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Hannity

Gen. Tommy Franks on the Iraq and the Debate

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes" September 30, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Welcome back to Hannity & Colmes. I'm Sean Hannity coming to you live from the University of Miami. Still to come tonight, Senator Bob Graham will join the debate. First, joining us now is the author of the number one "New York Times" bestseller, "American Soldier," former CENTCOM commander, our good friend General Tommy Franks. General, good to see you, my friend.

GENERAL TOMMY FRANKS, FORMER CENTCOM COMMANDER: Great to be with you again.

HANNITY: You are a great American.

FRANKS: Thanks a lot, sir.

HANNITY: What does it mean to you — because you have come out strong, very publicly for the President, when somebody votes for a war, votes for the $87 billion before he votes against it, says it was the right thing to disarm Saddam, and now says it depends on the outcome if it was the right thing?

FRANKS: Well, I think — someone asked me a few minutes ago what I thought about the debate, I said I thought the President looked exactly like I thought the President would look. I mean, he looks like someone who is telling the truth. And he looks like someone who has a vision. And I felt good about what I saw tonight. I saw what — from Senator Kerry what I thought I would see. I will tell you this, Sean, I would find it very difficult to look in the eyes of an ally or to look in the eyes of a mom or a dad and describe what their sons and daughters are going through, as a, quote, grand diversion.

HANNITY: That really bothered you?

FRANKS: Yes, it did. It bothered me. Right. Yeah.

HANNITY: How much does it bother you — he was asked yesterday by Diane Sawyer — I think this really was highlighted by the President in terms of flip-flopping. Was it worth it? His answer was, and he used the phrase "depends on the outcome." What does that mean to you as a leader of these men and women?

FRANKS: Sean, I don't read that much into that specific comment. But what I think is that it's — you got to — you got to respect the troops. You got to — you got to believe in your heart that what you're doing, if you are going to fight a war for the United States of America is precisely right, at precisely the right time, and so the senator's comments, give me a little problem.

HANNITY: What does it mean, now, when he voted for the war, says it was right to disarm Saddam, and now, as he said, wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, as the President kept repeating tonight.

FRANKS: Oh, well, I think part of that is politics.

HANNITY: But what does it mean to the troops?

FRANKS: Well, I think the President did a good job tonight of saying, it's the same comment as with "grand diversion." I mean the fact is that the senator as did the rest of the Congress, the President and all my military commanders looked at the same intelligence. When we all believed that we were looking at weapons of mass destruction, that they were going to be used on our troops, Sean and...

HANNITY: You were prepared for that. You write about that as you fully expected that.

FRANKS: And then it should come as no surprise to any of us, that we say, well, we were wrong. We thought it was...

HANNITY: John Kerry was wrong.

FRANKS: ...there and it was not there. And so it seems to me, in for a penny, in for a pound and the same guys who thought we were right when we went in should say, well, we were all wrong together. But I just read politics as the reason why we try to parse that issue.

HANNITY: But John Kerry laid out the case that Saddam was a threat with nuclear weapons as strongly as the President. One of the things that came up tonight, I've got to ask you this, this idea that we should have stayed in Afghanistan and we had no - even though we voted for the war, which I found an amazing inconsistency in statement by him — should have stayed there. And we were diverting the troops. You are being quoted as the source that was the wrong thing. And I know having read some interviews that is not your position.

FRANKS: You know, I heard it tonight, and I also heard about it from Senator Graham's book. And a comment I've made is unfortunately, that the senator heard something the general didn't say. Because the fact of the matter is, that I was responsible for both Afghanistan and Iraq, the numbers speak for themselves, as a matter of fact. On the day we started operations in Iraq, we had about 9,500 Americans operating in Afghanistan. That number in fact inclined. It increased during operations in Iraq, and continues to increase today, that number never came down. And so I was a bit surprised at the mention of something which I know to be factually incorrect.

COLMES: General, thank you for doing the program.

FRANKS: Great to be here.

COLMES: We're going to have Senator Graham on with us. You are claiming you never had that conversation.

FRANKS: It's not a matter of a claim. We were — the senator came by. I had the notes pulled out; I talked to people who were with us during that conversation. And I'm not — all I'm saying is what the senator heard is not precisely what I told him.

COLMES: Here is what Knight-Ridder reported about a year ago, they said up to half the intelligence, special forces hunting for Bin Laden were diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq.

FRANKS: And that's very simply incorrect.

COLMES: That's not true.

FRANKS: The special forces, the infantry, the intelligence assets, the Predator unmanned aerial systems were in no case diverted to go into Iraq.

COLMES: "The Washington Post" reported on April 18th of this year that $700 million was shifted from Afghanistan to Iraq in the summer of 2002, the President shifted that from supplemental funding for Afghanistan to preparatory task for the Persian Gulf.

FRANKS: Well I think when you are talking about money, you talk about fungible assets, and when you talk about the way the federal government manages the money on any given day there may well be money in a pot and not in another pot. However, that simply becomes a matter of moving assets — money in this case — from one place to another. It does not imply any reduction in the level of focus on Afghanistan.

COLMES: If are you taking resources, taking money and diverting it to another area...

FRANKS: Not if you knew that $800 million was going to appear in that particular pot tomorrow. It's a matter...

COLMES: Is that what are you saying happened?

FRANKS: Absolutely.

COLMES: And so there was not any...

FRANKS: Absolutely not.

COLMES: ...resource or any dollar that went from one to another.

FRANKS: No, I will not say that there was not at a given point in time, for the purpose — for the purpose of staging troops or something, money that was shifted from an Afghanistan account in order to do preparatory work for Iraq. What I will say, Alan, is that in every case where that happened, that money was very quickly having been authorized and appropriated, placed back into the accounts, because you will recall during this period of time, the amount of money being given to the Defense Department was not declining. It was inclining. And so on any given day, I believe we could find money moved from pot to pot...

COLMES: The question is whether the money got to where it needed to be quickly enough or whether the resources were there...

FRANKS: Oh, no question.

COLMES: ...to get Bin Laden and could have — could the President have done a better job focusing on...

FRANKS: I don't think so.

COLMES: ...the very people who attacked us on September 11th...

FRANKS: I don't think so.

COLMES: ...versus a country that didn't?

FRANKS: I think I heard the senator tonight, who reads the same intelligence that I think we all read, to include — I think he made reference to some Central Intelligence work, indicating Afghanistan. I believe that the intelligence community would not find Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan today. I just thought it was interesting that wherever he is, it's not Afghanistan.

HANNITY: Hey, general, congratulations on the book. It's just a huge best seller for you. You're a good friend, a great American.

FRANKS: Thanks, it's great to be with you.

HANNITY: Thank you for all you've been able to do for our country.

FRANKS: It's an honor to be here with you.

HANNITY: It's an honor to see you. Thank you, my friend.

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