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Massive Redeployment of U.S. Troops Announced; Interview With Susan Collins, Carl Levin

Aired August 16, 2004 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, President Bush announces the biggest shake-up in U.S. troop deployments overseas since the end of the Cold War.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over the next 10 years, we will bring home about 60,000 to 70,000 uniformed personnel.


DOBBS: Two leading members of the Senate armed services committee join me to talk about redeployment, intelligence reform and much more. Republican Senator Susan Collins and Democratic Senator Carl Levin are my guests.

And tonight, Floridians are struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Charley. We'll have full coverage.

Global oil prices fell today after Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez survived a recall. We'll have a report from Caracas.

And the United Nations blasts the United States in an incredible brash attempt to interfere with American border security policies.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously the U.N.'s number one concern is not the national security of the United States.


DOBBS: Tonight, our special report, "Broken Borders."

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for Monday, August 16th.

Here now for an hour of news, debate and opinion is Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening. Tonight President Bush says he will bring home more than 150,000 troops, civilian workers and family members from overseas.

The United States has based troops in Europe and Asia for the past half century. President Bush says the U.S. military must be more agile to fight the global war on terror. President Bush announced 70,000 uniformed personnel and 100,000 family members and civilian workers will return to the United States. The restructuring, the since the Cold War ended, will take place over the next decade.

President Bush said it will better position the U.S. military to fight global terrorism.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over the coming decade, we'll deploy a more agile and more flexible force, which means that more of our troops will be stationed and deployed from here at home.

We will move some of our troops and capabilities to new locations, so they can surge quickly to deal with unexpected threats.


DOBBS: There are 105,000 American troops based in Europe, 70,000 of them in Germany. The 1st armored division and the 1st infantry division located in Germany will be returning to the United States.

They will be replaced by a striker brigade with 3,000 to 5,000 troops. At the earliest, the move would take place in 2006. Air Force fighter jets, including a wing of F-16s, may be relocated from Germany to Turkey's Incirlik base.


MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The removal of air forces from Germany to Turkey again puts them closer to where they might be needed.


DOBBS: Under a plan, a third of the 37,000 troops now in South Korea will be withdrawn. The remaining troops will be moved south of the demilitarized zone.

U.S. troops have been in the DMZ for more than 50 years. Soldiers in the field are not concerned their departure will lessen security on the peninsula.


CAPT. RYAN ROBERTS, U.S. ARMY: The way the Army is going, there are units of action that can deploy from anywhere. So really there's not a big necessity to keep soldiers here. It's more of a symbolic gesture.


DOBBS: Thirty-eight thousand troops are based in Japan and Guam. Those troops, too, eventually will be moved. And top national security advisers to Senator John Kerry immediately accused President Bush of playing politics with the U.S. military, but the Bush administration says the troops must be re- deployed to be ready for future conflicts.

Dana Bash is traveling with President Bush and joins us tonight from Traverse City, Michigan -- Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the White House says that this is actually the biggest realignment of U.S. troops abroad in some 50 years. And it's worth noting that the commander in chief delivered this announcement as part of a hard- hitting campaign address earlier today in Ohio to the veterans of foreign wars.

Now Mr. Bush didn't talk about the redeployment until the tail end of that speech where he went after John Kerry on many issues, including Iraq. This redeployment, Lou, it's important to note does not affect the 140,000 or so troops in Iraq, but certainly the size of that contingent, the length of time they have been in Iraq and will be there has been a major campaign issue.

Senator Kerry says he hopes to have enough stability there and help there to be able to withdraw some of the troops at least within the first six months of his administration. The president seized on that today.


BUSH: It sends a wrong signal to the enemy. We could easily wait six months and one day. It sends the wrong message to our troops, that completing the mission may not be necessary. It sends the wrong message to the Iraqi people who wonder whether or not America means what it says.


BASH: Now, the president framed this issue not just in terms of national security but as a military family-friendly policy. Because of that, privately John Kerry's aides say it's a hard issue, political issue, to go at; and, as a matter of fact, Senator Kerry didn't comment on this today, neither did officially his campaign, but certainly some of his surrogates were out talking, like General Wesley Clark, former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.

They said this plan would actually weaken national security and in the end make it harder for men and women in the military to see their families if they're actually in the United States.

Now, Democrats are pointing out the fact that this has been the works for some time and won't be implemented for about 10 years. They say announcing it now is pure politics.

The White House says that's nonsense because it certainly takes some time to implement and they need to get started right away -- Lou?

