This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from June 21, 2007.
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Next on SPECIAL REPORT, that controversial immigration bill survived what its opponent fear was their last best chance to stop it in the Senate. But what about the House? We'll find out. Republican Senator Lugar expresses his long-held doubts about the Iraq war in a floor speech that makes him the talk of the town. A spirited debate in the House subcommittee whose chairman asserts that captured terrorists should have full rights.
And the CIA airs some of its dirty laundry, breathing some new life into some old scandals. All that right here, right now.
Welcome to Washington. I'm Brit Hume. The immigration reform bill is by no means a done deal tonight, but it has cleared one major step on the way to a vote. The Senate today brought the measure, once thought to be dead and buried, back to life with modifications to come. Congressional correspondent Major Garrett reports.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This may not be perfect, but it's the best opportunity we have to do something significant and substantial.
MAJOR GARRETT, FOX NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Senate, with 24 Republicans in tow, voted 64 to 35 to revive the once dead immigration bill, a measure reshaped yet again to woo conservative critics, and, more importantly, potentially minimize accusations the bill grants amnesty. Under a proposal likely to be adopted later this week, most heads of households who seek legal status under the new Z Visa program will have to return to their home country and apply. The original bill made no such requirements, leading to charges that illegals could obtain open ended legal status through a Z Visa. The original bill only required illegal immigrants who sought permanent residency, also known as a green card, to return to their country of origin. Another proposal that is likely to be adopted would impose new criminal penalties and possible deportation of immigrants who have overstayed work or student visas. These changes, however, didn't appear to win over any of the entrenched opponents.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN ®, TEXAS: I think the American people can be forgiven in doubting the commitment of the federal government and the willingness of the federal government to actually do all of the things that it is promising. That's why this bill is such a tough sell.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS ®, ALABAMA: Our own Congressional Budget Office just on June 4, this month, did an analysis of the legislation. They concluded that when the - if this bill were to become law, illegal immigration would only be reduced 13 percent.
GARRETT: President Bush today tried to answer allegations the bill grants amnesty, but he mangled the message.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have heard all the rhetoric-you have heard it too-about how this is amnesty. Amnesty means that you have got to pay a price for having been here illegally and this bill does that.
GARRETT: The president meant to say fines paid for Z Visas, green cards and citizenship remove the taint of amnesty, something the White House conveyed later in a written statement. As for his administrations ability to secure the southern border, the president said-
BUSH: We do have to do more to protect our border and that's why this bill has a lot of border security measures that will help continue the strategy that we have been implementing over the past year.
GARRETT: The Senate majority leader, who has joined the president in rare common cause on immigration, also urged the Senate to approve the compromise.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I would hope that everyone understands that we can't leave the system as it is now. Gee whiz. The present system is not working. And we must start with border security.
GARRETT: Senator Reid is an important figure in this whole Senate debate, because he has engineered a process by which 26 amendments will be considered by the Senate. But he and those who support this bill have hand pick those amendments, angering those who want to stop the bill. So they have objected to ruling that on a unanimous consent agreement, forcing something that's going on the Senate floor right now. Let's go to the Senate floor live. We are hearing the clerk of the Senate read all the words of all 26 amendments. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On immigration-sorry-Non immigrant status and D, may not be considered an unauthorized alien, as defined in Section 274 F of the immigration nationalities. Unless-
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GARRETT: That clerk will be reading those amendments, Brit, for quite some time. It could go on for hours and hours. It's just one of many delaying tactics opponents will use to try to derail this bill before its expected passage-or at least a vote on expected passage on Friday. Brit?
CLYBURN: Major, thank you. You better hurry over there and catch every word. Whatever happens in the Senate, the immigration bill faces still more hurdles in the House. If anything, House Republicans may be even more strongly opposed to the measure than some of the Republicans in the Senate. Chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle joins me with that story. Jim?
JIM ANGLE, FOX NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Brit, whatever the outcome of the Herculean effort in the Senate, immigration reform faces yet another daunting challenge getting through the House, where some Republican members made clear today they are not receptive.
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA ®, MICHIGAN: We are committed to having a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but the Senate bill isn't what we believe is the direction that we need to go.
ANGLE (voice-over): Representative Pete Hoekstra of Michigan offered the one-sentence statement resolved the House GOP conference disapproves of the Senate immigration bill. And he had little trouble getting support.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: It's clear there is a large number of House Republicans who have serious concerns for the Senate bill.
REP. JOHN SHADEGG ®, ARIZONA: There is, in fact, overwhelming opposition in the U.S. House to the Senate immigration bill. Members have studied it. They recognize that it does not strike a balance.
ANGLE: There is an effort to beef up border security and enforcement to convince conservatives that reform will not leave a swinging door on the border, but many are skeptical to say the least.
