Video: Kerry: McChrystal exercised ‘poor judgment’

  1. Closed captioning of: Kerry: McChrystal exercised ‘poor judgment’

    >>> to start earning

    >>> well, it is the pr bombshell heard around washington today. general stanley mcchrystal profiled in " rolling stone " ripping president obama and key members of the national security team.

    >> article is called "the runaway general " and the name seems to fit. let's bring in massachusetts senator john kerry . senator kerry , i know we brought you on to talk about energy legislation but the news overnight, straight up, do you have confidence in general mcchrystal that he should still be in command of the war in afghanistan ?

    >> well, i have confidence in his abilities as a general . i just spoke to him about 20 minutes ago. i think that this is something that has to be decided by the president and his top security team and they deserve to have a conversation before a lot of us are chiming in from the sidelines. i'm much more concerned about how things are going in afghanistan and what ingredients may be necessary in order to be successful. i think that's our top priority and we need to stay focused on it.

    >> sir, do you think this constitutes insubordination?

    >> it's a kind of -- certainly a mistake. there's no question that it's poor judgment on the part of both the general and his -- some of his staff. but i think that the -- you know, the real question is, will it affect his ability to continue to have a relationship with the president and his top staff? that's between them and i think people need to give this meeting tomorrow the room to take place and not have the normal washington, you know, 50,000 different opinions sounding off in between now and then.

    >> right.

    >> the events in afghanistan are too serious, the lives of our troops are at stake. the success of our overall policy in the region, i think, we need to just be calm today. and let this meeting take place between the president and his security team and his top general , and the president will decide.

    >> senator, i want to read an excerpt from here and it may shed some light on some why the general called you personally. it says politicians like mccain and kerry says another aide, turn up, have a meeting with karzai, criticize him at the airport press conference and get back for the sunday talk shows . frankly, it's not very helpful. is it fair to say he called you because of this anecdote?

    >> i'll leave my conversation with general mcchrystal between he and i but i think that first of all that's an aide, someone on his staff and displays an ignorance about the process and the aide may recall i spent five days there in long discussions with president karzai which ultimately resulted in him accepting the results of the election. and i think facilitated the ability of general mcchrystal and his team to move forward with a legitimate government in place and there was no airport press conference and no criticism. i think it's very bad taste but it came from someone on his staff. it did not come from the general . and, i think, again, you have to let this conversation take place. a far greater concern to all of us, i mean, we have a hearing this morning in the senate foreign relations committee on the subject of afghanistan . because i think all of us are concerned about the direction of our policy. and i don't want this particular episode one way or the other to get in the way of our troops being successful and of our policy being able to be as effective as possible. that's the priority for all of us and i think we need to make sure that today that's where we stay focused.

    >> and last thing on this issue, regarding that point, do you think we could afford to lose a general at this juncture, key juncture in the war, if that's what the president decides?

    >> i think, again, the president will make his decision together with the vice president, his national security team based on all of the input. obviously, it would be costly in some respects. but it might be, you know, something that he judges as essential. i don't know that. that's between the president and his general . and i think that conversation needs to take place. if the president has confidence and the general has confidence in the team that they can proceed forward, what would be in the best interest of our nation and the effort is to maintain a the president has confidence in that. i mean, there's a whole other side to this, not just the general . it is important for that conversation to take place. what is the top pry tiority is the team, the leadership and confidence about our ability to succeed in a very difficult mission.

    >> senator kerry --

    >> that is the top priority .

    >> i want to keep our word, talk also about energy. the idea of cap and trade, this idea of pricing carbon. is that a nonnegotiable in the senate bill or could that -- could that be set aside , could there be 90% of everything else that you guys want in energy, could you set that aside and get a comprehensive energy bill through the senate?

    >> well, first of all, our bill does not rely on so-called cap and trade. it's got a very minimal mechanism in there but it really relies on the pricing of carbon which comes by setting a target for the reduction of emissions. that's how you price carbon. and the fact is that if we don't price carbon, we will create one tenth of the jobs and reduce one tenth of the emissions. it is effectively only an energy bill and we have had ten energy bills since richard nixon was president and talking about energy independence . we have not reduced one percentage point america's dependence on foreign oil since 9/11. so, if we're going to get serious, we have to price carbon carbon. there are many different ways of doing that. i'm not locked into one single way of doing it and i'm working with a number of colleagues, republicans and democrats alike, to look at alternative way that is we might be able to scale back, provide a smaller chunk of the bite, if you will. what's important is that we begin the process. that we actually begin the pricing of carbon and send a signal to the marketplace. i think there are a number of ways for us to achieve that and it would be an enormous victory for the environment, for energy independence , for our security, for jobs and our economy, for competitiveness and for the health of americans if we did that.

