June 22nd, 2010
04:41 PM ET

Gen. Stanley McChrystal: Latest developments

Here are the latest developments involving Gen. Stanley McChrystal, America's top commander in Afghanistan. He and his staff made comments in a Rolling Stone article that appear to mock top civilian officials, including Vice President Joe Biden. The story, which is to appear in Friday's edition, was written by Michael Hastings.

[Updated at 10:11 p.m.] McChrystal likely will resign Wednesday, a Pentagon source with ongoing contacts with the general said.

[Updated at 7:43 p.m.] McChrystal is prepared to resign if the president has lost confidence in him, a national security official told CNN.

[Updated at 6:04 p.m.] McChrystal has "offered to resign," according to a Twitter post from Time magazine's Joe Klein on Tuesday. Earlier, Klein, citing "a very reliable source," told CNN that McChrystal had already submitted his resignation.

The Twitter post from Klein's magazine offered the "clarification" that the general has "'offered to resign' he has NOT submitted his resignation."

[Updated at 5:55 p.m.] President Obama said that McChrystal showed "poor judgment," but he added that he would wait until meeting in person with McChrystal before making a decision on McChrystal's future. Obama is expected to meet with McChrystal on Wednesday.

[Updated at 4:41 p.m.] McChrystal has submitted his resignation, Time magazine's Joe Klein told CNN, citing an unnamed source. CNN is working to confirm Klein's information.

[Updated at 3:50 p.m.] Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota, a member of the Senate Democratic leadership, called for McChrystal to step down, telling CNN that the remarks in Rolling Stone were "unbelievably inappropriate and just
can't be allowed to stand."

[Updated at 3:30 p.m.] Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staff "became aware" that the Rolling Stone story would be controversial before it was published, story author Michael Hastings told CNN Tuesday.

I "got word from (McChrystal's) staff ... that there was some concern" about possible fallout from the story, Hastings said.

Hastings noted that there was "a lot" of material from the interviews with McChrystal that he didn't use in the article.

[Updated at 1:41 p.m.] Waheed Omar, spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, said U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal is the best commander for the war in Afghanistan and hopes Obama does not replace him. Karzai and his team believe McChrystal is a man of strong integrity who has a strong understanding of the Afghan people and their culture, Omar said.

[Updated at 1:25 p.m.] President Barack Obama was "angry" after seeing the upcoming controversial magazine article about Gen. Stanley McChrystal, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.

"I gave him the article last night," Gibbs said at the daily White House news briefing. "He was angry."

Earlier, Gibbs described the "magnitude and graveness" of mistakes by McChrystal in the article as "profound."

[Updated at 1:10 p.m.] White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that Gen. Stanley McChrystal will have President Barack Obama's "undivided attention" on Wednesday when the two meet in person.  "The president looks forward to speaking with him tomorrow about what's in the (Rolling Stone) article," Gibbs said.

[Updated at 1:09 p.m.] White House press secretary Robert Gibbs refused Tuesday to say what President Barack Obama's reaction was to the story about Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Rolling Stone.  But he noted that McChrystal had been recalled to Washington in part to explain his actions.

"Suffice it to say, our combatant commander does not usually participate in (Afghanistan war planning) meetings from Washington," Gibbs said.  Obama will speak to McChrystal about his comments.

"We'll have more to say after that meeting," Gibbs said. [Updated at 1:01 p.m.] Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, said Tuesday that Gen. Stanley McChrystal's remarks will have "a negative effect on policy implementation" in Afghanistan.  Levin said he didn't know if McChrystal would be able to keep his job.

[Updated at 12:12 p.m.] Defense Secretary Robert Gates released the following statement on McChrystal's comments:

"I read with concern the profile piece on Gen. Stanley McChrystal in the upcoming edition of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine. I believe that Gen. McChrystal made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment in this case. We are fighting a war against al Qaeda and its extremist allies, who directly threaten the United States, Afghanistan, and our friends and allies around the world. Going forward, we must pursue this mission with a unity of purpose. Our troops and coalition partners are making extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our security, and our singular focus must be on supporting them and succeeding in Afghanistan without such distractions. Gen. McChrystal has apologized to me and is similarly reaching out to others named in this article to apologize to them as well. I have recalled Gen. McChrystal to Washington to discuss this in person."

