June 22nd, 2010
07:21 AM ET

McChrystal apologizes for remarks critical of civilian officials

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, apologized early Tuesday for a magazine profile in which he and his staff appear to mock top civilian officials, including the vice president.

Follow the latest developments at CNN's This Just In blog

The article is scheduled to appear in Friday's edition of Rolling Stone. [Update: Rolling Stone's article online]

"I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened," McChrystal said in a Pentagon 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."

In the profile, author Michael Hastings writes that McChrystal and his staff had imagined ways of dismissing Vice President Joe Biden with a one-liner as they prepared for a question-and-answer session in Paris, France, in April. The general had grown tired of questions about Biden since earlier dismissing a counterterrorism strategy the vice president had offered.

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

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

The article goes on to paint McChrystal as a man who "has managed to piss off almost everyone with a stake in the conflict," including U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Special Representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke and National Security Adviser Jim Jones.

Of Eikenberry, who railed against McChrystal's strategy in Afghanistan in a cable leaked to The New York Times in January, the general said, "'Here's one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, "I told you so.'"

Hastings writes in the profile that McChrystal has a "special skepticism" for Holbrooke, the official in charge of reintegrating Taliban members into Afghan society.

"At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. 'Oh, not another e-mail from 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."

"'Make sure you don't get any of that on your leg,' an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail."

The White House could not immediately be reached for comment on the article.

"I have 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," McChrystal said in the closing to his apology.

CNN's Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Jeff Weil

    If he was doing a good job in the field – do a few jokes at the espense of his boss mean he should be fired? If Joking about your boss is enogh to get you fired – we would all be unemployed. Were the comments in this interview inappropriate – yes – but do you dismiss the general for that? If he was the best officer for that job and Obama removed him – I pity the soldiers who will suffer because of this decision. When did it stop being about what is best for the country – not for the ego?

    June 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Thor

    Should McChrystal be fired? No. The country needs him. Will Obama fire him? He should because Obama has a perception problem – his inability to make decisions without thinking about it for 3 weeks and asking 100 people. Obama is weak and he needs to appear strong. Either way the country loses because we have a weak president. If he wasn't weak then it would be accep[table for him not to fire the general. Maybe this is all a good thing so that we will have no more Obama come the next election.

    June 23, 2010 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  3. Smith in Oregon

    Apparently this is the reason the SIX year old Afghanistan mineral report was flooded into the news cycle. Gen. McChyrstal's strategy is a failing strategy not supported by any real and lasting success in Marjah, nor by the troops in the field who are expected to support Gen. McChyrstal's rules of engagement (ROE's). I suspect Gen. McChyrstal will be 'asked' to resign in utter disgrace after the indepth reporting by the Rolling Stone investigative staff on Gen. McChyrstal's own staff's caustic, childish and extremely callous remarks about President Obama, the US Ambassador in Afghanistan and nearly all of President Obama's own staff except Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    Note to Gen. McChyrstal, the UK and other NATO commanders from day one stated your 'shake and bake' strategy and cookie approach to plug in Afghanistan troops and regional governments would FAIL. They were right and you should have listened to them and the retired Generals surrounding you at home and in the field.

    Note to the Commander and Chief, replace Gen McChrystal, tell him to resign immediately and replace him with a Afghanistan US Military Commander that brings our American troops HOME in July 2011.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jaybob

    Oh my God a military man with a personal opinion. How dare he make jabs at other people! No one ever does that to their friends, co workers, or supervisors... right? Perhaps Mr. McCrystal should go back to being the mindless drone that the whole country wants the military to be. They don't have feelings or anything.

    Politically Correct doesn't win wars. Ask Patton.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BILL MONROE --- ATLANTA

    So Gen McChrystal insulted Obama and Biden, "BIG DEAL" Those two haven't got a clue as to how to run a military campaign. Obama never was in the military and now he is the Commander. Wow what a joke. He doesn't know anything about McChrystal but he sure does know Lebron James.

    June 22, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jose Fernandez

    I have just returned from Afghanistan and have seen first hand the hatred for Obama within the military
    The general's comments are just the tip of the iceberg

    June 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jerry L. Rhodes

    If the General is the best counterinsurgency officer in the United States Army, what does relieving him of duty result in? Lets say if he goes maybe an additional 2,000 American sodiers would be killed. If he stays in command maybe 2,000 American soldiers will stay alive to come back to the US. Is it worth the potential price that might result?

    June 22, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bobby riggs

    I agree with the General...What does Obama and Biden know about war...They don't have a clue..No experience..Not even Guard...I have absolutely no confidence in the way they RUN our country...Stick with the Military man with the experience ...The Wheels in Political power only see the Backroom of the war with our troops PROTECTING them on their PHOTO ops to the War Zone...Take them out to where the action is & they would SING a different SONG.

    June 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. tufjerky

    McChrystal may be arrogant, he is not stupid. His plot is to get fired as the top commander of the Afghanistan war so he would not be responsible for the failure, which is a real possibility. Better yet, he would become a Martyr for the Republican party as a general fired by the Democratic president. He will enter the political field as a victim for speaking the "truth." Mark my words and see what happens in a year.

    June 22, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sharon Norris

    Gen McChrystal is showing his arrogance, and especially after the previous warning, needs to be dropped in rank. However, it's questionable whether he should be fired. The most recent precedent at his level was McArthur during the Korean War, and he did worse than be indiscreet about administrative and congression figures – he was deliberately defiant of the President's orders on a matter of policy. I'm not sure this brouhaha rises to the same level.

    June 22, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |