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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Same-Sex Marriage Amendment Fails; CAFTA Vote Delayed

Aired July 14, 2004 - 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, Senate Republicans fail to pass a constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage. Democrats said the effort was not about protecting the institution of marriage but rather about dividing the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The leadership is engaging in the politics of mass distraction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What harm will it do to do something that we know will actually protect the family?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: We'll have a live report from Capitol Hill.

And in our Face Off tonight, Senator Sam Brownback, the amendment's co-sponsor, will debate Senate Barbara Boxer, who voted against it.

Trade Delay. The White House has quietly admitted the controversial Central American Free Trade Agreement won't pass Congress any time soon. We'll have a special report, and we'll be joined by the chairman of the House Small Business Committee who's fighting to pass tougher trade laws with China. Congressman Don Manzullo is our guest.

Broken Borders. The Homeland Security Department shuts down a successful Border Patrol program that captured hundreds of illegal aliens in the past few weeks. The reason: Charges of racial profiling. We'll have a special report.

And "Running on Empty." Former Commerce Secretary Pete Peterson says both Democrats and Republicans are bankrupting this country's future. He's our guest tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for Wednesday, July 14. Here now for an hour of news, debate and opinion is Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening.

While the United States Senate has been focused on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, the Department of Homeland Security has focused on restraining the U.S. Border Patrol from doing its job. The government has shut down a successful Border Patrol operation that caught hundreds of illegal aliens. The reason: immigrants rights groups and one U.S. congressman said capturing people who enter this country illegally is racial profiling.

Casey Wian reports from Temecula, California.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a typical weekday afternoon, traffic speeds past the Border Patrol's Temecula checkpoint. Illegal alien apprehensions here are down sharply, partly because of tighter security at the Mexican border 70 miles to the south and also because the checkpoint is closed more often to avoid traffic jams.

Still, local Border Patrol agents have been busy lately. Last month, a new unit began taking tips from local police and residents and rounding up illegal aliens more than a hundred miles from the border.

SHAWN MORAN, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: The agents that were assigned to it felt like this is what they had signed up to do.

WIAN (on camera): Border Patrol agents say the mobile patrol group was an overwhelming success. Just 12 agents apprehended nearly 500 illegal aliens in less than three weeks.

MORAN: The agents felt good because the Border Patrol was actually out there doing something. We were being effective. The public was supporting us. Then to have the rug yanked out from under our feet.

WIAN (voice-over): Yanked by complaints from immigrant rights groups.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is John Ashcroft and George Bush using Gestapo tactics to create fear in our community.

ARMANDO NAVARRO, PROFESSOR, U.C. RIVERSIDE: They have fear of going to the market, fear of going to the gas station, fear of sending their children to school. We're not going to permit that to happen.

If their perception and their perspective is that Mexicanos and Latinos are pushovers politically, or the organization, they have a big mistake that they've made because we're not.

WIAN: Pressure also came from U.S. Congressman Joe Baca who accused the Border Patrol of racial profiling.

Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Asa Hutchinson responded in a letter stating that even though the enforcement actions were legal, they were against longstanding department policy.

The Border Patrol declined interview requests. Its union says the mobile patrol is officially under review, but, in practice, suspended.

MORAN: I've never seen a law-enforcement agent so vilified for doing their job. The Department of Homeland Security, the Customs and Border Protection Bureau -- they cater to these people. We set our immigration policy on the complaints of these few activists.

WIAN: Moran says morale is so low among Border Patrol agents, the local union is actually encouraging its members to leave if they can find better jobs.

Casey Wian, CNN, Temecula, California.

DOBBS: The U.S. State Department has revoked the visas of hundreds of foreign nationals who remain in this country illegally. Thirty-seven of those people have been identified as potential terrorists, but, because of a shocking loophole in federal law, those foreigners, including the potential terrorists, are permitted to remain in this country until they commit a crime.

Lisa Sylvester reports from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The State Department may revoke the visa of someone identified as a potential terrorist threat, but, if that person is already in the United States, there is legally little that authorities can do to have them removed. It's a glaring loophole congressional lawmakers hope to close.

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: The visa revocation process remains partially blind and needlessly porous to incursions by individuals who might pose a grave risk to our security.

SYLVESTER: The problem is that a revoked visa does not take effect until after the person leaves the United States.

The General Accounting Office found other breakdowns throughout the system. In a sampling of 35 cases last year, the GAO found three cases it took the State Department six months or longer to revoke visas after it received information from intelligence agencies. In 10 cases, the Department of Homeland Security either failed or took several months to notify immigration investigators that the individuals were in the country.

The GAO also found that the State Department, Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement all had inconsistent lists of people with revoked visas. The three agencies say they have made improvements since the issue was first raised in a GAO report last year. The agencies are now exploring ways to improve the system.

ROBERT JACKSTA, IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: We're going to go back and take a look at this, work with GAO to find out exactly what the problems were because I think we all agree that we can't have people being missed and can't be on separate lists.