Read excerpts from Rolling Stone magazine profile

[Updated at 11:46 a.m.] U.S. Senators John McCain (R-Arizona), Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) issued the following statement regarding General McChrystal's comments in Rolling Stone:

“We have the highest respect for General McChrystal and honor his brave service and sacrifice to our nation.  General McChrystal’s comments, as reported in Rolling Stone, are inappropriate and inconsistent with the traditional relationship between Commander-in-Chief and the military.  The decision concerning General McChrystal’s future is a decision to be made by the President of the United States.”

[Updated at 10:46 a.m.] Rolling Stone Executive Editor Eric Bates told CNN Tuesday that comments made by Gen. Stanley McChrystal and other top military aides to writer Michael Hastings in Afghanistan were "not off the cuff remarks."

"They gave us a lot of access," Bates said.  "We fact-checked it thoroughly. ... They knew what they were doing when they granted the access and the interview."

Bates said the story shows "a deep division" and "a war within the administration" over strategy in Afghanistan.  It's "hard to see how we can win a war when we're divided ourselves," he said.

[Updated at 10:13 a.m.] Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, weighed in Tuesday on the controversy surrounding Gen. Stanley McChrystal, saying that his "impression is that all of us would be best served by just backing off and staying cool and calm and not sort of succumbing to the normal Washington twitter about this for the next 24 hours."

McChrystal is "a terrific soldier," Kerry said at the start of a committee hearing. But "it will be up to the president of the United States, as commander in chief" to decide how to respond.

"The priorities of (the Afghanistan) mission are best served by letting the president and his commanders make a determination as to how we move forward," Kerry added.

McChrystal, America's top military commander in Afghanistan, has been recalled to Washington amid his controversial remarks about colleagues and civilian authorities in a Rolling Stone magazine article.

[Update 9:05 a.m.] An official at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and McChrystal "are both fully committed" to President Obama's Afghan strategy and are working together to implement the plan. The official said, "We have seen the article and Gen. McChrystal has already spoken to it."

[Update 8:28 a.m.] A U.S. military official confirms to CNN that Gen. Stanley McChrystal has now spoken to: Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Special Representative Richard Holbrooke, National Security Adviser Jim Jones and Vice President Joe Biden.

Remarks about Biden

McChrystal and his staff had imagined ways of dismissing Vice President Joe Biden with a one-liner as they prepared for a questions-and-answer session in Paris, France, in April.

He 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? Biden?" McChrystal says with a laugh. "Who's that?" Hastings writes.

"Biden?" suggests a top adviser. "Did you say, 'Bite Me?' "

Comments about other top officials

The article paints McChrystal as a man who "has managed to piss off almost everyone with a stake" in the Afghan conflict, including U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Special Representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke and National Security Adviser Jim Jones.

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.' "

McChrystal has a "special skepticism" for Holbrooke, the official in charge of reintegrating Taliban members into Afghan society, Hastings writes.

"At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. '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 fallout

McChrystal extends his "sincerest apology for this profile," saying it was a "mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened."

"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," he said.

McChrystal said he's "lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity" throughout his career and that "what is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard."

McChrystal was recalled to Washington to attend a meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan in person rather than by video conference on Wednesday to explain his remarks to Obama and Pentagon officials, administration officials said.

McChrystal has fired a press aide because of the Rolling Stone article, two defense officials told CNN Tuesday morning.

soundoff (663 Responses)
  1. fomer soldier

    Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)ART. 88 – CONTEMPT TOWARD OFFICIALS
    "Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

    @Teresa OK all you MORAN'S. First of all, General McChrystal did not "diss" his boss "Obama." He smacked on Biden, Eikenberry, Holbrooke, and Jim Jones. Obama is not named as one of McChrystal's "team of rivals."

