January 07, 2013

Exclusive: McChrystal speaks out on Rolling Stone article

Guests: Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 7, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 24, 2010)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today I accepted General Stanley McChrystal's resignation as commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. I did so with considerable regret, but also with certainty that it is the right thing for our mission in Afghanistan, for our military and for our country.

I don't make this decision based on any difference in policy with General McChrystal as we are in full agreement about our strategy. Stan McChrystal has always shown great courtesy and carried out my orders faithfully. I've got great admiration for him and for his long record of service in uniform.

But war is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general, or a president. The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system and it erodes the trust that's necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan. My multiple responsibilities as commander-in-chief led me to this decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Welcome back to our exclusive sit-down with retired General Stanley McChrystal. That was President Obama explaining McChrystal's resignation, which was announced just hours after the release of Rolling Stone's controversial profile of the general that was back in June of 2010.

And still with me to talk about that article and his abrupt ending of his long military career, the man of the hour, General Stanley McChrystal. Maybe this goes back down to the burning of the house and your days at West Point, General. But you had two instances where you had to deal with President Obama on some controversial issues. The first, I guess, was in Copenhagen on Air Force One. Why don't we explain that one first?

RET. GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, FORMER COMMANDER OF U.S. FORCES: Sure. There had been a -- I had been requested by the government of the United Kingdom to come to the United Kingdom and do some events to explain our strategy, what was going on in Afghanistan, which I did.

In one of the events there was an interpretation that I had criticized Vice President Biden. Now, if you listen to the event or read the transcript, in no way did that happen, I was asked a question whether I thought a single CT-only or direct-action only would be enough to secure Afghanistan. And my response was I thought more would be required. Vice President Biden was never mentioned in the question, the response and never occurred to me in any way was that connected. It was connected by one reporter and it became a controversy that I thought really was much ado about nothing, but it came to me and I accepted the fact that I need to be very, very careful not about just what I said, but how it might be interpreted.

HANNITY: That brings us to the Rolling Stone article. Embeds are with the military all the time, you allowed this guy from Rolling Stone in and it sounded to me as I read it again, that you guys kind of let your hair down in front of this guy.

MCCHRYSTAL: We did a number of media engagements throughout the time I was there because one of the things I had to do was explain the war in Afghanistan to people in Europe, to Afghans, to American leaders, but also to families, people whose sons and daughters were fighting. They had a right to that transparency, so we gave access to a wide variety of media to include periodic embeds. The Rolling Stone was one of those embeds. In this particular case, the account that that reporter produced was very different from my interpretation of events or the nature of my staff, who I have extraordinary regard for.

But listen, I was a commander, when you're in command, whether you like the outcome or not, you accept responsibility. And that's what I did.

HANNITY: But you tell the story that you wake up, you're woken up at 2 a.m. and told it's bad and knew within an hour you had to resign, and here you'd dedicated your entire life to your country. What was the meeting with President Obama like in the Oval Office?

MCCHRYSTAL: Well, first off, when you wake up and you have something very unexpected arise because it's a controversy that you don't believe has merit, but it's a controversy. When a controversy arises, that puts my commander, my commander-in-chief, that's who I work for, that puts my commander-in-chief in a difficult position and that's not my job. My responsibility is to support the mission, the soldiers who work for me and my commander-in-chief. As soon as I saw the controversy was going to reach the levels it did, I was confident at least I needed to offer my resignation.

HANNITY: If he would have asked you to stay, would you have?

MCCHRYSTAL: I told President Obama that day I would do whatever was best for the mission. I would be happy to go back and continue to command or if he decided to accept my resignation, in fact, I would move out.

HANNITY: And you voted for him in 2008. This happened in 2010. May I ask you did you vote for him in 2012?

MCCHRYSTAL: I'm a private citizen and I'll keep that to myself.

HANNITY: You're going to keep to yourself on that one. All of a sudden your career ends, walk out of the office and the president accepted your resignation. What are you thinking? Who did you call? What's that like for you?

MCCHRYSTAL: Several things. The first thing is, it's a short drive back to Fort McNair. I drive back to the Fort McNair, I'd come in early that morning after flying all night. I'd taken a shower, put on my uniform and headed first to the Pentagon and the White House. And Annie knew what the controversy was, but she had no idea what the likely outcome was.

As I drove back, several things came into my mind. First, I had 150,000 soldiers counting on me, many who had deployed simply because I'd asked them. Many individuals on the staff stop what you're doing, come on. My command major was for retired for 18 months and I called him and said will you come back on active duty and come to war, and he did.

So that was the first people I let down were those, the soldiers. And I thought I'd let down the mission. But you know, for someone who believes in you for-- you've been married more than 33 years at that point, the one person who's esteem and whose love was most important to me was Annie.

She'd been an Army brat and married me right after I got out of West Point a few months later and we'd gone through every step of this together. She never complained about the deployment and gone to the funerals, was there when I came out of surgery and every step she was there. And I had to go and tell her that it was over, because her life takes a hard right turn as much as mine.

So, I got out of the car and the one beauty is, I thought I knew the response, and I walked in and she was standing in the entranceway, and I said, it's over. The president accepted my resignation. And she looked at me and she didn't get mad, she didn't say, that's wrong. She said good. We've always been happy and we always will be.

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