Graham Shares Pre-Iraq War Details

Bob Graham
LAKELAND -

It was four years ago Wednesday that the U.S. Senate voted to go to war with Iraq. The vote was 77 to 23. U.S. Senator Bob Graham voted no.

Florida's former senator based his vote on information he gathered as a member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.

Graham was briefed on the status of the Afghanistan War in early 2002. General Tommy Franks of U.S. Central Command told Graham the war was going well but then asked for a private word.

GRAHAM: He invited me into his office, he closed the door and looking troubled he said, Senator, we are not engaged in a war in Afghanistan.' And, I was puzzled in light of what I had just heard. And he said Military and intelligence personnel are being redeployed to prepare for action in Iraq.

Graham's book Intelligence Matters details the meeting with Franks more than a year before the start of the Iraq War.

Graham read a passage for the audience at Florida Southern College that detailed Franks' concern about resources being pulled out of Afghanistan too early.

GRAHAM READING: We can finish the job in Afghanistan if we're allowed to do so. And, there are a set of terrorist targets after Afghanistan. My first priority would be Somalia. There's no effective government. Their president is willing to help on the war on terrorism but has no capability of doing so. Iraq is a special case. Our intelligence there is very unsatisfactory.

Graham says that information was never given to the American people. The senator then cited another conversation.

GRAHAM: This is what the president of Egypt said in July of 2002 almost nine months before we went to war in Iraq. You are making a big mistake if you attack Iraq. I know Saddam well. He is an egomaniac, but he is no fool. A war will be seen in the streets of Cairo and Damascus as an attack on Islam and there's no way to avoid it.

Those conversations led to Graham's vote against the Iraq War on October 11, 2002.

GRAHAM: I was listening to what people like Tommy Franks and Hosni Mubarak were telling us. The question asked today is Are we safer?' I think the answer is no.

Graham's lecture at Florida Southern College is available as a podcast at WUSF.org under the Florida Lectures.

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