June 24th, 2010
03:29 PM ET

Readers sound off: Military code and McChrystal

iReporters Cliff Olney, Melissa Fazli, Egberto Willies shared their views on the military code and how McChrystal did or didn't act in accordance with it.

An interesting conversation developed on CNN.com about First Amendment rights versus the military code of conduct following Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s resignation.

Comments on a story about McChrystal’s resignation have come from people who identify themselves as veterans and current members of the military - a majority of whom said they were shocked and embarrassed by McChrystal’s conduct.

AFGChuck said, “It was a complete breach of military protocol.” Several others agreed and referenced the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Non-military don't realize that the UCMJ is law in the military. When your [sic] in uniform not only do you represent the troops you represent a whole country.

Article 88 of the UCMJ states that any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the president, the vice president, Congress or the secretary of defense shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

In another article about the controversial remarks, readers with an opposing view felt that McChrystal had a right to express himself.

goldenbear2K, before you tell people to read history, you yourself should read the Bill of Rights, starting with the 1st Amendment. Everyone has freedom of speech, can voice their opinion without fear of reprisal.

As a former military man, you do not give up your 1st amendment right. It is your obligation to report derelict of duty and Obama and his staff are derelict. The General has every right to report what he sees. This information is not classified. U need to get your facts straight.

Key political figures stepped forward in support of President Obama. Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona gave a a joint news conference with independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut in which they said that Obama had no choice but to replace McChrystal.

CNN viewers are also voicing their opinions on iReport. Frequent iReporter  Liberty1955 said the situation between Obama and McChrystal mirrored the conflict between President Eisenhower and Gen. George Patton during World War II.  He said that McChrystal is a good leader and his apology should have been enough.

EWillies1961 said McChrystal needed to be removed so that Obama could reassert leadership and reinforce the ideal that civilian and government leadership portray a united front.

CNN will continue following this story and the reactions to the decision.

Tell us what you think. Record your reaction to the decision and share it with CNN.

soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Smith in Oregon

    Folks, as usual the reason 'floated' for Gen. McChrystal's sacking is not necessarily the full reason he was fired as the Afghanistan field commander.

    Gen. McChrystal had long worked in directing extreme black Op's in the Pentagon prior to the Pentagon pushing him onto President Obama as the best man with the strategy to be successful in Afghanistan.

    Gen. McChrystal's comments to Micheal Hastings that President Obama didn't know Gen. McChrystal's background was correct, otherwise President Obama would have realized the Pentagon was pushing a extremely sick, perverted and very cruel individual upon him to shock the Iraqi and Afghanistan people into turning away from becoming a Taliban fighter.

    What is stunning is that no one in the Senate Confirmation hearings even had the guts and courage to directly ask Gen. McChrystal what his role was in overseeing the worst, most depraved torture camp in all of Iraq.

    Torturing Iraqi POW's was clearly illegal by American and International laws and the torture that took place under Gen. McChrystal was far, far beyond that briefly described by Bush-Cheney. Power drills, blow torches, bone crushing beatings, POW's frozen to death, the use of air conditioners to freeze POW's. Photos of blow torch burn torture confiscated, Photos of POWs tortured to death confiscated, Photos of POW's with broken facal bones from beatings requiring hospitalization confiscated.

    Army investigators themselves were turned away and told no admittance, Red Cross was refused admittance, SEREs trainers had their blow torch burn torture photos they took of the POWs confiscated and felt their very lives were threatened, CIA agents were also ordered by CIA headquarters to stay away from that torture site.

    Folks, the REASON Gen. McChrystal was sacked appears to have resulted from a high level leak to the Taliban that White House Richard Holebrocke and the US Ambassador of Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry were going to enter a Marjah shop on their schedule to determine how well Gen. McChrystal's shake and bake strategy was succeeding or failing in Marjah (it's first test). Both men were seen as major headaches and problems by Gen. McChrystal and his staff's remarks underscore how bitter Gen. McChrystal was towards both of those men that were sent to inspect his efforts in Marjah and Kandahar. With the advance notice, the Taliban attacked the V22 Osprey as it landed in Marjah, barely missing destroying them while they were most vulnerable.

