Ted Koppel Interviews Gen. Tommy Franks

We have seen large numbers of nations. I think there are some 20-plus, perhaps 23 nations today with troops on the ground in Iraq, but not in the numbers that, that we would like to see there. I think that that is diplomatic work to be done. I have every confidence that, that the bosses in Washington are working on that. Whether they'll be uniformly successful or not, I just don't know.

KOPPEL: General Franks, you surprised me in your book by actually dismissing the suggestion that Osama bin Laden was any kind of a coward. I actually felt it was a very sensible thing that you wrote there. It's much too easy to dismiss our enemies as cowards, but you didn't …

FRANKS: And a lot of people are going to take me to task for that for sure.

KOPPEL: Well, you …

FRANKS: But that's my view.

KOPPEL: You didn't elaborate on it in the book, so elaborate on it now. What did you mean by that? FRANKS: I think, I think it's at our peril if we underestimate our enemy. Excuse me.

I think we're, we're at peril if we underestimate our, our enemy. Going back into the '90s, Osama bin Laden indicated that he had great capacity, that, that he was ideologically supported by a lot of people. And he may or may not be a personal coward, but I do know that he is a worthy adversary, and it is in our best interest to, to treat him as such. And that, that actually is what I meant in the book.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

KOPPEL: Let's go back — actually, we haven't gone to it at all yet, but let's just quickly go to the subject of weapons of mass destruction. You write in your book that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told you Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. You write that …

FRANKS: Actually, biologicals, right.

KOPPEL: Biologicals. You write that King Abdullah of Jordan told you the, Saddam has and will use weapons of mass destruction.

FRANKS: That his intelligence services had given that to him too.


FRANKS: Yes, that's correct.

KOPPEL: Both governments today — you know, kings don't answer to books, as you know, and either do presidents, but your book has apparently made its way around to both those capitals, and both the office of King Abdullah and the office of President Mubarak deny that, say they never told you that.

FRANKS: Uh-huh. Not, not, not surprising, Ted. I think one sort of has to be aware of the way, the way politics works in the Middle East, and so I'm not at all surprised by that. I'll simply stay with what I said.

KOPPEL: Then explain on the basis of what you said why you think they were as wrong as they were? FRANKS: The same reason we were all wrong. I believe that … well, I'll speak for myself. I was wrong with respect to my appreciation of the weapons inventory that Saddam, that Saddam Hussein had.

Ted, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind when we entered Iraq on the 19th of March of last year that our troops would see weapons of mass destruction used against them. When they didn't, I was surprised, and actually, I suspect most of the Arab leaders, if not all of the Arab leaders, were also surprised by the fact that these weapons were not used.

KOPPEL: Do you believe that what you were told by both these men was the best intelligence they had or maybe a little bit of disinformation on Saddam Hussein's part?

FRANKS: It's very difficult to call it. I, I, I believe that what they gave me was, in their view, the best information they had.

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