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Hannity

Retired Gen. Tommy Franks Joins Debate Over Port Security

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," February 22, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Former CENTCOM commander, General Tommy Franks is with us.

General, welcome aboard, sir. It's always good to see you, my friend.

GEN. TOMMY FRANKS, FORMER CENTCOM COMMANDER: How you doing, Sean? Great to be with you.

HANNITY: Your initial thoughts on this port issue with the United Arab Emirates?

FRANKS: Welcome to politics in the United States of America, 2006.

HANNITY: That's your initial thought, this is all political?

FRANKS: Absolutely. You know, when I think about this thing, Sean, the first thing it makes me want to do is think about going into politics. Now, the good news is that that thought doesn't last long.

HANNITY: All right; I understand that.

Look, General, I'm listening to the administration. I think this president's been tough on the war on terror. I want to believe him. I don't like the track record and the involvement of the UAE as it relates to money issues involving 9/11, transportation issues.

They have a history of supporting terror that, frankly, is sketchy at best. It bothers me. They're saying that they have changed, that they have become a good ally in the War on Terror. Is that something you believe?

FRANKS: Well, Sean, you know, with you being my buddy, I feel like I can take issue with you, especially the comment about the Emirates having a history of supporting terror. That's not my experience.

Now, I confess that I'm a little bit behind some of the politicians who have come forth and made statements about this, in that I've actually been there, and I actually have been through the ports of Dubai, and I actually know the people in the Emirates, and, in fact, worked with them in the days after 9/11 and worked with their intelligence sources.

HANNITY: Do you want me to tell you what I mean by that? Because I don't want you to have any ambiguity. This may be important to your answer.

FRANKS: Sure, sure.

HANNITY: What I mean by that, General, is it's sketchy in this regard. And it's all over the 9/11 report. I went back and looked at all the times Dubai was mentioned, United Arab Emirates were mentioned in the 9/11 Commission report.

But, for example, their support of the Taliban concerns me. Their non-recognition of Israel concerns me. The UAE's banking system filtered a lot of the money that was used operationally prior to 9/11. Their use of transportational assistance.

Those specific things, they're going to have access to one of the most sensitive, secure areas in this country. That history bothers me. The administration is saying they're changing. What am I missing here?

FRANKS: Well, Sean, let me just kind of walk through my understanding of it. I personally believe that we have had no greater ally in seeking a resolution of problems in the Middle East, the Palestinian issue, the Israeli issue, than we have found in the United Arab Emirates.

With regard to maintaining contact with the Taliban, even before Sept. 11 — and I'll exercise caution how I say this — but I'll say that I believe we had every reason to be thankful for the relationship and the dialogue that existed between the United Arab Emirates and the Taliban, as it assisted us in our efforts to understand what was going on in Afghanistan.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Hey, General, it's Alan Colmes. Welcome to the show.

FRANKS: Hey, Alan, how you doing?

COLMES: Good to see you once again. You know, we went and invaded a country that it was hinted had links to 9/11, that country being Iraq. We found out there were no WMDs, no links to 9/11. And now this country clearly did have links to 9/11, as an operational and financial base. Two of the terrorists came from there.

I don't get it. How could the president make that case against Iraq, and invade that country, and then want to have this other country, where there was a link, control our ports?

FRANKS: Well, Alan, in the first place, I'm not at all sure that there has been a suggestion by anyone that the UAE, Dubai in specific, was going to, quote, "control our ports," close quote.

COLMES: Own the company.

FRANKS: Own the company. Totally different issue. Security is a totally issue. I think that's been addressed. And I'll be glad to address it further.

I think, when you take a look at where the terrorists came from — look, I'm in Tampa, Florida, tonight. I'm a Floridian, and I'm very proud of it. I think, if you checked the file, you'll find that a great many terrorists lived in the state of Florida while they took flight training.

I suspect that they may have had money in financial institutions here. That does not make me like my state of Florida, any less.

I believe it's ludicrous and disingenuous for us to look at activities inside the United Arab Emirates and say that, just because one, two, or three hijackers, at some point in time, lived in the Emirates that we should hold that government responsible.

COLMES: But there were specific links to the UAE and 9/11. We know that the government controls everything that goes on there.

FRANKS: I have not seen those links.

COLMES: There were not those links to Iraq that was used as an excuse to invade Iraq.

FRANKS: I have not seen those links, Alan. I do not believe that there were links between the terrorists and the leadership of the United Arab Emirates.

I believe it is the most progressive country with whom we have relationships inside the Middle East. I have heard very little said about the protocols signed first by the United Arab Emirates, in order to enable our customs officials to check containers before they came into our waters.

HANNITY: General, hang on a sec. Shouldn't they also recognize Israel now, and show that they're not...

FRANKS: I will not even try, Sean, to talk to the full range of diplomatic relationships that we have with this country.

HANNITY: All right.

FRANKS: I'm just talking to you about ports and security, my friend.

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