DOBBS: Dana Bash, thank you.

As the president delivered his speech, U.S. troops were fighting new battles with insurgents in Iraq.

In Najaf, U.S. troops and tanks moved within 500 yards of a shrine used as a base by supporters of Muqtada Al-Sadr. Officials said U.S. and Iraqi troops captured several insurgents positions overnight.

And in Baghdad, gunmen destroyed an American tank. Some of the crew members were slightly wounded in the attack. The soldiers were rescued by another tank.

Critics of the president's redeployment plan say the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan means American troops should be deployed closer to trouble spots, not farther away. Those critics say the military does not have enough air and sealift capacity to quickly move troops and their equipment around the world.

I'm joined now by CNN military analyst General David Grange.

General, let's get straight to the point. Does this in fact make the U.S. military more agile and better equipped to fight the war on global, radical Islamist terror?

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I believe it does, Lou. See, being closer doesn't necessarily mean you can get there. If you don't have movement rights over ground, the seaports, airfields, it doesn't matter how close you are, you can't get to the fight.

So this repositioning is putting troops where they can deploy from with the best assessments available today and into the future for the conflicts to come.

DOBBS: Those conflicts were the talk of moving at least one wing of F-16s to Incirlik base in Turkey. The suggestion is that the expectation right now on the part of the Pentagon is that the future is in the Middle East for hot spots.

GRANGE: Absolutely. I mean those are the hot spots; but we know what happened in Turkey before. So it doesn't mean you can get out of Turkey with air rights.

So again, you have to have a backup from some place that you can deploy from that is dependable, like the United States of America.

DOBBS: Moving troops back from the DMZ and South Korea, nearly everyone, at least with whom I've spoken, says that's a good idea. In point of fact, having those troops there militarily is a bad idea, is it not?

GRANGE: Well the problem is, and having served there, I felt this way in Korea. And that is, when you're right up on the DMZ, the demilitarized zone, you have no ability to maneuver out of a fight. You're fixed immediately. And so redeploying south or redeploying out of Korea and then re- deploying for a war where you can hit the enemy's rear or flanks makes a lot of sense.

DOBBS: You give the administration then, I take it, high marks for announcing this deployment and moving some 150,000 troops, their families and civilian employees back to the United States or elsewhere within the global theater of terror, if you will. It is global in its entirety.

Do you really believe that it will take 10 years, should take 10 years to execute this return of troops, this redeployment?

GRANGE: Most likely and the reason being, it has to be done slowly. It's a lot of big parts to move. The problem is, Lou, is that you have the administration and Congress has to come to agreement on a lot of these plans.

In other words, BRAC, base realignment and closure has been to be synchronized with redeployment. And if they don't come to agreement, a lot of the parts don't fit together.

DOBBS: General David Grange, we thank you for being here to help us put some of the parts and pieces together, as always.

Still ahead, tens of thousands of people are homeless tonight after the devastation of Hurricane Charley. I'll be talking with the administrator of one of the hardest-hit communities next.

Critics say congressional hearings of the September 11th commission report are simply election-year politics. We'll have a report.

And I'll also be talking with two leading senators representing both major parties, Senator Susan Collins, Republican, and Senator Carl Levin, Democrat.

And Democratic governor Jim McGreevey of New Jersey faces bipartisan pressure to resign and resign immediately, not in November as he announced.


DOBBS: Hurricane Charley left Florida with devastation unmatched since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Seventeen people in Florida are now confirmed dead, tens of thousands of others are homeless, hundreds missing.

Sean Callebs reports from Charlotte County, Florida.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The figures are sobering, at least $11 billion in damage, according to state officials. Trained dogs continue to search debris for possible victims. And in neighborhoods and suburban streets in home after home, legions are still fighting a daily battle with Charley's aftermath.

UNIDENTIFIED HURRICANE CHARLEY VICTIM: It's just devastating beyond belief. You see it in the movies and you never think you'll see it, and when you do it hits home. It really hits home.

GOV. JEB BUSH, FLORIDA: We'll worry about the money later. Right now, we are focused on trying to help people get their lives in order.

CALLEBS: Florida's unforgiving summer sun beats down. Thousands are working without electricity, no air conditioning, no ice, drinking water is warm, and after days in the heat, the signs are there, patience is eroding.

WAYNE SALLADE, CHARLOTTE COUNTY EOC MANAGER: We've got to continue to push, push, push the help. We've got to push the food, the water, the ice.

CALLEBS: County officials say there are 5,000 aid workers, national guard troops and volunteers in Charlotte County.

SALLADE: We're turning a corner, we've got a long way to go on the street, but we've turned a corner.

CALLEBS: Florida Power and Light says most people will have their electricity back on by Thursday or Friday.

(on camera) Indeed, a long haul, a short while ago a rainstorm came through. Instead of cooling conditions off, it turned this area into a sauna. Authorities expect the damage figure will continue to spiral up.

State authorities, of course, say the loss of life was tragic, but say given the intensity of the storm and the relative lack of warning people in this area of the state had, they are surprised it isn't higher.

Sean Callebs, CNN, Charlotte County, Florida.


DOBBS: Joining me now is the administrator of Charlotte County, Florida, Bruce Loucks. He is the hardest, he is in one of the hardest hit towns, Punta Gorda. And it's good to have you with us.

Bruce, the first question is, you've got -- obviously you're in the midst of trying to deal with this crisis -- an estimate on homeless, injured, dead?

BRUCE LOUCKS, CHARLOTTE COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR, FLORIDA: The official estimate on the death toll for the whole storm, not just Charlotte County, is 17.

As far as the people that are homeless or injured, we don't have a good count on that yet. DOBBS: And what is your sense, I see behind you rescue workers, aid workers trying to help. How successful is that aid at this point in your judgment?

LOUCKS: The response has been tremendous. This is Monday. As of Saturday, we had aid coming in even as early as Friday afternoon when the winds subsided we had aid coming in. So the response from the state of Florida, the response from the federal government and the response from other counties has been overwhelming.

DOBBS: And what are you involved with right now in terms of bringing back power and trying to move people back into their homes?

LOUCKS: Right. The first order of business is to reestablish power, to reestablish water, sewer and to also clear the roads. We feel that we have most of the roads fairly well cleared out. Now the time has come too where we need to get to debris cleanup and get the roadways signalized.

DOBBS: And what is your best estimate as to when you can have Charlotte County back in at least some state of repair, prepared for what will be a long haul in restoring the community?

LOUCKS: Well, actually we -- Charlotte County employees reported to work today at 8:00 this morning. So county government is alive and well in Charlotte County.

As far as an estimate of when we get all the damage repaired, we're going through that assessment now, and we expect to be completed with the assessment very soon.

As I mentioned, you know, we are moving forward to establish the basic necessities of life.

DOBBS: And doing a remarkable job given the devastation that you and your community have had to suffer through. We wish you, of course, all the very best and thank you for taking the time this evening to talk with us.

Bruce Loucks...

LOUCKS: Thank you.

DOBBS: ... the county administrator, Charlotte County, Florida.

Still ahead here tonight, reforming intelligence. No less than three Senate committees took on intelligence reform today during the summer recess. We'll have a special report.

And I'll be talking with Senator Susan Collins, Chairwoman of the governmental affairs committee, Senator Carl Levin, ranking Democrat on the armed services committee next.

And New Jersey governor James McGreevey returns to work despite new calls for his immediate resignation. We'll have the latest for you on that story. And the United Nations has dared to criticize the United States for its border security policies.

We'll have that story and a great deal more still ahead here, tonight.


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

DOBBS: On Capitol Hill today, three former CIA directors voiced their concerns about the possible creation of a national intelligence czar. They testified before one of three Senate hearings today on the 9/11 commission's report.

Ed Henry has the story from Capitol Hill.


ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The hearings keep coming. By the end of this week, Congress will finish 20 sessions on the 9/11 commission's final report.

But one Democrat questions whether Congress is getting anywhere or just looking busy in an election year?

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Is the intelligence committee ready for reform? If it isn't ready for reform, are we kidding ourselves here? Are we going through a political exercise, moving nameplates around?

HENRY: Three former CIA directors deflected the question. One of them pointed the finger back at Congress.

STANSFIELD TURNER, FMR. CIA DIRECTOR: Changing these boxes will help some, but it's not the solution. The solution is with you.

Are you interrogating these people when they come up and finding out if they can really can back up what they're saying?

HENRY: Another key senator warned of grave consequences if Congress caves in to the Pentagon and does not give enough power to a national intelligence director.

SEN. JOHN ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA: So we're going to have to break some China around here. Otherwise, we will fail. We will fail. We will do little bits and pieces and we will be like Congress has so often been. The American people need real reform.

HENRY: But allies of the Pentagon are already digging in, saying the defense department should not cede its control of 85 percent of the intelligence budget.

