Thursday, January 31, 2013

Former General McChrystal Reiterates Support for Hagel

Former General Stanley McChrystal spoke at the Free Library of Philadelphia today. The first part was a question and answer session with Mark Bowden, author of "Black Hawk Down".

He reiterated his support for the appointment of former Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

"If he will have the job, I support him," said McChrystal. "He will have to deal with sequester, integrating women in the military, which I support, and Iran in the next four years... Ahmadinjad (the President of Iran) does not exactly inspire confidence. The President will be making policy."

He compared the military's "op tempo and strategy" under him to the "Rocky Balboa strategy against Apollo Creed".

He said, "At first, we were going after only the top guys in the organization. We found that was not destroying the organization. Instead of aiming just for the top people, we hit constantly and in the mid section. When I started, we were doing 18 raids a month. At the end. we were doing 10 raids a night."

McChrystal had mixed feelings on drones.

"The other side does not respect leaders of a military that uses drones. They believe you should come up fighting mano el mano," he said. "There is collateral damage. If a drone hit a drug dealer in Philadelphia, the bystanders might think it was good he was hit. They still would have felt the impact."

McChrystal received a classified briefing on Benghazi, which begs the question why is a general that resigned in disgrace still receiving classified briefings.

"They entered the consulate not expecting to find the ambassador there," McChrystal was allowed to reveal.. "This was not organized. Other attacks in the area were. They set fire. The ambassador died in the safe room of smoke inhalation."

Chrystal said that he did not witness any extreme interrogation techniques such as waterboarding.

"The only torture techniques that were allowed were sleep deprivation, limiting sleep to 4 hours, and forcing them to be in extreme positions like kneeling," said McChrystal.


  1. Someone should have asked Gen. McChrystal why his portrayal of the JSOC interrogations that directly led to the 2006 killing of Abu Zarqawi totally contradicts the accounts of Marc Bowden in his 2007 Atlantic Monthly piece “The Ploy.”

    Bowden wrote that “the real story is more complicated and interesting." And, his story is backed up by Mark Urban in "Task Force Black" (“multiple sources have confirmed to me the accuracy of Bowden’s article”) and interrogator Matthew Alexander in “How to Break A Terrorist” (“We found Zarqawi in spite of the way the task force did business”).

    It appears McChrystal’s “official story” portrays a false account of Mubbassir’s interrogation that led to the killing of Zarqawi. Supposedly JSOC interrogators Amy, Jack and Paul developed rapport and trust with him over the course of several weeks. Eventually, Paul supposedly got Mubbassir to admit the man in a picture was “Karim” his brother and a courier. Paul rewarded him with breakfast. Later, they listened to the radio together and ate ice cream! (McChrystal, p. 210-211).

    However, Alexander wrote how all three of these interrogators were “the old guard, who were at Guantanamo and did previous tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. They believe in fear-and-control methods but now they’re being forced to play by the rules” … They’ve never built rapport with these guys, gotten to know them as people or earned their trust. Why do they think any of their strategies are going to work?

    Alexander wrote (p. 185, “How to Break a Terrorist”) about Paul [Lenny] saying, “****ing muj. Just show him who is boss.”…“Sympathy won’t work. Control 101 is the first lesson in interrogation”…”Tear down his self-respect.” Your’re Totally Screwed routine.” But, McChrystal would have his readers believe that this is the same guy who hung out with Mussabir eating ice cream and listening to the radio!

    In reality, Alexander had to do an end-run around JSOC to get the key intel from Mussabir; he got in just a few hours what JSOC’s “best” interrogators had failed to get in three weeks!

    I’m amazed that Bowden could sit on stage with a straight face and listen to McChrystal’s nonsense that contradicts his own research (I guess he wants to retains his "access"). Either he messed up or McChrystal did. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear their response?

    For details, see the chapter, “That’s One Dead SOB” in "Never Shall I Fail My Comrades" -- The Dark Legacy of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, posted at the Feral Firefighter blog.

  2. I agree with you. I was amazed that Mark Bowden went so easy on McChrystal. McChrystal refused to have jurisdiction over the prisons when he took over the command. This way he could say that he did not witness torture.