    It's clear the Taliban were told of both men's itinerary and staged a massive suicide attack in a specific shop that both men would be visiting and touring. INSIDE that shop were THREE suicide bombers who had assembled in the back of the shop, apparently tipped off in advance by a very high ranking official who 'knew' Richard Holebrocke and Karl Eikenberry's schedule. Thankfully, the Taliban failed to shoot down the V22 Osprey as it arrived, AND one of the suicide vests in the shop both men were just ready to enter exploded, setting off ALL three suicide attackers bombs prematurely!

    Richard Holebrocke and Karl Eikenberry were inspecting Gen. McChrystal's work in Marjah and determining if he was failing with his strategy or not. Both Gen. McChrystal and his entire staff saw both of those men as major headaches and problems. It entirely appears a very high level leak to the Taliban took place from someone that specifically knew Richard Holebrocke's and Karl Eikenberry's entire itinerary during his Marjah visit. When they would arrive and where they would go in their inspections.

    June 24, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • glendora

      Weighing in on the McC's comments. While I do not agree with what he said, I don't think he violated or broke any policies, in fact, I think he actually followed the policies that's why he was frustrated, was not working and no, I am not defending him, but I am looking at this more now that the facts are coming out, by the way, the author of the article gave a brilliant interview with Anderson Cooper on Wednesday. Anyway, McC. did mock but did not violate any code of conduct unbecoming of an officer...

      June 24, 2010 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • paul

      WOW–We do not get that sort of reporting from cnn, if you had not told us we would not know the facts about this operation-operendi, why doe,s cnn stay with second hand reports from and after other news outlets, mostly old news,

      June 25, 2010 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Monty

      You're an absolute idiot, Smith. Put your tin foil hat back on and get in your cage. Let me see if I understand this correctly: You're claiming that Gen. McChrystal, in frustration over being judged on his efforts in Marjah, decided to allow the Taliban to stage a massive attack on high-ranking US diplomats? Sure, that will look good in the grade books...

      June 25, 2010 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Sybaris

      Smith, your reference to SERE instructors and your questionable command of the English language makes your post very suspect. Yeah, put your tin-foil hat back on.

      June 25, 2010 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. Microdot

    The fact of the matter is that at this level you server at the "pleasure" of the President. If he wants someone else for whatever reason, you're out, First Amendment or not.

    June 24, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Exactly. Have any of you worked in a high level job in a company? What if you go and mouth off your frustrations to a news media, you will be sacked the next day. I can give examples if you want. Sometimes, you reap what you sow and that is a good lesson for anyone in office, not necessarily the military.

      June 25, 2010 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  3. damiao


    June 24, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BobK

    This is no different from Vietnam and other similar wars in this respect. If you are going to fight a war, give the military the resources and thecomplete leeway to fight it and win it. When civilians start trying to determine how to fight a war, whether it's limiting resources, manpower, rules of engagement, or logistics, then the military is hamstrung and the operation is doomed to failure. Yes, the military leadership serves at the pleasure of the President, but Presidents (and their staff) who think we can fight a war under their constraints are simply delusional and put us on the road to defeat.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • deb

      Obama did give McC the resources....the comments McC made had really nothing to do with this. Did you read the article in RS?

      June 24, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Actually, ALL wars are both political and military. One needs both working together to win. (Mind you – it is usually politics that start it – but that is a different story.) In this case the leader is the POTUS – it is his policy that must rule. We can't have two leaders.

      June 24, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • CTYank

      In many respects, this is hugely different from Viet Nam. This is post-Cold War. There is no restriction from above like there was in N. Viet Nam. The restrictions now are from the "COIN" bible, relating to minimizing civilian casualties; these are FROM McChrystal.
      Anyhow, Sun Tzu said "War is diplomacy by other means." The military services can pick up their end, but the totality is the responsibility of the president. Really the big question is whether this COIN thing is the best way to go- needs more discussion by competent strategists.