JOHN HAMRE, FMR. DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: You can't help but have that become a source of great friction over time, and I think that would not be healthy.


HENRY: Lou, that tension will be on display Tuesday morning when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld comes to Capitol Hill to testify.

Rumsfeld will be walking a very fine line. He wants to protect the Pentagon's turf, but he realizes his boss, the president, has endorsed a national intelligence czar at least as a concept. And so Rumsfeld is going to be looking for middle ground, Lou.

DOBBS: Ed Henry from Capitol Hill, thank you.

My guests tonight are senators who took part in today's hearing. In a moment, I'll be talking with the ranking Democrat on the Senate armed services committee, Senator Carl Levin.

First, we're joined by Senator Susan Collins. She's the chairwoman of the governmental affairs committee, also a member of the armed services committee joining us tonight from Washington.

Senator, good to have you with us.


DOBBS: The major proposal, of course, is for the creation of a national intelligence czar, a national intelligence director.

Do you fully and vigorously support that proposal?

COLLINS: I do. I think it's the most important recommendation made by the 9/11 commission. But it's important that we give the new director the authority to get the job done. And that means giving the director budget authority. Otherwise, we risk creating just another layer of bureaucracy and not really changing what happens.

DOBBS: You heard from three former intelligence directors, CIA directors, suggesting some considerable caution here. You're not in any way -- your enthusiasm for the NID is not in any way dampened?

COLLINS: It really isn't, although I found the testimony today to be very helpful. To me it's notable that each of the former directors, despite whatever reservations they may have about our moving forward at this time, said -- advised us that if we're going to create the position to not make it a paper tiger, but rather to grant sufficient authority to the new national intelligence director to make a difference.

To me one of the most startling findings in the 9/11 commission report was that George Tenet, the former DCI, issued a declaration of war against the al Qaeda back in December of 1998 and said that we should marshal all of our resources and people against this threat, and yet he did not have sufficient authority to really do that, to make a difference.

DOBBS: And that, of course, in some measure because of the interplay between George Tenet, the head of CIA and Sandy Berger, the national security adviser to President Clinton.

Do you believe that the NID role, as presently proposed by the 9/11 commission solves that issue?

COLLINS: I do. We're talking about creating a position that would be the principal adviser to the president that would oversee the resources for the 15 intelligence agencies that are now scattered across the government.

We have to do this carefully because we want to make sure that those aspects of our intelligence system that work well, such as providing intelligence to our troops in the field, are not disrupted. But there's lots of room for improvement.

DOBBS: And turning to the issue of improvement, President Bush today announcing that as many as 150,000 U.S. troops, their family members, civilian workers will be moved, re-deployed overseas back to this country in order to fight better the war on terror.

Do you support the president in this redeployment, this massive redeployment?

COLLINS: I do support the concept, although as a member of the armed services committee, I want to see the details.

But our troops overseas have been structured as if we were still fighting the cold war with the Soviet Union as our principal adversary. It simply doesn't make sense and is too expensive for us to have massive numbers of troops stationed in Germany, for example.

I think this redeployment makes sense. I want to see the details, but it's something that Congress has been pressing for, for some time.

DOBBS: Senator Susan Collins, we thank you very much for being with us tonight.

COLLINS: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: I'm joined now by the ranking Democrat on the Senate armed services committee. He is Senator Carl Levin. He is also a member of governmental affairs committee, joining us from Washington.

Senator, good to have you with us.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: Good to be with you, Lou.

DOBBS: Let's begin with the 9/11 recommendations. You have talked about reform of the intelligence community for some time. Are you as enthusiastic in the creation of a NID national intelligence director, as one might assume?

LEVIN: Well, I think it's probably, on balance, a plus; but right now the director of central intelligence, by law, has the authority to produce and present the budget for the intelligence community to the president of the United States. So that already exists in law.

Where the difference occurs is when the execution of that budget, including shifting around the funds, and thereby executive order it is the defense department that has that authority.

So this president, if he wants to, with a stroke of the pen, can change that executive order and give greater authority to the intelligence folks instead of the defense department. And I think that would be a wise thing for this president to do, but it's all it takes is a presidential pen, not necessarily a law.

DOBBS: Not necessarily a law, but do you think that the president might be persuaded that it would be good governance to bring in the legislative body, branch, and make this an act of government rather than an executive order because of its sensitivity and its importance?

LEVIN: Well, I think it's always, perhaps -- it's always a plus to have a the legislative support for it; but the key decision here has not been made by the president, and that is, does he want the central intelligence director or a new director to have this kind of authority in the execution, the implementation of the budget, the reprogramming of funds. And that's where we've had silence from the White House.

DOBBS: And senator, are there any concerns as you go forward with hearings on - there are some, what 11 hearings scheduled on various committees on the 9/11 commission report. Is there any particular glaring omission on the part of the commission that you would like to see put forward?

LEVIN: There is. I think the major flaw in intelligence before the Iraq war was the shaping, the exaggeration, the stretching of intelligence. And there's nothing in the 9/11 report that addresses that.

We've got to stop the politicization of intelligence by either the CIA or the exaggeration of intelligence by the policymakers, the executive branch, including the president. And that is, I think, can be addressed in a number of ways in legislation to try to stop what was done before the Iraq war in terms of exaggeration of intelligence.

DOBBS: Senator, just to keep the historical perspective here, the Clinton administration also presented to Congress with the same CIA director, George Tenet, evidence and findings that -- and assessments that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, did they not?

LEVIN: They did. There was no difference there. Where the difference was, was that the CIA did not believe that there was a close relationship between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

And instead, we had e from the administration the statements that they were allies. And that was not accurate. That was an exaggeration of the CIA assessment, and we have got to try to prevent that kind of exaggeration. DOBBS: Senator, the president announcing a sweeping redeployment of U.S. forces overseas over the course of the next decade. Are you supportive of the president's call for that redeployment?

LEVIN: I think it doesn't do anything in terms of the stretching of our forces. They're already stretched too thin. But on the details of where we should shift forces around given the current level of deployments is something where I have to study the details, and I have not been briefed.

For instance, I'd like to see the details on Korea. Are they proposing what specific number of reductions in Korea? And what is the South Korean reaction to those reductions? I'd like to consider both of those items. We don't have the specifics from the administration in terms of numbers. At least I don't yet, and I'd like to consider our allies view on the matter.

DOBBS: And your view on the assessment by the president as he articulated the proposal that this, in point of fact, would make the United States more effective, U.S. military more effective in the global war on terror?

LEVIN: Well, that's always our goal, but it's important, for instance, that we be united with South Korea. It's united that we be -- it's important that we be united with our NATO allies. And I'd like to get the reaction from our allies before I reach my own conclusion after getting that briefing I referred to.

DOBBS: You will be, I'm sure, pleased to hear the president's early assessment that this will also save the U.S. government money as well.

Senator Levin, as always, it's good to talk with you, Senator Carl Levin.

LEVIN: Good to be with you, Lou.

DOBBS: Tonight's thought is on the effect and the impact of war: "War challenges virtually every other institution of society -- the justice and equity of its economy, the adequacy of its political systems, the energy of its productive plant, the bases, wisdom and purposes of its foreign policy."

American author Walter Millis.

New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey tonight faces growing pressure to resign immediately. McGreevey admitted he had an extramarital affair with a man last week. He said he would step down on November 15th, avoiding thereby a special election.

Deborah Feyerick reports.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New Jersey Governor James McGreevey had no public events Monday. Instead he was sequestered in the statehouse with high-level staff, one aide telling CNN he's focusing on an overview of the next 90 days.

The government is planning to leave office November 15th after his bombshell admission last week that he had had an affair with a man.

GOV. JAMES MCGREEVEY (D), NEW JERSEY: I am a gay American.

FEYERICK: But the man in question says he is straight. Golan Cipel, through his lawyer, telling CNN he is not gay. The former Israeli navy officer was set to file a sexual harassment suit against the governor, Cipel telling the Israeli paper "Yedioth Ahronoth" that McGreevey "started up with me again and again, I reached a point where I was afraid to be alone with him.

Aides to the governor have accused Cipel of extortion, and federal authorities in New Jersey are investigating. Cipel's lawyer denies blackmail. Cipel telling the Israeli paper "Ha'aretz," the governor pressured him to step down from $100,000 a year job, not because he was unqualified, but because "I refused his advances."

McGreevey has been surrounded by campaign finance scandals, but a poll taken after the announcement gives the governor his highest job approval ratings in two years: 45 percent approve compared to just 34 percent in January.


FEYERICK: And the McGreevey plans to hold on to the reigns until November. Now even his own party is making waves to hold a special election, perhaps even running New Jersey's popular senator, Jon Corzine -- Lou.

DOBBS: Senator Corzine would be interested in the job?