SYLVESTER: The State Department is worried if it clamps down too hard, deporting suspects without a thorough investigation, the courts may challenge its authority to revoke visas. But lawmakers fear being too lenient lets terrorists take advantage of the legal system. (on camera): A new federal agency, the Terrorist Screening Center, has been formed to help coordinate information between law enforcement, DHS and the State Department. It's gone a long way to improving communication, but the GAO report found there is still a lag time in sharing information.

Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: And if you're frustrated by the lack of enforcement of our national immigration laws, imagine how local police feel all over the country. Police in New Hampshire have arrested dozens of illegal aliens, only to set them free. The Immigration and Naturalization Service says illegal aliens must be released unless they've committed a crime.

Jean Mackin of CNN affiliate WMUR reports from New Ipswich, New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEAN MACKIN, WMUR-TV REPORTER: New Ipswich police snapped photographs to document one of their most frustrating traffic stops. Monday, they pulled over a van for speeding. Inside, they found 10 people, nine of them illegal aliens, all allowed to go free under orders from the federal government.

CHIEF W. GARRETT CHAMBERLAIN, NEW IPSWICH POLICE DEPARTMENT: It was disheartening, you know, in this day and age when we've been asked so many times for our officers to step up their enforcement.

MACKIN: New Ipswich Police Chief Garrett Chamberlain says the illegal immigrants are all from Ecuador, and they paid up to $10,000 each to be smuggled into the U.S. through Mexico. Some arrived as recently as two months ago. Some have been here four years.

The U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization located in Manchester told police to let them all go.

CHAMBERLAIN: If they hadn't committed a crime, they weren't being held on charges, to release them, as they would not take custody of them.

MACKIN: Police did confiscate the van. It was not registered. And Chief Chamberlain snapped this picture as the group walked away, heading from New Hampshire to their home, they say, in Milford, Massachusetts.

CHAMBERLAIN: That was a picture that I took to basically solidify the whole situation. After two-and-a-half hours on the side of the road getting information from these people about how they got into the country, to have to just let them walk down the street carrying their backpacks, free to go is difficult to do.

(END VIDEOTAPE) DOBBS: We contacted the Department of Homeland Security about this story. A spokesman said, "In this particular case, the police department contacted a local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Manchester that, at the time, was not able to respond. The agent on duty asked the police department to collect biographical information on the suspected aliens and provide that information to ICE."

So far, we're told Immigration and Customs Enforcement has not received that information. The national office tells us a senior staff member will contact now the New Ipswich Police Department as early as tomorrow to explain how it can provide immigration services to the local police department.

In tonight's Campaign Journal, President Bush and Senator Kerry did not focus on immigration policy. President Bush, for his part, wrapped up a two-day tour of three Midwestern states that he lost in 2000. Talking today in Wisconsin, Bush said the Kerry-Edwards ticket will deliver more federal spending, economic isolationism and higher taxes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you hear them talking in Washington about running up those taxes, taxing the rich, really what you need to be hearing is they're going to tax small business owners, and that would be bad for this economy.

Now is not the time to be raising taxes on small businesses or on working people in America. Now's the time to make sure we got permanency in the tax code. Now is the time to make sure we don't ruin this economic growth by running up the taxes on the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Senator Edwards today made his first solo appearance on the campaign trail since joining the Kerry ticket. Speaking in Iowa, Edwards criticized President Bush on national security and failed intelligence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we need in the White House is somebody who has the strength, courage and leadership to take responsibility and be accountable not only for what's good, but for what's bad. That's what John Kerry will be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Senator Edwards also praised British Prime Minister Tony Blair today. Blair took full responsibility for British pre-war intelligence after a high-level investigation found it "seriously flawed." That report found Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction before the war and no plans to develop them, but the investigation found no evidence that anyone, including the prime minister, intentionally distorted British intelligence. That report comes less than a week after the Senate Intelligence Committee released a similar report concluding U.S. pre-war intelligence was also flawed.

That brings us to the subject of tonight's poll. Which issue is most important to you in the upcoming presidential election -- the war on terror, jobs, health care, or illegal immigration? Cast your vote at cnn.com/lou. We'll have the results later in the broadcast.

Coming right up here, the White House gives up on congressional approval of a controversial free trade agreement before the November election. We'll have that special report.

And Congressman Don Manzullo says the Bush administration needs to do more to tough pass tougher trade laws against China. He's our guest.

And then election less than four months away. Millions of American voters will use electronic machines with no paper records. We'll report on what is a last-minute effort to set up a backup system for e-democracy. That's next.

And then the Democrats' vice presidential candidate is on the campaign trail all by himself. We'll talk with two of the country's top political journalists about the campaign, gay marriage, and other issues, wedge and otherwise.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: President Bush has decided to delay a vote on the United States' next major free trade agreement. The Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, has become so controversial that the president will not ask Congress to vote on it until after the November election.

Peter Viles reports from Los Angeles.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CAFTA is the centerpiece of the Bush administration's trade agenda, but the president is now telling his allies that CAFTA will have to wait a while. This was Monday.