    I feel sorry for you, because you must not understand military customs and courtesy. Just like a lot of people who have never served in the military do. I like GEN McChrystal. But what he did was wrong.

    June 22, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. janet

    A similar situation recently happened to me at work. I only tell the truth, and tell it how it is. It seems the corporate execs don't want to hear the truth. This could hold true for the military as well. I was promptly demoted, as I'm sure the general will be too.

    June 22, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kevin

    No one wants this war. We do not have the resources while millions of Americans remain unemployed...lives destroyed. We need sound government policy which includes regulation of business..including banks and the oil industry. We need education for Americans that is affordable to all. We can not afford 80 % of our graduate schools filled with foreign nationals that leave the country after graduation and compete against Americans. American schools for Americans. Those are top positions that are payed for with tax dollars...why are they given to foreign nationals that set up companies in other countries that compete with American workers? Professor are your a traitor to your own country that you will not educate an American?

    June 22, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Peter

    This affair is truly sad. It has tarnished the reputation of a brave soldier and put his President in a horrible position. This is not about General McChrystal or Barack Obama. It is about the relationship between an area commander to his civilian commander-in-chief, between the military and its civilian commander. If a general cannot agree with his civilian commanders he should resign. He is then free to protest and/or bring the matter before Congress and the nation; otherwise he owes a duty to his commander-in-chief not to undermine him in public. It is just not permissible for a general to take pot-shots at an administration in this way. General McChrystal is responsible for the men under his command. He, and his subordinates, showed extremely poor judgement and were very unprofessional in the way they have handled themselves. General McChrystal has acknowledged this. His and his men’s actions have done serious damage to our efforts in Afghanistan. Consequently, the President has no option but to fire him (and the others who are involved in this). There is just no way that a President can let this go by. He, probably more than anyone else wishes that he could. It is General McCrystal’s responsibility and so sadly, he will have to go.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mel

      Well said Peter. Others in the Obama Administration wanted McChrystal to be fired a long time ago. Obama defended McChrystal against McChrystal's critics and how did McChrystal show his appreciation to the President? He mocked him and allowed members of his staff to mock him. McChrystal would never allow his subordinates to show him the disrespect he has shown his commander-in chief.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Remarks are not the issue!

    It does not matter who said what. The General is gone. What should be focused on is that our military is not being given the ability to win. This President came into office saying Afghanistan is the focus and is where we should take the fight. As with his other promises, he has failed to deliver. Our military is capable of winning if politics will get out of the way. When will we learn from our past? Our military deserves a winning plan. What is the plan Mr. President? Our military deserves one!

    June 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. TO

    Ashwin, I agree...Another One in the Trenches it has been shown and confirmed by the Hawaiian hospital and health dept. Get over it and focus on a real issue.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jennaH

    McChrystal has experience. All Obama has is a sheep skin.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mel

      A lot of other top generals and officers think McChrystal should go. They have just as much experience as McChrystal. McChrystal is the one who covered up the Pat Tillman affair and caused the Tillman family enormous pain. He also made a lot of other poor decisions that caused several troops to lose their lives unnecessarily. If you knew the entire story about McChrystal you probably would rethink your support of him.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kate

    I hate politics. It's so easy for everyone to point fingers at each other but the fact is we still have a messy war going on. Everyone is frustrated and has an opinion on how to fix the problem. There are a lot of people in the military/gov't whose focus today and maybe the rest of this week will be on this article and these comments. Let's stop getting all hung up on words and get back to the task at hand.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dolphin

    The general is in on the whole thing. If he was that stupid he wouldn't be general. It is a smoke and mirrors game. It gets all of you talking and hating but not watching the real game. What is real? OIL filling the Gulf, Bp (real terrorists) using Dispersant that the EPA said is poison, what else?? Stan will get a nice pension and probably a few other perks ( TO GO HOME) , more than the rest of us!!

    June 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Shmeckell

    McCain, Lieberman, Graham, Gates, and Kerry all made sensible comments within a 2 hours of each other. What the heck is going on here?

    June 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. doug

    it's a tautology, but Soldiers will be Soldiers. That he holds these opinions isn't shocking (everyone in the military knows better than their bosses), but everyone in the military knows that you keep those opinions to the after hours poker games, not for the interview w Rolling Stone.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mark Holten

    OK here is ground truth from AFG folks. First, stop calling him a republican, when you do so, you only make it obvious to anyone in the know that you are uninformed. GEN McChrystal is not a republican, in fact if you know anything about him, you'll learn that he's probably the most apolitical General Officer to wear the uniform. He has never publicly stated that he is registered in any political party, but if I had to pick one, I would say that it's 100% safe to bet your life that he is not a republican. 

    Next, I have had the distinct pleasure to work for numerous truly great 3 and 4 star flag officers. GEN McChrystal is as good as Flag Officers get – and people, heck even his critics, will follow him to the end of the earth because he is a brilliant winner and leader and because playing on his team is a distinct privilege. I followed him to AFG because I knew that he was truly capable of turning the war around here in AFG. And the current ground truth is that, despite the incredibly difficult mess left in the wake of the George Dubya debacle and the nearly hopeless situation that President Obama and GEN McChrystal inherited, together they've skillfully led us to an improbable and historic turnaround. I have seen remarkable progress since I came here last fall.  One has to simply drive around Kabul and out to Bagram to see the obvious marks of progress – vendors on the street, women without covering from head to toe, girls walking to and from school, traffic becoming more organized and civilized, etc, etc.  I have to admit that when I first read his strategy and campaign plan I had many doubts. So regardless of what sensationalism some freelance writer published in Rolling Stone, yours truly, a committed skeptic living and working here in AFG, is convinced that GEN McChrystal has skillfully led the USA and NATO towards the most remarkable wartime comeback in American history. Remember that we're not here to worry about petty DC political agendas, we're here to win the peace in AFG. 

    America, even our superheroes are human from time to time – and this 4 star superhero has been deployed to Iraq and AFG probably 7.5 of the last 9 years. So before you throw him under the bus for making an inconsequential mistake in 7.5 years of grueling wartime service and leadership, give him a break – we all make mistakes when we're tired.  You and I would have buckled many years ago under the constant pressure of 18 hour work days which continue 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. General Stan McChrystal apologized for the mistake, now it's time to remember that we're in the 4th quarter of the biggest wartime comeback in our nation's history and now we must finish what we came here to do, i.e. win the peace and prevent AFG from ever becoming another safe haven for the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.  Let's keep our eyes on the prize and not be distracted by petty, inconsequential political nonsense.

    Lest you call me a republican, let me disabuse you of that notion. I worked my butt off to help President Obama win the 2008 election and nothing would make me happier than to see him and General McChrystal achieve the historic victory that the republicans said could never be accomplished.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wayne

      Mark, you overlook one very important thing that stands out in the General's comments. His comments reflect a tremendous level of immaturity. I can't imagine a man of his supposed stature and his position being so immature as to make such comments. That was adolescent stuff.

      June 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. rhonda

    Obama sat on the request for additional troops for months and did not even bother to speak to the General, but now that something is said that he does not like, he can summon the General to the White House. The only thing troubling about the interview is the General said Obama is ill prepared which should trouble everyone. Maybe Obama can appoint a commission of Draft Dodgers, Code Pink members or a Hollywood actor who played a soldier to run the war.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. chrisjones

    Insubordination (by definition) clear and simple. A definite PUBLIC reprimand and demotion are called for. I hope he's looking for retirement. It's be the best for all. I believe it goes "lose lips..."

    June 22, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sean

    The military in the United States has become? A joke.

    They forgot that they don't have the freedom of speech.

    They forgot that they are there to die.... that's the purpose of the military... they're now more afraid than civilians... reason why they suck in Iraq. I'm honest.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris

      Try being man enough to say that to a soldier or marines face....My guess is its you thats the cowardly wussy.

      June 22, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
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