Tampa, Fla. Following are excerpts from an exclusive 90-minute interview Wednesday by Knight Ridder Newspapers Senior Military Correspondent Joseph L. Galloway with Gen. Tommy Franks, the head of the U.S. Central Command.
"Never a question about whether there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The intelligence, while not precise, was overwhelming. Still is to this day.
"The foundation on which to build the view on what was the situation with WMD came from the last Gulf War; it came from the son-in-law who gave information, went back and was executed in Iraq; it came from monumental reams of intercepted information; it came from penetrations of Iraq by Kurds with whom we talked.
"We had a tremendous amount of information going back to 1991 that WMD were not only present but were being continually pursued by the (Iraqi) regime."
"There are people who ask: 'What about all the friction? Good grief, we have Americans still being shot, people looting.' No question in the minds of any of us involved in the planning that this was not going to be a three-month or a six-month operation.
"If you look at the wealth of this country, not just in terms of dollars and oil, but in terms of wealth of the society in the origin of civilization and you look at the characteristics of the people, Shias, Kurds, the tribals, and one would anticipate that it is going to take a society which has had no freedom for decades a certain amount of time to figure out who are the dead-enders who can't change and we will do away with them.
"At the end of the day, it will be the Iraqi people who win. No doubt about it."