Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal takes blame for Rolling Stone article
WASHINGTON — Speaking out for the first time since he resigned, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal takes the blame for a Rolling Stone article, and the unflattering comments attributed to his staff about the Obama administration, that ended his Afghan command and army career.
"Regardless of how I judged the story for fairness or accuracy, responsibility was mine," McChrystal writes in his new memoir, which offers a carefully worded denouncement of the story.
The Rolling Stone article anonymously quoted McChrystal's aides as criticizing Obama's team, including Vice President Joe Biden. Biden had disagreed with McChrystal's strategy that called for more troops in Afghanistan. Biden preferred to send a smaller counterterrorism and training force — a policy the White House is now considering as it transitions troops from the Afghan war.
McChrystal adds the choice to resign as U.S. commander in Afghanistan was his own.
"I called no one for advice," he writes in "My Share of the Task," describing his hasty plane ride back to Washington only hours after the article appeared in 2010, to offer his resignation to President Barack Obama. McChrystal was immediately replaced by his then-boss, Gen. David Petraeus.
McChrystal devotes a scant page-and-a-half to the incident that ended his 34-year military career and soured trust between the military and media. The book, published by Portfolio/Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, comes out Monday.
There is no bitterness or score-settling with the White House staff that had pushed for his departure. McChrystal and the White House moved beyond the matter a year later, when the Pentagon cleared his staff of any wrongdoing, and first lady Michelle Obama invited McChrystal to serve on the board of Joining Forces, a White House initiative for troops and their families.
The closest McChrystal comes to revealing his regret over allowing a reporter weeks of unfettered access with few ground rules comes much earlier in the book. "By nature I tended to trust people and was typically open and transparent. ... But such transparency would go astray when others saw us out of context or when I gave trust to those few who were unworthy of it."
A Pentagon inquiry into the magazine's profile cleared McChrystal of wrongdoing and called into question the accuracy of the June 2010 story. The review, released in April 2011, concluded that not all of the events at issue happened as reported in the article.
Rolling Stone issued a statement saying it stood behind freelance writer Michael Hastings' story, which it called "accurate in every detail."
The book details the general's rise through the ranks, from his time as a West Point cadet to serving in the 82nd Airborne Corps and earning his Special Forces Green Beret, and then commanding a battalion of the 75th Ranger regiment.
McChrystal describes only briefly an incident that nearly ended his career years earlier: allegations of a cover-up involving the friendly fire incident that killed football-star-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman. McChrystal approved a Silver Star for valor, with a citation that stated Tillman had been cut down by "devastating enemy fire."
But as reports came in from the troops at the scene, McChrystal realized Tillman may have died by fratricide. He sent an oblique warning to his superiors that President George W. Bush should delete mention of enemy fire from his remarks, when presenting the award to Tillman's family at his memorial service.
McChrystal told the investigators that he believed Tillman deserved the award, and that he wanted to warn top U.S. military and political leadership that friendly fire was a possibility. The Pentagon later cleared him of wrongdoing.
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