REP. MARK SOUDER ®, INDIANA: It is unimplementable. The proposed fence just on the south border is eight billion dollars. The true estimates are closer to 30 billion. Four billion is a sneeze at the challenge we have.
ANGLE: Since a more security border is the one thing most lawmakers agree on, some want to break that out into a separate bill.
REP. TOM PRICE ®, GEORGIA: The common denominator to every member of Congress and every single member of the United States Senate isborder security and border control. So we believe-I believe that in order to regain the trust of the American people, we must have border security and border control first.
ANGLE: But other Republicans believe if they strip out tighter security, the one thing everyone agrees on, they will lose what little momentum they have for broader reform. Democrats, who control the House, say the Senate bill isn't very popular on their side either.
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP: In its current form that the bill would not go anywhere in the House. I don't think it would get 25, 30 votes.
ANGLE: Consequently, Speaker Pelosi intends to use the Senate bill as a starting point, but not take up the Senate bill itself. Representative Clyburn, the number three man in the Democratic leadership, said he thinks they can get 70 to 75 Republicans to vote for comprehensive reform, as long as it begins with security.
CLYBURN: People who want to see a comprehensive bill that may not be implemented all at one time, that it would be implemented in stages with enforcement being priority.
ANGLE: One Democrat said Speaker Pelosi is only looking for 50 Republican votes or so, but probably wouldn't need that many. If the Senate passes the bill this week, one source said the House would start hammering out its own bill in July and try to get something to the floor by the end of month. But if the Senate fails to pass a bill, leaders of the House have no intention of trying to revive the issue on their own. Brit
CLYBURN: Jim, thank you. Senate Democrats today were unable to get enough votes to force consideration of a bill that would have allowed labor unions to organize work places without a secret ballot election. They needed 60 votes, but were able to pass the measure by just 51 to 48. Democrats and unions had pressed for the bill, which had already passed the House. Republicans opposed it though, and President Bush had warned he would veto it. Later in our program, the CIA reveals more about its covert operations against American citizens and other. And when we come back, some Senate Republicans split with the president over the war in Iraq.
CLYBURN: Republican unease over the war in Iraq seems to be mounting in the U.S. Senate tonight. Indiana Republican Richard Lugar said last night on the Senate floor that the current strategy in Iraq is not working. Today he was joined by Ohio Republican George Voinovich in the call for a transition that would bring U.S. troops home. Chief White House correspondent Bret Baier is standing by with more on this. Bret?
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi Brit. After the president met with a group of House and Senate Republicans this afternoon, senior aides say they are confident there is not a full revolt on Iraq policy by GOP law makers. That said, there is clearly growing concern, well ahead of scheduled updates from U.S. commanders and administration officials in July and then in September. Senator Lugar used a floor speech last night to detail why he believes changes in U.S. force posture need to happen now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR ®, INDIANA: In my judgment, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved. Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interest over the long-term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Now Lugar said, no matter how much time the U.S. buys the Iraqi government with U.S. troop presence in major Iraq cities, he sees no convincing evidence that Iraqis will make the political compromises needed to solidify a functioning government in the short run. Lugar is calling for an immediate repositioning of U.S. troops, and not a full withdrawal. Now Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is well respected on the Hill. And several Republican aides tell Fox his speech could clear the way for more Republican criticism of the president's Iraq strategy after the July Fourth recess. Top Democrats today, of course, praised Lugar's speech. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called it brilliant, courageous, and said it would be noted in history books as a turning point in the war. Needless to say, the White House wasn't that impressed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is Dick Lugar repeating a position. I think, if you take a look at what his own people have said -they said it is consistent with what he has said in the past.
We hope people are going to rush to contemplate what is going on here, and not only think about the importance of giving this operation a chance to succeed, but also the real dangers of creating a vacuum.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Today Republican Senator George Voinovich of Ohio sent a letter to the president also calling for a change in the Iraq strategy, saying the Iraqis won't step up until they, quote, know we are leaving. White House officials said that Voinovich, like Lugar, quote, never was on board with the president's troop surge, and neither senators' comments are surprising. Brit?
CLYBURN: Bret, thank you. Amid calls for the closure of Guantanamo Bay and the arrival of a new terror suspect at that detention facility last week, House members today engaged in sharp debate over just how much abscess detainees should have to the American court system. National correspondent Catherine Herridge looks at the debate.
CATHERINE HERRIDGE, FOX NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before a House subcommittee, the Democratic chairman criticized the administration's policy to limit the ability of enemy combatants to challenged their detention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No executive in an English speaking country has claimed such tyrannical powers since before Magna Carta 800 years ago.
HERRIDGE: Limiting the access of enemy combatants to the U.S. legal system was the only appropriate course of action, according to the ranking Republican from Arizona.
REP. TRENT FRANKS (R-AZ), HOUSE CONSTITUTION SUBCOMMITTEE: If this Congress makes the mistake of granting constitutional protection to the most insidious enemies this nation has faced, the Congress itself, and not the constitution, will have chosen that tragic course.
HERRIDGE: At the heart of this hearing, a question that was brought before the Supreme Court in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, the bodyguard and drive for Osama bin Laden. It is the question of habeas corpus, that is the ability of the accused to challenge his detention within the U.S. courts. A former Justice Department official said so far habeas actions have created legal gridlock.
GREGORY KATSAS, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: It prevented military commission trials from even beginning and it impeded interrogations critical to preventing further attacks.
HERRIDGE: A former State Department legal advisor reached a very different conclusion.
WILLIAM TAFT IV, FMR STATE DEPT LEGAL ADVISER: Providing habeas corpus review of the very limited number of cases at Guantanamo will impose only a very modest burden on the courts.
HERRIDGE: At one point the hearing focused on Mohammed Atta and what would have happened if he had been tried as a common criminal, a strategy advocated by the Democratic committee chair.
BRAD BERENSON, FMR WH ASSOCIATE COUNSEL: If we had captured Muhammad Atta on September 10, we would have had no choice but to treat him as a criminal defendant, which would have been interrogation, no intelligence, and the World Trade Center is coming down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is exactly right. And when he captured mass murderers in the United States, we do the same. We captured Charles Manson.
HERRIDGE: An opinion writer for the "Wall Street Journal" believes that extending habeas corpus to terrorists would be a mockery of the system.
JAMES TARANTO, EDITOR, OPINIONJOURNAL.COM: The members of Congress who are attempting to extend it to al Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo are, in effect, seeking to reward our enemies for defying the rules of war, for engaging in terrorism and wantonly killing civilians.
HERRIDGE (on camera): This hearing is part of a series being held on Capitol Hill which will examine the legal status of the nearly 400 enemy combatants that remain at Guantanamo Bay. In Washington, Catherine Herridge, Fox News.
CLYBURN: Coming up later in our program, is the NFL doing right by its disabled players. And after a break, GOP presidential candidates struggle for the support of religious conservatives. Stay tuned.
CLYBURN: For a Republican who hopes to be president, it is all but essential to win the support of the religious right, one of the largest blocs of conservative voters. But conservative opposition to abortion and same sex marriage poses a significant obstacle for a couple of the leading candidates this time around. Nevertheless, chief political correspondent Carl Cameron reports the top tier is weighing in.
CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some think winning over the religious right will be impossible for GOP front runner Rudy Giuliani, but there he was at TV evangelist Pat Robertson's Regent University.
RUDY GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't expect you're going to agree with me on everything because that would be unrealistic. I didn't agree with myself on everything.
CAMERON: He talked about terrorism, tax cuts and leadership, but never mentioned social issues. As a Catholic, Giuliani's pro-choice, pro-gay rights and pro-embryonic stem cell research views are at odds with his church and religious conservatives. Some priests have even threatened to deny him communion. After his speech, he talked to reporters about faith.
GIULIANI: I would reaffirm the basic Judeo Christian value of caring about people, loving people.
CAMERON: Some evangelicals refuse to support Giuliani. Robertson, who founded the Christian Coalition, and ran for president himself in 1988 met privately with Giuliani and has not taken a position on his candidacy. But evangelicals like James Dobson of Focus on the Family have said they can never support Giuliani for his socially liberal views. A major test of 2008 religious voters will be South Carolina, the buckle on the Bible Belt. GOP chairman Katon Dawson.
KATON DAWSON, SOUTH CAROLINA GOP CHAIRMAN: The fact is, we are an early presidential primary, the first in the south presidential primary, and religious conservatives are a large part of our party.
CAMERON: The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest and most influential religious denomination in the state, 2,000 churches and 750,000 members. Officials say bluntly, Giuliani's fiscal conservatism and 9/11 leadership are appreciated but insufficient.
TONY BEAM, SC SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION: All of those things are not enough to overcome in most peoples' minds, believers minds, the problems with the social agenda.
CAMERON: Mitt Romney also faces skepticism, not only for having been pro-choice and pro-gay rights as recently as two years ago, but for his faith. Devote Southern Baptists Consider Mormonism a cult.
BEAM: For those people, it's going to be very hard to support a candidate who is actively involved in the Mormon faith. One thing that is true about Mitt Romney, that I think is to his credit, he is not a part-time or drive-by Mormon.
CAMERON: John McCain has popularity problems too. He apologized for calling Christian conservative leaders, quote, agents of intolerance back in 2000, but they remain offended and skeptical. And then there is Fred Thompson. They like what they hear, so far.
BEAM: He sounds like us, for one the thing. When he talks, he just sound like Uncle Fred.