The president of El Salvador met with President Bush and then told reporters he gets the message: CAFTA is too hot a topic for a presidential election year.

PRESIDENT ANTONIO BACA, EL SALVADOR (through translator): Bush is aware that CAFTA is very important, but, given the upcoming elections, we will have to revisit the issue with CAFTA.

VILES: Democrats have been saying for months that CAFTA is in so much trouble in Congress that it won't even come up this year. This was key Democrat Charlie Rangel back in May.

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Even the president's people are beginning to say that this is a loser if the president signs it, but the committee hasn't got enough votes really to do anything with it.

VILES: Republican leadership still supports CAFTA. They just don't appear to have the votes in their own party to push it through, not with trade tensions rising and the trade deficit running at a record pace, all of which means CAFTA's survival may now hinge on the president's reelection in November because Democrat John Kerry has already voiced strong opposition to CAFTA. The day it was signed, he called it "a disappointing and unnecessary step backwards that will actually make the current trade situation worse."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VILES: Now the House today did approve a free trade deal with Australia, but that is a much less controversial agreement mainly because we run a trade surplus with Australia and, also, Senator Kerry has endorsed that agreement -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, those surpluses are so rare, one would think there would be a lot of bipartisan support for that agreement.

VILES: Big vote in the House. More than 300 votes for that Australian agreement.

DOBBS: As forecast.

Peter Viles, thank you very much.

VILES: Sure.

DOBBS: Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill today, the House Small Business Committee held a hearing on another controversial trade issue. That is China's unfair trade practices. My guest tonight is calling for a crackdown on Chinese abuse of trade laws. Congressman Don Manzullo of Illinois co-sponsored a bill that he says would give American companies a chance to compete with the Chinese.

Congressman Manzullo is chairman of the House Small Business Committee and joins us tonight from Capitol Hill.

Mr. Chairman, good to have you here.

REP. DON MANZULLO (R-IL), SMALL BUSINESS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Hi, Lou. How are you?

DOBBS: Well, I'm outstanding, and I know you are in a balancing act. You are trying to toughen trade laws, at the same time stay clearly aligned with your president.

MANZULLO: Well, what we did today -- what we did today, Lou, is we held a hearing on enforcement of existing trade laws. We had people there from the TV industry, people from the furniture city and, with a victory already in the semiconductor industry, talking about effective use of the trade laws that we have.

We talked about Congressman English's bill which would put China in the position of making the Chinese government responsible for subsidizing their companies and thus have them subjected to what are called countervailing duties.

DOBBS: Congressman, few people in Congress work harder to represent manufacturing businesses in their district than you. Few are more concerned with the issues than you.

But, my gosh, it should be no surprise to anyone in Congress, whether Republican or Democrat, whether this administration or the previous, that with record trade deficits year after year, this country can't sustain it.

Why in the world aren't these laws, these treaties with enforcement provisions being enforced?

MANZULLO: Well, Lou, one of the problems of dealing with the Chinese is wackamole. You go in there, and you knock down -- you get one victory, you turn right around, and they rear up their head with some other corporate name on it, and you have to start an action all over again.

We have the trade laws -- most of the trade laws that are necessary to be competitive with the Chinese. The problem is getting the word down to the small- and medium-size businesses and making the remedies more affordable so they can get the law firms involved in order to bring the necessary lawsuits.

DOBBS: The Chinese are outsmarting us. I would ask you to correct me if -- I put it in just plain terms. The Chinese are outsmarting us in every possible way in our trade relationship. Would you say that's a fair statement?

MANZULLO: Yes and no. The -- what we have seen is obviously -- you know, first of all, we're being clobbered by the Chinese, but it's also serving as an incentive for the manufacturing sector in our country to work more diligently at becoming more competitive.

So, you know, we have to fight two wars, Lou. We have to fight wars to have free and fair trade, and then also we have to fight to get more research and development and innovation to keep us more competitive.

DOBBS: And this administration, this Congress is not at this point moving any incentive forward for research and development, for investing in manufacturing. There is no tax incentive whatsoever in that regard.

MANZULLO: Well, Lou, that's not true. That's not true because -- even though I voted against the FSC-ETI bill on extra territory income tax, this Congress has made a commitment that -- coming out of the Senate and House conference that we're going to be spending about $80 billion or more on incentives for manufacturers to manufacture in the United States. Plus, we're upping R&D. The Manufacture Extension Program got upped -- it was knocked down $37 million. It's up to $109 million.

Congress just, you know, went against the administration but reinforced the Small Business 7(a) Loan Program. Plus, the enforcement actions brought by the Bush administration have been double those brought by the Clinton administration during the like period of time. It's just that...

DOBBS: Do you really want -- the Clinton administration brought us WTO, NAFTA and deficits that expanded over the course of its tenure. Do you really think that that's an ideal comparison to -- this to that?

MANZULLO: No, no, no. No, what I'm saying is that the Bush administration has brought more market access and compliance cases, intellectual property cases and anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases than the Clinton administration has done. In other words, using existing laws to help protect American manufacturers.