      June 24, 2010 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. deb

    liberalh8er is wrong, Ithink. In the military, you have the right to not follow an illegal order, but you do not have the right to disobey UCMJ. In fact, Obama supported McChrystal and McChrystal was pretty much doing what he thought he should in Afghanistan. This has nothing to do with dereliction of duty at all.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. deb

    Do people realize that McC's comments have pretty much nothing to do with dissatisfaction of getting resources, etc? Read the comments he made. They clearly fall under article 88 of the UCMJ. If he wanted to complain about lack of resources to the press, he could have simply said, "I am asking Obama for more resources," and leave it at that. The press would have then gone to the White House about it. Face it, McC's comments were just immature, unnecessary, unproductive, and illegal.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aloisae

      Which exact comments made by the General himself as quoted in the Rolling Stone article were "contemptuous words" concerning civilian officials?

      There were many contemptuous words.. but the vast majority of those were Hasting's words. Still others came from unnamed sources. And, admittedly, the General was contemptuous in statements made about fancy dinners (not the officials he was dining with, mind you, but the necessity of going to a fancy dinner).

      However, the General's words.. on their own, without Hastings telling us that the General holds a specific person in contempt.. aren't contemptuous. And, presumably, these were the strongest support in the General's own words that Hastings could come up with from everything he heard the General say, in "several lengthy interviews" and while observing the General over the course of a month, for his assertions that the General held these officials in contempt and that it is a case of "Obama versus the Pentagon".

      June 25, 2010 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Aloisae

      By the way, my below comments are not meant as criticism of the decision that the General resign over the article. By giving the reporter access to his staff and providing the writer with the opportunity to write a profile that portrayed him, his staff, the President and the war effort in such a negative light, he displayed poor judgment.

      However, in terms of accusations that he violated Article 88 of the UCMJ, it seems extreme to hold the General responsible for the "contemptuous words" of others. There is a difference between him taking responsibility for his and his staff's participation in this PR disaster and claims that he himself made public remarks critical of the President or openly contemptuous of other civilian officials covered by Article 88 of the UCMJ.

      June 25, 2010 at 3:59 am | Report abuse |
  7. Typical Voter

    I am relieved that a qualified leaders is taking command of Afghanistan, that being Petraeus. I do not however envy his position of having to fight a war on two fronts, the battlefield, and the political field. He too will face the threat of back stabbing Washington know-it-allls, doing their level best to defeat any sign of military victory. Meanwhile McChrystal is free to snip at the Washington establishment without further fear of reprisals. I hope he can aid in taking down Obama as a way of helping Petraeus win the war in Afghanistan.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • CTYank

      Pretty mean-spirited, no? But I'll bet you think GWB was a great president.
      Some of us are intentionally ill-informed.

      June 24, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. NoWay

    Another case of talking before the brain has had a chance to engage.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gregory

      He should have consulted his McChrystal ball and he would have seen this coming. Even without such insight he would have know that as a soldier he is not allowed to trash talk his boss. Simply put.. he ran his mouth off and was replaced. I don't see any more need to delve into this anymore. McChrystal's career is over and Obama will run again and be reelected. So for all of you closet rednecks.. build a bridge and get over i!

      June 25, 2010 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  9. Hendrik

    McC is a great soldier. He does well leading soldiers. However, he created a culture we see at a battalion level where the lieutenant colonel laments with his staff about those "weenies" who don't understand soldiering. McC forgot that he is no longer one of those people. He is a four star general who should know the proper decorum. He does indeed have his freedom of speech right. Those who defend McC on that basis must also realize that the Commander in Chief has a right to disagree and FIRE him. McC practiced his freedom of speech and the CinC practiced his right to FIRE him. Done.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • paulbark

      All this talk of "freedom of speech" is bogus. Anyone who knows the UCMJ knows that when someone joins the armed forces, they give up some of the rights that the rest of Americans have, or those rights are restricted. Clearly, full freedom of speech rights do not exist for uniformed officers.

      June 25, 2010 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Kevin Hayes

      Easily the best post on this topic. As a currently serving military member, spot on.

      June 25, 2010 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
    • CharmedMuggle

      Well said Hendrik. This needs to be posted at the top of the page so everyone can understand the why McChrystal had to go. He is no longer a BN Cdr and is too close to the White House to say/behave as he does. Maybe it would have been better if he had stayed in the Special Ops community.

      June 25, 2010 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Well said. If I engage my freedom of speech at work, believe me I won't have a job :-). There are lots of decisions made in a company, in govt, military whatever, and it is impossible for everyone to agree on everything. People should realize "who is the boss" and "who they work for" and "what is channel and form of communication". Being a 4-star general, I am sure he knows that and he got what he deserved.

