*In his daily briefing today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made it clear that Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s job as Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan is on the line following his comments and those of his aides in Rolling Stone magazine.
“Everything is on the table,” Gibbs said, when asked if the president would fire McChrystal. He described the general’s conduct as an “enormous mistake” that left the president furious.
Gibbs’ comments followed a rebuke earlier in the day from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said in a statement that the top commander in Afghanistan had “made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment” in the biting remarks he and his aides made about President Barack Obama and others in the administration.
“We are fighting a war against al Qaeda and its extremist allies, who directly threaten the United States, Afghanistan, and our friends and allies around the world,” said Gates. “Our troops and coalition partners are making extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our security, and our singular focus must be on supporting them and succeeding in Afghanistan without such distractions.”
As previously reported, McChrystal has been instructed to fly from Kabul to Washington today to attend Obama’s regular monthly security team meeting tomorrow at the White House. An administration official says McChrystal was asked to attend in person rather than by secure video teleconference, “where he will have to explain to the Pentagon and the commander in chief his quotes about his colleagues in the piece.”
The article, titled “The Runaway General,” appears in the magazine later this week. It contains a number of jabs by McChrystal and his staff aimed not only at the president but also at Vice President Joe Biden, special envoy Richard Holbrooke, Karl Eikenberry, the ambassador to Afghanistan, and others.
• McChrystal described his first meeting with Obama as disappointing and said that Obama was unprepared for the meeting.
• National Security Adviser Jim Jones is described by a McChrystal aide as a “clown” stuck in 1985.
• Other aides joked about Biden’s last name as sounding like “Bite me” since Biden opposed the surge.
McChrystal issued an immediate apology for the profile, advance copies of which were sent to news organizations last night.