Gen. Stanley McChrystal's frank comments

The Rolling Stone article about Gen. Stanley McChrystal, "The Runaway General,'' was written by Michael Hastings. He told ABC's Diane Sawyer that he spent a significant amount of time with McChrystal and his staff over the month of reporting. When he first began the project nothing was off-the-record. "I had my tape recorder out in front of his face with my notebook for most of the time. So, from what I understand it was on the record," said Hastings, adding that even he was surprised to get that kind of transparency. Here are excerpts from the article.

One anecdote has McChrystal complaining to an aide about having to attend a dinner with NATO allies in Paris in April.

"The dinner comes with the position, sir," says his chief of staff, Col. Charlie Flynn.

McChrystal turns sharply in his chair. "Hey, Charlie," he asks, "does this come with the position?" McChrystal gives him the middle finger. …

"I'd rather have my a-- kicked by a roomful of people than go out to this dinner," McChrystal says. He pauses a beat. "Unfortunately," he adds, "no one in this room could do it."

• • •

While preparing his dinner speech, the general wonders what type of question he'll get about Vice President Joe Biden:

"I never know what's going to pop out until I'm up there, that's the problem," he (McChrystal) says. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner.

"Are you asking about Vice President Biden?" McChrystal says with a laugh. "Who's that?"

"Biden?" suggests a top adviser. "Did you say: Bite Me?"

• • •

Hastings described McChrystal's early encounters with President Barack Obama:

Even though he had voted for Obama, McChrystal and his new commander in chief failed from the outset to connect. The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn't go much better. "It was a 10-minute photo op," says an adviser to McChrystal. "Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. Here's the guy who's going to run his (expletive) war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed."

• • •

Hastings wrote that the team around McChrystal resents the president's national security adviser, James Jones; his envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke; and two senior senators who were decorated for their service in Vietnam:

One aide calls Jim Jones, a retired four-star general and veteran of the Cold War, a "clown" who remains "stuck in 1985." Politicians like McCain and Kerry, says another aide, "turn up, have a meeting with Karzai, criticize him at the airport press conference, then get back for the Sunday talk shows. Frankly, it's not very helpful." Only Hillary Rodham Clinton receives good reviews from McChrystal's inner circle. "Hillary had Stan's back during the strategic review," says an adviser. "She said, 'If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.' ''

Gen. Stanley McChrystal's frank comments 06/22/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 11:56pm]

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