ABC News’ Matt Jaffe reports: Outside a hearing on Capitol Hill this morning senators on the Armed Services Committee ripped Gen. Stanley McChrystal for his controversial comments in the latest issue of Rolling Stone.
“I’m troubled by his comments,” said the panel’s chairman Carl Levin. “I just think that they’re out of place and inappropriate and so I’m very much troubled by them.”
Asked if McChrystal should keep his job, Levin replied, “I don’t know.”
The Michigan lawmaker said McChrystal should meet with the President and Secretary Gates and give “careful thought” to that question. The general’s remarks, Levin said, send “a message of confusion, which is never good for troops in the field.”
“I think it has a negative effect on policy implementation, even though there doesn’t seem to be a disagreement over the policy,” Levin said. “When you read the article carefully, which I have, I just don’t see a policy disagreement and that’s critically important. If there were, then it seems to me that there is no alternative for there to be a change, but that’s not what seems to be the case. There seem to be personality issues, and again, personality issues can have a negative effect on policy. Even though the comments of General McChrystal don’t relate to policy directly, they nevertheless could have a negative effect and that’s the end-all, be-all.”
Democrat Jim Webb of Virginia said, “I think whether or not he should resign is up to the President, but I think he’s had three bites out of the apple here. One was with the situation with Pat Tillman, he was in the middle of that. I mentioned that during his confirmation hearing. The second was when he gave an interview with ’60 Minutes’ while this policy was being formulated. The third was when he was giving a speech in London at the same time as other people were in the White House trying to figure out where to go on the policy. So I think it’s a pretty serious matter, but it’s up to the President.”
“It’s clearly bad judgment,” Webb stated, “and the rest of it’s between him and his Commander-in-Chief.”
Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman told reporters, “We have great respect for General McChrystal, his service and sacrifice for our country, but the comments in Rolling Stone are inappropriate and what happens now is up to the President and General McChrystal.”
“I think he’s served us very well both generally over his long career and in Afghanistan and that’s what makes it a very tough decision for the President,” Lieberman added.
Other senators, while denouncing McChrystal’s comments, said they would wait before speaking out on the issue.
In a statement, Sen. John Kerry said “everyone needs to take a deep breath and give the President and his national security team the space to decide what is in the best interest of our mission, and to have their face-to-face discussion tomorrow without a premature Washington feeding frenzy.”
“Given General McChrystal’s service to our country I want to withhold judgment until I read what he actually is alleged to have said and until I hear his explanation,” Republican Susan Collins of Maine told reporters outside the hearing. “It certainly appears very troubling on the face but I believe that I owe it to him to hear his explanation.”
Illinois Democrat Roland Burris said if the Rolling Stone report is true, then that is something that “should not have taken place.”
“If I had to confirm him again, I would certainly be a little worried,” Burris said.