FEYERICK: Well, none of his spokespeople will say as much. What they do say though is that he has had conversations with his staff. He's extremely involved with the Democrats in the Senate trying to make sure that the Democrats take back the Senate, and so they're not confirming that, but they do say that he's not part of the group who wants the special election, but they're not saying that he's not going to play for the team, either.

DOBBS: The Republicans, in some -- according to some wags, should let this thing proceed as long as possible because the more they do, the Republicans will be beating the Democrats up in the state of New Jersey for months on end. The Democrats, are they going to exceed -- is that the best judgment right now of the strategists you're talking with and have a special election?

FEYERICK: The thing about a special election is is that it would complicate matters a great deal on some levels. The republicans want it because they have got a much better chance if they do have a special election of getting their person in, though they're not naming anybody. There are a couple names that are out there, including the U.S. attorney, including Thomas Kean Jr. or Thomas Kean himself. Nobody's really saying exactly who. So the Democrats, they're going to see, and they're giving McGreevey the space.

DOBBS: But this could spill over into the congressional elections if the Democrats continue to take the punishment that is apparently, according to most sources, only now begun.

FEYERICK: New Jersey politics are a bit brutal, they always have been.

DOBBS: Deborah Feyerick, thank you very much.

Just ahead here, a shocking and brash charge by the United Nations against the United States, a top U.N. official says U.S. border security policies are unfair, unfair to illegal aliens. We'll have that story for you next in our special report, "Broken Borders".

And oil prices fall after Venezuela's president survives a recall. We'll have a report for you from Caracas.

And some say tanks may be doing much more than studying policy. A special report on the extraordinary influence and access of think tanks. The real thought leaders when we continue.


DOBBS: The United Nations tonight says the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to protect this country from terrorists goes simply too far. The United Nations says U.S. Border Patrol agents should not have the power to return illegal aliens who are apprehended in this country to their own. The United Nations says that would be simply unfair to illegal aliens.

Casey Wian has the report from Los Angeles.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Homeland Security Department is expanding an illegal alien deportation program already in use at airports to the U.S. border. It gives border patrol agents the authority to immediately deport recently arrived illegal aliens who are not Mexican or Canadian. The U.N. says it's concerned the Border Patrol won't respect the rights of aliens claiming political asylum.

JOUNG-AH GHEDINI, U.N. HIGH COMMISSION ON REFUGES: Our concern would be -- is if people are detained, there may be a great deal in terms of the fear, the tension in security, lack of translators, a whole number of factors that could lead to possibly erroneous or incomplete interviews that would not allow people to have a full opportunity to have asylum.

STEVEN CAMAROTA, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: Obviously the U.N.'s No. 1 concern is not the national security of the United States.

WIAN: Immigration experts say expanding the expedited removal program is long overdue, because it allows the Border Patrol to weed out obvious false asylum claims. CAMAROTA: Right now what we're doing is if somebody is on the border and they're not from Mexico or Canada, Mexico or Canada won't take them back, so now we're stuck with them. If that person then applies for asylum, we don't have in general enough detention space to hold them, though we should. And so those individuals, even individuals from the Middle East, are being pa rolled into the United States without first establishing their identity.

WIAN: During the mid '90s hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens from China and other countries exploited the asylum process with false claims. It was an easy ticket to entry and often a work visa. Some of the culprits of the first World Trade Center entered the United States on political asylum claims. Asylum officers were so understaffed they faced a backlog of 460,000 cases in 1996. The system has since been reformed, and the backlog has dropped to 260,000.

But problems persist. One of the two men arrested at a New York mosque and charged in a terrorist money-laundering plot this month was an Iraqi who was granted political asylum by the United States.


WIAN: The U.N. says it's discovered instances of asylum seeker abuse at U.S. airports. However an official in the Department of Homeland Security says the agency categorically denies that legitimate political asylum claims will be affected by the new border patrol policy.

DOBBS: Casey, just exactly what is the United Nations trying to do here?

WIAN: What they say is they want to get their concerns heard by the Department of Homeland Security, they want a meeting with the Department of Homeland Security, they want to make sure that border patrol agents are well-trained in dealing with these asylum requests. Now if you talk to the department, they will say that some of these requests are so obviously bogus, that it doesn't take any training at all to realize they're phony.

DOBBS: Why would the United States not just talk to the State Department rather than actually trying to step in and have conversations with branches, agencies of the U.S. government? That's peculiar.

WIAN: It is strange. They say they have a good working relationship with the Department of Homeland Security, but by criticizing this policy publicly, you wonder how well that relationship is going to go going forward.

