Gen. Tommy Franks, the commander who would run any U.S. war against Iraq, has agreed to "redouble" his efforts to protect sensitive information after a Pentagon investigation found that highly classified information was discussed in his wife's presence.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has decided to take no official action against Franks after reviewing the investigation's findings, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Keck said Monday.
The Pentagon's inspector general found that Franks "inadvertently allowed classified information at a level for which Mrs. Franks was not cleared to be discussed in her presence," Keck said.
Rumsfeld discussed this with Franks, "who agreed to redouble his efforts to safeguard such information," Keck said.
Rumsfeld issued a statement reaffirming his confidence in Franks, who, as commander of U.S. Central Command, is running the war in Afghanistan and planning for possible war in Iraq.
"I regard this matter as concluded," Rumsfeld said.
Keck said he could not discuss the specific circumstances in which Franks' wife, Cathy, was present during a discussion of classified information. Another official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said she was present when Franks was given highly classified information in his compartment on his military aircraft. The official said she has a security clearance but not at a level that would entitle her to hear the information discussed on that occasion.
Keck said the Pentagon investigation also examined, but did not substantiate, two other allegations. He would not specify those allegations since they were determined to be unfounded. Other officials said Franks was accused of providing unauthorized security for his wife and not properly reimbursing the government for all of her travel expenses on official trips with him.
Even before the investigation was finished, Rumsfeld made clear that he did not expect it to interfere with Franks' war planning.
"There isn't a chance in the world that it will have any possible interference with his role as the combatant commander in the Central Command," Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference in February. "Tom Franks is doing a superb job for this country, and we are lucky to have him there. He is a man of great talent and skill."
Asked in an Associated Press interview last month whether the investigation had distracted him, Franks said: "The ability of a guy in my position to focus on his work is very, very important to getting the job done. This ongoing investigation has had no impact on my focus at all, because I'm comfortable with the way I do my business. And I'm comfortable that at the end of the day, everyone will understand why I am comfortable."
By Robert Burns