“Michael Hastings, if you believe him, says that there were no ground rules laid out. And, I mean, that just doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me,” she said, adding that she knows McChrystal’s staff and McChrystal doesn’t have a history of interacting with the press. “I mean, I know these people. They never let their guard down like that. To me, something doesn’t add up here. I just — I don’t believe it. “
So far, no one–neither the General nor his staff of Lost Boys–has said that Hastings’ reportage wasn’t accurate. There’s always going to be some carping and jawing when someone gets scooped, but all you have to do is read Hastings’ article to see why he was privy to a lot of talk and behavior that Logan never saw in her years on the war beat for CBS in Iraq and Afghanistan. From “The Runaway General:”
“Who’s he going to dinner with?” I ask one of his aides.
“Some French minister,” the aide tells me. “It’s fucking gay.”
. . . . . .
Now, flipping through printout cards of his speech in Paris, McChrystal wonders aloud what Biden question he might get today, and how he should respond. “I never know what’s going to pop out until I’m up there, that’s the problem,” he says. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner.
“Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal says with a laugh. “Who’s that?”
“Biden?” suggests a top adviser. “Did you say: Bite Me?”
. . . . . .
According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn’t go much better. “It was a 10-minute photo op,” says an adviser to McChrystal. “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his fucking war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”
. . . . . .
The general’s staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs. There’s a former head of British Special Forces, two Navy Seals, an Afghan Special Forces commando, a lawyer, two fighter pilots and at least two dozen combat veterans and counterinsurgency experts. They jokingly refer to themselves as Team America, taking the name from the South Park-esque sendup of military cluelessness, and they pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority. . . .
By midnight at Kitty O’Shea’s, much of Team America is completely shitfaced. Two officers do an Irish jig mixed with steps from a traditional Afghan wedding dance, while McChrystal’s top advisers lock arms and sing a slurred song of their own invention. “Afghanistan!” they bellow. “Afghanistan!” They call it their Afghanistan song.
McChrystal steps away from the circle, observing his team. “All these men,” he tells me. “I’d die for them. And they’d die for me.”
The assembled men may look and sound like a bunch of combat veterans letting off steam, but in fact this tight-knit group represents the most powerful force shaping U.S. policy in Afghanistan. While McChrystal and his men are in indisputable command of all military aspects of the war, there is no equivalent position on the diplomatic or political side.
. . . . . .
At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. “Oh, not another e-mail from [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.
“Make sure you don’t get any of that on your leg,” an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail.
. . . . . .
The son of a general, McChrystal was also a ringleader of the campus dissidents – a dual role that taught him how to thrive in a rigid, top-down environment while thumbing his nose at authority every chance he got. He accumulated more than 100 hours of demerits for drinking, partying and insubordination – a record that his classmates boasted made him a “century man.” One classmate, who asked not to be named, recalls finding McChrystal passed out in the shower after downing a case of beer he had hidden under the sink.
And all of that was just in the first half of the article! Do read the whole thing. It’s a portrait of Strangelovian weirdness of the hacks who are apparently running the war in Afghanistan. Gee, I wonder why it’s taken them 9 years to get nowhere?
OK, to summarize: underachieving binge-drinking but connected cadet (“the son of a general!”) grows up to tolerate (and I would argue, even encourage) his all-male staff members’ drinking, towel-snapping, and aggression, as though no one was watching and they are accountable to no one in the U.S. Government, to NATO, or to the world. (Keep reading–don’t miss the parts where somehow, McChrystal keeps his job even though he played an active role in covering up the circumstances of the death of Pat Tillman, and oversaw the abuse and torture of prisoners at Camp Nama in Iraq!) And he and his staff do this all in front of a frakking reporter for Rolling Stone! Rolling Stone, the happy home of Hunter S. Frakking Thompson! Rolling Stone, which made its mark on journalism through its opposition to the war in Vietnam! But, apparently Cadet McChrystal was too stoned in those years to have noted all of that. Either that, or he doesn’t care–he and his staff don’t care how they present themselves in front of a reporter from Rolling Stone because they really think they can say and do anything with impunity. Talk about your d00dly privilege!
That’s why, Lara Logan, you would never have gotten this scoop from Stanley Pan and his Lost Boys. See, you’re a girl, and teh d00dz can only unwind and relax and tell it like it is to another d00d. You’re right that it’s not fair–but not because Hastings misled anyone or pretended like he wasn’t a reporter. He was just a d00d, a d00d the Lost Boys foolishly trusted because of his d00dliness.
FAIL on the arrogance. FAIL on the doodliness. But most of all, FAIL on teh stupid. Stanley Pan and his Lost Boys shouldn’t be running a ride at Disneyland, let alone a war.
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