DoD probe "doubts" remarks attributed by Rolling Stone to McChrystal, aides

A Rolling Stone report on General Stanley McChrystal last year created a crisis when its allegations of insubordination and inappropriate conduct among his aides forced the commander of the Af-Pak theater to step down.  Two investigations by the Army reached contradictory conclusions about the veracity of Michael Hastings’ article, but an independent probe by the Department of Defense’s Inspector General casts doubt over much of the Rolling Stone exposé, CBS reports:

A report by the Department of Defense Inspector General casts doubt on the accuracy of the article in Rolling Stone magazine which cost Gen. Stanley McChrystal his job as the top commander in Afghanistan.

“Not all the events at issue occurred as reported in the article,” the report says. “In some instances, we found no witness who acknowledged making or hearing the comments as reported.”

Specifically, the investigation could not confirm quotes attributed to “sources familiar” with a meeting between the president and the Pentagon brass at which McChrystal thought the then newly elected president looked “uncomfortable and intimidated,” and it could not confirm quotes attributed to “an adviser” stating that McChrystal was “pretty disappointed” with the president after a one-on-one meeting with the commander-in-chief.

Nor could the IG confirm another major part of the story.  While in Paris, Hastings reported on a dinner meeting in a Paris restaurant that supposedly spiraled out of control.  The IG concluded that the party, which celebrated McChrystal’s wedding anniversary, was celebratory rather than a drunken bacchanalia.  The investigation also could not confirm the existence of an exchange in which one of McChrystal’s aides called National Security Adviser James Jones a “clown.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean that these comments and exchanges didn’t happen. Hastings’ sources may have felt more secure divulging their information to Rolling Stone than a DoD investigator, even an IG.  But it does cast doubt on whether Hastings may have relied on bad sourcing, failed to provide proper context, or perhaps exaggerated the information he did receive in order to pump up his story.  It wouldn’t be the first questions raised about Hastings’ efforts on this story.

It’s the second investigation that largely exonerates McChrystal, which may explain why the White House has offered him a new post in the administration.  After all, the White House was the supposed butt of those arguably-insubordinate jokes, and this administration (like most others) isn’t known for its self-effacing sense of humor.