DOBBS: Casey Wian, thank you.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight.

"Should the United Nations have any influence on U.S. border security and immigration policy?" Yes or no. Cast your vote at We'll have the results coming up here later in the broadcast.

Taking a look now at some of your thoughts on the issue of broken borders.

Pamela Mann, in Pinckney, Michigan. "I'm tired of hearing how unfair our laws are toward illegal aliens. They're here illegally. I'd like to see more people fight for the rights of the immigrants who come here legally. And for the rights of the American people."

Randy Chrisman of Orosi, California. "If an American citizen does something illegal we are fined or go to jail so why should people who are here illegally be rewarded with anything."

Send us your thoughts at

Coming up next, the results of a presidential recall in a foreign country spark a drop in global oil prices.

And the latest Greek production is anything but a hit with audiences at the Olympic Games in Athens. A disappointing performance.


DOBBS: Oil prices today fell from record highs on news that Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez has survived a recall. Venezuela is the world's fifth largest oil producer. Venezuela's state-run oil company also owns Citgo which controls more than 11 percent of the American gasoline market. Lucia Newman reports on the Chavez recall from Caracas, Venezuela.


LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It seemed too good to be true. Record numbers of Venezuelans voting peacefully to decide on whether their controversial president should stay or go, with everyone promising to respect the results.

Shortly before dawn, a triumphant president Hugo Chavez claimed victory based on preliminary results announced minutes earlier by the electoral council.

HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I invite all Venezuelans to recognize the result and to live in peace as brothers.

NEWMAN: As he spoke, on the other side of town, opposition leaders citing voting irregularities and their own polls, cried foul, claiming victory was theirs, and demanding an internationally supervised audit.

HENRY RAMOS ALCUF, SR. OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): There has been an incredible fraud taking place for Venezuela, for the people, for the immense quantity of men and women believed in the Democratic system and in the electoral system.

NEWMAN: From the international observer team led former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, gave it's verdict ratifying Chavez's victory.

JIMMY CARTER, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Venezuela this time, there's an additional assurance of no ultimate discrepancies or mistakes. This is that every time a person casts a vote electronically, they have a printed out ballot, which they can look at and assure that the printout is exactly the same as they have voted.

NEWMAN: From the presidential balcony, Chavez tried to reassure already nervous energy markets.

CHAVEZ: This government will guarantee the stability of the world oil market.

NEWMAN: But that's easier said than done. Venezuela remains deeply divided so much so that despite the foreign observers' verdict that Chavez won fair and square, most of his opponents still refuse to take no for an answer. Lucia Newman, Caracas, Venezuela.


DOBBS: After massive construction delays, numerous budget overruns and terrorism fears, Olympic officials now have another concern, empty seats. Just about 3 million tickets have been sold out of an expected 5 million. Organizers are reportedly considering giving tickets away for free to fill up some of the empty seats. Viewers at home also not showing up in record expected numbers. Preliminary numbers in fact show ratings for the opening ceremony were down from four years ago in Sydney. NBC, of course, paid almost $1 billion for the rights to the games.

A reminder now to vote in tonight's poll. The question, "should the United States have any influence on U.S. border security and immigration policy?" Cast your vote at We'll have the results later here in the broadcast.

One game you certainly won't be seeing at the Olympics is orange rolling. The so-called sport, if you want to call it that is serious business to Ashrita Furman. He recently recorded the fastest time ever for rolling an orange one mile using only his nose.


ASHRITA FURMAN: It's actually physically very, very demanding, but besides that it's also -- a lot of it is technique, like being able to smack the orange till you get the greatest amount of distance.


DOBBS: His running time, 24 minutes. Now we're in the spirit of the Olympics here.

Furman's next miss, by the way, is hopping the fastest mile, one mile, yes, on one foot.

Still ahead, the American Enterprise Institute, Brookings, the Council On Foreign Relations, just some of the many of the think tanks in this country influencing public policy and opinion. We'll have a special report on this country's thought leaders. Next.

And exporting America. Microsoft has not only shipped American jobs to India, now it's taken extraordinary steps to ensure its Indian workers sound, well, American. We'll have that story and a great deal more still ahead here. Please stay with us.


DOBBS: This week, we follow up our special report last week entitled "The Best Government Money Can Buy," where we reported on the tremendous influence of paid lobbyists on our government. This week we're examining the opinions that shape public policy, those opinions originating in many cases from America's so-called thought leaders, the think tanks. Kitty Pilgrim reports.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Think tanks bridge the gap between the world of thought and the world of action.