DOBBS: Mr. Chairman...

MANZULLO: We have a long way to go, but we're going in the right direction.

DOBBS: Mr. Chairman, if -- in all due respect, we may be going in the right direction in that one sliver of history that you referred to. We're going in decidedly the wrong direction in terms of our trade deficits, our dependence on imported -- not only imported oil, but imported capital. We are absolutely dependent upon it to support our buying of imports.

MANZULLO: That's correct. That's correct.

DOBBS: How -- why is there not a sense of urgency in Washington? Is it simply because this administration has decided that it's going to support free trade no matter what the cost to American workers and this country?

MANZULLO: Lou, one of the problems is -- and most people don't understand this -- you know, when you see the Buy USA label, Buy America, a label on products?

DOBBS: Right.

MANZULLO: Focus groups and surveys indicate that Americans, when they see that label, will decide not to buy it because they presume it's more expensive than an import. So the consumer has to make a decision.

I mean, I only drive automobiles that are made in the United States. You know, I've made that decision. When I go to buy some furniture, I want to make sure it comes from John Bassett in Virginia or somewhere else, that it's made in America.

But American consumers are not insisting on buying items made in America, and, therefore, that means that cheap imported items come in, thus displacing American jobs. It's a vicious cycle... DOBBS: Do you...

MANZULLO: ... that's going on.

DOBBS: A vicious cycle, and, as you know, Mr. Chairman, most Americans can't even begin to find something of -- in terms of a pair of clothing that's made in this country...

MANZULLO: That's correct. That's correct.

DOBBS: ... because we've already lost that opportunity and are going to have to rebuild if we're going back into text textile business.

MANZULLO: That's true. Right.

DOBBS: Congressman, I'd like to have you back. Maybe we can talk about...

MANZULLO: Sure.

DOBBS: What is implicit in what you're saying is a buy America campaign, to see whether or not you would support that, and whether you think that's an appropriate way to go as well.

MANZULLO: Well, we've supported that all along to make sure the government follows those procurement laws.

DOBBS: Right. And, Congressman Don Manzullo, as always, it's good to talk with you. Come back soon.

MANZULLO: Thanks, Lou.

DOBBS: Appreciate it.

MANZULLO: Appreciate it. Bye-bye.

DOBBS: E-voting. Well, that was one of the ideas to revolutionize American democracy in the 21st century. Backers called it more accurately an easier way to vote and particularly after the backlash surrounding the 2000 presidential election.

Now there is a backlash about e-voting itself. The experts are scrambling to figure out how to make e-voting machines more secure before the upcoming presidential election.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The National Academy of Sciences is holding a two-day workshop to figure out how to secure e-voting for the presidential election in November.

David Dill, professor of computer science at Stanford University and founder of verifiedvoting.org, says the fuss over e-voting has made a difference in stopping some states from implementing the new systems.

DAVID DILL, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: In Ohio, they've made the prudent decision to deny buying electronic voting. Even if you love electronic voting, it would be a bad idea to convert so few months before the election.

PILGRIM: But 50 million voters in 28 states will still vote electronically, many without a paper backup to their electronic vote.

KIMBALL BRACE, ELECTION DATA SERVICES: It's really too late to really make significant changes in preparation for 2004. After all, the train has already left the station on its way down the tracks for the whole preparation of the elections process.

PILGRIM: Computer experts are frustrated that despite the studies the fact studies a year ago pointed to the problems, many states went ahead anyway. So now they are pushing for a backup option of paper ballots for voters who want to avoid the electronic system.

AVI RUBIN, JOHN HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: We're dealing with a technology that's not secure, that's been shown to be insecure, and it's being rolled out all at once to the point where millions and millions of people are going to be voting on this pretty much unproven and untested technology.

PILGRIM: Protesters in 19 states this week took part in the "Computer Ate My Vote" campaign, hoping that last-minute safeguards will be put in place.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Legislation in the House and Senate proposes various safeguards, but it's unclear if anything will pass before the election. The Federal Election Assistance Commission is coming out with a best practices list in the coming weeks, which basically recommends procedures to ensure the election will go as smoothly as possible -- Lou.

DOBBS: Procedures to ensure?

PILGRIM: It's basically damage control at this point.

DOBBS: And I we've got to be very straightforward about that. This is a situation in which we may well face a much greater problem than in 2000.

PILGRIM: The experts are quite upset. Only one-half of 1 percent of electronic voting will give the voter a verifiable paper record of what they've done.

DOBBS: Just when you think, et cetera. All right. Kitty, thanks.

Kitty Pilgrim.

Just ahead, Senate Republicans fail to pass a constitution amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. The divide over gay marriage is at the center of tonight's Face Off.

President Bush and John Kerry on the campaign trail. We'll hear from two of the country's top political journalists.

Critics say he ran a rogue intelligence operation that competed with the CIA. The Pentagon is fighting back. Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre with that story coming right up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: LOU DOBBS TONIGHT continues. Here now for more news, debate and opinion, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: The Senate today failed to pass a procedural vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. In a stinging election year defeat for the Republican majority, opponents of that amendment blocked the full Senate vote ending debate on the issue. The final vote was 48-50 opposed to the amendment.