CAMERON (on camera): Fred Thompson arrives in South Carolina to test the waters for the first time on Wednesday. Republicans, and particularly religious conservatives, say they are eager to hear from him or, for that matter, from any candidate that they think can win the nomination and carry their values into the White House. In Columbia, South Carolina, Carl Cameron, Fox News. (
CLYBURN: The latest Rasmussen national poll finds former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson leading among Republican presidential candidate, though he has still not said definitively that he is even running. Thompson draws 27 percent of likely Republican primary voters. Rudy Giuliani close behind with 23. Mitt Romney 12 and John McCain now at 11 percent. New Hampshire's governor and legislature remain determined to keep their state's status as the first in the nation to hold primary elections. Monday, the governor signed a law that says the primary can be on any day of the week, not just a Tuesday. That new law expands the authority of the state's secretary of state to set a primary date a week before any similar election, with, of course, the exception of Iowa caucuses. Assassination attempts, coups, illegal spying on American citizens; it sounds like the activities of some renegade third world country. But it's actually all in the records of the CIA. Some details, many in fact, have been previously released. But correspondent James Rosen reports the agency now is trying to come clean with the public.
JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The plot to kill Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was one once the most sensitive covert operation in America. A Central Intelligence Agency project at the dawn of the 1960's that required, as an agency official put it in one of the newly released document, gangster-type action against the mission target Castro. As has been well-established over the last three decades, the agency worked through Robert Mayhew, a former FBI agent and CIA contractor, who in turn engaged two of the most fearsome bosses of the mob underworld, Santo Trafficante, and Sam Giancana. The newly released documents show that for his help in the futile effort to whack Castro, Giancana sought a return favor from the feds. "Giancana expressed concern about his girlfriend, Phyllis McGwire, who he learned was getting much attention form comedian Dan Rowan while both were booked at a Las Vegas night club," the documents show. Mayhew put a bug in Rowan's room to determine the extent of his intimacy with the Ms. McGwire.
The technician involved in the assignment was discovered in the process, arrested and taken to the sheriff's office for questioning. He called Mayhew and informed him that he had been detained by the police. The Department of Justice announced its intention to prosecute Mayhew, along with the technician. The documents continue, on the 7th of February, 1962, CIA's director of security briefed the Attorney General Robert Kennedy on the circumstances leading up to Mayhew's involvement in the wiretap. At our request, prosecution was dropped. A similar set of events would arise a decade later when, in the early morning hours of June 17th, 1972, Washington, D.C. police caught red handed and arrested five CIA veterans, one of whom, Yuhenio Martinez (ph), was still on CIA's payroll during a burglary and bugging operation inside the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Office Complex. Six days later, on what would become known as the smoking gun tape, President Richard Nixon could be heard instructing his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, to contact CIA's deputy director Vernon Walters and order Walters to tell the acting FBI director, L. Patrick Ray, to stop pursuing the Watergate burglary and bugging case because of the burglar's CIA connections and because national security was at stake. (INAUDIBLE)
ROSEN: And, of course, we all know how that turned out. The CIA refused to comply with Nixon's orders. His taping system was exposed and when this particular transcript surfaced in August of 1974, Nixon resigned three days later. It was not long after that, Brit, that the history of the CIA's illegal activities also came to light, including its surveillance of you and your boss in the early 1970's, the columnist Jack Anderson. That has been public knowledge-what, since around 1980 or so, correct?
CLYBURN: That's right. And it came to light in a Freedom of Information Act suit that we had been spied on by the CIA, attempting to find out who leaked papers to Jack Anderson that led to his Pulitzer Prize winning reporting on the Nixon administration's policy toward India and Pakistan.
ROSEN:During the war at that time. What is new-what was part of these newly released documents, Brit-perhaps this is news even to you-is that early in 1975, the then director of CIA, William Colby, went to the Oval Office, met with President Ford. There is a transcript of this meeting, which is itself interesting. I did not know that Gerald Ford was taping his conversations in the Oval Office. And Colby said, we put a tap on Jack Anderson and three of his associates. President Ford asked who ordered it. Colby said his predecessor, CIA director Richard Helms, whether on his own or not. This was not illegal, Colby said, but perhaps outside our jurisdiction. Were you aware that you were wire tapped or was it just physical surveillance?
CLYBURN: I-I don't recall knowing that. I knew we had been surveilled. I don't recall knowing it was a wire tap. I will say this, the assertion that it wasn't illegal seems dubious to me, in light of the fact that National Security Act of 1947 prescribes the CIA from any domestic operations.
CLYBURN: That's it for this segment. Grapevine is next.
professional football greats were playing for keeps today on Capitol Hill. They feel they have been ah abandoned by the National Football League and the Players Union as they struggling with injuries sustained on the field many years ago. Now they're telling Congress about it, and correspondent Molly Henneberg reports.