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General Tommy Franks Won't Back Up Hannity's Iraq Fantasy

Reported by Ellen - December 2, 2005

General Tommy Franks and Oliver North were the sole guests on a double segment of last night's Hannity & Colmes devoted to discussing the Iraq war. Not exactly a fair and balanced line-up but while Franks, the former commander of Centcom, was clearly a supporter of George Bush, he made it abundantly clear that he did not endorse Hannity's notions of Happy - but could be happier if it weren't for the Democrats - Iraq.

Alan Colmes introduced the discussion by saying that it was about their top story, Rep. John Murtha's comments in the wake of Bush's Iraq speech the night before. Colmes said "conservative fire" had turned again toward Murtha for having said that the US army is "worn out" and "living hand to mouth." Oddly, Colmes never discussed Murtha at all. Most of his first go-round was spent chit-chatting about an award Franks had just received from North's group, Freedom Alliance. However, before Hannity took his turn, Colmes did mention the results of a new FOX poll which said that 44%, nearly half of Americans, believe Bush intentionally misled the public about Iraq's WMD's.

Franks made the astonishing claim that the media was to blame. "If you had that side of the argument being presented quite as much and quite as forcefully as the mainstream media in this country, as I see it day by day, that doesn't surprise me a bit."

Colmes sounded as though he wanted to refute that statement but his turn was up. Time for Hannity.

Hannity, positioning himself for an attack, asked Franks what he thought of Murtha's comments. In remarks that surely must have disappointed Hannity, Franks had nothing but praise for Murtha. Franks said he disagrees that the military is broken but then, in what seemed like a somewhat tacit admission of support, he also said Murtha is in the better position to judge.

That, of course, was not what Hannity wanted to hear. He insisted, "You know it's not broken, you know it's not worn out, you know it's not living hand to mouth."

Disregarding Hannity's prompt, Franks answered that the big debate is whether comments like Murtha's hurt morale - then he added that they don't.

Hannity didn't want to take no for an answer. "Is it undermining of the troops, does it hurt morale, General, when you hear leading Democrats repeatedly say, 'Our president lied to put them in the position that they're in,' in harm's way, that he hyped, that he misled purposely. When leaders of our country, leaders of the opposition party say that - you're saying that that doesn't have an affect on the troops?"

Franks didn't buy it. He said our troops "understand the political process in this country." Then, in what seemed like another tacit nod to war critics, he added that "finding a popular war is a very difficult thing to do." Comment: It's striking that Franks condones Murtha's criticism yet blames the media for damaging Bush's reputation.

Hannity tried again. He said "Joe Lieberman is virtually ignored because he talks about the success." (Comment: Not so true. Googling Lieberman indicates his comments received wide, if not necessarily favorable, coverage. See his interview on MSNBC with Don Imus, via Crooks and Liars, e.g.)

Hannity asked Franks if he thinks things are going well. Franks answered, "As a matter of fact, I do." But, in what sounded like faint praise of the war to me, he spoke more of the Iraqi desire for democracy than about any American actions. He called the upcoming elections "instructive" and said, "Let's just take a look and see what happens... I think Joe Lieberman did a heck of a job in a very balanced way in describing what was going on." He emphasized that Lieberman didn't say everything was just great, but was very "fair and balanced and I think we could use a little bit more of that without all the hyperbole that we, you know, seem to see on TV." Hardly a ringing endorsement of success.

When it was Colmes' turn again, he went back to the WMD issue. Franks blamed the CIA. He said "no one was more surprised than I that we didn't find (WMD's)." He suggested we ought to "place ourselves in the position of the president." The way he explained the scenario is that after we were attacked on 9/11, Bush had "reason to believe - because the intelligence community has given him - the president - reason to believe that there are weapons of mass destruction on - and on the soil of a rogue state which has had occasion to be shooting at American airmen for 10 years."

I'm sure that Colmes does not subscribe to the theory that the CIA pushed false intelligence on an unsuspecting Bush Administration. But, surprisingly, he kept silent.

North, however, was bubbly with enthusiasm over "success" in Iraq. He got the last word in the discussion by saying, "Today is E minus 15, "E" being election day and I'll be there for ya to show you how good it's going, thanks to this general, right here."

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