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. Former GI

    Let me put it this way; if one of Genaral McCrystal's subordinates had pulled the same stunt, he would probably be facing a courtmartial right about now. McC has enough experiance with military protocal to know that what he did was wrong. This isn't the way things are handled by a field commander. If he had problems, he needed to push the question up the chain of command. You do not bad mouth your superiors in front of subordinates and certaily not in the press.

    June 25, 2010 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. bill

    It was a foolish move on the part of the adminnidtration, they should have just ingnored it alltogether and take the General to the wood shed quietly, in removing him they gave the enemy fodder, it set back any forward momentum that was in play, the action obama took was because his ego was bruised. one general was just passed over for promotion, i am suprised they didn't use him.

    this didn't hurt McCrystal, he baceme an instant millionaire, between becoming an armchair general for evy news station and writing his memoirs, he doesn't need the 4 star pay now. who knows maybe it was planned to to turn out this way. what ever the case obama blew it again.

    lets see when he goes out to help dems get re-elected they get dumped , when he deals with bp he gvet timid when he deals with the war he creates his own setbacks..
    now we have given a withdrawl time frame all the enemy has to do is stay in their caves and wait, sounds like another vietnam.


    June 25, 2010 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Darth Vader

      Could you repeat that, only using the English language? Thank you.

      June 25, 2010 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. Rich

    The man overstepped his bounds, and we all know it. Arguments about First Amendment rights are simply irrelevant. If the First Amendement trumped military code, we would not have the ability to have classified information. Sharing State secrets would not be treason, either. In civilian life, there are limits on the First Amendment's application to speech, and that is true also for our military. The man made this mistake many times, and this was the final straw. He was insubordinate to his superiors, and flagrantly crossed lines all soldiers know you do not cross.

    June 25, 2010 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  4. Rich

    I'd also like to say that all of us knows that if you speak ill of your company, your boss, etc, in any civilian role, you can legally be terminated from your employment. Why anyone would think the military would be more tolerant or less equipped to handle people doing so simply confounds me.

    June 25, 2010 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  5. Vern in Ohio

    By the way, the First Amendment doesn't apply here. The First Amendment is to protect the people in their rights to express differences with the government in a peaceful manner, without reprisal. The First Amendment protects the General only insofar as he can't be charged with a crime, as no crime was committed. But it does not prevent the President from sacking him for so gross a violation of the Chain of Command.

    Again, the military serves the people, not the other way around. Unless you want to end up like China, or Russia, or most of Africa. Is that what you really want?

    June 25, 2010 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. W Wood

    Obama should be the one to resign. Firing Gen. McCrystal is going to be the least of his worries. He is fighting a winless war, and McCrystal knew that. McCrystal has probably forgotten more than Obama will ever know. One term lame duck President!

    June 25, 2010 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Bopeep

      and who started this war? Bush/Cheney.
      Obama was foolish enough to continue it.

      June 25, 2010 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dolphin

    The humans cannot handle the level of complexity that they are dealing with at the present time. Even worse is their arrogance and hopefulness to think that they can and their denial that they can't. End of story.

    June 25, 2010 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Whale

      Hopefully they won't kill all of us before they wipe themselves out.

      June 25, 2010 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. Squidgal

    As a military member, Gen. McChrystal knew he should not criticize the Commander in Chief and other civilian leaders – it is prohibited by the UCMJ. Think of it like this ... if you were a vice president in a large corporation and you openly criticized the company's president and CEO in the national media, how long do you think you would have your job? More intriguing to me is the fact that these comments were made to a Rolling Stone reporter. An interview of that type would have to receive prior approval from the Pentagon. Flag rank officers such as Gen. McChrystal are specifically trained on how to deal with the media and have staff to assist them with media relations. Rolling Stone rose to national prominence by combining music and cultural features with hard-hitting reports on the Vietnam War and the anti-war movement. The magazine's political reporters are some of the country's best and brightest. Was overconfidence, fatigue or arrogance to blame? Or were the remarks purposeful...calculated? With Gen. McChrystal's training, experience and intellengence, it is hard for me to believe that this was a mistake.

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

    Those who brought up the UCMJ are correct. The first amendment is irrelevent here. Beyond that the General;s action seriously call into question his decision making abilities and absoltely had to go. No one in their right mind publically talks trash about their boss and expects to keep their job, when your boss is the POTUS that goes without saying. There is no doubt that many military leaders had less than admiration for the commander in chief they worked under (one can only imagine what Colin Powel really thinks of Bush) but they had the good sense to keep those opinions to themselves. This was a no brainer, he had to go.

    June 25, 2010 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. leftover

    The firing of McChrystal demonstrates the worsening position of the US intervention in Afghanistan. He would not have been fired if the war was going well.
    Republikan leadership through John McCain and Lindsey Graham, demigod William Kristol and Nowhere Man Joe Lieberman, issued statements condemning McChrystal before the firing with Kristol nominating Petraeus. Republikans whistle, Obama comes running.