Congressional Correspondent Ed Henry reports from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republicans fell 12 votes short of continuing the debate and 19 votes shy of the 67 needed to change the Constitution. Democrats and gay rights groups were ecstatic.

CHERYL JACOBUS, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN: Today, we saw President Bush and the Republican leadership attempt to divide America, and it backfired, instead dividing their own party.

HENRY: The Republican sponsor of the amendment insisted the vote was a positive first step.

SEN. WAYNE ALLARD (R), COLORADO: We think getting the number of votes that we did on a first try in the Senate was definitely a success.

HENRY: But Republicans had been hoping for a much better showing, which became impossible when prominent moderates like John McCain peeled off.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The constitutional amendment we're debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans.

HENRY: This gave cover to Democrats facing tough reelection fights, like Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: Senator McCain is right. We should oppose this amendment today.

HENRY: But Republicans believe the vote will backfire on Democrats politically and that the GOP will ultimately prevail on the issue. SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: This is a big country and it's a very active one. I think you will see this issue churning and, ultimately, we will win this fight. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: Senators John Kerry and John Edwards skipped this vote, saying it was just procedural and their votes wouldn't have tipped the balance anyway. Edwards, however, did put out statement charging that Republicans are trying to use the constitution as a political tool.

A Bush/Cheney campaign aide responded by saying, in part, quote, "it takes a special kind of Senator to attack others over a vote that they don't show up for -- Lou.

DOBBS: A lot of special senators involved in this one. Thank you very much Ed Henry.

Critics of the amendment to ban gay marriages have charged Republicans with playing politics. Backers of the amendment say their goal is to protect the institution of marriage. The Gay Marriage Amendment is the subject of our "Face-Off" tonight.

Joining us Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas. He co- sponsored the amendment. Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California. She says the amendment was nothing more than election year politics.

We thank you both for being here. Senator Brownback, if I may begin with you. This is a significant defeat. Word is that Republican Party on this issue.

BROWNBACK: Well, I think it leaves the Republican Party where it has been all along, in support of marriage being the union of a man and woman.

And this is not an unusual place for these things to develop at this point in time. This issue is driven by the courts. It's being pushed forward by the courts. And what we're trying to get is the elective bodies involved in this. As we've seen many of the states start to pick this up on state constitutions. We're needing to address the issue. We need to address this at the federal constitutional level. And it would be great if we didn't have to, but the courts are engaged and the courts are pushing this. And if we don't address it you'll have a redefinition of marriage done by the courts without the people speaking.

DOBBS: Senator Boxer?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER, (D) CALIFORNIA: Well, first of all, not one federal court has even ruled on this. So, this whole thing is timed because they wanted to have a vote before the Democratic Convention.

And you know, I engage in politics. I think it is a worthy career. I have done it for awhile. But you don't need a degree in political science to see how the timing of this was just before the Democratic election. And to hurt certain Senators.

But there's two things I would like to respond to that Senator Brownback, my friend, said. No. 1, he said the Republicans have come out strong and so on. Well, they were divided. That's No. 1. And even Lynne Cheney, who isn't in the Senate, spoke out. George Wills spoke out on our side and on the more moderate Republican side. So it's a very interesting kind of lineup.

And also, this wasn't about whether you are for gay marriage or domestic partnerships or civil unions I don't understand. It was about should we amend the constitution. That's what this was about.

DOBBS: Senator Brownback, let me ask you this: The issue of amending the U.S. constitution and denying marriage to same sex couples, that would be the only amendment that was constraining of rights rather than embracing or empowering. Does that give you pause at all?

BROWNBACK: Not on this in the least. And the reason I say that is, you're talking about the fundamental institution around which we build families in this country. And you're talking about a fundamental institution that's been under attack for nearly 40 years and in a lot of difficulty. And you're talking about a fundamental institution that you've seen in other countries that have engaged in same sex unions has declined even further.

And so really what you're talking about is the children. Where's the optimal setting? And what can we do to encourage that family and that mother and father bonded together for life in a low conflict union that raises children that will be the next generation?

Children are raised in a lot of different settings nowadays. That's certainly the case. But we know the optimal place. We know the place we want to push for. And I think that's worthy of enshrining in the constitution with a simple statement that marriage in the United States is a union of a man and woman.

DOBBS: Senator Boxer?

BOXER: I have to say that is the most pessimistic view of marriage I have ever heard. Marriage has been under attack for 40 years? Not in my community. Not where I live.

And I have to tell you, if we want to ease the burden from families there are things we need to do. Lou, you've talked about the outsourcing of jobs and the pressure that's putting on our families. We see that the income has gone up about 1 percent while cost of health insurance and college tuition is running away.

So if there are ways that we can help marriage, let's do it. But let's not amend the constitution for something that isn't even a threat at this point. It doesn't even make any sense at all.

