Timmerman with Brit Hume:

'We Thought the French Were WithUs'


Tuesday, April 20, 2004




This is a partial transcript of "Special Report with BritHume", April 19, 2004 that has been edited forclarity.

Watch "Special Report With Brit Hume" weeknights at 6 p.m. ET


SEN. JOHN KERRY: I will immediately reach out to other nations ina very different way from this administration. Within weeks of beinginaugurated, I will return to the U.N., and I will literally,formally rejoin the community of nations and turnover a proud newchapter in America's relationship with the world.


BRIT HUME, HOST: John Kerry doesn't say it, of course, butPresident Bush did try to get the U.N. fully behind military actionin Iraq with some early successes, including a unanimous resolutionthreatening serious consequences, if Iraq refused to comply with allprevious U.N. resolutions. But in the end the U.N. did not go along.What happened?

For answers we turn to Kenneth Timmerman, journalist andauthor who says that one nation, France, blocked the way. And he setsforth the details in his book "The French Betrayal Of America." Mr.Timmerman joins us from our studios in New York.

Good afternoon -- good day to you, sir. Let me start you rightout, as I just noted, there was a Resolution 1441, threateningserious consequences. It was unanimous, which means that France, amember of the permanent member of the Security Council up there, wentalong with it. What happened then?


KEN TIMMERMAN, AUTHOR, "FRENCH BETRAYAL OF AMERICA": Well,you're right, Brit. There was that resolution. And I find it a littlebit hard to believe that Mr. Kerry thinks committee go to the U.N.,and all of a sudden, undo things that have been done and undo liesand commitments that have been done.


Here is what happened behind the scenes. President Chirac(search) called up President Bush in late October of 2002 and hepromised the U.S. president that he would be with us at the UnitedNations and that he would be with us if it came to using forceagainst Saddam Hussein.


HUME: Now, to place that in time, October of 2002 is about thetime that the U.S. Congress, attacking ahead of the U.N. in thisinstance, had passed a resolution authorizing the president to useforce at his discretion to get Iraq to comply with the U.N.resolution and a number of other things?


TIMMERMAN: That's absolutely correct. And this was just daysbefore the U.N. finally passed 1441. Now, so what is Mr. Kerry goingto do? He is going to get lied to, as Mr. Bush got lied this is theproblem. See, this is the problem. Chirac lied to the president ofthe United States, and then he ordered his Foreign Minister Dominickde Villepin, to do the same thing with Colin Powell. Theextraordinary thing is that Powell and Villepin were having dinner inNew York on the 19 of January 2003...


HUME: Well, hold on just a second. Let me just stop you just asecond. So at the time -- let's go back to October for a moment. Sothe U.S. Congress has acted or is in the process of doing so.


The reality is the U.S. is building up in the area. Othercountries are going along or going to join, and Chirac tells BushI'll be with you in the end, and de Villepin says to Powell, at aboutthe same time, the same thing


TIMMERMAN: Well, Villepin says this in January. He's saying thisall along. This was their message all along, but what Chirac alsosays in October, he says, I'm going to send over one of my topgenerals to Tampa, Florida, to the United States Central Command towork out the details of how we include French forces in a U.S.-ledcoalition. So this was not just talk. He was also starting theactions and telling the French military they should get prepared togo into Iraq as part of a U.S.-led coalition.


So this was a pretty extraordinary deception effort by theFrench.


HUME: Are you convinced the French were attacking deceitfully fromthe start? Or is it more likely the case that, for whatever reason,the French high command, Chirac and others decided to change theirminds?


TIMMERMAN: No, I don't think they changed their minds. I thinkthey knew what they were doing. The key to this, Brit, is the $100billion that Saddam Hussein had agreed to pay French oil companies inexchange for their political support at the United Nations. I thinkthis was the biggest political payoff in history...


HUME: How do we know that?


TIMMERMAN: Well, I have a copy of one of the contracts, which Idescribe in my book, "The French Betrayal Of America." And there weretwo of them; they were going to give the French a lock on Iraq's oilin the southern part of the country, in exchange for their politicalsupport at the United Nations.


HUME: Now, so what then happened? Events moved forward. The U.S.is working. It is now the turn of the year. We're at the end ofJanuary. The U.S. is working to get a second resolution explicitlyauthorizing the use of force to enforce U.N. resolutions. Whathappens then?


TIMMERMAN: That's right. The second resolution was actually the 18resolution requiring Iraq to give up its weapons of mass destruction,or else face consequences, serious consequences.


Powell and de Villepin, the French foreign minister, negotiatingin New York; they have dinner together, one-on-one at the WaldorfAstoria Hotel on January 19. They're going over the specific wordingfor that resolution. And Powell had thought everything was workedout.


HUME: And he had -- in fact, his visit to New York, Powell's visitto New York, was at the de Villepin behest or invitation, what?


TIMMERMAN: It was at behest. De Villepin had demanded, hadrequested, that the United States back him to hold a U.N. SecurityCouncil session, while France was the president. So Villepin could bethe president of the Security Council session.


It was really a puff job for him so he could preen himself infront of the cameras; everybody understood this. It was going to beon the terrorism, not the war in Iraq. And so he turned it aroundthat next day, after that session which dealt with nothing ofsignificance. He held a press conference on the...


HUME: So there was, in fact, a session at the U.N. that day. DeVillepin is in his seat, and the issue of Iraq is not on thetable.


TIMMERMAN: Absolutely not. They talked about the war on terror,the war against terrorism in general. So then de Villepin goesoutside at noontime. Powell and all the other foreign ministers havegone to the French ambassador's residence for lunch. They thoughtnothing was going to happen.


Powell is actually watching Fox News in the video cameras in theFrench ambassador's residence as de Villepin goes on TV, and he sayswhat? After about a half a minute's introduction, he says and now Iwould like to say a few words about Iraq. And that's when heannounces to the world that France will never ever support the use offorce against Saddam Hussein.


HUME: And Colin Powell (search) and the rest of the U.S.administration had no idea that this was going to happen?


TIMMERMAN: Slack-jawed. Powell's jaw dropped to the floor, is theway it was described to me by one of his confidant, somebody who wasthere. We had no idea.


We thought -- our administration thought that the French were withus, that French had dispatched the top general to Centcom, Chirac hadpromised the president, Villepin the foreign minister had promisedPowell. They said they were with us, and they weren't.


HUME: All right. Kenneth Timmerman, very interesting account.Thank you very much, sir.


TIMMERMAN: Thank you, Brit.

Kenneth R. Timmerman is a seniorwriter for Insight and author of TheFrench Betrayal of America,just released from Crown Forum.