Washington: Terming his top military
commander`s remarks to a magazine as showing "poor judgement",
US President Barack Obama says he wants to hear directly from
Gen Stanley McChrystal before taking a final call on deciding
whether or not to fire him.
Obama in his first comment on disparaging magazine
story that has enraged both the White House and Pentagon said
McChrystal and his aides showed "poor judgement".
Obama would be meeting the General during his monthly
situation room meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan at White
McChrystal has been summoned specially for the meeting
and is expected to be given a final hearing, before apparently
facing the axe. The meeting is expected to be dominated by the
General`s highly critical comments against top officials of
his Administration in an interview.
"I think it`s clear that the article in which he and
his team appeared showed poor judgement. But I also want to
make sure that I talk to him directly before I make any final
decisions," Obama told reporters when asked if McChrystal is
"Even as General McChrystal is on his way here, I want
everybody to keep in mind what our central focus is, and that
is success in making sure that al Qaeda and its affiliates
cannot attack the United States and its allies," he said.
"We`ve got young men and women there who are making
enormous sacrifices, families back home who are making
So whatever decision that I make with respect to
General McChrystal or any other aspect of Afghan policy is
determined entirely on how I can make sure that we have a
strategy that justifies the enormous courage and sacrifice
that those men and women are making over there, and that
ultimately makes this country safer.
I know Secretary Gates feels the exact same way,"
The meeting is scheduled to last for about 90 minutes.
Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Robert
Gibbs said: "Without a doubt, General McChrystal, as Secretary
Gates has said, has made an enormous mistake, a mistake that
he`ll get a chance to talk about and answer to tomorrow to
both officials in the Pentagon and to the Commander-In-Chief.
"In the story, one top McChrystal adviser refers to
Vice President Biden as "Bite Me."
A McChrystal adviser says that in his first meeting
with the general, President Obama "clearly didn`t know
anything about him, who he was.
Here`s the guy who`s going to run his f---ing war, but
he didn`t seem very engaged.
The Boss was pretty disappointed."
Another aide calls National Security Adviser Gen James
Jones (ret) a "clown. stuck in 1985."
McChrystal says he felt "betrayed" by the leak of a
cable from US Ambassador to Afghanistan Gen Karl Eikenberry
(ret) describing Afghan President Hamid Karzai as "not an
adequate strategic partner."
He is quoted as saying: "I like Karl, I`ve known him
for years, but they`d never said anything like that to us
before. Here`s one that covers his flank for the history
Now if we fail, they can say, `I told you so.`"
At one point in the story, apparently in front of the
reporter, "McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. `Oh, not another
e-mail from (Special Representative for Afghanistan and
Pakistan Richard) 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."
Jokes an aide: "Make sure you don`t get any of that on
your leg," referring to the contents of the email. McChrystal,
was quick to apologize, saying that "[i]t was a mistake
reflecting poor judgement and it should have never happened."
In a statement yesterday soon after the content of his
interview to the Rolling Stone magazine became known,
McChrystal reaffirmed his "enormous respect and admiration"
for Obama, and his top national security officials.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in a statement said
he believes that McChrystal made a significant mistake and
exercised poor judgment in this case.
"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.
Going forward, we must pursue this mission with a unity of
purpose," he said.
"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.
Gen McChrystal has apologised to me and is similarly
reaching out to others named in this article to apologise to
them as well. I have recalled Gen McChrystal to Washington to
discuss this in person," Gates said.