DOBBS: May I ask you this, Senator Boxer. Because Senator Brownback raises the issue referring to some of the Scandinavian studies in which same sex marriages have been permitted -- unions, in many cases. There has been a decline in the institution of marriage. How do you respond to that particular relationship?

BOXER: You know, it's interesting that they're making this relationship and they did this on the floor of the Senate, that my friend Sam and others, that said that because -- and they use the Netherlands -- allows gay marriage, there's been more illegitimate children.

And I don't really get that tie-in. I have looked at it and I have seen a bigger rise in Ireland, where there is no gay marriage and illegitimate children.

So I don't really see the connection. I think what's important here -- and Sam is right to talk about children. We want to make sure that children are raised in loving homes. That's important. That separate and apart, whether or not we have a constitutional amendment here. And that was the issue today.

DOBBS: Senator Brownback, you have the last word.

BROWNBACK: It's not separate and apart. We know the best place to raise children. We know the ideal. We know how difficult that ideal is to achieve, of having that loving parents together and bonded together for life. But we should push for that ideal. And I see no problem with putting in the constitution that the marriage in the United States is the union of a man and woman. It's something that's written on our hearts. And we understand that that's the right way and the right place to do that. It's important for the future of this country.

DOBBS: Senator Brownback, Senator Boxer we thank you for being here.

BROWNBACK: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Tonight's thought is on the constitution. "The constitution is not a panacea for every blot upon the public welfare, nor should this court, ordained as a judicial body be thought of as a general haven for reform movements." That from Supreme Court Justice John Marshal Harlan.

Taking a look now at some of your thoughts.

Sandra Jordan of Bonham, Texas, "at a time when Americans are worried about jobs, terrorists, healthcare and education, Senate Republicans are worried about gay marriage."

Tom Porter of Magnolia, Texas, "isn't it amazing how our elected officials in Washington are serving us by talking about an amendment to our constitution regarding same-sex marriage. I thought they were there to solve issues like voter rights protection, creating good will with our allies, protecting our borders, helping working people put food on our table, educating those who need it, helping in the fight against corporate greed and helping every American citizen realize the American dream."

And Grant in Nashville, Tennessee, "if conservatives oppose gay sex, shouldn't they be in favor of gay marriage. After all, everyone knows, after a few years of marriage, there's practically no sex anymore."

We love hearing from you. E-mail us at loudobbs@CNN.com.

Coming up next, the Pentagon is fighting back, asking Senator Jay Rockefeller to back up his claim about wrongdoing by a top civilian Pentagon official. We'll have that special report.

And running on empty: I'll be talking with author Pete Peterson about his new book on the bankrupting of America and blaming squarely 2 parties, Republicans and Democrats. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Tonight the Pentagon is taking the extraordinary step of asking a U.S. senator for an apology. The Pentagon has challenged Senator Jay Rockefeller after he criticized one of the Pentagon's top civilian officials. Senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: In the crosshairs is policy chief Doug Feith, the number three civilian at the Pentagon. Critics accused him of running a rogue intelligence operation that competed with the CIA and they have unduly influenced top administration officials who are making the case for war. And this is the remark by the ranking Democrat on the Senate select intelligence committee that drew the Pentagon's ire.

SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Was he running a private intelligence failure which is not lawful?

MCINTYRE: Powell Moore, the Pentagon's top liaison with Congress fired off a terse letter. "I request that if you have any evidence supporting the serious charge you floated during your press conference, you provide it," he wrote. "If there is not evidence, then a retraction and apology would be appropriate."

Feith has publicly denied that in searching for links between al Qaeda and countries including Iraq, he did anything more than take a second look at existing intelligence.

DOUGLAS FEITH, UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The idea that we would look at it again in light of September 11 and maybe see some new things in it shouldn't be that surprising.

MCINTYRE: The Senate intelligence committee report on prewar intelligence barely mentions Feith and reaches no conclusion that his small team of analysts did anything unlawful.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: They were asked to review intelligence reports on a certain subject which they did which is the perfectly proper thing for policy people to do. MCINTYRE: But Rockefeller isn't retracting or apologizing, insisting the jury is out while a second phase of the investigation is ongoing.

"When the committee finishes its review of these activities, we will be able to determine if, in fact, Undersecretary Feith was running an unauthorized intelligence activity," he said in a written response to the Pentagon. Rockefeller argues Feith failed to keep Congress informed which could violate oversight requirements.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it your contention that that didn't violate any law?

LAWRENCE DI RITA, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: Yes, it is. That's certainly our belief at the time and it's certainly our continued understanding now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: The Pentagon argues that Feith and his small staff didn't gather any intelligence. They only analyzed it. Senate intelligence report concluded that that analysis had little effect on the overall conclusion of the experts at the CIA -- Lou.

DOBBS: In the midst of all these claims, Feith, I think it's fair to point out, is amongst those identified as so-called neocons who were passionate in their advocacy of war against Saddam Hussein, is that not correct, including Secretary Wolfowitz as well?

