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Obama calls McChrystal on carpet over interview
General summoned by ‘angry’ president
In the article, titled “The Runaway General,” Rolling Stone magazine paints a profanity-laced portrait of a tight-knit group of aides around Gen. McChrystal, of whom the Afghanistan commander says, “I’d die for them. And they’d die for me.”
“Part of the problem,” writes the magazine’s reporter, Michael Hastings, “is personal: In private, Team McChrystal likes to talk [s - - t] about many of Obama’s top people.”
On Tuesday, Gen. McChrystal reached out to several of those mentioned in the article to apologize, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said in a statement.
A civilian press aide to Gen. McChrystal, Michael Boothby, quit over the imbroglio, a defense official who asked for anonymity to discuss personnel matters told The Washington Times.
“He tendered his resignation, and it was accepted,” the official said. Mr. Boothby was reportedly involved in securing the close access Mr. Hastings had to the general and his entourage over a number of weeks.
Other aides to the general who have previously briefed reporters on background had their phones switched off or were otherwise unavailable.
Gen. McChrystal apologized in a statement for what he called a “mistake reflecting poor judgment” and said the interviews “should never have happened.”
He will be expected to explain his comments to the president and other officials in meetings Wednesday, Mr. Gibbs said.
Faced with escalating violence in Afghanistan and a looming self-imposed deadline to begin U.S. troop withdrawals next summer, Mr. Obama has faced criticism of his war conduct from both the left and the right.
Since a lengthy review of his Afghan war strategy last year, Mr. Obama has been viewed with suspicion in some military circles as someone indecisive who overthinks military decisions. At the same time, his escalation and troop surge in Afghanistan has troubled many supporters in the Democratic base who see the U.S. getting mired in another unwinnable foreign war.
But James Carafano, a defense scholar with the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation, said that the administration had “overplayed its hand,” and was “raising the profile of the story” in a bid to make Mr. Obama look tough.
“Why not just say, ‘He’s apologized. That’s it,’ and kill the story dead,” Mr. Carafano told The Times.
“To try and spin it for domestic politics to make the president look stronger doesn’t make sense. … You end up weakening” Gen. McChrystal.
Mr. Carafano said that though the general’s comments were “beyond the pale, completely unacceptable,” he could not believe he would be fired.
“In the middle of a war … that would be nuts,” he said.
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