US & Canada

McChrystal cleared of wrongdoing in Rolling Stone piece

Gen Stanley McChrystal at his retirement ceremony in July
Image caption Gen McChrystal has since been engaged to lecture at Yale University

The Pentagon has cleared of wrongdoing a US general sacked after a magazine reported he and his staff had spoken disrespectfully about top US officials.

A Pentagon report found insufficient evidence Gen Stanley McChrystal, until June the top US general in Afghanistan, had violated US military policy.

It said events narrated in the magazine had not occurred as written. Rolling Stone said it stood by its article.

Gen McChrystal was replaced as head of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan.

US President Barack Obama replaced him with Gen David Petraeus, saying Gen McChrystal had failed to "meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general" and that the article "undermines the civilian control of the military that's at the core of our democratic system".

Gen McChrystal later resigned from the Army.

In a document released on Monday, the Pentagon inspector general's office said it had reviewed the magazine's piece, entitled The Runaway General, in which Gen McChrystal or his staff are reported to have made derogatory remarks about Mr Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, diplomat Richard Holbrooke, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and others.

Investigators interviewed witnesses who would have been in a position to corroborate the events narrated and reviewed e-mails and travel documents.

"The evidence was insufficient to substantiate a violation of applicable Department of Defense standards with respect to any of the incidents on which we focused," wrote Michael Child, acting deputy inspector general for administrative investigators.

"Not all of the events at issue occurred as reported in the article."

'No violation'

He wrote that in some instances, investigators found no witnesses who acknowledged making or hearing the reported remarks, and in others, they found the context of the incident different from that reported in the article.

The report reviewed episodes in which Gen McChrystal reportedly gave the "middle finger" to another officer, asked "who's that" about Mr Biden and said Mr Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" during a meeting with military leaders.

It also looked at the article's claim that Gen McChrystal's staff had been drunk and unruly at a bar, that a staff member had made an anti-gay comment at a dinner with French officials and other episodes.

Mr Child wrote that Gen McChrystal's alleged middle finger gesture toward another officer would not have violated any standard of behaviour because it would have occurred "in a conversation between professional colleagues with a long-standing professional and personal relationship".

Mr Child said the article's author, Michael Hastings, and Rolling Stone executive editor Eric Bates had declined to be interviewed by the inspector general's office.

Rolling Stone published a statement saying it stood behind its story, which it called "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," the magazine said.

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