    >> do you wish the president would put his finger on the scale a little bit more, especially with regard to pricing pollution to get this thing through?

    >> i think the president weighed in very heavily. he said very clearly in any number of public speeches we need to price carbon. the president gave the first oval office address on this topic the other day. he said the house has passed a bill. we need to do the same in the senate. it's very clear what that is and the president is having a meeting tomorrow, convening republicans and democrats alike, to find a way forward . there's no question in my mind that the president is fully committed. he's fully engaged. he intends to try to move votes himself and he understands the seriousness of this effort.

    >> senator john kerry , chairman of the foreign relations committee playing point on the energy and climate bill, thank you for joining us this morning.

    >> thanks, sir.
updated 6/22/2010 6:53:57 PM ET 2010-06-22T22:53:57

Gen. Stanley McChrystal's controversial comments in a Rolling Stone article have generated plenty of comments.

The general, who is the commander in charge of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, is making the long trip back to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Barack Obama Wednesday -- a meeting some believe could result in the McChrystal's resignation.

Below is a roundup of what politicians, diplomats and journalists are saying right now:

  • President Barack Obama
    “"I think it's clear that the article in which he and his team appeared showed a poor — showed poor judgment. But I also want to make sure that I talk to him directly before I make any final decisions."
  • Defense Secretary Robert Gates
    “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…. Going forward, we must pursue this mission with a unity of purpose.”
  • Robert Gibbs, White House spokesman
    "Without a doubt General McChrystal, as Secretary Gates has said, has made an enormous mistake -- a mistake that he'll get a chance to talk about and answer to tomorrow."

    "All options are on the table," Gibbs added, when asked whether Obama was considering removing the McChrystal from his position.
  • Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
    “We have the highest respect for General McChrystal and honor his brave service and sacrifice to our nation. General McChrystal’s comments, as reported in Rolling Stone, are inappropriate and inconsistent with the traditional relationship between Commander-in-Chief and the military.”
  • Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
    “It would be a grave mistake to allow this unfolding news drama to distract anyone from the mission at hand…. Everyone needs to take a deep breath and give the President and his national security team the space to decide what is in the best interest of our mission, and to have their face-to-face discussion tomorrow without a premature Washington feeding frenzy.”
  • Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Chairman, Senate Committee on Armed Services
    “I’m very troubled by his comments. It’s interesting there doesn’t seem to be a disagreement on policy issues between McChrystal and the civilian leadership as much as there are personality issues which could interfere with the policy... that is important because if there were policy differences then it seems to me there would be no alternative but for him to leave, but there are no policy issues differences that are at least apparent in that article.” Video: Rolling Stone reaction
  • Spokesman for Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai
    "The president strongly supports General McChrystal and his strategy in Afghanistan and believes he is the best commander the United States has sent to Afghanistan over the last nine years.”
  • Eric Bates, Rolling Stone Executive Editor, on MSNBC’s 'Morning Joe'
    “We ran everything by them in the fact-checking process as we always do. They had a sense of what was coming and it was all on the record and they spent a lot of time with our reporter, so I think they knew that they had said it.”
  • David Obey (D-Wis.), Chairman, House Appropriations Committee
    "If [Gen. Stanley McChrystal] actually said half of what is being reported, he shouldn't be in the position he is in."
  • Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Republican Whip
    “Obviously a general and his top brass don't make these kind of statements without being frustrated. So I hope that the president’s meeting with the general will include a frank discussion about what is happening on the ground and whether the resources and the plan are there to defeat terrorists and accomplish our mission in Afghanistan.”
  • Christopher Preble, Director of Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute
    "If Republicans claim President Obama is undercutting General McChrystal, the leader on the ground, no one should take these remarks seriously. They should be reminded of a similar situation in 2006, when generals voiced opinions that dissented from the White House, and some GOP leaders dismissed their comments an act of insubordination of Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush."
  • P.J. Crowley, Spokesman, State Department
    “I think all members of the national security team feel that General McChrystal has made a significant mistake.”
  • Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Majority Leader
    On whether or not McChrystal should resign:
    "That's a decision for the President to make. We all recognize that. It's very important for the Commander in Chief to have confidence in his main line troops, especially someone who is charge of the war in Afghanistan, that the Administration's policy will be implemented. It's clear there's a policy, it's a question of whether the Commander in Chief feels comfortable implementing that policy."
  • Ret. U.S. Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, on MSNBC’s ‘Andrea Mitchell Reports’
    “I think McChrystal should go. He’s a superb warrior. He’s been out there nine years in combat…. But he’ll probably have to come off stage now. He’s at odds with the ambassador. Holbrooke, remember, he got into Marjah yesterday and was greeted with a wave of gun fire and a suicide bomber. So, we got problems. This has done political damage to the president of the United States.”

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