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.
The investigation did confirm an exchange in which McChrystal was conducting a mock press conference, practicing answers to questions about Vice President Biden, with whom the General disagreed on Afghanistan policy. McChrystal was reported to have said, "Are you asking about Vice President Biden? Who's that?" to which a "top advisor" responded, "Biden? Did you say Bite me?"
But another exchange in which an "aide" to McChrystal reportedly called the then national security adviser James Jones a "clown" could not be confirmed. The article also described a drunken dinner party in Paris involving McChrystal, his aides and their wives, but the inspector general concluded it was "celebratory" - it was McChrystal's wedding anniversary - but not drunken or disorderly.
Neither Michael Hastings, the reporter who wrote the article for Rolling Stone, nor McChrystal, agreed to be interviewed by the inspector general, although McChrystal had been interviewed earlier by army investigators. The army investigation concluded that the preponderance of evidence indicated the derogatory statements were, in fact, made, but this second investigation disagreed with that conclusion and said there was insufficient evidence to substantiate a violation of military standards which prohibit derogatory statements about civilian superiors.
In response to the IG report, Rolling Stone magazine put out the following statement:
"The report by the Pentagon's inspector general offers no credible source - or indeed, any named source - contradicting the facts as reported in our story, "The Runaway General." Much of the report, in fact, confirms our reporting, noting only that the Pentagon was unable to find witnesses "who acknowledged making or hearing the comments as reported." This is not surprising, given that the civilian and military advisors questioned by the Pentagon knew that their careers were on the line if they admitted to making such comments. Asking unnamed sources to reveal their identities strikes us as an exercise in futility. Rolling Stone stands by our story, which is accurate in every detail. We also note that Gen. Stanley McChrystal's own response to the story was to issue an apology, saying that what was reflected in the article fell "far short" of his personal standard."