EDWIN FEULNER, PRES., HERITAGE FOUNDATION: What a think tank does is it can take some of those theoretical arguments and make them very practical for specific congressmen and senators in terms of what policy direction they want to move or what policy options they want to adopt.

PILGRIM: One of the first think tanks was the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, founded in 1910, obtaining prominence during World War I.

A second wave of think tanks formed after 1945.

JAMES ALLEN SMITH, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: The term "think tank" itself seems to have arisen out of military usage, probably in the Defense -- in the War Department during World War II, where there were secure rooms for thinking and planning. Those were called think tanks.

PILGRIM: Think tanks can provide a revolving door for individuals to move in and out of government. Carter in 1976 leaned heavily on expertise from Brookings and the Council on Foreign Relations. Ronald Reagan favored Heritage, Hoover and American Enterprise Institute.

Think tanks are funded by such diverse sources as non-profits and philanthropic organizations, corporations, legacy groups, like the Carter Center in Atlanta, or international institutions. The role today is even more critical in troubleshooting future crises. The head of the Hudson Institute sat down recently to explain.

HERBERT LONDON, PRES., HUDSON INSTITUTE: We're spending a fair amount of time looking at a variety of scenarios, including the possibility of a fall in Saudi Arabia, a variety of Middle East scenarios, from Iran through Syria and Jordan. All of these questions that I think have some relationship to the war on terror are now very much a significant focus of the Hudson Institute activities.


PILGRIM: During the campaigns, candidates solicit ideas from think tanks to formulate their platforms. A recent study found 60 percent of major think tanks are based in Washington; a third of them are conservative; 22 percent liberal, and nearly half have no identifiable ideology -- Lou.

DOBBS: That is, they have no ideology that's been identified or...

PILGRIM: They have no bent, conservative or liberal...

DOBBS: Then what's their reason for existing? That's the point in America today.

PILGRIM: Individual scholars represent different viewpoints.

DOBBS: Scholars without ideology? How refreshing. What are the -- we'll have to put that list up. Kitty Pilgrim, thank you very much.

On Wall Street today, stocks finally moved higher. The Dow up 129 points, the Nasdaq up almost 26, and the S&P up almost 15.

Microsoft tonight encouraging its Indian call center workers to sound more like the Americans they replaced. Christine Romans is here with the report.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Lou, they're encouraging them to watch American movies and to listen to NPR to improve their accents when talking to Americans. And Microsoft is sending language trainers to Bangalore to work with their call center employees, one on one, to teach them how to have a proper phone conversation with an American customer and how to emphasize words.

Microsoft has about 350 technical phone support staff there, 1,000 workers in India overall. Microsoft wants to grow that Indian operation, despite an unemployment rate of 6.1 percent in Microsoft's home state of Washington.

No word on whether Gateway will have to train its new overseas workers how to speak like an American. Gateway shipping several technical and manufacturing units overseas by the end of September. Hundreds of workers in Kansas City and South Dakota will lose their jobs as Gateway whittles down to just 2,000 people by the end of the year.

Politicians and pro-offshoring economists have said retraining and education in this country are key so that our workforce can adapt as these jobs disappeared overseas, but troubling analysis of unemployment data suggests they are wrong. The Economic Policy Institute says, unlike other recessions and recoveries, educated workers in this country have fared poorly in this recovery, just as poorly as all of the other workers. DOBBS: Well, as you well know and I think most of our viewers know, we've been saying that that was a -- how do I express this -- the idea that it's retraining and education, we saw that as a fallacious approach to a very serious problem. The economics are bearing it out, unfortunately.

Christine Romans, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

DOBBS: Microsoft wants Indians to talk like Americans.

ROMANS: At least have a better accent at it.

DOBBS: All righty. Thanks a lot, Christine.

Still ahead here, the results of our poll tonight, a preview of what's coming up tomorrow, and a reminder to check our Web site for the complete list of companies we have confirmed to be exporting America, if not sending up language training assistants to various cheap labor markets around the world. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Now the results of our poll tonight. Seventy-eight percent of you say you do not believe the United Nations should have any influence on U.S. border security and immigration policy. Twenty- two percent of you said they should.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. New Jersey's Republican Party Chairman Joe Kyrillos is calling for Governor Jim McGreevey to step down immediately. He's our guest. And we'll be joined by Jed Babbin, author of "Inside the Asylum: Why the United Nations and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think." A timely subject. We hope you'll be with us.

For all of us here, good night from New York. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is next.


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