Gen. Stanley McChrystal, America's top military commander in
Afghanistan, has been recalled to Washington amid his controversial remarks
about colleagues in a Rolling Stone article, officials said.
McChrystal was summoned to attend a meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan
in person rather than by video conference, a senior administration official
"He has been recalled to Washington," another official said.
McChrystal apologized Tuesday for the profile, in which the general and
his staff appear to mock top civilian officials, including the vice president.
Two defense officials said the general has also fired a press aide over the
article, set to appear in Friday's edition of Rolling Stone magazine.
"I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened," McChrystal said in a
Pentagon statement. "Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of
personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article
falls far short of that standard."
In the profile written by Michael Hastings, the author writes that
McChrystal and his staff had imagined ways of dismissing Vice President Joe
Biden with a one-liner as they prepared for a question-and-answer session in
Paris in April. The general had grown tired of questions about Biden since
earlier dismissing a counterterrorism strategy the vice president had offered.
"'Are you asking about Vice President Biden?' McChrystal says with a
laugh. 'Who's that?'"
"'Biden?' suggests a top adviser. 'Did you say: Bite Me?'"
McChrystal does not directly criticize President Barack Obama in the
article, but Hastings writes that the general and Obama "failed to connect"
from the outset after the president took office. Sources familiar with the
meeting said McChrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the room full of top military officials, according to the article.
Later, McChrystal's first one-on-one meeting with Obama "was a 10-minute
photo-op," Hastings writes, quoting an adviser to McChrystal. "Obama clearly
didn't know anything about him, who he was. Here's the guy who's going to run
his f-ing war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The Boss (McChrystal) was
The article goes on to paint McChrystal as a man who "has managed to piss
off almost everyone with a stake in the conflict," including U.S. Ambassador
Karl Eikenberry, Special Representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke and
National Security Adviser Jim Jones. Obama is not named as one of McChrystal's "team of rivals." Of Eikenberry, who railed against McChrystal's strategy in Afghanistan in a cable leaked to The New York Times in January, the general said, "'Here's one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, "I told you so.'"
Hastings writes in the profile that McChrystal has a "special skepticism"
for Holbrooke, the official in charge of reintegrating Taliban members into
Afghan society and the administration's point man for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry,
according to the article. 'Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke,' he groans.
'I don't even want to open it.' He clicks on the message and reads the
salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not
bothering to conceal his annoyance." "'Make sure you don't get any of that on your leg,' an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail."
The White House could not immediately be reached for comment on the
A U.S. military official said Tuesday that McChrystal has spoken to
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and officials referenced in the story, including Holbrooke and National
Security Adviser Jones.
An official at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said Eikenberry and McChrystal
"are both fully committed" to Obama's Afghan strategy and are working together
to "implement" the plan. "We have seen the article and General McChrystal has
already spoken to it," according to a statement from an embassy official,
making reference to McChrystal's apology.
"I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his
national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this
war and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome," McChrystal said in the closing to his apology.
– CNN's Barbara Starr contributed to this report