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Tommy Franks in row over wife

General Tommy Franks: Facing claims of possible abuse of office
General Tommy Franks: Facing claims of possible abuse of office

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Army General Tommy Franks is being investigated by the Pentagon amid claims of possible abuses of office involving his wife.

Sources have told CNN that Franks, the man who would lead U.S. forces in the event of a military strike on Iraq, faces several allegations -- including one that he allowed his wife, Cathy, to be present during discussions of highly classified material.

The sources also said questions have been raised about whether Franks properly repaid the U.S. government for his wife's travel on military aircraft.

Franks, the head of U.S. Central Command, has been under investigation for weeks by the Pentagon inspector general's office.

"I am aware of the investigation and am cooperating with it," Franks said in a brief written statement. "It would not be appropriate to comment on the investigation until it is complete."

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- who would decide what, if any, disciplinary action Franks would face if any wrongdoing is found -- has taken the unusual step of expressing support for the general before the investigation was completed.

"Tom Franks is doing a superb job for this country, and we are lucky to have him [in his command]," Rumsfeld told reporters Tuesday at the Pentagon.

"He has my complete confidence and the complete confidence of the president of the United States."

A similar statement from the defense secretary released on Monday has raised questions about whether Rumsfeld might influence the inspector general's conclusions.

Rumsfeld said he was not commenting on specifics of the case when he praised Franks in the statement, but he said an inspector general's probe "is not uncommon."

"Investigations such as this are not unusual and properly are required whenever the Office of the Inspector General is made aware of an allegation," Rumsfeld said in Monday's statement.

"Without commenting on the merits of the investigation, which is not yet before me, I want to emphasize that General Franks has my full trust, respect and confidence."

Rumsfeld reiterated his position Tuesday.

"The expressions of confidence that I have indicated are exactly how I feel, and I believe in the statement it is quite clearly separate from the issues of the investigation," he said.

-- CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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