Afghanistan general Stanley McChrystal cleared of wrongdoing

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gen. Stanley McChrystal at ISAF HQ in August 2009.
Image: U.S. Army/Sgt. David Alvarado.

A Pentagon inquiry has cleared General Stanley McChrystal of any misconduct after he left his position of commander of the United States forces in Afghanistan after a Rolling Stone article reported his military aides made belittling comments about government officials.

The Rolling Stone article by Michael Hastings, published on June 22, 2010, quoted one of McChrystal’s military aides giving Vice President Joe Biden the nickname "Bite me" and another aide referring to General James L. Jones as "a clown."

President Barack Obama accepted McChrystal's resignation at the release of the article, stating the conduct presented in the article "does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general."

The inquiry report stated there was not enough evidence to confirm the events reported in the article and cleared McChrystal, his military aides and civilian advisers of all wrongdoing.

"Not all of the events at issue occurred as reported in the article," the inspector general’s report stated. "In some instances, we found no witness who acknowledged making or hearing the comments as reported. In other instances, we confirmed that the general substance of an incident at issue occurred, but not in the exact context described in the article."

The inspector general’s team interviewed some fifteen people reported to be involved in the incidents, and found contradictory evidence on the comment regarding the vice president.

The interviews confirmed that someone had made a comment about Biden and "and that the rejoinder may have included the words 'bite me,'" though the report states investigators "were unable to establish the exact words used or the speaker."

Hastings and Rolling Stone editors maintain that the article is truthful, with executive editor Eric Bates stating the article is "accurate in every detail."