The Guardian hosted live Q&A with Edward Snowden just wrapped up. Here are my initial thoughts (captured live): On intelligence community foreign targeting: I did not reveal any US operations...
NY Daily News: NBC News reported that Duncan Boothby quit his role on the general’s public relations team. According to a senior military official, he was “asked to resign.”
Politico: Rolling Stone’s executive editor on Tuesday said that Gen. Stanley McChrystal did not raise any objections to a new article that repeatedly quotes him criticizing the administration.
HP: Afghanistan’s president believes that U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal is the “best commander” of the nearly 9-year-old war and hopes that President Barack Obama doesn’t decide to replace him, the Afghan leader’s spokesman said Tuesday.
First Read: Sen. John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown Tuesday that Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s critical comments about the White House were “a mistake” and “poor judgment.”
Thomas P.M. Barnett: I just read the Rolling Stone piece and found the tone of disrespect somewhat stunning.
It isn’t looking good for the general:
The top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has been summoned to the White House to explain biting and unflattering remarks he made to a freelance writer about President Barack Obama and others in the Obama administration.
The face-to-face comes as pundits are already calling for McChrystal to resign for insubordination.
McChrystal has been instructed to fly from Kabul to Washington today to attend Obama’s regular monthly security team meeting tomorrow at the White House
It sounds like McChrystal wasn’t pulling any punches – and let his aides get far too friendly with a visiting reporter:
In the eight-page article, released to reporters on Monday ahead of publication, McChrystal appears to belittle Vice President Joe Biden and accuses Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Kabul, of undermining his war plan within the administration.
Asked by the Rolling Stone reporter about what he now feels of the war strategy advocated by Biden last fall – fewer troops, more drone attacks – the article reports that McChrystal and his aides attempted to come up with a good one-liner to dismiss the question. “Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal reportedly jokes. “Who’s that?”
Later in the article, McChrystal turns more serious when asked about cables sent last fall to Washington by Eikenberry. The cables called into question the major troop increase advocated by McChrystal’s team and the U.S.’s backing of Afghan President Hamid Karzai – views that the ambassador had not previously raised with McChrystal or his staff.
“I like Karl, I’ve known him for years, but they’d never said anything like that to us before,” McChrystal is quoted as saying. “Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, ‘I told you so.’”
McChrystal issued a statement last night:
He said he has enormous respect for the Obama administration, and the piece fell short of his principles of “personal honor and professional integrity.”
“I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened,” said McChrystal, adding that he remains “committed to ensuring” the successful outcome of the almost nine-year-old Afghan war.
What in the heck was Gen. Stanley McChrystal thinking? I mean, I know what he was thinking: he was tired of being the victim of what he believes is a concerted effort on behalf of Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and others to undermine everything he was given 18 months to do. He was tired of being perceived in the press as a neoconservative killer, Dick Cheney’s hired assassin, or disloyal to President Obama and his staff. He was angry at being blamed for leaking the draft of his report to the President to Bob Woodward. (He did NOT leak the document). He was miffed that a large number of mid-ranking soldiers and battalion commanders and enlisted guys didn’t support his strategy.
The Moderate Voice
Relations between McChrystal and the White House have never been stellar. So let’s just say that now in the wake of this profile they are less stellar — a lot less stellar — than they’ve been ever before.
Compare and contrast the McChrystal/Eikenberry relationship with that of Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, whom Foreign Policy noted last year never allowed their disagreements to go public. This isn’t the first time McChrystal’s spoken publicly about matters the White House would prefer remained in-house, either. Remember last year when The One freaked out over his speech in London calling for more troops?
The Campaign Spot
Many people I know think highly of McChrystal, and he has earned his accolades. But a general in the American armed forces cannot, on the record, mock or deride thevice president and the U.S. ambassador, much less the president of the United States. You and I can; we’re just some schmoes; we don’t report to him in the chain of command. I’m sure many generals have thought many colorful expressions of criticism toward presidents over the years, but they cannot blab them to reporters.
Outside the Beltway
What happens to McChrystal at this point is up to Obama, but given the General’s public statements it’s hard for me to see how the White House and Pentagon can keep him in place. This is insubordination, and there’s really only one appropriate response.