MCINTYRE: Well, certainly, Secretary Wolfowitz was one of the main ones. Of course Rumsfeld was cited. Feith is the number three policy guy. He's a little more understated than Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld but he is a force behind the scene, the policy maker and he was the one that was helping provide Secretary Rumsfeld with the kind of information that he was using to make the case in public.

DOBBS: And the investigation that you reported, as we will have some determination, suggested by Senator Rockefeller as to precisely what was going on. When will that be forthcoming?

MCINTYRE: Well, there's a second phase of this investigation that's going on, that's going to be coming out in the weeks and months ahead. And right now, this initial phase really was -- didn't answer the question of whether Feith's operation here at the Pentagon played any sort of -- had any sort of undue influence. But they're going to be looking at that and presumably be able to come to some conclusion in the next phase of the investigation.

DOBBS: And presumably the Pentagon and the senator will continue to have -- what is it you say in Washington? A full and frank exchange of views?

MCINTYRE: They're agreeing to disagree at the moment.

DOBBS: Jamie, thank you very much. Jamie McIntyre, senior Pentagon correspondent. Coming up next, "Running On Empty." Former Commerce Secretary Pete Peterson says the Democrats are to blame. So are the Republicans. They're bankrupting together this country's future. His new book tells Americans what we can all do about it. Pete Peterson is my guest next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: My next guest is among other things chairman of the Blackstone Group, former secretary of commerce and in his new book Pete Peterson, who was commerce secretary under President Nixon, says the Republicans and Democrats alike have mortgaged this country's future through reckless tax cuts, out of control spending and Enron- style accounting in Congress.

Pete Peterson, the author of "Running On Empty," good to have you with us.

Peter, a lot of people would be surprised, a Republican of impeccable conservative credentials, your fiscal policies conservative throughout, blaming both parties. Are you hearing from your friends in the Republican party?

PETE PETERSON, CHAIRMAN, THE BLACKSTONE GROUP: Let's just say that the enthusiasm for some is a bit restrained about what I'm saying. But I'm not writing this book from the vantage point of Republicans or Democrats. I'm writing it as a grandfather who's got nine great grandchildren and ringing in my ears, Lou, is the book that I read by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German philosopher. He said the ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world we leave to our children.

DOBBS: We're doing a beautiful job there, aren't we?

PETERSON: Doubling our payroll taxes, unthinkable debt. How could we possibly be doing this to our own kids? So that's where I'm coming from.

DOBBS: Pete, the fiscal policy. I have known you for years and the idea that a Republican administration and Republican Congress would be putting record budget deficits into the books has got to just astound you.

PETERSON: Well, let's give each party equal time.

DOBBS: I'll get to the other guys.

PETERSON: My party is theological at the moment. It's faith driven. I don't have any evidence to support what they're doing. There's hardly a tax cut they've met that they don't like. And I was presumably educated at the University of Chicago where Milton Friedman said "the tax cut is not a tax cut long-term unless you cut spending."

So what are they doing about spending? Not Pete Peterson. The Cato Institute says they're suspending an explosion. Dick Armey, a very conservative Republican, says, "I can't pin this one on the Democrats. We're in total control."

So, there is this combination of very, very low taxes and very, very big spending. And we're forgetting the future in the course of that.

DOBBS: And I would add to this as you talk about faith-based economics, which seems to be the hallmark as you put it of the Republican party right now or certainly this administration, this Congress with its trade policy, whether it is investment policy. It's remarkable. Let's talk about the other guys, the Democrats.

PETERSON: They've got their own theology. And if I can use their religious metaphor, it's an unholy alliance.

DOBBS: On this broadcast we're absolutely ecumenical. You can do whatever you wish.

PETERSON: All right. The Democrats' theology, what is it? They haven't met an entitlement they don't like. And let's look at the current situation. I don't know of a single person, Lou, who has looked at the Medicare programs going forward that really understands, that thinks they're sustainable. And as Herb Stein used to say, "if something is unsustainable, it tends to stop."

So what's their complaint about the current situation? That the programs aren't big enough. So that you have this unwholly combination of Republicans and Democrats that are just shifting all this debt and responsibility to our kids.

DOBBS: You know, one of the things in your book, there's a number of -- nearly all of the book I think is revelatory but when you put in context the number of people living in poverty who are actually receiving federal assistance and that percentage is about 10 percent, right? I'm not going to give away everything in the book but, I mean, it is so startling and so eye-opening for any reader. And I encourage anyone who is interested in these issues certainly to buy the book. Very quickly what are the odds that we're going to see a solution?

PETERSON: Well, there are two possibilities. There's got to be a lot of truth telling here. Because I don't have any feeling, Lou, that our parents have suddenly lost interest in their kids. When we tell people the trust fund, which is a joke, is going to take care of Social Security for 50 years we can't blame them. It's going to take a lot of truth telling. It's going to take a bold president. It's going to take, in my part, a bipartisan effort. Now, that's one approach.

