“Runaway General” Called to White House

Jun 22, 2010 7:55am

When an early copy of Rolling Stone’s article about Gen. Stanley McChrystal came to the White House, officials were stunned.

The story, by Michael Hastings, is titled “The Runaway General.”

The subhead: “Stanley McChrystal, Obama’s Top Commander in Afghanistan, Has Seized Control of the War by Never Taking His Eye Off the Real Enemy: The Wimps In the White House.”

A senior White House official reports that McChrystal has been directed to attend tomorrow’s monthly meeting on policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan in person rather than via teleconference “to explain to the Pentagon and the commander in chief his quotes in the piece about his colleagues.”

• In the story, one top McChrystal adviser refers to Vice President Biden as “Bite Me.”

• A McChrystal adviser says that in his first meeting with the general, President Obama “clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his f—ing war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”

• Another aide calls National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones (ret.) a “clown … stuck in 1985.”

• McChrystal says he felt “betrayed” by the leak of a cable from US Ambassador to Afghanistan Gen. Karl Eikenberry (ret.) describing Afghan President Hamid Karzai as “not an adequate strategic partner.” Says McChrystal: “I like Karl, I’ve known him for years, but they’d never said anything like that to us before. Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, ‘I told you so.’”

• At one point in the story, apparently in front of the reporter, “McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. ‘Oh, not another e-mail from (Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard) 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.” Jokes an aide: “Make sure you don’t get any of that on your leg,” referring to the contents of the email.

“I extend my sincerest apology,” McChrystal said in a statement last night. “It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened.”

McChrystal said in his statement that he has “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.”

ABC News’ Luis Martinez reports that McChrystal’s press aide Duncan Boothby has resigned in the wake of the controversy the story has created. Martinez reminds us that after Esquire magazine profiled CentCom commander Admiral “Fox” Fallon in 2008 — portraying Fallon as sharply disagreeing with the Bush administration on Iran policy — he resigned.

“Recent press reports suggesting a disconnect between my views and the president’s policy objectives have become a distraction at a critical time and hamper efforts in the Centcom region,” Fallon said at the time. “And although I don’t believe there have ever been any differences about the objectives of our policy in the Central Command area of responsibility, the simple perception that there is makes it difficult for me to effectively serve America’s interests there.”

This is not the first time McChrystal has made comments that caused controversy in the White House. Last fall, he described as “short-sighted” the counter-terrorism position being advocated by Vice President Biden.

A statement from the US Embassy in Kabul stated: “We have seen the article and General McChrystal has already spoken to it. As Ambassador Eikenberry has said on many occasions, he and General McChrystal are both are fully committed to the President’s strategy and to working together as one civilian-military team to implement it.”

Here are my colleagues George Stephanopoulos and Martha Raddatz this morning discussing the story on GMA:

- Jake Tapper and Ann Compton

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