McChrystal Apologizes for Reported Remarks on Aides, Washington Post Says

 
By Ernesto Londoño
     June 22 (Washington Post) -- KABUL -- The top U.S. general
in Afghanistan apologized Tuesday for a magazine article that
portrays him and his staff as flippant and dismissive of top
Obama administration officials involved in Afghanistan policy.
     The profile in Rolling Stone magazine, titled the "Runaway
General," is certain to increase tension between the White House
and Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
     It also raises fresh questions about the judgment and
leadership style of the commander Obama appointed last year in an
effort to turn around a worsening conflict.
     McChrystal and some of his senior advisors are quoted
criticizing top administration officials, at times in starkly
derisive terms. An anonymous McChrystal aide is quoted calling
national security adviser James Jones a "clown."
     Referring to Richard Holbrooke, Obama's senior envoy to
Afghanistan and Pakistan, one McChrystal aide is quoted saying:
"The Boss says he's like a wounded animal. Holbrooke keeps
hearing rumors that he's going to get fired, so that makes him
dangerous."
     On one occasion, McChrystal appears to react with
exasperation when he receives an e-mail from Holbrooke, saying,
"Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke. I don't even want to read
it."
     U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, a retired
three-star general, isn't spared. Referring to a leaked cable
from Eikenberry that expressed concerns about the trustworthiness
of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, McChrystal is quoted as having
said: "Here's one that covers his flank for the history books.
Now if we fail, they can say, 'I told you so.'"
     A U.S. embassy spokeswoman said she had no immediate comment
on the piece.
     The magazine hits newsstands Friday. The Washington Post
received an advance copy from the profile's author, Michael
Hastings, a freelance journalist who has written for the Post.
     "I extend my sincerest apology for this profile," McChrystal
said in a statement issued Tuesday morning. "It was a mistake
reflecting poor judgment and it should have never happened."
     The timing of the piece could hardly be worse. Amid a flurry
of bad news in Afghanistan and a sharp rise in NATO casualties,
U.S. lawmakers and senior officials from NATO allied countries
are asking increasingly sharp questions about the U.S.-led war
strategy.
     Dutch and Canadian troops are scheduled to pull out within
the next year. And the White House has said it will start drawing
down U.S. forces next July.
     The magazine story shows that McChrystal is also facing
criticism from some of his own troops who have grown frustrated
with new rules that force commanders be extraordinarily judicious
in using lethal force.
     In his statement, McChrystal says he has "enormous respect
and admiration for President Obama and his national security
team."
     "Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of
personal honor and professional integrity," the general said.
"What is reflected in this article falls far short of that
standard."
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