      June 25, 2010 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  10. 12B

    Kathryn Walsh morons like you are tearing apart this country with your idiotic rants, those of us that have had bullets thrown at them understand the concept od insubordination. Crawl back in your hole

    June 24, 2010 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. GP2010

    Liberalh8r...you confuse the issue. You REPORT problems through your chain of command. You don't appear before a public outlet (such as Rolling Stones) and bad mouth your leaders. It is against regulations to do so and Gen McChrystal and his staff knew this, as do all military officers. He violated military regulations and was punished for that just as he punished his subordinates for lesser infractions. The other officers involved in this are probably hoping that they get off as light as General McChrystal and are allowed to resign and not face punitive actions for violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice. There is no doubt that General McChrystal is a brave and great American Soldier and leader. But he screwed up here and he must face the music. He is not the only General around with the capability to fight this war effectively. General Patraus is an excellent Officer and will do extremely well in this fight.

    June 25, 2010 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. Gregory

    He should have consulted his McChrystal ball and he would have seen this coming. Even without such insight he would have know that as a soldier he is not allowed to trash talk his boss. Simply put.. he ran his mouth off and was replaced. I don't see any more need to delve into this anymore. McChrystal's career is over and Obama will run again and be reelected. So for all of you closet red necks.. build a bridge and get over i!

    June 25, 2010 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  13. eddale

    I'm amazed at the ignorance shown by some of the supporters of this disgraced general. They have no knowledge of what the military requires of its officers. How sad.

    June 25, 2010 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • MC

      You are so right!!

      June 25, 2010 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
    • John C

      RIght! Both the arguments from libralh8tr and Oberdan are rediculously ignorant

      "Everyone has freedom of speech, can voice their opinion without fear of reprisal" WRONG – not in the military
      "As a former military man, you do not give up your 1st amendment right." WRONG (and probably a lie too)

      Both of these revel the underlying problem the right has created in this country. After thier abismal performance when they controlled our government, the right now focus's it's efforts on what people will believe over what is actually the truth. Their cult members are way to quick to accept the latest talking points as fact, even if they make no sense at all. From critisizing the use of a teleprompter that everyone has always used to "Death panels" or the latest nonsense that teh government has not beeninvovled in the oil spill. The hatered stirred up among the uniformed like these comments listed are not serviing our country or our military well. The party before country garbage needs to stop. We get it that the right has nothing to offer, at the very least if you can't help, get out of the way.

      June 25, 2010 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  14. djak

    First amendment rights or not, if you disrespect or mouth off to your boss, expect to get in trouble for it.

    June 25, 2010 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. AWi

    Instead of spending time giving interviews to a music magazine and thinking of witty ways to insult the vice president, McCrystal and his staff should have been working on accomplishing their mission in Afghanistan. **There are hundreds of thousands of people in harm's way who are depending on him.** President Obama has shown strength and leadership in disciplining the general and restoring order. If Powell, Schwarzkopf or Shalikashvili had shown similar disrespect for their command and the Commander in Chief, they would have been canned, too.

    June 25, 2010 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      GEN McChrystal and his staff, and many of the folks working in Afghanistan, work 18+ hour days, 7 days a week, for YEARS. So when you say that "McCrystal and his staff should have been working on accomplishing their mission in Afghanistan" you not only display your complete inability to spell correctly, you also display your lack of knowledge on what the pace of operations in Afghanistan is like...next time you spend years working 18+ hour days in the 3rd poorest country in the world, overseeing operations, humanitarian aid, and nation-building, let us all know. I'm sure you will behave with the utmost decorum and PC-speak at all times.

      That being said, is Rolling Stone the right forum? Probably not. But don't denigrate the service of those individuals or imply that they spend all their time hanging out and thinking of snide comments; the pace of operations in Afghanistan is punishing to say the least and they have been dealing with it for literally years on end.

      June 25, 2010 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • AWi

      Guest, you missed the point entirely. It's not about you or me or typographical errors. It's about vigilant and reliable leadership. The lives of many men and women of the USA and Afghanistan are at risk of injury and death. The expectation that an officer should remain focused on their mission is in no way a form of denigration; it is the basis of their command.

      June 25, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
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