Senator, good to have you with us.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Good to be back, Lou.

Thank you.

DOBBS: The numbers here are astonishing -- 80 percent of seafood, $60 billion now of food being imported into this country. And inspections, with every kind of rationalization one can imagine from the bureaucracy, not occurring.

BROWN: Well, we have fewer inspectors. We had 3,200 inspectors just a few years ago and now we only have 2,800 inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration. This is basically free trade on the cheek.

We're -- we're -- what did we expect?

If you open up our borders to China with the kind of huge numbers of food shipments -- 200,000 food shipments last year from China, double the number from four years ago, and China has no real regulatory system of food safety or consumer product safety. So it means in our living rooms and in our kitchens, consumer products, toys for children, food products -- we just can't guarantee the safety the way we should be able to.

DOBBS: Not only not guaranteeing their safety, but at our last check, two-thirds of the recalls were -- originated in China. It is -- it is incredible.

But the idea that FDA inspectors are declining while imports are surging, why is that happening?

BROWN: Well, it's happened because a conservative Congress, a very pro-business Congress, a pro, frankly, these -- a Congress that supports these job killing trade agreements. They don't -- they don't -- they want free trade on the cheek. They want to pass these trade agreements. They don't want to see any kind of food safety or environmental protections. And we end up with a situation like this, where apple juice has something called emulin (ph) in it, which may be a -- it's probably a harmful substance. We see contaminants in Vitamin C.

DOBBS: Right.

BROWN: We see all kinds of various problems in our food supply.

DOBBS: How far are you and Senator Do you believe in, Senator Byron Dorgan and others, going to take your concern for trade agreements to be effective?

BROWN: Well...

DOBBS: I'm sorry.

Go ahead.

BROWN: Yes, well, Senator Dorgan has been a leader on this, as you know, and been on the program with you many times.


BROWN: Senator Durbin and I are introducing -- have introduced legislation that would give the FDA the authority to approve or disapprove imports of food from whatever countries they determine. So that basically this bill would say to the Chinese, or any other country, if you build up your food safety regimen and regulatory system that's -- that's level with ours, that's comparable to ours, we'll accept your food shipments. That's what we need to do.

We also need, of course, to increase the number of food safety inspectors. We will do that. But we need to move forward in all of that.

DOBBS: And what about the outrage of country of origin labeling, which has been a law for five years but has been blocked by the Department of Agriculture, by hosts of lobbyists, very powerful lobbyists?

Is this Congress, this Senate, going to be able to break through that?

BROWN: Yes, we're going to break through that. We're, right now, working on the farm bill and one of the big parts of it is not just country of origin labeling, but making sure it goes in effect. Rosa DeLauro in the House has beat back any attempts when they tried to do that other year successfully.

DOBBS: Right.

BROWN: The Republican chairman of that subcommittee got defeated last November -- or December -- in a special election.


BROWN: We're going to see a different -- a different rule there. We're going to have country of origin labeling. It will go in effect soon and it will be enforced.

DOBBS: And it won't be voluntary?

BROWN: It will not be voluntary.

DOBBS: Like a lot of the (INAUDIBLE).

BROWN: It shouldn't be voluntary.

Yes, I mean I just say...

DOBBS: So, wait a minute...


DOBBS: And good for the House Agriculture Committee for standing up to those folks that I call all bull and no beef.

BROWN: Yes, that's the way to say it.

DOBBS: Senator Sherrod Brown, we thank you for being here.

BROWN: Thank you, Lou. DOBBS: We thank you for taking a look at these issues and doing something about them.

BROWN: Thank you for all you do.

DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour, "THE SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.


Coming up, electrical switches and coils seized from bags at airports -- does it mean terrorists are practicing for an attack?

Officials are warning police across the country to be on the alert.

Barry Bonds bats tonight, trying to make home run history. But he'll be battling under a new cloud of controversy. One man alleging Bonds used steroids. He says he has new details.

Also, he's covered every president for the past 50 years.

So what does he think about the Bush administration and the war in Iraq?

I'll ask veteran journalist Bob Novak. He names his new book after a name many people actually call him -- the Prince of darkness.

And could your overweight wife, husband or friends make you fat?

A new study asks, is obesity contagious?

And the answer is surprising.

All of that, Lou, coming up, right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

DOBBS: Well, I can tell you, I don't think it is. My wife is still slender and as beautiful as ever a quarter of a century later. So we've got at least one little bit of evidence on that one.

Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

DOBBS: Still ahead here, the results of our poll and some of your thoughts.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight -- 99 percent of you agree with Congressman Rohrabacher, the U.S. attorney, Johnny Sutton, should testify under oath before his committee next Tuesday or resign his position. Time now for a couple of your thoughts. Thousands of you e- mailing us about New Haven, Connecticut's decision to issue I.D. cards to illegal aliens there.

Paul in Texas said: "What happened in New Haven is appalling. The mayor should be impeached. As far as I'm concerned, be legal or be gone."

And Jerry in South Carolina: "Lou, good news. States that are troubled with the invasion of illegal aliens can pack them onto the next Greyhound bus bound for New Haven, Connecticut, where they are offered all the benefits of U.S. citizenship. Finally, a solution that satisfies everyone."

We thank you for being with us tonight.

Please join us here tomorrow evening. We're expecting the verdict in the case of the ACLU versus the City of Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

And among our guests, Mayor Lou Barletta of Hazleton and Dick Valcheck (ph) of the ACLU.

Join us for that, a great deal more tomorrow evening.

Thanks for watching.

Good night from New York.

"THE SITUATION ROOM" begins right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.