    McChrystal’s remarks are representative of an officer corps and high command increasingly contemptuous of civilian authority. Ackerman at the LA Times reports on surveys showing that “a majority of active-duty officers believe that senior officers should ‘insist’ on making civilian officers accept their viewpoints” and that “only 29% believe that high-ranking civilians, rather than their military counterparts, ‘should have the final say on what type of military force to use’.”
    Under pressure from civilian authority to reduce collateral damage, McChrystal tightened the rules of engagement, limiting airstrikes and guided rocket attacks, artillery barrages and even mortar fire in support troops on the ground. This has contributed to Western combatants suffering the worst losses of any single month since the war began in 2001…76 so far in June. Morale of ground troops is at an all-time low.

    Should he have been fired?
    Does it matter?
    McChrystal’s departure will not result in any fundamental change to US policy in Afghanistan. His replacement by Petraeus does, however, represent a willingness to remove limits on the rules of engagement designed to reduce fatalities of non-combatants.
    Firing McChrystal and installing Petraeus is the means by which Obama can adapt to the demands of the military brass and bolster support among Congressional hawks. Like everything Obama has done so far, what is represented as “change” is really no change at all.

    June 25, 2010 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Darth Vader

      I wonder if you would be so willing to dismiss civilian casualties if the positions were reversed. I think you'd be whining and moaning about being the victim of a senseless war that kills civilians.

      June 25, 2010 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Wow

      It's actually spelled Rebulican. Seriously, who is writing these posts?

      June 25, 2010 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. daffyduck

    I think it's just amazing how Obama, it seems like in a matter of 3 days, managed to summons the General to the White House from Afganistan and replace him, just amazing. Almost like grade school antics. The man is a control freak and extremely thin skinned. WHAT'S MORE AMAZING IS THE FACT THAT IT TOOK HIM 58 DAYS TO MEET WITH THE BP CEO. What's wrong with this picture? I'll tell you what's wrong...................total imcompetency. He doesn't have a clue on which end is up. Between all the lies, the economy, people out of work, the border, the Gulf, he puts priority on the General because the General might have said something Obama didn't like. Sad. When are they going to start impeachment proceedings is my question.

    June 25, 2010 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Elmer Fudd

      All I know is that it's duck season!

      June 25, 2010 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
    • MC

      daffyduck, this is not about BP this is about insubordination of a General officer to the Commander in Cheif. No matter if you are an Obama hater or not, you have to admit that it doesn't make sense for Gen Mc to give an interview with thr rolling stones magazine criticise the president while soldiers are dying daily in the Afghan war, as a matter of fact June was the worst month for our forces. Our service members need a commander who can lead from the front, give great guidance, set good examples, have great integrity, develop tactical excellence that leads to victory etc, etc. If Gen Mc let the Obama administration frustrate him and forced him to say regrettable things, imagine what Osama Bin Laden and his Lieutenants will do......

      June 25, 2010 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      No, it's wabbit season! I'm hunting wabbits! Waskawy wabbits! hehehehehehehe

      June 25, 2010 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  12. JERRY

    Until we take the politics and media out of war we can never have a true victory. We lose our fighting people to politics and never to the war. We need to get back to fighting a War like it should be done or not do it at all. This is not a democratic or republican thing.

    June 25, 2010 at 6:59 am | Report abuse |
  13. Terry - Brownsburg, Indiana

    Unless you have served in a combat zone and found the need to count on those in command, you are swinging at windmills. A group of high level officers trashed the civilians they are required to report to and follow, and insubordination, especially in a war zone cannot be tolerated at any level. My unit experienced this sort of thing in Viet Nam and we filed a complaint with the Inspector General and our individual Senators back home. McChrystal failed to manage his senior staff, which the folks on the ground assumed were doing their jobs and following directives from civilian leaders in Washington. I lost all respect for McChrystal and his staff after reading the article. I also question if this entire matter was not well orchestrated by McChrystal's Team in an effort to get fired prior to the world learning that their battle field plan is failing and a lot of good soldiers will die because of failed leadership. We are looking upon our second Viet Nam, and this one is costing far more than the first episode. When our troops fight insurgents who dress like the general population, the rule of battle should be "When in doubt – shoot", and senior officers will review the situation later. When officers make the types of comments found in the article, it is really hard to follow those same officers in battle. Without leadership our troop have chaos.

    June 25, 2010 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
  14. Catt

    The total stupidity in this lies, I think with the reporter. First, Rolling Stone is NOT a media outfit that should be reporting on the military [where is the approval process here– the real stupid culprits] and the ding reporter should have easily recognizied the side talk of the officers as insignificant to the situation and his report. Everybody trash talks these days, and had the reporter been after a good insighful interview with depth and value, he woudl have overlooked the side talk. NO, he can enhance his byline and "make news" [not reporting news] himself by reporting in a moronic manner. This is pure travesty! for no reason at all

    June 25, 2010 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sansley

    "Frequent iReporter Liberty1955 said the situation between Obama and McChrystal mirrored the conflict between President Eisenhower and Gen. George Patton during World War II."

    It was President Truman and Gen MacArthur during Korea not Eisenhower and Patton.

    June 25, 2010 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Darth Vader

      You are wrong. Obviously history is not something you pay much attention to.

      June 25, 2010 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
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