Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has been summoned to the White House to explain negative comments he and his aides made about President Obama and other administration officials in a magazine interview. It's not clear whether McChrystal will keep his job.
Perhaps the most damning quote in the Rolling Stone article titled "The Runaway General" is attributed to an unnamed aide of McChrystal's, who recounted the general's first meeting with Obama:
According to sources familiar with the meeting, "McChrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the roomful of military brass.
"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 f***ing war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed."
But McChrystal also does his own talking, mocking Vice President Biden by calling him "bite me," and describing Obama's National Security Advisor Jim Jones as "a clown... stuck in 1985."
Obama is said to be furious at the article and has ordered McChrystal to Washington on Wednesday to explain himself.
When asked Tuesday if the president is considering firing McChrystal, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, "Everything is on the table."
This followed a strong rebuke from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who issued a statement:
"I read with concern the profile piece on Gen. Stanley McChrystal in the upcoming edition of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine. I believe that Gen. 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.
"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."
McChrystal issued a statement of his own, apologizing for his comments:
“It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened. Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard. I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war, and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome." The general will find out Wednesday or in the coming days whether this is enough to save his job.