WASHINGTON — A Pentagon inquiry into a Rolling Stone magazine profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal that led to his dismissal as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has cleared him of wrongdoing.
The probe's results released yesterday also called into question the accuracy of the magazine's report by Michael Hastings last June, which quoted anonymously people around McChrystal making disparaging remarks about members of President Barack Obama's national security team, including Vice President Joe Biden.
At the time he dismissed McChrystal, Obama said the general had fallen short of "the standard that should be set by a commanding general." The Defense Department inspector general's report, however, concluded that available evidence did not support the conclusion that McChrystal had violated any applicable legal or ethics standard.
"In some instances, we found no witnesses who acknowledged making or hearing the comments as reported," the Pentagon report said. "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The inspector general's report said it reviewed an unpublished Army investigation of the case and interviewed numerous eyewitnesses. It said McChrystal declined an invitation to provide sworn testimony, saying he had already testified to Army investigators. He also refused to comment on the IG's conclusions.
The Pentagon inquiry also concluded that not all of the events at issue happened as reported in the Rolling Stone article.
For example, Rolling Stone reported that a McChrystal aide had called National Security Adviser James L. Jones Jr. a "clown." The Pentagon report said: "We were unable to verify that this comment was made and, if it was made, by whom."
The magazine profile also portrayed McChrystal and his staff as drunk and disorderly at an Irish bar in Paris. The Pentagon said the gathering occurred on the night of the McChrystals' wedding anniversary, and concluded from witness testimony that the behavior of the general and his aides, "while celebratory, was not drunken, disorderly, disgraceful or offensive. Their conduct did not violate any DoD standards."
Rolling Stone issued a statement saying it stood behind its story, which it called "accurate in every detail."
The inspector general's conclusions were first reported yesterday by The New York Times, which obtained the report under a Freedom of Information Act request. The Pentagon subsequently posted the report on its website.
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor refused to comment on the report.
After the Rolling Stone article was published, McChrystal was summoned to the White House and dismissed. He was replaced by Gen. David Petraeus.
Obama at the time called the dismissal the right decision for U.S. national security and said McChrystal's conduct as represented in the magazine article also "undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system. And it erodes the trust that's necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan."
Last week the White House tapped McChrystal to head a new advisory board to support military families, an initiative led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of the vice president. The selection of McChrystal was announced on April 12, four days after the inspector general's report was finished.
First Amendment Center Online staff contributed to this report.