Other approach is what Bob Ruben (ph) and Paul Volcker (ph) and other people feel. You talk all the time, my friend, about the trade deficit. We ought to be spending more time on the foreign deficit that has to be financed. We're now importing over $500 billion a day. And as a friend of mine said, I now understand supply side economics. The foreigners supply the goods and they supply the capital. And the question, how long are they going to be willing to supply that capital?

We're taking a huge risk, in my opinion.

DOBBS: I couldn't agree with you more. One of the reasons we focus on trade, outsourcing, not the dependency not only foreign oil but the dependency on foreign capital. Billion and a half a day just to buy those goods while our own manufacturing base erodes. Pete Peterson, you ought to be congratulated for a terrific book highlighting crucial issues.

PETERSON: Thank you, my friend.

DOBBS: Good to see you. Thank you.

When we continue two of the country's leading journalists join me. We'll hear their views on this campaign. How is it going for Senator Kerry, how's it going for President Bush.

The gay marriage debate, a wedge issue, a distraction, what in the world is going on in Washington. They'll tell us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The presidential election now less than four months away.

How are the candidates doing?

Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent "Time" magazine, E.J. Dionne, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution -- institution and -- I can almost get that out.

First let's start with you, Karen, the gay amendment.

Did this really blow up in the face of the Republicans?

KAREN TUMULTY, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Boy, it sure did. You know, the irony here is that this was supposed to be a wedge issue all right. And they assumed it was going to do what the polling said it was going to do, which was divide the Democrats. But instead it turned out to divide the Republicans. And I think that's a measure of some really deft politicking on the part of the Democrats who were able to change this from a debate over gay marriage to a debate over amending the constitution, where they could pick off some conservative Republicans.

DOBBS: Deft, E.J., was it also ineptitude on the part of the Republican strategists?

E.J. DIONNE, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I think it made a huge mistake going down this constitutional amendment path. I was struck when you were talking earlier with Senator Brownback. He kept trying to bring it back to the courts. We don't want to courts to decide this. If they just let the issue where it was and had the agreement over should the courts decide this, and if there is something wrong, we can do something later, they'd be in a much stronger position. There are lots of people, including conservatives who don't want the federal government to decide what laws on marriage should be. To impose San Francisco law on Utah or Utah law on San Francisco. And I think they made a terrible mistake from their own point of view, they took the weakest version in their own argument.

DOBBS: It looks like the Democrats may have done something right in selecting Edwards, Senator Kerry's running mate. According to the "Time" magazine poll, 43 percent of those voters, registered voters saying Edwards would be a better president versus 38 percent for Dick Cheney.

TUMULTY: And then this at a time when almost everyone says they know virtually nothing about Senator Edwards. This is as much a measure of Vice President Dick Cheney and his unpopularity as it is of anything that the Democrats have done. But we saw Senator Edwards today on his first day of campaigning by himself in the Midwest, which I think he is practically going to take up residence in that region over the next few months. And he's brought some energy to the Kerry campaign.

DOBBS: Energy brought by Edwards to the Kerry/Edwards ticket.

E.J., is there energy, is there momentum for the Bush/Cheney ticket?

DIONNE: Well, first of all, on Edwards, he's brought energy to John Kerry which may turn out to be the most important part of his contribution to this election. I think the Bush/Cheney ticket is in a lot of trouble, especially given this Senate report. The Senate report doesn't explicitly say they pushed an intelligence officials, but the president now has to go around and say well, this Senate report happened, but we still should be in Iraq. It creates a question in the minds and middle of the road voters who have doubts about this war and I think their doubts increased this week. And the president, I thin,k it's a hard road for him to answer.

DOBBS: We've got just very little time. Let me ask you quickly what you see as the most important issue in favor of the candidacy of President Bush?

Karen, I'll throw that question to you.

TUMULTY: Certainly, the president believes he's going to win on this idea that America is safer because he's in the White House. And that is going to be the premise that's put to the test between here and November.

DOBBS: E.J., the most important?

DIONNE: I think Karen's right. I think his hope is that the economy would improve enough that maybe it would push Iraq off to the side, which is exactly the opposite of what he was counting on six months or a year ago.

DOBBS: The most important issue for Kerry, E.J.?

DIONNE: Middle class squeeze. What he's going to argue, a, the economy isn't improving as fast as Bush claims, b, because of high oil prices, high health care costs the economy isn't good for the middle class. DOBBS: Karen, with about 10 seconds you get the last word.

TUMULTY: I think though he's first going to have to clear this bar on national security, because I don't think people listen to any of these other arguments until they're convinced that he can handle that.

DOBBS: Karen Tumulty, E.J. Dionne, we thank you both for being here.

DIONNE: Thank you.

TUMULTY: Thank you.

DOBBS: Coming up next the results of our "Poll Tonight." Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The results of our poll. Fourteen percent of you say the war terror is the most important issue in this presidential election, 39 percent say jobs, 31 percent say health care, 17 percent illegal immigration.

Please join us here tomorrow. Our special report, "Broken Borders" cracking down on the kingpins behind the growing immigrant smuggling business. We hope you'll be with us. For all of us here, good night from New York. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is next.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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