"I think they were frustrated with how the policy was going, and I think it was an attempt on their part to get the message out on that frustration," Hastings said.
The White House on Tuesday harshly rebuked the general's blunt comments and said "all options are on the table" when prodded about McChrystal's job prospects, while questioning his judgment and maturity.
"He was angry," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said of Obama's initial reaction to the story. "You would know it if you saw it."
What bothered Obama the most about McChrystal's comments was that "we're distracting from what the president considers to be an enormously vital mission for our country and our forces," Gibbs said.
One of the parts of the story that really bothered Obama was the belittling of the French, whom the U.S. is asking to contribute more troops to the effort, a White House source said.
Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wisc., chairman of the House appropriations committee that overseas defense spending, called for McChrystal's removal, saying in a statement that while "anybody, including a U.S. Army general, is entitled to making a damn fool of themselves once," McChrystal "hasn't appeared to learn from his mistakes."
"His repeated contempt for the civilian chain of command demonstrates a bull headed refusal to take other people's judgments into consideration," Obey said. "That is damn dangerous in somebody whose decisions determine life and death for American troops and others in the region."
But outside of Obey, most lawmakers were subdued in their calls for resignation, even as they decried his remarks.
Vice President Joe Biden -- who one McChrystal adviser referred to as "Bite Me" -- did not comment, except to say he will have "plenty of time to talk about Afghanistan."
After news of the comments stunned the political and military circles from D.C. to Afghanistan, McChrystal quickly issued an apology for his "bad judgment."
"I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened," McChrystal said in a 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."
McChrystal called nearly every figure mentioned in the article, including NATO allies, to apologize personally for his comments.
Duncan Boothby, a civilian press official in Afghanistan, resigned in the aftermath of the scandal.
NATO officials were quick with their own response, noting that it was "unfortunate" but "it is just an article."
"We are in the middle of a very real conflict, and the Secretary General has full confidence in Gen. McChrystal as the NATO commander, and in his strategy," NATO said in a statement.
ABC News' Miguel Marquez and Lee Ferran contributed to this report.